Suzy Snapper
Monday, February 27, 2006

I'd like you to meet somebody. Somebody you would have really liked.

My cousin - well, technically my cousin's husband Rick.

He passed away of the insidious disease called ALS on February 17 just a few months short of his 60th birthday. I thought I had accepted his cruel fate, but attending the funeral Saturday brought it back 10 fold. No one ever truly accepts the loss of a loved one.

Rick married my cousin, Sandi in 1970. I was merely a year old and don't remember the festivities but at the same time, I don't remember a time when Rick was not a part of our lives. He was vivacious, funny and the life of the party.

He was the king of one-liners, the best at trivia and always had the latest toys or greatest idea to make money. Sometimes they worked, sometimes - like the time he tried to renovate his house without any DIY knowledge at all, not so much. But he never stopped smiling.

They had two boys. Trav is now just about 30 and has already seen too many funerals and loved ones gone in his brief life. He lost his best friend by a drunk driver in 1998 and his fiance in a tragic accident two years ago. As he stood up on the podium on Saturday though, I realized how proud his parents must be of him. Even through his grief, he had us laughing at his Dad's exploits. 'I'm going to write a book one day', he promised. And I hope he does.

Ty, the younger of the two, shares my birthday. He wasn't able to get up in front of the 500+ people who packed the service to say goodbye, but we all knew his grief. We could see it etched in his face. No one should have to bury their parents before they finish their first quarter century.

Sandi, always the epitome of grace and dignity said a few words. Knowing how nervous she was, but not seeing it at all as she stood up to tell us of their last years together. They had a bond that few ever experience, yet my family seems to have been blessed to see several times over. Soulmates. 8 years ago, Sandi was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. However, she has taken her treatments with a smile and until recently, continued to work in the medical field. She made it look easy, yet we all knew it has not been.

5 years ago, Rick and I had a conversation about it and he said he could never live without her and seeing her suffer was the hardest thing he'd ever had to deal with. 'It's her strength that helps me though', he smiled, 'She teaches ME how to do this'. It was a rare moment in time when he was very serious and I was touched deeply. It was 6 months later that he was diagnosed with ALS, a moto-neuron disease that robs one of all muscle use. The mind stays perfectly clear while the body dies piece by piece.

He tried everything he could, and yesterday, I found a lot of posts in forums for ALS written by him that detailed his struggle towards a cure. It's a disease that does not get the funding that is required, yet 11 people die of it every hour in North America. To hear his voice in those forums get increasingly frantic was hard to bear, and I know beyond anything that he fought a good fight.

Even through all this, he kept his humour. His son told us a story on Saturday of him coming out of a restaurant last summer, just before he lost use of his legs and was very unstable. His left leg began having tremors and he was struggling with each step. A young couple was walking into the restaurant and he turned to them and said 'Watch out for the clams. I think they're off tonight'. Always there for a smile, that was Rick.

His brother told us of times in the hospital that they set up his voice computer to shout rude comments out as people stopped by. The nurses had come to expect a taunt from a monotone voice, while a paralysed Rick with gleaming eyes laid close by.

When my cousin got up to the podium to eulogize, a soft hush came over the crowd. This was as much her eulogy as it was his. We knew it. She has held herself together to nurse her husband in his final days and now her illness will take forefront. There was not a dry eye in the house when she sat down, but knowing her I'm sure that would have bothered her more. This was about him, not her.

500 people were there. 500 family and friends. It was an amazing scene, and one I was proud to say was my family. We met people we knew from the local stores, the neighbourhood and just around that we had no idea knew Rick. The world is a small place, especially when such a giant of a man walks with us.

McD _ Rick passed away peacefully on February 17, 2006, surrounded by his devoted family and friends. He is best remembered for his love of family and friends, his love of sports, his love and knowledge of 1960's music and old movies, and his quick wit and sense of humour. When ALS took away his ability to participate in the activities he loved (tennis, squash, jogging, travel) he managed to maintain his courage, optimism and, always, his sense of humour. People loved to be around Rick, and his passing will leave a huge void in the lives of all those who loved him so dearly.

A guestbook has been opened in his memory.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Home and resting
Thanks for all the kind wishes and support - what a wonderful surprise to make it to the computer and see the wonderful friends that are in the blogging community.

