Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Miracle

WE are here for a reason. We do things that affect others - whether we know it or not. I learned this lesson yesterday. I do not want to forget this lesson so am writing a Blog about my 2011 Christmas Miracle.

Yesterday I received a call from my sister-in-law. My brother died of brain cancer in August 2008 (3 years ago). I had went to visit him 3 days before he died (altho he was still walking and seemed fine) - his death after I arrived back home was so unexpected. My sister had died of brain cancer 3 years previously (2005). She lasted a year, while from the time of my brother's diagnosis and death it was only 3 months. (Notice here how the number 3 appears so often.... (am just realizing this as I type this Blog).

Regardless, my sister-in-law told me that since my brother's death, she had put up her Christmas tree in their livingroom instead of the usual place (which was in a corner in the hallway, besides the winding staircase leading to the 2nd floor, next to the entry into their kitchen). But for 3 years (2008, 2009, 2010) ... number 3 again... she had put it in the livingroom because she could not bear seeing it where they usually put it up - decorating it together. She told me that this year, she had decided to revert to putting their tree back to where it had always been before his death - safely tucked in the corner besides the staircase.

She said since she had done that, she had had mixed feelings - whenever she looked at the tree, it reminded her so much of Gerry and she was unsure she had done the right thing.

Then yesterday morning, she received the Christmas card I sent her.

I had bought a new box of Christmas cards this year, with an assortment of designs.   She wanted to thank me and to tell me, in tears, that the card she received from me was that of a tree tucked into a corner besides a winding staircase, with the kitchen just peeking through in the corner of the card. The tree looked exactly like her tree (color scheme), the winding staircase was just like theirs - even to the color white of the railing and the kitchen was just behind it - if one took a picture of it, it would be almost identical to the card I sent her. She wanted to thank me - because - to her - it was a confirmation she had made the right decision and that my note of 'am with you in spirit' that I signed on the card moved her and she felt Gerry's presence surround her. She now knew she had made the right decision to put the tree up exactly where Gerry would have wanted her to.

I felt a shiver run through me. I had randomly chosen this card to send her - or had it been 'random' ?  Do we truly know how our actions or inactions affect others? How many miracles have we done in the past that we do not know about? How many miracles that happen do we attribute to 'coincidences' ?  I am assuming many. Like in the old movie 'It's a beautiful life' - if you had not existed, how would this world be different? I think it would be very different and not in a good way. We are here for a reason.

A good friend of mine had posted this yesterday on her wall in facebook and it truly moved me. The call last night moved me even more. Here is what was posted on Facebook:

The top 10 things dead people want to tell living people are:

1. They're not dead.
... 2. They're sorry for any pain they caused.
3. There's no such thing as a devil or hell.
4. They were ready to go when they went.
5. You're not ready.
6. They finally understand what they were missing.
7. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the moment you arrive.
8. Don't try to understand this now, but life is exceedingly fair.
9. Your pets are as crazy, brilliant and loving, here, as they were there.
10. Life really is all about love, but not just loving those who love you...

In their own words,
The Universe

Monday, 26 September 2011

It's Been a While

As my Title above says -- it's been a while. 

I have not been writing much these past few weeks - month even.  I don't know why.  I feel like I am at a crossroad and am waiting to either get hit by a car or to have the cars stop and I will cross the street safely to the other side. 

My blood work - for one thing - is fine now.  It was up  (in the 3.5 range), then I lowered my dosage of warfarin and it lowered slightly (2.85) then again (2.39).  And I hope it remains there and does not decrease any further - but stays where it is - more or less.  I don't want to have to go on my higher dosage of warfarin.

I had a cystoscopy done since I last wrote.   All looked good  (said the doctor).  I had a CT Scan of the kidneys, stomach and pelvic area last Wednesday and I go for results this coming Monday - I totally expect things will be fine.  I had had a CT Scan of just the kidneys a couple of years earlier and the Scan took a lot longer - a lot more pics - they had to get the radiologist see it, then took more pics.  This time, I was in and out within 10-15 minutes - nothing to alarm me - surprised it did not take as long as the first one - which tells me that all went well - that there were no abnormalities (the last CT scan of kidneys showed 99% blockage of main artery to left kidney) - so - hence why they took extra pics.  So am not nervous - this CT Scan will be fine.

As for the results of my pulmonary test - well I had gotten a hard copy of the results (altho have not talked to my cardiologist about it) - but at least I have gotten the results.

As for the results of my Cardiac MRI - still no results. No news is good news they say eh?  Yeah, but today makes it 6  weeks since I had the MRI - would kind of like to get the results.  They must take a while.  And it was summer and vacation time, right? 

Went golfing a few times.  One time, went in A-fib so we had to leave after 15 hole.  Kind of scary - but it was very hot and humid  so put it down to that.  It is a bugger having A-fib - one feels like one's heart is gonna stop - not a good  feeling.  I knew enough to sit in front of the air conditioner - heart eventually went back to 'normal' after 3-4 hours. 

Line dancing has started again on Fridays.  And hubby and I have started taking ballroom dance lessons again.  I thought I would enjoy the ballroom dance lessons - but I don't.  Hubby is different from before.  Or maybe I am?  Not sure.  Just does not feel the same at all.  Oh well.

My writing has also suffered.  Not sure why.  I have lost interest in doing that.  I just don't think I am a good writer - I feel like I am 'faking' it.  Again I am not sure why.  I sometimes just want to crawl in bed, stay there and sleep away.........  But that is not possible..

Son has his job intervview this afternoon at 1 p.m.  Maybe that will pick up my feelings.  He was supposed to go to PEI for a chess tournament last Saturday.  When he got up, he just said 'I don't want to go' and went back to bed.  But I am just going to think positive thoughts........ if he is meant to have to have the job, he will  - I will be pleased when he goes for the interview, no matter the outcome.  He has to try..

Till next time......

Saturday, 27 August 2011

To Cry or Not to Cry

Why is it that I can cry when I see other people in pain? Yet, I cannot shed a tear when I am in pain? 

Just finished watching Jack Layton's funeral on TV.  Tears of sadness, of loss, of even humor, ran down my face.  It was so very touching.  I have voted NDP for such a long time.  It was such a thrill to see the NDP as the official opposition at last.  Maybe they had a chance at the next election.  Oh there are a few things that I do not necessarily agree with in their policies, but overall, they come so close to my ideals.  If not for the NDP, we would not have had medicare.  They do care for those who have no voice.

I was first touched by Jack when I saw Canada's 'apology to the First Nations' for the wrong that was done to them in the past.  I saw all parties offer their apology.  Somehow Jack touched me the most - he seemed to be saying what he was saying from his heart - not from a script.  That was when I first realized what a truly great person he was.  I will always remember that particular moment.

Seeing how brave his wife Olivia was reminded me of myself (not that I am comparing myself to her in any way shape or form - I am not as great a person as she is).  But her stoic composure, her being the 'rock' of the family, did remind me of me (bad grammar here but who cares).

So I sat and listened and watched and I cried. 

Yet, when I feel pain (be it the loss of some of my siblings), be it the insults and non-caring atttitudes of other family members, I cannot cry.  I know this is due to the fact that I had to learn to be brave for my son - I cried so hard the last time he was hospitalized that somehow tears ran out.  Yet I know they are there - I can cry for the pain of others. 

Yesterday, I went golfing.  I felt a deep sadness.  I am not sure exactly why.  I asked my husband afterwards how he had enjoyed his game of golf.  He said he had not really enjoyed it - there was just something different about it yesterday.  I am not sure why. (There is a reason I am mentioning this now, but it is rather private).

When I got home from golfing, my son had taken a message from the hospital.  I had went for my regular INR blood work on Thursday.  They phoned and my son had written down that I was not to take one pill of warfarin once and to go for tests in 2 weeks.  He did not know more.  I could not reach the number that had called as it was now the weekend.  I am taking 2 pills (of different strengths) of warfarin - so was not sure what the message was.  So I called the doctor on call and went to see her.  My INR was 3.4 (it should be between 2 and 3 (too high may mean internal bleeding).  She advised me which strength to stop - not just for one day but until I get the results of my next INR test - which she advised I get done next Wednesday - not wait 2 weeks.  She said stopping one pill one day would do  no good.  So I stopped taking one of the pills this morning.  I hope perhaps the urologist who is doing the cystoscopy on Tuesday might shed more light - at least HE is doing the procedure and he will know the results right away.  I have gotten no results of any of my last tests (I know - no news is good news).  I am likely concerned over nothing and will feel foolish - but happy :o)

In the meantime - I will make an appt (in September) with a therapist - psychologist - because I know that I have too many feelings bottled within me.  And sometimes I do feel alone.

Monday, 22 August 2011


I hope only my friends read my blog and not the majority of my family.  They tend to put me down - when I am feeling down - for whatever strange reason. 

I had posted a question on my FB page asking my friends if they would accept an invitation to an event if they received the invitation second hand.  Well, the backlash I received over that from my brother (who was hosting the event).  He even went so far as to say I needed to talk to someone - a therapist (I think the word psychiatrist was even mentioned).  That families should not have to invite people to events (well duh... yeah in my family they do).  For whatever reason, I do not like to just drop in unannounced or to accept an invite 2nd hand.  Just wanted to post to see what my friends thought.  Did not think my brother would think I was 'crazy' (he did not use that term).  When I told him that I was under stress (re my medical condition), he told me that one thing that had served him well in all his years with AA was the saying 'fake it till you make it'.  Some words of support to me - I guess - in his opinion.

