Birthday Weirdness

Later- I cannot post about it yet.



This is the end of an era.
This is my last post on this blog, until such time as I feel I have something important to say.

In every life there are seasons. My long summer is ended and I am entering the autumn of life. I have made a conscious choice to change my life in ways important to me. Part of these changes will be sharing in other ways I have not experienced in many long years.

Farewell and good luck to you all.
Life in the carelane is rarely easy. May you, like me, find something real and lasting to gentle your path.

Bless you all.



Having had a lengthy recovery process from a relatively insignificant fall, I have nothing but admiration for my clients who are all decades older and less bone-dense. The former is obvious but how do I know the latter? Well-- let me elucidate.

Prevention is much more sensible than treatment and where bones are concerned, most treatments to help density take 10 years to be effective. Really! My father has osteo-arthritis and some osteoporosis. He is also elderly and reaping the negative benefits of a life of peril, turmoil, and turbulence on the high seas. Since I strongly favour my father in most things genetic, and since I have an older sister who likewise resembles him, the two of us went off to have heel scans. This is a service offered by appointment at our local Pharmasave.

I am not sure what I was expecting, other than the $50 fee. The most onerous part of a heel scan is the part where you fill out a form. The actual scan itself is almost without sensation. After the scan the technician goes through your chart which she has just printed out from the gathered statistics and then you go off to chat with a Pharmacist who has recommendations for you.

Oddly, it was during this last chat that my heel began to vibrate. I suppose my scrambled brain took just that long to recognise the sensations. My scan showed me to be 14% above the average for my age group. My sister who is nine years my elder was 40% above hers. We have good genes. Thanks Dad.

--------------- **

A cause may be inconvenient, but it's magnificent. It's like champagne or high heels, and one must be prepared to suffer for it.
Arnold Bennett


Uhm, not in Hindhi....

What's in a name?

Well- when I started this blog, if I googled "Pepperkinz" the only results were me and my blogspot posts. Now- it seems pepperkinz is some sort of catch word for spam.

Go ahead - google it.
I find it very difficult to believe that there is truly another pepperkinz out there.

वहत'स इन अ नेम?

oh hmm... Is it just me or did that title just become hindi?

--- must check settings....

Hard Times.

This winter has been terribly difficult for alot of people on this left coast. It has been cold and dark and bleak. Winter blues are everywhere.

After my experience at a meeting where a co-worker basically blew her cool and behaved in an uncommonly hostile way, I was discussing the phenomena of anger in the workplace with some folk who work in Facilities in this area. They also had noted that the instance of employee distress was way up. One of the facilities had a fist fight between two female co-workers and another had a grievance lodged against one Nurse who had physically threatened another. Unbelievable? No, all too believable. People are hurting.

My firm and unwavering belief remains that the antidote to hostility is kindness.
Those who confuse kindness with weakness are just that - confused. More kindness and less reactionary befuddlement goes a long long way to establishing firm boundaries. The peak of my management career came when I had the realization that credentials were far less important than adaptability. Many many people who came in knowing nothing became cornerstones of the business I was in. Skills are important, but trainability trumps every time.

As the economy slows and people everywhere are being forced to downsize, anger and bitterness is exhibited everywhere. The culture of entitlement is biting itself in the behind. Yesterday, a photo montage of what life is like in the Phillipines for those who have nothing and less than nothing was shown to me. I saw what changes can be made in lives without hope for what we would consider a pittance.
Yes, we in the pampered west have had change. Yes, times are turbulent. Tell your troubles to those who have nothing. They will listen respectfully, but I doubt they will understand it.

We remain the most spoiled brats on God's green earth.

------------------ !!!

Violent peace
blah blah blah
buy it right now
blah blah blah
we are the world
we are so huge
blah blah blah
johnny can't read
blah blah blah
I' can't see
blah blah blah
tuna on white
guns all night
blah blah blah

blue jeans coolies
everything huge
petrified food
pizza killers
from napalm to nice guy
nifty fifty
hit 'em where they live

the most spoiled brats
on god's green earth

pop before the war
(Iggy Pop - Blah blah blah)

My Angels

The complexities of life have led to my friends being more wide and varied than most.
A goodly gaggle of artists musicians and performers exist alongside those I met through work or just along the twisted path that has been my journey. As I had a very difficult young life fraught with illness and injuries, addictions and recoveries, the one constant has been my great ability to persevere. No matter how dark, no matter how bleak, I have kept going.

