Wednesday, December 30, 2009
But 672 is also my Bib Number. It was intended for the Resolution Run but since that race is deferred it is going to be my Bypass Bib. And why not? I am going to have to work and sweat and cry and hopefully laugh and stumble and go forward and go backwards and have fun and have not so much fun and look at something in the mirror that will be less than charming, and reach my hand out for help and take that help and be afraid and have faith and have the willingness to trudge that road of happy destiny.
So I am number 672. So there!
December 30th, 1999
- Live in Thornhill Condo just off Young Street, about one km away from good coffee.
- Christmas was spent at my mom’s house in Gravenhurst.
- One cat lives with us.
- Worries include the dreaded Y2K – how will the world survive the click into the new millennium?
- If a Canadian Solider died in a training exercise, it would be the lead story on The National.
- The occasional glance at the RRSP profile was reassuring.
- Main exercise was walking around the block – maybe.
- Ticking off wedding anniversary dates by the month.
- Had major dental surgery earlier in the year – whew!! That was rough, Valium and Demerol drip, laughing gas, and Novocain. Had to take day off work.
- Wondering why I pay all that money into OHIP.
- Appalled at guns and gun owners.
- Still used Walkman.
- Goodie, Goodie, we are flying to Tampa – we had better get there at least an hour early in case the airport is busy.
- Thought that Prorogue was just a mispronouncing of the band Pogues.
- What I would not do to be Conrad Black.
- A solid group of friends that I can meet up with any night of the week for counsel and wisdom.
December 30th, 2009
- Live in the country, west of Ottawa about 12 km away from really really good coffee.
- Christmas spent at our house – just the two of us. My wife’s parents died in the nineties as did my father, my mother died in 2001.
- Three cats officially live with us, one cat boards with us, one beagle does whatever he wants.
- Worried about terrorism, Afghanistan, global warming, financial meltdown.
- We are not so blasé and “used to it” that the news does not report a military death, but still …..
- Just getting back to looking at RRSP statements.
- Up until late October active kayaker, runner, walker, cyclist. Still “all of the above” - just in holding pattern.
- Ticking off wedding anniversaries by the year with train rides.
- One less than competently done stress test, one colonoscopy, one echocardiogram, six + ordinary cardiograms, one myocardial perfusion scan, one angiogram and I have lost count of blood samples.
- OHIP – why is so underfunded?
- Still not a fan of guns, but sure glad that the neighbours got ‘em.
- Embarrassed that my 2008 iPod is so big …. Just gotta swallow my pride and live with it.
- Flying to the US? Ahh, maybe we just cash in the tickets and buy a slimmer iPod.
- It must be winter so Parliament is being prorogued.
- And the punch line is ……. Conrad Black.
- A solid group of friends that I can meet up with any night of the week for counsel and wisdom.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I cleaned out the medicine drawer / cabinet today. Year old ASA, two year old Contact C; I even learned that liquid bandages have a shelf life. I am sort of cleaning out the old and out of date, in anticipation of getting new, mind you prescription medicine. But it is good to be rid of the old for obvious reasons.
I ordered up my third nitroglycerin spray. I feel a bit guilty as it is covered by my employer’s drug plan and I have not used any of the spray, except in the early days when I was a little more than usually paranoid. But if I ever do need a shot of spray I want to be bloody sure it is close by … that is the reason for the extras.
I am reading a perfect book for a gloomy December’s day: Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. It is the tale of what it was like to live in Nazi Berlin during the war and tells of a couple sending out subversive, anti Nazi postcards and the havoc that creates. I am only half way through but the characters are so scary and so real: from the petty sleazy informers, to the sadistic SS and Gestapo thugs. The resistance people are not of the movie fantasy type but real, brave and stoic. The book was written in 1947 in a mere 24 days by someone who was there , albeit while having an alcohol accelerated psychotic breakdown, which likely adds to the book than detracting from it. What is so nerve jangling about the book is that I think it describes what could easily happen today , here and now. I am only half way through but I will have to compare what my notes today to when I finish the book.
I have no idea of course how I will fare and what I will do during my days of convalescence and recovery. As illogical as it sounds, part of me is reluctant to even speculate on it for fear of jinxing something that I don’t even know. ( I told you it is illogical). But one of the things I hope that I can do is read. I really would like to assemble a list of books that I should read. I will be convalescing during the Olympics and at the risk of being branded an unpatriotic, apathetic, cynical flake the Olympics do not interest me one iota. I cannot name one athlete who will be there (with the exception of a handful of hockey players) . I do not watch or care about luge ordinarily and I certainly do not care about it in Olympic Years. I hope that there is no terrorism during the games, I hope that Canada wins a hundred gold medals, I hope that CTV and the Bay make oodles and oodles of money, I hope that it goes down in history as a Great Games, but none of this is going to happen on my recovery time. I want to walk and talk and get better and do all the doctors say to do and read. Note to self – start soliciting reading suggestions from friends. Note to friends - be aware.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Everything happens in a time and a place so here I am Christmas 2009 in
The environment has not crashed and burned in any way that most people notice. “Running Out of Oil” is still in everyday lexicon, considered more as crank idea than worry. The economy is supposed to be coming back and the specter of high interest rates is somewhere beyond the horizon.
I can take cheap shots at the Prime Minister and the woman who claims to be our Member of Parliament without going to prison for 11 years. No one knocked anyone over at Mass yesterday, at least where I was.
I got a nice bounty of presents for Christmas including a fancy bowl for my bread making, a plaid shirt so I can look country while keeping warm, some chocolates that I have vowed not to eat until after surgery, a little bear called Henderson, and a nice black hoodie with a tiny little University of Ottawa Heart Institute Logo on it.
I live in a warm house. We had Apple Pancakes for breakfast. There is food in the pantry and refrigerator. I have spoken to friends today. I even got a really sweet call from the owners of a cabin that we stay at every October. They wanted to wish me a Merry Christmas and ask how I am doing.
My wife is in the kitchen making tourtiere for tomorrow. (yes, yes, yes - it is low fat , made with turkey and minimal salt, I am ignoring how much Crisco in the crust). We have been married ten years. She annoys me and I annoy here. I have bad habits. She has bad habits. But the love and strength and hope and inspiration and humour and support and conversation and corrective suggestions she offers makes whatever journey I have to do one I can do with confidence and freedom of fear. (and she does not do that many corrective suggestions for me .. I just had to toss that in)
When you have so much, you (well at least me), can’t help about worrying about losing it. I do think that we are not paying enough attention to the planet nor future energy needs. The government seems to be managing the economy by just paying Visa the minimum balance. And despite my despair on the PM and his cronies, he is in charge fair and square by our choice.
Health comes and health goes. I have every confidence that I will have a great outcome in this journey but it is not in my hands. It is funny what goes through the brain at two in the morning.
But all this is a function of time and space just like I said in the opening to this. I cannot imagine being in a better time or better place. I am truly blessed.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
There is a scene in the movie “The Polar Express” that is the “Graveyard of Broken Toys” or something like that (I apologize to the real PE fans for not paying attention) . Anyway, there is a whole train car of abandoned and broken toys. I have a Graveyard of Broken and Abandoned Electronics. I very quickly decided it would be immoral for me to add to that so instead I am going to give the money away. Some to the Salvation Army. (my favorite charity and I am not the only one that thinks that http://salvationist.ca/2009/12/hope-at-pier-21/) and some to something else. Maybe Bicycles for Humanity, maybe the local hospital, maybe just to the food bank – I don’t know but it is really fun trying to decide. I am backing off anything to do with hearts until I get fixed!! (I just hope no one from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute is reading this!!)
This may sound nuts but I am really looking forward to my bypass surgery. I feel like I have been chosen for some greater purpose. Some may think that pretentious, some may think it wishful thinking on my part and for all I know that greater purpose may to be the punch line of a joke. But I just think that I have been given an opportunity to look at what is important to me, what I value, what I stand for, what I fear, what I love, what is important, what I have faith in, what makes me laugh, what makes me cry, what I think about God. How great a gift is that?
