Crappy Way to End the Week

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything.  You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.” – Michael Crichton

Happy Easter or whatever celebration you celebrate at this time of the year.  My Easter morning experience involved extricating myself from between the wall and the toilet in my bathroom.  Using the potty can be a delicate discussion and usually involves just as delicate an action but I’m going to throw this out there.

Made a poor judgement on momentum this morning so between the landing and a very lose screw (one of two that hold the seat steady) I overshot the landing zone taking time for a face to face with my toilet plunger.

It seemed like a good time for a mental distraction as I wiggled physically to regain a vertical rather than horizontal perspective of the room.  That distraction turned into an epiphany involving physics.

I’ve broken my fair share of toilets in my life but baste on what I hear (or don’t hear) I don’t think it is an occurrence for most people. Getting myself dislodged gave me some time to reflect on it.

toiletThis is the bathroom in my “wheelchair” apartment.  There is no way a wheelchair is getting in beside that but whatever code interpreter was issuing the permit seemed to think this would work.  What the hell, I’ve been here almost three years and made it work.  So please don’t start on me about accommodation.  I’ve done my fair share.

I’ll bet you have never thought of this but the next time you go to sit on the toilet pay attention to how important knee motion is to lightly sit on the commode.  That knee movement allows for a much more controlled PSI landing.  It’s nice equal weight distribution which is what a good toilet is designed for. Continue reading “Crappy Way to End the Week”

Taking Responsibility

“The life history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community” – Ruth Benedict

It has been raining off and on for most of the day.  I knew it was coming so took advantage of the sun yesterday and went out to restock.  Pantry is now ready for at least a four day siege.  Glad I did, good exercise and I quite enjoyed the sunshine.  Now, gazing out my window, there’s a mist in the air creating a grey tone appearance to my surroundings.  It makes me wonder if this is how someone with cataracts views a changing world.  At the same time I feel like I’m experiencing a “mental cataract” when it comes to putting thoughts to paper.

As I said it is a dismal day outside so I am trying to avoid thinking dismal things, however that is a blockage for someone who likes to be expressive with words.  So I am gazing out the window, partly because of the new two story multi-unit development going on across the street (starting at 7am) and partly to see if I could land on a topic that piqued my creative juices.  Sitting here wanting to write but lacking an emotive topic and the phone rings.  Now this is cool because I didn’t know it could be done but my computer rings the minute my phone rang with a little phone icon in the upper right hand corner, so I answered with the computer.

It’s a buddy of mine from Alberta (we were neighbours 30 years ago and been tight ever since).  He was on his way to Camrose and had been listening to CBC Manitoba in his truck.  I know nothing says wake up like listening to CBC talk radio right.

March of Dimes Poster Child
From a Winnipeg newspaper, 5 years old and March of Dimes Timmy

We do share some of the same values and interest so he suggested I check out a CBC Manitoba report on the issues being faced by the polio/post-polio community.  I have a history with Manitoba and he is aware of that.  The subject is one I am personally very passionate about and have written often about.  The story hit very close to home based on current experience with a community health system (all well meaning) that is so out of touch with the reality of what’s happening in the community.  BC already has a seniors care crisis lets not complicate things by forgetting our history.  There are 15 to 20 thousand polio survivors hitting retirement and entering a system that can hardly manage the current crisis.  This should actually be an election issue here in BC!

Boy the rain is coming down but so is my mood.  As some of you are aware I am currently “playing the game” so I have a “care worker” come by every morning, usually around 10 to meet the stated needs the current health policy dictates.  Usually by the time they get here I’ll be working away on my computer.  I always leave a few dishes in the sink so they have something to do but inevitably the conversation comes around to my wheelchair.  That way we have both met the needs of community health. Continue reading “Taking Responsibility”

Word Whispering

“Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrows questions” – Edgar Cayce

I spend a good part of the past week data mining the information sources for my last article, time to kick back…put the feet up by the fireplace…oh damn the cable fireplace is down for the season…oh well.

On a dark, rainy and windy evening in Nanaimo I was suppose to be at Maude Barlow‘s water crisis presentation.  As I said on a DARK, RAINY and WINDY night looks like it’s the Page 1,2 of the World’s Mens Curling Championship.

hobbiesincludeIn between ends I keep flipping over to my PVR to catch up on The Originals with Sleepy Hollow in the queue.  It’s raining with trees rattling (I check for that because my car is parked uncovered except by this heavy tree) from the wind but I can still hear the sound of the curling rocks on the ice well enough to turn and look.

