Sunday, February 28, 2010
It has been a long day for me and I am not going to start deciphering my notes – that is for future blogs, but I do want to tell you about the best most romantic dinner ever with the best partner imaginable. I have been on University of Ottawa Heart Institute food for the last while. I will say, for the record, that it is decent food that is as good as most institutionalized food, healthy, maybe a touch bland but the vegetables are crisp and everything is brought to you hot by caring and courteous staff. But, well you know the but …. We are a spoiled tribe and today I wanted to feast.
So my wife arranged take-out from the best restaurant in the Ottawa Valley – Castlegarth. http://www.castlegarth.ca/Castlegarth/Home.html
So after the Game, we phoned Jennifer and my wife ordered cod with risotto and I ordered a nice lean local loin of pork with White Lake beans and roasted radicchio. I drove with Anda to Castlegarth with me sitting in the back seat ( two reasons – I need to be with someone 24/7 for the first week and for 45 days I cannot sit behind an airbag). The Beagle was in the front seat. We arrived, were greeted by Jennifer. (I showed her a few scars – I have no idea why) and she packed up the food with a free half loaf of their dynamite bread and a container of my favorite Virgin Caesar.
We drove home and ate – it was with the love of my life under truly romantic circumstances. No café in Paris, no bistro in Rome, no sunset dinner in Tofino could beat this. We were celebrating love …. What else is there?
(and for the record: I only ate half my meal and for dessert we each had a chocolate that we have been saving for the purpose since Christmas, ..... the Beagle got nothing, Hey! he got the front seat!!)
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I cannot compete with Andris' skill with the written word. Though I try - it just takes too long - and you'd never get any information on him.
The ICU nurse just called to say that all is going as scheduled, and she has just finished washing him up a bit more, waiting for his body temperature to rise. Before I head out to the hospital tomorrow, I am supposed to wait for a call from the nurse - to tell me how Andris' night was, and what the plan for the day is / when he should be or already is moved to a normal room.
In the meantime - I am heading off to bed - my cell phone right next to the pillow....
Ever since the
it has been a
First – to find out a new date for the surgery
Second – to learn whether or not new blood tests would be necessary (not)
Third – to await the call the day before the surgery, to “confirm it is confirmed”
Fourth – to try to sleep through the “night before the day” and get ready to go
Tuesday February 23rd, 2010
Info: 9:00am arrival for 1:00pm surgery
8:45am Arrival at hospital
8:55am Andris (together with Anda) deals with paperwork
9:05am Andris goes in to be “re-“prepped; Anda brings Andris’ boots to car, gets Tim’s coffee (to be enjoyed out of Andris’ sight)
9:55am Anda allowed to come in to help Andris wait
10:30am Dr Dickie(!) the anaestheologist introduces himself and suggests upping Andris’ pill sedatives from Feb 8th, as Andris didn’t feel that groggy last time and because he (Dr D) will go home after the surgery, where as it will be easier for the nurses to do their thing if Andris is more “out of it”...
10:40am Helen says she will prepare a special potent pill cocktail for Andris to really knock him out– then goes and does other work
10:45am Wait once more
11:30am Andris and Anda discuss what time he will be brought down and was someone going before him.
11:50am Andris comments that the pre-op unit closes for lunch at noon, and that likely he won’t be taken downstairs until closer to 1:00pm
11:52am a gurney is brought in and although the nurses seem surprised, they say it is for Andris, and quickly give him the pill cocktail.
11:58 Anda accompanies Andris as he is wheeled to the OR floor, and tells him that, though he won’t see her, she will see him after the surgery.
Andris on the gurney is wheeled off behind the closed doors
Andris waits for the meds to kick in and for the anaestheologist to do his stuff –not to see his surgeon.
Anda heads for a family lounge for 4-6 hours to wait and see the surgeon.
Monday, February 22, 2010
This time around my feelings are a bit muted by a thought of whether or not this is going to happen, or if I am going to have cancellation number three. I am okay with either, but I would, of course, much rather have the surgery.
I work for a wonderful employer. Since this journey began, I have had to take lots of time here and there off for blood work and tests and appointments. I have spent two days in the hospital as basically a day patient. I have not been performing on all cylinders. I have missed one very important trade show and one training session as I could not travel. Twice I have started to take short term disability leave and twice I have pulled the plug on it.
If I owned the company I would have said enough is enough! Are you here or are you not? How long are you going to stretch this out? How many blood tests do they need? Are you sure that you are not dealing with Count Dracula?
But I do not own the Company. I am grateful that I work for an organization that has policies and procedures in place that recognize that people get sick and they need the benefit of time off and a flow of income to get better. I am very, very, lucky to have that great privilege and I thank the founders for starting this and the present owners and managers to still allow that gift.
My wife has put blue in her hair. That is a guarantee that surgery will take place, so I will see you all in the not too distant future.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I am really enjoying blogging. The best advice I had was early on, when one of my favorite wisdom enlightened ones told me to write for myself rather than the imaginary audience. That gives me the freedom to journal and write all over the place, and as a consequence provides me with a record of my thoughts and feelings.
I am starting to compose this late Sunday and I should be cleaning my personal spaces up a bit, but I spell sloth with five syllables, so I will get to it. My surgery is only on Tuesday so I have lots of time ……
So I will answer a private question(s) posed to me publicly. I will be curious to reflect on my answer after my surgery
What do you eat these days?
What do you eat that's Good? :-)
What do you not eat?
The easy answer is that I eat absolutely everything. I have no banned foods. (I am excluding here substances banned or forbidden by the regulatory authorities). What I do is eschew certain foods. Salty, Fried, and Processed have become my Axis of Evil.
