Saturday, May 25, 2024

We've had a fair bit of rain so things are finally turning green.  The down side of the rain is the mud puddles at the dog park that call the dogs, like sirens calling sailors.  Retrievers are the worst, they can't stay out of the water and the mud.  I wonder how much time their owners spend giving them baths.  Charlie is always so much happier when he can just stretch his legs out and run full speed.  I'm happy watching him run like that too and I always feel better when I'm outside, walking.

Today the sun is finally shining so I'm planting the annuals I bought, so hopefully, two weeks ago.  I'm also fertilizing the lawn, picking up sticks that the dogs have pruned off my bushes over the winter and just a general tidy up.  I still have more flowers to plant but I'm waiting on my hubby to finish restaining the the upper portion of the deck before I spread dirt and water everywhere.  

My brother turned sixty at the beginning of the month.  My neice and her partner were here for supper when she mentioned that her mom, dad and brother had all gone on a European cruise to celebrate my brother's sixtieth birthday.  I DM'd my sister in law to wish my brother a happy birthday.  My brother doesn't have social media accounts, my brother is not allowed to have social media accounts actually.  He gets himself and others riled up.

Last week I texted my brother and asked how the cruise had been.  He called me back and we talked for half an hour.  We have had a difficult relationship since mum died.  I was angry with my siblings for a long time after mum died, how little they helped mostly with mum's care.  It seems I am the one who always takes care of people, including both my parents.  

Two years ago I reconnected with my brother and sister in law and my sister in law shared with me how much my brother suffers from depression; he was suicidal for awhile.  I didn't know but then I've never really shared much about my mental health with him either.  He's still a difficult guy to get close to, he keeps people away with sarcasm mostly.  I keep people away by just closing myself off.  I realized we're not so different.

Mostly though I realized he's the only one who remembers what it was like growing up in our house.  My sisters were grown and married by the time we were five and six years old.  I want to talk to him about our lives, our family, what it was like growing up in that house.  We have that connection.  I want to have my brother in my life. 

So my brother and I talked and as he was saying goodbye, he said, "I love you." and I said, "I love you too." and I realized it was true.  Life always surprises me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024


The week in photos.  Jack is home sick with a fever and cough, so not much going on.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

I wasn't feeling well this morning, achy with a mild sore throat and headache.  I was going to drive into Edmonton to get some cooking supplies for Asian food that I can't find in Sherwood Park, but I didn't bother.  I ended up returning some insoles for the big guy and finding two pairs of jeans for myself, that fit and flatter.  I couldn't figure out why I was looking for jeans so much until I realized I won't be wearing scrubs very often anymore and I like wearing jeans.

When I got home, I took a couple of advil and relaxed (sat on my ass, looking at my phone), until I felt better.  I still have a headache but I felt good enough to take the dogs for a walk at the dog park.  The dogs were happy, Charlie found a mud puddle, and I felt better after some fresh air.

Last week my girlfriend and I met up to have lunch and visit a greenhouse on the West End. This friend has multiple myeloma and was telling me how sick she was for the past four months.  She had pneumonia, needed antibiotics and at one point was peeing blood.  She didn't tell me any of this while it was happening, only once it was over.  I have told her countless time to call me and I can help but she's stubborn and hates to ask for help.  I'm not much different but I do force myself to call her when my depression is severe because she always makes me feel better.  

I don't know much about multiple myeloma; it's not a common type of cancer, although we do see a lot of patients with it because they all come for a central line, prior to their stem cell transplants.  I know almost nothing about the treatment or how it kills people, so I looked it up.  Two of the common causes of death in multiple myeoloma are pneumonia and kidney failure.  Fuck, she had both.  My friend's stem cell transplant was six or seven years ago and when this whole shit storm started, her oncologist had given her ten years.  

I never bring up the spectre of death, other than I told her that I don't want to lose her and then burst into tears last week.  I lost another friend to metastatic breast cancer.  She knew she had brain tumours, knew that she would die but chose to not think about, telling me it was how she protected herself.  There is no cure for multiple myeloma, only treatment that will delay the inevitable.  She is in denial because it's how we protect ourselves.

My friend has also been dealing with her sister-in-laws and her dead mother-in-law's will, and my friend has embraced the word cunt to describe these women, fucking cunts actually.  It's not my story to tell but I do agree with her that they are indeed cunts.  

Other things happening.  I had a patient on Thursday, two months younger than me with pancreatic cancer.  When he was diagnosed in February they performed surgery, opened him up and then closed him up.  The tumour had wrapped itself around a pancreatic artery and vein, making it inoperable.  He started to cry as he told me this and I asked him if I could hug him.  I gave him a hug and he just sobbed.

