The Lasting Legacy

Full body braces 1955
The Hare 1955

I often joke that I grew up with about 30 mother figures and one father.  The hospital’s of my childhood was the employment domain of the female worker which contributed to so many mother-figures.  With the exception of your doctor, who you may have seen an hour or two a week (unless he was hanging over you with his surgical mask on) or a janitor somewhere, everyone in positions of influence were women.

Physio’s, nurse’s, teachers and any other staff that had direct care duty with us would often entertain us with a story like “The Little Engine That Could” while we were undergoing treatment.  I was nine years old and my physio had made my mantra “I know I can”.  We were surrounded by nurses, saw our physio two or three times a day and teacher four to six hours a day.  Even with surgeries you couldn’t escape those teachers.

Polio unit
The numbers were so high they required dormitories.

It was not uncommon to have a nurse on one side of my bed giving me a shot of demerol and my math teacher on the other giving me my home work for the day.  We may have laid around but we didn’t just LAY around.  We were expected too produce and that was the strategy to build survivors.  The numbers were just too high to ignore so there was a lot of effort put into making us adaptable and independent.  It might have been a hospital but, in those days, it was also our home.  We were expected to be part of the “treatment” team.

Like any home we all had our weekend chores.  I spend more weekends, outside of recreation time, scrubbing black wheelchair tire marks off the hallway floors after racing up and down all day.  Or you spend a couple of hours sterilizing bedpans and urinals with a nurse and there was always a story.  After all a 25 year old nurse couldn’t sit there and discuss their wild weekend (if) with an 11 year old and small talk can be difficult with a questioning 11 year old.  Instead  they would tell you a story.  The stories weren’t just distractions but themes meant to instill confidence and survival. Continue reading “The Lasting Legacy”

What We Don’t Know We Know…(revised)

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their mind cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

It’s another grey windy day but at least it’s not raining.  Out of boredom and, to maybe kick start an idea into my cranial star chamber, I started searching out YouTube for old TV theme songs.  I came across the 1955 version of Davy Crockett.   I remember wanting a raccoon cap as a kid but the real Davy Crockett was a “mountain man” turned politician.  He became a peoples politician  who took a stand along with some other great patriots right up to their deaths at the Alamo.  What has happened to that political commitment.  Anyway that was a fleeting thought meant to keep myself entertained as I hoped a spark would ignite an idea in my head, so lets go.

I find myself facing a new dilemma’s these days that is all based on that old “if I had of known then what I know now” way of thinking.  I had about a dozen surgeries as a kid all with the purpose of walking without braces, new untried procedures at the time, and 4 of the 12 produced the hoped for results.  One of the last major surgical procedures I underwent was a hip fusion of my left hip.

A lot of this was “new” ground for the growing speciality of orthopaedics and was a carry on from new techniques used with WW2 vets.  Medically there has been a tight tie between the veterans community and the polio generation due to the advancements being made in medicine.  My orthopaedic Dr. Vincent Murphy was a retired RCAF pilot and received his medical training courtesy of the military.  He was a good man and played a big role in my life from age 8.  He enjoyed me because, as he once put it, I had attitude and I was always up for surgery.

Polio kids were surgical try-outs for a lot of new techniques and we auditioned for surgical spots in what was called Grand Rounds.  Out-patient Rounds were held every Tuesday at the Children’s Hospital but if your parents got that call for Grand Rounds it was pretty certain you were being admitted.  For Rounds you stripped down for the doctor and your parents, for Grand Rounds you stripped down on an examination table in front of half a dozen doctors, another half dozen interns and maybe a dozen student nurses standing in the background taking notes.  While they are discussing me like a strip loin, I’m sitting there trying to figure out if I will sign up for Monday night copper tooling or take the leather activity again.  Monday nights were Arts and Craft’s night in the hospital. Continue reading “What We Don’t Know We Know…(revised)”

Whispering Words…

“But if thoughts corrupt language, language can also corrupt thought.” – George Orwell 1984