When you have lived hard, it is sheer luck that determines if your number comes up. That and a guardian angel. Either you believe in angels or you do not. If you are a doubter, my words will seem babble. If you are a believer, it will affirm your faith. Nothing less than a supernatural force could possibly have kept such as me alive.

Prior to my brain injury, I did, in fact see auras and dream heavily. As a very young child I was unable to distinguish my dreams from reality. It not for this knowledge perhaps I too would attribute my dreamings to scrambled body chemistry.
Through all my turmoils and temptations, there was an awareness that what was happening to me was not me. This distinction kept me going always through, not around until I could once again discover what was me.

One of the reasons to write, blog, journal and compose, is to keep memories fresh and alive. My dearest friends know all too well that my memory is completely unreliable. I am all right for the immediate as long as I write a reminder down. I am excellent as a responder as my skills are high and automatic. But if you want an accurate account of events - hmm, no, dont ask me. It does not trouble me to admit that altho it seems correct to me, I have had demonstrated countless times that I am likely to take two, perhaps three, truths and combine them into one. Not exactly confabulation, but definitly not historical evidence. It is therefor perhaps not true that I remember seeing an angel but I cannot imagine what else could be in my memory banks that would account for the brilliant orb I saw in my bedroom as a teenager. This orb emanated peace and goodwill and absolute love. I was not afraid, I was amazed. It told me to rest and renew and be still in the knowledge that I was important.

In my hospice work, I frequently have students along for the ride. Almost every one of them has given me a small gift on their graduation and almost every gift has been an angel. My clients and their families also gift me with angel pins keychains and ephemera. My dashboard and my headliner are adorned with dozens of these things. They watch out for me and remind me that in this vast universe, a being of light had time to calm a teenage heart and mind and place a life-saving truth within my soul.

I believe.


Dodged a Bullet

For some time, my old faithful car has been making an odd sound; a grinding clunking sound. As my particular model of Pontiac is notorious for going through front brakes, and as it had been almost one year since the last set went in, I was blissfully untroubled.

Around the time of the great snowfall, and after I had been stuck in two different drifts and pushed out by complete strangers, the noise level escalated. As I was driving my dad out and about he lost patience and raised his normally placid voice to bark: "For God's sake get that noise checked before you kill us all." Okay, I heard that!

Two days later as I was breakfasting in the dub, my friends of friends who had been so helpful and hireable during my September move from hell appeared. They were looking lithe and lean and oh so tanned as they had been in the Philippines for the past 3 months. I mentioned my car dilemma as the gent is a retired mechanic. I asked him to recommend a garage that wouldn't take me to the cleaners. "Pop by the house and I will have a look. Then we can go from there."

Visiting these people is fraught with peril for me as the gent has a bit of a crush on me. I found that out in a bit of an awkward way, a big bit of an awkward way when we were painting my old condo. I no longer deem it wise to be alone with him but neither do I wish to offend as he was very good to both me and my father. I am well aware that we all can only be who we are. That is who he is. The middle way around this, I decided, would be to take Dad along. So - off we went.

Brakes and pads and rotors for old faithful vary in price HUGELY. Stock parts and after-market ones seem to wear pretty much alike. This insight came to me after set #4 went in 11 months after set #3. Set #3 was the time I spent big with the very best, the most heavy-duty, and of course the priciest installed. Set #4, the cheapest of the cheap, lasted almost 2 years. So for 350$ I got a year and a bit more than my $1700 bought. What I wanted from my mechanic advisor was an opinion on what would constitute a reasonable price for the work needed.

Our buddy went out for a ride with Dad in tow and returned in less than 3 minutes. He could not speak as he came in making for the telephone. He looked at me with a red face and dialed. After a 2 minute phone convo he turned to me to inform me the car was unsafe to drive. Anywhere. I was going to call a towtruck to move it to a garage and then rent a car when our buddy said:
" Arent you taking your dad out for dinner?"
Yes, yes I was.
"Do you have an hour or so?"
Yes, yes I do now.