Believe me, I am not running around saying “La la la, I am getting a bypass, I am betting a bypass”. I am frightened at times and replaying my life to figure out how I got here. But that is background noise. The main show is this real excitement and gratitude that I have for this.
Life still goes on in all of its glory. We put up the Christmas Tree on Sunday. Okay, my WIFE put it up. On Saturday we bought groceries including baking supplies and smoked salmon. I put the baking stuff on the table in the bag knowing that we would need them. The problem was that we did not really need them until Monday when I discovered the smoked salmon was there as well. $15 in the trash!! Work goes on. I had Indian food for lunch. (not always the heart healthiest stuff in the world) The Prime Minster does his annual CTV kissy-kissy. Maybe snow on Christmas, maybe not. I am off to see good friends in White Lake tonight. Annie Lennox and Al Green on the radio with “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”. I love the song but it is too small for me, I want a lot of love.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
We have one dog and four cats and the Head Cat is Mikla. It is a long story. My wife and I married only ten years ago. I had no pets and she had one Calico Cat who moved in as well. The Calico and I never really became bosom buddies but we had an understanding. I was not a cat person but we got along in our own way. The cat became ill, and we (meaning my wife) had to put the Calico down in very early December 2004; in fact it was a Thursday. I was out of town but returned on the Friday.
My wife had dropped of the cat’s toys, left over litter, food and the like to the local animal shelter and told me how impressed she was with the cleanliness of the shelter and the enthusiasm and professionalism of the staff. She had told one of the managers that she would be back in the spring to pick up two female kittens from the same litter. My wife told me that we should drop into the shelter on the Saturday morning to “just look around”. I said “no way” as 1) it was take your picture with Santa and a Pet Day and I knew the place would be crawling with people and taking your picture with Santa and Pet was silly and 2) my wife, being emotional would be at risk for coming out of the shelter with a cat.
My wife is not perfect but she does not nag. But she did mention again that it would be nice if we dropped in just to look and being accommodating I agreed. I was right. Kids, Santa, pets, cats, dogs. I , being not an ogre, sat on the floor in the Kitten Cuddle Room. A cute little white kitty cat with some little orange markings made a bee line towards me. He ran up my arm and nestled under my neck in my jacket. He purred and purred and purred and nuzzled nuzzled nuzzled. He licked my chin with a perfect little tongue and stared at me like I was his long lost father. Some dust got in my eye and it watered. My wife said that we may as well get another cat to keep this little one company. She picked a grey two year old cat.
As we paid the adoption fee the manager asked about the two female kittens in the spring. My wife pretended not to hear.
Anyway, the white kitten became Mikla and the two year old became Tumsa. Poor old Tumsa became ill after about one year and had to be put down and I will come back to that. But Mikla is the Alpha Animal of the house: In charge, the Boss, but still likes to cuddle and warm his toes on your pillow. Okay, enough on Mikla, there are three more cats.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Your Guide to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (I had better start calling it by the proper name) : I did not know for example, that the UOHI “is Canada’s largest and foremost cardiovascular health centre dedicated to understanding, treating, and preventing heart disease”. It talks about mission, values, and all that sort of lofty stuff as well as the nitty gritty of stuff like who does what, infection control, educational services, and really all that you need to know.
Cardiac Surgery – Important Information for Patients and Friends - This is the real stuff you need to know, like how long you will be there ( 4 – 7 days), the tests to pass before you get to go home (walk 120 meters and climb 9 stairs), what you can hang on during surgery (just what God and your mama gave you) , estimated surgery time ( 4 -6 hours), and visiting hours (it depends where you are at).
Anesthesia Patient Information - God Bless the Pain Relievers!!! You get to pop pills before and of course they take care of you while you are having surgery. Funniest Line – “You will still be connected to the breathing machine when you wake up from surgery, You will be not able to speak and the breathing tube may be somewhat uncomfortable”
Cardiac Surgery Clinical Pathway – The game plan:
Surgery Day – Shaving and Special Shower: Then drugs, then briefly meet the OR team, then more drugs, then blackness, then awake to breathing tube down trachea, monitoring equipment and intravenous lines, a tube that goes into your snout and down into the stomach to keep it empty, a tube in your bladder, a chest incision and drainage tubes, a few body incisions and temporary pacemaker wires. Plus more drugs. I am not sure if I should cry or laugh. There is a chance the breathing tube comes out that day or maybe early the next morning. You get oxygen from a mask and do two things: Meet Teddy (who I think is your pillow) and learn what DB & C means : Deep Breathing and Coughing Exercises,
The big task is to walk 32 metres and you get to sit in a chair. You get to drink fluids. I read this with a sort of disbelief. I have walked a few 15 kilometer hikes this summer past, regularly went on 20 K bike rides and my jogging took me about 3.5 K four times a week. When my father was dying he said that the thing that really amazed him was the incredible fatigue that took his body over. I hardly will be dying but just the weakness is one of those things that my mind cannot imagine.
Continue relationship with the mysterious Teddy and more DB & C.
The funny line here is not to forget to let your nurse know if you are in pain. I think I have that covered. The big task today is sitting in a chair while you eat and you walk 60 metres. You graduate from oxygen mask to oxygen prongs. I get one of my long standing fantasies fulfilled – Gymnastics in bed, albeit in a different way than in Penthouse Forum (does that still exist?)
Continue relationship with the mysterious Teddy and more DB & C.
Walk 120 meters. ( at this rate by Day 16 I will be walking 938,040 metres but I imagine the curve is not exponential). Reminder to let the nurse know if you are in pain.
Continue relationship with the mysterious Teddy and more DB & C.
The Frankenstein wires are removed and you get to take a shower. Now the taskmasters want you to do stairs.
Continue relationship with the mysterious Teddy and more DB & C
Home!! (maybe, my Source of All Positive Energy may have other plans)
There was more information but I suspect my guest readers will not want to know about anal swabs to ferret out (maybe poor choice of words) Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus.
Interesting reading : I am going for a walk in the park – well, to paraphrase Winston Churchill just a bit Some Walk ….. Some Park. .
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The talk here is of God’s promise to the people of Judah to be hopeful as there is a coming time of redemption and joy. In fact, one day their troubles would be over.
Paul is writing from prison to these Northern Macedonian Greeks: be glad, don’t worry about stupid stuff, be gentle with people, and pray for serenity. Do this and you will have this inner peace that most people will not understand.
John , Crazy John the Baptist, is telling people to be honest, to share, don’t rip people off, don’t extort money from weaker people. And then he tosses in a little warning: He, John, is a nobody but there is someone coming right behind him that really pays attention, and will hold you fully accountable for all you do and don’t do. So there!
So what does all of this mean to me?
Well, I think that the texts acknowledge that people have been fearful, stressed, and full of apprehension since the beginning of time. But this darkness of the Black Dog is not our ultimate destiny. There is in some form an ultimate time of goodness, satisfaction, contentment, and joy.
There are instructions on how to get there. Try not to spend too much tome worrying as that is unproductive. Give thanks when thanks are due. Guidance is a good thing to pray for. Be honest. Share your resources. Don’t hoard. Deep down you know what to do – in a lot of ways it is innate.
Be warned that a Power Greater than me will hold me accountable for all I do and do not do. It happens every day, and my measure of this judgment is the amount of serenity I have when I go to bed.
But is will also happen at the end of my time. It is my task to be ready for that. Do I have the courage to take my measure of the ultimate joy and serenity?
I don’t overly care what people think of me. Okay, that is not true at all but I try to pretend at least. One of the many peculiar things that I do, is go to church early and read the day’s readings in two translations. Then I make my notes and sometimes I share them here. So why do I do that? Well, I used to not really be a fan of church – in fact I sort of thought it as boring and a waste of time. But when I started reading the texts, doing notes, and doing my own personal interpretation I felt an immediate connection over the thousands of years with the millions of people that tried to do the same. Are there criminal priests? Of course. Have churches been involved in genocides? Yes. Do religious people take the word and name of God in vain? You can’t count the times.
