Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Neighbors

February 26, 2007

The past few days have been really special with a visit from my Aunt and cousin. Cousin Carol left yesterday afternoon to spend one night with her mother-in-law who also lives here in the city. We were blessed when Aunt Isabel changed other plans to spend the evening and last night with us again. Carol will be returning about lunch time to pick up her mother, for the ladies to begin the long drive back to Swan River. It is about a 6 hour drive. Forecast is calling for periods of snow. I hope they can make the entire trip in daylight, so much easier to see and drive through the snow in day light.

Aunt Isabel, cousin Carol there really are no words I can find to thank you for your visit. You always have been, still are and always will be a blessing in my life and in the lives of everyone you meet. Thank you from both Vi and myself.

To all you cousins out there, I have some bragging rights. In our own little 2 person crib tournament I laid a whooping on her. Although, I am sure she may not admit to this, but I do think she was taking it a little easy on me, maybe feeding my crib a little etc.. But, hey I will take my victories where I can get them. Our final game, which we declared to be for the “championship of the whole world”, was different. She turned the tables and laid the whooping on me. She is a pretty sharp lady. Based on the results of our “very official” cribbage tournament Isabel Howdle is reigning world champion. I always appreciate all comments from everyone. Each day I eagerly check the computer several times just to see if any comment has been left. I am always so excited and appreciative of each and every comment. Now, to the Howdle clan that have left comments over the past few days, during your mothers visit. I thank each and everyone of you. Each comment I printed off to take and show Aunt Isabel, I think she enjoyed them almost as much as I did.

I had meant to comment yesterday, but memory guy here forgot. Our neighbor hood is usually a very quiet, peaceful, safe place. I can not imagine why but over the past about year or maybe year and a half young vandals have decided to pick on one particular house. This is the home of a very nice elderly couple. This has been an ongoing problem for them, but I think it is 3 times maybe even 4 times over the past several months they have had to replace their huge front window. Which vandals have broken, throwing rocks, ice or what ever. It happened again on Friday. This time was a little different.

Now this is where I am not really sure if I have the whole story straight in my head. Now I know I have written about our young neighbors Art (our benefactor with the snow blower) and Lisa, who currently have Lisa’s brother Garry staying with them. Big kudos to all. Lisa being observant enough and caring enough about the neighbors noticed a group of 4, one of whom picked up a piece of ice, which was quickly again thrown at the window. On being called, hubby Art and brother Garry were immediately our the door and the foot chase began. It is here I am not exactly sure of the details or sequence of events other than Art was able to catch 2 of them and turn them over to the police. Way to go Art, you are my hero. I know I can speak for the whole neighborhood, when I say thank you Art, Lisa and Garry. Thank you for being the wonderful neighbors you are and for caring enough to get involved and come to the aid of a neighbor. The world would be such a wonderful place if it had more people like you. Thank you.

We are so lucky to have such kind wonderful people all around us. The latch to the gate in our back yard fence was broken a while ago in a very strong wind. A day or two ago we suddenly notice somehow the latch had magically fixed itself. This we discovered was due to the generosity and kindness or another neighbor, Peter. Peter is a retired gentleman that spend his time helping neighbors. No matter what the project you may have on the go, Peter is always there offering his assistance ready and willing to help. Thank you Peter for the many many things you have done for us.

I admit we were very fortunate to move into a neighbor hood full of such nice and wonderful people. But I think if people really stop and look around they will see their own neighbor hoods are not all that much different, full of wonderful people. It is a real shame we have somehow become so busy and so private in our lives we are missing out on so much. Knowing and sharing with the wonderful people around us. Really how much effort does it take to just chat and get to know a neighbor.

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Howdle Relatives

February 25, 2007

We have been having a great visit with my Aunt Isabel and cousin Carol. They have been reading this blog and the comments on it. The following is a direct message from the 2 special ladies, directed at all the relatives out there:

– Glad to see that at least some of you are awake and listening to your mother’s orders…”Keep up on the blog.”

– Cinderella – you get that house cleaned before the wicket aunt and grand mother get home. If that is not possible at least get your car and bedroom done. And get the homework done. Remember the schedule you are to keep. Remember no extra working or time out visiting. Keep your nose to the grindstone!!

