Sarah and the No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day…er Week

I’ve never seen this movie, the one whose title I’ve blatantly stolen for this post.

I don’t care to ever see this movie.

I believe I have lived this movie. It was Tuesday of this week. Who am I kidding. It was all of last week, but Tuesday was especially horrible.

It’s never a good day when I wake up before my alarm. On Tuesday I woke up 45 mins before my alarm. And there was no going back to sleep because my annoying brain had already started itemizing the day’s events. Not a good sign. This was compounded by the throbbing in my left arm, because apparently I’ve developed tendonitis in my elbow and it hurts before I’ve even begun to move. Because, why not!?

Attempting to thwart my feelings of foreboding, I decide to assemble my smoothy as I make my breakfast, to ensure I would leave the house in good time. Moments later the blender is filled with fruit flies, and regardless of how many times I tried to remove them, finding them back-stroking through my almond milk was the limit for me and the entire mix was dumped.

I was late leaving as I reassembled the smoothy.

The computer at work, with which I have an rocky relationship at best, decided to pull work-to-rule action. Progress was at a snail’s pace. Because of the aforementioned fruit fly incident, I forgot to take my allergy medication, and I was completely and totally congested by 10 a.m.

With a work meeting scheduled for 2 p.m., I set up the meeting area, including the projection equipment. This involves a mobile screen on a tripod that I’m pretty sure was used for the first talkies. Just as I’m putting the final adjustments on the screen, the retractable screen does just that, and when it fully and completely recoils into the mustard yellow casing, said casing flips upward on one end from the force, and clocks me in the right temple. I saw several constellations and am still amazed that I did not use “language”. I likely had a feeling that I was being watched, which I was. A gentleman from another office witnessed the assault on my person and rushed to my aid. ¬†As a gentleman would, he offers assistance, asks if I’m ok and demonstrates a suitable amount of concern for what he just observed. As an idiot would, I told him I was FINE, that I was sorry I caused him concern and that this stupid projection screen was not long for this world. With a quizzical expression, he asked again. Are you SURE you are OK? With as much grace as I could muster, given that the impact nearly dropped me to my knees, I wave him off and assure him, no harm, no foul. His face says it all; Sarah’s a nut job. Well, my friend, you’re not the first to think that, and I’m pretty sure the club will extend membership to you.

Moments later, when the initial sensation wears off, it is replaced with a new, stinging, sharp sensation. When that lingers, I decide to head to the bathroom, where I see blood running down my face – the start of which the gentleman would have observed and explains his disbelief at my demeanour. NUT. JOB.

An impromptu clean up job leaves my face swollen, lacerated and missing a significant amount of make up on the right side of my profile. The meeting I’m hosting is in 30 minutes. I have no makeup at work. I decide then and there, that we are going to run this situation, and not let it run us! Two hours later, at the end of the meeting, and with my face nicely inflamed and swollen on one side, I can’t take the sidelong glances any more and flat out own what happened.

“Whew, I’m glad you said something,” said my colleague, “because I wasn’t sure what was going on there!”

Well my friend, what was going on here on Tuesday is just a string of what has been happening, known more affectionally as The Shit Show. Perhaps you think I’m exaggerating. Adding a little flair to the story, some “Artistic Licence”? Oh gentle reader, if that were only the case.

After some therapy on said elbow, and waking up the next day feeling better than I had in a week, I bounce the elbow off a corner in the hallway and hit it so hard that I’m afraid of travelling bone chips. Back to square one. The only way I’m sleeping now is if it’s on my right side. And if I could stop have disturbing dreams…but we’ll leave those for the therapist I’m draining my kids’ education fund for.

Then this happens….

I can't make this stuff up!

I can’t make this stuff up!

I’m the centre vehicle. To clarify, this is NOT parallel parking. This is a PARKING LOT. I’ve just been blocked. Ironically, in an effort to change my karma, when I saw another vehicle about to block the vehicle beside me (after doing a 24 point extraction of my own vehicle) I called out to the driver – very nicely I might add, to advise him of the honest mistake he was about to make. He thanked me for my efforts by giving me the sharp edge of his tongue and slamming back into his car.

