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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Training, reading, writing, thinking....



I was sure glad for the start of the weekend yesterday afternoon.  I had a long exhausting week of work and all the other stuff I had to sort out this week.  I had dinner and crashed into bed last night with the thought of my new treadmill looming in my head.  I slept in till 8:15am and then went on the treadmill for 35 minutes doing some heavy duty interval training and then on the universal gym for some leg and arm presses.  I am hoping to do 3-4 half marathons this year but will have to look for some interesting destinations so that is my motivation for training. 

Mom came over for a haircut today and we talked about doing something with the house - or more to the point - that she cannot stay in the house by herself for much longer.  At 81, she should not be living alone. Sophie and I offered her to stay with us but that was the beginning of Feb. and she was not ready to think about that.  I think she's ready to leave now but she still has to decide where she wants to go - to live with one of us or to get an apartment of her own.  We talked about staying with one of us temporarily and deciding later what to do about a more permanent arrangement. She left with no clear decision being made but mom doesn't make decisions that she doesn't want to.  She lets someone else do that. 

I spent some time this afternoon watching some cooking shows on PBS.  It's my de-stressor - to cook, bake and watch cooking shows.  I do have the problem of finding people to give the baking to but those who know me, know that I don't need an excuse to give you a loaf or tart if you so much as make eye contact with me.  I used to like the Food Network but most of the shows these days are stupid and boring and have less to do with cooking and more to do with cursing, competition or renovating restaurants.  

I had a great supper of chicken fiesta which I did not have to cook and I even had a piece of apple pie and frozen yogurt.  I was just settling in to reading a good book on the Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education (that was a bit of sarcasm but I really do have to read it) when I got a call from the hospice to say that Dad had a fall but he was not injured.  I took some Secaris nasal gel for the dry nose he's been having from the oxygen and it fell from his table.  He bent over to reach it and he fell and could not pick himself up so he used the emergency call button to the nurse.  He was more startled than anything else and said that he was not dizzy but then again, he is sometimes confused so we can't be sure.

Donna the nurse said that they would keep an eye on him but he seems to be settling in and calling the other residents by name and is going for more walks now.  He's organized his bed and table with hardly any space in between, that he barely has room to get into his bed so it's no wonder that he could not pick himself up.  The nurses moved the bed to help him up but they had to put it back the way he wants it. They said that he doesn't usually use his call button so when he did, they went right away.  She also explained that if one or two nurses could not pick him up, they would pull the call button out of the wall which would alert other staff members that they needed additional help.  They sure are well prepared for most eventualities.  

Now I can get back to reading my most fascinating book on the philosophy of education.  This is part of the reading for my doctoral dissertation.  It's more provide another reference for stuff I have already written in one chapter and teach about.  I was hoping to have my dissertation completed by the end of the summer but it doesn't look like I'll be able to meet that deadline that I set for myself.  I've finished writing 4 chapters for a total of 350 pages and have two more chapters to complete - one of which is the results of a series of 3 focus groups.  I organized someone to conduct the focus groups for my research but I've been waiting for almost 3 months due to one delay or another on her part.  I will have to cut my losses and find someone else because I don't want to be delayed any longer.  So that's my weekend.  

Sharm posted an explanation of the porcupine theme for her workshop.  If you are interested, her comment is on Thursday's post.  
A GREAT BIG HUG from me to you.
(Someone sent me this so I'm sharing)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cuddling the Porcupine

I went to the hospice this morning at 7:30am to take some dhall, spinach and roti for Dad. I spoke to the nurses - Janine and Margaret - and they said that he had some bleeding and they were not sure if that happened before. I said that it was the reason he ended up in the Riverview Health Centre in the first place – because the bleeding was getting more frequent and more plentiful. While I was talking to them, he came to the nurse’s station to ask them to look at the dressing because it was bleeding. The two of us went back to his room and he complained that his feet were sore. I took off his compression socks and the whole bottom of his feet were red and his heel was cracked. Janine came in and was about to put some cream that Bena brought but one of the ingredients was camphor and the cream was a warming cream so it was probably not the best thing to use when his foot already looked red and irritated. She used some of the Glaxal cream which is generally used as a carrier cream for other ointments and he left off the stockings but his feet look quite swollen.

