Monday, November 30, 2009

In case anybody is wondering, I am also frightened: frightened of dying , frightened of pain, frightened of scars, frightened of depression, frightened of being in the small percentage where this does not work, frightened of taking on more that I can handle, frightened of giving my wife more than she can handle, and frightened of fear. In fact fear has become the “F” word that worries me now.

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

The world has something like 6.8 billion people in it. According to the stuff I have been able to glean, less than 10% of the world’s population has access to anything that one would reasonably call decent cardiac care.
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?
A blog is funny, in that it is a diary or journal that is public. Not that this thing would ever be read by more than a handful of people, but there is a difference in writing stuff and locking it up in a safe, and putting it in a blog.

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

Three things that you don’t want to hear:

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

I am munching on a Chocolate Pecan Cookie as I write this. It may not be my first one. But, and this is a very important BUT, the cookies were purchased today at the Ottawa Heart Institute. I was in for blood work and accosted by a nurse, surgeon, security guard a very sweet direction volunteer. If this cookie had been made by Lynn at the Neat Coffee Shop I would have thought; the butter, the sugar, the chocolate chips, the pecans ……but since this came from the Ottawa Heart Institute , I am sure the melt in your mouth, full frontal assault on every taste bud on your tongue, was illusionary.
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

For years and years I drove by a restaurant in Ottawa called Coconut Lagoon. It was on St. Laurent Boulevard, not far from Beechwood Cemetery (sorry; Beechwood National Memorial Centre, Beechwood National Memorial Centre, Beechwood National Memorial Centre). What a goofy name for a place! (Cononut Lagoon not Beechwood etc etc) Goofy d├ęcor! I knew the menu without having to look at it. Aqua Blue rum drinks with names like Bali and Orleans High! Appetizers like Ultrathick Batter Chicken Balls with Sweet Red Sauce. The mains would be Gilligan’s Grilled Burger with Kraft Peanut Butter Sauce, I Gotta Wash That Man Outta My Angel Hair Spaghetti with Cheese Whiz Sauce, and Deep Fried Thai Fries. A place for rubes and the Conservative Caucus. I could tell all of this in drive bys.

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

I really miss the running. When I first started, it was a drudgery, but it soon became a habit and then became an addiction. It was a good way to start the day. Getting up at 5:30, having a coffee and a banana, and then being out before six was very satisfying. Since I started running in July the darkness crept up in the morning very slowly, but by October of course, I was running in the dark and seeing the constellations of late winter in the sky. I sometimes did a dusk run and that for some reason, did not seem as rewarding. The morning run just made the day better.
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

Dear Blog Writer;

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

It time for my take on Matters of Biblical Proportions.

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

I wish to use this semi public forum to announce to the world that I am the proud, and trying to be humble, recipient of my first ever medal. Lest any man or woman reading this is of little faith, let me assure you, as I live and breathe, and on the coat-tails of my Source Of All Positive Energy (SOAPE) that I swear that it is a real medal. It is made from shiny metal, engraved, and hangs from my neck.
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

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

What a day! I had some pants that were supposed to be ready today in Ottawa and they weren’t. The horror! The agony! Oh for crying out loud I am kidding! I do not care about pants. (Well I do of course, I don’t look good without pants but having pants on time is not a deal breaker)
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

Today I was off to one of my old stomping grounds at CFB Trenton. I used to teach course there and always thought of it as a fun place. Never in my wildest nightmare would I have thought that , that airfield would have received 133 bodies from soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
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

And finally it arrives. My letter comes in from the Heart Institute and I am booked Friday the 27th of November. For me , in my Self Ego Mode, it is a momentous day that is coming up. For the hospital it is just another day, which of course is a good thing, as it would not be good if the hospital were running around saying “Oh my God! Oh my God! We are actually going to do an angiogram and maybe an angioplasty!! Wow! This is so cool! Wait until we tell the guys at the bar.
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

Monday trip to the Super Mail Box and nothing from the Heart Institute,
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

Today’s readings are exciting! The end of the word!! The end of heaven!!! Final judgment!!!!! Avenging Angels!!!!!!