Later that day, I had a patient who was thirty-two years old and twenty-five weeks pregnant.  She had just been diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma.  She has started treatment and they will deliver the baby as soon as it's lungs are developed enough.  The next day, another man, the same age as me, with newly diagnosed metastatic cancer, whose doctor had not allowed him to discuss more than one problem at his doctor's appointment, something that delayed his diagnosis.  And then on Friday, one of our CT scanners was down, and patients were waiting for hours for their CT scans.  These scanners are the oldest in the province and our Health Minister and Premier play the fiddle as health care burns down to the ground.

A photo for Steve, taken in Vancouver.  I'm trying to branch out in my photography.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Change is always hard, at least for me, but I suspect it is for everybody.  Retirement has me thinking, about myself, about what I want in my life, about the time I have left on this planet.  I'll be sixty-two in September and hubby and I are raising a five year old.  We will not be filling our time with cruises, moving to Arizona for half the year or moving altogether.  We will stay here, near Edmonton, because of Katie and Jack.  If we do want to travel, Jack will have to come with us because it seems unlikely that his other family will want to or be able to care for him.  It's not quite what I thought, but it's doable.  We're talking about renting an RV and visiting the Yukon next year.  We'll see.

I want to visit my daughter in Vancouver more often which means arranging child care.

I want to spend more time taking photos and I want to join a photography group.

I do want to do some travel, Ireland, Scotland, Holland, Italy and Costa Rica; I want to take long walks in all of those countries.

I want to learn how to weave baskets, don't laugh, it's true.  Handwoven baskets are beautiful.

I want to take dance lessons and singing lessons.  

I want to spend more time quilting, but only in the winter.

I want to redo the master bathroom and repaint the house.

I want to trace my ancestors back as far as possible.

Most of all though, I want to learn to accept myself as fully as possible.  I keep people at arms length, out of habit or fear or both.  I fear rejection more than anything in this world.  I judge others, all the time, which means I also judge myself, all the time.  I distrust my instincts because I've been lied to for most of my life.  I want to free myself of these, what do we call them?  Bad habits?  Trauma responses?  My personality?  Life choices?  Bullshit?

I want to do better, I want to feel better.  Living with depression means that good days are like a normal day for most people.  I fake it all the time but it's getting harder to fake it as I get older.  It's tiring carrying around this much grief and sadness.  I need to lay it all down, or perhaps bury it someplace beautiful.  I want to let go of my own grief, as well as all of the accumulated grief of my parents and grandparents.  I can't change anything but I so desperately want to let go of it.  

Are there really any people in the world who are happy the majority of the time?  Is this a lie we tell ourselves? Do Buddhists have it right?  Let go of everything?  

On the upside, I'm not alone and humans have obviously been asking themselves these very same questions for thousands of years, that makes me feel better.

Monday, May 13, 2024

I took the dogs for a few walks.  It's nice to see the leaves coming out and the plants coming up.  

One of the reasons I'm retiring early is because it just feels like my body can't do this job anymore.  I'm going to miss my friends and my patients but I admitted to myself last week, that it's just too hard now, physically.  Obviously the solution to that is exercise, which I planned on doing more of, when I retire.  Well that day is fast approaching, so yesterday I found senior wall pilates on Youtube and did a half hour of wall pilates.  Two things, my right shoulder still hurts a lot and I am in such bad shape, but I stuck it out.  The sore muscles haven't hit yet, but they will.  I really want to do this though, not just for my own health, but to keep up with Jack.  When did getting down on the floor and getting back up get to be so hard?  Ten years ago?  Five?  

I took Katie out for lunch yesterday and we had a nice visit, which for Katie means chips and a candy.  I gave her hair a trim, just the bangs and back because she's growing it long again.  I also ordered new kitchen chairs for her because she has destroyed all of her kitchen chairs.  This time I ordered metal chairs.  We shall see.

I talked to my middle daughter as well yesterday.  It was so nice to hear her voice.  She's working hard on her food blog but also taking time for herself, which is why she wanted to quit her day job, for more flexibility.  She and her fiance are coming out in a month to cater my retirement party.  I still miss her but she has her own life, which is not my life.

Last week we replaced our nasty old ventians in the TV room, effectively turning the window into a pciture window.  The pear tree is blooming and I bought some hanging baskets filled with calibrachoa.  

  There's more but I don't feel up to writing about it right now.  Another time.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Spring is finally here.  The trees are budding out, the ice and snow are gone, and we got some heavy rain which was sorely needed.  I took the dogs to the off leash on Sunday and Charlie was so good but he did break a toenail.  He won't let me cut his toenails, even with a muzzle on, so I let them break.  I feel badly for him, but he will not let me cut them.  It's disgusting, I know.