But here is the deal for me – Just over 2,000 years ago a Jew heard the same reading from Zephaniah that I referred to above. The reading would have not gone in one ear and out the other. He would have taken the time to reflect, to see how he should apply the reading to his life today, what it perhaps meant to his father’s father and what it will mean to his grandchild. Somehow, his thoughts and thinking jump in a very, very, very, small way over to me. I find that little link very cool. That is why I find an hour in church wasteful but two productive.
I wish I were religious but I am not. I even wish I had a greater measure of spirituality but I am short there as well. But I am happy with the little ember that I have. It sure beats that black deep freeze.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
It is strange to get my head around all of this. To all the health professionals that I am seeing, it is another day at the office. They would go mad if they looked at it any other way. But to me it is aaaarrrrgggghhhh, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious yowza!! I keep trying to figure out how I feel and I think I am 10 years old and about to go on a roller coaster. I can see it in the distance and I want to go on it. I have told my father and he has agreed. The ticket is bought and out of the corner of my eye I see the little elf guy with the outstretched hand. You have to be taller than that, and I make it! But I am not sure if I am totally happy that I made the cut. So we are now in line. I hear the rattle, I hear the screams. I soon will be on it! Wonderful! Dreadful! I wish it would speed up! I wish it would slow down! I want to be on! I want to be off!
What if the cardiac surgeon doesn’t like me? What if he says he can’t do anything? What if there is a nurse’s strike? What if we get a flat tire on the way to the hospital? What if they made a mistake? What if they are right? What if God is mad at me? What if God does not pay attention? What if God is testing me? What if my whole existence is to be a warning to others? What if I write a book and it gets picked by Oprah and I go on the show but I accidentally insult her and she yanks her endorsement? What if the cardiac surgeon is perfect but due for a mistake? What if Stephen Harper decides to get even for all the cheap shots?
The only good thing is that I am still totally rational.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I have an incredible family doctor. She came into the life of my wife and my life by accident. We had moved to a new community and the doctors were simply not taking patients. I was in a local pharmacy, happened to ask the cashier if she knew of any doctors taking patients and she told me of a clinic a few towns over that had a new doctor who was taking new clients. I drove right over and she took us.
She has always been good but my admiration of her really reached a new height in this recent journey. She was the one who sent me off to the hospital for the myocardial perfusion scan. She is the one that phoned me at home twice in one week to talk about the results and ask me how I am doing after the initial results came back.
She was very supportive of my running programme and told me today that she in fact was proud of me today. Okay, a cynic would say “hey, she says that to all the patients who were planning to do a 5K race on December 31st and found they have severe blockages and now are having major cardiac surgery that could kill them” but I don’t care..she said it to me. We had a very frank discussion and she showed me the report for my procedure. She even printed the thing out. She asked me how I feel and what I fear. I told her, and don’t mind saying that I had excess saline liquid in my eyes. That is man talk. A woman would call it crying. There were tears of fear and tears of worry and tears of gratitude. Stuff also came out of my nose but likely no one reading this wants to know that.
She told me that I must promise her not to hesitate to call if I had any worries or fears or concerns. She would gladly take the time to talk with me and explain what she knew. She offered to refer me to psychologists that deal with issues like fearful middle aged men. She asked how I am sleeping and told me to let her know if I ever had problems so we could discuss solutions. She asked me about my medications and my reactions to them. We spoke about pain management options as I recover. She gave me some insights into the world of cardiac surgery.
How do you know the value of something? A new Kindle has more value than a box of matches until you are stuck in a howling snow storm in a cabin with a nice woodstove full of dry firewood. Reading the latest rant from Dr Phil ain’t going to keep you warm. I am learning every day the value of love, family and friends. For too long I had thought of these a bit like that book of matches – there, but sort of ordinary.
Today I really learned the value of my family doctor. She is what she is because of her family, her teachers in public school and high school, her instructors in university, her mentors, her colleagues, and her friends. I will never meet these people but they have my everlasting appreciation.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Oh I know why – I got a Christmas present today. It is the most expensive present I have ever received. It is a present that will take all the things that I am trying to learn at Advent (anticipation, waiting, patience, ADVENTure) and really truly apply them, not in some academic, yellow foolscap sort of way, but truly and fully. It is really appreciating that Christmas really represents something that goes well beyond a display at the local mall or even a snappy sermon on Christmas Eve.
My bypass surgery is scheduled for January 25th, 2010. I have it in my planner. I even am planning to return to work on April 19th, 2010. I have no idea if this will happen. A lot of my very good friends talk about Living One Day at a Time and yet this does not violate that. Living One Day at a Time does not mean that you cannot plan and anticipate and hope. In fact, if I view the start of this part of my journey as being today, it will cover Advent, Christmas, Lent , and Easter. All that I think about these feast days will really distill in the crucible of my soul. I wonder if I will like the taste of what comes out. But this I must say – for a pretty non religious, non spiritual sort of person it is going to be quite the journey.
I am recording this for the future. The call came in at about 3:30 in the afternoon from what they charmingly call the Triage Unit. They told me my surgeon’s name, told me he is good, told me that my wife and I have to come in for assessment and information, told me to let them know if my condition changes. They called me young, which I liked, and called me Sir which made me feel like I was at the bank. They filled me with hope and anticipation. It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Anyway, today I was in the Doldrums, as cheerful as the Ancient Mariner himself and only lacking a dead albatross. Okay, maybe it was not that bad, but here was what was getting to me, in no particular order. 1) the ever darkening days, 2) no calls about my surgery, 3) trying to deal with the day to day stuff in work which increasingly wanes in importance at least to me 4) my inability to deal with adjusting stuff in the time space continuum around the house to meet the needs of recuperation period that I anticipate 5) my low physical energy today and feeling of malaise , and 6) the imminent return of Stephen Harper to Canada. (okay, that last comment was uncalled for, it was immature and wrong )
I was shuffling songs on the iPod and Song for Sarajevo by Judy Collins came up. It is my blog, I can do what I want so I am showing the lyrics. This is not a cheery song at the beginning but it changes as the song ends (I think Collins did a rewrite) but it put things into perspective very beautifully for me. As I heard the words, I had to think for a second “Oh yeah, Sarajevo … that was back in the 90s” I had to think back that the 1984 Winter Olympics were there. Can anyone in 1995 have imagined that in 2010 Lonely Planet would have named it as a Top Ten Travel City in 2010 (along with Vancouver for what it is worth)
Song for Sarajevo
There's no where to hide, no where I can go
I reach out my hand touching death itself
just another holy day in Sarejevo
Hiding from the planes and from the bombing
Fire in the sky burning down my life
There is no more love no more longing
I dream of Peace
I dream of flowers on the hill
I dream I see my mother smiling
When I close my eyes I dream of Peace
Once my mother sang to me and held me
Then the fire came falling from the sky
There is no one left who can protect me
Feeding on the dreams of all the children
War's an evil bird flying in the dark
Every holy promise has been broken
I dream of Peace
I dream of flowers on the hill
I dream I see my mother smiling
When I close my eyes I dream of Peace
You are tall and strong and I am just a child.
Can't we live in a peace stop the flowing blood
Make a blessed world where I can be a child.
Do you dream of Peace?
Do you dream of flowers on the hill?
Do you dream you see your mother smiling?
When you close your eyes do you dream of Peace?
You have struggled here in Sarajevo
Courage you have shown to the watching world
We have prayed and wept for Sarajevo
Children dance again in Sarajevo
Now the sun can shine
Now the birds can sing
Let the peace continue, Sarajevo
Do you dream of Peace?
Do you dream of flowers on the hill?
Do you dream you see your mother smiling?