So it was that Dad graced their couch for a wee nappie, the wife made coffee for herself and me, and we chatted about life in the tropics for a few hours.

My brakes remain undone but my wheel bearings have been replaced and in Spring when the sand salt and sludge is gone my brakes will be restored.

Our mechanical friend said that when he took the wheels off, the bearings broke in his hands. Dodged a bullet there.

I truly believe that all my angels guarded me. My flotilla can stand down for awhile now. And me - I am breathing: in out in out in out.


“These things I warmly wish for you Someone to love, some work to do, A bit o' sun, a bit o' cheer, And a guardian angel always near”
(Irish Blessing)


Projects - - -

Install Closet in Bedroom - dressy clothes and shoes...

Downstairs balcony lattice - privacy screen.

Upstairs balcony - cover.

Car - touch-ups for paint, front end work and brakes - again.

Papers and disks - short stories. Submissions. Collections.

Archiving.... again.


Oh My my!

Today, I have been given two more weeks of exercise to get my shoulder back in shape. Two more weeks! ... (sigh)

One of my great pleasures in life is communication. It is such a joy and a privilege to listen to tales of other folk's. Their experiences and opinions are treasures that are sometimes hidden and other times displayed for all if they only would use their senses. So many times, people have this need to be heard and there is no one there TO hear. The saddest are the ones who have alot of people in their lives and flurries of activity everywhere, but nothing that connects in that deep satisfying manner. The part of my job that I most love is that connecting.

These days of exercise and physio I am connecting all right... with my piano, with my guitar, with my keyboard, with my dog. I miss my lovelies.

----- !!

"As the ocean "waves," the universe "peoples." Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated "egos" inside bags of skin. "

Alan Watts : English mystic & writer
(1915 - 1973)


Catch Up

You would think that with so much time *healing* I would have my house in order and all my projects at least started. Not so, my friends - the house is the familiar messy creative den it always is and the projects are still awaiting my attentions. Turns out that healing takes alot of energy and rest and 5 days off of work does not necessarily mean 5 days of ease.

I have been stretched and ultrasounded and medicated and encouraged but the shoulder is still mis-behaving. Tomorrow I see my Physician again to get the yay or nay for back to work. Since I am not being paid I would really like to be back AT work. Job #2 although wonderful does not pay the bills. I do have a Lotto tic or 2 about the place....

This week I did use Facebook to reconnect with some of my favourite people from the Vancouver Art and Music scene. If I had been in Vancouver I could have gone to Jim Cummins "Nite of the Living Devil Kittens" show. In my mind and in my time it was more of this kind of thing.

The most worn and most borrowed t-shirt of my entire life is my Braineater "artist poet thief" - I still have to wrest it away from the replicant when I wish to actually wear it myself.

Also from my inbox - and another Vancouver first wave punk/new waver Tony Bardach - he of "pointed sticks" and "Modernettes" fame has a new band. "Slowpoke and the Smoke" - they play at falconettis (1812 Commercial) the first friday each month-next show is march 6- 9-12p. Frankly I always thought Tony to be one of the most beautiful men I have seen. He used to quite take my breath away. And then of course there is the music... always the music.

"It's only when you hit a nerve that you know you're on the right track."
-Jim Cummins


Don's still writing...

With great delight I remember to post the link to Don's musings. I posted about him way back when- - -

Here you go: http://dontoearthagain.wordpress.com/

He is well worth the read and gives the world a great example of what being 90-+ is like.
It is rich and rewarding.

Go Don GO!!!


People I love

I have to post this. My friend Bill I., the man who works for NASA, had this on this blog... life of Bagginz:

""When people asked me what kind of car we bought, I tell them we got a Hummer H2 that runs on the blood of virgins. It gets 18 MPCS (Miles Per Catholic Schoolgirl.)""

Bill you made me laugh manically in my room scaring my dog.

