Archive | December 2010

Expert opinion

A couple of nights ago, I was waiting for the Boo to go down for the night so I could enjoy my sushi in peace.  I was feeling a bit better from my cold but I was still a bit tired.  Then I get a phone call from the home.  Mother had fallen down again but this time she fell on a plate she was carrying and had sustained two large lacerations under her chin.  I put on my coat, grabbed a hot chocolate at Starbucks and went to meet the transfer ambulance at the emergency room.  I walked in just as the ambulance attendant were briefing the incoming nurse.  She was alert and chipper with a huge bandage wrapped around her chin and head. She was even laughing.   Her top was soaked in blood.  By the way, I saw the emergency room doctor we saw a couple months ago and said a quick hello.

It took 12 stitches to close up the cuts and mum handled it quite well.  Of course, I sat in the waiting room while all the stitching was done.  I changed her into a hospital gown as her top was soaked and drove her back to the home.

I called my sister the next morning to let her know what had happened.  She wants to know what the action plan is.  What?  An action plan?  Other than perhaps changing her shoes as the nurse requested, there was no action plan.  She stumbled and fell on her plate.  I don’t know what more can be done since the last time we had a care conference, all medical issues had been addressed and her medications were decreased.  She has improved in both her mobility and balance since then.  I also hired a companion 3 days a week at a cost of about $1500 a month.  All of the medical information was forwarded to her and discussed over the phone ad nauseum.

Then last night, my sister calls and puts her friend on the phone who is some sort of psychiatric nurse or something.  She basically said my mother should be in bed all the time or strapped in a wheelchair or else all we could do was pray nothing happened to her.  What the FUCK?!  I tried to patiently explain to her the reality of taking care of elders in a home and that restricting mobile dementia patients was not exactly quality of life.  There is one nurse and two f/t  care aides on the floor of 30 residents.  They are also supplemented with  a couple of people from leisure services for activities during the day.  Then she suggested I could get advertise for volunteers to take care of her all day long.  Volunteers.  Why, yes, the home does have approved volunteers who visit the home and serve tea and coffee to the residents.  Most of them don’t speak fluent English and none of them are trained to deal with dementia patients.   I got increasingly agitated and then asked her to put my sister back on the phone.  I then proceeded to tell my sister exactly how pissed off I was.  Her response, in the condescending defusing tone that you take with irrational people that she just wanted me to hear someone else’s (read: expert) take on the situation.  Guess what, I’m the fucking expert now.  Then she got off the phone.  Hubby was around to hear at least half of the conversation  and he just about had a fit – well, no, he did have a fit.  Which I kinda hate cause I don’t need his fit taking over my fit.

I have no intention of writing her a long email going into graphic detail about how much I don’t appreciate the opinions of her friend who has absolutely no idea of what it takes to take care of my mother and that thinking that restricting my mother’s ability to move would be in her best interests.  I believe that emails are not the most effective way to communicate sensitive issues.  In fact, it is a bit passive aggressive and should only be used as a last resort.  People tend to remember only what they want to in them. Don’t want mother to fall down?  Don’t let her get up at all!   Great idea.  My mother has a walker, but she can’t remember to use it and she does not have one on one care all the time.  So that’s why I hired the companion.  I can increase the days she works though.

I understand that people care and that people have their opinions.  I don’t even mind hearing them most of the time.  But when someone implies well, then since I won’t listen to her all we have is prayer to rely on – THAT PISSES ME OFF.  #1) don’t put someone else on the phone if you have something to say  #2) if you had any faith in prayer at all, then you should feel confident and relieved.  #3) you have no idea what  you’re talking about because you can immobilize YOUR patients, but you have no right to suggest immobilizing my mother.  In any case, I need to speak to my sister on the phone  and when I calm down, I will.  I will also remind her that she can take over my mother’s  care any time she wishes to or demonstrate that she has faith in my ability to do the best I can.   I understand that she feels helpless and wants to have input.  I get that, but she has to demonstrate a little fucking common sense.  She can’t micromanage the situation.  I am the one who gets the calls, I am the one who has to go the emergency room.  Sometimes I wish she could have moved here because I would have made her jointly responsible and then she could take over and I have a break.  I wish I could share responsiblity but since my sisters are 3000km away, that’s not going to happen.

I just had to get that off my chest.  Thanks for listening.