I'm home and sore, but better than I had anticipated. The knee is quite swollen and feels like I've definitely been operated on, but the chronic sharp pain that I've been experiencing is gone.

I'm not finding it very comfortable up at the computer though, so it will be a few days before I can get back into the groove. So on that note, thanks again and I will return in a few days.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Vegas and Scalpels
I'm home. I'm exhausted but I'm home.

I will write a proper report later, but it has been an adventure trying to get home whilst being unable to walk. Thankfully, there was so much good about the trip that I will likely forget the horrendous experience I had in the Vegas airport.

It was fantastic to meet Teresa for the first time, and an amazing weekend overall. Not to mention catch up with friends I haven't seen for the better part of a decade in some cases. I took a lot of pictures and when I can, I will put them up. For now though, it's all about tomorrow's main event.

Surgery is at noon tomorrow. I am somewhat apprehensive but am glad to say it is finally going to be moving forward to recovery. However, having said that, my computer is upstairs in my house and I won't be around it much for the next few days. Wish me luck! =)

Also, in other news, my cousin passed away Friday evening of ALS. It has been a tough road, and while I will miss him immensely and am very saddened by his loss, I know that he is no longer struggling and that is a true blessing. Funeral is Saturday, so I am hoping to be mobile enough to pay my respects then.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
No Rest
No rest for the wicked, they say.

I'd like to think I'm not wicked but there definitely isn't any slow time!

I went to see the private surgeon tonight. He took one look at the knee and said 'My dear, you need this surgery now, not later'.

So I am booked into the OR for Tuesday afternoon. I will be flying home from Vegas on Monday evening..will be able to have one big meal and then will have to fast after midnight.

I will go to work Tuesday morning, and then have the operation on Tuesday afternoon. The recovery is better than anticipated. I should be back to work on February 27 - just 3 days off.

It's good to know it will be over soon, but wow, a lot to get my head around in a short amount of time. The difference between public and private care is just not even in the same hemisphere.
In the continuing trend that is my week, my brother had to put his dog down yesterday. We are all devastated. She had cancer and had lived a very good life.

Bailey came to us unexpectedly 10 years ago this May. On a day that was full of trauma and drama, my niece was injured by an errant baseball. She caught a line drive right in the face and suffered severe lacerations and broken nose, cheekbone and eye socket. She was just 14 years old and it was a life changing event.

That night, once she was home and safe, but very uncomfortable, her aunt called. Somehow, someway a pup had been found abandoned in a house not far from where she lived. The black-and-tan pup was no more than 2 weeks old, dehydrated and shivering and given the events of the day, her Aunt felt it might be a fitting end to a terrible day for both Shan and the pup.

The little wee pup, a rottweiler, had to be fed at first through an eyedropper because she was so little but Shan took to it like a born mom. Long before she was a mom herself. She decided to call her 'Bailey', as that was her favourite character at the time on TV - 'A Party of Five'.

Bailey grew up to be the sweetest, most loyal companion anyone could ask. She had the most soulful eyes and just begged to be a lapdog. She did have some medical problems, including hip dysplaysia and some abandonment issues but never once did she show aggression or any sign of a bad temper.

When Bailey was 4, my pup was found also under bad circumstances. I had no home at the time and was in the process of moving, so my brother took Molly to his home and Bailey became her surrogate Mom. They went everywhere together and were great friends. But Bailey also told her stories. Molly, to this day, thinks she's a Rottweiler and not a Border Collie.

A few months ago, Bailey seemed to be shrinking. She wasn't complaining and showed no outward signs of problems but she just didn't seem right. Visits to the vet showed nothing of concern. But then last week, that changed. She couldn't keep any food down or in.

My niece called me yesterday frantic. Bailey was in terrible pain, and vomitting blood. Poor Shan was doing her best to keep the kids from seeing the trouble - as Hayley's now 4 and will remember this. My brother took off from work and came home. It was nearly too late and Bailey collapsed in his arms on the way to the vet. The cancer had voraciously attacked her and there was nothing to be done but to save her from her pain.

Hayley has so far only asked once where her 4-legged best friend is. 'Bumpa, where did Bailey go?', she asked with the innocence only the young can.