Salt – Even before I knew I was on this journey back in July, I banished the salt shaker from my hand. I went Cold Turkey from being a heavy handed salt shaker to shaking salt so infrequently that it becomes a special occasion that I remember for weeks. After a bit of a period, say two weeks, where I thought foods had become tasteless, I now taste foods in my view in a more enhanced way. Sometimes when we eat out and I have soup (especially soup for some reason) I find it very salty and cannot believe that at one time I may have added salt.
The big danger for me is the hidden salt. I mentioned a few posts ago that I had eaten a couple of breakfast burrito type things and when I checked (after consumption – note to self – check before) they had something like ¾ of my daily sodium limit. I really have to be diligent in checking labels and / or web sites.
Fried - Some foods just don’t taste good unless they are salted and I put French Fries in that category. So that makes it easier to avoid my Evil Axis # 2 and that is fried foods. I am on the road a lot and stuff that comes out of the deep fryer - fish and chips, different manifestations of potatoes, battered anything - sing the Sweet Song of the Sirens , just beckoning me to the Cardiac Cliffs of Sirenum Scopuli . If you asked me a year ago how much fried food I ate I would have answered “Next to None”. But if you asked me to truthfully tell you what I had over the last week I would have said: “Oh, I just had a small fries on Monday, and oh yeah I guess the fish sandwich was deep fried, and then on Wednesday I did stop at Tim’s and I had the Cruller, and I guess I had the home fries when my wife and I went our for breakfast and after that long walk by the Canal, and it was a long walk, I had the Beaver Tail, but it was a long walk ……
So I just avoid the deep fryer. French Fries, Battered Anything, and Tim’s Temptations . It is not really that tough.
Processed - Smoked Meat, Pastrami, Hot Dogs, Italian Sausage, Donairs, Ham. Cookies, Breakfast Cereals, Ice Cream, on and on and on. You know they are bad. Bad for you but bad for the planet. Something like Red River Cereal is of course processed to some degree. It is not just wheat, rye, and flax in a box – there is a bit more to it than that. But not too much more; compare that to the real processed stuff. Look at the product offering of Anthony Tigirs (MILLED CORN, SUGAR, MALT FLAVORING, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, SODIUM ASCORBATE AND ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), NIACINAMIDE, IRON, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), VITAMIN A PALMITATE, FOLIC ACID, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), VITAMIN B12, AND VITAMIN D).
I try to think of all the work, all the effort, all the energy, all the transportation, all the chances for error, all the complication that goes into processed food. It is not good for the planet and not good for me.
What a long winded answer! To recap more succinctly:
What do I eat?
What do I eat that is Good?
Everything – I eat nothing that is not good.
What do I not eat?
Things prohibited by the Regulatory Authorities.
The simpler the food the better.
The less cooked in fat the better.
The less salt the better,
You don’t need meat every day or even week.
Really good coffee is really good.
A Toasted Western Sandwich with a tomato slice on the side is better for you than a three egg Western Omlette with two pieces of buttered toast and a side of home fries. (and still fills you up)
No more than two eggs a week.
Whole Grains when you have a choice
Sweetness you control: not so bad; Sweetness someone else controls: not so good.
Once every two months really good halibut fish and chips with salt on the fries and tarter sauce for the fish is worth it
Worst Current Habit – Pilfering Salted Pistachios from dining room table
Best Current Habit - Eating salad without dressing (what I mean is I put no salad dressing on the lettuce, I do not eat salad while I am naked).
Saturday, February 20, 2010
This Father is always tossing in his Eastern Training. The Gospel today was from Luke about Satan tempting Christ with Material, Power, and Trial. The setup, of course, is for Lent but Father prefaces it with the story of the Evil One tempting Buddha to turn the Himalayas into gold. Few other ministers or priests that I know would do that because an alternate story steals the thunder from the story of your faith. But this guy believes in what he reads and preaches so he does not fall into the trap. Teaching the message properly needs an open mind.
The Mass seating is circular and we stayed seated for everything but the Lord’s Prayer. The start to the Lord’s Prayer: Brothers and Sisters and Our Mother and Our Father who art in heaven …… Again, a very inclusive start to a very inclusive prayer.
The Mass is in a basement with windows so when you look up, you see either sky or trees, depending on how you look. It just adds to the spirituality; a bit prettier than stained glass in my view. The Eucharist bread was home baked and passed around from person to person. Of course I could not participate (Christ did share the bread with all who were with him but the Roman Church doesn’t quite buy that).
At the end of the Mass pebbles were offered to all. The idea was to take one, give it a name of you biggest worry, and hang on to it for Lent so it would turn into a jewel during the season. I called mine Fear.
As I have said many times, I am not religious and not too good at being spiritual. The good thing is that all the religious and spiritual people that I deal with take dummies. Thank goodness for their understanding and generosity.
Friday, February 19, 2010
I think back a few (quite a few ) decades to the Crazy Canucks (Irwin, Read, Podborski, Murray), to Nancy Greene, to Paul Henderson’s winning goal in 1972. (Henderson of course was not an Olympic Moment). But as a child and teenager I still remember the excitement and pride that generated. It was really building on what I thought was my greatest Canadian Moment of Expo 67 and the Centennial Year. Those events made me realize that I am a Canadian and not something else. It was a moment of pride but pride in a good way. Pride in seeing something good and positive in things we have done, rather than pride in being innately superior to others because of the color our skin, or the God that we worship, or something our ancestors did. It has given me a sense of being a proud Canadian ever since.
When you see the shots of the people on the Streets of Vancouver no doubt some are mugging for the cameras. ( I would) But the sum is greater than the parts: There is a pride and satisfaction of a job well done. No one has to be killed, no one has to strap explosives to themselves and everybody seems to have no problem differentiating between reality and fantasy. Everybody seems to know that is the Olympic GAMES.
I have a new love in my life (my wife is very open minded about this sort of thing). I am in love with Mellisa Holingsworth. She came in fifth place today in the Woman’s Skeleton and was willing to still be interviewed on CTV. She was full of tears and raw emotion but she showed class and dignity. It showed that not all of us are winners, that not getting what you want hurts, but that you have to move towards something else. She showed life.