When you close your eyes do you dream of Peace?
Words by Judy Collins
Music by Judy Collins
Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP)/ The Wildflowers Company (ASCAP)
So what am I trying to say? Just this, Sarajevo was an unbelievable, depressing, catastrophic disaster 15 years ago and today is on the “must see” list for the ubercool Lonely Planet crowd. Bad days come and bad days go. We all have them , but it is nice when you get pulled out.
Friday, December 4, 2009
My wife is conducting a Christmas choir tonight, but I feel a little low energy so I am staying home, cat and beaglesitting and baking bread and making soup for tomorrow.
Nothing from the OHI and I am going to lay off talking about that and instead write about ordinary stuff that makes live worth living.
One thing that makes life worth living is the ability to rant. Okay, so why in a grocery store that is in the heart of the Ottawa Valley is the only garlic that I could get today from China? I needed garlic to make ginger / garlic / chicken soup. I am assuming the chicken is sort of local and must confess that I am not sure where the ginger came from, but of course it came from somewhere temperate. But garlic, from China …..come on! I live in an area that has an annual Garlicfest. Why, oh why, cannot local be bought in the local store ,and why does the garlic have to come from the other side of the planet?
Our Prime Minister is up and at it in Shanghai as I write this (somewhere in China anyway). I know that Wen Jiabao whacked him on the nose already with a rolled up newspaper but later made nice with the tour group thing. I know that Mr. Harper is not in a position of strength and that I have been guilty of perhaps making sport of him in some of these postings. But please Mr. Harper, make some concession to them; they can’t go on sending junk garlic full of green sprouts to us. Give them uranium, I mean they got the Big Bomb (many of them) already, what difference will a bit more make? We gotta stop the garlic before it kills us.
Scary stuff – I was just about to hit the post button and the phone rang … it was someone calling on behalf of the madwoman who is our Member of Parliament. Surely they can’t read a blog before it is published??????
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Straight off the web: Nitroglycerin Patch is a nitrate. It works by relaxing (widening) blood vessels. Chest pain occurs when the heart needs more oxygen than it can get. Relaxing blood vessels allows blood to flow more easily. This reduces the heart's workload and the amount of oxygen needed by the heart. I have been lucky (at least I think lucky is what to call it) that I have had no chest pains but my two cardiologists thought that I should give the patches a go. As long as I did not get headaches or faint, they figured it was a good thing for me.
So the patch joins the emergency nitro spray , the beta blocker, that small aspirin, the statins, the multivitamin, the fish oil, the vitamin D, the psyllium and the …. I guess that’s it. I don’t pay for most of this, I am on a drug plan, but someone does. This is just a guess but I would imagine that the cost of my drugs is at least five bucks a day. That is in many ways modest, but it makes one think of what $5.00 a day , $35 a week, $150 a week could do for a family in Africa. Or where would I get $150 a month extra if I were unemployed.
And yet here I sit, warm and comfy, listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing Christmas carols and my only worry is to make sure that I take the patch off in time. If nothing else, I have leaned how lucky I am in all of this. Here we sit in North America, at the very top of the consumption pyramid, bickering about e-mails that maybe get us off the hook for global warming, spending the money of our future generations, and the biggest worry seems to be Kindle or Sony eReader.
I am no different. I am a consumer. I sure as anything want my expensive surgery. It is just all of this Christmas Music that is maybe getting to me …… I just wonder if the story of the Nativity took place in 2009 how Luke would describe the likes of me. I fear that I am more Herod than Wise Man....
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
It is not my place to tell the stories of others in a blog, but boy these topics hit home for me. My plan was to be running a 5K on December 31st. The reason was to stretch myself physically, mentally and spiritually. What can be better than making your body, mind and soul do something that they have never done before and go beyond their normal limits? Well, obviously God agreed to all that. I suppose part of me wished that he had restrained his eagerness for me to have my wishes granted so fully, but I can’t complain that I am not getting want I wanted.
And in the process, God is saving my life. I don’t think that I have to explain the gratitude part. And God certainly has a sense of humor as well. Wishes granted, life saved, and a good chuckle – does it get any better?
Monday, November 30, 2009
Or is it that I am anxious about dying, anxious about pain, anxious about scars, anxious about depression , anxious about being in the small percentage where this does not work, anxious about taking on more that I can handle, anxious about giving my wife more that she can handle and anxious about being anxious. Has anxiety become the new “A” word for me? And what would the old “A” word be?
Or is it that I am worried about dying, worried about pain, worried about scars, worried about depression, worried about being in the small percentage where this does not work, worried about taking on more that I can handle, worried about giving my wife more that she can handle and worried about being worried. Has worry become the new “W” word for me? And what would the old “W” word be?
So I am simultaneously frightened, anxious and worried. What happened to my prayer? Well, prayer is tricky. I was granted freedom from fear, not no fear. Freedom means that you are not under the control of something. Praying for no fear is like praying for stupidity. If I had no fear I would pick up rattlesnakes, kayak without a PFD, and vote for Stephen Harper.
I have good fear, good anxiety, and good worry. It really makes me show how much I cherish life itself. My wife came home from her office today and I was home. I made whole wheat spaghetti with garlic and peppercorns for dinner, my wife looked for misplaced shoes, the beagle and one of the cats salivated while we ate. That is life. That is love. That is what I cherish. Those little things I fear, have anxiety on, and worry about are not going to overpower life. So there!!!!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
And if a Martian (they live in tunnels under the surface of Mars – check it out) came to earth, gorged himself on poutine for 15 years and suddenly needed bypass (their hearts are like ours but have an extra chamber to make up for living underground – check it out) , where would you send them? Latvia? Argentina? India? These are countries that have some level of cardiac care. Of course we all know the real answer, the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, Japan, some of Western Europe.
I am so damned lucky to be living in a country where there is not only a high level of care in general but to be involved with the Ottawa Heart Institute, which is as good as any heart clinic in Canada.
What really blows me away is this – the expense so far in a) about four visits to my own doctor, b) one normal stress test, c) one echo cardiogram, d) one colonoscopy, e) one myocardial perfusion scan with stress test, f) one visit to a cardiologist’s office, g) about 6 normal cardiograms, h) blood tests, blood tests, blood tests, and i) one angiogram has been a) $40 for parking, b) $20 for Tim Horton’s (mainly for my wife) and c) say $20 for gas. I would shudder to think what this would have cost me in the United States.
I also shudder to think what this would have cost in Canada if we did not have Medicare. (and I have perhaps only begun to spend) . Most Canadian’s know that Tommy Douglas was the force behind “access for all” in Canada. Mr. Douglas is buried in the Beechwood National Memorial Centre (I got it right!) right next to my wife’s parents. His burial monument has one of his sayings on it “Courage, my friends; ‘tis not to late to build a better world.” I often reflect on that while at Beechwood. In fact, if you are reading that little statement and lift your head up and look beyond you see the Peace Tower and Parliament itself. It is almost as if he is throwing the gauntlet down to the men and women there today.
Tommy Douglas combined vision, courage, and action back when I was just a child, to help push through what I have today. I will thank him personally the next time I am at Beechwood.
When someone is standing by Stephen Harper’s grave in 2050 (hey, I am making nice to the man!) I do wonder what Mr. Harper’s greatest legacy will be?
So, since people are reading this I think at this point I need to provide some justifications and explanations. This whole heart thing is scary, but I find that writing about it makes it less scary and helps me in my thinking. Once a week I have been putting in my interpretations of readings from the Bible. I get immediately nervous when I see anything in writing that quotes scripture (I have a very closed mind).
So, just as an FYI – I do not consider myself a religious person. If there is indeed a heaven and hell – well let’s just say I would not need a parka. My view of God is what I call Source Of All Positive Energy or SOAPE. I have no doubt that this is out there. So I believe in SOAPE and I believe that I am accountable for all of my actions. The rest, I am not smart enough to figure out.