'Well, Hayley, Bailey was very sick so she went to Heaven where she won't hurt anymore'.

We all held our breath as she contemplated the development.

'Ok, Bumpa, now will you play Barbies with me?'

I guess the questions will come later. We will all miss Bailey so much, but I am only thankful she is not suffering anymore.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Beyond the moon
Forgive me, father, but I have sinned. I have not had a vacation in 20 months.

I used to be a consistent and insatiable traveller. I had big vacations and adventures every year. And one year, I was fortunate enough to go somewhere new each month of the calendar. That was a good year.

I love travelling. I love meeting new people. For some reason, when I travel, I feel so free - so unencumbered by the experience that I come out of my self-imposed shell. It's an amazing feeling.

Many times, my life gets complicated by family matters, or health matters or just plain old crazy hectic life. It seems that I have found myself in the role of being there for my family and friends - and while I love it, I also love to get away periodically for me.

This Friday, I will fly to Vegas. It may be only 4 days, but it is long overdue and much anticipated.

Not only will I be meeting the sweet Miss Teresa for the first time in real life, I will also be catching up with some old friends I haven't seen in far too long.

Just about 10 years ago, when the internet was new, I belonged to a mailing list for the TV show, Friends. It was a new experience and at the time, I likened it to the penpals I had as a kid. The list eventually went to it's demise but a few of us kept in contact.

There were about 25 of us from the world over that kept a little group alive, and became very close. We kept it a closed group and for the past 10 years have emailed each other daily. That core group has continued on to become part of each other's lifes. Through the past decade, we've shared marriages, births, deaths and divorces.

However, the miles between us separate the chance to see each other very often. Now with kids, and responsibilities, the meets that used to occur yearly are now every few years.

This weekend, we will be able to finally get together and for some of us this will be 7 years between meets. I last saw Wendy at her wedding in '99 and that was not a good visiting time as she was so busy. Her best friend, Ann Marie was introduced to our little group at the wedding and has become one of us. I have also not seen her since the wedding, but will meet her new husband for the first time this weekend as well.

Kelly is an adorable friend, who not only writes a column for a newspaper but is a great friend who is there when I need it or vice versa. I have not seen her in person since another friend's wedding in 2002.

And of course, Teresa from San Fran. I am fortunate to see her much more often, as we live relatively close. She came up to visit me last summer and it was one of the highlights of my entire year. She is actually flying back from visiting family in England the day before, only to hop on the next plane to share the weekend with us.

This time, though, I am pleased to have Teresa - our resident Cool Single Mom - join our group. While we've all known each other for a long time, it's always a great experience to introduce a new friend to the group.

A long, long overdue vacation. And I just cannot wait.
Random Complaint #42456
Just had a call from my sister-in-law in the hospital. She says she feels better than she has in years! It felt very good to hear her voice...and even better to know she's not in pain.

She'll be at a remote (to us) hospital for the next 2 days and we won't be able to get up to see her. Once again, although the medical system will certainly be there when you need it, you don't really get a choice of where. The hospital she's currently at is at least an hour's drive, and in an area that costs $12 to park for half an hour. There is a cheaper parking lot but it's a 6 block walk, and not something me or my mother could accomplish. Thankfully, her stay will be relatively brief. Even though she has had major surgery, she will only be in the hospital for just over 48 hours. She'd come home today, if she could though - considering they are building a new hospital wing and the jackhammers started at 6am.

So my mother and I decided to send her flowers. Great idea, right?

I called the florist and her silence on the end of the phone puzzled me. Then it clicked. Not a good day to place orders for flowers - even for hospital deliveries.

Busiest day of the year, she said. If you haven't called before now, you're not getting any today, I was told.

So I guess flowers will have to wait until she comes home. It's just so hard to be here and not be able to visit her when she's always been there when I've been sick. Damn V-Day!

This has never been a particularly happy day for me. At least when I was single, there was no expectation and therefore, no disappointment. But it always left a bit of a taste in my mouth.

Reading Teresa's post this morning opened my eyes and made me see things in a different light. If you haven't read it, go do so! It will put a smile on your face.

I am a firm believer that a certain holiday should not force someone to recognize a situation. That should happen every day. Or any day. Just because. Of course, there is a little part of me - the part that tears up at Love Actually and smiles at romantic movies - that buys into it in full. Unfortunately, life is not a movie and I learned that long ago.