Oh, and I should also mention that the week before, my work vehicle died most unexpectedly, in a remote location, on one of the hottest days of the summer. The cause of this malfunction was so random that even the mechanic shook his head.

Loooong story short, stay away from me unless you have bulk bubble wrap. And just think, Mercury Retrograde starts TODAY! Not sure what Mercury Retrograde is? Basically everything I’ve described. I’m locking myself in my room now, because I’m certain I’m a danger to myself!!

 

Resolve

Resolutions.

It’s the annual tradition around this time of the year to reflect, and therefore plan for the year to come.

I hate resolutions.

I’ve done it a couple of times, but quickly found that my personality isn’t suited for them. You can start with the best of intentions but then, life happens. Then there’s the guilt and the sense of failure.

I’ve decided to take a different approach. Instead of looking at the things in my life I want to change, that should I fail will make me feel bad about myself, I prefer to look at the beginning of the year as a chance to challenge myself. Last year, it was to say YES to things that are outside my comfort zone.

I started with food. Specifically, Sushi. Then I moved on. To Indian food.

2015-12-24 12.50.34

Mmmmm – Butter Chicken!

I didn’t just leave it to dining out; I tried new foods at home, and it was pretty much a success each time. I liked the idea of challenging myself, and feeding my family healthy, flavourful meals. We have some new favourites now! (Spaghetti squash anyone?!?)

Then there was recommitting to Yoga. It helped that The Big Guy was willing to give it a go. We’ve made Monday night “date night” as we Downward Dog ourselves to healthier bodies!

I’m also trying to look at better ways of taking care of myself. While it’s traditionally accepted to pop a pill or chug a manufactured syrup, I’m trying to figure out WHY I’m ill, pained or otherwise out of sync. A couple of people have looked at me funny when I show them I’m wearing a crystal or using an essential oil to give myself comfort. Those who have opened their minds to these things are quick converts themselves! Keep learning and keep young!! ūüėÄ

So long story short – look at New Year’s Eve as a chance to dust off the bucket list. As I sit here this evening, I’m thinking of what I want to tackle in 2016. It’s certainly more fun than contemplating a diet or deciding what I want to “quit”.

Happy New Year! 2015 was certainly a step up from 2014. Can’t wait for 2016!

LETTERS THAT NEED TO BE WRITTEN – PART VI

Dear Supreme Court of Canada,

Today marks the start of the hearings regarding assisted suicide in Canada. First of all, I thank you for FINALLY addressing this matter. It’s only been 21 years since the last time it came up. In that time, millions of Canadians have died, and many of them could have benefitted from an assisted suicide option.

I have watched both my grandmothers, my grandmother-in-law, an uncle, mother-in-law, and my father die. It is easy to decide that assisted suicide is a distasteful thing to discuss while in the prime of your life, while you are healthy and when you feel death is years if not decades away.

However, when you are sitting at the bedside of a loved one; when you have a desperate feeling of helpless when they ask for assistance; when you become so low that you actually pray for them to die РTHAT is the moment when you realize how truly necessary this conversation, even this legislation, is.

The Baby Boomers are getting older and it’s a decision that we need to commit to, or be prepared for a further increase in suicide rates. Frankly, I don’t want to have another person I love have to struggle with pain, disease and fear. I wouldn’t want them to feel that was the only option for them.

There are those who fear this intervention being introduced to Canada, however, several other countries have had it in place without serious repercussions. (I’m looking at you Switzerland, Belgium and Netherlands!) If we can address Mental Health concerns, specifically through a screening process, and the patient can be cleared by more than one physician, then why would the government, indeed society, try to dictate how a person leaves this world?

It’s certainly something I have a difficult time with.

Sarah

Sticks and Stones Part II

I had a brilliant blog ready to go for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, I left it until Valentine’s Day to¬†finish it, and my day became a little chaotic after a phone call from Second Born Son’s school.

