Conventional Wisdom

Sometimes not being within the range of “normal” is a distinct disadvantage. Occasionally though, it a wonderful thing. Today it was a wonderful thing.

My follow up appointment with the cardiologist was today, my blood pressure was normal. This appointment coincided with receiving the results of a recent blood test that measured my cholesterol levels. I had discontinued taking cholesterol medication last summer, as it was elevating my levels rather than lowering them. The recent blood test was meant to provide a base line for future comparison. The results were that my cholesterol is very high, which is not unexpected, as it has been very high for a very long time, perhaps all of my life, although I wasn’t tested a baby, or as a child. The thing is, as the cardiologist had both the results of my carotid scan, and the blood test, he determined that high cholesterol, in my case, does not result in artery wall plaque deposits. I have no plaque deposits at all. So, in my case, I don’t really need to take cholesterol lowering drugs, and he recommended not taking them because I don’t need them. Great news! He felt that I need not return, and gave me a clean bill of health!

One thing he did discuss with me was the need to have a CT scan done of my head, checking for aneurisms. My Aunt died at the age of 63 from a burst aneurism in her brain. Apparently the tendency to have aneurisms runs in families. So on my next visit to the walk-in clinic I will be pushing for a CT scan to check for aneurisms, and an appointment to have my nostril cauterized to prevent nose bleeds.

This may be the last summery day of 2017! It is warm and sunny, a bit humid too. A lovely day.

On Saturday we travelled to have a Thanksgiving Dinner, cooked by Sister-The-Youngest-Girl, and attended by various family members. I got to see my Mom, and my Sister-The-Middle-Girl, which is always a treat. We had a great time, visiting, relaxing, good food, good company. Sister-The-Youngest-Girl, Mom, and I had fun working on a jigsaw puzzle, something my Mom has done with her children since we were small. Mom is pretty good at it, the rest of us struggle to keep up with her. The drive was miserable, both on the way there, and on the way home. The highways were clogged with traffic, expanding a three hour drive into a four and half hour journey, each way. We arrived at the get together, and home afterward, safe and sound, which in the end is all that really matters.

At the Thanksgiving get together, my Mom gave me a photograph portrait of my brother Carl and I, when he was just a baby, and I wasn’t much more. In the photograph he is just sitting up with support, and I am 18 months older, so I would have been around two years old, give or take a few months. My brother was a beautiful baby, I thought he was my baby, and I adored him. I was the eldest of six, and I thought of all my younger siblings as “my babies”, as older siblings do sometimes. Carl passed away last summer, while Attila and I were on vacation, it was a terrible shock.

Maggie Carl 1953 DSCF1347 Taken of my brother Carl and I when I was two years old. Four more children would be born in quick succession after this photo was taken, all my little brothers and sisters.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday 10 October 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 21.1°C
Dew point: 15.9°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: SW 17 km/h
Humidex: 26
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action.”
Frank Herbert
1920 – 1986

Trench

I took Tank in for regular servicing this morning, and was very happy to hear that the vehicle is in “very good condition”. We have been very lucky to have found this mechanic, he is honest and talented, a great combination. If he tells us something needs to be done, we have it done. When he presents us with a bill, we don’t even have to look at it, we just pay it. There are very few businesses in Canada that deserve that kind of trust.

When I arrived home with Tank, I noticed that all the runoff from the entire street was pouring into our driveway, creating huge pools of water. The blockade I had constructed in the spring had worn away. The trench I had dug in the spring had become blocked with pine cones, and congested with thick grass and roots. I was wearing my trusty old GoreTex parka, so I was well prepared to snoop around in the garage for a hoe. Trusty hoe in hand I tackled rebuilding the blockade, taking the matted grass and roots and accumulated soil from the trench and placing them on the driveway in such a way as to divert the flowing stream from the street into the trench and thus into the ditch. By the time I had completed the task, the pools on the driveway were shrinking steadily, deprived of their life line.

