Wednesday, January 29, 2020

My dad was in his forties when I was born.   There is a sixteen year gap between me and my sisters because mum lost five babies in that time, due to stillbirths or miscarriages.  A counsellor pointed out to me that my birth was probably a very happy time for my parents, after so many losses. It never felt like that but it put a new spin on things, something I hadn't previously considered.  I have photos of my dad holding me, napping with me but I have no memory of any tenderness from him.

My parents were married during WW11.  Dad was a Canadian soldier and mum was an English war bride.  This is a photo of them probably twenty years after they were married, standing in front of the church they were married in.

Mum and dad in 1974.

My dad died twenty years ago next month.  I never really knew him and after he died my mum told me that I was his favorite which is not something I ever felt.  My dad was born in 1920, one hundred years ago.  He grew up in extreme poverty with an alcoholic mother.  In 1939 he joined the Canadian military to fight the Germans and I'm guessing, to get the hell out of the small town he grew up in.   He met mum in southern England where he was stationed during the buildup of men and equipment, before the invasion of Europe by the Allies.

A couple of years ago, my aunt told me that dad's best friend was killed beside him during the war.  I also know that my dad was terrified of dying because of "things he had done in the war".  He never said that to me, mum told me that.  I told mum that I didn't believe that god worked like that.  The war marked my dad.  He lost of part of himself in that war, the tender, loving part of him that lets other people in.

In my family, we didn't really talk to my dad.  Everything went through mum.  Dad often sat separate from us at Sunday supper, especially as he got older.  I don't ever remember having a real conversation with him during my lifetime which breaks my heart now.  He told me not to get pregnant, that was about it.  He always said, "Geez you're ugly.  Geez you're stupid." to me.  He finally stopped saying that when I was in my thirties when I asked mum to tell him those words hurt me a lot.  I understand now that he meant the opposite but that's not how it felt as a child growing up.  He never hugged me growing up, never kissed me.  I finally started hugging him when I was thirty.  He was surprised and a little pleased I think.

What I remember most about my dad was how angry he was.  I was talking to a young coworker the other day about this, about how difficult it was.  My dad didn't really drink much, at least not when I was growing up.  I don't know what he was like in his twenties and thirties but I think he drank a lot when he was younger.  I probably saw my dad drunk five times in all of my life and he was a very sweet, quiet man when he was drunk.  Living with my dad was like living with an alcoholic though.  We never knew what would set him off.  We walked on eggshells around him

He was often angry but not just angry, in a rage.  He would shake when he was angry.  He would yell, slam doors, drive off in a hail of gravel.  I think his anger scared even him.  I remember his anger.  It was like a fifth member of our family, always there, lurking in the shadows, biding it's time.  When it came it was terrifying.  I was afraid of my father until the day he died and that man never laid a hand on me.

He wasn't always angry but that's what I remember most about him.  He wasn't a bad man but he was angry man.

Anyway, I was telling my coworker about this, about his anger and I said the hardest part was not knowing what would set my dad off.  He would get angry and we wouldn't know why.  He wouldn't tell us, we couldn't fix it.  And then I realized, I don't think my own dad knew why he was so angry.  I don't think he knew how sad he was, how much grief he carried around with him, the weight of it.  He always wanted to control everything.  I do the same and I do it because so much of the what goes on in the world is out of my control and it scares me, so I want a little corner of the world that I can control.  I think my dad was the same.  I think he was scared a lot of the time and he thought his anger could protect him from his fears.

His own family taught him to be afraid and then he went to war which taught him to be afraid and then he became a firefighter.  He fought his fears his whole life but they never left his side and they leaked out of him in the form of anger and rage.  I don't think he realized any of this and I wish he was still alive now so that I could talk to him about it.

I loved my dad, I think.  And I am so heartbroken to realize that he lived apart from his family out of fear, out of grief, for not only what had happened in the past but what could happen in the future.

I think the years after my brother and I moved out were among the happiest for my parents.  Raising children is always stressful and my dad was happiest with mum.  They loved each other, despite all the shit they put each other through.  I'm glad they had that time together before he got sick.

Monday, January 27, 2020

#2 Off leash dog parks.

We've been taking the dogs everyday after work to the off leash dog park.  It's wonderful there.  The dogs run free, except Lucy because she wouldn't come back, but she does enjoy her sniffing.  It's dog heaven and I feel wonderful just being there.  Seeing the dogs running, chasing each other, wrestling and generally enjoying themselves, is like holding a baby;  it just makes you feel good.