(one of these people is Bill) :)

Lux Remembered.... with a smile

Before the Pixies, there were the Cramps. Before the rebirth of Goth/Punk/pyschobilly, it was just music in clubs. If you were of a certain bent you probably went to see the Lux and Ivy show (also starring Nick Knox or Kid Powers....)

Lux was a constant in my Vancouver life and nitelife. Being a silly scenester from the dinosaur ages and being a lovely lush for a time, I did manage to meet most everyone I wanted to and boy how I wanted to meet Lux. Instead I met Ivy and then in the most offhand manner possible met him. He adored her. Hard not to, really.

The Cramps toured and retoured always with the same show - new guitarist from time to time but the same show. I never tired of watching Lux work that neoprene under the cool gaze of Ivy. "Ever get down to California? You can come visit if you want...."

If I want? (faint)

Sipping tea in the shade outside their very cool house by the desert talking about vinyl..... ooo thats livin!. No rock stars in my friend collection just people who happen to make good music. I never gave anyone else the title but them: Cool as fuck.

After becoming a momzie, I found that for a time I could not handle the concert crowds. One night at the Commodore I actually had to leave a Cramps show.... on the stairs were two teens all dressed up who had no tix. I gave them my stubs and said go enjoy- the guy looked at the girl and said: Talk about the generation gap. Who would walk out on the Cramps? I just smiled.

When I heard Lux had died I was not really sad. He lived a good life with his lover and lived it exactly the way he wanted to. They did everything they chose in the manner they wished and did it well. And loud. A life lived well is not lamentable. But it is the end of an era. No other man will ever climb scaffolding in stilettoes half naked and look so barbaric.

The best of YouTube is Lux and Ivy from June 1978 where they gave a free concert for patients at the California State Mental Hospital in Napa. They didnt do it for the money - they made a point. God bless em for it.

----- Lux's obit here -----

------------- !!


So Thankful!

Now that the Naproxen is working, I feel very much better and the tendons in my arm and shoulder are calming down. I am thankful.

My evening position, bereft of lifting or repetitive motion, continues to be a source of joy in my life. It is such a little job in such a little place but I do love it so. My Manager is a bright warm witty woman and my co-workers are mostly very happy to be here in the same way that I am. It is always a pleasure to work with the young and be awash in their energy and drive. The folks who we serve are of a median age of 80. They consider me young! Bless their hearts!

One of our new residents has a son who is another beam of sunshine. He stopped by to visit his mom and then came over and sat with me a few hours. It was a Valentine treat!

I am so grateful for my charmed life.

------- *

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
William Arthur Ward


In a Perfect World...

This week's event to humble me is very basic and not something someone who works in Health care should be having trouble with. I blush a not uncomely shade of Valentine's red as I recant to you the details.

In the snow and ice that lasted ever through December and January, many unpleasantries occurred not the least of which was a fall outside a client's home. This particular client lives just one long address off the accessible road and has a small residence at the front of a very large acreage belonging to a family member. The driveway to the home had been ploughed once or twice but was still very much packed ice. My car had been stuck in this very driveway a week or so before.

Not wanting to spend another hour going back and forth to free my vehicle, I parked nearer to the very start of this driveway. I was blessing my new shoes which are stamped *WORKSAFE* as I trundled my way along. As I left the home, my client told me how she had watched me the week before and had a good hearty laugh over my antics. At least it had amusement value....

So chuckling to myself, I round the house and begin my trek down the driveway. 1-2-3-4-5-6-CRASH! A fall! Me, the fall preventer- fell! argh! As I went down, I only barely had the presence of mind to drop my books and put out a hand. All my soft round feminine divine weight came down on my wrist. I sat on the ice for 5 minutes, waiting for the burning sensation to depart. At first I believed my wrist to be broken but as the minutes went on and function returned I realised I was one lucky girl.

Banishing all humilating thoughts from my mind, I continued on continuing on. For a few more days, my wrist ached and I had a road rash along my arm. Thankful that I had averted serious trouble, I took it with a smile. One night as I lay fitfully turning and wondering what was wrong with my shoulder, it came to me! All my weight coming down on my right hand. hmmm.