Last night, I went out for dinner with S. We had a beautiful romantic dinner at a little bistro and talked on and on. It was wonderful. And exactly how I wanted it. Not on THE day, but just because. It was a spur of the moment idea, brought on by the events of yesterday.

He has been offered a position at our sister facility in Seattle. It's only 2 hours away, and yes, very doable. But the long distance thing is a difficult road. I've failed at it 3 times and I am hesitant to consider it again. However, the position is only a 6 month term.

We have truly only been together for such a short time that it is much to early for these decisions to be made, nor even discussed. It has put a fly in the ointment and put some deep concerns out in the forefront.

However, I was buoyed by the fact that he was touched I'd be so upset about the thought of him leaving. Even his best friend seemed to be pushing him away and his brother too. Meanwhile, I'd told him I didn't want him to leave. It put him in a quandry. The decision has been left in his hands, and I have said my piece. We now must let what's meant to be be.

More later....but on a quick note, my sister in law has made it through the surgery. Minor complications but end result is that she will be fine.
Monday, February 13, 2006
And while we're at it
There's a couple other stresses going on as well, that unfortunately are weighing heavily on my mind today. I haven't blogged before about them too much, mostly because I am consciously trying to have a positive happy place here.

About a month ago, my sister in law D went in for a pelvic exam. She's 51, and has been having some pain - but as she had previously had a hysterectomy about 10 years ago, didn't really think too much about it. She's been married to my brother for 34 years and has been in my life since the day I was born and is much a sister to me as one born to my family.

The doctor did his exam, and found a mass. It was not small and subsequent tests showed a tumour of at least 8cm in size resting on her left ovary. They believe from all accounts that it should be benign but until they remove it, they can only suggest but not guarantee.

She went in for her surgery this morning. It began about an hour ago and we're not expected to hear for another couple of hours. This weekend has been so frenzied for her, as she dealt not only with her own worries and fears but also made sure her husband and boys were fed for the next week. To be honest, my brother's lack of ability in helping her has not impressed me nor has the lack of initiative of her grown sons, but that's another post in itself. In the meantime, any good vibes or prayers needing a little direction would be much appreciated.

The other situation involves my cousin, R. He has ALS. About a month ago, things became critical when he had to be fitted with a breathing apparatus and feeding tube. It has been heartwrenching to see this vibrant man go from an amazing tennis player and world traveller, to a shell of himself. Even more so, to know that his mind is still strong and that he knows all that is happening while his body folds in on itself.

He has now been in a coma since the middle of last week. On Saturday, his eldest son flew home from Toronto to be with him in his final hours and it would seem that R had been waiting for that. His coma has now deepened, and we are now told it will be hours not days until the end. I only hope that he is put to rest soon and gently. There is no cure, no help and no improvement even possible for him and I know he has lived a good life.

So with that, my mind is definitely wandering today. My heart is heavy, but I am taking solace in the serenity prayer. Accept the things you cannot change.

Update: No word yet on either R or D, but my day just took it down a notch as far as bad news. Guess who just got offered a job in Seattle? Not me, but pretty much the only person here that makes me want to be at work. He just got offered a very sweet position - with a promotion. I finally find someone locally here who makes me happy, and now he's moving away. Yeah, just my freakin' luck.
Round 1
For those that are walking with me today in spirit, I thank you.

Round 1 complete. I had the first go-round with my boss and told him I felt that I was beyond overwhelmed, and that things were not going in a way that was beneficial to either myself or him.

I offered my resignation.

He declined it. He gave me a big speech on how he thought I was a valuable member of the team, and that he knows this has been a trial by fire. That it was almost expected as a rite of passage in this company to hit the wall with stress before coming past it and being part of the group.

I told him there were much better ways to do it, and that I was not appreciative of the situation. That I was seeing too much money and time being spent on non-value added activities, and as someone who has to answer to that, I was not impressed.

He has promised to get help for me. He has also promised to communicate better and try and follow through with what he requests.

So we are at a stalemate. I have told him I will give the situation a chance, and we will have a cooling off period.

Meanwhile, why did I wear mascara today of all days?
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Oscar worthy?
Brokeback to the Future.
Just don't call me Barbie

I'm a Chevrolet Corvette!

