Friday, January 31, 2020

Happy Hour

A dog walking friend is always talking about "Happy Hour". Today she was saying her dog is getting fat from all the treats she gets at Happy Hour. She's an ex-American, so at Happy Hour she turns on the (American) news and has a drink. I think "Happy" is ironic these days and she can only stomach the news with a nice drink. I was saying to her that maybe I should try Happy Hour, and what time of day was that anyway? She said 4-ish, which is when I go for a walk in the woods with Hapi (a much more pleasant activity than watching to the news!), she said maybe I could take Hapi for a walk earlier, that is what she does.

So today I tried it. The weather today was beautiful, sunny blue skies and above (just barely) zero temperatures. Hapi and I went for our walk in the woods at 3 and were home by 4, I gave her half of her supper and poured myself a glass of wine. No news, just Beethoven on the CD player. I probably won't manage to do this every day, but today it was nice.

* * * * * * *

B is still in the hospital, her doctor told her it would be 2-6 weeks before she could leave. She heard 6 months and freaked out. I had taken 5 days off from visiting but the day I did visit was right after getting the bad news and she was being interviewed by a psychiatrist. Apparently she had been talking about killing herself.

Anonymous advice in the snow
On the bright side, she has a new roommate, S, and those two hit it off like a house afire. S insisted on having her bed moved right up beside B's bed, hardly room for a curtain between them. Turns out S is a friend of B's daughter. She has spina bifida and all sorts of disabilities and medical issues as a result, but very friendly and upbeat; hard to believe she has as many issues as she does to deal with.

The three of us yakked and laughed for a bit and then the shrink came to get B for further conversation, and S filled me in on B's reaction to the news from the doctor. Then she told me how she ended up in the hospital: fell in the bathroom, didn't have her emergency button on her and couldn't reach the phone, had to drag herself all the way out of her apartment into the hallway so another resident could see her and call for an ambulance. I am glad B has S for company, but I don't know how long S will be there. She thinks she broke her leg but nothing showed up in the X-rays so she's waiting for further tests.

Anonymous encouragement in the snow
I've decided I can only handle once-a-week visits to the hospital. I spent more than a week playing catch-up on all the stuff I wasn't doing because of physiotherapy, visiting B, and Hapi's various health issues, and yesterday was the first day that I sat down and thought, Okay, what shall I do now? I actually had an afternoon of Free Time!

I made a chocolate pudding cake, something I've been meaning to do for years and never quite got around to. I misread the recipe and put an extra tablespoon of cocoa in it, didn't hurt a bit! Maybe I'll read a book or knit something, or make another pudding cake. A friend told me her mother used to make something called Hasty Pudding that was almost exactly the same as my chocolate pudding cake, only caramel-flavoured with raisins. If I ever get tired of chocolate, I could try that!

Friday, January 24, 2020

One Out of Three Ain't Bad

(Three out of Three, plus The Dog)
This past week has been perfect winter weather, it has warmed up but there is still snow on the ground, there's no wind to speak of and the snow has been cleared off the long pond for skating. Supposed to get a lot of rain on Sunday so I don't know how long this will last. Yesterday Hapi and I went for a long walk in the Acadia woods and my youngest son called my cell phone, so we chatted while I walked. Hapi used to be his dog.

Things are going very well for him now, he has several projects on the go and they are all looking promising. The best one is his new girlfriend. He is in his forties now and has never had much luck with women. I can remember telling him when he was in early 20s that if he was still single by the time he reached his 40s he'd be in big demand, and that turns out to be more or less true. That's how it went with one of my brothers, he didn't meet his current partner until his mid-forties, after many years of not being quite good enough. Anyway, my son has a couple of other projects happening and they are turning out well too. He moved from the west coast to Ontario and this is his first experience since childhood of 'real' winter. It was nice to hear from a child who was doing well in life.