Sure I was hurt.  So I sent him an email because I was starting to think that maybe I did need to talk to a psychologist (a psychiatrist just prescribes meds - talk therapy is through a psychologist).  So I asked him if he really thought I needed to talk to a 'therapist' - that I understood mental illness enough to know that if one has a chemical imbalance, one does not necessarily know one has a problem (altho my husband told me I was OK).  Well, my brother called me again and told me he could not tell me whether I should see a psychiatrist, only a psychiatrist could tell me that.  Now, don't get me wrong, but if I need to see a psychiatrist, would I go see one so the psychiatrist could tell me whether or not I needed to see one?  It is like putting the cart before the horse.  I am willing to listen to peoples suggestions and take them under consideration, but this did not quite make sense of me.

So now I am totally afraid of what I post on my Facebook page - thinking that my family (or most of them) will take them the wrong way.  Yeah I am under some stress - I just wish my family would encourage me rather than kick me when I am down.  Sure, I may not act or say what they want to hear.  Sure, I want to delete them from my Facebook, but I know there will be backlash if I do that. 

Maybe I will talk to a psychologist - we used to see one as a family when my son was doing drugs and when he first got ill.  It helped.  I once had a major disagreement with one of my sisters at that time.  The psychologist advised me to talk to her and let her know the way I felt - it was her criticizing the things I told my other sister who was in the hospital with brain cancer.  She would nudge me with her elbow and then privately tell me I should not be 'joking' about things with her.  Well, I am who I am and I truly did not think that what I was saying was offensive or disturbing - what I was saying was not about her illness - it was saying a funny joke or a funny story.  Well the psychologist told me to tell my sister that.  So I got up the courage one day when we were leaving the hospital to let her know I did not mean anything by the things I told my other sister (she had poked me with her elbow earlier) - I told her I was who I was and that Julie (my sister with brain cancer) knew this (we had worked together for over 20 years and she knew me well).  Well my sister did not like the fact that I had talked to a psychologist about her, went to jump out of the car - I told her to NOT do that - that I would drive her straight home.  She was very upset at me for a long time - because I had discussed my feelings with a psychologist. 

So do I go talk to a psychologist about the way I feel now about how my family are treating me?  Would that insult them?  Do they just want me to be a carbon copy of them?  I am who I am. 

Anyway - it might be worth the time to go talk to a psychologist and let get her opinion and make sure I am thinking straight.  At least here I can be who I am. 

Other news is that I go for my CT Scan on Sept. 21st.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A New Day - A New Doctor - More Tests

Saw the urologist this morning.  I had passed a kidney stone a few weeks ago and had had problems with blood in uring and doctor had made an appointment with a urologist. 

He does not mix words.  Said it might not have been the warfarin nor the anti-biotics that had caused my bleeding - that there was a slight chance that it was, but usually blood in the urine is a sign of something being wrrong. 

So, on August 31st, I will be having a cystroscopy done and will wait to be notified for a CT Scan of Kidneys (using iodine thru IV).  Fun.  Am not nervous, becaue I truly believe there is nothing wrong in that department (with my kidneys, bladder or the pipes leading to them).  But I guess, like he said, better to be safe than sorry. 

Seems like my body is breaking down.  But I refuse to bellieve that.  I prefer to believe that I will have all these tests done and be told that all is working fine and that I will live to be a ripe old age, in fine health in mind and body.

It does make me think about my life though and the years gone by - what would I have done differently?  Oh a whole bunch of things.  As a matter of fact, most things.  Do I have regrets? Yup.  A lot?  Yup.  My greatest accomplishment?  My son of course.  He is the reason I was put on this earth.  I thank heavens for him.  The rest of my life?  Sooooooo many things I would do differently.  As a matter of fact, I think I would have done everything differently.  My life as I now know it would not be what it is.  Sounds awful eh?  Not really.  I know there were reasons I made certain choices and I live with those choices every day.  And I accept the decisions I made, and I am OK with them. 

There are many 'what ifs' in my life.  But I do not dwell on them (except while writing this post).  Tomorrow I will accept what is, and enjoy life to the best of my ability.  And appreciate all that I have.  But just for today, when I think 'what things are you thankful for?' the only answer I have is my son.  It is my truth at the moment, my reality. 

I do know that tomorrow I will have a different outlook and I look forward to tomorrow.  For tonight, it is OK to feel the way I do.  I won't apologize for being who I am.  (I think I have that saying on my facebook page - that 'never apologize for who you are, it is like apologizing for being real'.  I am real at this moment in time and my feelings are open.  People will read this (or maybe not) - but my thoughts are here.  If only for me to read.  And I accept myself. 

Maybe it is time to rent that red Mazda Miata convertible.......  :o) :o) :o) :)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A-Fib ..... Continued

Went to Halifax for Cardiac MRI.  Was very nervous beforehand.  I - who am usually calm.... I hardly recognized myself.  I kept thinking of the entire body enclosed MRI machine.  But a friend of mine had told me that sometimes they let people listen to a music CD - so I had brought my 30 song 1960s music CD and hoped for the best.

We left around 9:30 a.m. and arrived in Halifax at around 12:30.  We found where the hospital (Halifax Infirmary) was (Robie Street).  We had passed by a Mazda Dealership on the way in (on Robie Street), so we decided to pass the time away looking at Mazdas (we are on the look-out for a new car to replace one of our old ones).  When there, I saw my 'dream' car - Mazda Miata convertible and red to boot :o)  This has always been a dream of mine - to own a Mazda Miata.  Think it comes from the days before I got married when I drove a red Firebird.  Then I got married and we sold it and bought a VW .... go figure.  Oh well lol.

In any case, the salesman saw my looking at the Miata longingly and asked me if I was interested?  Well duh - yes - practical? No.  But he said he could get a key and I could sit in it - well Hallaluah!!  I sat in this sporty car and it felt absolutely wonderful.  I had the guy open the trunk and saw it not bit enough for a couple of sets of golf clubs - I kinda knew ti wouldn't, but hey - the price was right and I had even looked up the Miata in the Lemon Aid Car Guide (which I always buy before we buy a new car).  The Miata was rated 'Recommended' and 'the best sports car available' - I looked at the price - if my memory served me right, this was a great deal.  (By the way, I looked it up in the Lemon Aid car guide book when I got home - it was indeed a great buy).  But back to the dealership experience.  I got out of the Miata, knowing those days were over - I was after all not a teenager or in my early 20s and sport cars were a thing of my past.  And one cannot relive our past, right?  So I touched it one last time and made my way to the Mazda 3s and 5s - nothing too exciting there.  We kinda knew what kind of cars they were anyway - because we had rented one for 10 days when we were in Ottawa at the end of June - beginning of July.

As we left the dealership, I took one last look at my 'dream' car.  Oh well, at least I had sat in one - something I had not thought would ever happen.

We made our way to the Halifax Infirmary - parked in this huge parking garage - ended up on the top of the parking building, took the elevator to the 3rd floor of the Infirmary and I registered.  They could not find my cardiologist's name in their computer, but had my family doctor's name - altho I told them that my cardiologist had been the one who had referred me.  They said they would the results to my family doc and he could send it along to the cardiologist.  All I thought was 'sheesh - Bourgeois is not an uncommon name - then realized I was not in Moncton - so Harper was more common - she even said 'oh like the last name of the Prime Minister' - well hello? Now I have no faith in my family doctor since he just may be related to our PM.  Oh well.

Made my way to the MRI section where I changed and filled out a questionnaire.  Just as I finished the questionnaire, the technician came out, got me to go into this other room where an IV was put in my arm - I asked her why? She said 'oh just in case they decide to use a contrast material (not iodine based).' Well what the heck - I had been on IVs before - for A-Fib and when I had went for the CT Scan of my kidneys when I had had a kidney stone 2 weeks ago.  Not a big deal.  Needles do not scare me.  I get blood work done every month for my INR (how thin my blood is where I am on warfarin).

I asked the technician tentatively if I could have a music CD played.  She said 'yes'.  Well, I smiled and smiled.  Told her 'thank you' over and over.  Since I had had a kidney angioplasty operation (awake) 2 years ago and had used that same CD and it had relaxed me then, I figured this would be great - better music sedation than chemical sedation :o) 

We went into the room and she showed me the machine - it was indeed a full body enclosure.  My one thought was 'am I ever glad we have made our funeral arrangements and decided to be cremated - cause I would want to be in a closed place - especially without any music  being played.' Silly thought, but one thinks silly thoughts when faced with a huge machine.  I would lay on the small table and it would raise and would then slide inside.  I was given a ball (felt like a black horn that one sometimes sees at ball games or at the end of an old fashioned bike).  I could squeeze that and they would know I wanted to say something - as the machine would be loud and they might not hear me.  Oh great I thought. 

They hooked me up to an ECG, put this heavy ghastly thing on my chest (not that uncomfortable really) and then put on my headphones - told me they would start my music CD after I was in the machine.  I just hoped that their music machine would work. 

They had told me the test would take approximately 45-50 minutes.  Not bad, I thought, since I had 30 songs and figured I had about an hour and a half of music.  I closed my eyes as I was electronically slid into the machine (a bit of a tight squeeze I must admit.  Makes me realize I really do have to lose a few pounds - but warfarin does put the pounds on and no matter what you eat or don't eat, those pounds do not seem to disappear).  Oh well, take a deep breath...

Well, talk about taking deep breaths.  Yes, I heard my music and also a lot of 'take a deep breath, release your breath, hold your breath' - then bang, bang, bang (counted 9 bangs while holding my breath) - but the banging was not loud as I had headphones on plus in-between the deep breaths - I could hear my music.  With my eyes closed, I imagined myself cruising down the highway in a red mazda miata with the top down - the wind blowing my long hair (hey, I know I have short hair, but this is my fantasy and my 'happy place' and I can be who I want to be and be where I want to be and go where I want to go).  I was 18 again, long flowing hair, thin body in a bikini - driving down the road from the beach (truth be told, this happened when I was many years ago). 