But I fine religious writings fascinating. The story of creation that appears twice in Genesis for example, is not a recounting of history or geology. It is a verbal story that was told for generations in the Middle East , got written down somewhere around the 8th century BCE. It no doubt was changed and edited and finally got to the point where it is read in synagogues and Christian Churches today. And even in 2009 there are so many variances in the English language alone of these writings.
Some people dismiss this story as utter nonsense and others think of it as the only history text that matters. I find both views troubling. When I read the story of the creation I feel a connection of all who have ever heard it, from those at a campfire in Canaan in 1850 BCE, to the person who feels obliged to listen because they have been forced to go to church on a sunny Sunday morning. I think that a text by some process becomes sacred. I certainly don’t understand how or why. Whether it is the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Koran, or the writings of Uddalaka Aruni ,there is a message there for the reader to find.
I happen to be finding my messages in the readings of the Canadian Roman Catholic Church. I am not, for the record, Catholic and I have no comment on the church. But I find the readings very interesting, as I am forced to look for the message that is there for me.
What a long winded explanation!
Jeremiah 33 14-16
A promise to all of Israel that a future leader would emerge from the House of David to rule all the land and bring peace.
Thessalonians 3.12 – 4.2
An instruction from Paul to these Northern Greeks to live a good and moral life..
Luke 21 25-28, 34, 36
Jesus issuing a dire warning of the end of time and how there will be signs in the stars to the trembling and fearful nations. We should not pay attention to earthly things but pay attention to matters of the spirit.
Christians obviously interpret the reading from the Prophet Jeremiah as a foreshadow of the birth of Jesus Christ (this reading occurring on the first Sunday of Advent) . But Jeremiah wrote in one of Israel’s most troubled times, as it was being assaulted by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. This writing by the Prophet would have been of comfort to the Jewish people as it offered a new future hope. And if Christians interpret this as a foreshadowing of the birth of Jesus, so what?
The message to the Thessalonians makes sense (there was a big debate going on about the exact timing of Christ’s return going on at the time, but the message I think here is straight forward enough)
How about the dire warnings of Jesus to look in the stars for the end of time? Is not that crazy talk, or is that end of the world by the Mayan Calendar thing worth worrying about?
I can’t believe that I have written almost 800 words and have not really said anything yet. Finally here is what I heard today: There is always hope, the ultimate destination is good, be a good person and be nice to yourself, others, and the planet. A full belly is pretty imporant but so is a full soul. There are warning signs to all; maybe it is a chest pain, maybe it is a melting glacier but there are warning signs. Woe to those, who choose not to pay attention.
So I wonder how this compares to what someone in Greece would have thought 1900 years ago?
PS: to anyone that has read the whole thing: WOW! I hope that helped your insomnia.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
1- Congratulations Mr. Harper on the Conservative Majority
2- Yes, this is the Canada Revenue Agency calling …..
3- You are the Poster Child for a Coronary Bypass.
Blogging is for me like a journal or diary. Captain James Cook did not write about breaking his arm in Bonne Bay in Newfoundland the day before it happened. But I was anticipating writing about a successful stent and the fun I had getting it, how I would recommend it to anyone, and how I was back on track for my Resolution Run. In fact, I was worried about how to maintain this blog once I was “fixed”. The universe did not unfold as I wanted. My heart has blockages that would have made the East German border patrol proud. So I am back on the conveyer belt waiting for a meeting with a surgeon, getting scheduled for the procedure (procedure sounds better than being sliced open like a pan of Jiffy Pop popcorn)
My angel guy told me to pray for three things: love of family and friends, freedom from fear, and acceptance. That’s what I did and is what I have received. The first two items I got in abundance. I am not surprised about the first but am a bit surprised about how well number two has worked out. The acceptance part is a bit like a brand new iSomething from Apple that is wrapped in layer after layer of impossible to tear open , hard to cut, tough plastic. You can see the thing in there, but it is work to get to it.
The day at the Ottawa Heart Institute was pretty interesting. It started at seven in the morning and went on 12 hours exactly. After getting into an attractive but very buttock unfriendly hospital gown I got settled into my little cubicle and met my nurse and my two (TWO!) cardiologists. They told me about the day and then my nurse prepped me, shaved me, I consumed a week’s worth of Plavex, and got hooked up to the saline IV. The IV goes drip after drip after drip after drip into your arm. So were does all this drip drip go? I am not sure of the exact route, not being a doctor, but I know where it ends up. You unplug the little IV dripper thing and go off to the washroom. I learned two things. 1) the battery on the IV is shot. It alarms after about a minute and it is hard to pee when the alarm is going off and a nurse is banging at the door. 2) It is very easy for the back of your gown to open up while you struggle to wheel the IV dripper thing around.
I was sort of scheduled to go to the lab for my angiogram at about nine or so, but, this being a hospital, with sudden onsets of crises and so forth I did not get in until about eleven. It was pretty cool, the drugs they give you are kind of funky, and the first disappointment was not really getting a good screen shot of what is happening with your ticker. Of course that first disappointment paled with the announcement that they could do nothing further today.
I was wheeled into a recovery room where they apply a gigantic clamp to the groin where they has to make the incision. My wife has described mammograms to me, so for the record I have no complaint. The nadir was having a sudden onset of cold sweats and nausea. You can’t lift your head for about five hours after the angiogram (neck muscle is attached to back muscle that is connected to thigh muscles that, when wiggled could turn your incision into your own Scarlet Old Faithful) so I brought my problem to the attention of the authorities because I figured that I could be at risk of the grossest puke ever. They asked if I felt anything else and I replied that I saw a vision of a Globe and Mail headline “Leafs Win Five in a Row” . They immediately medicated me and all was fine, but they kept pestering me about my vision.
I got wheeled downstairs after about an hour. The clamp was now off, but a five pound sandbag was in its place, with the instruction not to lift your head or move your right leg for the next four hours. You are encouraged to drink lots of fluids and that is a bit of an art, but you soon learn how to pick up a glass from the side table and move your head to drink. You pee in a little hand held urinal and I learned another disadvantage to being poorly endowed.
My wife had the worse day. She worked on work stuff, lounged around the waiting rooms and her big treat was Tim Horton’s coffee. They don’t mind visitors but to perhaps not really encourage people to camp out, there are no chairs in the day unit.
I was up on my feet by six , got a few visits from the cardiologists (bear in mind they were there before me and still there at six), got some cleaning up from the nurses (blood and dye stuff) , a small collection of booklets and I was out the door by seven, stopping only to get Tim Horton’s Swiss and Hams for my wife and me.
It appears that the ride ain’t over yet.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tomorrow is my angiogram and maybe angioplasty. I am Patient Number Three, that means that I get in at 7:30, follow the green hearts, make sure that I bring drugs in original containers, slippers, a robe (bath as opposed to Roman) , a book, don’t eat after five a.m., and drink nothing after 7:00 a.m.
I feel like a) I am getting ready to go on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, b) am walking into an exam with no idea what is on the test, c) am the winner of the biggest 649 ever, d) about to discover that I have just gotten off the stage having accepted an Academy Award only to have discovered that I have forgotten to wear pants, e) am in the Mosh Pit for Lawrence Welk Redux, f) am the guy turning the horse lap counter thing in the Chariot Race of Ben Hur, g) about to be a voyeur for my own body and h) worried that I will pee on the operating table. In other words, I have mixed emotions.
See everybody tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I went there today. What a fantastic find! It seems like South India (being in the south) is warm and has coconut lagoons. In fact the state of Kerala is known for palms and fantastic beaches. National Geographic calls it one of the”50 Places of a Lifetime” The cuisine is incredible – at least it is if today’s lunchtime buffet is a reflection . Lamb Anise, Butter Chicken , Coriander Chicken Masala, Curries, and other things. I love Indian Food but sometimes I could do an Alka Seltzer commercial 90 minutes after indulging. But not here. It is without question one of the top places that I have eaten at in Ottawa. And not an “I Luv Stephen and His Piano” bumper sticker in sight. Just another reason to get well.
