Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My mom moved into assisted living a few days ago. I feel a huge sense of relief knowing that there are other people now helping her and that her meds and food worries have been taken away from her. Well, mostly away although she was complaining that they did not give her the right number of pills in the morning (the rheumatologist lowered her prednisone by 5mg so that is one less pill and apparently the doctor's orders on her vitamins are confusing so the home won't administer vitamin B or D until that gets cleared up).

My mom was walking around the home yesterday and thought someone with a walker was behind her so she paused and turned her head back to "see" if the person wanted to pass her. She kept looking but then thought she was mistaken until this woman called out to her sarcastically "I hope you got a good look!" because she thought my mom was staring. My mom turned back and walked back to the voice and explained that she was blind but thought someone was behind her so she was trying to see if they wanted to pass her. The lady (who had moved in the day before my mom) was absolutely (and rightfully) embarrassed but I guess my mom has now made a friend and they plan to walk the halls together today.

Anyway, I am feeling a need to go visit my mom again to make sure she is indeed settled. But we just had to buy a new dishwasher (it will be installed in 3 days) and really I don't think I can keep spending that money (or time!!) to go. Maybe we will go in the summer?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas is almost here. Jax and I spent the weekend in B.C. for a hockey tournament. They tied one game and lost three but the boys (and one girl!) had fun. We were able to see my brother and his family for an hour or so as well. And we picked up our favourite Canadian snacks like ketchup chips, hickory sticks, MARS bars, wine gums and Canadian Kraft Dinner.

We still have some shopping to do as well which is stressing me out. Not a lot (stuff for secret santa/yankee swaps) but I feel the pressure to get some great gifts. Also, one of the things I wanted to get for Stephen (kitchen knives sharpened) could not get done last week as planned because Cars sprained his ankle and I had to take him to the doctor when I was planning to go to the knife sharpening guy. So, I will just give him a gift certificate for it and find a time to get them done in the New Year.

Ok, off to do some wrapping!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

It is official. My mom has chosen a move date for the assisted living home. Hurray! It is right after Christmas. I feel as though I should go back and help pack up things but I have been there 4 times already this year. My brother, sister-in-law and cousin and her husband will move and clear things out. I am excited for my mom to have less stress in her life.

Monday, December 01, 2014

I am home from my visit with my mom. It was very emotional and upsetting. It is hard to see her so helpless.  Although there are a lot of things that she can do, some very basic things that she needs to survive and thrive are out of her hands.



My mom is obsessed with her medication. She does take a lot - not sure I can mention them all but let's try. Prednisone, insulin, metformin, lovastatin, levothroid, plus some drug for hypertension (not that she has it but apparently it protects her kidneys from complications of diabetes), Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, calcium, 2 different eye drops, aspirin and I forget what else. In total, she takes about 35 pills a day (the majority of them are prednisone which comes in 5mg tablets and she takes 65mg each day). Anyway, it is a huge ordeal for her, even though the pharmacy now puts the pills in blister packs for her. If she were in assisted living she wouldn't have to worry about getting her meds all ready for the next day and taking them at each meal (or whenever she needs to take them).

My mom is also obsessed with her food. Once she has eaten one meal, she is all ready thinking about getting things ready for the next. So, by 6am she is opening a can of salmon for her lunch. It is never ending and really all that she thinks and worries about (food and meds). So again, assisted living will ease these worries and she can go back to having a life that does not revolve around these things.


So, while I was in Toronto I took my mom to her doctor. My mom had been saying for months that "Until Dr. I tells me it is time to go to a retirement home, I will stay in my apartment". Clearly my mom needs more than just "a retirement home" - she needs to be living in assisted living.  I told Dr. I what my mom had said about her not moving until she (Dr. I) said so and that I thought my mom was not being completely candid with her about the number of times she had run out of insulin (injected herself with nothing). I mentioned how obsessed she was with her meds and food, how she was a bit paranoid and sometimes would be spouting some crazy shit (I believe the prednisone is causing some of the mental health issues) like her insulin is being deleted into a file if she cannot test her blood properly or that when my brother in Vancouver calls her house, all of her voicemail messages disappear. The doctor said she had seen a personality change in my mom over the past few months (my mom took offense to this). However, the doctor said that my mom was an adult and if she chose to live "at risk" it was up to my mom. This really resonated with my mom. Really up until this point she kept thinking she was doing just fine, living alone, having my aunt do all of her shopping, taking her to all of her appointments, having the elderly ladies in the building help her out in the morning and evening to make sure she was eating enough (and not dropping her food on the floor!).

After that appointment, my mom did say that maybe she should move to assisted living ("maybe", not "I will"). I had taken my mom to look at one place a couple of days before and she had seen another two weeks prior with my sister-in-law. The next day my mom said she would like to go look at the other place again so we went to look at it but she was not as happy with it as she had been in the past (and she did not like the place that I took her to a few days before).