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

Nothing this week from the Heart Institute about any appointments; how can that be? I am not important? Are there other priorities? Are there other people who need help? Do they expect me to wait my turn? I guess …..
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

I rush to look at the mail today hoping for something from the Heart Institute. There is stuff from work, stuff from Rogers, stuff from one of the local funeral homes (they care enough to let me know about the Pre Arranged Funeral Program) but nothing from the OHI. Am I being inpatient, neurotic, self-centred, niggling, and boring? I know the answer.
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

Today, the eleventh of November is of course Remembrance Day in Canada. I always try to get to a Cenotaph, either in my local town or even in Ottawa. Today, with blue skies and comfortably nippy temperatures, would have been the perfect day to go out, but my hacking cough not only would have disturbed the solemnity of the moments of silence, but I likely would have done in a few of the more mature veterans if they caught something from me.
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

Today I am achy, not as in Achy Breaky Heart, (that is under control, or a least in the queue) but as in achy all over. Maybe that is my reaction to yesterday’s flu shot, or maybe I caught what my wife had – a sort of viruses passing at night thing.
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

I am impressed by the Ontario Health Care System today. For starters the traffic on the Queensway is light and then there is a parking spot right in front of the Heart Institute. It may be a push to thank for the Premier for that, but hey, he gets cheap shots all the time so I may as well thank him for the good start.
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

Well tomorrow is my big day with the cardiologist, assuming he has not been done in by H1N1. I know that I have no control over what will happen. I am just another unit rolling along the health care conveyer belt and I am stopping by his work station. I am sure he cares and all that, but for him it is just another Monday morning and I am likely the first of many patients that he has to see. Maybe he worked all weekend and Monday is just mid week for him.
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

Warning Warning Warning (As Robot said in Lost in Space) I am not religious, I am not Catholic. But I do go to Mass, and I take my own spin away: sorry if I offend anyone (of course you need readers to offend but I digress.)
Today’s Readings
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?
Many moons ago I made a drastic change in my life, and all I thought that I could hear, was the sound of closing doors. Bang – no more fun at parties. Bang – New Year’s Eve will be just another night. Bang – Why even bother going on a cruise? I soon learned that the bangs were the sound of new doors opening. I have more fun at parties then ever, maybe some New Year’s my wife and I watch the Wizard of Oz for the 2 millionth time while eating olive bread fresh from the oven but it is still wonderful to bring in a New Year against the background of flying scary monkeys.
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

In general terms when one cuts back on exercise, like I have, then one should cut back on food intake. Somehow I have a vague recollection that there is at least a theoretical connection between calories consumed and calories expended.
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 just got back from hearing someone speak of his trials and tribulations as he trudged the road of happy destiny. The courage and the bravery of this man had to breach the walls of hell itself as he struggled just to exist. It took my breath away. The good thing about courage and hope is that it is contagious and I was able to take away more than my fair allotment tonight.
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.
I am mad at my wife today. She is daring to come down with perhaps the flu. She has aches, pains, fever, fatigue, cough, sniffles, and …. DENIAL. How dare she steal the Pity Spotlight from me? I am a potential cardiac patient. I could take my nitroglycerin and show my self to the front of the H1N1 Pig Flu Line. I could threaten to blow everyone up! And here she is getting sick? The beagle feels sorry for her and not me. I am feeling guilty when I eat the last Halloween mini Kit Kat. (well, I did offer to it to her ….. I forgot that she also has lack of appetite) . I cannot believe the world still revolves when I have a problem.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Imaging techniques at the Heart Institute include Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Computer Tomography (CT), SPECT and Canada’s first combined cardiac PET-CT machine. (stolen right from the web site) Cool … I guess. But search anything on the internet and you will find pros and cons. An expensive, inconclusive, cancer causing toy or a life saver. Who knows?
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 have a very small problem compared to most - I have an appointment with a cardiologist, I am told I am at low risk so why is it that I keep doing these flights of fancy that all end in crash landings? Am that shallow and self centered? I guess.
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

I have become a pill popper. On half beta blocker pill, a Crestor, two daily aspirins, a multi-vitamin, a vitamin D, a fish oil pill, and a fibre pill. Plus I lug around my nitroglycerin. The worse thing is no exercise. No running, no cycling, no time out on the river, no time on machines. I have left a message for my doctor if I can start yoga.
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)