Friday’s confession has to do with a topic dear to my heart, the use of words or the science of semantics.  With the pending BC election people need to start paying attention to what lies below the words (some call this subtext) and get to the detail (substance).  There may be a bit of research needed but most often just apply some common sense.  If a guy is standing there in what looks like a white grad outfit, pointy hat with cowl and a Maltese Cross on it telling me he won’t tolerate racism, well I think you get my point…

We recently watched the American election run on rhetoric and hyperbole.    That election was an exercise in how rhetoric can be effective as long as enough polymer is used to avoid substance.  If you look up polymer you will find the word “ubiquitous” in the definition.  Being a bit more abstract it is not difficult to equate the definition of polymer with societal beliefs.  We create what we are based on how we interpret what we are told.

What I say
If you don’t understand, say so!

Words are powerful so how we use them can go a long way.  How words get interpreted is even more important and interpretation begins the moment the image we associate most with that word happens.  On a subconscious level we create a piece of imagery representing that word and will often dismiss an aspect of a conversation because of one piece of misplaced imagery.  This is one of the reasons why word-smithing has become a politicians best friend.  There is an art to using words that will encourage specific emotive responses and truth becomes a matter of interpretation.  Sad but true…

In a recent chat with one of my much younger neighbours (a forty year difference between the two of us) we were discussing words and how the perception they create can vary.  He asked for an example.  I automatically throw out “manipulate” (setting up for election discussion) and his initial response was one of negativity.  But when I put the statement into the context of having seen a Chiropractor for some “joint manipulation” he changed his opinion of the word.  The cognitive imagery created by the word changed when the context was established. Continue reading “Whispering Words…”

I’m Angry

I am not going to talk about access, disability or seniors today.  I am going to take a few minutes to clarify my anger.  I am beyond angry and that bothers me since it is exactly what Trump and his ilk want.  Keep us angry and it’s easier to divide us.  The shooting at the Quebec mosque shouldn’t surprise anybody but should sadden all of us. We have allowed our political masters to use a nationality to divide us by creating islamophobia.  Check the history of Germany in the 30’s and you will see a lot of comparisons.

I’m angry that the likes of Rona Ambrose can stand up in the House of Commons and make a plea for tolerance with such a straight face.  This is the same women who has been actively involved with a Canadian political party who built their base by spouting hate and demonizing certain philosophies for the past ten years.

I am angry that a major Canadian political party is even considering a leader like Kellie Leitch.  Here’s an educated women who hides her racist comments behind “Canadian values“.  I am 4th or 5th generation Canadian whose ancestors arrived in Canada to escape religious persecution in Europe.

I grew up being taught that Canadian values were tolerance, acceptance, compassion, diversity and above all caring.  How do you define, let alone test for, Canadian values?  In my mind this is nothing more than spreading the seeds of discontent and mistrust towards particular segments of our society.

I am angry over the term “terrorism” when describing a “hate crime”.  The deaths of 14 female victims of the Polytechnic massacre was classified as hate not terrorism although it did terrorize women.  Words are powerful and now is not the time to start playing semantics.  Words create imagery and imagery can create false understanding of words so let’s not let “hate” become “terrorism”.  That’s the nature of “fake news“. Continue reading “I’m Angry”

Being Your Own Media

“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

It has been such a crazy week I am more inclined to withdraw than report on it.  However one does not generate much awareness by sitting in a corner mumbling.  In this new time of “post truth” and “alternative facts” (I can’t believe I can even say that) people have to be aware how insidious social media can be and check their facts.  People need to exercise their mind just as much as their biceps and fact checking is a good way to do that.

Much of my desire to withdraw is due to the level of fake news and the toxicity it’s having on the people around me.  This is why people need to be more responsible and part of being responsible is to verify your knowledge level.  A bit of common sense is needed…

Look at it this way, if I were to lend you my car so you could get to Campbell River and back but half way there you ran out of gas because I said I thought it was full when you asked, is it my fault I was wrong.  Hopefully one would verify how much gas by maybe topping it up before you took off.  Social media is kind of like that.  Just because someone says something or posts some “really cool” picture on Facebook does not mean it’s true.