They did many many 'deep breaths,etc.'  - also they took 'pictures' - felt the warmth on my chest as they did that.  Then a little of time to relax.  They slid me out of the tube to put the dye in the IV - told me there would only be another 10 minutes or so left and then it would be finished.  Took another few deep breaths as per instructions (altho this time, ended up counting the bangs (they were now closer together - I could count the banks (16 of them) while holding my breath.

Then they slid me out.  The strange part about this was that my CD had played all its songs and was 1/3 of the way through it again - I knew this, because I recognized the song as I was being pulled out of the machine - it was a song by the Carpenters called 'We've Only Just Begun' - I kind of found that ironic and told the technician that.  She smiled.  She then told me that the MRI had lasted 2 hours.  I said 'huh?' - you told me it would be 45-50 minutes.  I thought to myself 'sly technician......'.  But then she said that the radiologist had looked at the pictures and decided he wanted more so they had to repeat them to ensure they were correct. 

I was relieved to get out and pretty proud of myself.  On the way home, I got to thinking about the double sets of pictures taken in the MRI and my pessimistic self started talking to me.  I tried to ignore it.  Then I decided - hey, if I have to think pessimistic, why not go for something positive. 

So I started making a mental note of my 'bucket list'.  Now I had done a 'bucket list' after I saw the movie (what else?) - The Bucket List. (this was shortly after I had retired)  I had taken piano lessons as this was something I had always wanted to do.  I had taken Line Dance Lessons and Ballroom Dance Lessons. I had taken a Creative Writing Course.  I had written many short stories. I had opened an RDSP for my son and had his future all taken cared of finanncially.  There were a few other things on my list that I had accomplished.  But this new 'bucket list' would be what I would call 'my final bucket list' - if I was going to have open heart surgery (now remember here, I was thinking pessimistically), I would make a final bucket list before.  There was one that I knew I would need to start immediately (just in case I did not have the time to finish it before I got the results).

My first priority - which I am going to start this week - is to make a compilation of all my short stories - put them on a CD and if the news was bad - have these short stories self-published.  Fast.  I wanted to see a book with my name on it.  My final legacy, my final fantasy.

In the meantime, I had a few other things I wanted to do if I got bad news (like, 'sorry Ms Boulter, but you only have a week before your surgery' type of thing).  So my short list is:

1.  Rent a Mazda Miata for one day - a sunny day - drive it on the highway - say to Petitcodiac and back - with a Beach Boys CD playing.  Enjoy the ride.

2.  Rent a caddy - yup a caddy - go to my golf club - have the caddy drive the golf cart for me and hand me my clubs as I asked for them - 'hand me my 7 iron please' - have my hired caddy give me my club then use a towel to wipe it.  He/she (no - it seems so appropriate to have a 'he' as a caddy) he would wipe my golf balls (I was careful how I worded that one).  Give me a new ball when he felt that there might be a chip in the one I had used.  Wipe it whenever needed.  Drive me to where my ball had landed.  Tell me what a great golf player I was....... as yes - to be spoiled to the extreme for once.  To be on a golf course where any worries I have always disappear as I concentrate only on one thing - that little white ball...... one day of being spoiled - my caddy getting me something to drink when I wanted it. 

3.  Go see the movie 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'.  Just because.......

4.  There would be one thing I would love to experience again.  And that is the unconditional love of an animal.  But my dog passed away about 2-3 years ago and I feel I will never feel unconditional love again.  I thought of adopting a cat - it could also keep me company - but most of all it could just love me for me - BUT that would not be fair to the animal - if something should happen to me, it was not fair to have it brought back to the SPCA.  Oh well. 

So there you have it.  And I thought :  How lucky am I that I do not have a whole list of things I want to do (a long bucket list)....... I am blessed.  I don't really want to travel.  Takes too much time - even by plane.  Oh sure, if I had my way, I could dream of meeting my idol - Greg Norman - and have a golf game with him - but that would be unrealistic.  Or to go to New York and see the Christmas Tree light up - but again, too much time spent.  Meet my film star idol - yeah sure.

So I would be content with the 3 items on my immediate bucket list.  And now to move on to compile all my short stories into one document ...... just in case I need to have a book of short stories self-published - in time for me to see it in print.  My legacy.....


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Saturday Blog

Today is my son's 25th birthday.  Where does the time go?  I remember holdling him when he was a newborn, full of hope, full of promise. 

One year old and full of wonder and full of laughter.

Two year old and was busy keeping me busy.

Three year old and so innocent, so trusting.

Four year old and so giving. I remember his giving his teddy bear to a foster child we had welcomed into our room.  His joy at drawing the solar system, all the planets well aligned, all the moons named properly.

Five year old and had stopped drawing the solar system - a bit sad when our foster child had to be moved out of the province because his father was now out of jail.  A sadness overcame him.

Six years old - altho he made a lot of friends in school, we saw signs of his being bullied.  Enrolled him in Tai Kwon Do.  Kept him busy in the summer with baseball, in the winter with basketball. 

Seven years old - signs of bullying coming across more and more.  Talks to his teachers did not seem to help.  He was open to learning and friends would come to our home every day after school. 

Eight years old and in grade 3.  In the scouting movement.  How fast time seemed to fly, as he applied himself to his school work and seemed to enjoy more and more the company of his friends.  His birthdays were always filled with fun and games.

Nine years old.  Typical kid - full of spirit and fun. Friends gathered for birthday party, altho now instead of the regular games, we went bowling (or was that the year we took him to Magic Mountain).

Ten years old. A bit more  reclusive.  Bullying was starting to wear on him.  He did not seem to enjoy school quite as much, but had numerous friends - playing computer games became a regular thing.

Eleven years old.  Birthday was active - magic cards introduced to his group of friends.  McDonald's his birthday celebration.

Twelve years old.  Won science fair that year for his school.  Went to Fredericton for provincial fair.  Friends were so important to him.  Grade 7..  Still bullied... Son went to  school reluctantly, but each year held promises of the future.

Thirteen years old. The teen years. Grade 8 prom - took a girl to the end of the year dance.  Birthdays now consisted of a few close friends, playing magic the gathering.  He was looking forward to starting high school (grade 9)  

Fourteen years old.  High school and the torture really began.  Those who had bullied him in his school.  How we tried to encourage him.

Fifteen years old.  High school getting tougher on him.   He still had his regular friends, but he started hating going to school.  More quiet birthday parties - only close friends.

Sixteen years old.  Started grade 11 - starting handing out with some not so savory characters.  Life as we knew it was about to change.

Seventeen years old.  Dropped out of school. Into drugs and alcohol.  Do not really remember much of his birthday that year, altho I am sure we must have celebrated it.  We tried to keep it together. His only 'good friend' tried to convince him to stay in school.  That did not work out.

Eighteen years old. More drugs. More rules in our home. Where had our son gone?

Nineteen years old. Birthday celebrated in the psych ward. 

Twenty years old.  Birthday celebrated again in the psych ward, altho he had a girlfriend who stuck by him thru think and thin.

Twenty-one years old. Birthday celebrated in psych ward again. 

Twenty-two years old.  Birthday celebrated at home - quiet time with just family.

Twenty-three years old. Grateful to have him home and be able to celebrate his birthday with family.

Twenty-four years old.  At home - birthday celebrated with girlfriend - took them to movies.

Twenty-five years old. Today.  Friends invited, but not sure how many will come to his birthday.  He is social, has his good friends back, but they are busy with their own lives - work, play.  His girlfriend is coming over this afternoon.  We will be having a BBQ. be continued...........

Friday, 12 August 2011

My Journey with Atrial Fibrillation

My journey started 3 years ago - May 2008.  Without going into all the details, was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation - kinda scary stuff - but was under the care of a cardiologist.

Meds prescribed - warfarin (blood thinner), a pill to give my heart a boost (regulate the electrical charge to my heart), a med to decrease my pulse rate plus another med for high blood pressure.

I first stopped doing my regular activities as I was plain scared - my A-fib acted up a few times and I had to get med adjusted until the proper meds were stabilizing me.  Also had to watch my Vitamin K intake, be very careful when in the sun (warfarin does things to you that should not be done but such is life on Warfarin).  Learned that I do not sweat, hence I have to keep myself well hydrated - to trust my body when it wants something.  Since I am on a diurtic (for the blood pressure), my potassium level is to be carefully monitored and I learned that having a banana a day can be fun (not).  I learned to read labels on juices to ensure I got those with plenty of potassium.

Then came the kidney operation - this was a total fluke - since my cardiologist had wanted me to have a stress test (easy eh?) - yeah, but she could not get my heart rate to go up.  She said sometimes that can be caused by a kidney problem - but very very rarely.  So she sent me for a CT Scan of my kidneys (scan with the iodine in veins).  Not a problem, I thought - having googled this, I found that less than 1% of people have problems with kidneys that cause blood pressure to not be stable.  But lo and behold, the CT Scan showed that the main artery leading to my left kidney was almost completely blocked.  Fine.  I could deal with that - altho it meant a 2 hr operation while I was awake (frozen at site of operation though).  Got through that - cardiologist figured that would help my blood pressure and possibly my A-fib - but unfortunately not - altho meds were reduced, they soon went back up.  Cardiologist said my problem was genetics - not caused by any blocked arteries, etc. (I had also had a heart CT Scan done).