-Sherry and John – Glad to hear from you. I think you were smart not to sing out loud. The two ladies are having a terrific visit. Vi and Bill are wonderful hosts and fun to be around. We suggest visits from other kin and relatives.

– Shirley – One of the obedient children. She responds when mummy says. Have a good trip to Calgary. Hello to all the relatives at that and even if they haven’t responded to mother’s orders. The punishment is not Vicks, it’s much worse….so listen up and get busy.

– Ken Howdle – What happened to you? You write Bill and scare the whatever out of him with all your tall stories then you fall off the planet. We are waiting to hear from you. You know that there will be consequences to no replies so get busy

– The Old Dog – I have a wonderful, comfy bed here in Wpg. it’s not crumbling and sloped like my one at home. I’m staying here till they kick me out. There’s plenty of room for you if you care to join us.

Love from “The Two Special ladies”

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Having your priorities in order

February 23, 2007

Yesterday started off with a lot of nausea. I have found the perfect way to get past that feeling, go to sleep. It was another day I virtually slept away. It was early evening before I was really up and about. Felt much better.

Both Vi and I are excited today. My Aunt Isabel and cousin Carol are coming to visit for a few days. Really looking forward to it. My cousin, Ken, left quite a funny comment a few days ago about this up coming visit by his mother and sister. He joked about (warning me, lol) of his mother’s various home remedies for anything and everything that may bother you. Dear Aunt Isabel, if you happen to read this before heading out on the highway today. I am feeling extra, extra super wonderful, there is no need to bring any of your home remedies. lol. Both my aunt and cousin Carol are such wonderful ladies just a visit with them will help a lot.

Here in Winnipeg it has snowed quite a bit in the past few days. With the way the wind blows it into snow drifts it is hard to tell how much actually came down. But, it was enough our sidewalks to the house again needed clearing. Another earth Angel appeared. This time it was more difficult, well impossible for him to remain anonymous. Pushing a motorized snow blower is quiet noisy. A big thank you to our very good neighbor Art. Art has often saved ( I was going to say us), but reality is it saved Vi from some heavy shovelling. Art has come to our rescue many times in the few winters we have lived here. A good hearted, nice, kind person. Thank you Art.

I often wonder if sometimes my thoughts here seem disjointed. I usually type a little, save it, come back later type a little more and so on. This is now my 4th sit down at the computer. OK, to keep current, I have to change the stat, this is now my 5th. sit down. One day I am going to have to go back and reread some of my postings. All comments I read and reread but never my own postings. Maybe, it is I am a little afraid to. I know I am not a “writer” and am maybe afraid or be embarrassed to read what I have actually posted. But, then I think this is my journal and try to treat it as such. I can write what I want and how I want.

I have a book “Taking Time To Just Be”, a Helen Exley Giftbook. I find every page to be so inspiring. Initially, I read it from cover to cover now I just open it randomly and read the message or quote for the day. Today’s message:

“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn” by Elizabeth Lawrence.

I read those words and today they have so much more meaning to me than they would have a couple of years ago. Back then I would have read it and thought, nice saying, telling me to slow down and just enjoy life, but who has the time to do that.

Took another little break and am now back and seem to have lost my train of thought. Will maybe remember and write about it later. But a new thought has come and will just carry on with that. I look back now and realize somewhere along the line I lost control of my life. My life began to control me. I somehow got on the tread mill of life and got carried away with it. Work became way to much of a priority. Every day became rush, rush, rush with never enough time to do anything, but seemingly get through the day. Always get home so tired all I wanted to do was rest to get ready to do it all over again the next day. Some how my life just rushed past.

I love getting email, whether a message, jokes or one of those wise or sentimental messages. I am pretty sure this is where I got this thought. It is of a young mother that did have her priorities straight.

There is a young couple that have a daughter of about 4 years old. The husbands mother comes for a visit of a week or so. The young mother is a stay at home mom. As mother-in-laws do, this particular mother-in-law quickly noticed a large pile of laundry that was clean but needed ironing. Yet to her dismay, her daughter-in-law was out on the lawn having a tea party with her young daughter. Later the mother-in-law unable to hold it in felt she just had to address this or at least talk to her daughter-in-law in the nicest way possible.