My blood pressure is still far too high, the quadrupled medication is not doing the job. I suspect the sudden problem could be caused by the medication I take for high cholesterol. When I became a senior citizen, the drug plan I became eligible for would not provide me with the dosage I needed, which was low. Instead, I had to take double the dosage needed, because those were the only pills covered by the drug plan. Insanity. The doctor advised taking the medication every other day, but at a double dose. I think this might have caused my blood pressure to skyrocket, the timing is about right, it is a documented side effect for a small percentage of people, and I might be one of them. My first plan of attack is to cut the pills in half and take a half portion every day, and see if that helps my blood pressure. My other plan is to try to eliminate store bought bread from my diet, it is very high sodium, a sandwich will put me close to my daily limit for sodium. Today I have been looking at low-sodium and sodium-free bread recipes. I stopped using the salt shaker ages ago, but just about all processed food is high in sodium, so it is a real challenge to stay within the daily recommended limit. Just one pickle can tip the balance.

Cold and raining here all day long. Now the wind is up. Looking out the window into the distant sky, I can see flocks of geese attempting to fly in one direction, but the wind has other plans for them. They drop out of formation one by one, turning to follow the wind. Closer, leaves fly past the window like yellow and brown rockets on a mission.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

8°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Friday 21 October 2016
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 8.2°C
Dew point: 6.7°C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: N 27 gust 43 km/h
Visibility: 16 km

Quote

“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”
Hubert H. Humphrey
1911 – 1978

P.S. I would like to mention that no tears fell at my house today! The storm has passed it seems.

Another Decision

The iMac gave me a scare after I had backed it up. I restarted it to complete some installations, and it did not start. I pressed the button on the back, it did not start. I tried the keyboard command, it did not start. I walked away. A little later I came back and unplugged it from the power bar, moved the computer desk over near an outlet, and plugged it directly into the outlet. It started up as soon as I touched the start button on the back. The power bar was dead. I guess they wear out easily, the computer is older than the power bar.

This morning we received a deluge of rain. The work we had done on our foundation did its magic, no leaks, nary a one. By early afternoon the rain had abated, and I struck out on my daily walk. A jogger who passed me commented, “Nice April weather we are having!” we both laughed.

There was another unpleasantness at the drug store today when I went to pick up my prescription. The pharmacist asked me what other medication I was taking, so I told him, although it should have been in his computer. He fetched a form and wrote it all down, then asked me to sign it. I looked at it, it was funded by the Ontario government, it was called MedCheck, but I didn’t know what that was. I had to insist that the pharmacist add my allergen to the allergy list. This guy has been dealing with this issue with me for more than a week. It should be in their system, but it is not. He did not add it to their computer, but scribbled in the name of my allergen on the form. I felt the way he dealt with it was slipshod.

The form seemed harmless so I signed it.

When I got home I researched MedCheck, and discovered that it is supposed to be a 30 minute interview with a pharmacist, who will record all pertinent data about the medications you take, your medical conditions and any allergies you might have.

This was no 30 minute interview, it was less than two minutes and at no time did I have any clear idea what we were doing. I noticed then that the form he filled out did not mention that my allergy is fatal, he had left the reaction space blank.

Back to the drug store to get the form filled in correctly. When arrived at the counter with the form, before I could speak, he asked me if I wanted to cancel it. Alarm bells went off, how screwed up could this actually get! This is a life threatening issue for me. If he couldn’t fill in the form correctly to start with, what would happen if he tried to cancel it? Was he behaving in this way deliberately? It was beginning to seem that way. So I declined the offer to cancel and asked that he amend the form. The word “amend” was unknown to him, or so he said, so I had to explain that it meant correct the form. He scribbled in anaphylactic shock, but did not correct the computer file.

That was the last straw.

I asked myself, “Is this guy playing some sort of head game?”

This was the same fellow that advised me that if I wanted to know if my allergen was in a medication, that I would have to “try it”. What part of anaphylactic shock does this fella not understand! Yep, if I try it and I die, well, that would mean the allergen is in the medication. Yep, that sure does answer the question, definitely. Whatever his problem is, I want nothing more to do with him.

I went directly from talking to him to another drug store in town. I had to wait quite a while in line, and I took it as a sign. The woman in front of me was responsible for someone with Alzheimer’s, and the woman behind the counter was helping her figure what to do about medications. I was very impressed with the concern, respect, and knowledge level of the staff person. When my turn came, I requested that my prescriptions be transferred to this new drug store. The employee was just as helpful to me, as I had seen her with the customer in front of me. The catch is that the fees here are $6.11 per prescription, which is not a competitive rate at all. But as Attila says, it is a small price to pay for peace of mind, and if these people are as good as I hope they are, they will have earned it. When I got back to my vehicle my whole body slumped, as I let the relief flow through me. What a nightmare this has been!

