Thank you to very special friends and neighbours

March 31, 2014

Sending out a big thank you to our wonderful neighbours Nick, Francis and Melchie.

Last evening, a quick trip to the store turned into a mini nightmare. The lane behind our home, which we have to drive on to when exiting our garage has turned into an almost impossible  to navigate mass of deep icy ruts. Those ruts are about 6 inches deep. Your car tires get into those ruts it is almost impossible to get out. This has been a beyond the norm extreme winter. Snow fall amounts like I can’t ever remember. Here in the City, keeping up with snow clearing on the streets and lanes has been a real challenge. What seems to often happen is a couple of inches of snow will fall. Traffic driving over it will pack it down. This tightly packed snow becomes very icy. The City then sends out sanding trucks, covering the icy packed snow to give vehicles better traction. That actually works quite well. It is just with each successive snow fall that “packed icy layer” becomes deeper and deeper.
We have had a few days of melting which turned those packed layers into slush in which the deep ruts were created. Night time freezing temperatures and you have these deep ruts in solid ice.
OK, I backed the car out of the garage and immediately got stuck in the ruts. Couldn’t go either forward or backward. What to do. I can’t leave the car, it is now blocking the entire lane for anyone else that may be trying to navigate it.
We keep a big container of kitty litter in the garage for just such times. Throw it in front of your tires and it really improves traction, not this time.
I know I am not supposed to shovel but maybe just a little bit would get the car free, bad move.
I think I spent less than a minute shovelling “hacking at the ice” when I got such a sharp jabbing chest pain. It literally put me on my knees. A very sharp jabbing pain that seemed to knock the breath right out of me.
Now I “always” carry my nitro spray with me. Obviously not. As I searched my pockets for it, I remembered using it the night before while laying in bed and putting it on the bed side table, where it remained.
That intense jabbing pain only lasted a couple of seconds then settled into a dull ache. Breathing, catching my breathe was more of the issue. Getting to the house was a bit of an issue.
Startled the heck out of Vi when I came in gasping hollering I need my nitro. That is a miraculous drug.
So now what to do. I can’t go back out there. Vi is in no shape to try. The car is stuck and blocking the entire lane.
Light bulb of an idea moment. Call our wonderful neighbours and ask for help.
Nick, Francis and Melchi responded to our request immediately. I remained inside but they attacked that ice with shovels even an axe. They must have been at it for close to 45 minutes and were able to free the car enough to get it back into the garage. Getting it out to be able to get to the street against all that ice was just impossible.
My dear friends and neighbours, we thank you so very much. Your kindness is appreciated more than you can know

Back to the beginning – the mirror

March 28, 2014

I’ve decided to go back. Look at my early blogging days, posts I put up way back then. I had the lofty goals of sharing thoughts and feeling as I go through this part of my life journey. Back then I most certainly had no idea the journey would last as long as it has. This was in first few weeks of postings.

Have lots of time to think these days, so have again been reflecting on my life and the people that have really impacted on me. Most in a very positive way, others not some much in a positive way, even in a painful way. But I have come to realize all are important and all my experiences has made my into the person I am today.

Started thinking of my Mother, bless her soul. I imagine there are very few people, that their mother didn’t play a major role in influencing their life. My mother had a very hard life, we were poor as I grew up. My father was an alcholic. He worked away much of the time as a miner. He always made good money but seemed to drink it all away. She worked full time and kept the home going. She was of the “old school” in which males weren’t expected to do much around the house. Being kids we took advantage of this and really did nothing to help out. This is one of the guilts I carry today. Looking back I realize there was so much I could have done to ease her burden. If I could only turn back time.

She had a very strict definition of what was a man and to become a good man, was what she encouraged the boys to become. Her definition of a man: always be a gentleman, always fulfill you commitments and obligations, take responsiblity for your action and NEVER hit a woman or anyone smaller than youself. I have tried to live up to that definition and to make her proud and deeply regret the times I know I fell short of making her proud. I particularly remember one comment she made, a Man has never hit a woman. That struck me as odd with all the news you hear of domestic violence. But she explained. A true man has never hit a woman, unfortuneatly there are many over grown juvenile deliquents out there pretending to be men, that will hit women. Suddenly that made sense to me. I have never hit a woman, I am proud to say.

She also taught me of the mirror test. OK, what is the mirror test. Every morning you will look at yourself in the mirror at some point, maybe shaving or brushing your teeth what ever, but at some point you will look in the mirror.