In any case, my cardiologist decided to leave her practice and go into research.  I was assigned another cardiologist who did a stress test - told me I was just overweight and that I was fine otherwise.  No problem - just to keep on taking my meds.  Fine.  No problem with that. 
(One of the side effects of the warfarin - besides hair loss and depression - is also inability to lose weight).  Oh well, I thought, learn to live with this but don't stop living - so golfing we did, line dancing I went to, enjoying myself.  My writing group provided me with mental stimulation and took my mind off things.

Then that cardiologist decided to move to Ontario.  So off I went to see my family doc and asked him for a referral to another cardiologist.  He referred me to who he said was 'the best' - actually the Head of Cardiology.  So within a couple of weeks, I get a notice to go for an echocardiogram and a stress test.  No problem I thought.  The echo was done a couple of weeks before my stress test.  When I went for the stress test - I was told I did better than the last time I had one (with the cardiologist who had went to Ontario and who said I was just fine as long as I took my meds).

I asked my new cardiologist what the results were of my echo - he told me to sit down (being told by a doctor to sit down is never usually a good thing - I was not even out of breath from the stress test).  He said the echo had shown a 'possible' mass on the atria part of my heart (heart is divided into 4 chambers - the main one being the atrium).  He also said it showed my lungs were showing 'something'.  So, I said - an X-ray will be needed? He said - no - I would be contacted to go for a pulmonary function test in Moncton and a cardiac MRI in Halifax.

So, after a bit of the shock wore off, the next day I called his office and was able to get a copy of the test results of the echo.  Indeed it said there was an enlargement on the atrium part of my heart and also there could be a possible lung disease. 

So I went for my pulmonary function test this morning.  She said that I was below the % of where I should be.  She gave me a puffer and said she would repeat the tests in 15-20 minutes and see if this made a difference.  I asked her if that would mean I had COPD - she said only if there was improvement in the results after waiting for 15-20 minutes and the repeat test showed an improvement.  I said 'oh darn' - she said there were worse things than a puffer.  So we waited and repeated the test.  I asked her if I was now in the 'normal' range - she said the puffer had not helped.  Well - good news - I do not have COPD - however, I am not 'normal'.  I asked what that meant - she said the doctor would be getting the results and would talk to me.  Her normal cheerful self was now not so cheerful (or  was that me?).  All I know is that she went kinda quiet and was not so open to talk about my results anymore.  Must google......

Monday I go to Halifax for the full body enclosed Cardiac MRI - and I have a severe form of claustrophobia.  Fun and games.  But I take things one day at a time. 

Thought I would start blogging about this - cause I truly do not know where this journey will lead me.......

I also know I MUST be positive.  That thinking positive is effective and can work wonders.  So, am doing my best to remain positive.  (Here, I feel like saying, 'until next time, Dear Diary').  :o)

Caution re Prescriptions - Part 2

Strange how things work out.  I had an adverse reaction to a prescription that I filled and neglected to look up the possible drug interactions.

Well, yesterday morning, the same thing happened to my husband.  Not so much a drug interaction, but too many prescriptions being given to him. 

Husband had a toothache - he went to the dentist (our regular dentist is on holidays).  So he saw another dentist on Wednesday - dentist told him he had an infection - that the tooth that was causing problem was cracked below the gum line.  So an appointment was made with his regular dentist and an oral surgeon for Tuesday next week.  In the meantime, the dentist he saw gave him a prescription for anti-biotics, a prescription for Tylenol-3 with Codeine and Caffeine (so it says on the label), told him he should also take Aleve and also put some gel stuff on his gum to ease the pain. 

When my husband got home and told me this, I kinda said 'that's a lot of stuff isn't it?'.  Husband was in so much much pain - so he had already filled out the prescriptions, had picked up some Aleve and the gum numbing thing.

He, poor thing, was in pain all day.  I did tell him to be careful with the Aleve as it said to take no more than 1 pill every 12 hours.  Told him maybe to just try the Tylenol 3 and see if that worked.  Well, of course it didn't work right away.  So in went the Aleve, as well as the Tylenol 3 plus the anti-biotics plus he put some of gel on his gums. 

My husband must have gotten up after I fell asleep.  I woke up at around 3 a.m. and went downstairs only to see my husband sitting in his chair.  I asked him how he was feelilng - he said 'better' - since he had made a 'mold' for his mouth.  I was half asleep and said 'good' - then went to back upstairs when it downed on me and I went back and asked him what he meant by a 'mold for his mouth'.  He opened his mouth and showed me the tin foil that was wrapped around his top teeth - he said he had put the gum gel in the foil and then wrapped his upper teeth.  Strange.  I told him maybe he should remove it now.  He said 'nope'.  Then he went into the kitchen and took 3 aspirins (yeah aspirins we had in our cupboard).  I told him he was taking too many things. 

I won't go into men being men - I just figured I would keep track of his meds in the morning.  At 5 a.m., I heard my name being called.  I jumped out of bed and there at the  foot of the stairs was my husband, weak and sweating.  He kept saying he was having a stroke.  Now my husband has a mini-stroke in 2004, so I was not about to argue.  I rushed down, prepared to call 911 - when my husband got up and got his jacket and went to our car, telling me to hurry - to drive him to the hospital (which is only 5 minutes away).  He had walked straight, he had talked without slurring his words, he looked fine.  So, I quickly threw on some clothes and off we went to the ER.  Figure we got there about 5:15 a.m.  There was no-one else in the ER so I figured he would see a doc pretty quickly.  At Triage, nurse asked him questions, my husband kept saying he thought he was having a stroke, talked about his stroke in 2004 (much of which he did not remember, but he filled in the blanks nicely).

The nurse did her thing - light in his eyes, pulse, etc. etc.  We sat in the waiting room - saw a doctor at 8 a.m. - they ran some blood tests, did an electrocardiogram and sent him for a CT Scan of the brain.  Then we waited for the results.  Finally around 9 or 9:30 doctor came to talk to us - of course just before doc came to talk to us - husband told me he was going outside for a smoke.  So doc told me  there was nothing to worry about - I told him about alll the meds he had taken the day before, etc.  Doctor said 'oh that explains it'.

Doctor told husband to stop taking the Tylenol 3 (you think?  duh) - told him to keep on taking his anti-biotics, to see his dentist next week and only take his Aleve if he really, really could not stand the pain.  As for the gel, he advised my husband not to use it if at all possible.  He then told my husband that I would be the one that would give him his meds when they were due to be taken.

So - the moral of this story?  Yes, be in charge of your own health, but if you see that someone is overmedicated, take charge.  My husband was very weak and disoriented and not thinking clearly - and I blame that - not on his tooth ache - but on his taking too many pills - was there drug interactiions? I haven't googled them all yet - but my educated guess is that he was just plain over-medicated.  If something does not feel right, go with your gut feeling. 

My husband seems fine now.  His tooth still bothers him a bit but not as much.  He is taking his anti-biotics and takes an Aleve once every 12 hours (once an hour  before he goes to bed and when he gets up in the morning).  He has slept quite well last night ( better than I did :o)  I have his Tylenol 3 put away as well as the gum gel.  The aspirins are also put away.  As is our regular Tylenol.  I have a timer that goes off when it is time for him to take his anti-biotics and everything seems to be going well.  It will be good when he sees his dentist next Tuesday so they can remove his cracked tooth.

Just be careful what you are taking - make a plan of when to take what you need to take - don't over-medicate yourself by adding stuff.  And do not trust your health by what a doctor (or in this case, a dentist) may prescribe.  Be very careful with Tylenol 3 wtih Codeine and Caffeine.  And if you notice strange behavior from a loved one or someone who lives with you - look at what they are taking if they are taking meds.  Count the pills if you must.  When one is over-medicated, one can 'forget' when they took a pill and double up.  Be responsible for your own health, but also be aware of the health of your loved ones and do not be afraid to intervene.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Take Precautions when you get a prescription filled

Had an interesting week, but I hope that I will go on to having a more boring week next week.  On Monday evening, at around 7:30 p.m. I felt a very sharp pain (left kidney area) - well, excrutiating pain would be more accurate.  A friend called my husband to pick me up (I was at a Writing Group meeting at the time).  We swung by the hospital, but there was a full parking lot, so decided to wait until later - maybe through night when there would be less people in ER.  Went home but when I went to the bathroom, there was a lot of blood in my urine, so told my husband that we had better head to the ER.

At the ER, they took me into 'acute' because I am also taking Warfarin (a blood thinner where I have heart isues).  After 5+ hours, I must have passed the kidney stone (pain had moved from kidney area to groin area (common when passing a kidney stone).  A CT Scan had been ordered, I was on IV, hooked up to machines, blood work was done (altho to be noted here, doctor in ER had the full list of my meds and I did keep telling him (at least 2-3 times) that I was on blood thinner meds which was why I had come to ER - since blood in urine is never a good sign when on blood thinner. 

The CT Scan showed there was no stone.  Doctor told me I must have passed it (I was going to the washroom quite a bit during those hours b4 the CT Scan).  So doctor prescribed anti-biotics saying that sometimes a person will develop a urinary tract infection after passing a kidney stone.  I accepted this and went home (altho I felt I should have went home with a baby after all that pain - for those who have had labor pain, you will know the kind of pain involved when one passes a kidney stone).  A friend of mine who is male told me he had passed a kidney stone a while back, I told him that at least he now knew what a woman went through when having a baby - he told me he was going to go to the flower shop to buy her some flowers - never understood the amount of pain his wife had experinced before my saying this to him :o)

Anyway, on to my story.  The next day (Tuesday), I filled the prescription for the anti-biotics, trusting the ER doc knew what he was doing.  The pharmacist who I know very well as he has been my pharmacist for many years and knows all the other meds I am on for my heart,filled the prescription.  The page that was given with the anti-biotics did not mention any drug interactions.  So Itook the 2 per day anti-biotic.  On Wednesday, I went for my regular INR blood tests (which measures how thin my blood is - I am usually at 2.2-2.3).  The therapeutic range for someone on blood thinner is between 2-3 - anything over 3 is in a danger zone. 