Then the day before I left, one of the ladies in the building who had been helping my mom out told me that it had been months and the ladies were all older than my mom and they just could not do it anymore. I knew this would happen. I told my mom from the get-go when she said they had all offered to help her. I had told her that it was not like she had broken her leg or was recovering from surgery. This was permanent! And here we are many months later, these ladies are tired and cannot keep it up. It was kind of them to have offered in the first place. But so impractical - on all levels! Then I had to tell my mom how they felt and that was crushing for her to hear. But I think that was also what was needed for to realize that she does need to go to assisted living.

I feel so badly for my mom. I think being blind has got to be one of the most frightening and saddest things to happen. Imagine not being able to read or play cards (two of her passions before she lost her sight), not being able to find something that you lost or see your hands while you try to prepare meals, dress yourself. My mom cannot see the sun or her grandchildren's faces. Imagine hearing a noise and not being able to see what caused it. Dropping food on the floor and not being able to find it and worrying that you will slip on it. Your basic safety is compromised.

So now we will be moving her into an assisted living facility. I think she has decided which one she wants to go to. I am glad she will be safe but I am sad that she will leave her friends behind. The place is not too far from her apartment but far enough for a bunch of elderly ladies who do not drive. Thankfully it is still close enough for my aunt to visit her regularly and my cousin lives just a couple of minutes away. Even my BFF is close by should an emergency arise and someone needs to get over to see my mom.

I hope my mom will be happy there.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm in Toronto, staying with my mom.  I took her to see a retirement home/assisted living facility yesterday.  She seemed put off by it.  She really liked one that my SIL took her to a few weeks ago so maybe we just need to move forward with that one.  They recommend that you stay for two weeks before you go in permanently so that you get an idea what your routine will be like once you are living there. Of course my mom won't consider the two week stay until after Christmas and just the fact that she would be paying rent here in her apartment *and*for the stay bugs her.  She is so worried about money.

I am taking her to see the ophthalmologist today.  It will be good to hear for myself what the doctor is saying because my mom doesn't tell everybody everything and we always have to confer to try to get the real picture. I also am taking her to see her regular doc tomorrow. That one was for me to tell that doctor that my mom is ready for assisted living because my mom kept saying "Dr. I doesn't think I am ready to go in". But again, my mom isn't telling Dr. I everything that is going on.  My biggest concern right now is some psychosis from the prednisone.

And it is 5:45am right now. I've been up since 4when my mom tested her blood sugar with the talking monitor.  Today will be a long day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I am grumpy. I am concerned about my trip to Toronto and how it will go with my mom. I am not happy to be traveling there in winter weather. Ugh.

I am grumpy about our meetings with the financial planner. We thought we were in better shape that we are in terms of money for retirement and the kids' schooling. I am pushing for them to go to school in Canada where it is more affordable but DH wants them to have "an American university experience" which will put them or us in the poor house. Actually, we are good for them to go to colleges in-state but that limits their options. Also, in the paperwork that DH sent to them he referred to me with a family nickname and so throughout the 159 page document that they created they call me by that name and it bothers me. It is not my name.


I am grumpy because I put my jeans in the dryer and they shrunk. They go on and do up but they are about an inch too short now.


I am grumpy because I missed two weeks of my ultimate core class so when I went today it was so freaking hard. I missed them because of the ultrasound on my breast and because I cannot count hours and scheduled my hair appointment last week too close to the class start time and so when my appointment ran late, it was too late to go to my class.


I am grumpy because I hate the book that we read for book club and I have no interest in discussing it tomorrow night. I am sure that people have felt that way about the books that I have chosen in the past too.


Ok, time to do something to make myself ungrumpy...

Monday, November 10, 2014

So, I am headed back to Toronto for just over a week to spend some time with my mom, to give my aunt a break at being my mom's caregiver and to convince my mom that she has to go to assisted living. It will not be a fun visit at all. My mom has already told me that I might not have time to see my in-laws while I am there. WTF?! They live about 3 miles from her. I will be seeing them. She doesn't need a babysitter 24/7. And if she does then that just proves that she belongs in an assisted living facility.  Sad but true.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

With all of the appointments that I had last week (mammogram, woodcarving class, doctor appointment, breast ultrasound, financial planner and furnace guy), I only made it to one class at the gym last week. Then add way too much Halloween candy and a few arguments with various family members = my jeans are too tight.  Aargh!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Whew!

Just plain ol' benign cyst.

One funny is that the radiologist has the exact same name as my dh (first and last but with one letter difference in the way it is spelt). So after he told me I did not have cancer we chatted for a moment about Irish heritage and he said that we (well dh anyway) are probably related to him from way back in their ancestry.

And then I went on with my day.

