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Saturday, 23 February 2013

Showering is highly overrated

I take a shower every morning.  I've done so for many many years.  If the power is out and I can't shower, I freak out a little, then wash myself at the bathroom sink as best I can, get dressed and start my day.  But I feel yucky.  Getting washed at the bathroom sink doesn't quite cut it for me.  But what are you going to do?  I guess it's psychological.  I just don't feel right until I shower.

That was then.

I haven't had a shower in almost 3 months.  Uh huh, that's right.  I had my last shower on November 29, 2012.  I know what you must be thinking.  I must be one disgusting stinky pig.  The thing is, I can't shower right now.  I have an IV PICC line in my arm for the administration of antibiotics.  It can't get wet.  As well, I have a vacuum system hooked up below my right knee.

If someone had told me 3 months ago that I wouldn't have a shower for the next 3 months plus, there is a good chance I may have thrown myself in front of a bus.  It's a good thing that I take my life one day at a time.  You see, every day I trick myself into believing that just maybe, tomorrow, I can have a shower.  And each day, I pretty much know that I won't have a shower tomorrow.

I have a routine in the morning.  I go into the bathroom, say to myself "here we go again", close the door (not sure why as I live alone), take off my jammies and carefully place my machinery on the clothes basket beside me.  They told me NOT to drop the vacuum on the floor as it costs about $6000.  I dropped it one morning.  Oops.  It's ok, it still works.  I take my facecloth and soap in hand and I start washing.  I am careful not to get the IV site wet.  I am careful not to pull the tubing out of my arm or out of my knee.  I'm less anxious than I was when I first started this routine, but the frustration has built up.  I get angry, I swear, I throw things around but I get the job done.  I have red welts around the PICC line site where I use tape to keep the tubes in place.  I'm allergic to the tape.  I have a constant rash all over my left arm.  Why?  I don't know and I don't care anymore.  Oh, it's probably stress or it could be an allergic reaction to the meds.  At the end of it all, I do manage, somehow, to get clean.  I amaze even myself.

I then get dressed, being oh so careful to manage all the tubing running ramp-id (sp?) around me.  It takes a little skill and a whole lot of magic getting the clothes on correctly -- the right piece of tubing lining up to the proper arm hole in my shirt or the leg hole in my pants -- all the while trying to avoid tripping over something or knocking something off a shelf (which I've done many times).

Do I have too much free time on my hands to be writing about such mundane stuff?  You bet I do!

How do I manage washing my hair you ask?  Good question, but I'll save that answer for another day.

Until next time, good night and sweet dreams ...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Dear John

My brother Johnny was very bright, kind and handsome.  He was a geologist.  I didn't see him laugh a lot though.  He was very serious and analyzed everything.  At least, that's how I remember him.

I do remember 2 times when he laughed real hard.  And both times, it left me furious.  The first time was when I went to live with him and his wife Mary in Calgary, just after graduating from high school in 1976.  I was 17 and flew, for the first time, standby from Ottawa to Calgary, but bumped in Toronto first.  Anyhow, they had 3 small children at the time - Michael, Lisa and Carolyn.  While there, I joined Weight Watcher's for the first time in my life.  (If I thought I was fat then, you should see me now!)  I digress.

One evening, after coming home from WW, Johnny somehow got hold of my little weigh-in booklet.  He wanted to know how much I weighed.  I yelled at him to give it back.  He just laughed real hard, ran off and wouldn't give it back to me.  When he realized how upset I was, he did apologize and felt bad.  He realized how much it meant for me to keep my weight a secret.  The damage was done.  He saw how much I weighed!

The second time I saw him laugh hard was in the summer (or fall) of 1979.  My sister Barb and I were sharing an apartment on Byron Ave. in Ottawa.  For some reason he came to visit.  I'm not sure why, or where he was living at the time.  I think they were back in Toronto by then.  He had to use our bathroom and went number 2.  When he came out, he said that the toilet was blocked and I didn't have a toilet plunger.  OMG!  I freaked out!  There is no way I was going to let him leave, with a plugged toilet.........and it wasn't even "my number 2".  I got so upset with him, but he just smiled from ear to ear (he had an infectious smile) and told me that he would just go knock on the neighbour's door and borrow a plunger from them.  That's all I remember. I was just so disgusted with him.  I'm guessing he found a plunger and unplugged the toilet, because there is no way he was leaving my place without taking care of that first.

A few months later, on January 19, 1980, Johnny suffered a severe cerebral aneurysm.  It caught everyone by surprise.  Johnny was a very healthy energetic person, full of life and this was unthinkable.  He was too young, married and a father of 3 very young children after all.  This couldn't be happening!