Wednesday around supper time, I noticed a bit of blood in my urine.  I had a 'coffee date' with a friend that evening (she is a nurse).  I mentioned thtis to her and she told me that it can sometimes happen after someone has passed a kidney stone, as it can irritate the passageway, so I relaxed and thought this would pass. 

The next day, Thursday, there was a LOT of blood in my urine.  And it was getting worse.  I also noticed that althought I was drinking a lot of water (much more than I usually do because I knew this was a good thing after having a kidney stone), that my urine production was actually much decreased.  Not normal, I thought.  A nagging voice told me to contact someone, the oher voice told me not to worry.  But I thought 'better safe than sorry'.  So I called Tele-Care and talked to the nurse and told her the hisotry and also the names of all my meds.  She  told meto see a doctor within the next 3 hours - my family doc, the doctor on call, a doc at a clinic or a doc at the hospital (in that order) - but she INSISTED I see someone.  So, I called my family doc only to find out he was on holidays.  So called the doc on call who could see me at 4:45 p.m. (he worked until 5 p.m.). 

So off I went to see the doc on call.  He took a urine specimen and my history (and history of what had happened).  He seemed very concerned. He said there was indeed a lot of blood in my urine.  He then went to the computer and looked up what had happened at ER - results of CT Scan, blood work done at hospital, blood work done the previous day re my INR. 

He then  told me to stop taking the anti-biotics IMMEDIATELY.  And to stop taking my warfarin the next day (Friday).  To resume the warfarin on Saturday.  I did ask why and he said the anti-biotics that I had been prescribed was not to be taken with warfarin as it increased the effects of the warfarin and my blood tests at ER showed my INR to be in normal range but the blood test the previous day showed it to be 3.19 (way too high) - he said where I had taken the anti-biotics that day my INR was now likely close to 4. 

So I went home.  I decided to google the anti-biotic (which I normally do, but because I had not been feeling up to par, had not done so this particular time).  This is what I found when I googled it:

"/When combined with blood thinners like warfarin, sulfatrim increases your chance of experiencing uncontrollable bleeding.  Some patients develop a shortage of blood platelets. This shortage of platelets causes a number of problems, including easy bruising and even bleeding around your brain. Sulfatrim interferes with he functioning of your kidneys resulting in decreased production of urine and possible kidney faiture (to be noted here, I have had kidney problems 2 years ago, needing angioplasly of the main artery to my left kidney).  For some patients, sulfatrim causes gastrointestinal bleeding.  If you are on warfarin, your doctor is unlikely to prescribe sulfatrim for you due to its possible side effects."

Well, I was not exactly a happy camper when I read the above, so I called my regular pharmacist (the one who filled my prescription and who knows my medical history) (I had even told him I had gotten the prescription for the ER doc because I had passed a kidney stone).  Anyway, I asked him who would be responsible for informing someone about possible drug interations.  He said 'a phamacist, like me'.  Then I read him the above.  He said 'oh'.  I told him in no uncertain terms that he should have caught that.  He tried to blame the doctor at the ER and I told him, 'yes the doctor at the ER should have known better, but you told me that the responsibility to check for drug interactions was the pharmacist'.  He apologized.  I just told him I wanted a note put on my file that I was NOT to be prescribed sulfa meds where I was on warfarin.  I did tell him that he could have killed me.  He again said that he took full responsibility for not telling me of possible side effects.  I told him that as long as he made a note on his files to be careful with anti-biotics (especially sulfa based ones) for patients on warfarin, that he might not be sued if someone ended up bleeding to death.

So - this Blog is just to let you all know that we must be vigilant about our own health, to always google side effects of meds, drug interactions (especially if you are taking another or many other meds).  One can trust one's doctor(s), and pharmacist, but ultimately, it is YOUR life, YOUR health. 

I did well yestterday with the amount of blood in the urine decreasing, the amount of urine increasing - up to last night when my urine was clear (to me anyway).  This morning, I restarted my warfarin (I have stopped taking the anti-biotics compleely since Thursday when I saw the doc on call.  However, as of noon today (Saturday), I am seeing an increase of blood in my urine.  And I have a general feeling of malaise.  I will wait and see if the blood keeps increasing and i it does, I will go to the doc on call (yet another doc) and will inisist on blood work being done.  Something is not quite right (I know this in my heart) - but what I am not sure.  Things may change - either for the good or get worse - so will take things one hour at a time.

Just be careful.......... take your health into your own hands - you know more about your own body than anyone else...

Friday, 15 July 2011


It has been a while since I have posted.  Excuses can range from busyness, lack of imagination, 'stuck in the in-between time', feeling like I have nothing to share to just plain laziness.  Pick one which feels comfortable to you.  Any of them will be true.

It is true that I have been busy with my editing of others' short stories, from editing my own short stoy, writing new short stories for potential contests, golfing season, being involved with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and attending a conference in Ottawa as well as taking a holiday to visit friends and family afterwards.  It is true that I feel a definite lack of imagination, that news of a pending cardiac MRI and pulmonary testing has taken over some of my enthusiasm.  There is also truth in the fact that I feel stuck in the 'in-between time' - be it living life as I know it and getting caught up in mindless activities.  Truth also lies in the fact that I sometimes feel alone and that no-one really cares  what I have to say.  But the whole truth truly lies in my plain laziness, that I would much rather spend time not thinking at all rather than thinking about things that I can or cannot accept.

I have to learn to accept people as they are. This can be difficult for me. I make no bones about that. I want a perfect world, a place where there is only a bright sun shining on me. And the sun has not been shining for a while now. But that is my own excuses for not writing. And it is also not  an excuse at all.

I went to a Conference in Ottawa, having been invited by the MHCC and immersed myself in preparation for it, attending pre-conference webinars, making travel arrangements for not just me but for my husband and son to come with me so that we could spend a vacation afterwards visiting friends and family. I looked forward to seeing my son's friends from Ottawa, to visiting my sister-in-law in Ottawa, my sister in Peterborough and my sister in Montreal.

The Conference went well, was a jam-packed day of making final edits to the document 'Transforming the Mental Health System in Canada'. I was shocked to learn that when people with a mental illness had a police record check done, that if the police had been involved at any point (and most - or at least my son had - due to the fact that when the Mobile Crisis Team would be called, the police accompanied them (for their own security), that my son  would now have a 'record' of this on his police file and they could release this information to potential employers). Many companies, in spite of their best intentions, would likely not hire someone with a mental illness - due to many factors - health care costs, sick leave, etc. Since when has mental illness become a crime? I promised myself that I would take this particular 'action' and make a diiference in our City by making sure that this practice no longer would be done. Insurmountable task, but one I could sink my teeth in. My enthusiasm over this issue was stirred and I wanted to make a difference. I am presently in the process of  doing this.

Going to Ottawa, our flight was diverted to New York due to the Ottawa Aiirport being closed. Having my son with me made me accept this with a smile and and telling him what an 'adventure' this would be. The flight back was diverted to Toronto as the flight to Montreal was cancelled and I again put on my masked smille and again I internalized my feelings of frustration - for my son's sake. We made it home in one piece and without my son stressing over anything, as he looked at me for calm and patience. I buried my feelings as I bury all my feelings.

Visiting my sister-in-law brought tears as I entered her home where I had done so many times in the past, when I used to work for the government and spent time with my brother Gerry. He was no longer there, having passed away in 2008 from brain cancer. The welcome he extended to me was not present, how I missed him. I had learned to not show emotion, but this one was tough. I cried silently in the bathroom, tears I had not shed in 4 years (not even at his funeral) - I was strong and had to learn to not show emotion. I had built a wall around my heart to survive. Those tears fell in buckets  the first day at my sister-in-law. Healing tears I thought. But still in silence and alone.

My visit with my sister in Peterborough was special and enjoyable. Yet, it was bittersweet as I thought this could very well be the last time I saw her. Thoughts of my upcoming cardiac MRI loomed over me and perhaps having to have open heart surgery filled my thoughts, as much as I brushed those thoughts aside and just enjoyed our short time together.

Then came the visit to my sister in Montreal. She and I had not spoken for a few months. The last time she and I had talked, she kept insisting that my son should have a vasectomy - I did not feel this was my place to tell my son (who is 24) that. He had a team of professionals - let them suggest this to him, not me. Yes, he has a mental illness but this did not mean that he could not lead a productive life, slow as this  was  to start. So my contact with her had dwindled. I was anxious to see her, to 'mend our fences' if you will. We spend the afternoon at her place, and she had prepared an early supper, so we could return to Ottawa that same night. We made small conversation and talked of insignificant things and I thought the visit was going well. I accepted her as she was, again the thought of perhaps this being the last time I might see her looming over me. At the supper table, she and her husband started talking about  a court decision rendered that very day about this man who had killed his 2 young kids and the court had made the decision that he was not criminially responsible due to a mental illness and how this decision would set a 'precedent'. Again I kept my feelings in check and did not make a comment at all, knowing my sister as I do. Yet feeling very uncomfortable about this talk, especially where all these things were being said in front of my son. I felt was totally unacceptable, yet I had to accept her and listen to what she had to say, going on and on about how courts did not know what they were doing and how people with a mental illness should not be treated differently. Having just finished attending a conference and one of the 'Priorities' was to ensure courts did take people's mental health issues into consideration and not just throw them in jail if they suffered from mental illness. So I had to bite my tongue (if anyone knows my older sister, they would know that saying anything that did not agree with her beliefs never did any good and would only incite her). I kept quiet and just hoped that the meal, which suddenly turned sour in my mouth, would end  soon so we could leave. Which we eventually did.