“Hi Sarah, It’s Mrs. Awesomeschoolsecretary calling. I’ve got SBS here and he says he broke his arm again.”

“Holy shit.” was my most eloquent reply, thereby shattering my image as a polite, well-spoken, organized, respectful parent. But really, who the hell was I kidding anyway?

Within minutes I’m looking at my son, who has plastered on his face the best. poker face. EVER! We immediately leave the school to head to our hospital’s emergency room. As soon as the door of my vehicle closes, the emotion pours out of him and he tells me what happened. Snow pile at recess. Bunch of friends jostling each other. SBS falls down show pile with one of the friends. SBS makes it to the bottom first. Friend lands on him. Previously healed arm is on the bottom of said pile of 8th graders. He’s upset because he thinks I’m going to be mad at him. If truth be told, I think he’s mad at himself.

Once again, my college-level psychology class is paying for itself, as I employ the power of positive thinking and advise him I am not angry, but worried about the arm, for obvious reasons. We will deal with what happens.

An x-ray reveals what SBS already knows. It’s cracked right through the spot that broke before. This concerns the emerg doctor who also happens to be our GP. He lightly throws out the idea that surgery may be in the future, refers to how cool Wolverine is, and shoots me a look. Okaaay. Gotcha. We need to get the kid ready for this possibility.

So, armed with the knowledge (pun intended) that we have a bit of an uphill climb in the somewhat familiar road ahead of us, we buy a new collar and cuff sling from the hospital and head home. SBS refuses any pain meds, likely because he feels he deserves the pain. I decide its time to play “Glass Half Full”.

“You know,” I point out, “we can look at it this way; we know how to take care of this because we’ve done it before. No figuring out how to get dressed, or shower, you know?”

He nods, half heartedly.

“And, again, it’s your left arm, so you can still write and you won’t have to miss art class!” I try for some enthusiasm.

“I guess it was a good idea that I cancelled the drums then,” he allows.

“Sure! And you know, it could be worse; it could be your LEG!” I gasp, adding how impossible it would be for me to lug him around, now that he’s taller than I am.

“Yeah.”

It was a rough night, but the next day did seem a little brighter. We had a call in to his specialist and agreed that SBS would stay home from school until we had been to our appointment. I didn’t want to have this fracture complicated by a slip in a wet hallway or a nudge from an overly enthusiastic friend.

Because of the holiday Monday (yeah Family Day – I worked – what else is new, right??) we could only get squeezed in on the Friday – a week after the break. By the time the appointment rolled around, SBS was ready to crawl walls. He’s frustrated, sore, tired, anxious and wondering how he can go back in time and redo recess.

The Big Guy joined us for the drive to the city; all equally anxious and eager to find out what the specialist would say. I had packed an overnight bag for us, in the event that surgery was going to happen. A conversation with a friend who is a nurse reinforced the idea that surgery was in the offing. We had a couple of conversations with SBS who was naturally nervous about the idea. He was reluctant, but in favor of this possibility by the time we got to the hospital, if for no other reason than he could finally stop worrying about doing further damage to his arm. All week he had walked around as though he was made of glass. Sneezing was to be avoided.

More x-rays and waiting. Thankfully the Olympic hockey game was on and we were suitable distracted.

While our specialist was not available, her colleague was and we were in no position to complain, since we wanted to see the first doctor we could who would give us answers.

An intern came in for the preliminary chat and looked over SBS. He gives us the impression that we have done all that can be done by using the collar and cuff. The Big Guy and I look at each other. No surgery? A mix of optimism and dread hits us both. We express that we would like to be aggressive with this injury, since we were advised the initial break had healed and isn’t bone that has healed from a fracture stronger?

He gives us a smile and agrees to pass our thoughts along to the specialist. The Big Guy and I make a pact that we are not leaving this room the way we came in; with a broken kid with a broken spirit.