If I could snap my fingers and the sugared drink companies and the hamburger companies suddenly removed their sponsorship dollars what would happen? A bunch of athletes would go home and we would still eat mega burgers and carbonated sugar drinks. If CTV curbed their enthusiasm we would have the CBC.
I am joining the party. There is a lot wrong with the world. There is a lot wrong with the Olympic Movement. But these things fix themselves.
Go Latvia Go
Go Canada Go
Mellisa I love you
Stephen Harper … Stephen Harper …. You married well and have fabulous kids.
Who is the Curmudgeon now?
Monday, February 15, 2010
So I am depressed for things beyond my control and so is the dog. Is there a fix in at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute? The beagle is sure that the whippet has pictures of a judge driving his niece around in Vegas. But he drags me off, in the dark, to the Valley of Fireflies. The valley in the winter does not really merit a capital V, at least not tonight. It is hard to make out detail in the moonless sky. Most of the light is artificial light that is reflecting off the clouds. He has better night eyes than I, but he is parked, staring out at the tufts of grass and cats tails and reeds that are sticking out through the snow. So why are we looking at this? He looks at me, then stares back at the valley and then closes his eyes. What is he thinking?
And then I have it!! In about four months time the valley becomes a Valley. When we walk down then (and we will) the Valley of Fireflies will be alight with a thousand lights that will flicker and shimmer and shine like a Light Show of the Angels. All of this delight and hope is just under the snow, biding its time. The firefly cannot come out until the time is right.
So the beagle looks at me, with one ear a little askew, wondering I have figured it out. Yes master, I have. Timing is everything in comedy and evidently in matters of the heart as well. So we walk back; I am content again. We come back and I ask if we go back to Westminster. Naw, he says, lets flip to Food Network. We can check the Olympics and the Dog Show tomorrow on the ‘net. I am very content and the dog is snoring. Life is good.
A week tonight I should be thinking about the February 23rd surgery. I of course cannot control any of this, but it would be nice to have it when scheduled this time. I am pain free and feel “comfortable” as doctors like to say. But I am annoyed at my indolent, maybe even slothful lifestyle. Today was a picture perfect February 15, 2010 ,not too cold, and certainly not too warm, or too windy or too snowy or too anything else. Yet my snowshoes hang on the garage wall. The skis have not moved since last March. The kayaks have as much of a look of anticipation as a roto molded chunk of plastic can have. The Kona Dew Deluxe is not doing much either.
It is maddening that I cannot get my heart rate up to were I want over the last months. Today I feel just not right. It is not like anything hurts, it is just that I feel tired and sort of noncontributory. I had a good day yesterday and I don’t know if the excitement got to me. Maybe it was yesterday’s salt.
I know that the recovery after the surgery is going to likely make me wish for the “good old days” that I am now experiencing. But I am looking forward to moving on. It will be interesting for me to revisit these words in a few weeks.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
A Perfect Valentine’s Day 2010
Buzzzzz! : What is a benefit of having a cardiac surgery cancelled?
I had one doozy of a Valentine’s Day today; in fact it was perfect.
We started the day with coffee and German Apple Pancakes. Just before Christmas we bought a pretty fancy coffee grinder. In fact, it cost over $200, but it grinds coffee efficiently and well. We now grind our beans all the time and yes, fresh ground tastes better. And, we made a really tasty oven baked “German” pancake with Granny Smith Apples: Perfectly sweet, perfectly tart and perfectly decadent.
Then it was off to the church where my wife was working with a new pianist / organist. That went well, and yet again the priest told the congregation about my surgery. I think at one time I would have felt a bit embarrassed and self conscious about that, but now I take it as a further confirmation that I can absorb positive energy from my Higher Power in many ways.
I mentioned a few sessions ago that I was not using salt at the table at all , but today, I stepped back from that. My wife and I went to a fish restaurant “Lapointes” in Kanata and we both had fish and chips and I PUT SALT ON MY FRIES. The fish and chips were wonderful and I am glad that we did this. Everything that I have read about cardio rehab (and I have a lot to learn) states that there are no forbidden foods; there are foods to avoid and what I had today falls in that category. But, I decided to knowingly indulge today and I am glad that I did.
Being Valentines Day , what have I missed? Chocolate? No , that comes later, we need a romantic opera and we got that in the form of L’eslisir d’amore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L). The narrator was, wait for it, Bob Rae himself. He even got a funny line it about prorogation. The role of Nemorino, the love sick peasant, was admirably song by my cardiac surgeon (and he even recognized me). It truly was a magnificent way to spend a Sunday Valentines Day Afternoon. What’s more, the money earned from the event went to Ottawa L’Arche. http://www.larche.ca/en/communities/ottawa
Since it was a celebration day we went out for a meal yet again. This time to Chinatown (which maybe should be called Pacifica for all the nationalities) for Pho. Never mind how much sodium is in the thing. Think about the bean sprouts and the fresh basil !
We were at home by six and it is nice that even at six, it is not totally dark anymore at all. The sun is rushing back to its summer height. We are not done eating yet – at home more coffee and a lemon pie that we baked yesterday.
My wife went on to watch the Olympics and do some work, while I put on the iPod and sat by the fireplace with a cat or two and finished reading Jeannette Walls’ “The Glass Castle”. It is a book about love under the most dysfunctional and pragmatic and wonderful and horrible and enabling and isolating and hardening and encouraging and frustrating but certainly not boring conditions. It is the Glass Menagerie meets Desert Solitude meets to Kill a Mockingbird meets Oliver Twist with the Book of Job and the Story of Jonah thrown in.
And my wife suddenly tells me that Canada has finally broken the No Gold Curse - Alexandre Bilodeau has won a medal in Moguls. I am no expert on any of this, but I do know that he has a brave gutsy brother – Fredric. Alexandre has said all along that his brother is his inspiration. I cannot think of a better pair coming through for Canada , on this day of love.