So, I had to accept ignorance once again and accept our dysfunctional family and realized that I could not speak what was in my heart.

I wonder if keeping all these things in my heart has somehow broken my heart in more ways than one. Was I right in not saying anything, you may ask...... I can fight stigma with the best of them...... but when I know what would be the outcome of my disagreeing with her would be, I again kept things locked away and had to accept what was.

Hence the title of this blog - acceptance. When does one accept others' opinions when they differ from yours? How much of a health effect does my  keeping things inside have on my own health?

Arriving home was a blessing and I was grateful to be back home. I had enjoyed my trip and have no regrets. But how can I accept ignorance, how can I accept even myself? How can I protect my child from hearing ignorance from my family members? Why do people not take our situation and respect us? I want no more contact with my sister from Montreal (altho I did send her a thank you note thanking her for opening her home for a visit from us).  My sister-in-law in Montreal (my brother died in 2006) did not make any effort to see us while we were in Montreal. How do I accept this slap in the face? (She and I disagreed a while back - again having to do with my son and her opinion on her telling me I should place my son in a care home). There were other problems and misunderstandings, some of which I took full responsibility for and send her a long letter of apology. But I cannot control her non-response. This is her choice. So I accepted her decision not to see us.  At the same time, thoughts that I might be the one who is ridiculously in the wrong  stirs in my soul and I wonder if every problem that ever existed is MY problem, MY fault. But I  let go of that - hopefully with love.

But I feel so alone. Like I wrote in a short story, I am but a jumbled thought in a jumbled world.

Strange how I do not fear the upcoming MRI and its possible ramnifications. So what if I die? So - who would care? The only one I think would miss me would be my son - this is what keeps me  going. Apart from that, life will go on.  Yet, last night, we all went   to our weekly supper out and I saw my son order  2 drinks of run and coke and I fear his slipping  back into old habits.

This morning, as I write this, I wonder......... am I a horrible person? Am I doing ANYTHING  right? Am I the one who is ALWAYS wrong? Does  ANYONE care? Must my final act of ACCEPTANCE be accepting that I a failure  at everything I do or say?

Friday, 6 May 2011


So many people ask the question 'why?' or 'why me?'.  There is no answer to that question.  Bad stuff just happens.

This morning, I received news that the nephew of one of my friends committed suicide - he was a troubled young man with an addiction problem.  And the dreaded 'why' question rose its ugly head.  So, I headed to Steve's Diner to pick up a ticket to hear George Chuvalo speak at the Wesleyan Church Celebration Center on May 28th.  Mr. Chuvalo lost 3 sons to addiction and his wife committed suicide because of this.  How can one survive and keep going on?  I am anxious to hear him speak, but I believe he will say that the only way to get through such a tragedy is to somehow make a difference in other people's lives - by sharing his story, by making people aware of the dangers of drugs -  for only when one does something positive can one overcome grief. 

I am the facilitator of a parent support group called PLAD (Parents Learning About Drugs).  I have been doing this for the past 6 years.  Why? (again that question) - because I have been on that road (which thankfully I am no longer on) - but by helping some other parent, it makes sense of what I went through.  My son has been clean and sober for 4 years now and for that I am thankful.  Some people do beat their addiction problems and become well and productive members of society.  My son was unfortunately not one of them - since the use of illegal drugs left its mark in the form of a mental illness.  So we now deal with that - and again try to make something positive come out of something negative by trying to help others who are in similar situations.  So I work closely with the Canadian Mental Health Association and by also doing other things.  And I will continue to do so until I am no longer able to.

But returning to the topic of addiction - and PLAD.  I truly believe that there is a need for a support group for parents who have a loved one with addiction/potential addiction problems.  Yet  this year, there has been a definite decline in attendance.  We run two 10-week sessions (one in the fall and one in the spring) - there are sessions that deal with Drug Classification, the Addicltion Process, and Co-Dependency (presentations made by a counsellor at Addiction Services),  we have a guest speaker come in (this year a mother came and spoke to our group about how she survived and dealt with her son's addiction - he went to a rehab center called Portage - he now works there.  We had a staff member of Portage at another meeting and next week we will have an RCMP officer come in to talk to the parents.  That covers 6 out of our 10 meetings as 'educational' sessions - I do a presentation on Communication, leaving 3 meetings for sharing and supporting each other.  It is a mixture of education and support.  We have many hand-outs with good material presenting facts on drugs and addiction.

So why the low attendance this year?  I have no answer to that question.  The other 5 years, we had an average of 8-10 parents in attendance, sometimes as many as 15.  This year, we are lucky if we have 3 parents - yet, I have not counted the low attendance as not being worthwhile.  If one can help only 1 parent - all is not lost.

However, I got a call this week from the counsellor in charge of PLAD who informed me that the 'powers that be' had decided that PLAD would no longer be needed nor meetings held next year - all because of low attenndance this year.  Althought I was more than prepared to step down as facilitator - after all I had been doing this for 6 years and felt the need to move on more towards the field of mental health - I still felt a sadness that because of low attendance, PLAD would no longer exist - even if someone stepped forward to run the group, even if I changed my mind and decided to continue as facilitator.  You see, it has to do with justifying paying the addiction counsellor overtime and where there was low attendance, it did not justify paying for 3 hours' overtime for the counsellors.  As facilitator, I do this free (or as a volunteer) - the guest speakers were not paid by Addiction Services - and the counsellors did not have to stay for the full 2 hours - they only had to come in for one hour to do their presentation.  How much is one person worth? How much of a cost is it  to help one person?  But numbers matter....... if we had had our usual 10-15 parents in attendance, PLAD would have continued.  Numbers matter. 

And I feel sad.  A new parent came to our group last week - she is desperate for help, for support.  But there are only 2 more sessions left.  She has called me (because I do give out my telephone number to any parent - altho we do not ask their names, nor their telephone number - but if they wish to contact me to just talk, I am always available).  That is my 'give back because I have received'. 

So, this morning, I heard of a young man who took his life because of an addiction problem.  I heard about how his mother is feeling guilt.  Like I told the new mother at this week's PLAD group - I told her to remember the 3 C's (I did not Cause it, I cannot Control it and I cannot Cure it).  When she called me yesterday, she said she had been pondering these 3 C's and it felt like a load had been lifted off her shoulders.  The PLAD group empowers parents so that they know the signs and symptoms of addiction, it gives them accurate information on the drug process - experimental, recreational, regular and then addiction.  It may ease  their minds to know their child is simply experimenting and let them know how to not enable their child to continue using (or experimenting).  If the child is addicted, it gives them tools in how to deal with the grief they are going through, the helplessness, tools on how to deal with an addict, how to communicate with someone with an addiction problem.  PLAD is also there as a preventative place for parents to go to - to learn about drug classification, drug paraphenalia, what to look for, how best to prevent.........  but this is over with.  Next year there will no longer be a support group for parents.

We have feedback forms that I ask parents to fill out at the end of each meeting.  In ALL cases, what they mark as most helpful is the sharing part - being able to voice their concerns, hearing that they are not alone.  (This feedback happens even if the counsellor is doing a presentation for the first hour).  So, now, where will parents go?  They will hide in their closets, panic, become co-dependents, feel very alone.  (Not to say that all parents will do this - some have the tools to deal with it quite effectively).  But as I heard this week at the Mental health symposium, when a nurse got up to address the speakers toward the end - she was a nurse, she had a phD, she worked with youth with problems when she went to work on a reserve out west, yet when HER child developed a mental health problem, she was suddenly lost - she did not know what to do - where to turn (this is what she told the panel - when it is YOUR child, everything you thought you knew flies out the window).  It is totally different when it is YOUR child.  Believe me, I know this from first hand experience.  Logic does indeed suddenly flies out the window. 

Not my child, you say?  I pray and hope it never happens to your child.  But a door has been closed this week - PLAD will no longer exist.  There are no other support groups that families can turn to and that is a shame.

Thank you for reading while I vented :o)  Just as the purpose of PLAD is to allow parents to vent, even though my son no longer has a problem with illegal drugs, sometimes I still feel like I need to vent when I see something important and needed not be available anymore, all because there were not enough numbers to justify having it (in the opinion of government run agencies, in the opinion of 'experts'). 

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Helping Ourselves

The hand that helps you is at the end of your arm.  I actually find that comforting.  I know at times, actually, many times, in the past, whenever I reached out for help or reached out to share my innermost feelings, I was rejected, told to 'pick myself up' or just judged and told I had done things wrong.  When all I wanted was an ear to listen, someone to vent to, someone to care.

This has been the story of my life for such a long time, and at my age, I am having one heck of a time trying to change.

I once wrote a poem about being a butterfly and that is my deepest and sincere wish.  To not have to hide in my cocoon - out of self-preservation when I was young, to maried life, to motherhood, to my present.  I learned that people were always quick to judge me and therefore made me feel that I had no value.  I picked myself up and brushed myself off and carried on.  Illness in the family made me stronger and also made me realize even more that I had only myself to rely on.  The crack in my armor healed itself and I became who I am.  I know people have told me it was OK to ask for help, or to turn to people for help (even once being told that I was actually honoring the other person when I asked for help).  That may be true in some way - but my experiences have taught me otherwise and I have a very hard time changing after all these years.