There will be hurdles to jump to get my medication mess figured out, the new prescription isn’t quite right, and the safety of the products sold at the new drug store will have to be evaluated, and substitutions made if needed, even if it means having to apply to the government for special consideration. But I am very confident that when it comes time to jump the hurdles, the team at the new pharmacy will be on my side.

I miss the pharmacist we had in the country, he was a gem. Come to think of it, all the people who worked at that pharmacy were excellent. Doing a good job meant a lot to them, and it showed.

I drove home carefully, knowing that I was upset and exhausted. As the car approached the house, there was Attila waiting for me in the driveway, smiling at my return. He was supposed to be sleeping so that he can work all night, but he was concerned about me, so he couldn’t sleep. It was so wonderful to see him there!

As frustrating as today was, it ended with a good decision, and the distinct hint of a light at the end of tunnel.

Attila went back to bed and slept soundly, he is sleeping still.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

8°C
Date: 7:00 PM EST Wednesday 3 February 2016
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Tendency: rising
Temperature: 7.5°C
Dewpoint: 5.3°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: SSW 31 gust 41 km/h

Quote

“It takes in reality only one to make a quarrel. It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.”
William Ralph Inge
1860 – 1954

The Senior Debutante

February 1, 2016

February first! I was going to write that I am not counting the days until spring, but a glance at the calendar in the kitchen gave me pause. I see that in January I checked off each and every day! I am inspired to do this as I am counting off the days left of my Mom’s therapy treatments. It remains to be seen though, if I continue to check off the days when she is well past the experience and feeling much better.

The clothes drying rack that was purchased last month is doing a fine job drying the freshly washed laundry, and keeping the humidity in the house at a healthy level. It is light and sturdy, easy to setup, and easy to collapse into a compact little unit. We estimate it will pay for itself by the end of the winter, by allowing us to let the electric dryer fall into disuse. It is so successful in fact, that we have ordered a second one, so that we can distribute the wet clothes more evenly. These lightweight dryers can be easily carried outdoors, and used on the back porch, during the warmer months; I anticipate drying clothes out of doors beginning in April.

Attila assembled the second wardrobe for the bedroom, and now we each have one. He is slowly settling in here at Mist Cottage. The clothes that go into his wardrobe must be sorted, some discarded, some donated, and some kept. But the real indicator that Attila is settling in, is that on Sunday he unpacked his travel bag. We have used travel bags extensively for the last five years, living in two houses, one in the country and Mist Cottage in the town. Now that we are living at Mist Cottage, keeping these travel bags current and useful is no longer a part of our lives. It was a bit of a job, sorting through the items in his travel bag, so many important bits and pieces of life were in it, but the job is done and the bag is empty and stored with the other “luggage”. Attila has arrived.

I unpacked my travel bag last autumn, after we moved here. Being retired, I have a lot more time to attend to domestic life than does Attila, who holds down a full time job.

This year on my birthday I officially and legally became a Senior Citizen. I haven’t felt this jubilant about a birthday in a long time. I made it. Not everyone does you know. Of course you know.

When I arose on the first day of my new world status, I dubbed it my “Senior Debutante Day”.

I donned my prettiest clothes, put on the jewelry I wore at my wedding, ate a hearty breakfast, and proceeded to quietly celebrate my lucky existence for the rest of the day.

I baked myself a cake early in the day, before the hydro got expensive, no use being flamboyantly foolish by wasting money on hydro. Attila arrived home with potted pink roses, a card, and a lovely gift. Attila really hit the mark this year with my birthday gift, he bought me long handled, heavy duty, well marked, measuring spoons. Be still my beating heart, I kid you not, this was a gift that truly delighted me. Because of my anaphylaxis, I spend a huge amount of time preparing food from scratch, and have always used the cheapest and flimsiest of equipment. There is nothing like good equipment to make time spent in the kitchen more satisfying. Luna, Terra, my Mom, my two lovely sisters, my cousin in Kelowna, and my friend Steve-Paul Simms all sent messages of congratulations, it was lovely. I spent the rest of the day pleasantly listening to classical music, reading, or doing whatever caught my fancy at the moment. I spent time contemplating what aging means to me, thinking about what things matter most, and what things don’t matter; these lists have changed significantly in the last decade. As a finale, Attila and I shared a pizza and watched a movie. Then Attila iced the cake and we enjoyed a slice, a fitting end to a perfect birthday.