Within minutes the specialist enters. Her bicep is a big as my wrist and everything about her is boney and angular. Her smile is phoney and forced. Her voice has a sharp tone and her words are clipped. Immediately the energy in the room changes, and not for the better. She has SBS move his arm at the elbow and wrist and checks for pulse and blood circulation issues. Before addressing us, she’s has told SBS she wants to see him moving the arm so the elbow doesn’t seize up, and that tells us all we need to know.

There won’t be any surgery.

Now I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of medical details here, but the moral of this story is that The Big Guy and I should have been thrilled that our son was not being scheduled for surgery. Instead, we felt like we were being ignored. When we asked to understand her position, she immediately became aggressive and condescending; an AWESOME mix, especially when my hubby is involved. Boyfriend doesn’t always edit if you know what I mean. The more questions we asked, the more annoyed with us she became. She pulled out her god complex and wielded it with the dexterity I can only assume she¬† possesses in the operating room. She can do A, B and C, sure why not? If that’s what we as parents were saying we wanted to subject our son to! She then turns to SBS and unloads on him all the worst case scenarios that could take place during and as a result of surgery. He is suitably traumatized and withholds telling her how he feels about certain aspects of his situation because he just wants to LEAVE! (At this point I want to thank her face with my fist because now if we ever HAVE to do surgery for what she later stated could be a recurring issue, he gets to ponder on the very detailed possibilities she implanted in his brain. Gold star for you, Sweetheart!)

I stop her and advise that for SBS’s peace of mind, we need something done. She ROLLS. HER.EYES. Yes, yes she did; and this pretty much finishes me. After some chatter with the intern and someone from casting, she¬†agrees to “some kind of splint for this”.

Why did I just bore you to tears of this childhood injury? Because I think it exemplifies beautifully a concept that I advocate regularly. Grab your pen and paper now!

It’s not always WHAT you say, but HOW you say it!

Blew your mind just there, didn’t I?

She had no idea of what we had been through in the week leading up to our appointment; but she wasn’t interested in hearing it either. She should have listened to all three of us, and then come back with her position, supported by heavily edited reasoning regarding risks. She should have respected our concern as parents and not simply dismissed our questions as being ridiculous. She should have parked her tone AND attitude with her ride in the underground parking. She should have remembered that even though in her world she sees thousands of broken bones every week – this is the only broken bone that matters in our world. She should have seen that while the patient in front of her is the size of an adult, he is still a child inside. She should have known that while surgery and casts were not, in her opinion, in the patient’s best interest, neither is living with uncertainty and fear.

Her only advice was if he was “that¬†nervous” about going to school, then he should stay home for another week. What he needed was to get back to his regular routine. Thankfully, the splint we begged for has had the necessary effect; provided physical protection while offering emotional support.

It took a lot of talking on the ride home to understand that while we put a lot of faith into doctors, they are only human. Just like every other profession, there are good ones, and there are bad ones.

We can’t wait to see our GREAT specialist when she returns in time for our first follow-up appointment. I don’t think any of us needs a repeat of last week’s performance.

A New Four Letter Word that is Six Letters Long

There is a new swear word in our house.

G.L.U.T.E.N.

For the past few months, The Big Guy has noticed a bit of a pattern in his health and well being. Due to a suggestion from a work colleague, he decided to go off bread, specifically for the gluten component. He had an immediate response. In a positive way!

So we expanded on the experiment. Ironically, our nephew is gluten intolerant, but we didn’t really understand what that meant. A couple hours of online research gave us a crash course. Firstly, gluten is the glue of human food. IT. IS. EVERYWHERE!!! I challenge you to find a bread, cracker, cereal, or dessert that doesn’t have gluten in it. ¬†And if you do, please let me know what it is. Unfortunately, The Big Guy is a Big Lover of all things bread. And cake. And crackers with a smear of cheese. And bread. Did I mention bread? He used to rate Stag and Does based on the “quality” of the kaiser buns and handmade sandwiches he would make with them.

Big bread fan.