When I picked up Heidi's poop I noticed worms in it, moving worms.  I don't mind picking up dog poop, but the thought of worms makes me want to gag.  So I bagged the poop and took it to our vet on the way home.  They were very kind and looked at my bag of dog poop.  The worms were declared tapeworms and both dogs are being treated for tapeworms.  Again more gagging.

All in all though, a lovely after work walk with my hubby, two dogs and a beautiful sky to admire.  I've never lived anywhere else that I can really remember, some time in Germany and then Northern Ontario, but the sky here is beyond beautiful.

So awesome today is, dog parks, vets, tapeworm killing pills and a beautiful sky.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The week in photos.  As you can see Heidi is making herself at home and doesn't appear to be at all stressed.  She is a lovely, sweet dog who also likes to chew the hell out of everything.

We've been going to the dog park everyday which is lovely as the weather is mild and the dogs are happy.  Fresh air is always good for me too.

We bought a kennel for Heidi to preserve some of our house while we're at work.  She's quite happy to go in it.  The bone is our attempt to find something that will last longer than half an hour with her.  Every toy what we've bought her is in shreds and then she moves onto pillows and my grandson's toys.  So far the bone has lasted more than one day.  We'll see.

My grandson spent the night last night and this morning was helping me with the laundry.  He loves the laundry room.  There's a toilet, two machines with windows that everything spins around in, a broom and a mop.  Heaven for him apparently.  He's finally sleeping now and I'm sitting for a bit.

Hope you all had a good week.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

#1  Snow

The big guy and I had a discussion yesterday and he said he thought that sometimes it seems like I enjoy being unhappy.  There probably is some truth to that, unhappy is familiar.  I just finished reading a book by Neil Pasricha, the author of 1000 days of Awesome and other books and I thought that perhaps if I did something like he did, blogged about good things, that it would help my poor brain get out of it's rut of unhappy.  And this is the first one.

It snowed here today, a fair bit of snow.  What I love most about snow is how quiet everything becomes.  It muffles sounds and makes the world slow down.  Snow is a good reason to be a few minutes late for work and a good reason to leave a few minutes early.  After work we picked up the dogs and went to the off leash park.  Heidi loves the snow and I love watching Heidi jumping in the snow, sticking her face in the snow, eating the snow and just generally enjoying herself. The other great thing about snow is it covers all the dog turds in the back yard;  they'll still be there in the spring but the yard looks nicer for now.

Snow is what forms glaciers over time and those glaciers are what provide our drinking water. 

Our water comes from the Rocky Mountains and I've seen where it comes from, a beautiful, quiet rugged place.  Snow melt also provides a lot of moisture in the spring here, for my garden and the farmers who are much more resilient than I am...yet.

So snow, pretty awesome.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The cold continues here but it's warming up today.  This is the view looking to the west of the town I live in.  It's ugly and industrial but it's also part of life.  There's a lot of ugly stuff in life really when you think about it, stuff we'd rather not look at, stuff we'd rather hide from everyone else but it's also a part of who we are.

We officially adopted our new dog yesterday.  Her name is Heidi and she's a sweet dog, gentle, quiet and loving.  She was skin and bones when she was rescued with her pups.  She's gained some weight her foster parent said but still needs a few more pounds on her.  I am always amazed at how forgiving dogs are, even after abuse, even after neglect, they can still love.  They can certainly teach us all a thing or two.  As I write this, she's lying by my feet, quietly resting.

Lucy is getting used to having another dog in the house.  They've been roughhousing and chasing each other which is all fun and games until Lucy's back hurts and then she yelps and everything stops.  The cat stayed in her bedroom all day yesterday, only venturing out for supper and then going back upstairs to her room.  It's like living with a teenager.  She'll come around, it just takes time.

My grandson is doing well.  He's here now, sleeping as I write.  Gracie seems to have returned to the land of the living and is a good mama again.  