When I came out of the woods onto the road there were three young women walking towards us. They asked to pet Hapi and were oohing and aahing about how beautiful she was. My son was still on the line listening to this. When we parted ways he laughed and said he remembered when that used to happen all the time with Hiro, Hapi's brother.

* * * * * *

I visited a friend to drop off an application form she needed and to pick up some cheese her husband bought for me at Costco. We were talking about our various offspring and she told me a heartwarming story about one of her sons. She said, "One out of three ain't bad!" I told her some stuff another dogwalker told me, she also has three offspring and two are not doing well. I never hear about the third one, The Good Daughter. We both laughed and said, "One out of three ain't bad!"

* * * * * *

B is still alive and still in the hospital. She is a lousy patient. I was visiting her every other day but that became exhausting and very depressing so I dialled it back to twice a week. Still exhausting and depressing. Last night I googled "pity party" and thought, Yup, that's what we have going on here. She told me that her son F couldn't visit every night any more because he didn't have enough money for gas. I called him and said I'd loan him the money but he said he only told her that because he didn't want to go every single night. They moved her to another room, she no longer has a window and there's a woman with dementia in the bed across from her. I think they moved her because she was disturbing the other patients in the room she used to be in.

F says the doctor told him she won't be moving to a nursing home for 2-3 months. There's a bed waiting for her but she's not well enough to leave the hospital. I suspect they don't want to move her while she is in such a foul mood because they don't want her disturbing the other nursing home residents. She is not nice to be around. I know she's dying, I know she's very uncomfortable and can't sleep. She has to drinked thickened liquids and eat pureed food and hates it with a passion. She tells me terrible stories of being abused by the night nurses. F says to take everything she says with a big grain of salt, she's not in her right mind. Listening to a constant stream of complaints and nasty gossip about the nurses and orderlies is distressing. I may be some kind of naive Pollyanna but I just can't take that anymore. Beginning to see why F and I are the only people visiting her and we are both secretly trying to figure out how to reduce our time with her.

* * * * * *

Yesterday I walked by the skating pond with Hapi and another dog walker. I was admiring how beautiful it was. The other dog walker said I should take Hapi home and come back with my skates. I sighed and said I couldn't, that today was a day to go visit B. I thought about that last night, I don't think I am doing anyone any favours not going skating. Today is Friday and it's going to rain on Sunday and who knows what the ice will be like after that…

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Bruce MacKinnon sums it up

Halifax Chronicle Herald, Jan. 11, 2020

Tuesday, January 7, 2020


I spoke too soon, she's dying. Her GP is amazed she made it through the night (last night); I don't know if she'll be with us tomorrow morning. I went to see her this afternoon, it was very bad. She's only semi-lucid. She recognized me, but only just. At least her doctor, not the Emerge doctor who admitted her but her GP, realizes she's not demented. But it doesn't matter anymore. She has been living with a few serious chronic conditions but now the diagnosis is congestive heart failure. She's on oxygen but it really doesn't make much difference now. She's quite miserable and uncomfortable, she wants to go home. Nobody has told her that she is dying.

I showed her some pictures of Hapi, she liked that. She wished I could bring Hapi in but of course that's out of the question. She's by a window but it faces onto a courtyard that I can't get into with a dog. F said he had me on the list of people the nurses will talk to on the phone about her but he wouldn't put B's sister or brother on the list because he said they were mean to her and didn't deserve it.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Relief in sight

B's son F came by yesterday to do a minor repair on my car. I asked after his mother and he told me she was in the hospital. F spoke to the doctor who admitted her and asked him to please not allow her to sign herself out. The doctor assured F that wouldn't happen, that she was too sick to go home anymore. They plan to keep her there until a nursing home bed comes available.

F is relieved: "Now I can get some sleep!" Not only is B unable to sleep but anyone taking care of her cannot sleep either. After getting her admitted F went home to bed, but the hospital called him in the middle of the night for B's CPAP machine. F got up and delivered it; he said he didn't mind being woken up for that, knowing he could go back to bed afterward and sleep the rest of the night and into the morning without interruption. I feel relief too, I have been rather stressed by the whole situation.