When you do take a hard look at the person looking back at you, which naturally is your own reflection. Now based only on yesterday, being one day only, how do you feel about that person you see in the mirror. Are you proud, knowing yesterday I did something special to help someone, or I corrected a wrong. If yesterday was that sort of a day be proud of yourself. If yesterday was just a regular day, you did well getting though the day as a man, give yourself a pat on the back. Now comes the part I have always hated.

If when you look in the mirror, and seeing youself are embarrased or ashamed of something you did yesterday. There is certainly nothing to be proud of, feel bad but only for a moment. Reflect on your actions, your mistakes or what ever. Learn a lesson from them, vow to avoid repeating this action and plan to immediately make ammends. Believe me, there have been times I hated that mirror. But I learned from it.

Living my life

March 23, 2014

I have been away from the blog for a few days. I appreciate all comments. I value the thoughts of my blogging friends. As I read them last evening, I admit to being taken by surprise or off guard by some. But, that is always a good thing. It makes pause and think. Instead of responding to them individually, I am putting up this post addressing those thoughts.

As I think of it, I realize my posts of late have been more on the “dark side”. Reading these I can understand how it may thought my general thinking or daily way of life has turned in that direction. It has not. I am a very lucky man and I do know and appreciate that. I love life, I love and appreciate my life every moment of it. Now having said that I know I have my days.

As I think on it, one of the biggest changes has been in how I use the blog. Many, many times and to many people I have invited them to use the blog as a forum to get feelings out. That is, I realize more what I have been doing. Hey, it is my journal And I suppose I am venting the thoughts and feelings of that moment. I know none of my immediate family read the blog unless I point out something specific to them. That being the case this is my safe place to let it all hang out.

Now as mu vas I appreciate life, I know I do have those times and I am having them more often. Feelings of sadness, regret at times getting right to the woe is me stage. A doctor pointed out to me, as you prepare for your own pending passing you go through a period of mourning. Mourning your own passing.

now is this something I dwell on all day, absolutely not. I live life, I make the best of every moment. I can be carrying on happy as a clam. It can be something as simple as a song on the radio and it can trigger something and those feelings come rushing in. Usually, I can refocus my thinking fairly quickly.

Now, I have been dealing with all of this for over 10 years now. For reasons only known to Him, the good Lord has granted me all this extra time for which I am so very grateful. I guess I am greedy, no matter how much extra time I have I will always want more.

i am extremely reluctant to compare myself to a cancer patient. Cancer is such a terrible disease. My heart thoughts and prayers go out to all. What they endure is immeasurably harsher than anything I experience. That is not even like comparing apples and oranges, more like comparing an orange with an elephant. The only possible comparable would that ultimately the end result is the same.

I have had these extra years and I really have tried to make the most of them, my life is good. I don’t imagine I will ever reach the point of being satisfied with the amount of time. It will never be enough.

I look back over this past 10 years and can think of 5 separate times when things medically seemed especially dire. I was told my time was very short. With I am sure the help of Our Heavenly Father somehow I managed to dodge the bullet and carry on. Maybe a little worse for wear but still carry on, in spite of the dire medical wisdom. Each of those episodes shook me up but I got over it and a wonderful life carried on. As dear blogging friend Mel puts it, getting more and more cocky as more time passed. then seemingly out of no where something would happen. After each of these words from the doctors became more serious. I don’t know, could this be somewhat comparable to a cancer patient going into remission only to have it flare up again and have this happen over and over? Here I am talking of the mental and emotional stress.

The last medical guestimate gave me days maybe weeks but not months. That was like a year ago and here I am still plugging away. Still making my best effort to get as much as I can out of each day. I have come to realize my best effort can vary from day to day, but that is life.

a thought just hit me as I am sitting here. I have been checking more into the brain tumour. It is located in the area that controls impulsivity . As I think I realize virtually all of my posts are put up containing my thoughts of the moment. Hmm, have to think about that

Empty chair – reality

March 21, 2014

Reality hits – the empty chair.

That is the exact wording of a little note I came across. It is my writing so obviously it is a little gem I copied from somewhere. In what has become my typical “memory gut” fashion, I have no idea where I got it from or due credit would be given.

I have but a vague memory of the post or story I got it from. Those words carry a pretty powerful message.

now this all makes perfect sense in my own mind but can I explain it.

When a loved one passes, our lives can go into what is almost like a surreal mode. Oh, we feel the pain of the lose and our hearts ache. We do what we have to just to get through the days as they come and go. Simply putting one foot in front of the other. Life can take on an almost unreal sense. In our minds and hearts we know our loved one is gone.

Sometimes the mere passage of time slowly brings us out of the surreal back to the real. I do remember reading that for that particular writer it was a single event that brought reality sharply to the fore front. An empty chair.