I once did turn to people for help, only to be deceived, only to be judged, only to be misunderstood.  So I prefer to keep things to myself now (once in a while, I will open the door of my heart to someone, but will quickly close it).  I hope they do not take offense when I do this.  I was well taught - taught that my opinion was not important, that I was never right, that I had to go along with the 'majority'.  So I learned in the past 4-5 years to keep hidden my true feelings - a couple of times, I did voice the way I felt inside and people took it the wrong way and judged me.  So I closed up that cocoon even tighter.

I will help others should they ask for help (and not look down on them the way I was looked down when I used to ask for help).  Because I know how hurtful that can be.  And I refuse to hurt others the way others have hurt me. 

One day, I will become a butterfly and I look forward to that day.  Today, being the day before Easter, I reflect on death and life.  And what is between - and I am stuck in the in-between time, just as this Saturday is the in-between time between death and new life.  But one day, I will fly like a butterfly and be free of all pain, shame and sorrow.  Unfortunately, I think that day will only come after my literal death.  There are times when I think of my heart problems and do not worry about it the way I used to - for the life awaiting me will be better than what is now.  Then I can rise, soar, and be free.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday

Some people spend Good Friday by going to church and that is just wonderful.  Today, I honored the day by asking someone's forgiveness and was told I was forgiven.  It was only afterwards that it dawned on me just how appropriate this was.......... to be forgiven on Good Friday.  I had said something not very nice to someone about four years ago and I would, once in a while, think about that and wish that I could somehow apologize.  But that person had blocked me from MSN and Facebook (with good reason) after it happened.  I realized it was all my fault, but there was no way I could reach her to apologize.  There had been quite a bit of stress in my life at that time, but I knew that was no excuse for my behavior.

Then this morning, I saw her name on Facebook and sent a quick private message requesting her friendship and she accepted.  I was then able to apologize and received a 'I forgive you' message.  That made my heart happy.  I know we will perhaps not have much in common anymore and that is OK.  I was able to reach out and be forgiven.

Then it dawned on me - today was Good Friday - a day when we are forgiven.  I am not a religious person, but more of a spiritual person.  I have this saying 'religion is for those who are afraid of going to hell, spirituality is for those who have already been there'.  So I sit quietly today and ponder this mystery of forgiveness and why this should happen on this day.  The irony struck me.  For Good Friday is about releasing us to live as we were meant to.  It is about accepting God's forgivenesss.  And it is also about living with the motto to 'love one another'.  This all happened today.  And I feel released and I feel blessed. 

I also know that it is so very important to hear the words 'I forgive you'.  It is necessary to 'let go' after one apologizes and I can do that - after I have apologized.  But I had not been able to reach out to this person and ask her forgiveness until this morning.  And with ease and understanding, she freed me of guilt.  How like Good Friday that is (without going into any talk about 'religion' or 'faith').  But somehow I was touched in a miraculous way this morning.  And I am thankful.

Earlier this week, I also reconciled with someone else - this has indeed been a Holy Week for me.

So, today (or tomorrow or the day after or whenever you read this) - if there is someone you should apologize to, apologize - it will release you (whether they forgive you or not).  If there is someone that you are holding a grudge against, forgive them and allow them to feel that freedom that only forgiveness can bring.

May you enjoy your own Good Friday in whatever way you honor it.  And then be free to truly enjoy Easter and all it means to you.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Thoughts on the past

I know people say that the past is past, that the future is not ours to see (I do believe that is a song), that the present is a gift and the only thing we need.  That to be present in today is what is truly important.  I believe all this, but can I truly say that I always live in the 'present'?  Not if I am totally honest (with myself and with you - whoever who is out there reading this blog). 

Lately, I have been reminded of events from my past.  Whether it be something I was writing about, something someone said to me or just a picture posted on a friend's facebook.  Memories - the things that we should cherish.  Yet, what if most memories are sad?  How do we overcome those?  Ah, you say, by creating good memories, new memories, happy memories that you can then dwell upon when you lie in bed at night struggling to sleep.  I learned a trick to helping me fall asleep at night and have used it many a time (again even this  brings back memories of not-so-pleasant times).  In any case, to help me sleep, I would imagine in my mind's eye, a blackboard (a whiteboard also works for  those who are younger).  There is a bottom edge to this black/white board - you see it in your mind's eye as well as a piece of chalk (or erasable markers) and an eraser..  You think of this  blackboard and you see yourself picking up the chalk and writing down the number '100', then you see yourself putting the chalk down, picking up the  eraser and erasing the number 100.  Then you see yourself placing the eraser on the ledge of the blackboard, then picking up the chalk again and writing down the number '99' and so on.  When you find that you cannot concentrate very much anymore, stop and let your mind rest.  I can assure you that sleep will come easily.  Your mind is so tired and you have basically 'erased' all other thoughts from your mind.  Depending on what I am worried about, I have been able to fall asleep shortly after writing the number '95' - on very rough nights, I have made it to '85' (remember that it is not a matter of trying to get as many numbers as possible, it is a matter of when your mind is tired of 'thinking') - do not force anything.

Thankfully, I have not had to use this method to fall asleep in a quite a while, because I have not had much that was weighing that heavy on my mind.  But last night, I found myself picking up that chalk - I think I was in the low 90s before I finally was able to relax enough to fall asleep. 

I had seen a picture of a friend's son with his latest Tae-Kwon-Do belt (yellow striped).  It brought back memories of a time long ago, when my son was in Tae-Kwon-Do (hereafter referred to as TKD) and his progress in earning belts.  I don't quite remember which was the last belt he earned, but it did bring back memories of why we put him in TKD (he was very excited about it by the way).  Our son was often bullied in school.  So, we, as parents, thought that TKD would give him more self-confidence and he would know he 'could' defend himself against any bullies, or at the very least, if bullies knew he had taken TKD, they would stop bullying him.  Well, it kind of back-fired because when it came time to progress to the more advanced level of 'spar-ing', our son decided he did not want to continue, he did not want to fight with anyone.  We did not force him to continue, altho we tried to encourage him to at least try.  But he was adamant, and so we let it be.  Did it help his self-esteem?  We admired his kindness and his unwillingness to 'fight', but we wished he could learn how to fight (only to defend himself).  But these were not the thoughts that  kept me awake.  These memories of my past only triggered more memories - of a time that I had shoved at the back of my mind and preferred that it stay there.  But it reared its ugly head last night and I had to once again take out my blackboard in my mind's eye so I could sleep.

It brought back memories of my son's first hospitalization.  Of a time of confusion and horror.  After some odd behavior on his part and due to the fact that he had not slept in over a week, we had convinced our son that he should go to the hospital in order to get something to help him sleep, something to help him relax enough to sleep.  After many hours of waiting in the ER room, we were finally brought to 'that room' and saw a psychiatrist, who admitted our son to  the psychiatric wing of the hospital.  This was so perplexing for us, so confusing.  Our son was taken away and put in a locked unit where we could not go see him.  We were left outside the unit, with no-one to talk to, with no-one to tell us what was happening.  There was one nurse who came over and gave us the telephone number of the unit and told us we could call the next day to see how our son was doing.  So, we left the hospital, scared, angry (yes angry), in tears (I cried  so many tears  that night after we left the hospital), but falling in bed out of pure exhaustion.  The next day, I immediately called the number I had been given in the hope of finally getting some answers.  Had my son finally slept?  Was he OK now?  Could I bring him home now?  All I got was a 'he is resting now' and 'no he cannot have visitors' and 'someone will contact you - either the social worker or his  doctor'.  So another day was spent not knowing what was going on.  No-one called us - I kept calling every morning asking the same question - asking also when someone would contact us to explain what was going on, and being given the same things - someone would contact us.  I could not even get the name of the psychiatrist who was now his 'doctor'.  I did ask if his family doctor was involved in this, only to be told 'no, he is under the care of a psychiatrist who will contact you'.  But when??? 

And so we waited - waited 4 long and anxious days until finally, at 11 p.m. four days after he was brought to the hospital, we got a call from the hospital telling us that there would be a Tribunal the next day  at 9 a.m. and would we be interested in attending?  Of course we would!!!  Thankfully at that time, my husband was not working and where I worked, I could easily call in sick the next morning.  But what exactly was  a Tribunal?  We had no idea.  I googled it on the internet and there was very little information - just that it was some kind of a hearing.  What sort of a hearing?  My son had done nothing unlawful.  At least not before being admitted in the hospital.  So I slept fitfully, but made sure that my  alarm was set for 6  a.m. so I could (1) call in sick at work; (2) take a shower; (3) get dressed; (4)  have enough time to be at the hospital by 8:30 to ensure we would be in time for this Tribunal.

We soon found out what a Tribunal was.  It was comprised of a lawyer, the head nurse in charge of the psychiatric unit, the psychiatrist in charge of my son, and a patient advocate.  I was told that my son was not well enough to attend.  The first thing that happened was the psychiatrist telling us that our son had been given a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.  I tentatively asked 'what is that?' and he said 'it is an incurable illness and he will be on medication for the rest of his life'.  I started crying.  When I was able to regain my composure (as quickly as possible as I knew that I needed to get as much information as possible - my feelings were not important at this time - I could always cry later).  So I wiped those tears and said 'I am fine now' (altho I was far from fine).  They said that my son would be held for 30 days and another Tribunal would then be held to see if he was better.  All I could think of was 'but we just wanted him to get something to help him sleep.......'.  But I did not say anything.  They did ask about our son's history - we told them what we had told them when he was admitted - that he had not slept, we told them of  the strange behavior and distorted way of thinking, but we attributed all this to lack of sleep.  Was he still not sleeping?  The lawyer asked us about his childhood.  We told him how our son was a kind person, he excelled in school, he had a few close friends, and he had been bullied a lot.  The lawyer looked me straight in the eye and told me I should have enrolled him in boxing classes..   That kind of came out of the blue.  All I could think of was '...but we had him in TKD'. 