You're a classic - powerful, athletic, and competitive. You're all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

When all else fails....

Remember there is beauty everywhere.

After working 6 hours yesterday, and still feeling like I'm farther in the hole than I can dig myself out of, this was my view as I was driving home. There is nothing that can put a smile on my face quicker than the sheer beauty of a sunset.

Thank you, Devon and Teresa, for your much much needed kind words. I felt (and still do) very overwhelmed by this whole situation, but am now feeling it may not be hopeless. I know what I need to do, and now just must do it.

Wish me luck tomorrow. I may need it.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
It has been a very frustrating few days, weeks or months depending on how one looks at it. While things personally are going just peachy, there is an element of my life that has become a bit of a trainwreck. No pun intended.

I began this job I now have in April as a temporary employee. It was to be a 6-month maternity leave cover for a much loved, long term staff member. It was like walking into a place mid-sentence and very overwhelming. I had two weeks' training for a job that was multifold and very busy, but also integral to the function of the business.

After she left, I found it to be a very tight community. Friendships had formed so deep, I found it very difficult to break the cliques. For the first 6 weeks, I spent my breaks sitting under a tree reading as I watched everyone leave for lunchs together. There are many tight ties there and weekends, evenings and pretty much any free time, you'll find a few employees together.

But time wore on, and I began to enter the group. I found a couple people who've I become close friends with. One obviously more than friends, but that has been kept as quiet as possible considering how close the whole company is.

The job though was proving to be much more involved than I had anticipated. Nothing I couldn't do, but the shear volume of work expected was overwhelming and varied. Not just purchasing, but I was also expected to head customs work, janitorial contracts (including hiring and firing), and just about anything else they could throw on the new girl. The man I report to is an amazingly intelligent man, but his communication is poor. He and the lady I was replacing had a bit of a bond where she could finish his sentences...I do not have that.

But I told myself it was for 6 months, and no big deal. But 6 months came, and she decided at the last minute to stay at home until the end of the year. Ok, I told myself 8 months and then a new year and a fresh start. But as those days clicked closer to the end of the year, I was told nothing. Did I have a job? Were they working something out for me that was more tailored to my skillset? The lip service was telling me not to worry.

Then mid-December, I was asked to stay until May. Or should I say, I was told I was staying until May. There was no negotiation. This job, as a short term contract, pays significantly less than the going rate and has no benefits. Both things were ok, for a short time but not acceptable for a full time job.

It's now February. The job has morphed into extremely long hours (like 14 hours a day) and weekends just to keep up. I cannot get everything done, and have been told this is the busiest they have ever been. I have had several meetings with my boss that I was overwhelmed and that I needed help. He agreed but nothing was done and the load increased.

With it, the new products that I just have no way of learning and no minute to spare to ask questions. Yet, I am still expected to answer for things that I have no way of knowing. For example:

'Why did we spent $300 for those spikes?'
'Because that's what he quoted me and what we've paid at the other plants'
'Well, we paid only $25 for those up until 2001. What happened?'

Keeping in mind, my files only go back until 2002. Or my boss will email me something that says 'That order you placed? Can you increase to 4?'. No details on which order and well, I place upwards of 40 a day.

Yesterday, things came to a head. I have missed some large orders. While I am frustrated and mad at myself, I do take responsibility but the fact remains I cannot do more than I am already doing. I do nothing but work. 80+ hours a week, and with no overtime pay, it's a lot to ask. I have become so involved with this job, that I have had to cancel social events and miss family time. I have no time to do anything I love anymore - including my photography nor my writing. I have made mention of that to my boss and was just told That's what (company name) is like. Get used to it".

The problem I find myself in is two-fold. I don't quit. It's not something I have ever done. When things get tough, I get busier. I find ways. To leave something, especially when I know they need help, is very difficult for me to swallow.

And then there's the knee thing. I cannot look for a new job when I cannot walk. Or maybe I can. I just don't know.

But the fact remains I have been mandated an impossible task, and have no recourse. I am not able to provide the level of service they need and I know - both financially and emotionally - that this job is not my career, but merely a stepping stone.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
It has been a bit of slow few days and I haven't had a chance to update things either. After figuring out the private health care route, I can do no more than just sit and wait now. Had a very severe weekend, and the pain was very intense so I was not able to get up the stairs to the computer.