Get a mammogram.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Darn! I did get a call back from them and I need to go in for an ultrasound tomorrow morning. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, October 27, 2014

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For the past several years, I have had my annual mammogram done in October. Every time I book it, they always make me add a day from my last mammogram to ensure that the claim is not rejected by insurance. So what that means is that my mammograms are now at the end of October and in a couple of years my mammograms will be in November!

Ok, this may not seem like a big deal but it is to me. I like going in October.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Also, it reminds me that I am doing something important for myself. Sometimes I treat myself to lunch before or afterwards. I always wear a pink bra in honour of all women with breast cancer and because of the breast cancer scare that I had 9 years ago. And soon I won't be going in October anymore!  And that bothers me. Stupid insurance.

And P.S. I quite a few mini calcifications on the mammogram images today and of course I have worked myself up today into believing that I have cancer. And the tech said "They will read the films tonight and call you in the next day or two" ~pause~ "if they see anything. Or you will get a letter in the regular mail if there is nothing". Which made me think that she saw something too! It is funny because I have never, ever worried about my mammograms other than the first one after the biopsy until today. Arrgh!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Well it is Friday and this week did not improve at all.  A shooting at a high school in Marysville, WA was just what was needed to push me over the edge.  I spent two hours watching news coverage and crying for those kids and their families.  Our world is insane.

http://everytown.org/article/schoolshootings/


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This has been a bad week and it is only Wednesday.

Cars is not doing well at school and we have been butting heads with his homework. I spent most of Sunday (which was unseasonably warm - abut 72 degrees and sunny!) inside helping him with a board game project (or bored game as he wrote on the instructions and he was adamant that THAT was the correct spelling because you play them when you are bored). We spent Monday night and last night and part of today after school to finish it up. I hate these projects that the kids cannot do without parents.

Monday I woke up with a lot of congestion in my ears and sinuses. Was feeling so sorry for myself. Yesterday was even worse so I have been taking Sudafed like it is going out of style for the past two days. Today while at my "Ultimate Core" class, I could not keep up. My heart rate kept jumping up very quickly way past my max heart rate limit. Finally I asked the trainer if Sudafed could be causing it and he said "YES!". At least I felt a bit better about not being able to keep up but it was very humbling.

My mom has is experiencing some sort of psychosis, probably from all of the prednisone she is on. I am heading back to Toronto for the 4th time since April. I think my aunt needs a break from her and my mom needs to be convinced that she needs to go into an assisted living home. Besides her blindness resulting from Giant Cell Arteritis, she keeps having falls so she has to use a walker at all times. She has run out of insulin a couple of times and has injected herself with nothing (very dangerous!). She cannot manage her phone at all and freaks out when someone comes in to help her and tells her she has missed calls but there is no voicemail. She has had the phone company set her rings to the max number before it goes to voicemail so most likely people are hanging up before it goes to vm (because it rings 16 times!!).

There have been two terrorist attacks in Canada this week and that makes me so sad. Both terrorists were "home-grown" men who converted to Islam and they attacked Canadian soldiers. I believe this is really going to change Canada into a mini-USA.

And I changed my Facebook profile picture to the same one I change it to at this time every year - a picture taken about 34 years ago of me, my sister and two of my brothers around a jack-o'-lantern. It is funny because my smile is all snaggly and I look like the jack-o'-lantern. And well all look so cute and I love it!  Well, my sister, who has not spoken to me since Christmas for some perceived slight or whatever, hit the report button and wrote "Hi Pez, there's something about this photo that bothers me. Would you please take it down? and the photo was attached."  And you know what? I thought F*ck you! She has not spoken to me for months and has the nerve to report this picture so I edited it using MS Paint (I wish I had Photoshop) and cut around her head and took it out. Then I put the new pic up with the comment that my sister reported the picture because she was bothered that she was in it. Then I deleted her as a friend. Well, she threw a fit (probably because a lot of people commented that she was ridiculous) and replied that I was a f*cking liar (?) and then she blocked me. Oh the drama!

I have spent my whole life trying to get my sister to like me. She took great joy in making me feel miserable. We shared a room while we were growing up (she is 5 years older). When she was a teenager and my mom let her smoke (seems so foreign now!) she would run up to our bedroom when my mom sent me to bed to smoke a cigarette because she knew how much I hated the smell of smoke in our bedroom. She used to stir her tea and then touch the hot teaspoon to my hand or arm. She would ask me if I would like to see a match burn twice and she would strike it, blow it out and then touch me with the just burnt match head.

She once tried to throw a spoonful of peanut butter at me but missed and hit my bff right in the middle of her forehead. After she moved out, she would occasionally come home for visits and my favourite pieces of clothing would disappear. I would complain to my mom but she would say that my sister did not make much money (as if I did?!). 