Their family annually gathered for Thanksgiving. One of the highlights was a big family meal. Everyone gathered around a large dining room table. Everyone had their usual spot to sit. It had only been several weeks earlier that a loved one had passed. Apparently at least openly no one had discussed it but the time can to gather at the table. Each person took their usual spot and then the one empty chair became glaringly obvious. For the writer it was at that moment it became real.

Thoughts anyone?

Life of Pain

March 20, 2014

Blog has been silent for a while, life gets in the way at times.

i have written in the past of Vi’s issues, her pain walking. Her surgeries to repair it all. She had calcified blockages in her arteries leading to her legs. Surgeries worked on the right side. That leg is much better. The left side is a different story, if anything it seems to be worse.

We have been waiting for the second follow up with the surgeon to learn about and discuss plan B. With high hopes we went into the meeting to learn really there is no plan B. Surgeon seems convinced that everything possible has been done with the arteries, blood flow is as good as it is going to get.

She feels the pain issues are caused by back problems in the lower spine. She was a bit of a downer several times stating she has never known anyone to have that type of spinal surgery and be happy with the results. I asked, looking at Vi’s file, if this was your mother what would be your recommendation to her. “Learn to live with it”.

She is ordering a Cat Scan which will take place in the next 3-4 weeks. This will definitively show what can or can’t be done.

Vi is a trooper. She is holding up but is struggling with the thought of life going forward being one filled with pain.

Brain tumour – some potential affects

March 15, 2014

In the past I have not paid that much attention to my brain tumour. Actually, it is a meningioma which is a tumour attached to the inner lining of the skull. Generally it is non cancerous and is very slow growing.
Keep in mind this is all as I understand it to be, I am not a doctor and can speak only from a patients view.
Mine was discovered accidentally. Hospitalized for a suspected heart attack. Other symptoms at the time suggested possibly a stroke which led to an MRI being done on my head. Good news it was not a stroke, bad news they discovered the brain tumour.
It is located about 1 1/2 inches above my right eyebrow. Obviously on the inside of my skull, nothing obvious on the outside.
I was told it would be monitored for growth but in all likelihood would not require any attention for 10-15 years. When I was first diagnosed with the heart failure, my doctor told me I might have 2 years left, if I was lucky. Well the tumour was discovered within that 2 year time frame.
With everything else going on I didn’t let the news of a brain tumour bother me in the slightest. I mean, in my mind there was no way I would be here in 10-15 years so no point in sweating it.
I can only give thanks to our Heavenly Father but it is now 12 or 13 years later and I am still here.
The brain is contained within the protective confines of your skull, within that skull there is only so much room. Your brain needs all of that room to properly function or at least as intended. As my tumour grows it compresses that part of the brain which has to some extent affect the functioning of that part of your brain.
My tumour is regularly monitored for growth/size. It is round in shape and is growing but at a slow rate. With each test I ask about the size. Now I am a visual guy don’t just throw numbers at me, especially metric. I need a physical comparable to be able to visualize it.
Over time it has gone from the size of a cherry-quarter-walnut-overgrown walnut.
Because of its position it presses on and to whatever extent affects the function of the right frontal lobe of my brain.
I have been googling the right frontal lobe. It is a pretty big deal with personality, impulsivity, memory. Most of what makes you, you. I will be getting into a lot of that in future posts.
Something I have noticed is perception. By googling I have learned it can take away a lot of your ability to recognize non verbal communication signs.
Communication is not a straight forward issue. Every message is actually multiple messages. There is the though in my head I am trying to convey. The second is how accurately I am able to verbalize that message. There is how the other person hears those words and then how they interpret them.
I read somewhere 83% of communication is non verbal. Seeing and interpreting the non verbal feed back. The tumour can greatly hinder that ability to interpret or even see that non verbal feed back. If you have missed 83% of an exchange! you miss a lot. This is hard to describe, will try to think of an example for another post.
Have an appointment with the neurologist coming up. Have many more questions this time around.
I still get a bit if a chuckle when I think back to, if not the first it was one of the very early appointments with the neurologist. It went something like this:

Doc, “do you ever have any urges to act inappropriately in public?
Me: Huh?
Doc: do you ever have the urge to expose yourself in public?
Me: WHAT? NO!!!!
Doc: Do you ever have the urge to urinate in public?
Me: come on, get real. NO.