Today dawned bright, with streaks of heavy clouds smeared across the sunrise. Later though, the sun came out, and the temperature held at 4C. Out I went for my walk, and oh my, it was grand. By that time fluffs of cloud were all that were left of the morning’s cloud cover, and the sky was a beautiful shade of blue. The breeze was brisk, and invigorating. The road was clear, with wet puddles here and there. Almost all the snow is gone. It was springlike, and lifted my spirits higher with each step. Because the temperature was above freezing, my arthritic knee did not need extra protection from the weather. It was a glorious day to be out and about.

Today was the day my drug benefit plan became active. I dreaded going to the drug store to have my prescriptions filled. I had only partially filled my most recent prescriptions because I had to pay cash for the medication, and for the full $11.95 dispensing fee per prescription. I had talked this over with the pharmacist, and the plan we came up with was that as soon as my benefit plan kicked in, I would fill the rest of my prescriptions. Today the benefit plan kicked in. I called last week to check on my prescriptions, and talked to the pharmacist about picking them up today. I was very upset to be told that my plan would probably not kick in, I had to wait a month. WHAT! Fine time to mention this little tidbit of information!

I researched the plan on the internet, and the pharmacist was wrong. The plan kicked in today, our original strategy was based on correct information. So I knew I was going to have problems today. And I dreaded it. I am out of medication, so I feel pressure, a lot of pressure, to obtain the medications in a timely fashion.

So in I went. At the counter I explained about my benefit plan, and that I wanted to pick up my medication. The first thing I was told was that I had to wait a month.

The first thing that came out of my mouth was, “That is not true.”

A tense exchange of information followed, and the pharmacist agreed to “try it” and see what happened. I was right, the benefit plan was active. One prescription was filled, and I paid the deductible for it. The other prescription was rejected by the plan. The pharmacist just looked at me, after delivering this news. Pressure! I asked the pharmacist to check and see if it was the actual medication that was rejected, or the prescribed dosage. He did that, and it was the dosage that was not covered by the plan. He could not fill the prescription.

I declined the pharmacist’s offer to sell me a few pills to get me by while I sorted this out with my GP, which would not be applied to my deductible, and would cost me an additional dispensing fee of $11.95. I asked him if it would harm me to suddenly discontinue the medication. He responded that he didn’t know, I would have to ask my doctor. We chatted a bit more, and he at last made a good suggestion; he suggested I contact the doctor to request that the prescription be reissued, as the covered dosage, and ask that it be done as soon as possible, preferably tomorrow. This seemed workable, so I thanked him for his help, and off I went.

The doctor’s office telephone line was busy every time I called. But finally I got through and spoke with the receptionist, explaining my dilemma. She said the doctor would be in late this afternoon and would see the message. I suggested to her that my next step would be to call the pharmacy tomorrow, to see if it worked out, and she felt that was a good idea. We didn’t discuss how the doctor would let me know if it was dangerous to suddenly discontinue the medication, but they have my telephone number and I assume that, if I were in mortal danger, his office would call me to let me know. I am pretty sure I will not be in mortal danger if I discontinue the pills for a few days.

Attila and I agree, it might be time to find a new pharmacist.

February 2, 2016

The weather remains amenable for walking, which means that the roads where I walk are even surfaced and without ice. The temperature this morning was just below freezing. I took a chance with my walk this morning, risking the walk without my knee warmer. About three quarters of the way through the walk, I realized that it had been an unwise decision. I experienced some pain at my regular pace, and managed to control it by slowing down. Lesson learned, when the temperature is at freezing, or below, I must protect my knee from the cold during my walks. I think I got away with it this time, but I won’t chance it again.

I called the drug store today, no sign of a replacement prescription yet. I will call again tomorrow, and if it has not arrived, another call to the GPs office will be necessary.

I have been backing up my computers, one more to go! Attila’s new iPad was purchased in September, 2015, and is the newest piece of equipment in the house. It is in constant use, usually for reading the news sites on the internet; Attila pays attention to the news. I use the iPad as a cookbook, a kitchen timer, and a telephone, when Attila isn’t using it. The MacBook Air was purchased in 2012, and has been in constant use ever since. The iMac was purchased in 2008, and amazingly is able to run the most up-to-date operating system available from Apple. The iMac is our entertainment centre, it plays our music, our DVD movies, Netflix, YouTube, and now Acorn.tv as well. We gave up on television in the spring of 2011, and we have never looked back.