The young mothers so RIGHT ON response was, When our little girl grows up, I am sure she will not remember whether or not her clothes were pressed. But, I am sure she will remember our little tea parties and time together. She had here priorities straight.

Big thank you to spell checker today

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – God Given Opportunities

February 19, 2007

Had a good weekend. Seemed extra tired but with the luxury of being able to take a nap when ever I want. I took advantage of that and ended up sleeping away more of the weekend than I would have liked to. I have my really thick head feeling going on today, this almost always leads to the nausea. I see the neurologist in a couple of weeks and I am going to have to ask him about this. I am not sure if it is my imagination or what, but it seems like this feeling is more in the left side of my head. I have never been able to feel any distinction between the sides of my head. My head is my head but with this it seems I can. I am sure it is my imagination but still I wonder about the brain tumor at times like this. My brain tumor isn’t something I have written much about. When taken in context with my heart, the tumor seems like pretty small potatoes. Hey, how many people can say that. I have a brain tumor and it isn’t my biggest health issue. It is located in the front on the right hand side. It is in the area that apparently affects personality, judgement and I’m not sure what else. It affects personality, now isn’t that a thought. Maybe the real me is a real jerk and the tumor is some how affecting me, causing me to be a half decent guy.

Poor Vi, didn’t have such a good weekend. A bad chest cold seems to have settled in. The type where it hurts to breathe and with a wicked cough. She is just not feeling well. I hope and pray she is feeling better in the next day or so.

My Aunt Isabel and cousin Carol are coming on Thursday for a visit. I am really looking forward to that. A realization came to me yesterday as I was talking to Carol about the visit. As we Canadians love to do, we talked a little about the weather. Of how their travel plans may change depending on the weather. Winter storms, blizzards are not uncommon at this time of the year. They have about a 6 hour drive to get here, so weather is a consideration. Our conversation reminded or took me back to our younger years. I suppose it is growing up in Canada, that makes these storms seem like a normal part of winter. Back in “the day” when I was younger, more foolish and still thought of myself as being bullet proof, winter driving and storms were never a real consideration. When travel plans were made, they were made, bad weather was just an inconvenience, at times how foolish we were. Our winter storms can be really wicked. It is amazing though how that thinking can change literally over night. As soon as you have kids this whole attitude changes. I suddenly became a whole lot smarter or at least a whole lot more conscious of weather and driving conditions. I still marvel at how much the arrival of a little baby, changed my thinking and my whole life.

Looking back I can now see where God provided me with many life changing opportunities. Sadly, to often I either didn’t see the opportunity at the time, or if I did I either lacked the courage, strength or will to take advantage of it. Only now can I see that with every breath we take, God provides us with the opportunity to change our lives. Every single breath we take, every single moment of our lives can signal a new beginning or the start of a change. Why did it always seem to take a major event, such as the birth of a child, to allow me to see this.

Even just writing this journal is a God given opportunity. Any one of my heart attacks could have taken me out. But here I am still typing away.

I was recently asked how I come up with my ideas for what I write. The fact of the matter is I don’t. I think there are only 2 exceptions to that, both times I was asked a specific question and then I tried in my own way to answer it as best I could. Every other time, when I come to the computer, all I know is I will type a few lines on how I am feeling. After that anything is just off the top of my head or from feelings in my heart.

But I do have a routine or process I follow absolutely every day before I type anything. Beside the desk on a bookcase is a figurine of Jesus. While looking at that figurine of Jesus I say a little prayer asking God to help me find the words that may help or benefit someone today. I am a firm believer in Angels as messengers from God. I ask all the Angels in the Heavens to come to me and guide me also to find something to say that will be meaningful, or helpful to some one.

Ideas just seem to come to my head. Some times those ideas relate to something I read in the newspaper of saw on TV, sometimes they just seem to come. I then say a little pray of thanks and off the message goes.