I had a long dentist appointment on Monday.  When I was in Vancouver last month, a filling broke and the best way to preserve the tooth was with a crown.  I've never had a crown before and although it wasn't painful, it took forever and my whole body was tense the whole time.  Although the pain was minimal, just the needles for the freezing, lots of strange things in my mouth, which I didn't like, but needs must.  My new dentist is the daughter of a coworker and is a wonderful dentist, kind, gentle and knowledgeable.  A good combo.  I get my permanent crown in a couple of weeks.

I'm down to fourteen days of work left before retirement, not that I'm counting.  I worked yesterday and I don't know what the problem was but I was so tired, tired enough that I kept sitting down which is not something I usually do at work.  I crawled into bed last night at seven-thirty and slept well until Jack joined me in the middle of the night.  He's got a cough and runny nose and he was so restless, fortunately I'm off for the next week.

Life goes on.  I said goodbye to a patient yesterday.  He's been coming for as long as I've worked in cancer care, thirteen years.  When I asked him how long he'd been coming, he told me that he was diagnosed with kidney cancer seventeen years ago and that the doc had only given him two years, max.  He was telling me about his use of baking soda to change his body pH, seems to be working for him.  He's eighty-one now and the cancer has finally spread to his bones and I'm guessing his liver too, from the colour of his skin, but he had a damn good run though and I'm happy for him.

Last week we put up a new blind in our family room which meant the curtains had to be taken down and washed, which meant the kitchen curtains were also taken down and washed.  And then I started washing windows and sills and floors.  The family room looks much better without dusty, dog hair filled venetians blinds.

My house is flithy due to the rain and mud and dog feet; it needs a good clean.  The dogs need walking. Supper needs to be sorted.  I think I'll turn on the radio and putter, see what gets done and what doesn't.


Wednesday, May 1, 2024

I'm the late nurse this week so I don't get home until six pm, which is when Jack has his shower and gets ready for bed.  Only two more late shifts and then I won't be working them again, so we'll manage.  I went to an information night last week for Jack's kindergarten class in the fall.  We're working on his letters and words as you can see.  It's surprising how many of the letters he does know and once he figures out that they make words, there'll be no stopping him.  I hope.  Jack's father has learning disabilities and didn't learn how to read until he was in grade five; I bought Hooked On Phonics, and taught him to read myself.  The program worked very well and this time I will know what to do if Jack stumbles when he's learning to read.  When my son went to school thirty-five years ago, the school system had thrown phonics out the window and a lot of students struggled.  Lets hope phonics is back in the school room now.

Miss Katie is doing well and here she is with one of her favorite caregivers.  I bought the sweatshirt for Katie because I love the irony.  To be honest though, Katie is much smarter than people give her credit for.

I shot this leopard's bane in Vancouver but I noticed the other day that mine is starting to make it's way through the dead leaves that I pile on my garden in the fall.  I'm a fan of yellow flowers; they always make me happy.  

I have sixteen days of work left which will fly by.  Everytime I go to work I have to ask for more vacation days off as I'm continuing to acrue vacation days, until my actual retirement date.

Speaking of work, things we've had lately.

An older indigenous man who had been stabbed multiple times and shot, when he was younger.  One of the stabbings involved his subclavian vein on the right side of his chest.  He survived the stabbing but that vein no longer works and it is the vein that we use to install a PORT (a type of central line).  He needed a PORT for his chemo but we had to switch things out and we ended up putting a PICC line in (peripherally inserted central catheter) into his arm.  His son also overdosed last fall on opiods.  How do people keep going?

A thirty-eight year old woman, eighteen weeks pregnant, newly diagnosed with breast cancer.  It took years for her and her partner to get pregnant.  Her body is saturated with estrogen and the cancer will take off like wildfire.  She will not see her child grow up and that breaks my heart.

Met up with an old friend, she used to care for Katie, and her cancer treatment is going well.  I also met her husband for the first time (her second husband) and found out that he also has cancer.  He has cholangiocarcinoma but it was caught early, an incidental finding when he had a gallstone and his treatment is going well.

I've been telling patients at work that I'm retiring and it's hard.  Some of these patients I've known for thirteen years, and a part of me feels like I'm abandoning them.  It's also hard for me to hear that I will be missed, compliments make me squirm.  One of the young nurses has taken over charge duty and she's fantastic, and I'm happy to step back from all of that, but a part of me is sad too, even as my knees complain bitterly.  I will miss these young nurses so much.  They are part of my family.  A bittersweet feeling and I guess I'm thankful for that because there has been a lot of sweetness and I need to remember that.