I go to the car to get a frozen Kit Kat candy bar and my wife and I share that. The best part of the day is that I was able to share all of this with my wife. I love her for just being. She blunts the tough times and makes the good times soar. That happens every day, but it is so much more intense on a day like today.
A perfect Saint Valentine’s Day – so thank you to the little person that got sick so your daddy could take care of you last Monday so I could enjoy this day.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
CTV has lost so much credibility as a news organization in my view, as they have shilled the games over the last year. It is one thing to advertise the games. but to make it part of the news and almost news, is a bit much.
The Olympic Games in 2010 have become a symbol of excess, extreme consumption, and misplaced and inappropriate nationalism. My upcoming surgery has forced me, in still a limited way, to focus on what is important. What is on my list? Love, Fellowship, Kindness, Cooperation, Frugality, Respect for Others, Respect for the Environment, God’s Will, Life Itself …. I see none of this with my eyes nor hear any of it with my soul in the buildup to these games …. so far. But I am trying to keep and open mind, the opening ceremonies have not happened yet and I will come back after them and see where my head is then.
Thoughts as I watch the opening....
Opening few minutes are a bit rusty; I guess the Four First Nation Heads of State were late. The RCMP marching in the flag was shaky and the singing of Oh Canada was dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.
First Nations Opening nice, very nice, and very right.
March of the Nations a bit rushed but I suppose they cannot toddle slowly.
The Prime Minister looks ecstatic.
The entry of the Georgian Team - the first classy event to the night.
Latvia does not get bumped totally, but Lithuania does so that one of our Olympians can extol the health benefits of the Egg McMuffin. I always feel for the bumped.
And in comes Canada – Why is Shaun White carrying our flag? Oh, it is Clara Hughes …. Okay that was a cheap shot. I have to lose this negative thinking.
I think, as we CTV / NBC flip, I like NBC but CTV has better picture.
The Hymn of the North played out is pretty cool and the Big Bear Puppet and the Breaking Ice are well done.
Orcas swimming well done
Orcas turn into salmon – of course if I were cynical I would say two dying species
And then we have a sacred grove of trees as Sarah McLaughlin chantuses.
And the Alberta Ballet dances and the forest falls, the rain falls, and some float off into heaven, the autumn comes, a guy in a devil hat in a canoe floats in and the leaves fall. Lots of colour and then it is dozens and dozens of fiddlers and dancers. Nice tattoos.
And then it is the Tap Dance Challenge. Grunge Celtic – it shall raise the dead of Cape Breton . Ashley McIsaac - all is forgiven.
Who Has Seen the Wind – Peter Pan in the Prairies. Very good use of the flying harness and wheat field projections. Is that Krall singing “Both Sides Now”?
A thunder storm rolls in that turns into a blizzard!!!
And then a mountain comes out of the floor and skiers come out of the roof – very cool.
And skaters now skate around the mountain.. Skaters that light up!!
We Are More – a little speech on Canada. Maybe a little too puffy and self congratulatory. Way too self congratulatory. Not the time or place. Embarrassing. Lousy way to finish an excellent segment.
Nodar Kumaritashvili’s death is acknowledged as well as it can be as the official opening starts.
John Furlong does an okay, slightly long winded speech.
The Governor General looks bored.
CTV does not see it fit to translate Jacques Rogge when he speaks in French. Neither does NBC.
The Governor General declares the Games open
kd lang sings Leonard Cohen Hallelujah. Nice song, nice singer, but here and now?
It is way past my bedtime but we still have to do the flag and the flame – I will guess 99 Gretzky or my wild card Pelltier and Sale (the skaters – it would be a wonderful poke in the eye)
The flag carriers are good - Betty Fox is one – does that knock her out as a flame person?
A minute of silence for Nodar Kumaritashvili. It is a real silence.
The Olympic oaths
Another song – it is getting late.
And the flame person is - everybody . The torch thing doesn’t really work but it ends up okay. Nancy Green, Rick Hansen, Steve Nash, Catriona Le May Doan are all lighters – a Canadian Compromise. Wayne lights the outside torch.
It is late – it was a good night.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I did not sleep well the night before my anticipated surgery. I did toss and turn and I did not need the alarm to wake me. The morning routine was quite simple: just shave, and brush my teeth and dress. My wife of course, drove me to the hospital. I felt like an eight year old, no wallet, my hospital info stuff was with my wife, and I had no money or keys.
My brain felt peculiarly vacant. While some would postulate that this is nothing new, I found it sort of comforting. My wife, in my view, was doing most of the talking as we drove the short distance to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Friends had graciously offered a room at their house, where, as an added bonus my wife got to sip on expensive bourbon. (the evening before – not in the morning although I am sure that she could have used a shot at about 8:45 a.m.)
We arrived at the UOHI at 5:45 a.m. and just about everything is closed, including the parking lot. Make sure you bring toonies and loonies for meters if you have an early morning at the hospital. The doors to the Pre Admission Unit opened at about 6:15 and I was shunted off to a bed while my wife had to do paperwork (sounds fair to me). Another man and I were given side by side beds, separated by the hospital curtains. The things offer no privacy and I heard that his procedure had been postponed from Friday.
I am instructed to totally undress and put on the hospital gown. I put my clothes in a bag I had been instructed to bring and, after a few checks to make sure I am who I am, Pauline shaves my chest, left arm and legs and groin. It tickles. Then I am off to ashower, get a new gown, and am back in bed as snug as a bug. My wife has signed the papers and we chat.