Anyway, I always loved her and wanted her to like me but she never did. I haven't seen her in 11 years and I am sure I won't see her again until my mom's funeral. And I just don't care.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This is a great song. I have known it forever and it is featured in one of my favourite movies - "Love Actually".  Here is a beautiful version of it:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/clips#p0286057

(God Only Knows by the Beach Boys)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Christmas?!

My mother called me in a panic on Friday to tell me that she is blind (duh!) so I must make the Christmas cake this year (fruit cake) and I must start it *immediately* because it needs to soak for weeks and weeks. 

Since Jax and DH love the cake so much, I agreed to make it.  So, I went out and spent close to $50 in supplies (not counting the 8 eggs, 1 pound of butter, 1 pound of flour and 1 pound of sugar that I already had on hand) to make this cake. Of course, because I did not read the recipe properly, I did not get it into the oven until a few minutes ago and it takes 4.5 hours to bake so it won't be ready to come out until 12:30am.

Anyway, I hope it tastes as good as hers - moist and yummy. I used the same recipe that she does but you know some people always change one or two little things so the same recipe made by two different people never quite taste the same.

Also, since I no longer eat wheat, I won't be able to even try this cake. If it weren't so expensive, I would try to make a gluten-free one to see how it tastes ($50 is a lot of money to throw away if it tastes like crap).

Hmmm...now I wonder if she expects me to mail a piece to each of my siblings (and to her!) as she always made it and mailed it. Maybe this is really just her way of saving money! ;)  Just kidding. I know she would totally make this if she could see. So many changes for her since she lost her eyesight four months ago.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Last night was book club and it was my turn to host. We read a book (bio) about a drunk (and recovering) Christian and then the author called us via Skype. It was really fun. I really enjoyed the book (I won 12 copies for our book club from a book club site plus the chat with the author). Her book was really interesting and I loved her honestly and inner "voice". I wish I could write like that (although maybe I need to be a recovering alcoholic to do so?).  Anyway, she was funny, charming and interesting on Skype too.  Good times!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A few years ago I started a new blahg that I quickly lost interest in. I found it again tonight and re-read the 5 or 6 posts that I made. This one made me cry.
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May 11, 2008
What difference did I make for someone today?  If it had not been for me, I guess my son would not have been able to eat waffles at school.  He is terrified to eat food that he does not bring to school and while his whole class was enjoying waffles to celebrate the end of the state testing, he sat at his desk reading his book until I arrived, 30 minutes late.  The moment he saw me he jumped up and ran over to me and lead me to the desk where the waffles were sitting, waiting for him.  They were cold but he did not care.  He carefully poured the maple syrup over them and topped them with the last of the whipped cream from the can.  He was so happy to be eating waffles like his classmates that he did not even mind or maybe just not notice that everyone else had already finished eating.
I stayed until he was almost done and then I whispered to him that it was time for me to leave.  He became agitated and started worrying about the syrup and the whipped cream.  We did not check the labels, he said.  I assured him that it was ok.  He looked down at his plate and announced that he was full and as he stood and carried his paper plate over to the garbage can.  I could see the joy that he had while eating the waffles -  just like all of the other kids - disappearing.  It was replaced with the flat affect he has developed to hide his disappointment.  He had become "that kid with the allergy" again.  And it broke my heart.  It broke my heart.

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Man, it breaks my heart to read this and remember what an awful time it was when Jax would not eat because he was terrified of his peanut allergy. He lost so much weight that year - he was so painfully skinny. He was so scared and I was terrified at his distress and because I could not help him myself. Thankfully a year of counseling, including  using biofeedback, helped get him to realize that his thoughts about food and his peanut allergy were irrational. To this day, however, if he is stressed he will worry about his allergy and if food is safe for him to eat.

If I could have a do over, I would definitely do things differently. Maybe even starting with not eating pb while pregnant and nursing and refusing antibiotics for Jax when he was so sick all the time (colds/ear infections) from daycare.

Although to be fair to myself, Cars also has food allergies and I did not eat some of his allergens (I am not sure when the last time I even had a Brazil nut - maybe in the early 80s?!), he was not sick all the time like Jax (no daycare). He did not have antibiotics as much as Jax (no sickness, ear infections, etc).

Food allergies just plain suck.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' Into the future

I haven't been good about posting on my blahg at all in 2014. I think because I post so much on facebook. Anyway, let's see where we are these days...

School started at the beginning of September. Jax and Dex are both in high school and Cars is in middle school. Jax and Dex seem to be doing well (according to their grades). Dex still spins out of control when he thinks he has too much homework. He cannot calm himself down to really take a look at what he has to do. Yesterday he was freaking out about his French homework and test that was today and he could not think rationally about what actually needed to be done. I had to sit down with him to keep him focused on answering each question. He seems to think that he will pick up French by osmosis and thinks it is cheating or he is "stupid" (his word) if he cannot memorize a word or phrase just by reading it once. And he compares himself to Jax (who is in his 3rd year of French, not first like Dex) or me (who studied French in grades K, 1, 2, 6-13 in Ottawa and Toronto). Yes, of course I know what "Fermez vos cahiers" means because I had teachers say that to me for YEARS! *sigh* In the end, when he came home from school today, he did really well on the test. Which is great but it won't be enough to convince him that he will be ok next time he starts to spiral out of control.