A very nice Christmas

It was a lovely Christmas!  We picked up a $15 dollar tree from Home Depot – I love a good deal – and both the kid and the dog behaved admirably.  I managed to decorate it and the house a little bit, hubby put up the outside lights and tada! – the Precious was suitably impressed.  DH’s parents arrived with loads of presents, the most outstanding being a hand made rocking horse.  And yes it was a hit!  It’s huge and at first I thought the Precious might have been a little reticent but he checked it out, was lifted up for a test drive and he totally got into rocking it.  I had tears in my eyes.  I know.  I’m a suck.

We also had DH’s aunt and uncle there who had flown in from Edmonton.  They stayed at  a local hotel up the street.  More presents for the kid.  He was pretty overwhelmed by all the activity and some teething pain so we had a few sleepless nights, but overall it went very well and everyone had a good time. We did picked names for a gift exchange and then we also had a Kris Kringle gift type of thing where you buy an inexpensive gift, we take turns choosing which package we want and we can steal someone’s present if we like it.  I made out like a bandit with a luxurious cream coloured throw.

The one thing we did differently this year was that I had our Christmas dinner catered.  Ah, shock!  Horrors! A break from tradition!  I saw a Groupon in my email for a Christmas turkey dinner  from a high end hotel all boxed up with all the trimmings (for 6 – 8 people) for half price, so I snapped it up.  It was a great price and I thought, great, no more hassles!  Stress free!  I’ll still make the candied yams and my MIL will stake make her roasted potatoes, but other than that, we’re off the hook with all the cooking!  I chose to the Christmas Eve pickup without checking with anyone first.  MIL and DH decided that no, I should have ordered it for Christmas Day pickup.  Mmm, I would have preferred to know exactly what I was getting the day before but whatever.  I was quite annoyed at the lack of enthusiasm for what I thought was a great idea.  I think my MIL was worried that the meal wouldn’t be good, but the hotel restaurant had a great reputation.

I tried to change it but they wouldn’t as the deal was sold out (500 orders) and no changes could be made.  Luckily, we know someone with pull who works at the hotel and she got it changed for us.  There has never been such a calm Christmas Day at my house.  No rushed thawing of a turkey in my bathtub,  no hot oven for 6 hours in a row, blah, blah, blah.  Hubby goes to pick up the turkey dinner, we follow the instructions it came with – 90 min in a 350 degree oven with the foil on it.  We did that, took it out, put everything else in to warm up for 30 min – we’ve got it all set up, everyone is ready to eat and….. IT’S NOT COOKED.  It looks cooked, but there’s still blood running out when you cut it.  GREAT!  Frankly, it could have stayed in the oven 2 hours and it still would not have cooked correctly at that temperature, it was a 15 pound turkey!   The meat thermometer wouldn’t work because it was out of the oven too long so the correct temperature was not reading.  Hubby starts muttering.  Auntie and I put it back in the oven, confer with whispers and nodding (and chanting) that we need to turn up the heat, and leave the foil off.  An hour goes by.  Hubby is fuming.  We take it out and….. IT’S STILL NOT COOKED!!!  Hubby is now cursing.  It was about 90% done but it’s got that rubbery texture to it, you know what I mean?  So, we slice it anyway and stick it in the microwave cause everyone, including my mum, is ready to eat.  That finally did it and miraculously, it did not dry out!  In fact, it was delicious!    Everything else was great.  We even had a pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream.

The next day we were walking by the hotel and my MIL had to go to the bathroom, so we stopped in and I saw our friend.  I told her what had happened with the turkey and she said that a number of people had called with the same problem.  Apparently we had just received the batch of turkeys that had been done in a bad oven or something. Rats!  Oh, well, it all worked out well and I’d have to say I’d do it all again.  However, I would finish cooking the turkey an hour before it was due to be served.  If it gets dried out, well, that’s what gravy is for.

Courtesy of DH and the family, I even slept in and enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet. Perfect.  Cocktail of the season was a lemon drop martini.  I had a few (ahem!) and they were delicious!  I went all out and bought Limoncello and rimmed the martini glasses in sugar.  Of course, I paid for all this drinking and running around, though.   A couple of days ago though I did get sick with a cold and had  Neo Citran and Nyquil became my new cocktail.  That throw came in handy as I huddled on the couch shivering.

I’m feeling much better, all’s quiet here and DH is off for a bit.  But of course, with us, drama is never far…..

Sleep. Walking.

Happy to report that I’m feeling a  million times better.  Not only did I have 3 – COUNT ‘EM – 3 nights of UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP, but I had a massage and a feel so much better now. It’s amazing what decent sleep can do for a woman!  I’m less bitchy (a little), less weepy, and less likely to mutter to myself.  The pain in still there intermittently but  with good posture, Advil, and heat I can keep it at bay.