He lay in a coma in hospital for a month, fighting to live.   I visited him once during that month.  (It was too difficult to visit him more often as I was going to college in Ottawa and didn't have a car.)  When I saw him it was surreal.  He lay there, almost motionless.  He didn't look like Johnny anymore.  I gently grabbed his hand and whispered "Johnny, it's Paula".  I remember his eyes teared and he squeezed my hand.  Don't ever let anyone tell you that someone in a coma doesn't hear or sense things around them, because they do.

Johnny passed away February 20, 1980 at the age of 33.  He fought a tough battle.

I've always felt bad about that time on Byron Ave, but am positive that Johnny doesn't worry about that too much.  He's in heaven now, with mom and dad, the grandparents and all those who have passed before and after him.  He's doing just fine, thank you very much!

We miss you big brother.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Dogs bring us the greatest gifts!

Last night I am sitting on the edge of my bed (a cot in the kitchen) working on my computer, and Chewie is playing behind me and "digging" at the covers and it's starting to annoy me.  I reach behind and grab the object of his desire, something hard, frozen and the size of my palm.  I bring it around and look at it.  It takes my brain a few seconds to realize what it is.  It is a frozen dog turd he brought in from outside!!  Oh dear Lord!  I quickly fling it on the kitchen floor, where it proceeds to break in pieces and I am left sitting there in shock.  I start throwing out a few swear words and am totally left disgusted.  What the !#$%^!#$!!!!!

Normally, I would jump up and go into action to get rid of this, um, find.  Remember though that I can't "rush" on anything.  I got up, gathered all the machines and hoses, which I am sure must have looked hilarious, grabbed the broom and dustpan and proceeded to gather up the pieces and then fling them back outside.  Just thinking about it now makes me want to hurl.

I couldn't get them out the door quick enough before I went and spent about 5 minutes washing my hands and swearing as I did so.  I think Chewie was looking at me thinking what a crazy lady I was.  After all, it's only one of his turds.  What's the big deal.

Was he punishing me for forgetting to feed him?  His dish was empty, so I think so.  I then spent the next 20 minutes trying to find his dog food.  ML was over the other night, took his food out of the bag and put it into containers.  For the life of me, I couldn't find them, so ended up giving him a can of wet dog food.  I prefer the dry stuff, but couldn't let him go hungry.

I have since found the containers of dog food, in the freezer to keep them fresh.  I remember that now, but in the heat of panic and disgust last night, I had forgotten.

I don't make this stuff up.  At least the turd was frozen!  Thank God.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Giving thanks to the good things

I realize that I whine and complain a lot.  That's why I have this blog, so I CAN whine and complain.  It's a safe place where I can go to release the frustration I feel inside.  I am angry.  I admit it.

I am fully aware that my problems in no way compare to the horrors and tragedy that are happening at any given moment throughout the world.  What man can do to harm his fellow man is unspeakable, unfathomable and incomprehensible, and I am totally blessed that I live in one of, if not THE safest country in the world.  I pray every day, thanking God for my blessings, of which are many.  Since my latest health issue began, I have been very fortunate to have had the help of many wonderful family members, friends and neighbours in various ways.  Without them, I really don't know what I would do.  I really don't.

I thank God that he trusted and believed in me when he gave me my wonderful daughter Michelle, 22 years ago to raise and love and call my own.  What better blessing can one have?  Absolutely none.

I thank God for my siblings and dear friends.  They have always been there for me.  I don't take them for granted.

I thank God for letting me have a job, a job that provides me with disability insurance.  I don't know how I would survive without it.

I thank God for letting me own my home, for my pets, Chewie and PC, for not letting my illness be any worse than it is.  I could be far sicker than I am, but He knew how much I could handle and gave me that to bear, no more.

I thank God for the beauty all around me, the sun, the trees, the flowers, the birds (ok, winter sucks, but I had to get a complaint in somewhere) and the knowing that I am safe in this wonderful country I live in, Canada.

I have learned a big lesson.  Never take anything for granted.  The day I can go for a drive, take my dog for a walk, work in my garden again, visit a friend.............will be total euphoria for me.  Simple, everyday stuff that most of us take for granted, I will appreciate with a new lease on life.

Thank you Barb, Patty, Maureen, Michelle, Jimmy, Mary Louise, Bev, Linda, Richard, Judy, Christine, Andrea, Perry, Mark, Eric, Debbie, Mary and the rest of you who have helped me in ways that I may never be able to fully thank you for.  I truly am blessed.

For all this and more, I will pay it forward.

(See, I can be serious on occasion)

Monday, 4 February 2013

Multi-tasking on the front porch

It's cold and windy out this morning.  It is winter in Canada after all, so it's to be expected.  At least it's bright and sunny and it's February.  That makes me a little happier.  Spring will inevitably come this way.  I went out to have a cigarette on the front porch.  I normally smoke inside, but the nurses were coming and I didn't think it fair to give them cancer.