I am given a few pills with a warning that they take a bit of time to “kick in”. Then three gurneys arrive and I hop on one and an oxygen mask is slipped on me. My wife is allowed to escort me on the elevator and down the hall. Then we come to “Door One” the “Rubicon Door”. My wife kisses me on the forehead (I am wearing the oxygen mask) . I tear up a bit, alternately thinking that this is the last time I may see her and that the ceiling needs cats painted on it. I think the pills are starting to kick in.
I am the first in the OR waiting room, waiting for the others to come. As Pauline puts it “like ducks in a row”. My OR nurse comes up to me and asks if I am set. I am. She says it will just be a few minutes. I make a joke about Grey’s Anatomy – she tells me the operating room stuff is bunk. (Mind you I have never seen an entire episode.) I close my eyes. I feel the cool swish of the invisible oxygen splaying against my face. I see my first day at kindergarten. I see my first dog. I see myself walking along the old railway track behind my parents’ house with my second dog. I hear a voice beside me, asking medical questions of the man who has now been wheeled beside me. Ah, it is his anesthetist. Are you allergic? Did you eat anything? We administer a ….. No that last statement is coming from another bed from another anesthetist. But where is my guy?
I had joked (yes, yes, I know - I am a laugh a minute) with my cardiac surgeon about seeing him the day of my surgery. He replied that I would not see him as I would be in a deep sleep. Of course when I saw him walking up to my gurney, I knew that it would be a day not as planned for me, for him, my anesthetist, nor anyone else on that team.
Another upside to all this – my surgeon is doing a concert on Sunday in Ottawa and I get to hear him sing. I am going to applaud loud.
My wife and I are driven home by our beagle. Those drugs aren’t bad.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
But today I stumbled off the wagon. I had to get some work done on my car today and since my wife was dropping me off at the dealer I kindly and generously offered to buy her breakfast at a local fast food chain. They sell these breakfast rolled up tortilla things by the pair – you could buy them singly of course, but the menu had a pair price, and I succumbed, thinking a bit in a self congratulatory way, that I was at least not willing to up the meal to include a deep fried grated potato thing. I did not think for a second I was eating health food, but Mexican, tortilla, peppers, salsa, a bit of egg and crumbled sausage, how bad could it be?
I checked this evening: I consumed at breakfast, 66% - two thirds - of the allowable maximum sodium. Not to mention 74% of my allowable saturated fat! In one meal!!!
Note to Self – There is no short cut to healthy eating. Fast food will always be high in salt and high in fat. Fast food companies though, for all the heat they take, at least publish the nutrition stuff. The Ma and Pa place does not.
And to be Fair - In the spirit of the anonymity of this blog I am not stating where I ate that breakfast. If someone wants to guess that of course is fine. But as a sidebar note of interest, McDonalds does publish a nutritional calculator on line - http://www.mcdonalds.ca/NutritionCalculator/index_en.html. Good for them. As somebody a bit wiser than me once said : And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Most of the surgery that was scheduled yesterday took place. Mine was cancelled. That raises the question:“Why me?” But it also raises the question: “Why not me?” Am I so special, important, unique, etc., etc., that I should be immune to even minor adversity?
Not getting something you want when you want it, is very empowering. It teaches, or reminds the dense like me, that I am not entitled to anything. Everything I have is a gift from others. I have done nothing to earn it. Freedom has been gifted to me and I frankly do little to keep it. I don’t worry when just about every business that I phone, cheerfully announces that “this call may be recorded”. I laud security cameras. I don’t even think about Gmail’s insertion of ads relevant to my topic (receive a message on snow shoeing and the sidebar ads will be on snowshoes) and assume they never keep that information. Of course the government does not read our emails and search for naughty phrases.
The delay yesterday helped me spiritually link up a little with the people in the world that get less than they deserve. That of course is most of the people on the planet. It is good for the over pampered and over indulged like me to make that linkage once in a while.
I am not suggested that what happened to me was good – it was not. But what am I going to do about it? Ask for more government spending on cardiac care? Am I going to write a letter? Am I going to publicly advocate the HST in Ontario to help pay for it? Am I going to support the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Telethon in March? Or am I going to do nothing? What a palette – Do Something or Do Nothing At All!
Not getting something you want when you want it, is very empowering.
Monday, February 8, 2010
The lesson here for me is quite timely. I have been working on prayer because I really have no idea how to do it. People say that prayer is just talking to God. (as a side note, I am not a religious zealot of any stripe; I call God , as the regular reader may know, SOAPE – Source Of All Positive Energy – at least that is the way that I can get my head around God or a Higher Power).
So anyway, prayer is communication with God. So what kinds of prayers are there? I used to be good at Prayers of Negotiation I am in a jam; if you get me out of the jam, I will do a service for you. That did not seem to work, but interestingly enough I did get out of jams without asking.
Then I evolved to Prayers of Petition – I lay out a carefully laid out and reasonable request: I don’t want pain; I don’t want to die. That sort of thing. But, someone always hurts, someone always dies. I can say “Why me” but I can also say “Why not me”. The Prayers of Petition always make me uncomfortable - there is something about them not right.
Prayers of Thanksgiving are the Polite Prayers. You give me a silk scarf and I say thank you. I have a day of health and I thank God. Prayers of Thanksgiving are the Polite Prayers and they are humbling. They remind me that clean water, and the food in my pantry, and a warm house, and a safe street are not things that I have created or earned. They have been gifted to me and I have the moral responsibility to pass the gift on to others.
Does position matter when you pray? I am sure that some of the most rigorous prayers are done from all kinds of positions: prone in foxholes, kneeling in front of the toilet, driving in a blizzard, staring at an exam paper. I have never had to have been in a foxhole, but I have done the others. But I did one prayer a day kneeling. It was my way of showing my brain that there are energies and powers and spirits greater than myself out there.
Kneeling – maybe not so good when I have my surgery, so how about praying standing up? That was a revelation to me and, as crazy as it seems, standing up made me think of something for the first time and that was that you can do Prayers of Listening. I am not, of course, in any way, shape or form the first one to think of that, but somehow for me I saw it clearly for the first time. If I stand up and listen, I can maybe hear the Wisdom of the Ages, the Word of Allah, the Direction of God, the Voice of the River, or absorb even more energy from SOAPE.