Now there are several spots here where you could say: HEY that doesn't sound like company policy. Or: HEY shouldn't you have gone to the Doctor and had yourself checked out? In my mind, I was viewing it as an *almost*. I was mistaken.

The moment it was reported to my employer I was booked off. The moment I entered the Doctor's office I was told it was an WCB claim. And oh good... off with no pay.
grrr. My Doctor presecribed Naproxen for the inflammation and told me to beware my stomach as it is a drug notorious for causing trouble that way. All week I took my Naproxen and was sick until taking 2 or 3 Tums. I did not seem to be getting better.

Follow-up visit to my Doctor and I tell him how the Tums are keeping the bile down but the Naproxen doesn't seem to be worth it. "Tums? " he says quizzically. "They will neutralise the Naproxen - take Zantac 75 and you'll be fine."

So he said and so I did and so I am.

-------- *

“Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call "Failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

--Mary Pickford


Oh What a Fog!

This photo just arrived in my inbox from my Vancouver school friend Dawn Scott -

Anyone who knows Vancouver knows what that landscape shot should look like!
Those wavy lights are the top of the Lions Gate Bridge.


Levitate Me!

Why is the idea of nightly levitation so strange to so many readers of this blog?
Is it the idea that one might truly fly in spirit or the idea that one could be deluded into believing such? All I know is that more than a few people wondered about it. The truth of it is really rather dull and not even remotely dangerous.

Each and every night, a dreamscape arises in which I suddenly decide to move quickly and as I take longer and longer strides, a levitation happens until it is all levitation and no striding. Frequently in these dreams, there is someone who comments about my showing off and more frequently I am.

Unlike my teens and twenties, when flying and levitation dreams scared me so much I would awaken bolt upright with heart palpitations, this is a fun thing and a joy. I am a free agent in the universe. If only I could discipline myself to do things "that matter" in this hours, the world might be a better place.

The dreamscape that I do not care to go to is the crystal city. This silent world is one that I have visited since my earliest days. It is both strange and familiar, and utterly bereft of habitation. There are shades in this place but they are unable or unwilling to interact with me. I still believe this is a city of the dead.

Another strange and eerie world is the one out in the stars, where my communications are with beings if infinite light. When that dream is upon me, time distorts dreadfully. The vastness of the nothingness is a weary solitude and the beings are curious but sad. There have been nights that felt like centuries spent in that empty landscape. Many times I wonder if I could fully remember the entirety of the dreaming, would things be as I remember them to be or is it my rational mind striving to make sense of what is completely alien and unknowable as a human being?

As I get older, my ponderings are vapid and my musings slight. Whatever it is that prods me out of myself, it is a benign force. When I am aware of my self in the night, it is as a being of great force and size, unhampered by malevolant spirits who seek to fool me. As a younger person, I was terrified by them, and experienced years of flight and fear. My noturnal ventures started long before my brain injury and any head trauma, or I might blame things on some miswiring. As a 4 year old, my flying was between the trolley wires in front of our home where the No. 14 Arbutus glided past.

The joys of those flights was mitigated by the terrors of being persued other nights until the time came that instead of running/flying away, I stopped in my voyage and looked back at what was chasing me. I looked at what was and laughed out loud. My wise dream self, like Glenda the Witch of the North, banished the evil with a wave of the wand. "Begone! You have no power here!"
I never looked back.

All in all, a little levitation is fine.


Give me help
Give me help
You can... levitate me

Then take off them rings
Off them hose
Levitate me

Higher place
Levitate me

Elevator lady elevator lady elevator lady elevator lady
Lady levitate me
If all in all is true If all in all is true If all in all is true
If all is true
Won't you please fawn over me
----- the Pixies



They are EVERYWHERE living quietly among us. They look like us, they act like us and one day they will become us! Yes, I am referring to those in their 90s - the Noctogenarians.

It was not that many years ago that I was agog over people in their upper 90s managing to live alone in their own homes. I considered it an oddity. Now that I have been around the carelane a few thousand times, I know that this is as rare as sand on a beach. In this fabulous community of ours it is positively rampant.

Today I had the experience of seeing 7 clients, all closer to 100 than 90. It was an experience both uplifting and inspiring. I want to be them!!