I was thinking about my daughter yesterday.  We haven't spoken since August which makes me sad.  She doesn't really like me I realized awhile ago.  I'm too much.  Too emotional.  Too loud.  I share too much.  Too impulsive.  Just too much I guess.  It's how I am.  It's not good or bad, it just is.  Her dad didn't like it either.  I was a disappointment to him and to her it seems as well.  But I am what I am.  I don't feel like apologizing over and over again for being myself.  She was offended because I shared with her about my depression, I'm guessing here, because she only texted that she was angry and hurt and that what I had written shouldn't be out there.  I told her about feeling suicidal and how much a counsellor had helped me.  I'm also tired about not talking about my depression.  It's been a part of my life as long as I can remember and it's something I struggle with everyday.  She didn't like it.  It's so hard having imperfect parents.  

I hope that she gets over it.  I miss her.

In the mean time, life continues on.  I'm reading a book right now, "You Are Awesome" by Neil Pasricha.  It's interesting and affirming; it talks about failing and then changing the stories we tell ourselves.  It's a quick read but it's always good to know that you're not the only person in the world who likes to catastrophize things.  He has some key ideas one of which is adding an ellipsis to your thoughts.  My daughter won't talk to me...  and then adding yet.  It's a good way for me to change how I think.  

In the mean time, I'm going to go and make a loaf of sourdough and spend the day with my grandson.

Take care.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

This is for a certain New Yorker and you're welcome:)

And this one is for me, because age or menopause or anything else I suppose.

I went to see my doc this morning because I've been getting quite short of breath on exertion, like walking in the mall, working, going up a set of stairs.  Talk about making you feel old.  And then I had to get some estrogen cream for places that are supposed to be stretchy but are not as stretchy as they used to be.  Again with the old:)  A prescription and a req for lots of blood work.

It could be worse.  I could have died young.

The weather here is fucking cold as one older patient described it yesterday.  You know it's cold when old ladies say fucking.  It's supposed to warm up but to be honest I'm pretty lucky.  We have a garage.  The big guys does most of the driving and we have underground parking at work so I'm not really suffering.  I haven't been to the mailbox in awhile but that can wait.

There was a lot of ice fog this morning which I really didn't like because you couldn't see much when driving, hopefully that dissipates soon.  We have to watch poor Lucy when she goes outside to pee or poop because her feet can get too cold to get back to the door so I have a pair of shoes ready at the back door in case she needs to be rescued.

It was a weird week at work, lots of strange things but nothing awful.  There was a car fire on a busy road that patients and staff have to use to get to our hospital so that meant a quiet morning for awhile yesterday and then a lot of patients all at once.  Thankfully nobody was hurt in the fire.  It must have been scary as hell for the two drivers involved in the collision.

I'm thankful for a furnace that works and indoor toilets.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Nothing much going on here.  We're in the middle of a deep freeze so we're hunkered down although I did go out to Walmart last night.  Our house is cold at night and I have given every single pair of fleece jammies to my daughter in law where they sit on the floor in the basement of her house, stinking of pee or poop or vomit.  I had no warm jammies for the little guy so I popped out and got him two pairs of jammies with Santa on them for $3 each which was a good thing because he had diarrhea last night and then vomited all over himself and his bed, which is why he and I were in the laundry room last night.  These jammies are not leaving this house.

The little guy is good, except for his tummy apparently.  We have tentative plans and will wait and see how things go.

It's been a sad week in Edmonton.  Thirty of the people on the Ukrainian airline that was shot down in Iran on Wednesday were from Edmonton, whole families wiped out.  I can't even imagine.

This afternoon we're going to go see a man about a dog.  I need something good this year.  Lucy is aging quickly.  Her cough is getting worse and she will not live for a long time.  Her early years of abuse have wrecked her heart and she has congestive heart failure.  I told the big guy I want another dog because I know he will be wrecked when Lucy dies, so we're going to meet a dog that I've had my eye on for the last month.  We'll see.  If she doesn't work out for us that's okay but I think she will.  I have a feeling.  Even though I swore I would never have two dogs again, I miss long walks and Lucy can't manage those anymore.

There is a loaf of sourdough bread proofing, more laundry in the dryer and my grandson is sleeping.  Life is good-ish.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

I'm working on a new quilt right now.  A young friend of mine at work is getting married this year and I promised her a wedding quilt.  Her favorite color is teal.  I hope she likes the colors.  I've known this young woman since I started working at my hospital.  She's like a daughter to me and I'm so happy she's found a man who makes her happy and who loves her as she is.