All that happened today was that I did not get something I wanted, when I wanted it. It gives me the chance to finish tasks. It gives the chance to learn more about the health care system. It gave the anesthetist some piece of mind. And maybe it will help me hear just a little better.
Got up at 5am Monday morning. Leave friends' home 5:30am
5:45 at hospital (pre admission unit (PAU) opens at 6am - parking lot opens at 7am, Tim Horton's opens at 7am - but PAU wants you there at 6am)
He goes to be prepped at 6:15
About 6:20 I get to do the paperwork
By 6:45 he is shaved showered and medicated with "happy pills" to ease tension
7:10 the gurneys arrive for the 3 patients scheduled for morning surbery.
7:15 he is wheeled and taken to the basement (where the OR is located) and I get to go down the elevator with him and say by-for-now
7:20 I have Tim's coffee and breakfast sandwich
By 8:00 am at home of friends, say that his bypass should be now starting (since they are so efficient)
8:10 go for shower - to wake-up from restless night and early morning
8:12 decide to bring cell phone to bathroom - just-in-case the hospital calls, though think that is silly
8:30 showered and dressed and just about to dry hair and cell phone rings
8:35 tell friends that his surgery has been cancelled - that is postponed due to missing anesthetist (away due to illness of child)
By 9:00 am back at hospital to pick him up (first time I go to room I forget to bring his clothes... must have been the breakdown moment)
I wish someone had given me some happy pills.....
Sunday, February 7, 2010
So here I am in February 7, 2010, and I feel the same way. I know that I am supposed to show up at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute tomorrow at six in the morning and after that it is all beyond my control.
I am overwhelmed by my good fortune in all of this. I have been pain free. The problem was discovered before anything catastrophic happened. The support and love of friends was overwhelming. I am not Catholic, but my wife is, and I was at Mass yesterday and the priest announced my line that “I want prayer for my healers and not me”. He said that he was praying for both me and my healers that I thought was pretty all right. What's more, they prayed for me at the Lutheran Church in Ottawa today. Wow!! Two days, two churches, two prayers. I have this blog, that is therapeutic for me. My employer has been golden. The University of Ottawa Heart Institute has been golden. My wife has been platinum. The beagle and cats are showing mild concern. I feel that I am much better at hearing the voice of God.
It is a bit before noon as I write this. I want this recorded in this blog. I am one of the most blessed people on this planet and I do not have the vocabulary or skill to express my true gratitude.
I am not sure when we shall next meet but I intend to keep coming back.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
I am concerned and fear is in me, but it is not getting the upper hand. I have never been in the hospital for anything more than a day procedure. I have never had stitches. I have never had surgery. I am certainly going to make up for lost time.
The most bizarre thing is that I feel fine, at least I think I feel fine. I have next to no discomfort or pain. The nitro patches give me flickering headaches some days, and some days I seem to fatigue easily. And yet part of my cure after the surgery likely entails me feeling the worse that I have felt in my entire life . Logically this all makes sense, but it is a bit strange to get my head around all of this.
Speaking of my head - that is the part that I worry about (please no snickering). I think of my self as: relatively sober thinking, at least in my own mind ; clever, at least in my own mind; sometimes witty, at least in my own mind; a capable of being spiritual, at least in my own mind, sort of guy. I think I am nice and decent and the sort of person that you would not overly object to being a seat mate on a trans Canada flight. I hope that the surgery and drugs don’t turn me into some sort of forgetful, spiteful, nasty, self-centred ogre. I hope that I don’t become a blubbering idiot. I have already apologized in advance to my wife for this.
You hear so much on the emotional side of this (well, at least you do as a patient). One friend of my wife’s even said that this surgery is like the finger of God poking your heart. I have seen pictures of the painting on the Sistine Chapel and God has huge honking fingers. I know that the God of my understanding is going to keep his paws to himself and let the surgeons do their job.
This blog has been all about my woes and my perspective. None of this would have been within my ability to stand it, were it not for my wife. She has driven me to a large number of my tests. She is the one that had to hang out all day at the hospital while I had my angiogram. She is the one that has to do all the worrying, I mean the real worrying because it is always harder to worry about the health of someone you love, than you own. I have every reason to be optimistic about my recovery, but she will be chauffer, day nurse, night nurse, maid, cook, dishwasher, dog walker, cat wrangler, sidewalk shoveler, psychiatrist, mother, father, pharmacist, DVD inserter, and whine attendant. I am not very good at prayers (still in learning) but if anybody out there is, please pray for her. I am so grateful and thankful that she is in my life that a prayer from me would not do my gratitude, or her, justice.
Friday, February 5, 2010
It is the “Train of Life Changing Illness” and of course it is full. But I get on and go to my reserved compartment – two bench seats across from each other. My glasses are fogged and I cannot make out who is there, but I see two men - one seated on each side. I know that both are hoping that I don’t sit beside them, but that cannot worry me; I am tired and have to sit down.
Holy Moly!! I am sitting beside Jack Layton. He is looking a bit silly as he is wearing a Houndstooth Wool Cap in an NDP Orange Harris Tweed and a Gortex Macintosh. But he smiles the Jack Smile and tells me “Hi, I am Jack Layton. I have prostate cancer, but so do a lot of people. I am getting it treated here in Canada and while I may go down a couple of times, I am not staying down. Have you had your prostate checked out?” I tell him that I have indeed. I tell him that I have heart disease. I tell him that I am having it treated right here in Canada as well. I tell him that lots of people have heart disease. I tell him that it often goes undetected. I tell him that it is a real danger for women and that Olivia should really get herself checked out.