As I was departing from the 98 year old, a visitor arrived. I heard her say as I was leaving: "She is surprizingly capable and really rather funny."
That would be my praise au jour.

“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” Abraham Maslow

Dreamscape of Gaiman.

For as long as I can remember, I have occupied my nights in a world more real to me than this one. I am a dreamer of the highest magnitude. As I age, my control over my dreams is getting better. I now fly weekly at least, and enjoy levitating nightly. It is fun.

The two things that I wished to dream about are conversations that I would like to have. Conversation #1 would be with Nick Drake. This assumes he would talk at all.
Conversation #2 would be with Neil Gaiman. One of these dreams came true on Friday night. Be still my heart.

Even in my wildest dreams, I am capable of sabotaging myself. The dream was as follows:

I am entering a very long hotel lobby when the man in front of me turns slightly. I realize that it is Neil Gaiman and my peppery heart goes pitter-pat. As I examine him in a pretend offhand fashion, I see that he has blonde highlights in his hair and is wearing a tan overcoat. A trench coat in fact. I narrow my eyes thinking this must be an imposter as there is no black teeshirt and no black jacket. Neil turns as we approach an elevator together and I see somthing in his hand that could ONLY belong to the real Gaiman. We begin to converse.

I look at him and with great conviction say: "Thank you for writing ____ insert Neverwas book title here ___ "

"My very great pleasure" says Neil.
And in a tizzy of fandom I flutter away tongue-tied.

Wouldn't you think such as me could do better than that? It was MY dream after all.

I hope I fare better with Nick Drake.


I don't think this type of fandom quotes passes our "notability" criteria. --Aphaia 20:08, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)


The New Roster

Appropriatly enough, the New Year continued to provide change for me. Rather than a dime or nickel here or there, I got new clients~@@ ! They are not new, but are new to me and I love them. The new faces all attach to 90 somethings who live well independantly in their own homes. This never fails to bring a huge smile to my face as I aspire to the exact same circumstance should I be lucky enough to achieve nonagenarian status.

One of my new regulars is a familiar face from my days at a certain church. It didn't take with me, but the friends stayed. It is somewhat weird for my client as she wants to serve me lunch and chat about her life but does not emphatically not want help with any ADLs thank you VERY much. I know that if I report her, a reassessment may very well end with her being *placed* in a complex care bed bereft of everything she loves. Since she appears to be clean and clear and living in a sanitized manner, I shall not blab on her.

My visits are always a happy time for her. She greets me with, "I remember that there is something very special about you." What's not to love about that? As she sits in her den, surrounded by paperwork in piles, she admits to me that she does not want to live this way but she does need to go through each and every scap and read it all. Luckily for her, she does not have any children or grandchildren frowning down their noses, whilst eyeing her magnificent property with dollar signs in their eyes. In her case this would be several million dollar signs. Since she had no children, she was lucky enough to indulge in a lifetime of travel and career. "I loved my life" she says with a smile.

Today I heard about the guest house in Tobago. After retirement, her husband asked her if she wanted to try running an establishment in the Caribbean. She told me that she met more titled folk in those 13 years than in the 65 preceeding, since, after all, they bought the place from an Earl. Would I have the tenacity and drive to do that as my retirement? If I had a reliable partner who was always hard working, perhaps. But then again, perhaps not.

Just prior to my leaving, she proudly showed me the sunken living room features which she had custom installed. Hers is the home in the catbird seat along the most prestigious of golf course here in GolfLand. With a flick of her remote the curtains part to show off the 6th green. As I admire the view, she shows me her gild edged, framed certificate from Who's Who. This Lady was a world class decorator. There is nothing in this home that would not go well in any chateau, chalet or castle. There is a whift of 1950s chic about the place, but it is indeed chic.

The one teensy thing that I am pondering that might possibly be a risk factor in this instance, is something I have never run across before. Possibly my clients have not be forthcoming about this or possibly not rich enough but this is indeed something new for me. My lovely client is planning a trip to the USA for treatment in a private clinic for spinal stenosis. This will cost her many thousands of US dollars. At 96, this seems to be slightly risky to me, but then, it is her choice.
The true risk factor is that she suffers from a disease or disorder that causes tremours. It is a contraindictation for this type of surgery. It somewhat amazes me that the clinic she is booked into did not inform her of this. The goal, in her opinion, is to jet the walker.