Certainly nothing has changed that way. Oh, wait does pulling over to the side of the highway count? If there are no other vehicles or any sort of buildings in sight, well I MAY have relieved myself. Lol

How the dying want to be treated

March 13, 2014

I am happy to say, I think I have finally rounded the bend and am starting to feel better. Ever since Christmas I have been fighting a deep chest infection. Did the antibiotics everything. The antibiotics may have helped some but didn’t seem to do much. Time seems to be what was needed. Time is something I know I am short on and admit to getting flustered when seemingly spend so much of it feeling this way.

i have been working on 3 separate posts. Maybe that is the problem, I am working on them, they deal with issues important to me and I want to word them in a meaningful way. The titles or topics: “how does a dying person want to be treated”, “don’t loose sight of the big picture even when going through a crappy time” and my thoughts on “impermanence”, how the brain tumour may be affecting me. Oops that is 4 not 3. I know I am a rambler not a writer and get flustered. I am ready to give up on that attempt and go back to my norm. Sit down and just type the thoughts as they come. What ever comes, comes and up it goes.

I am open to ideas, thoughts or feelings, on any of these topics, just let me know

To know you are dying – things I have learned

March 10, 2014

Just random thoughts as they came to mind and in no particular order. Will add more as they come to mind

I have learned a lot in this whole dying process.

– to know you are dying sucks

– to know you are dying can be a wonderful eye opening experience

– no matter how strong your faith, your beliefs may be, there are times when it will waiver, fear can set in

– you realize how wrong you can be. Those you knew would be there for you can disappear from sight

– support can and will come from the most unexpected people

– the world does not revolve around me, irregardless of my condition and nor should it

– dying is a very lonely experience

– you need to feel useful, that you are making a contribution, that you have a purpose for being

– distractions are often needed. If left on it’s own the mind tends to wander and not always to the best of places

– I see life differently. Many things that would have bothered me no longer do. But, if I feel I am being treated unfairly I will no longer tolerate such

– life is a precious gift. Appreciate and make the most of every moment

– take no one and nothing for granted

– work on developing your own personal relationship with God

Humbled, honoured and grateful

March 10, 2014

I am humbled and honoured. Here in Canada, maybe else where also, I am not sure. February is designated as Heart and Stroke month. Very special people give of their time to go out canvassing door to door requesting donations for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. That money goes to fund research and is used in countless ways to promote good health and make the lives of those with heart issues a little better or easier.
I was reading on their web site, that every year they are able to get about 70,000 people to volunteer their time to go out and do this door to door canvassing, a major fund raiser for them. Bravo to all, I say.
Now something I want to point out, this is Canada. The month of February can be very cold and stormy, not the weather you would typically choose to be out in. Particularly this past February. Records were broken everywhere for the extreme cold. Yet into that cold out went those special volunteers.
Have I ever mentioned how lucky and proud to have the family that I have. There are so many I could write about but today I want to acknowledge one in particular. My cousin John Howdle.
Now anyway you may look at it, John is a fine gentleman, an all around really nice guy.
I am not sure about years gone by but I do know that this year John became one of those volunteers. John and team raised over $600.00 for the Heart and Stroke foundation. Now as I understand it, volunteers are asked to dedicate their time and efforts to someone past or present who have dealt with or are dealing with heart or stroke issues.
I am so very touch, humbled and honoured that John would choose to dedicate his efforts to me. I just don’t have the words.
OK, John I admit, I was. Happy and proud to have you as a cousin even before this wonderful gesture on your part. This is like the icing on the cake.
Bravo to all of those 70,000 volunteers. A big thank you from all and a very personal thank you from me

Appreciating time

March 9, 2014

Haven’t been on the computer much over the past 4 days. My brother has been in town and have been trying to spend as much time with him as possible. It is unfortunate he is here for medical tests but hey I will take visiting time however and whenever I can get it.
He also has a very serious heart condition. Now it sounds straight forward, he needs a valve replacement. In today’s world that is a common enough procedure. Not so with him. They have determined his existing valve has calcified becoming very brittle and fragile. The slightest touch and it may shatter sending maybe millions of little pieces into his blood stream. Very high risk of a stroke. They are doing all sorts of tests to see if he qualifies for an alternate procedure. He needs the valve replacement so we have our fingers crossed for this alternate procedure. I believe it is called a TAVI.
Vi is struggling. It has been a month and her surgical incisions haven’t healed. More than that it is more and more obvious the procedures didn’t work. Her ability to walk is if anything a little worse than before it was done.
I am hanging in there. Certainly glad it is warming up. The cold air is just brutal on my breathing.
Spending a lot of time trying to make plans. It was suggested I try and make weekly and plans for a few months ahead. Mini milestones I suppose you could say. Things for me to really look forward to and strive or push to reach