I also tell him that his cap looks silly. He looks hurt and tells me that this is really my fault for not having Edith Head do the costumes. Touché – the man has a point. The guy sitting across from us is immaculately dressed. I can tell his navy blue blazer is a Samualsohn because he has not cut off the sleeve label. He is wearing a fedora pulled over his eyes, like he is trying to hide, and on his lap is a Valextra Diplomatico briefcase. He is really clutching it; his knuckles are white he is holding it so hard.
“Isn’t that Danny Williams” I ask. “I am pretty sure it is, but he won’t look me in the eye and pretended not to hear when I spoke to him” Jack replies. We wonder why Danny Williams or a Danny Look-alike is on the train.
The door suddenly flings open – it is Kathy Dunderdale , the Deputy Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. I have no doubts where her surname came from – “It is none of your damn business who that man is, and what he has in his briefcase, it is private, private, private, you left wing rabble!!” I meekly try to tell her that I once shook Mike Harris’ hand (hey, he extended it – what was I supposed to do?)
Suddenly the train goes dark! We hear a blood curdling scream “It’s the Steve! It’s the Steve!” The sounds of loud and angry people pierce the air. I am frightened and don’t know what to do. Shouts of Equalization and Lying Bastards pierce the inky blackness.
And then there is silence, just the quiet and gentle rattle of the train. And there is light. But there is no man sitting across from Jack and me – just an empty seat. I move across to it to give Mr. Layton some more room. But we both are sad. I learned something from Jack Layton and I think he learned something from me. But from the mystery man on the “Train of Life Changing Illness” we learned nothing. What a missed opportunity.
Fade to the conductor, who looks just like Alfred Hitchcock, collecting tickets.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Fear, Resentment, Anger - Guest Bloggers!!
This is my blog, and I should write it of course myself, but I have been having guests visit me at two or three in the morning, and rather than ignoring them or deflecting them, I have decided to let them plainly and openly state their cases.
Fear – Yes, thank you, I am ahh Fear and you have to excuse me. I am frankly a bit frightened …. That was a joke; you know to break the ice. Never mind, let’s get to it. Okay, you could die, you could have a heart attack, the pain medication may not work, or it may make you sick, or, best of all it may not work and make you sick. Ha!!! Those tubes down your throat and up your whazoo are going to feel very, very, strange. And what if something breaks while up your whazoo? Boy, I would not want to be in your shoes. And what if a Boeing Dreamliner is flying overhead and an engine falls off and lands in the OR? Hey!! That was not supposed to be funny!! How do you backspace on this? Oh, you can’t …. What kind of BS is that? Look, I do better at , I don’t work in the light. The hell with all of you, I am leaving.
Resentment - What a waste of time your summer was!!! All that kayaking, all that time with your fat ass on that bicycle. And the jogging … okay at the start you could barely run, and by mid October you were so proud of those ten and ones. But you are going for a frigging bypass!! And did you make your big race night on December 31st? Did you? Did you? Did you? Did you?
Okay, your family doctor that you love so much told you she was proud of you, and the cardiologist told you the running was the best thing that you could have done, but are you really so dumb that your don’t understand that they get paid to say that?
Oh, Fear is right, this writing stuff out is stupid. We don’t operate that way. That Father Jack told you to not ignore us, to feel us. He meant at three in the morning, not now. This is going to ruin me. I am going to play this back and play it back and play it back. It is going to drive me insane.
Anger – I am not biting. Those two stupid idiots Fear and Resentment fell for that trap Father Jack set out. Father Jack in his orange scarf from the Ashram telling you not to hide us away. Telling you to let us tell our stories. Telling you that we should not be buried because we would emerge some other way. He is a fool. And you are a fool. And that beagle of yours is a fool. And Fear and Resentment are Super Fools. I am leaving. It is so much easier to work with the Tory Caucus.
Well the boys have had their say. I think that I was fair and open and I let them say what they wanted, but I am of course not responsible for their comments. But yes, my friend Father Jack did indeed suggest that I do not repress my fear, resentment or anger. I feel that I was fair and open to them and I do not need to see them now at three in the morning. I plan on sleeping.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
The whole Danny Williams story has brought out a lot of comments to me. Some of my American colleagues view my situation with pity , almost as I am a poor simpleton who does not know better. In the
But then I dig a little deeper. Would I really stay in my bed and have the bypass the next day? Well, not necessarily the next day, it depends on how much blood they have, it depends on the availability of the cardiac surgeon – they just don’t sit there waiting you know. So, I just lay in my room waiting? Sure, if you want to pay for your room, but it may be less expensive to go home and wait for the call.
So when the call comes, I just show up, right? Well, not necessarily, you have to check the surgeon out. How many of these things has he done? Have you checked out the rating websites? And what about the hospital; is it accredited? What is their germ outbreak stat? Their what? Germs, viruses, bugs, that sort of thing, you don’t want to come home sicker than you were.
This is delicate, but how much is this going to cost me? Ah, it depends on your plan (you do have a plan .. right?) , but it should be no more than eight grand, and if you take it easy on the pain killers you are not only going to avoid addiction problems but you will cut down on the out of pocket expense.
How about the rehab programmes once you are out? You mean the rehab programs? Are you out of your frigging mind? Why do you think God gave us the city block?
No question that the likes of Danny Williams and David Letterman will be well cared for by their healers. But I trust my family doctor. I trust my family consultant doctor who resides at the head of many waters. I trust my cardiologist. I trust my cardiac surgeon. I trust my triage nurse. I trust my spiritual adviser. I trust my Higher Power SOAPE. Sometimes you have to fall back and have confidence that the angels will protect you from being dashed upon the rocks.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
All I can say from my tower of artificial ivory is this: Good for Him. I love nothing more than taking cheap shots at politicians; anyone from the Prime Minister, to that woman who claims she is our Member of Parliament. But I wish every politician in Canada, whether they are on village councils or on Parliament Hill itself, all the best when it comes to their health and security. (I wish this for everybody of course, but today’s focus is on Mr. Williams.)