I wonder if there is a lesson here?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
My ten dollar cap light from the Running Room was the best buy I made. My reflective biking jacket kept me safe. I ran in Ontario, in Quebec and in Newfoundland. I ran with deer. Cats stared at me with bored contempt. People would wave at me. Chipmunks would make way for me. I felt like Springsteen’s “Growing Up” Well the flag of piracy flew from my mast, my sails were set wing to wing
The allure is there and I am going to be back. The path may be different than I choose but that is okay because I am a pretty boring and unimaginative guy. It is good when my Source Of All Positive Energy puts me on the trail less run.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I am an angel who has been assigned your file. The Big Guys like Gabriel and Michael get to smote and avenge and do all the neat stuff, and what I do is take care of people like you. It has been a long pile of millenniums since you humans started figuring out fire, finding the wheel hidden in a block of wood, and started paying attention to us. I must say that I like it that you are at the point where a lot of you have e-mails now. Communicating through dreams was complex because you needed a set up and background sets. I am sorry for rambling and not getting to the point, but you get the angel you deserve.
You were a fool for not telling anyone about your initial chest pain. It was a pain for me to set it up the day before you went to your doctor because I doubt that would you have made an appointment on your own - in fact I don’t doubt … I KNOW.
Let’s see, chest pain on October 21st, myocardial perfusion (with radioisotopes from South Africa that miraculously show up after that idiot government you elected lets Chalk River go down the tubes) on October 26th, visit to the cardiologist on November 9th and an angiogram planned for this Friday. What a coincidence ….. sure.
We are getting prayers for you day and night. Do you have any idea how wonderful that is? Did you ever think that you would have had all these offers for rides? Did you ever think the cat would get out of your chair? You are very lucky and blessed. When we wrote that stuff about my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life we had you in mind (I sure hope that I did not detect a rolling of the eyes). You have a loving wife, a loving extended family across the country, and even loving dog and cats. Not to mention all those friends.
So what can I, an angel, promise? If you ask for the right thing I will give it to you. If you ask for love, and for freedom from fear and for acceptance I will do everything in my power to do it. Be very cautious if you ask for anything else.
I gotta go. Please, no jokes about bells and wings. I hated that movie. I wish George Bailey had just stayed on the bridge. White Christmas ….. now that was a movie. Bing Crosby was a handful (thank the Big Boss that he was not in my file) but he could sing. And I always had the hubba hubbas for Rosemary Clooney. I am rambling again but as I already told you, you get the angel that you deserve.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Daniel 7 13-14
He is still having visions: This one has the Son of Man descending from the clouds and coming to rule forever.
Revelation 1 5-8
Same as above – and the Final Judgment as well
John 18 33-37
The interchange between Pilate and Jesus: Pilate asks if he is indeed the King of the Jews, Jesus says those are the words of Pilate and asks who gave him those words; it closes with Jesus saying that what he represents is not of this world, but another.
If there were ever a doubt that the physical, scientific, world of reason, logic, evolution, quantum physics, death, pain, Howie Mandel, gay rights, everybody’s rights, famine, harvests of plenty, climate change, and just about everything on Wikapedia, is different from the world of spirit, the Koran, the story of creation, the Hebrew Texts, the Christian Texts, Buddha, Guru Granth Sahib, all the Prophets, and a lot of the words ending with the suffix ism are two separates entities, it is dispelled by Jesus Christ himself.
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world
Jesus talks of the separation, Daniel spoke of it, and even Crazy John saw it as he saw those visions in the clouds. The secular world and the spiritual world are two different things. The trick is to find the bridge between them.
For some it may be Jesus Christ, for some it may be Buddha, and for others it may be the belief in nothing at all (which possibly takes the greatest faith of all)
This understanding of the bridge is what it makes it possible for me to appreciate that I am related to a paramecium, that it is none of my business that gays marry, and that somebody can fix my heart.
But it also helps me believe in all faiths and creeds including Santa Claus. It makes for a nice start to Advent and Christmas.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
All medals need a testimonial (refer to Wizard of Oz) and here is mine:My neighbour across the street, Anne, is an Iron Man. Just a few months ago she completed a grueling competition of cycling 112 miles, swimming 2.4 miles, and running 26.2 miles at Lake Placid. As I was struggling to get to a 5K race in Ottawa for December 31st I figured that if she was Iron Man, I was Tin Boy. Anne thought that was funny but she kept encouraging me.
Of course at this point that race is deferred, but Anne still thought me worthy of not only a medal, but a promotion as well, as I went from Tin Boy to Tin Man. (Tin Man, Wizard of Oz, Heart , get it? – this is just for the slow ones, I apologize to the rest of you)
Here is what is engraved on the medal (made, by the way at the local aerospace plant, – if the next time you fly, you see a small chunk of wing missing don’t blame me)
TIN MAN 2009
Ran 5K 2009
TIN MAN YOU WILL RETURN!
That is a medal!!! Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I must say that I did not really run 5K in a fell swoop in 2009, but I think larceny and deceit is a component of many awards, so I prefer to think of myself as a traditionalist.
I would like to thank all the little people who helped me achieve this honour: You are too many too name, but I am sure that you know who you are.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I came back from Napanee today and had a meeting in Kingston on the way. A colleague, whose wife is expecting twins, showed me a picture of the ultrasound and I must say the twins looked like my echo cardiogram. Add to conspiracy theory profile – all ultrasounds are fakes – they tell you want they want.
The guy who has problems today is poor Richard Colvin. Nothing like having your reputation and credibility dragged through the slime and the muck by senior government ministers for the sin of telling the truth as you saw it. But the Prime Minister seems to be having his ass coated in polytetrafluoroethylene. I wonder where this will sit a week today.
Of course the Irish Soccer team is not exactly thrilled either.
Of course a week today at this time my plan is to be recovering from my angiogram and angioplasty. That may not be the plan of the Source of All Positive Energy but I am praying for acceptance.
I hear that Oprah is retiring. Her and I are the same age. The neat thing is that I would not trade places with her for all of her money. Really.
Hey , but I am now a published author. I have article in the Salivation Army Magazine Faith and Friends for December and on their website as well. Makes up for me wimping out on the Santa Shuffle.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I had dinner with some folks in from Ottawa and I guiltily ordered a hamburger with salad for dinner. The salad was oil and vinegar but the burger was a burger. I, in a bizarre brain twist figure that my new life does not start until after the procedure.
I am in Napanee tonight on a dark and rainy and dreary night. Not much to say.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
No …… routine is better.
I am very calm. Okay I had to dial a number the cardiologist’s office and I flash backed to my days in Toronto and dialed up 416 xxx-xxxx and I thought today was a Thursday and not a Wednesday. But I am very calm.
I sometimes use hyperbole (ya figure?). I was talking to a business associate that works for a government agency. He mentioned a colleague of his that works on the Atlantic Coast that I used to talk to about once or twice a quarter. I had not heard from him for a while and it turns out he is getting cancer treatment. So far this year, he has had some massive surgery and 38 radiation treatments. His mouth and throat is so sore from this that he can barely eat. That is something that is worth worrying about. I am taking what ever is dished out to me with all the gratitude that I can muster. Not everybody gets a rest in their running programmes.
My wife took the beagle in to trim his nails. He was so traumatized that she had to take him to the book store and then to McDonalds for ice cream. Not sure how beagle will feel about the arrival of Kindle in Canada.
Monday, November 16, 2009
But I am cool with that because we have a Prime Minister who can not only sing and play the piano but he can dance “fusion Mujra dancing”. He can so! This comes from a source no less implacable than the Globe and Mail. Mr. Harper is of course (or as a reminder when I read this later) in India.