Janine and Margaret changed the dressing on the tumour and although there was blood, it was not as much as the almost one cup that I had to deal with when he had a big bleed about 3 weeks ago at home. They are now using two kinds of powder to stop the bleeding – aminocaproic acid and sucralfate powder. Then they put some Mepilex bandages which have a silicone tape so as not to irritate his skin. They left part of the face open which appears to be a good thing for drying up the area although it may not be easy for some people to look at. I saw a patch behind his ear which they have started giving him. That’s a scopolamine patch which helps to dry up some of the mucus in his throat. They said that so far, he is not exhibiting any more confusion that what he already has. Another side effect is that it makes his mouth dry and will make him want to drink water which is not a bad thing (except for the dry mouth).  The staff there really know their stuff.  They will usually notice things that was previously left to me to observe and then try to figure out what I was seeing and then ask the nurse when she came for her daily visits whether I was right, then she would have to contact the doctor who would then give her instructions on what to do or write a prescription for some meds until the next problem arose.  The hospice nurses and other staff being attentive means that I am not always left figuring out things on my own.  That has been a huge weight off my mind.  

By the time all that was done, it was almost 9:15am. Then he started in about how he wants to go home. I kept saying that he needs medical help that he cannot get at home but he doesn’t want to hear that. He told me about another resident that went home two days ago but the man was very sick when he got to the hospice and with care and support, he was well enough to leave. The gentleman told me on Saturday that he got sick and had to sell his 4 bedroom/4 bathroom home in Headingly and had to give up his driver’s licence and the only way he would be allowed to leave is if he had assisted living accommodations where he would have at least two meals a day. Dad thinks that because the other resident left, he should be able to as well. He then told me that another resident went out with her family for 6 hours and he doesn’t see why he can’t do the same. I explained that the problem is that he is hooked up to oxygen, his tumour bleeds at anytime and for no reason, he is having difficulty swallowing, he can hardly see from the one eye he has nor can he hear out of his left ear (right ear completely deaf), his feet are swollen and painful to walk and he uses a walker which makes it difficult to be mobile for any length of time.

He wanted to know why no one came to visit him because I promised him that we would come to visit and so for no one has visited. I reminded him that since he went to the Riverview and then the hospice on Feb 1, one or more family members have visited him every day except for yesterday. There are only a few of us here but we manage to visit and take food each time we go. He said that I told him that I would take him home for a visit but I also explained that I cannot do that without jeopardizing his safety and health. He tried a new tactic of wanting to see his eye doctor thinking that if he can do that, he can go home. Going to the eye doctor will be another challenge. He will have to be transported to and from the hospice by a medical vehicle because I cannot take the chance to take him in the jeep and have his start bleeding or worse. Talk about being in a troublesome spot. It feels like whatever decision I make, it will have some negative fallout. I left there feeling like logically I know the best place for him to be is at the hospice but at the same time, feeling bad that he is there and not in his own home.

I came to work and got a call from Sharm who is presenting at the Manitoba Council for Exceptional Children Conference this afternoon on the topic of trauma. Here is the link:  http://www.manitobacec.ca/documents/2011/CEC_brochure_2011.pdf . Her workshop is titled: Cuddling the Porcupine: The Different Faces of Trauma (page 3 of the brochure). There must be a message in there somewhere. It’s for us to figure it out. I was supposed to conduct a workshop today titled “A Focused Approach Faculty Development” but it was cancelled due to low registration. My target audience was the Deans and Chairs of the college but apparently most of them are in San Diego at another conference. I mean seriously, why would anyone want to pick a conference in warm and sunny San Diego and miss out on my workshop in -25C (with a windchill this morning of -35C) Winnipeg? I know if I had the choice, I would be in San Diego too. Maybe next year, I can suggest that I offer the workshop in San Deigo or Florida or the Caribbean. I wonder if the college would go for that? It’s worth a try.  This evening is another long day at work.  I have to facilitate a focus group for some graduates of the Library Information Technology program. That should be interesting.  It will give me some useful information for renewing the program (I am a consultant in Quality Assurance in Curriculum at the college).

BTW, you are welcome to post a comment on the blog – about anything or something specific that you feel like saying.