However, if that weren’t enough, gluten is in sauces (salad dressings, Worchestshire sauce, marinades and bbq sauce), snack foods (granola bars, pretzels) and pasta (KD?!?!?). This has not only rocked his lunch box, but is has kicked the crap out of my meal planning regimen. I’m not even going to discuss now long it now takes me to find my way through the grocery store, reading the labels on every single product!!

This introduced me to a whole new division of the grocery store – specialty foods! Mind you, I only have a limited selection in the area I living in, so now I’m keeping an eye out at just about every major grocery and bulk food store.

I started with these;

2013-05-04 13.53.11

The muffin mix was $4 and change. They went over well.

The cake mix was $5. It was not. Imagine the delicious smell of brownie, followed by the the most dried out, tasteless brownie you have ever had the misfortune of eating. It was worse that that. Yum.

Along with these purchases, I invested in white rice flour, brown rice flour and tapioca flour. And a cookbook. Then I looked into a line of credit to afford this….

2013-05-04 14.46.19

 

This pasta better cook itself, cuz it put me back $10. I now understand why my nephew claims to be the poorest student on campus. While his peers live on spaghetti and other cheap pastas, he’s paying almost as much in rent as he is for his weekly food bill!

Ironically, this past weekend my Dad found this –

2013-05-04 14.46.55

…which apparently I’m going to have to drag The Big Guy to, if for no other reason, than I can learn how to cook for him again!

Until then, I expect A LOT more swearing.

 

The “Easy” Way Out?

Today is Samson’s birthday.

In a couple of weeks, it will be a year since we put him down.  This random combination of thoughts came to me last week when a certain new item caught my eye.

Gloria Taylor is a British Columbian woman who lives with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). She was the face of five plaintiffs who went to the Supreme Court to strike down the ban on assisted suicide in that province. The grounds were that the ban discriminated against the disabled because, get this,¬†they cannot commit suicide on their own.

The argument was that an able-bodied individual could end their own life without assistance. For those dealing with terminal conditions, there comes a point in time when this is no longer an option. It’s usually at this later stage that the idea of suicide is much more appealing than the years, months, weeks, days, the individual has left as a prisoner of their own bodies.

Now I toyed with the idea of not writing this column, simply because it falls under one of those contentious issues, like abortion, religion and hockey. But I feel strongly about this myself and to be honest, I was excited when I heard the news.

When Samson was suffering, we could tell. It was as obvious as if he could verbalize the pain he was in. Most people would say they would not allow an animal to suffer, they would have the “put to sleep.”

I have watched loved ones die. I have heard some of them wish for death to come. I have heard of people whose family members have asked them to help them bring their end to them. How is ok for a dog to be euthanized, but I couldn’t do it for a family member?

To be fair, there are differences between euthanasia and assisted suicide.

1. Euthanasia –

: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured

individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for

reasons of mercy. The word is Greek and means “easy death.”

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This can be a simple as someone withholding care or taking part

in the act of ending someone’s life. Notice how people and animals are lumped

together?

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2. Assisted Suicide –

: suicide committed by someone with assistance from another person;

especially : physician-assisted suicide

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This is a specific plan where a doctor provides the means for a person to administer

drugs or an act that will allow the individual to end their own life. Something

they could not otherwise do on their own.

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Thank you Merriam-Webster.

Immediately the battle cries were out for an appeal of this decision.

How can we allow these people who have suffered so much the “easy” way out???

Well I’ve got a thought for you. If you are saying the Court will not allow

anyone to take part in an action that will result in the death of another person, then they better get a lot more vigilant about methamphetamine dealers and producers, because THAT, my friend, is how a lot more people are going to die at the hand of another person.

It’s not like I don’t have a grasp on the concept of suicide. It has come close enough to me to know that there are times when I can see it is not the right option. There is pain and suffering for the family members left behind. But when we are looking at cases like this, how can it be a bad thing? Instead of an indefinite period of time where your family stands vigil for you, watches you waste away, is forced to have their last memories of you be tainted by the ravages of the disease that will ultimately claim you, you can have your time, prepare and allow a more humane procedure take place. Less drugs. Less hospital time. Less drama. Less trauma.