The Superbowl was great, although I must say I enjoy watching it with friends. My brother, being a HUGE Steelers fan for nearly 30 years was overjoyed. He had the grandkids all dressed up Steelers gear, and had taken the day off for the occassion. I was invited out, but it's a 45 minute drive and I unfortunately was unable to make it this time. However, thankfully there are speaker phones!

However, we experience a large windstorm in the area on Saturday that caused massive damage. Some areas were evacuated and there was widespread flooding. My brother's house was out of power for 12 hours, and another friend for 18. I was out for just over an hour, but it was in the middle of the night and didn't cause me any huge problems.

My friend L had a terrible experience though. They had a 130-ft. tree come down just 5 feet from their bedroom window. It took out two windows, a gazebo and the power, telephone and cable lines. She says the sound of it coming down was more than she could ever describe, nor would ever want to hear again. They lost 4 trees in the storm, but it was the 130 ft one that caused the most damage.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Making the Decision
Getting over the shock of the utter betrayal of our medical system has begun and I've started my Plan B.

Firstly, I will be going to Vegas. That's not a negotiation. I am going no matter what. It is just far too important to me.

After speaking to a variety of sources, I found that the injured surgeon is actually out 6 weeks. There is no plan in place, and no substitutions available so basically, the approximately 200 people this man had in the queue for surgery are now effectively held hostage by his situation. There are currently 8,000 people in varying stages of orthopaedic disability currently awaiting surgery in our local area from only a mere handful of surgeons. Given that there is very little money for operating room time and the average surgeon - at best - can only do 5 patients a week, the situation is less than promising.

Our medical system has been quietly deteriorating for some time. We were once the envy of many nations for our socialized medicare. I was raised on the story of how fortunate we were to be Canadian. My American uncle was bankrupted when my cousin was in an accident that left her a quadraplegic. My Dad would often remind us that no matter how bad things got, we would always know that our health would be cared for and that we would not lose our worldly possessions to have basic care.

I have had many occassions over the years to require medical care. While overburdened, I knew that if I truly needed care, it would be there for me when I needed it. I was shocked though, in December '04, to find that it may not have been the case. I was left in a packed waiting room for 6 hours, quietly going into shock from a damaged kidney and experiencing taccycardia while they waited for room to admit me. While I lay in the fetal position on a bench in the waiting room, periodically being checked for vital signs by a nurse, another lady with me suffered a ruptured bowel after having waited for 12 full hours. When I finally was admitted, I found my hospital bed covered in spots of blood but was still expected to occupy that bed. It was then that I began to lose faith in our system.

Having said that though, during this whole trial with my knee, I chose to be polite. Wait my turn. Do what was necessary. All the while, very conscious of the fact that while I am definitely having a difficult time coping, there are many others in worse situations than I.

Yesterday, after the initial bad news, I began to look into private care and was amazed at the underworld culture of our 2-tier medical system. It is an organized, professional world that fills one with hope and confidence. But it does not come cheap.

I will be going to the best orthopaedic surgeon in Vancouver, bar none. His services will put me back $5,000. No small amount, but given that my life is so limited because of my injury, not a choice. I simply cannot wait until May. It is already close to 8 months since the initial injury. A recent checkup did not offer good news. From having had a significant limp, let alone the chronic pain of this injury, I am now beginning to show signs of long term damage. Atrophied muscles in my calf and thigh, compromised lymphatic system and poor drainage (not to mention an absolutely HUGE ankle). At best, I will have a challenging recovery to get my leg back in shape once I am able to bear weight. At worst, I may still develop bone spurs or osteoarthritis from not having this taken care of in a timely manner.

When I first heard the cost of the surgery, I felt ill. I am not wealthy, by any means....and while not entirely poor, it was still out of my budget. However, last night, I had a "Pay It Forward" moment that still leaves me speechless. My family has banded together to pitch in the money. I have cried many tears over that in the last 24 hours.