I am considerably less cool with the local Member of Parliament who had the audacity to call me via taped message and accuse me of being a supporter of the bill to kill the long gun registry and that there are dark powers who want to keep the registry and we should all be on guard against this. I like gun control! I think it is smart and saves lives. Why on earth would she think me of being against gun control? How did she get my number?The doctor said to keep my heart rate slow until my repair job.
Keep calm. Keep calm. Think nice thoughts about our MP. No, I can’t. Keep calm.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Daniel 12 1-3
Michael the Boss Angel will come at the nadir of our existence and cause a ruckus by waking up the dead ; some will keep awake for ever and others will get eternal shame.. The wise get extra points
Hebrews 10 11-14
A little reminder that Jesus forgives sins, not the clergy; look it up yourself – that is what it says
Mark 13 24-32
Jesus at his scariest – the sun and moon go dark and the stars fall from the sky, The example of the fig tree that the end is near and that people of this generation will be alive when this happens!!!
Lovers of the apocalyptic go crazy with this stuff. The world will end in 2012…. no, no, that is the Mayans. The world will end in the year 2000 …. no, no, that is in the past. And isn’t Jesus being a little nutty here? How can the stars fall from the heavens? And what did he mean by “this generation” ? Which generation?
Unless, unless , unless the test is talking about every generation. Now that makes sense. Ever generation has its moment in the sun , complete with sunrise, high noon, the sunset and then total darkness, What did my generation (the Boomers) do with our time in the light? Well we did pretty good with rights and acceptance but we went crazy on acquiring material things, burning up all the oil, and leaving a big, big, mess. When Michael the Boss Angel goes flying across us I think that there will indeed be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I don’t think anything here talks about a huge end of time for the universe. Time ends continuously for each and everyone of us. We just don’t know when. Our challenge is just this – when the time ends can we say “I am proud of all I did”
Saturday, November 14, 2009
My mail is getting more interesting, or maybe I am just paying more attention. I have , on top of the thing from the funeral home this week, an invitation Beechwood Cemetery (pardon me; Beechwood National Memorial Centre) for hot chocolate, cider , candles, and carols. And the local drug store considers me now, a “Special Customer,” and the next time and the next time and the next time I go there and spend more than fifty bucks I get 50 Air Miles! My current condition is just like having an American Express Card – it has its privileges.
Today I did some extended beagle walks and am brewing some kind of soup that at this stage involves the slow simmering of a pork hock in a shallot and celery broth. After I defat the thing I will add carrots, barley and then toss in some broccoli in the end and see what comes out. There is always Tim Horton’s as a back up.
The strange health thing this week was my three day cough / sore throat / weak and achy thing. I do wonder if it had anything to do with my flu shot. It is just that a three day cold is a bit bizarre.
I must say that bloging (blogging?) is a bit bizarre in that it is public (my choice) and yet being written exclusively for myself just to keep track. Part of me worries about keeping the external reader happy – part of me says that my imaginary reader will be moved to fall asleep on the spot, as they read about my simmering pork hocks. But my very wise and noble cousin advised me as follows: Don't feel pressured to impress your readers. So as I have, many times, more times that she would even suspect, follow her sage advice.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
My wife and I went out for Turkey Dinner at the truck stop. Usually the Ottawa Valley has Pea Soup on Friday’s but at the truck stop you get it on Thursday’s. Crazy eh? But knowledge like that is what makes living here so neat. I meet four people I know there. That is not really a big deal around these parts but it is a big deal compared to when we lived in Toronto. There, if you met someone you knew on an outing you would talk about it for days but here in OV it is not even worth mentioning but it is one of the reasons why life is so much worth living around here. I am allowed to walk a bit more briskly now, although the adverb “briskly” is usually not applied to the verb “walking” when the object is a beagle . But no matter … I am going to do some longer walks on the weekend and maybe risk a paddle. As long as the good weather holds Tomorrow is another day at the mailbox
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
So I watched, for the first time in years, the CBC Coverage. The neat thing is the pre ceremony coverage and the highlight was an interview with the Silver Cross Mother Della Morley. The interviewer asked an amazingly inane question “Do you remember the moment they told you your son had been killed” Ms. Morley had the grace to continue the interview, and just showed a steel and elegance that few can.
The Governor General was decked out in a military (Mobile Command) uniform which she is entitled to wear because she is the Commander of the CF. My first gut reaction was that it looked a bit silly, and since she has never served, maybe it was not right. Would President Obama have dared wear a uniform today at the Tomb of the Unknowns? But it grew on me. I think that she stretched herself to wear the uniform and that shows a respect for the soldiers and remembrance. And HRH Prince Charles looked pretty striking in his uniform; again I think it showed respect.
Peter Mansbridge , to his and the CBCs credit, maintains silence during the period of remembrance and all in all I am glad that I was able to watch this.
I am glad that the White Poppies have gone back in the Tickle Trunk. I am a little offended by the thought that wearing a Red Poppy means that you support war and wearing a White Poppy means you are against war. I of course in no way can speak for Della Morley but she wears a red poppy. I think she can support war, be horrified by war, be anti war, be saddened beyond imagination by a death, be honored to stand up for all the bereaved on November 11th, be angry, be happy, and still proudly wear a red poppy – just like me.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I am a bit apprehensive about keeping a record of this. It sounds petty and whiny but the purpose of this blog is keep a record of how I am feeling, how I am and thinking so if whiny it is then, whiny it is.
Part of me feels guilty about getting the shot yesterday. I am not really weakened or about to keel over and I feel like I have shoved myself in front of some poor person that really needs the thing. But I do want to be ready when my turn comes up for the procedure and I suppose that makes it all okay. I must say that the County of Renfrew did a wonderful job in the distribution of the shots. They opened up 30 minutes early , explained everything well, had minimal paperwork, provided help for those that had problems, and had a bingo caller telling you where to go. (B28 – Bingo!!)
I really have to say that I keep on being impressed by the Ontario system. The women (well to be fair there were two men there as well who got to wear natty reflective vests) did as I said above, a wonderful job. It has to be physically tough to inject person after person after person for five hours and still smile and look good. Not everybody I am sure is a happy customer and the nurses must be frustrated that a lot of their other projects must be falling off the table.
It really makes me feel small and humble to really understand how many people are out there working on the behalf of others.
Monday, November 9, 2009
The paperwork goes smoothly – and voila, I am given a number just like at the bakery and within 15 minutes I get a cardiogram and then am shown to the examination room where I wait and my cardiologist shows up just a few minutes behind schedule.
Young guy with the word ANIVER written in ink on his hand. (turns out it is his mom and dad’s wedding anniversary today and he needs a reminder. I like him immediately)
He pokes and prods and quizzes. He laughs at my lame jokes. I like him even more. My wife was kind enough and good enough not only to drive me down and pay for the parking , but also to sit in on the appointment. (she does not trust me to ask all the right questions)
The prognosis is that I very likely do indeed have a blockage. So I am given two options. The first is ASWD – Ass Sitting With Drugs. He did not make that term up, I did, but it basically describes what would happen. I would remain lethargic, not have fun with exercise or the outdoors, would watch lots of TV, and wait for the Reaper.
The second option is to have an angiogram to really determine what is going on. The odds are pretty good that they would be able to do an angioplasty at the same time which would, after a period of convalescence allow me to exercise and resume outdoor activities as before. There are some drawbacks to this (one example would be something charmingly called Sudden Mortality) but all in all the odds are in your favour.
He was not even finished the spiel differentiating the two options when I shouted out , in my best George Bailey voice from “It’s a Wonderful Life” ; ‘I want to live’. So I am in the lineup for the procedure, three, maybe four weeks. It should be all done by Christmas. And I know that the final outcome is beyond my control but all in all I am very grateful.
It gets better. Now that I am a cardio patient I, of course, can get the H1N1 shot. My wife (who has asthma) and I lined up at the local clinic at 12:30 and are shot by 2:00 p.m.