The nature of his disease is no one’s damn business except for those that Mr. Williams chooses to share it with. The same for where he is going – why do we the public have this obsession with details that have no relevance to us?
As for the money: Danny Williams is rich – good for him. In fact he donates all of his salary as Premier to charity. I am rich enough, but I would not mind his wealth, but that is just petty envy. So, if he is paying money out of his pocket, then I am glad that he has the ability to do so. And if he can get the Newfoundland Health Care System to pay for a portion of the fees, then he should exercise that right just like any other citizen of the Province. I certainly am in no position to comment on the level of Cardiac Care in Newfoundland and Labrador.
I am rich beyond the dreams of most people on the planet. The starving in sub Saharan Africa would not believe what I throw out in the compost. A mother carrying her child to a clinic in Haiti would be astounded by the medical miracle that I am about to experience. A homeless person would not believe the square feet that my wife and I share with our pets. Someone lacking a family doctor would not believe the competence and compassion of ours. An alcoholic who cannot remember the night before, would not believe that I (for the most part) remember all of my nights before.
Health Care in Canada is a rationed resource. You cannot get what you want, when you want it. So yes, I am frustrated that I did not have my surgery two months ago. It does eat into my quality of life and my quality of time I give to others, most notably my wife’s and my employer’s. And, even thought I am repeatedly told that my risk is low, the Demons of Two A.M. see it another way.
But here is the Gospel Truth: If Danny Williams came to me right now and said this: “My son, I will trade you my first class airplane ticket and my bed at a top dog, top tier, top dollar, USA Hospital for your bed at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute” I would say back: “No thank you sir, but I hope that you have a successful surgery down South”
It is good to know that money cannot buy some things.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Mr. H’s surgery was the repair of an aneurism deep inside his body. In fact, his surgery was considered considerably of a higher risk than mine, so I was elated to see him up and at it, so to speak. He is two decades older than I and has an abundance of spiritual strength. He looked a bit frail and tired today, but still had his wry sense of humour. I jokingly (well, I tired to make it sound jokingly) told him that I did not want to see any scars and that worked until his friend Archie came in. Archie had similar surgery a while ago and wanted to see the scar , and well I was there and saw part of it anyway. I guess I am ready for my scar now.
This was my first visit to the general floor of a hospital in Ottawa in a few years – busy place. The nurse cheerfully told me that cell phones, BlackBerrys, iPods and even laptops are allowed in your room once you are a resident. I did not know that. The hospital is a hectic place – I am not trusting of having my company owned laptop there and I doubt that I would want access to the Company Network, or the Internet, or even my Blog ( the world will just have to live without it for a few days) . I am not sure that I would put the BlackBerry in the class of essential either. And (the non trusting side of me is emerging) I decided to purchase a cheap (sub $15 with taxes) MP3 player and leave the iPod at home.
My first thought was to on it, my long possessed, but not listened to yet CD of Moby Dick - all 21 hours , but I decided that , that would be enough for my relatively normal mind , never mind one in bypass self pity mode, so here is what I ripped to put on the $15 MP3/
1. The Essential Bruce Springsteen – Album 1
2. Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell
3. Elina Garanca – Bel Canto
4. Charlie Haden / Hank Jones – Steal Away
5. A Winter’s Solstice - Various Artists (New Age)
6. Andréa Bocelli - Romanza
7. Soundtrack to Philadelphia - Various Artists
8. The Greatest Musicals - Various Artists
9. The Bridges of Cape Breton (Fiddle and Fancy Steppin’ Music)
10. Cosmos – PA UN PAR
I figure the above will be enough in the simple, song at a time, no showing of the title, no shuffle mode of my little player. It will be like a giant Eight Track. Note 1 to Self – I just tried the thing. Steve Jobs is not going to lose sleep over $15 MP3 putting a dint in Apple or anyone else. Maybe I should have tried to find an Eight Track – but hey this MP3 will add to the fun. Note 2 to self – find one of your cheap (like $15 headsets or earbuds) – the ones included in the $15 for all bundle are real bad.
I also have to decide if I want to rent a TV or not. I think that TV would only add to my malaise but on the other hand maybe Jerry Springer is good for the soul. Maybe …..
The downstairs of the Civic Hospital is like a small shopping mall. Flower Shop, Book Store, Drug Store, Second Cup Coffee Shop, Greeting Card Shop - there is nothing wrong with that I know, and yet I found those commercial operations made me feel uncomfortable. Maybe it is like hawkers selling in the shadow of a shrine.
I think that overall I am becoming grumpy about things. I know that the surgery was delayed for good reasons (the reasons were good .. right?) but it is frustrating. I made a loan to American Express as somehow, last cycle I paid my bill twice on line. It is nice for once to have a credit with a Credit Card Company but I would rather have the money than them. It is just that the delays and worries and fears are eating away at me. It is not like the voracious devouring of flesh by a pack of rapid wolves. It is more of the nibbling of a cute little chipmunk on a pile of peanuts. Nibble, nibble, cute , cute, and then you see the little bastard’s cheeks and you see that he has half the bag in his mouth. Woe is me!! I am being consumed by a chipmunk!!!
Take a breath, rub the beagle’s snout, carry the black cat around the house …. Whew, take another breath. There , I am fine. I have my serenity back. Today, the mayor of yet another Ottawa Valley town expressed his concern for me (and I don’t even pay taxes to that town). I certainly owe AMEX no money. I have an MP3 player that anybody can steal without regret on my part. I had a very good visit at the hospital today. (Mr. H had been better telling the truth about the low level of pain he was having)
Mr. H and his friend Archie are two tough dudes by the way. I was not fit to be in the same room as them, but they did not seem to mind. Those two guys really know how to trudge the road that we share and it is good to be able to follow them.