This topic first came to light in a big way back in 1992 when Sue Rodriguez, also suffering from ALS and living in Victoria, B.C., challenged the ban. She was denied the right to an assisted suicide, but in 1994, she was successful in finding an anonymous doctor who would help and she was given her assisted suicide that year.

“If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” she asked. (cbc.com June 15, 2012)

Indeed. Who?

Choices, choices…

“Regret is a useless emotion.”

This is my favourite quote. It came from my Journalism teacher, Bob Trotter, who would know a thing or two about the topic. I have applied this quote to much of my life. Including last night.

I had TONNES to do. Just got in the door, planning to grab a bite to eat and sit down to some photo editing and writing. After that there was a mountain of house work that I could get in to. Second Born Son had other ideas.

“Why don’t you come outside and do sidewalk chalk with me?” he asked. I was thrilled he had dug them out because I’ve come close on a couple of occasions to throwing them out. It seemed the boys have out grown it.

I had a choice here. Work, or be with the kid. The kid isn’t going to ask me to hang out with him much longer. I’ve already noticed a difference in his brother – damn hormones! Why do I work? To provide for my family. Isn’t my job as a mother include showing my kids how to have fun, as well as a strong work ethic? I’d been sitting at a computer most of the day – did I really want to sit down at one again?

I made a compromise. How about I take pictures of him doing sidewalk chalk? I am, as you know, still breaking in the new camera. He agreed to that – if we talked more about how to take pictures, because he’s going to be a photographer when he grows up, you know! He had already completed his drawing of me. (He always puts long hair on me, and yet as long as he’s been on this earth, the longest it’s been is to my shoulders.)

Then he decided he wanted to play Frisbee. We had done this earlier in the week since it was a great way to get his arm moving again.

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Great trip to the specialist. The fracture has healed and may take care of the complication I mentioned previously. He was told to start moving the arm and we have booked physiotherapy for him. We have one more follow-up appointment, but we are beyond thrilled.

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So we got the Frisbee out. Can Mom still shoot and catch a Frisbee?

For the record – No.

But it was a nice evening, so we spent some time goofing around with cameras, lights and Frisbees.

Then along came Roman…..

Funnily enough, from the day SBS broke his arm, Roman has been patient and gentle with him. He would lick his fingers and sit softly beside him. Now that the collar and cuff are off, apparently, it’s No Holds Barred. (Fear not – this is not the broken arm.)

Then, like most good things, it went too far, and someone had to “Drop the Hammer.”

“GENTLE Roman! Take it easy. GENTLE!”

Before you know it, everyone is friends again, and we are back to the game.  (A Fun Fact for you. First Born Son wore that shirt A WEEK AGO. He got it for CHRISTMAS!)

Speaking of FBS, he’d been holed up in his room working on a Culminating Project – one of three he needs to turn in within a week. Don’t feel too bad for him, he’s only got two exams and has had more field trips in one year than I had in my ENTIRE. EDUCATIONAL. CAREER.

Yes, I’m working on the bitterness…

So FBS came outside for a break and decided to join us, which was nice because he doesn’t “play” often.

We had a delay of game because Roman and SBS got into it…AGAIN!

SBS is the only one Roman treats like a chew toy. But SBS kinda likes it. Except for the dog-butt-in-the-face part. It was obvious Roman needed to burn off some energy, so FBS got out his toys.

Running…running…running….

SBS sat out on this because the ball is heavier than it looks and Roman will MOW YOU DOWN if you are in between him and ball. We watched “safely” from the sidelines.

After a couple of minutes, it was time to get in on the act, and a lively game of Keep Away started….

Before you know it, I’ve got three tired boys! Lots of laughs, lots of photos and lots of grass stained knees!

So, in short, I didn’t get the dishes done until 10. I didn’t edit the photos I took earlier in the week. I didn’t write the story I have ready to go. I didn’t fold laundry until 9.

…and I don’t regret the choice I made last night.