Jax is working hard. I think the school has really drummed it into the students that their junior year (grade 11 for my Canadian friends) is ├╝ber important so he has buckled down to do his work. Not that he did not work hard last year but he seems to be a bit more focused this year. He is also busy with hockey and working at the nearby grocery store. Maybe he needs to cut back a bit on his work hours? It is hard to know what is the right thing to do - work a part-time job or spend 100% of his time concentrating on getting into a great university. There is so much pressure. Figuring out college / university is almost a full-time job and so stressful. Not at all what it was like when I went to school (a billion years ago and in Canada).

Cars...*sigh* He is just himself. He is struggling with not talking in class, keeping his homework straight and passing tests. He currently has an F in Math and Science (same teacher) and a D in Language Arts (although he has an A in PE!). He keeps forgetting to turn in homework assignments, write down homework and he does not put in 100% effort into his work. Punishing him does not work. His cell phone is his currency right now so I take it away from him when he gets home each day and he is not allowed to hang out with his friends after school until his grades improve. And they are not improving! And to top it off, he is being disruptive in Math and Science. Probably his other class too but he has an experienced teacher who can nip it in the bud whereas his Math/Science teacher is a new teacher.  Other than school is he doing great. He is funny and kind and playing hockey and over 5' tall!


Over 75% of the people in DH's group were laid off last month. Thankfully, he was not one of them. Big Bad Software company eliminated his group entirely so about 100 people were laid off and about 20+ were kept but sent to other areas. The people who were kept just happened to be working on certain projects (although that did not entirely keep people from being laid off). DH works very, very hard and was lucky enough to see that one project was important to the company and aligned himself with it. He his now in a new group and hoping that the last round of layoffs will not touch him again.

And me? I spent a week on jury duty at the Seattle Federal Courthouse (drug and gun trial). It was exhausting but interesting. I am still doing woodcarving and working out at the gym but eating enough to make up for the extra calories burned. I figure this year it is my job to help Jax figure out which university he should be going to (I am pushing schools in Canada) and to keep Cars from having to repeat 6th grade (it is the 6th week of school and I am already worried about this!). It is going to be a long year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Last Wednesday, Dex had his braces taken off and his teeth look wonderful! A big, beautiful, perfect American teenager smile. I went back to look at photos before he had braces put on and he had such a huge overbite - I had almost forgotten about that! He had his braces on just about a year and a half and we were told that treatment would be 18-24 months so they were spot on. 
On Monday, I took all three boys to the dentist for a cleaning/x-rays/etc. After they were finished up with Dex, the hygienist pulled me aside and told me that they noticed that his back teeth are not touching so the dentist has emailed the orthodontist to tell him. W.T.F.!!! I cannot believe it!  So, here we are 2 days after the email and no word from the orthodontist.  Dex has a follow up visit in October to check on how his retainer is working out for him.  I think I will call them tomorrow anyway.

Oh, and after Cars came out of his appointment at the dentist they said "We need to talk about braces".

I nodded and told them that he had completed "Phase 1" (palate expander, braces on top 4 teeth) in April and that he too would be going back in October. "Good", they said, "Because he is about the lose a whole slew of teeth and will be ready for braces"...again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I took Cars to the doctor last week because he needed a TDaP shot before he can return to school. They asked if I wanted him to have a physical since his last one was in 2009 (bad mom!). I said yes.
Just before we left I reminded Cars that the doctor would be checking him over - all over. He blanched and said there was NO WAY that she would be looking at his private parts "It is NOT going to happen, Mom!" he repeated over and over again.

Once we were there he told the doctor ...(a female doctor who has been my kids' pediatrician since we moved here 15 years ago) that he did not want her to examine him "down there". She explained how important it was but he just kept saying "I don't want you to! (there may have even been a foot stamp in there). She suggested that maybe he might be more comfortable with a male doctor and Cars declared that he would so we would just come back in December or January (?!) to see the male doc. I explained that because of insurance, we had to have it done today and the doc checked and sure enough the male doctor could see Cars today and Cars was soooo mad. He was even madder when he realized that he was getting 2 shots and not just one (I went ahead and had him get the meningitis shot (not required but recommended).

Anyway, through all of this the doc was great and I was trying so hard not to laugh. Cars definitely has a mind of his own and does not just go along with things because that is what you are supposed to do. It was so funny to see him with his Justin Beiber haircut, flicking his hair back out of his eyes every couple of seconds while looking at the doctor and saying "I don't want you to".