That doesn’t mean anyone with a personal agenda or questionable ideology (that’s what Facebook is for) can’t use social media but social media, like any form of communication, has certain rules.  One of the basics I grew up with was an individuals responsibility to verify information.  In the days of talking that might have meant something as simple as “what did you mean by that” or “where did you hear that from”.  Get into the habit of not just accepting.  The second lesson I learned really early was to raise awareness with references and substantive sources.  So it is best I write rather than binge on Taboo…so for today I will be somebodies media and to be clear I am NOT a journalist although I have had my own column in the Alderlea Magazine now defunct.  So I repeat right now I am playing media…

bethenewsFor those of you that have been following my adventures to access an assisted living apartment well caller 3, and 4 made their presence known.  Caller 3 was an in-home assessment done by a nice fellow, an Occupational Therapist who was close to my age.  I introduce him to more adaptive aids and techniques I have developed over a life time of trial and error to the point where his visit was more of an in-service than a client assessment.  He recognized the foolishness of using criteria to assess an “able-bodied” senior experiencing age related decompensation with someone whose life was build around developing adaptive techniques.  How many stairs I can do before I become short of breath or has the weight load of your grocery shopping changed in the last six months?  Those are not exactly the criteria someone in a wheelchair worries about. Continue reading “Being Your Own Media”

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..”

Fear and Loathing…

“Fear is the mind killer…” Frank Herbert (Dune)

I came into the new year feeling a bit more rejuvenated having made the decision to look at the opportunities of “assisted living“.  It wasn’t an easy decision but the reality is I will be 67 this year and, like it or not, I’m a senior.  Accepting my age while recognizing the speed with which decrepitude is lapping over my body means I may have to give up a bit of independence but hell life is a trade off right.

That decrepitude I can handle but the slow erosion of confidence was harder to deal with.  That transfer into my car or the jump momentum from the ground to my wheelchair is becoming more difficult and that erodes the confidence level.  Those same issues are the high risk times for falls.  In my desire to think proactively and avoid potential hospitalization moments I would feel safer knowing there were some supports close by.  I am probably even more tuned into this at this particular moment having watched an ambulance just haul one of my neighbours off to the hospital.

thoughtsI spend last week putting some deep thought (and research) into assisted living apartments.  I quickly discovered that the private sector was out of my price range.  At the risk of repeating myself, $3000 a month seemed to be the average cost out there but that covered almost everything, meals, house cleaning, close emergency medical backup, some laundry service for my bedding plus the suite.  The suite has a kitchenette but not a full oven, no big deal to me but again $3000 is beyond my budget.  That appears to be the starting point for private services.

The buildings with subsidize suites directed any interested parties to the Island Health “Assisted Living” website.  As a life-time “professional patient” I know some of these things take time so I had to set some wheels in motion.  It took me 54 weeks to access the promised government assistance to cover half the cost of a $6500 wheelchair so I understand the need for perseverance.

I met all of the criteria (I thought), had identified a potential facility in Duncan and made the call to the 1-877 line.  I received an amazingly quick response from caller number one who took some basic information from me before telling me she would put caller 2 in touch with me.  Three days later I received a call from the Occupational Therapist (caller number 2) who wanted to book some time for a home assessment.  Fine, moving much faster than I thought it would.  She came by that afternoon.

Pleasant enough lady.  Semi-retired Occupational Therapist who does the occasional assessment for Island Health.  After a quick assessment, pretty straight forward.  I gave her a quick demonstration of how I transfer in and out of my chair.  Showed her I get in and out of the shower, again explaining how all of these things contribute to a “falling” risk and part of my rational for assisted living was risk mitigation. Continue reading “Fear and Loathing…”