I found it somewhat difficult managing a coffee in one hand with Chewie on his leash in same hand, my crutch tucked under the opposite arm, my bag of antibiotics around my neck, another bag containing the vacuum over my shoulder, tubing twisted and hanging out of my pants and the arm of my shirt and a cigarette hanging out of my mouth.  Of course, right away, Chewie starts to chase something I can not see as my coffee spills all over the cold snowy porch, hitting my slippers on the way down.  I stood there not daring to move.  Falling is not an option.  Why do I smoke?  I have no idea, especially under these circumstances.  I am a little proud of myself however, as I have learned to manage carrying many contraptions on and around my body and still say sane.  Relatively sane that is.

I quickly puffed away, only half finishing my cigarette before I decided to come back in.  It's not that I didn't want to finish the cigarette, because I did, but Chewie was dancing around trying to get indoors.  He had finished peeing on the garbage pail.  His job was done and he wanted nothing to do with the cold wind.  Plus, I was afraid he'd get tangled in the tubing, already starting to freeze up and get brittle at this point.  I didn't want him to pull them out of my body.  I didn't want to fall, perhaps landing on top of him. That wouldn't be a nice site to see.  He's also afraid of my crutch.  Perhaps it is because, on occasion, he has been in it's path and I have stumbled over him causing, an already anxious poodle, to be, well, even more hyper.

I must have looked like a total idiot on the porch this morning.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

I spilled my yogourt

So this morning I opened the fridge door to take out my filtered water and dropped a whole container of yogourt at the same time.  The lid was loose and I lost half of a 650 gram tub of yummy vanilla yogourt.............splattered all over the floor.  I did a little cursing, ok, a lot of cursing and, with a rag in one hand, trying to balance with a crutch in the other and tubing dragging through the yogourt, I began wiping up the mess.  It's tough using a crutch and trying to bend down at the same time.  Try it sometime.  I now have a relatively clean spot on the floor where the yogourt was, but have dried yogourt all over the tubing.  I should clean that off as well.  It's going to probably stink after a while if I don't.

I thrive on swearing in the real world.  I am told that it's probably best not to when I blog.  How boring is that?  It's going to be tough, but I'll give it a try.  So, those of you who know me, may not recognize my language without a few "f" words here and there.  Nonetheless, it is indeed me.  Seriously!

Another day home.  I don't go out these days.  For the past 2 months, I have been, more or less, confined to the house, recovering from an infection to my artificial knee joint.  Actually, I would have been all recovered by now had it not been for the fact that the sutures used during the closing of the wound after surgery, prematurely opened shortly afterwards.  So ironically, I am technically recovering from that, um, unfortunate incident (normally I'd swear here), where I am left with this huge hole just below my right knee.  I asked the surgeon when I saw him 2 visits ago if he could simply take some fat from my butt and fill in the hole and call it a day.  Apparently that was not a solution.  Having said that, if this vacuum system doesn't do the job, they have no choice but to perform plastic surgery on me to close the hole.  It's a pretty scary thing this hole.  If it doesn't heal, then there is a good chance of reinfection, which would mean a 2nd knee replacement.  He told me that it would be done in 2 stages.  First, take out the artificial knee, let that heal for 2 weeks and then put a new replacement knee in.  That's right, I'd have no knee for 2 weeks.  I suffer from severe anxiety and chronic depression at the best of times.  Seriously folks, why me?

Friday, 1 February 2013

My vacuum is better than yours

My sister Barb has a new Dyson vacuum cleaner.  She loves it.  Mine is better than hers though.  I have mine attached to my knee to help heal an infection.  Seriously, I do.

Ok, so it's not a vacuum cleaner in the traditional sense of the word, but it is, nonetheless, a vacuum, complete with a motor, tubing, strong suction and canister.  I've been told it is top of the line.  Apparently, it will speed the healing of a gaping hole I have just below my right knee.  I know, I had never heard of such a thing either.  I feel a little privileged having this brand new, state of the art, $6000.00, machine.  It's a little like the CPAP I use for my severe sleep apnea, only a little smaller.....but they kind of look the same.  I guess they're different though as the vacuum sucks the crap out of my knee and the CPAP pushes air down my throat so I don't stop breathing while I sleep.  120 apneas an hour I've been told.  Yes, I stop breathing twice a minute without it.  So I use it.  Breathing is important.

I'm new to this blog thing and I'm tired.  I'm going to bed.  My tubing is all tangled up.  Oh ya, I am hooked up to IV antibiotics as well.  Yes, more battery operated machinery and tubing.  Lots of sirens and beeping and screeching sounds go off if I'm lying on some part or something gets bent or twisted.  Seriously!