Saturday, August 02, 2014

My mom is trying so hard to be independent and live on her own. She has help from the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) where a guy who is legally blind himself, comes in and is teaching her some skills such has how to cook. My mom has hired a lady in her building to come in a few hours a week to help with light housekeeping, food prep and laundry/ironing. And my mom is eligible for 2 one hour visits from the city-sponsored home care. That woman comes and helps my mom shower. My mom was so indignant when she found out she was only eligible for someone to help her shower because she felt she could shower herself but if she did not accept that help she would have nothing. So her helper comes, gives her a shower and then tidies things up a bit during each hourly visit.
Plus my mom has several friends in the building who have rallied around to help her out with food prep and stuff but that help will wear thin soon enough. It is not as though she broke her leg and needs help for a few weeks. This blindness is permanent and my mom has finally just realized it in the past week. She was so hoping (against all hope) that she would get some vision back but she will not and I am not sure if her ophthalmologist finally told her or that my mom finally *heard* it from the doctor.

I flew to see her for 9 days (10 actually but I left there early in the morning and arrived home late-morning my time). It was so hard to see her blind. Now, she does have some peripheral vision but most times all she sees out of the sides of her eyes are black, grey and white shadows. Occasionally she will see a flash of colour - usually if something is red. Having the peripheral vision allows her to walk around her apartment because she can tell where the walls and doorways are. She can walk outside with a white cane although she has had 3 bad falls (one when she was with me and I felt horrible but she was holding my elbow then the next second she was on the ground! Thank God she did not break any bones).

And yesterday she told me that she had a bad morning because she had found out that she had been out of insulin for three days and did not realize it. She had been injecting NOTHING into her!  She kept thinking that she felt the drop of insulin that she must push out before she uses her insulin pen but apparently she was mistake. She could not figure out why her blood sugar was so high so she finally called my aunt over to take a look and the vial was empty! She was so upset she figured that was the end and proof that she could not live alone.

So, that was not the tipping point but I am sure that it will come soon enough. I hate to be a downer but the odds are stacked against her. She is still on a great deal of prednisone to keep the Giant Cell Arteritis symptoms at bay and that in itself is a problem. Prednisone causes blood sugar problems (she had to go on insulin once she was diagnosed with Giant Cel - before that metformin was working for her), it causes osteoporosis, it compromises your immune system, can cause heart problems and a whole host of other side effects. It really sucks that she will be on it for the rest of her life, especially at such a high dose. All of those side effects too can really help "age" someone and my mom is aging. I mean, she is not young (she turned 79 the week after she was diagnosed) but being on all of these drugs and relying on others had made her seem even older. Again, this whole thing just sucks!

And what also sucks is that I do not live closer so I cannot be of more help. My mom has 5 children and only 1 lives within an hour of her (the rest of us are in Minnesota, Alberta, British Columbia and me here in WA State). My poor mom.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Mom

My mom lost the vision in both eyes (5 days apart). It was sudden and unexpected. We are all in panic mode right now.

She was sick in May with Giant Cell Arteritis (which is a condition related to Polymyalgia Rheumatica - which she was diagnosed with in January). Giant Cell Arteritis is much more serious though because it can cause blindness and strokes if not treated immediately. All indications were that she was on a high enough dose of prednisone before she lost her eyesight - 3 weeks after diagnosis.

So, I was in Toronto in May to help out (right after she was diagnosed but before she went blind). I am going out again in 11 days to stay with her while we attempt to get home care and other services in place because we all hope that she can stay in her apartment and maintain some independence.  What is very unfortunate is that it happened so quickly and completely. She is not visually impaired...she is BLIND. On occasion, she will have some peripheral vision out of one eye and she can see shadows with the other.

I feel so sad for her. I am sad too because she will never again see my beautiful children. Any of her grandchildren. She won't see another sunset or blue sky. She won't be able to look at old photos of my dad. I know it could be worse, definitely could be much worse. But not being able to see is definitely something to mourn.

My poor mom.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Run Run Run

I completed my fourth Seattle Rock'n'Roll 1/2 Marathon yesterday (and fifth 1/2 marathon overall). I am very pleased with my time - 2:55:19.  I am not a runner and when my friend and I started doing these we knew we would be walking.  Slowly it evolved into walk/run/walk and then this year it was run/walk/run. We shaved 17 minutes off last year's time and 41 minutes off our time from the first year.

I contribute the improvement in time to the Total Body Transformation classes that I have been taking at the ProClub. I am stronger. My endurance has improved and I can actually run for more than a minute or two at a time.

Of course on the downside is that I have irritated one of the quad muscles in my right leg (hurt it a few weeks ago and it has been giving me nerve pain and numbness but the doc said it was ok to do the 1/2 marathon). And I have a disgusting blood blister on my right foot. Ugh!