Meanwhile in the rumblings of my numbed mind I started to percolate one of those things like an epiphany moments but haven’t quite got there.  Wow Brad Gushue just throw a beautiful shot and now they are heading for the 5th end break.  The demographics of my entertainment viewing is really diverse but so is the community.  I just see it in different ways. Continue reading “Word Whispering”

I’m Coming Back…

“As you remove toxic people from your life, you free up space and emotional energy for positive, healthy relationships” – John Mark Green

I thought I was done and was packing up the keyboard.  I was just going to shut the site down, rearrange my life and keep my opinions to myself.  I was feeling increasingly like “white noise” and I thought it would be easier just to shut down.  Two months of biting my tongue has shown me it is to difficult to blindly accept the level of societal negativity going on around me and be quiet about it.  It is increasingly difficult to maintain a stiff upper lip while the chasm between right and left ideology continued to deepen.  I am not so sure now is the time to shut down.

I have reread my last article a number of times now and have had time to reflect on where that anger was coming from.  I don’t like anger if for no other reason than it fucks with my feng shui.  During this period of reflection I came to the realization that I owned some of the responsibility for this anger.  I had started personalizing issues and that traditionally leads to lost of control.

I usually pride myself on my ability not to personalize issues, comments or give up control of my emotions but I slipped.  It wasn’t any one event, it was information overload, too much negative news and complicated by social isolation.  And as a political junkie, it’s difficult not to be a little negative these days so it just seemed easier to shut her down.  When you don’t golf, hike, cycle or take long walks on the beach you don’t have a lot of venting space so shutting it all down seemed like the path of least resistance.

ThoughtsThe last two month has been spend reflecting going through my year end activities.  Things like shredding old pay/staff records.  Seven years and this is the last year of records I have to shred.  Getting my own taxes done, working some policy issues through with the local health authority, trying to stay on top of access problems in my own town and the list goes on.  All of this has given me time to reflect on a wide variety of issues and things keep coming back to government policies.  It’s not that they are not there, it’s just that they are not policed.  We defend rights by speaking up for them, not adjusting them on the fly.

Reflection also gives you time to recharge and I did need that.  During this period of reflection I kept receiving my news alerts and they were screaming for a comment.  When someone can lecture a young lady who has been on crutches all of her life about the dangers of using stairs people have to speak out.  Up until the late 70’s persons with disabilities could be refused rent on anything above the second floor and I do not want to go back to those days.  The bigger issue here is why that particular night spot didn’t have an accessible bathroom…  Continue reading “I’m Coming Back…”

Are We Talking..

I’m in that hurry up and wait stage of dealing with a government bureaucracy.  The sun is trying to shine and it has certainly warmed up.  Has been raining buckets (as I write that two of the local high school kids on their way home in shorts…how wimpy am I) but not to bad today.  So while I sit here waiting for my request to percolate its way through a  filter of god knows how many vacant positions before anybody actually makes a decision it’s time to put some words paper.

This grey misty weather condition can have a depressive effect on a wide variety of individuals.  Some days it gets to me but not today.  I find the moments of sunshine breaking through the clouds is uplifting but I also dumped a big anger this morning, one I had been carrying around for a long time and it felt good.

gainpainRegardless of how well today worked out for me (or has been working out, the day isn’t over) the are many who are just beginning their first major rollercoaster decent of the year.  Between the depressing weather, the inauguration on Friday and, the thousands of little things that make life what it is, you need to remember the #LetsTalk day Jan 25.

Depression is not a weakness, depression is a communication, a non-verbal one but communication all the same.  Many of us don’t know how to talk that way.

I worked in an environment for fifteen years where we spend a lot of time discussing “getting in touch with your feelings”.  That was psychiatry in Calgary.  My job was to understand feelings while looking for meaning in them.  To many it later became “psycho-babble” but to my peers it was communication. Continue reading “Are We Talking..”

The Santa Shadow

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life” – Richard Bach

CONFESSIONS –   In preparation for the suggested snow that may be coming I did a quick roll over to the mall to grab the last “essentials” I may need for the next couple of days.  It was a sunny day here but cold as a witches…well you know the saying and a strong wind was blowing.

Got to the mall and it was chaos.  There was what looked like a line up for the munchkin characters auditioning for a remake of The Wizard of Oz.  This was the first crowd I had encountered that I could actually see over.  It is that time of year when I am eye level with more people and they don’t all have pointy ears.  As I got closer I realized it was the line-up for the photo with Santa.  I haven’t given it much though recently because everything I need to do is done.  All that is left is to get the gifts over to my son and grandson.