I've only worked two days this week and I am thankful to have today off.  We were short staffed on Monday and it was awful.  We were so busy we had patients waiting over an hour for us to even take them back to our waiting room where they often need to wait for another hour while they drink the contrast before their CT scan.  There was a lot of apologising by us, not by management obviously, but by the nurses who actually care for patients.  It always seems to be the way in hospitals.

Yesterday was a better day but there was still a big hiccup for one patient.  It was his first visit with us.  Patients with lymphoma and leukemia have a problem because cancer cells like to hide in their brains.  The chemo used to treat their cancers can't cross the blood brain barrier so the chemo must be administered through the CSF, cerebral spinal fluid, if they do end up with cancer cells in their brains The patient comes in, 5 mls of CSF is taken out by lumbar puncture and 5 mls of chemo is administered.

Before we can do this we need blood work to check coagulation and platelets, to make sure the patient doesn't bleed.  Apparently the nurse that the patient and his wife saw on Monday didn't think she needed to do the blood work that the hematologist had specifically ordered so when the patient arrived yesterday we had to get STAT blood work done which you wouldn't think would be a big problem except in a cost cutting measure, all of our coags now go across the street to the University Hospital, so STAT usually takes 2-4 hours.  Yesterday I walked the patient and his wife down to the lab and told the manager herself what had happened and I was deeply surprised to have the results back in 1 1/2 hours.  However, we then need to order the chemo which takes another hour to make.  The patient and his wife were wonderful but I felt so bad for them.

I gave them another lab req for Thursday so that this doesn't happen again for them on Friday.  What's so frustrating is that the patient and his wife had both questioned the nurse on Monday about drawing blood because of the IT chemo but the nurse knew better.  Fuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The lesson here, listen to your patient.

My grandson is doing well.  My son is back in jail.  Life goes on.  It doesn't upset me anymore when my son goes to jail.  The first time he went to jail was fifteen years ago and since then he's been in and out too many times to count.  There was a period when he did well and went back to school and got his Business Degree but those days are over.  He seems to careen from one crisis to another and I am trying so hard not to take responsibility for his fucked up life.  He is an adult and has been for a long time but I still wonder what I did wrong.  I imagine I did lots of things wrong, like every parent that has ever lived, but I wasn't a bad mother.  I still hope that he becomes a good man and father.

It's snowing here and looks like it will snow for awhile.  It's supposed to get cold this week too, down to -30C which I don't like but which makes -15C seem warm in comparison.  The chickadees are busy at the feeder outside the window and there is sourdough baking in the oven, so a good day.

The woodpecker just showed up too:)

Friday, January 3, 2020

There is stuff going on that I don't want to write about right now.  The little guy is healthy and happy and safe.

Yesterday I spent fifteen minutes listening to an old Russian lady.  She spent almost an hour telling people, reception, the manager of CT and everyone else at the reception desk, how hungry she was and complaining that she had to fast for her CT scan and that she needed to see a doctor.  She was frustrated with me, I'm sure.  I told her that no doctor would come and talk to her because she was hungry and wanted to eat.  I told her what her options were, leave now and go and eat or stay and drink the contrast and have the scan.  She liked neither of those options.  The next available scan would be in two months.  Then her story changed to nausea, instead of hunger.  She was a tenacious old lady.  She finally consented to take one drink and then complained about it.  I'm glad she came at the end of the day when I had no other patients to deal with.  I stayed calm, listened to her meandering complaints and then gave her options and let her choose.  She finally had her scan.  All of this happened in broken English with a heavy Russian accent and a translator who had even more patience than me. Part of me admires her tenacity, another part of me wonders if she has brain tumors or the beginning of dementia, and then still another part of me wonders if she just wants some control in her life, someone to listen to her.

My depression seems to have lifted thank goodness.  I know I'm not the only one who finds Christmas difficult but it feels that way at times.  We are constantly bombarded with images of happy families enjoying Christmas and that is just not my experience.  I always expect my family to be nicer, kinder, more loving on Christmas but that doesn't happen and I get sad.  And it's not just my family, it's me too.  I am not a better person on Christmas day, I am still just myself.  I get tired, I get hungry, I get cranky.  There is still laundry and dishes and cooking and shit to do.  It feels like a big lie and then I feel like an ungrateful Scrooge.

But it's the New Year now, the days are getting longer and I'm thankful for that.  I am looking forward to going to Ucluelet again this summer.  The place is just so damned beautiful.  I feel like I can breathe there.

So Happy New Year everyone.  May 2020 be a good year.