The fun thing about the Seattle R'n'R 1/2 is that there are always lots of bands playing along the route and concerts after the race.  This year was so much fun!  The Presidents of the United States of America played and then Sir Mix-a-Lot - both groups are Seattle-based. So fun! It was a gloriously sunny but not hot summer day (first day of summer). All around a great day!

Now I am all pumped up that I keep thinking about running other 1/2 marathons!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

This Father's Day marks 15 years since my dad passed away (the actual date was June 20, 1999). He died 13 months after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer.  This year is a milestone anniversary but also my mom has been sick and she suddenly and unexpectantly went blind this past week. She is on massive doses of steroids in hopes of calming the swelling in her optic nerve in hopes that her eyesight is restored. We should know more in a few days. 
 
In the meantime, here are some of my favourite photos of my dad.
Jackson and My Dad 1998
Dad bbqing out the back door on Madras Crescent

Politician in Action

Marc, Jean-Paul, Michael, Me, Judi with Dad at Grandpa and Nana's house. We were visiting for Christmas and Nana died a couple of days later. Nana died from the same thing my dad did although hers was called a "bleeding ulcer" in her esophagus. My dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer 26 years later.
 
Dad as City of Toronto Councillor

Dad at home on Madras

Running for office for the first time.  Putting a sign on his parents' lawn on Midland Avenue.

Mayor of Scarborough

Friday, June 06, 2014

Everyday I'm Whittlin'

I am still taking a woodcarving class every Tuesday morning and I am still plugging away at my projects. I am so slow at it (mostly I am afraid to make mistakes so I hem and haw over every move before I make it - do I cut the wood this way or that way? Are the two sides even? What if I do this?  What if I make a mistake? OMG! And my most recent project (that has taken me a YEAR) is made out of yellow cedar which rips and tears and is hard to work with. Anyway, I finally just finished carving and staining it and will paint it over the summer.  Here's a picture:

Ok, it will look much better once it is painted (black and red). 
 
I also finally finished painting the piece that I finished carving last year:

 
My next piece will be a "Cooper" which is like a shield. I think historically they were made from copper, hence the name.
 
I will post photos of that in a year or so.  ;)

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Summer is approaching quickly (less than 2 weeks of school left)! I am excited to have a nice relaxing summer after last year's bathroom remodeling that kept us tied up at home all summer.

We have booked our trip to the Oregon coast which will be fun.  I hope the weather is a bit warmer there than last year! This is a photo of me from last year:

Yes, I really was wearing a knit hat (and two hoodies)! Brrrr! It was cold!




Saturday, May 03, 2014

I bought a piece of artwork from Etsy that matches the kitchen colours perfectly. The seller actually did not have this piece in this colour scheme but she had another where the wood slats were vertical but I liked the horizontal look better so had this one custom made. I love it and it ties everything together.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I have been working out regularly since January and I feel pretty good. I am sleeping better, I am stronger, I have lost some weight, etc.  I still do not like going to classes but once I am there I enjoy them and feel very accomplished afterwards since they are not easy classes.

One of my goals for 2014 was to build up strength again in my upper body.  Since I had shoulder issues and went to PT 1.5 years ago, I had basically done absolutely NO upper body work.  And I was so weak. I am still not that strong but I have reached my goal of being able to do 10 push-ups (from the knees). In January I could not do one.  I can also do 2 regular push-ups and my new goal is to be able to do 10.

Go me!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

We took down our climber today.  Stephen assembled it the first weekend of May in 2004. It was a kit from Co$tco and he spent the whole weekend putting it together.  We had a small section of our backyard at the old house where we thought it would fit but once we had it we realized that if we put it together the way it was supposed to go, it would not fit! So we had to change the position of the slide with the climbing "wall" and voila!
 
This photo was taken the day it was completed.
 
 
When we moved, the lady who bought our house had two big dogs so she did not want the climber.  We decided we'd move it but that was a complete hassle.  In the end we hired a kid who was our realtor's neighbour to disassemble it and truck it the 1/3 mile down the hill to our new house.  Then he and his friends put it back together.  That was 6.5 years ago. 
 
Jax and Dex quickly outgrew the climber but Cars still loved it and used it all.the.time until this past winter when the swings snapped when he and a friend were playing on it.  So many of the boards were rotting (we replaced many of them over the years) so we decided that it was time to get rid of it. Stephen and the boys started disassembling it just before noon today. 

 
Cars got bored and after 2pm went in search of some friends.  Jax and Dex worked with Stephen until 5:30 and the climber is now disassembled and awaiting a trip to the dump.

 
Cars returned for the final photo op.
 
 
What a difference a decade makes, eh?
 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Long Time No See...

The past two months have flown by.  Here's a recap...