Also happy to report that the wee beastie is taking his first independent steps!  That day I had an audition, couldn’t get a sitter, and hubby stayed home because he was sick.  Lucky, I guess.  So while both of them napped, I snuck out and did my thing, came back and encouraged the Precious to lean on the wall and make his way to me.  Then two minutes later, he walked into the kitchen to his dad.  I burst out crying as hubby fiddled with his camera phone and caught the moment.

Perhaps this is why the little bugger is tuckered at the end of the day.  And speaking of independence, my little guy wants it.  I can’t even brush his teeth anymore.  He pushes my hand away, says “Meh!” and does it himself.  I can barely get him in the stroller without him attempting ju-jitsu on me.   And yes, I even tried explaining to him that we need to take Juju out for a walk.  He cares not one whit.  And when I finally get the last buckle, he’s all smiles.  I can see we’re going to have battles, him and I.  Mmmmm.

Of course, he’s learned to lean in to mummy’s shoulder, snuggle and coo and suck her in.  I’m doomed.


Brokeback mummy

Well, this old bird is breaking down.  Couple weeks ago, I noticed a pain in my left hip (where I carry the Precious) and then two days later, after trying to pick up the doorstop which he had dropped into his toy basket, I had a lovely shooting pain and dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes.  Luckily, his room is carpeted and padded and he just thought we were playing.  I think I saw stars.  As I sobbed quietly for a few moments while I caught my breath, he decided I was fine and proceeded to crawl around while I contemplated my next move.  15 minutes later, I managed to get to the phone, make a chiropractor appointment, put him in the stroller, get the dog and go for a walk.  It wasn’t fun.

3 chiropractor appointments later, I am not better.  Then DH got sick, very sick – an event in itself as he rarely gets sick – he stayed home and I tried to take care of everything.  He was better the 2nd day, and was better able to assist me with the chattering monkey known as our kid, but he wants me back in tip top shape and not going to the chiropractor  indefinitely. I’m pretty darn sure I’ve got some form of sciatica.  I continue to get shooting pains down my leg particularly when I sit or make sudden movements.  And since I type for hours or have to lift the kid up or have to drive or well…. move around, I’m kinda hooped.  And being 20 lbs overweight doesn’t help things of course.

Sigh.  I think it goes without saying that I quit going to Weight Watchers.  We went away and then I worked the next 2 Monday nights and then stress and misery sent me to the snack cupboard.  Not anyone’s fault but my own.  Tired, uncomfortable and completely unmotivated, I’ve managed to sabotage 16 weeks of counting points.  I’d lose a couple pounds, gain one back, lose a couple more, gain a couple more.  It was getting ridiculous.  I don’t have the time OR the energy at the moment.

I have always enjoyed feeling relatively healthy and at the moment, I feel quite fragile.  This is the girl who did bootcamp, spin classes, lifted furniture for crying out loud with nary a thought that I could NOT do it.  Right now the only thing I feel I can do is eat a DQ Blizzard.

The only good thing about all of this is the DH was sick and stayed home and actually saw all the things I do before he walks through the door.  He admitted how frustrated he was at work with some things, how he’s feeling a bit trapped and stretched thin.  Knowing that he has to just hang out and wait for a while.  And of course, we have to movie in a few months.  Seriously?  I wonder what that’s like.

So I’ve got some plans to make to get my butt back in shape.  Literally.

Womb anyone?

I read this article about “Desperate Canadians” who choose surrogates in India to give birth to their children.  The article examines the lack of options that infertile women have in Canada and also the ethical dilemmas of Third World women looking for a way out of grinding poverty by becoming surrogates for North Americans.

“What bothers me so much is that we’re totally commercializing, de-personalizing and de-humanizing the most intimate of human relationships, that of parents and children,” says Margaret Somerville, founding director of Montreal’s McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.

It’s a fair statement.  But let’s face it, infertility forces your mind into all kinds of places.

I remember during our first course of treatment, how excited I was.  I was optimistic.  I had a personal trainer for a couple of month, I had lost weight, I had acupuncture, drank all sorts of disgusting concoctions, I was taking all the right supplements and seeing a naturopathic doctor.  I had quit caffeine and drinking and I had picked out names.  So what if I had to inject hormones, grit my teeth during egg retrieval – it was all going to be part of my victorious struggle.  Really, it was all quite humorous – the rush to the lab with the paper bag, the visits to the dirty ole man room, the dildocam!  HILARIOUS!    I had proven just how focused I was, how worthy I was!  Hell, even after the negative result, and shocked disbelief, all I had to was try again.  I wasn’t so cocky the 2nd time around.  And it wasn’t so exciting anymore.  There was no intimacy, no joy, no private moments.  There was schedules, protocol, and doubt.  There was yelling and tears and arguments about money.  I witnessed burgeoning bellies all around me and felt invisible, stuck on a rollercoaster of hope and despair.