My hand on the door, I turned to her and allowed as how walkers are good friends for nonogenarians. She looked me in the eye and said: "I have lots of friends but how can I see them when all I have to get around on is this thing. I might live a few more years, so I want them to be good ones."


I got the bill for my surgery. Now I know what those doctors were wearing masks for. ~James H. Boren

I learned a long time ago that minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else, not you. ~Bill Walton


A Good Big Sleep Later . . .

After the many losses of this past week, it was a mercy and a blessing to go home after job #2 and lay me down to sleep. A good big sleep it was, awakening to a clearer mind and a refreshed spirit.

Some losses are easier than others. Some losses bring echoes of others. There was something so valiant in our warrior, something so fierce and strong that took such a battle to best, that to see it gone is difficult to process.

My slots will fill again with new faces and new spirits but there will never be another Mike.


End of the Road

All week long, the buzz has been around our tenacious warrior gentleman, who clearly was at the end of his life. No one wants to be the person who accidentally chokes him on water or rolls him and feels the final death spasm but someone has to be there. It was inevitable that one of us would be the last Health Care representative to attend to him and today was the day. My co-worker and I walked in to find him deceased. We did his last care as an act of closure and a nicety to the family and then we cleared as many of the medical reminders away as we could.

We said our goodbyes, telling his wife in respectful tones,how much we admired her for being so present and willing. Grace under pressure needs to be affirmed. We left the home, looked at each other and decided to go for coffee. I booked off my next client as I could feel my usefulness as around the zero mark. My coworker did the same. Do not think badly of us. We just needed to breathe.

For three years we have been going into that home to care for this man. At first we went to the upstairs bedroom. Next we used a lift for bathing but assisted him to stand and walk. A renovation moved him to the lower area where a hospital bed and an Angel overhead lift made transfers safe for all. Last summer the word came down the pike that the assisting to stand was off the books. He grumbled but acquiesed. His decline necessitated catheter and bowel care, and even this indignity he bore. His wheelchair was modified repeatedly to accomodate his growing needs. Pureed food came before syringe, and this last week, it was very little of anything. The constant throughout all this was his resilience and refusal to have things done any way but the way he wanted. He did not suffer fools but once he trusted, that trust was firm and unwavering.

To see another human being use their will so mightily is an awe inspiring thing. Very few of us possess the tenacity to wrestle Death to a draw. The trouble with a draw is that there is always a rematch, and Death being who he is, always wins.
There are no words for the things we see and do. There is no one other than another Palliative Care worker who understands the feelings that wash over us at such a time as this. We are happy that he has found his rest but we are sad that we bore witness to such incredible pain and suffering.

The reason that man stayed around this planet on this plain for so long is that he understood what is stronger than death. It is love. He had the love of a wonderful woman, bless her heart.

It will be a long time before I forget these two extraordinary people. I stand humbled.


Palliative Care is not for some....

One of the difficulties within the structure of the Government HealthCare system, as it pertains to care in the home, is that it assumes every Doctor, Nurse, and HealthCare Worker can do palliative care at an acceptable level. This is a fallacy.
Although we all see some of it, and most of do some of it, not all of us enjoy it. There are also those who the client does not enjoy having. The things my clients tell me would put the curl in or take it out of almost anyone's hair. Some days, I hear about circumstances and comments of the unfortunate nature and some days I hear it first hand. Today was such.

In the home of our magnificantly fierce gentleman, he of the indomitable spirit, things are not going well. There are some nasty complications this far down the end of life road. His strong heart and will keep beating in a body that is literally rotting from the inside out and it is a source of amazement that he fights on for every breath. This week is truly the end. He has not taken food for 2 weeks, and his breathing is laboured. He is gasping for air. He is choking on water which we administer with a syringe. He expresses himself in grunts and makes eye contact to show distain or amusement. He and I get along well. I try not to ask too many questions and keep my chatter lite.