My 49th birthday was at the end of March. I am *concerned* about turning 50. It sounds so damn old.  I had no problems turning 40.  Forty was fun and I still felt so young.  But 40 was nearly a decade ago.  When my dad turned 50 (and I was a smart-mouthed teenager), I kept reminding him over and over again that he was "Half a hundred!". He really did not like to hear it and now that I am pushing 50 I can see why!

I had a hard time turning 25 - thought it was so old.  Stephen and I had recently broken up and I was single but always thought I would be married by the time I was 25.  And here I am, staring at 50 and while I am not concerned about getting married, I feel like maybe I haven't hit some major markers or milestones and won't by the time I hit that big 5-0.  Yikes!

A few days after my b-day we left for a visit to Toronto.  Toronto in April is never ideal but Toronto in April during a Polar Vortex winter/spring sucks!  Actually, just the first few days were cold but there was still so much snow piled up in places.  The quadrangle of the hotel that we stayed in still had snow.  The 401 had those icky black ice banks that accumulate along the sides of the road and the parking lots had big, gross, black piles of snow in the corners of them.

But, it was good to see my mom.  She was doing so much better than she had been just a few weeks before. This illness has taken a lot out of her - she has aged incredibly.

Jax turned 16 the day after we got back and we have scheduled his test for his license for May 4th. I am excited and scared for that.  The cost of his insurance will be astronomical and Stephen has spent every waking moment for the past 10 days trying to find a good used car for Jax.  It is getting tiresome.  We are not really in a rush to buy a 3rd car - we just need one by September.  Also, a friend who has a friend in the auto industry said that this is the worst time to buy a car because everyone has their tax $$ back and wants to buy a car so inventory is down (new and used) and prices are up.  I think we should cool our heels until the end of June.

And I cannot believe that we are buying a car for my 16 year old.  To be clear, it won't be *his* car but it will be for him to drive.  Living the OC life here in Washington state. ;)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Feeling down today.  I had written a big long post about why but decided not to publish it.  Just feeling rejected by a family member today and it smarts.

I know that I have to accept that there is most likely some kind of mental illness involved (not on my part ;) but that doesn't make it hurt less.

Ok, off to dream about chocolate to make myself feel better.

Friday, February 21, 2014

My mom has been sick for a couple of months. Several pain and aches and numb hands. She was finally diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica and is now on prednisone (and apparently she has been told she will be on it for the rest of her life).  This condition explains the severe pain she had been experiencing  but not the numb hands so today she is headed to a neurologist to try to find out why she also is experiencing that.

My mom is 78 (she turns 79 in May). She is on so many medications that it is a little alarming. She has metformin for diabetes, thyroid medication, a statin for high cholesterol, a blood pressure pill to protect her kidneys from complications of diabetes, lorazepam as a sleep aid when needed, Cymbalta for pain from her new condition as well as prednisone. I think that is all of them but what a list!  Oh, I think she takes a few supplements like calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 as well.

I worry about how all of these medications mix together and how they might cause other health problems. I read just this past weekend that some people on statins end up with an irreversible autoimmune disease that attacks and breaks down your muscles.

The mom of a friend of mine was having issues with potassium levels (the doctors canceled two surgeries because of it) and it turns out it was all chemically induced by a wrong combination or amounts of her medications.

I hope after today's doctor appointments (my mom is also seeing her rheumatologist), that my mom has no more medications prescribed and that perhaps they can take her off one or two of them - like perhaps Cymbalta - although to be fair I think that Cymbalta has helped with her mood but that could also be because she is not in chronic pain anymore.

And, it is my goal to keep diabetes at bay for myself (it runs in the family - one of my brothers, my mom, my grandmother) as well as to ensure that my cholesterol levels stay low, blood pressure stays low and hopefully the 45% of my thyroid that I have remaining keeps functioning for a good number of years to come.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Finally Finished!

Finally!
 
No more renovations for a long, long time.





Thursday, January 09, 2014

Happy New Year

Here we are.  Nine days into the New Year and no word on my tile. I was hoping we would have the tile installation scheduled already.  My hope is that I hear from my designer today or tomorrow that the tile is in at the distribution center so I can go pick it up and have the tile installation scheduled starting on Monday.  Wouldn't that be sweet?

I received the bill from the designer for her services from October through December 20th (geez, I wish she would bill me monthly because it would be easier to write several smaller cheques than one big one - easier psychologically, I mean).  Anyway, she did not list any extra hours for managing the floor screw up and fewer hours for the painting screw up than she actually managed so I do appreciate that.  She also ate the cost of the extra paint ($60/gallon + tax) and paid the painters an extra $200 herself.  That is something that I did not wish that I knew because it made me feel guilty a bit but really the fact that the cupboard doors and draw fronts got screwed up because the painters brought them back too soon had nothing to do with me.

Hoping to post an updated, completed kitchen photo soon.