Take care all and have a great weekend.  
I hope my grandbabies are well enough this weekend for me to spend some time with them.  Look through some of the blog posts from May 2009 and you'll see how cute all four of them are!  I'll have to update my pictures soon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Doing something good for someone less fortunate through KIVA
KIVA is an organization that arranges microloans for people in developing countries who are entrepreneurs but don’t have the usual collateral that regular banks need before they will lend money. It’s the old adage of “you have to have money in order to be able to borrow money.” Banks are in the business of making lots of money for their shareholders and many are not interested in being socially responsible, not unless it enhances their corporate image. The idea of offering microloans originated with Muhammad Yunus, an economist from Bangladesh, (now a Nobel Prize winner), who offered his first USD$27 to a group of women. Often times these people would have to go to loan sharks to borrow money at exorbitant interest rates and then would have a tough time paying them back, leaving many of them vulnerable to physical danger. Entrepreneurs don’t have money to start/grow their businesses and some of the microloans can be as little as a few dollars which is very little money for most of us who live in the developed world (an evening’s dinner at an average priced restaurant) but would make a world of difference to someone whose daily wages could be as little as $1 per day. I remembered reading about Yunus more than 20 years ago and wished I could do something like this. I also read that the other banks practically laughed at the idea of lending to people who have nothing but the payback rate of most of the microloans is about 98%.

Okay so where am I going with this? There is a point, and a very good one at that. Last Christmas I got one of the greatest Christmas gifts that I could think of. Sunita explained it as a "Christmas gift for you but you can't use it but I know you'll love it." Well Sunita, Sharm, Subhadra and Sophie pooled their money together and bought us $125 in KIVA credits. We could use the credits to lend as little as $25 to one person or as much as the whole amount to one or several people in $25 increments. We looked over the profiles of the borrowers and decided to offer $75 to Esther from the Philippines and $50 to Yaakoub from Lebanon.

Within 2 weeks, Esther had already done her renovations to her rooming house but has not yet started repaying the loan. As of today, Yaakoub has paid back 8% of his $50 loan. I will wait for a few months to see how it goes and will definitely add some more funds to what I already have. This is a great idea so if you have as little as $25 to spare, please think about doing something for someone who is truly less fortunate than you and in whose life you can make a huge difference.  Here is the website again. KIVA

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The good, the bad and the unbelievable


This last weekend was crazier than usual. Bena arrived on Saturday at 10am and went to the hospice where she spent several hours. I arrived there at 2pm and we stayed till 4pm. I took some baked tilapia and roasted veggies for him for two dinners and made up some cards with large print to put on his bulletin board because he cannot see what is in the fridge. The cards are written in felt markers and as he uses the food, he can remove the card and toss them but and the food does not go to waste in the fridge. Tracy the chef makes some good meals but ours is a change and more familiar to his palette (at least this is my reasoning for taking dinner for him several times a week).

Dad had a good visit with Bena but wanted to know which night she would spend there. Although it sounds like a good idea in theory, dad's bedtime is around 8:30pm and he has a morning routine that starts at 4am and because his vision in his left eye is getting weak, all lights have to be on like you are in a floodlit football stadium so it would be pretty difficult to sleep over and have any rest at all.

Bena did not sleep over but she visited each day with Mom as did Darwin and Sophie. Yesterday they took two sets of peas and rice that mom cooked but as soon as he heard that we were going out to dinner, he got upset, poured salt all over one container of food and refused to eat it. Bena and mom left and came over to my house - Bena visibly upset and mom crying - because mom had gotten up early to make the food that he ruined and he showed no appreciation for the effort she made. By the time they told me the whole story, I was pretty upset myself. I had already packed a container of herb roasted chicken, bake red cabbage, bokchoy with garlic and roasted veggies to take for him this morning but I debated whether I should even bother to do that. I asked mom to bring in the food that he had over salted and when I tasted it, it was inedible.

I strategized all night (with maybe an hour or two of sleep) and finally came up with a plan. I went to the hospice this morning at 7:30am and took both containers of peas and rice (one edible and one inedible) plus the chicken that I had prepared. When I arrived, he was in the bathroom so I checked with the nurse to see about his progress. She said that he had a good night and had just finished eating his second breakfast - one of oatmeal early this morning and one of dhall and roti just before I arrived. She said he even had two dinners last night so I asked what he ate. She said he ate one dinner with mom and Bena and then he had another one at 5pm. I told her what he did with the one mom brought so of course he was hungry at dinner.