A few years ago, I was entirely fortunate enough to have some stock options that paid handsomely. Enough to set up my nest egg, and a little more. I chose to help my family out of some financially tight spots and it was the most fantastic feeling in the world to be able to help them. I never expected anything in return, as that's what family is for and I was in a situation where I could do so. But that money is now long gone, and I have bills just like everyone else. After being laid off last year, I now have a job that pays much less than I used to and also one that does not offer benefits. That means my expenses have gone up a few hundred dollars just for basic requirements. Again, I'm not hurting but I certainly don't have a lot extra.

My parents called last night to offer their financial support. I have been proud of the fact that I have never asked my parents for one dime and it was a hard pill to swallow. But when my Mom said "Your Dad wants to do this. Don't disappoint your father.", I felt it difficult to say no. It still doesn't sit well, but I am entirely grateful that my parents and my brothers have done this to allow me the chance at this surgery. Actually, my words don't even come close to how I feel. I am in awe and feel at a complete loss. I never gave that support years ago to get it back, yet it is entirely wonderful that they could help me back when I need it most.

I see the surgeon for the consultation on February 16. With luck, the surgery will be rescheduled for 7-10 days after that. Fingers crossed, I could still be on the road to recovery by this time next month.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
You have GOT to be kidding!!!!
The phone just rang and it was the surgeon's office.

I picked it up, figuring they were giving me a time to be at the hospital next week.

Imagine my shock and horror to hear 'I'm sorry, but we're cancelling your surgery.'

"You are what? You've got to be kidding!"

Apparently the doctor is cancelling his surgical time because of illness. I am looking at May before they can rebook.

What are my options? I have none, according to the medical assistant. Because I am already in the queue with this doctor, I cannot be easily transferred to the other one (yes, in this town of 180,000 people, we have only 2 surgeons available to us).

I told her I cannot function any longer being on crutches, and at the detriment of my job. She was unsympathetic.

After I spoke with her, I called my general practitioner's office and she will be trying to get to the bottom of the situation as well. But in all honesty, if the man's not doing surgery, there is not a lot she can do.

My only option at this point is to pay for the surgery myself. There is a private clinic, which I had been hesitant to call given that I have tried to believe in our medical system. Obviously, though, that feeling has not been warranted. I will be calling for quotes this afternoon.

Right now, though, I am barely rational and overwhelmed with the prospect of this seemingly minor procedure standing in the way of having a normal life.
How did we get through the entire first month of 2006 in what feels like a blink of an eye? Wasn't Christmas just last week? Didn't we just ring in the New Year yesterday?

It was a wet January here. 29 out of the 31 days, it rained. It has been pouring for so long that I have been caught in minor road flooding several times on my way to work in the past few weeks. I work in a very rural area mostly known for it's cranberry farms. Large tracts of boggy land surrounded by a road next to the river. And this area is almost forgotten in time. It's been many years since the municipality has upgraded any infrastructure up this way, so when it rains, drainage is somewhat of a challenge.

In 8 days, I will go in for my knee surgery. Starting to panic a little more than I'd like. I look at my knee often and imagine that it will have the telltale surgical scars that will stay with me for life very soon. I begin to worry about how I'm going to manage in the days following the surgery as well. My mother has offered to stay, but as much as her offer is sweet, I don't know if I would feel ok with that. I know she is not well, and it would take a lot out of her to do so. As well, if someone's in my house, I feel the need to entertain or at least stay awake. I suspect that will not be the case for the first couple days. I will just want to be in my cave by myself.

On Sunday, I had one of those little moments of panic that I wouldn't be able to get groceries right away after. So I started throwing things into the basket like a mad woman. By the time I got to the counter, I had spent $320 on food. Trust me, if the tsunami happens now, I will be fine for months. Well,, my house would be the first to go, but those about 5 miles down the river can expect some great food to be popping up in the river.

Things with S. are going well. We are both, however, terrified of just about everything. Of hurting our friendship, mostly though. Taking it slow...that's the key. Part of the fact is that we feel just so comfortable with each other, and that's scary. But knowing we are both feeling that same way and talking through it is the key. It's not a race, but a slow and steady pace.

In 17 days, I will be flying to Vegas for 4 days. There will be a great group of us...some I haven't seen in 6 years and one very special person that I am going to meet in person for the first time. I am honoured to call Teresa a friend, and cannot wait!

And with that February begins. May it be a good one for all of you!

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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