I am ashamed to admit it but I have thought of writing of my little prayer routine in the past, but have been kind of embarrassed. Now I ask myself why would I possibly be embarrassed about writing about my prayers. I pray often and have written that many times. I realize now, it was more out of fear, fear of what people would think. What if people think I am some nut case trying to pass myself off as some messenger from God? Which is not the case, I have no such lofty or high ideas or aspirations, I am just me. All praise and glory is due to our Heavenly Father.

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Friendship

January 17, 2007

Yesterday earlier in the day I wasn’t feeling so good, but as the day wore on I felt better and better. To some extent that is my norm, but yesterday was different. I had an edge of excitement looking forward to the evening.

Back in my high school days and for about 5 or 6 years after were what I call my party hearty days. Man, did we ever party had the time of our lives. In grade 10 a group of 5 of us guys started to hang out and party together. Our idea of a party definately included alcohol but never drugs or anything else. We never got into or caused any trouble, it never affected our school or work after. We were young and just having a good time.

A friendship, a bond was formed between us that would last a life time. We maintained close contact for, I suppose, about 10 years. We attended each others weddings and the friendship carried on. Somewhere along the line, life moved on and gradually our contact became less and less until it stopped all together. Growing families, work all sort of things in life seemed to take more and more of our time and gradually contact ended all together. Work transfers took place, changes of jobs all sort of things, to the point we didn’t even know where the others were living. When contact is lost does that mean a friendship is lost?

Last week I had a very pleasant surprise a phone call from Bill D.. Bill is one of those close friends, it was really nice chatting with him. He had actually tracked down Les and Don, with myself that was 4 of the 5 friends. Canada is such a big country and Mike the 5th friend, we have no ideas where he is.

In any event we set a plan to meet here last night. 4 of the 5 were together. We all slipped right back into the friendship roles it was as if only days instead of years had passed since we last saw each other. We talked, it almost seemed as if we were teenagers again. We all got caught up on each others lives. I learned for the first time of Les’s tragic loss of his young son while awaiting a heart transplant. Of Don’s operation to have a brain tumor removed. None of us knew of some of the major tragic events that had happened in the lives of the others. So yes, there were a few sad moments, very touching, very moving. I think the individual moment I will remember the most is a comment made by Bill. He acknowledged Les as being “the man”. Bill said, that while we have all had our individual challenges, there was nothing that could compare to what Les had faced withthe tragic loss of his son. He spoke of his admiration for the courage and strength, Les display then and still is showing. I could not agree more, Les you are, THE MAN.

This still didn’t take away from the overall happiness or joy of the evening. Just visiting, being together again.

I thank Bill, Les and Don for sharing the good times years ago and for bringing them back to me last evening.

I would encourage all, if you have lost contact with a special friend get in touch with them ASAP. I think you will find, only the contact has been lost and not the friendship

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Reality of Dying

November 8, 2006

Every once in a while I get a little reality check on my overall health condition. Is it like every day I can feel a difference? Not at all, usuallly one day just blends into the next. My change is so gradual and subtle that I don’t notice as it is happening. Usually, it is when I try to do something physical that the realization hits that this is much more difficult than it was the last time I did it. Sometimes I will realize the last time I did it was only 3 or 4 weeks ago. Now when I say something physical I no longer mean something building a deck or even mowing the lawn. For me something physical these days is something like changing an overhead light bulb which leaves me gasping and panting for 4 or 5 minutes. Have a shower and I have to sit down to rest.

How does this all make me feel? Frustrated, useless, guilty and sad. Frustrated because of the things I used to do without even giving it a second thought now I can’t. Useless because I am now dependant on someone else doing the things I as the man of the house should be doing. Guilty, as I watch Vi working alone doing the things either I should be doing or that at very least we could be doing together. There is so much more of a burden placed on her. Sad because with each passing day I know I am one day closer to leaving my loved ones.

All of the feelings seem to be magnified on those days when I have noted a deterioration. Less stamina, shortness of breath. But give me a day or two and I can get my mind wrapped around it an on we go.

Do I spend most of my day dwelling on the thought of dying? No, actually I think of it very little in the normal day to day happenings. Some times watching TV, something will bring the thought to mind, but it usually quickly disappears. My normal day to day life is very good.