My philosophy of care remains unchanged: do the job well, be mindful of the client's individual, maintain client dignity and then get the hell out of the way.
Each day as I enter this home over the holidays, a different co-workers face greets me. As he is a two person assignment, it is essential that at least one of the two is both trained and familiar with the client. I am that one. Today the other is a pleasant well-intentioned woman who has high skills. We rarely work together. She enters the bedroom, greets our client, bends down over the man in the bed and announces:
"Oh my GAWD- your eyes look awful. You look like you are going blind."


"Happy New Year. Well, I guess it isn't a very happy one for you eh."

and so on.

My experience dealing with people who are inappropriate, is that they do not learn appropriateness from co-workers- they learn it from clients. Until the day a client tells her that she is out of line, she will continue to be who she isand so, I waited until she left the room to lean in and say:
"You'll have to forgive her. She means well but is a tad insensitive."
He snorted.

We got him up today. After a week where he spent alot of time in his bed, he wanted a change. He has a wonderful bed that inflates and deflates evenly in rotation so that his inability to move does not result in bedsores. With that bed, it is not necessary to reposition him unless he desires it. Once up in his modified wheelchair, only massive pillowing kept his head erect, as he is too weak even to hold his own head up. Each breath rasps and there is a faint gurgle. Every single respiration sounded like he was wrestling the angel of death for it. When I left the home I was thinking how nice it would be if he could have a wee nap by the fire and just sleep on into eternity.

Soon. Very very soon.


"We would never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world."
--Helen Keller


Strangeness in the already Strange

Life with a head injury is never dull. Coping is a committment. Learning to live well takes decades even amongst the non TBI-ed. For me, there are always lessons to be learned and much humbling involved. The greatest of all challenges in my lfe is to keep and maintain balance. My natural good mood and humour takes a turbo jet to the black lands when my rest is disturbed and the holiest of holys in my home is my bed, my lovely bed. (sigh)

The carefully constructed life routine, so revered by me went to hell in a handbasket as the snow grabbed the resort areas and throttled remorselessly. The usual winter here, should it contain snow, only keeps a white frosting for days, usually less than three. Our first snow started December 13th and has not yet melted. More on the way, they say.

Many locals, me included, could not get out of our own driveways for a few days. No work, no pay. I walked, but could not attempt anything outside of our Village centre, and am minus a few hundred dollars. Luckily for me, my contract with JOB #2 involves working on statutory holidays so I was able to recoup somewhat with the two big stats. Not so luckily for me, this meant quite a few days of working double shifts and the loss of two regular days off. My four day work week evaporated as did the three days of great necessity that I get off.

Working for the weekend is common. Loosing said weekend, for one such as I is a nightmare. Day one generally involves me doing alot of sleeping and snoozling so that days 2 and 3 are better. This week did not contain the usual and I am feeling it. There is a woman who can do my shift tomorrow at Job 2 THANK GOD and hopefully by Sunday I will once again feel rested for my double shift. Monday I can rejoice in knowing I am about to get my threes. WOOT!

Banal, but mine. This is my life.

===== *

Jean Paul:
No rest is worth anything except the rest that is earned.


The Neverending Snow...

Here in Paradise, the weather continues to be remarkable. Understand it from our prespective; our official website says thusly:

Most Canadians envy Vancouver Island climate as it is the country's mildest. Temperatures on the coast, even in January, are usually above 0 °C (32 °F). During the summer season, maximum temperatures average 21-24 °C (70-75 °F).

The rain shadow effect of Vancouver Island's mountains (including Mount Arrowsmith, southwest of Parksville and Qualicum Beach), as well as the mountains of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, creates wide variation in precipitation.
The rain shadow effect means the west coast of Vancouver Island is much wetter than the east coast. The average yearly precipitation ranges from 6,650 millimetres (260 in) at Henderson Lake on Vancouver Island’s west coast (the wettest place in North America) to only 635 millimetres (25 in) at the Saanich Peninsula in Greater Victoria. Rainfall is heaviest in the autumn and winter and snow is rare at low altitudes on Vancouver Island

Uh huh. This is a picture of the view from my bedroom balcony.

Weekend forecast is for more snow.