The doctor said they were going to run a lot of tests on her to find out what is wrong and how to treat it. They are even going to test for dementia. That worries me a bit, if they decide she is demented what exactly will they do? I am pretty sure that is not her problem. The main symptom the doctor and nurses are seeing is extreme grumpiness. I think after months of difficult breathing and little sleep, coupled with financial difficulties and inability to get help from Social Services or our healthcare system, I'd be pretty darn grumpy too.

But overall I am glad she is in the hospital and not coming out until they get her into a nursing home. I think that is where she needs to be, let's hope the next available nursing home is not too far away (the rules say up to 100 km away is allowable). If you go to the hospital in an ambulance you jump to the head of the queue in Emerge; and if you are already in the hospital when you need a nursing home bed then you jump to the head of that queue too.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Hurrah for January

Yippee! It's January! I know I am supposed to make some new year's resolutions, or goals for the coming year or something like that, but I am so happy that December is now A Thing Of The Past that all I really want to do is wallow in that pleasure. It's over. I am happy. I just had a cup of tea reclined in my lounger reading The New Yorker. I am way behind in my reading so this is only the December 2nd issue, but it is rather nice to read about what made headlines in December knowing that they are now a thing of the past.

Last night I went for supper and card games at a neighbour's place. The weather was truly crappy but knowing that I did not have far to travel to get home made me feel quite secure. Of the seven women—myself included—I knew only three others and I think that was true for most of us, except our host who presumably knew us all otherwise why did she invite us? It was interesting to engage in conversation with women you knew and didn't know. When the conversation turned to cats I was bored (not a cat lover), and when it went to dogs no doubt the cat lovers were bored. But we all put on interested faces. None of us were born here and two of the women currently live in Alberta and the NWT. A bunch of us grew up in Ontario and one woman hails from Switzerland. Three women were sisters living in different parts of the country and enjoying an annual reunion. None of the sisters ever married or had children, they are known in their family as The Three Aunts and are apparently quite popular amongst the nieces and nephews.

One woman came in the throes of a cold, which I didn't realize until some time after I sat down beside her at the dinner table. At first I hoped it was just an allergy but eventually she confessed to feeling rotten and left the party muttering about wishing she were dead. Oh joy. But the food was excellent, and the rest of us managed to hang in there until midnight when the champagne was poured and we toasted the new year. These days staying awake that long is an accomplishment! Today I am dosing myself with vitamin C and Oil of Oregano (my go-to respiratory infection preventative).

A couple of days ago I got an email from my walking group saying that we would be walking at the Reservoir on New Year's Day. I wrote to our leader advising that the trails there were icy and maybe he could suggest to the group to bring ice grippers. He did not. This morning Hapi and I went early and walked a bit on the ravine bike trails before meeting the group near the ponds. Half of them did not have ice grippers, including the leader. 

I asked him if he got my email and he looked stunned. Yes, he got it but he didn't recognize my (new) name so he disregarded it! I stared at him. You ignored it because you didn't recognize my name? He said that he didn't recognize the name and thought whoever it was probably didn't know what they were talking about. If he had known it was me of course he would have relayed the information to everyone else. I rolled my eyes at him and suggested that perhaps next time he ought not to be so judgmental. 

The walk was cut off early because half the walkers were having a lot of difficulty with the ice without ice grippers. Hapi and I stayed on to walk with our eldest dogwalker (93 years old) who was fully equipped with ice grippers and ski poles. We laughed about it.

On the sad news front, one of the regular dogs has been diagnosed with what Hiro died of. His owner will bring him to the Reservoir as long as he is able, but his days are numbered. Already he is refusing to eat. He is one of my favourites, I tell people he is a cross between Ferdinand the Bull and Eeyore. Very sweet dog.