I realize it is many many times more difficult for my family especially Vi as she is here watch me ever day. I am not trying to take away or minimize the hurt and pain my daughter, brothers and other family or friends are feeling. But Vi is here to see it day by day. She is forced to helplessly watch when I wake up choking, gagging unable to breathe. There is nothing she can do as I am throwing up or when I am having one of my heavy head days when at times I can’t even remember how to spell my own name. That did happen, a few years ago I woke up and I must have been dreaming of it or something but I was trying to figure out how to spell William. I just could remember if it was William or Willam. Kind of embarrasing when you have to ask someone how to spell your own name. I depend on Vi to tell me when to take my pills, I depend on her for far more than should be expected of anyone.
The simple truth of the matter in my case and I am sure in many others it is much more difficult on the family than the patient. Yeah, it sucks to know you are dying. But it sucks just as much for the family, they know you are dying plus they are forced to sit helplessly by and watch you do it. Often sacrificing huge parts of their own lives. Yes it definately is harder on the family. Now, this is a thought that has just this minute come to me, I am going to talk to Vi, daughter and family maybe I should be changing my journal from Dying Man’s Daily Journal to Dying Man and Families Journal. Will see what they say.

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Wallowing in Life

November 6, 2006

Well I am up and feeling so much better than yesterday, a good nights sleep does wonders. Got rid of a lot of fluid yesterday so breathing everything is easier today. Why is it, that I find myself often unable to maintain the same level of positive mind set when I am not feeling well. I often seem to find myself feeling the poor me feelings. I had the flu quite badly for a couple of days. I felt aweful, the bathroom became my favorite room in the house. Favorite, in that, that is where I seemed to spend most of my time. For those few days my whole world changed, poor me, I am sick and at this moment nothing else really matters.
Even the whole fact that I am dying disappeared from my view. I became so absorbed in the moment. It wasn’t a poor me I am dying and to make matters worse I have the flu. Firstly, I don’t have a poor me attitude about dying. Every thing else in my life almost seemed to disappear or at least was suddenly much less important.

It is not until after when I look back and I now can see, I not only fighting the flu bug, I was also fighting the poor me attitude, poor me I am sick. I knew it was just the flu and that I would be feeling better in a day or two. At that time that didn’t matter, all that mattered was I am sick now. I didn’t want to hear words like you will feel better in a few days. I didn’t care about a few days from now all I cared about was what I was going through at the time.

It was actually this morning that the realization came to me. What I just described pretty much describes most of my life. How I have felt and dealt with issues well beyond the flu. I can now look back and see that when ever any kind of perceived crisis or tragedy hit me I became locked in that moment. My life, my thoughts became mired in the moment. At that time I was sick/hurting what ever and nothing else seem to matter. When I had the flu hearing the words or even knowing I would feel better in a few days had no meaning. I am sick/hurting right now and at that point, right now is all that counts. All those little says like “time heals all wounds” said by caring well intentioned friends and family, became more irritating than helpful. My thought on hearing something like that was, “you have no idea of the pain/hurt I am in right now, if only you knew. If you knew the hurt I am in now you would KNOW tomorrow won’t be any better”. I became locked in the present and wallowed in my hurt.

Every time, with the Good Lord’s love and guidance I was able to bit by bit dig my way slowly out. So slowly that usually from one day to the next I noticed no difference. It seemed I was often out of the “big hole” of self pity before I realized I was even making any progress. Just in the same way I was “cured” of the flu bug before I seemed to see any progress. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I realize and appreciate a certain amount of “wallowing” is normal is an expected part of the healing process and everyone will at one point or another do this.

Is it sad I can in ways compare my way of life to a case of the flu?

Dying Man’s Journal Sept 20, 2006

September 21, 2006

Not sure what I am doing with this blogging, not sure if I am doing it right and if it is actually going somewhere that someone can read or that there is any one that is interested in reading about me and my issues.

Oh well, some how it seems to be making me feel good just to type. Maybe its just getting my thoughts and feelings out. I have tried all along to minimize my condition to my family, sort of just laughing it off. I don’t really see any point in having them more upset and worried than I know they already are. Complaining about my breathing problems or chest pain would accomplish nothing, but to upset them all.