Needless to say, we left confused and feeling a bit guilty.  Maybe if we had enrolled him in boxing instead of TKD, it would have made a difference.  Maybe if  we had insisted he stayed in TKD and forced him to 'spar' it would have helped. 

That was in 1995..  Today, 6 years later, we have educated ourselves on mental illness, and our son has not been hospitalized in almost 4 years.  We are blessed. 

And I thought I had things pretty well under control and could help others now.  Yet when I saw the picture of my small nephew with his TKD yellow striped belt, all these memories came flooding back and I again found myself being unable to sleep, doubting my parenting skills when he was younger and finally reverting to my 'tried and true' method of falling asleep. 

Funny how a single thing, a simple thing, can bring back memories that one would prefer to forget.  So many memories came flooding back, so many questions of 'why', so many feelings of how helpless I had felt.  I wanted to cry. Yet tears did not come as they used to.  For I have not cried in 4 years (not even at the death of 2 of my siblings during the past 4 years) - People say that crying is good for the soul, they release tension.  I have even tried to cry, even tried to force myself to cry - watching sad movies that are 'tear-jerkers' do not help and I wonder:  Is it possible that one can actually run out of tears?  That all those tears prior to 4 years ago made my heart hard and froze any tears that might remain.  I do know that every so often, I have to get my husband to put eye-drops in my eyes, because they hurt from their dryness.  I have seen my eye doctor who has assured me there is nothing wrong with my eyes.  Maybe what is wrong is that tears come from a place within me that I dare not go to.  For that place is too painful to revisit.  I had a slight glimpse of that place last night - thank goodness for that blackboard.  It erases memories and lets you sleep.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Another Exercise from Wordplay Workshop on Thursday

We were asked to find 20 words from dictionaries, books and/or magazines then write a short poem about it (10 minutes to do so).  This is what I came up with:

Random Words

Castles, Build, Wonder, Health, Free, Future, Existence, Youth, Ignored, Culture, Value, Dreams, Pain, Love, Cautiously, Soul, Hope, Mind, Importance, Bright

My Soul Dreams Cautiously
Of Love overcoming Ignored Pain
Where Health will prevail
And Culture will change
The Future will become Bright with Hope
And the Wonder of my Youth
Will Build Castles in the sky
And my Mind will be Free to see the Value
Of the Importance of my Existence.

What is Creativity?

Creativity is something I crave

Realism stands in its way

Emotions create heaviness of mind

Althought in my soul, a creative sparks strives

To get out, to emerge, to be heard

I look within and leave all problems aside

Vowing that I must let my true self emerge

Inward emotions are trying to free themselves

To all that is possible

Yearning to unleaash what is in my soul.


A big thank you to Deborah Carr for unleashing a bit of my creative self at her Wordplay Workshop last Thursday.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Root Canal

I thought I would copy one of my short stories, just to give you an idea of what I am about and a sense of my writing 'skills' :o)

            I woke up early that fateful morning, not too anxious, not too nervous.  It was on my calendar in bold red letters:  ROOT CANAL DAY.  For some reason, I was actually looking forward to having the procedure done.  I had looked it up on the Internet and it seemed like a fairly simple operation.  Besides, I had spent a few weeks when my dentist was on holidays worrying about whether or not I had to get off my blood thinner medication and worrying which would be worse: getting a root canal done or having a blood clot travel to my brain and rendering my  teeth useless anyway?  To my relief, when my dentist came back she told me I could have my root canal done without having to stop my warfarin.  So I was on cloud 9 and was actually looking forward to the procedure.  Silly person that I am.

I got to the office a few minutes early, a smile on my face.   The dental assistant called my name and I was thankful to finally get the procedure started.  It is strange how sitting waiting for a dental procedure is more nerve-wrecking than the actual procedure.  About 3/4 of the way through my root canal, I suddenly realized I had to pee so bad I thought I was going to explode. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a strong and overwhelming urge to relieve myself. I was very near letting it all go right there in the dentist chair in front of the dentist and her female assistant.

For various reasons I had drank a ton of water this morning before leaving to have the procedure done. I was running late so I did not have a chance to hit a restroom before going in the doctor's office – HUGE mistake.

Anyway, so there I was, laying on the dental chair tilted so far back that I'm close to sliding off the chair head first – if I did have an “accident” all the urine would have traveled from under my pants across my chest all the way up to my neck and down my armpits. Man, wouldn’t that be something to behold?? At the time of crisis I had this mammoth dental contraption in my mouth that spreads the mouth open beyond anything that is naturally possible. There was this large, bright red rubber sheeting in there that was partially hanging out my mouth that is suppose to separate one part of the mouth from the other and helps in keeping the mouth stretched open. I don't know how they were able to stuff all that hardware and plastic into one tight little compartment. Right now I don't know what hurts the most, my gutted, root-canal’d tooth or my mouth being stretched so far open you could have driven an ice rink’s Zomboni through it.

So, at about halfway through all the relentless drilling I begin to feel the pressure build in my bladder -- and it’s growing exponentially by the second. It got so bad I swear the office ceiling had a yellow tint to it. I held off as long as I could, then I started acting like a 3 year-old trying to not think about my need to pee; I was crossing my legs and stiffening my body to hold it all in. I even put my hands under the apron that was on top of me and loosened my belt buckle a few notches to try and relieve some pressure. What didn’t help at all was the fact the apron that was on top of me was the same lead-filled apron they used to take x-rays of the tooth in the beginning. It weighed a ton and was pressing down on my bladder.

Finally, at about breaking point, I raised my hand in the air to get the dentist’s attention (I couldn’t talk with all that stuff in my mouth). First thing she says is, “do you need to go to the restroom?” and I give her a big thumbs up. After moving stuff out of the way, she tells me the only restroom is out in the hallway beyond the waiting room. Without a care, I immediately jump off the dentist chair and fly out of the procedure area and across a very, very large waiting room area that has about 15-20 people in it -- all of them sitting there straining their heads and gawking as I run past them. I run through the hallway and into the restroom and slam the door behind me where it takes me a good 5 minutes to drain my bladder. Relief at last!

While washing my hands I take a peak at myself in the mirror over the sink and was very startled by what I saw. I’ll tell you, I looked like Frankenstein’s mother. My mouth was wide open at an odd angle, there were various pieces of metal and black plastic components protruding out from the orifice and underneath it all there was this blood-red rubber thing, with a hole in it, smashed into my mouth stretching my face into various contorted positions with some of the red rubber stuff hanging down and out and over my mouth and well over my chin – it looked like a clumpy mass of blood just hanging there. I looked absolutely hideous and ghastly! I looked like I was having open heart surgery though my mouth.

Now came the hard part, how do I make it all the way back to the dentist’s chair without a whole bunch of people in the waiting room wondering what was going on that caused me to run out of the dentist’s office so quickly. The door to the hallway is on one side of the waiting room and the door to the procedure area is on the opposite side of the room – I have to cross this large room full of people to get to where I needed to be. After those people had gotten a quick glimpse of what I looked like -- and running like a bloody bat out of Hell to the restroom -- I have no doubt there were many in the waiting area that were now having second thoughts about getting their own dental procedure done today. I didn’t know what to do, so I just decided to suck it up and march back in there as if nothing happened. So I did.

When I opened the door to the waiting room every living person’s head in the room spun around to look at me. All of a sudden the notion that I could just casually walk back through this large waiting room, as if nothing happened, was now just a fantasy pipe dream. Some people just flat-out stared with puzzled expressions; others were wide-eyed with their mouths slightly gaped open, and some of the children in the room looked very startled and concerned and leaned into their parent.  I noticed that one small little girl had even pee-ed on the floor. I felt their eyes burning holes in my back as I passed by them, overhearing a small boy tell his Mom ‘Mommy, please, I promise I will floss from now on, can we please go home now?’

It seemed like it took a million years to cross the room but I did it and got back into the dentist’s chair to let her continue to do her thing.  The procedure was almost done and I was breathing a sigh of relief – I would soon be free of all the gunk in my mouth, that is, until I heard the dentist tell her assistant to get the orthodontist and to make sure HE brought his ‘squirter’ with him.  Well I totally lost it – the gauze and whatever else was in my mouth flew across the room as I burst out laughing, picturing this guy walking in the room with his ‘squirter’ and knew that no matter what, I was not going to wait to find out what it was as I lay there defenseless.  Thankfully the dental assistant also started laughing and I knew I was not the only one with a sick sense of humor.  The dentist somehow managed to keep her composure as she explained what this ‘squirter’ was (a new machine that would squirt water into my mouth to ensure that there were no hidden open areas, and I calmed down and let her finish.  When the orthodontist came in, I smiled brightly at him, thoughts of his squirter not sounding so bad, especially since he was not all that bad looking.  When all was finished, I said nothing about the pee break nor about the ‘squirter’ to the dentist nor did she mention it to me. The only thing she did was suggest I take the door that led to the back parking lot.  And I did exactly that.
To this day, I still wonder how many people in that dental office today will make me a topic of conversation at the office cooler or at the dinner table tonight? Regardless, when I return to get any dental work done, I will be making a pit stop to the washroom before I check in with the receptionist.