Christmas for me has become very simple.  I kind of prefer it that way.  Takes me back to part of my youth.  When you’re spend more Christmas’s in the Children’s hospital than in your families home then you may have a different perspective of Christmas.  A lot of kids would get “hospital leave” over Christmas and go home.  However those who weren’t well enough or mobile enough stayed in hospital and the staff made it very festive.

I was from a working class family, the “middle class” was in development.  I had five siblings at home so a good Christmas would produce three or four gifts plus a stuff stocking (which were usually one of our own socks back then).  Stocking’s tended to be filled with nuts (screw the allergies, nobody talked about those), maybe a Christmas orange, maybe something chocolate and little things like collectable cards, some marbles or some small toy (like Jacks, don’t even know if that game is played anymore) but you get the idea.

polio splints
You weren’t going home for Christmas in these things

Plus a Christmas at home came with it’s own inherent dangers.  At the time I walked with braces on both legs and they weight about forty pounds.  They didn’t have the materials then we see in today’s healthcare.  This was a time when you would lie down on a large sheet of industrial paper, the “crutch guy” would draw an outline of where the braces were going to go and then into the maintenance shop to be made.  Steel and leather, they were heavy.  So it wasn’t uncommon for me to take them off at home and scoot around the floor on my butt.  Scooting around on the floor at Christmas with at least five adults and ten kids held a high risk of being stepped on.  I have a personal appreciation for how Ivar would feel at a Vikings gathering.

The energy and excitement of the day would eventually work into a rambunctiousness the adults would no longer stand for so off they would send us to the community centre across the gully.  There were two outdoor skating rinks so the older kids would skate or play a bit of stick hockey.  The younger (and usually smaller) ones would use the toboggan hill.  Needless to say I wasn’t a skater so… Continue reading “The Santa Shadow”

Reframing the Senate

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to chose wisely.  The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”  – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I was just catching a snippet on the news regarding the newly appointed Senators.  Of course some are already up in arms over it but there are more knowledgeable individuals/groups out there on that subject than myself.  So I will sit back on the periphery and catch the snippets that may impact me.  After all a Senator does have a very high level of authority when it comes to affecting the direction of the nation.

On a micro level I was reminded of a meeting I participated in yesterday.  I had a very good discussion with two of the Patient Voices Network for Island Health staff.  We discussed many of the issues in healthcare including some of those I had raised in previous posts.  Now I have met both of these individuals once before but very briefly.  This was our first chance to really exchange thoughts on our healthcare system from a very grassroots level.

Grassroot advocacy is something I understand very well.  I have been part of that process from every level imaginable and a wide range of topic particularly health/disability.  I was involved in advocacy well before either of them were born (I’m guessing they are both 30+. hope I’m not embarrassing anyone) but there had to be a 30 year difference between us.  However as the discussion progressed all of the similarities started coming out.

I felt we had a very engaged and genuine conversation.  What I found particularly interesting was the level of advocacy that was actually being done without using the term.  For some reason that term threatens a lot of people.  In the 70’s I spend a few years as a provincial patient advocate for the Canadian Mental Health Association and for whatever reason any notice of my visit would throw the institute into panic mode.  I wasn’t a bad guy but the term advocate was getting a bum rap.  By the mid 90’s any mention of advocacy could cost community organizations grant money.  Silence was created by tightening the purse strings.  However many of the concepts we discussed were definitely of the advocacy nature.

In the meeting (I’m even hesitant to refer to it as a meeting since it was really a comfortable lets get to know each other discussion and our roles in healthcare) we discussed change and how it can appear to be so slow.  The truth is systemic change is a slow process.  As an example it took us well over ten years to really see how effective seat belt legislation was but at the time there was all kinds of outrage and screaming from segments of society.  That was almost thirty years ago.

Supposedly we have advanced our societal beliefs to be a more inclusive, compassionate and caring society, it only took us to get from what Susan Rodriguez was requesting to where we are today with Bill C-14.  Change can take time but as long as we are moving forward I can live with the rate of progress.  However when I look at the current election campaign happening south of the border it makes me realize that some have moved further than others at which point I weep for the days of Fred McMurray.  However I have little control over that outcome so it’s low on my list of priorities even though the outcome could have an affect on every Canadian.   Continue reading “Reframing the Senate”