Doing this, though, some how I feel almost isolated. There is no one I can really talk to about dying. My family is very supportive and would definately be there for me if I chose to talk to them, but they are the ones I don’t want to upset, they are the ones I worry about. Maybe, that is partly why I am writing this, it gives me an outlet, some one to talk to about every thing I have going on.

Today so far is going well. I just have a lot of my usual light headedness going on. I am retaining fluid, and daily take pills to help pass the water. Twice an week I take an extra different pill, witch is the mega one. One those days I usually lose 5 or 6 pounds. The next day, being today, I am always light headed. Eventually, this usually causes my stomach to get upset and I start throwing up. I joke with my wife I should write a “joke” weight loss book, when I first went on the pills my top was loosing 13 pounds in one day.

At first I was complaining about this light headed feeling, has to do with potasium loss. But now I figure, what the heck. I spend a lot of the day feeling like I am drunk. A lot of people go out and spend good money to feel this way and face a hangover the next day. I get to feel like this, free of cost, and don’t have to worry about the hangover. What is there to complain about. I am trying to put a positive spin on every thing, which at first was hard, but now is getting easier.

Hello world!

September 20, 2006

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!


September 20, 2006

I am now a 62 year old male living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The past several years has seen a real transformation in my life and in my very thought process. Hearing the words “you are dying” come out of your doctors mouth, tends to really catch your attention, or at least it did in my case. I can now see that it was indeed at that moment, the “transformation” of my thinking began in earnest.

I have had numerous “wake up” calls in my life. With each my thinking and my actions in life did change, but sadly for me any change was minimal or temporary.

I had my first heart attack when I was 39 and have had 4 more since then. Two of which were very serious, one followed by by-pass surgery. Three of the others were followed by an angioplasty with a stent being implanted in my heart each time. A brain tumor was discovered and over time a few more conditions were diagnosed, the most serious being my current heart failure. Each event in itself, a wake up call but I just didn’t want to hear it. I blindly carried on in my own old way of doing things and of thinking things. No, that is not entirely true. My thinking did change a little, but I suppose it was almost in an arrogant way. I became proud of how tough and strong I was. I mean four heart attacks hadn’t put me down, doesn’t that show how tough and strong I am.

Three little words out of my doctors mouth “you are dying” was finally a wake up call I could hear. Oh, I could hear this one loud and clear.

With this my thinking began to change, I began to see life differently. I see, I wasn’t in the past being tough and strong, I was being stupid (man do I hate using that word to describe myself, but if the shoe fits) or blind or maybe in denial. I am sure there was an element of laziness thrown in there also. Changing your thinking, your way of life takes work and effort, something I sadly wasn’t ready to do. I suppose it could be said my laziness paid off in the end, I didn’t end up having to work at it at all. I had left it to late. I left it until I got the BIG call and then it just seemed to happen. I had to wait to the point when I am dying before I could begin to see life more clearly. Oh, how I am kicking myself now.

I try to chronicle my on going medical issues, (heart failure, edema, brain tumor, epilepsy, diabetes and severe memory loss.) I hope in a way that provides hope to others. Life does not stop because of an illness. Life carries on with the only difference being, whether we choose to live it or endure it. Life is beautiful, sadly we often don’t appreciate how beautiful until we are about to loose it. Attitude is everything.

I hope by sharing my thoughts I can maybe help others see their own wake ups calls on time and not wait as I did. I hope by sharing my story I can provide possibly an element of comfort to others in my situation and maybe a bit of an understanding about this whole dying process to families and friends. It is a natural part of the life process and doesn’t have to be feared.

I am truly bless as I make my journey to be supported by my faith, loving family and friends. All of which I share here. I realize dying is not exclusive to those of the Christian faith and while I may share my individual beliefs, it is not my intention that this should be a Christian site. Rather it be a place of sharing and learning, as we all are or eventually will be preparing for our final earthly voyage. All are welcome to join in and leave comments as they see fit. Sharing expressing thoughts and feelings. I invite comments from those of all Faiths, we are all in this together.

Vi and Bill