I remember when we had that brief  conversation with our fertility doctor about donor eggs.  My options were my sister (who was already over 35) and my nieces (both in their early twenties).  I didn’t happen to have a friend with the appropriate matching DNA that would give me her eggs.  (As an aside, years later I met a personal trainer who heard about my story and offered to give me her eggs.  She didn’t even know my last name.)   The other option about going to the States for donor eggs was equally distasteful.  I was aghast.  I mean, who did that? Hubby didn’t want half him, half Little Miss #3105.   That idea was just a term on a pamphlet and a pat on a back, buh-bye.    After all, we could always adopt, right?  How hard could that be?

Surrogacy was for rich people.  Movie stars. Other people who didn’t live in a one bedroom apartment with Ikea furniture.  It seemed like a very expensive gamble.  And of course, where would we find a surrogate anyway?  It’s illegal in Canada – unless of course,  someone”volunteers” to do it.

Years later, while waiting in adoption purgatory, I saw a show on Oprah about a clinic in India where they had women carrying babies for Europeans and North Americans.  They sat around keeping each other company until their delivery dates.  They earned about $5000 which was an amount that could feed their families for a year or buy them or house or something.  I pretended to not be interested because we were already on a course of action to building our family.  But in my heart, I was disturbed by the thought that had I known about that years earlier, if someone had say, hey, you could always do this – I just might have looked into it.  All in the quest to have a biological child.

Seems like a crazy thought now. I would have never known the Precious. Unthinkable.

Do you know why most people have their own children as opposed to adopting (or choosing to remain childless)? I’m going to hazard a guess here.   Cause it’s easier.  It’s less complicated.  Less of a gamble.  Pick an adjective:  normal, natural, go forth and multiply, sacred, fill in the blank.  You get to have your private, intimate moment with your spouse, you get the 3D ultrasound, you even get the varicose veins and morning sickness.  If all goes well (and I know that it doesn’t always go well) but if it does, you go home with a kid, stitches, presents and flowers.  There are no homestudy reports, no fundraisers, no reference letters testifying to your worthiness, no hospital bills (at least here), no social workers, no lawyers, no sudden plane trips, hotel bills, unforeseen expenses, no weeping birth mothers, no separation anxiety, no primal wound.   You don’t have to wait for papers to be signed before you exhale.  You don’t have to wonder if the birth parents will remain in your life or if they will demand more than you are willing to give.

So you pay for your ticket and you travel halfway across the globe to get a good deal on bringing your progeny into the world.

By the way, if you’re a little short in the good looking genes (and if you really want to vomit) read this.

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The party

The Precious’ birthday party last Saturday was wonderful.  I have to admit, I enjoyed preparing for the event.  I made vanilla and chocolate cupcakes the night before.  I prepared green goodie bags for the invited kids.  The next morning, I ran out for last minute stuff and picked up green and white helium balloons.  I ordered a sushi platter for the adults, crab and havarti cheese filled mushroom caps (lovingly prepared by a foodie friend), and other little things.

Of course, the little bugger slept in, didn’t have a morning nap and  2 hours into it, he started to dissolve into tears after everyone hurriedly sang Happy Birthday to him.  I tried to put a birthday hat  on him  and accidently snapped his face with the elastic so that didn’t quite help either.   Batteries failed in both the digital camera and camcorder (!), but we did get some pictures.  Hubby arrived just in the nick of time with my mum and put him down for a nap.

No matter, the party went on.  When he awoke refreshed from his nap, his grandparents were all over him.  He received some lovely presents.  And a shout out to Luna for the alligator pulltoy.  That was enjoyed (clatter, clatter, clatter….clatter, clatter, clatter) by a friend’s 2 year old.  That was not the noisiest toy though.  Oh, no, there was an electric guitar learning toy, a talking giant something or other, and the piece de resistance, a very loud, very annoying learning table with 50, count’em 50 songs.  All bilingual of course, so I can be annoyed in 2 official languages.  Thanks, grandma.  Thanks a lot.

Two of my Buddhist friends employed the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra and brought me wine.  Bless them.

For someone who never thought she’d be truly enjoying a kid’s birthday party, it was amazing.

I won’t be doing this next year.  Remind me if I forget.