I waited until he came out of the bathroom and told him that I brought back the food he had ruined last night plus the one I packed and he could do with them as he liked. If he decided to eat the over salted food, then there would be no more of such food coming as it is inedible for the rest of us. If he chose to throw them out, then there would be no food coming as he is not appreciative. In essence, we won't be bringing any dinners as he does not seem to appreciate the time and effort that goes in to making him comfortable. The hospice makes good food, so he can have their dinners. I said that we will continue to bring his dhall and roti but one complaint from him and that will stop too and he can eat cereal and toast like the other residents. I also said that I will not tolerate his abusive behaviour - most especially to my mother - and when he feels sufficiently remorseful, we'll come back to visit but in the meantime, he will have to think about his actions and the consequences of his actions. He tried to give me an explanation as to why he ruined the food but I was not really interested in hearing it.

He likes to use the expression "He met his match" so today I reminded him of that, except that I am not his match, I am the brick wall he finally ran into. I am the immovable object that he is not going to find his way around with apologies, excuses and nice words. I reminded him that I promised myself when I was growing up (after a sound beating) that I would not continue the cycle of abusive behaviour and will no longer accept it for the rest of the family either.

I know some of you may be thinking that he has cancer and this kind of behaviour is to be expected but I have to admit that when I saw my sister upset and my mother crying, it just took me back to my childhood when he would do the same thing if he was angry for whatever reason. I spent practically the entire night awake and hurt that he would do this. It's staggering how one small act like that can trigger memories that I did not want to deal with right now. I've learned how to compartmentalize my feelings and I am not ready to deal with this. I am going to take some food for him on Thursday because I promised that I would but in the meantime, the rest of the family will have a reprieve from his anger at us, God and the world for his cancer.

I asked him today why I am the only one he doesn't treat with such disrespect but I didn't give him an opportunity to answer. He knows that I have gone above and beyond what would be reasonable to expect for his care and well-being but he also knows that I will be the one to call him on his silly behaviour when he gets out of hand.

I have no idea how I would handle a terminal diagnosis if I got one, but I would like to think that I would appreciate that I had some time to do the things with the people I love that others don't always have a chance to do and I would really try to live each day as if it was my last. It's been a difficult weekend and I don't expect that it will get better by next. I called the hospice this afternoon and the nurse said that the doctor does not think that dad has thrush after all. It may just be a sore in his mouth from the cancer. He is also having difficulty clearing his throat so they suggesting some kind of transderm patch which may help alleviate the situation but one side effect is that it causes confusion. I told the nurse that he is already confused sometimes and she said that it would get wore - he wouldn't know what day it is and may not remember things which in turn may make him even more agitated. If he does go on the patch and we observe those behaviours (worse than he is now confused) we should tell them and they will remove it and he the side effects should go away within 24 hours. What kind of choice is that for me to make? Either have him have difficulty swallowing or give him some meds that will help him but will make him confused. Sometimes I wish there was one right answer or someone could tell me what the right answer is.

We have not heard from Karran and Kelsey since they left for New Orleans ten days ago so he probably has no idea what is happening over here. They are due back on Thursday but I am not sure if they will go to the hospice when they return or wait for a few days.

In amongst all the idiocy, my grandbaby Sabreena had a stomach flu on Friday and spent the whole evening and the next day throwing up. Then it passed to Trent who Sharm said was whiter than usual. Then Sharm got it on Sunday and she was feeling so bad, that she called and asked me to make some soup for the family so I made a huge pot of chicken and rice soup with potatoes and dumplings. Then it was Sahana's turn yesterday and she had it the worse. They are all feeling much better today but vomiting and diarrhoea sure wipes you out.

Can someone suggest a vacation spot in a nice warm location, next to a beach, with a butler, room service, massage therapist on the beach, where I could just go and veg out for a week or two with no phone or internet? Isla Mujeres sounds like heaven right about now. Or better yet, Santorini (some pics from my October trip)....

Caldera, Santorini


Great seafood restaurant in Fira

The villa I would like to own in Santorini