So, all in all, today was a good use of a vacation day. And while Premier McGuinty will never read this I just have to say “Thanks Dalton for a very good day”
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I have a 60 minute TV drama anticipation of tomorrow. I want to be diagnosed, treated and cured tomorrow morning. (commercials would be okay) . But I also know this: I have no choice but to accept what is given to me. Maybe he will say nothing can be done about anything ever, I will just be a swing actor waiting to be called on stage for the Big Curtain Call. Maybe I will have to wait for tests and appointments; I will be having my own Cardiac Quebec. It will be waiting for the referendums, holding your breath while they happen, and waiting some more.
The reality is that I am one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth. I live in a time and place that makes my little problem occurring in the Imperfect Calm (or whatever the opposite of a Perfect Storm is) a very lucky turning of the stars.
Near the end of the Sound of Music, Uncle Max Detweiler, makes the comment that this may be the last time the von Trapp Family Singers will be performing in Austria for a long, long, time. In that light I had an Odi’s Kingburger in Renfrew , outside on the picnic tables in the waning sun of an incredibly warm autumn . I look forward to tomorrow unfolding.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
1 Kings 17 10-16
Story of how Elijah (the guy who killed all the Priests of Baal) came to a widow who was down to her last little bit of flour and olive oil. Elijah asks for some water and a piece of bread. She says “Dude, after I go home a make this little bit of bread that is it. My boy and I are going to starve, there is a drought going on. Elijah tells her not to fret; the flour and oil will not run out until the drought ends. Turns out the E Man is right.
Hebrews 9 24 – 28
Story of how Jesus dies only once and so do we. Get it? We only die once
Mark 12 38-44
Jesus and the disciples are hanging out by the synagogue and watching the action. Jesus gets annoyed by all the posers – rich show offs, decked out in the latest fashion right out of GQ acting like they know everything but they know nothing. Some rich guys are giving a lot of money but that seems to bore Jesus. But then a poor woman gives a few coins but that is all she has. That blows Jesus away and he tells his guys that they should really, really, be paying attention here.
What all this means to me today;
Okay, a jar that does not run out of flour, a little reminder, (God knows that he is not dealing with the brightest) that you die only once, and the story of giving your all is important and the ideal.
Hmm …. I have only one life, I will never run out of what I truly need, and if I want to join life to the maximum I had better give it all I have. Not bad … eh?
So I have a few bangs lately with respect to my new found cardiac consciousness. The one neat thing is how much people are willing to share. This morning my wife and I were at the local public school’s indoor garage sale (thanks Premier McGuinty) and I ran into my friend Bill who innocently asked me “What’s new?” so I told him. Turns out he had a very similar experience. It is not my place to tell his story here, but the point is , Bill’s sharing gave me new insights. My friend’s Jim., Don, and Cam have done the same. So, in the course of a very short time I have new respect, new insight , new strength, and new hope.
How wonderful is that?
Friday, November 6, 2009
So now that I am in a period of extended sitting on my behind, why has my appetite grown, and why am I tired all the time?Is it psychological? Maybe I am afraid of what the cardiologist will say about my diet. Maybe I , deep down, have figured out what exactly what he will say. Banished for every will be avocadoes, butter, chocolate, dairy, eggs, French Fries, ghee, halva, ice cream, jam, knish, llama, marmalade, Neapolitan anything, osso buco, pecans, quiche, rice, steak, tuna, udon noodles, vichyssoise, Xanthan Gum, yams and ziti.
Replaced by asparagus, broccoli, cantaloupe, endive, fiddleheads, garlic, honey, iceberg lettuce, kale, lentils, mackerel, nectarines, okra, parsnips, quinoa, rutabaga, salmon, tomato, udon noodles, venison, Xanthan Gum , yogurt, and zucchini.
Okay, if you are going to be anally retentive about the alphabet you can’t escape the udon and the Xanthan. But the lesson here is if you gotta switch you gotta switch. And we have choice .. cool.
But I am going for bacon and eggs tomorrow if my wife is up to it. I want to squeeze in some of the to be banned stuff.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I have also decided to get the H1NI shot on Monday, if time allows after the cardiologist. That has caused me a bit of anguish. I am not really formally diagnosed with coronary disease, just PFL. I basically feel fine and I thought that I should not be knocking over people in wheelchairs just to get a shot. But then I thought this: all the evidence is that I have something serious, maybe it can and will be resolved, but at this point I have every right to protect my health. It was really ego that developed that thought about the wheelchairs being knocked over. An ego has become a luxury I cannot afford.
I got a hug from a friend tonight and she wished me well. I have never been a big hugger, except with my wife. The reason is, that I had a female friend a long time ago who shared with me that hugs could be creepy. The friendly hug that lingers a bit too long, is a bit too tight, and a bit heavy on the body contact. I like to think that I have never been a creepy hugger and I am pretty sure I have not. But somehow I wanted to err on the side of caution. I am not sure what I am trying to say, but that hug tonight was nice. So another bonus, I am becoming more of a hugger.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
In my self centred world I am looking for a solution Monday. I want to be told that this is what this will happen, I will go for this procedure in two weeks and this will happen and I will be out of commission for this long and then I will start practicing for a half marathon. But I may have to accept that nothing will happen Monday or maybe even never. I am not the centre of the universe, nor the Milky Way, nor the Solar System, nor Gaia , nor Canada, nor my Province, not my town, nor my street, nor my house. I am just dust here for a reason yet to be revealed.
The good news is I know what heaven and Eden are like. I don’t know if they are out there beyond the useful dust stage but that does not matter.
Of course centre is a matter or perspective. When I look out I am the centre of everything … it is funny how everything can revolve around a piece if dust and I am not anxious to give up the view just yet. Bring on the PET-CT!!!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I really am pissed off I cannot run. I started this summer doing those 30 second little shunts , worked my way up to 30 minutes and now am grounded like the Space Shuttles soon will be. I am telling my brain this is short term. Half the brain is listening - the other half is doing those crashing flights of fancy.
The neat thing is that no one will read this blog except for me - or maybe a few folks I impose it upon. And unlike the stone tablets of old - they do not store well into time.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Today is a good day as I have an appointment with a cardiologist at the Ottawa Heart Institute on the 9th of November. I must say that things are moving quickly. On the 21st of October I have that pain and a few weeks later I am in the queue for a heard to see specialist. I do think that things are lining up which simultaneously makes me grateful (very) and frightened (a little)
Saturday, October 31, 2009
My doctor was all for it, told me of course to take it easy and I even asked for a stress test at the local hospital. I was on a beta blocker and I even phoned the doctor’s office (Not my doc, but the one administrating the test) and asked if should go off them for the test and was told no - maybe more on that later as well.
So, I start to run 30 seconds , walk for two minutes, walk for 30 seconds, walk for two minutes and so on for 30 minutes. Again, maybe more about that later. But by October 17th I can run 30 minutes at a shot. I prefer ten and ones but no matter, I am a runner. Four times a week, I run. I love it. It relieves stress. I feel good. I sign up for the Resolution Run in Ottawa for New Year’s Eve.
I am out for a run on the late afternoon of October 21st and right near the end I get a bit of chest pain. On the pain scale it barely registers, it is maybe more of a pressure. I tell my wife that I have a bit of muscle pain – a not very smart or clever lie. I swallow a couple of aspirins – not for the pain but just in case that it is a heart thing. I seem to recall somewhere on the information highway that there is a positive connection between heart attack aversion and ASA.
By some alignment of stars and the Higher Power I had an appointment with my doctor first thing in the morning. Long story short – my Monday I am getting a myocardial perfusion scan, complete with treadmill. I luck into radioisotopes from South Africa. I even hit (almost) by target of 155 beats per minute. And then things become interesting. The internist administrating the test asks if I feel any pain and his eye brows arch when I say no.
It seems like I have some sort of blockage. No running, no cycling, no walks …. nothing. So, that is why I am writing this blog. I just want to keep track of the journey. It is going to be personal and boring , very boring. But for my own sanity I gotta keep track.