It was a quiet day here at Mist Cottage. Attila slept peacefully in the bedroom, while I puttered around the house. I felt satisfied today, that I am making progress. I got out for my walk, did the one crucial knee exercise for my arthritis, and did two of the three sessions of yoga. Recently I bought myself a very inexpensive three pound weight to lift, and every day I “pump iron”, sort of, for a few minutes. I hope to work my way up to including the other two knee exercises, and the third yoga session, in my daily routine. All this is outside my comfort zone. I was very athletic when I was young, but for various reasons moved towards a predominantly mental and emotional inner life. I am moving slowly into my body again.

The new wardrobes are completed! They are surprisingly roomy.
DSCF7806
The poinsettias I bought before Christmas, at Home Depot. They like hanging around on the dining room windowsill.
DSCF7816

Worldly Distractions

Weather

4°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Monday 1 February 2016
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 4.0°C
Dewpoint: 0.7°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: W 27 gust 45 km/h

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT IN EFFECT
-1°C
Date: 11:00 AM EST Tuesday 2 February 2016
Condition: Cloudy Tonight: Snow or ice pellets beginning late this evening then changing to rain after midnight. Risk of freezing rain late this evening and after midnight. Local blowing snow late this evening. Snow and ice pellet amount 2 cm. Rainfall amount 5 to 10 mm. Wind east 30 km/h gusting to 50. Low minus 2 with temperature rising to plus 3 by morning.
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -1.0°C
Dewpoint: -5.6°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: ENE 15 km/h
Wind Chill: -6

Quote

“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.”
A. A. Milne
1882 – 1956

Good News

Mid-May I noticed a red patch on my right hand. I thought perhaps it was a bite of some kind, it was about 1/3 inch in diameter. Weeks later I suddenly realized it hadn’t gone away, or gotten any smaller. I didn’t know what it was, and I remembered that “wounds” that do not heal should be investigated, so I took myself into the emergency ward, the ONLY available form of health care near the little house in the city, where I do not have a family doctor. The doctor at the hospital said it didn’t look serious, but decided to take a biopsy nevertheless, just to be certain.

I have been waiting to hear the results of the biopsy since the first week in June, which were to eventually be sent to my GP near the country house. It just so happened that I chose to call about the results when my GP was away on vacation, so I have been waiting for his return. I have been concerned that I would forget to follow up on this, as you never really know if these things are serious, or nothing. Last night the doctor’s office called while we were hanging out in the screened in porch, and left a message because we couldn’t make it up the stairs in time to answer the telephone. The person who called suggested I call the doctor’s office in the morning, and let me know that it was not urgent, which I appreciated very much.

This morning I called the doctor’s office and received official notice that all is well, there is no malignancy. As it turned out the information was never sent to my GP, they had to track it down through the other hospital system. It is grand news however long it took to get here, and even though I expected that there would be no malignancy, I find myself very relieved to hear it.

Our Kenmore front loading washing machine, which we bought from Sears, continues to stink. This is a known issue with this machine, it is poorly designed. I would never buy a front loading washing machine again, and I will never buy another appliance, or anything else, from Sears. Last night I did an empty load using baking powder and vinegar, which reduced the horrid smell, but did not eliminate it. I will continue to do the baking soda/vinegar wash every few days, to try and keep the odour under control. We talked about buying a new washer/dryer set, or even just a new washing machine, but cannot afford it, so we will just keep on battling the smell.

I have gained a new skill. I can now fall asleep at the drop of a hat! This morning I drifted off while typing on the computer, with a partially consumed cup of coffee sitting beside me. I fall asleep while Attila is talking, while reading, while lying on the couch resting my wounded behind, while typing on the computer. I even fell asleep while reading the weather report, before copying and pasting it into this entry. This is new, and so far I am finding it quite pleasurable. It is probably just the Tylenol 3s, so I am enjoying it while I can, as today I will be taking the last of the medication.

Since I returned to the country house Attila has been taking his lunch breaks, rather than working through them. He really does need to do this, to take that break from the frenzied pace of his job. He is so fortunate that he can drive home for lunch, as we live quite near where he works. Sometimes he even has a “power nap” while he is here for lunch. I do enjoy having contact with him during the day. We are not “cell phone” people, in that we do not communicate by cell phone or texting when we are apart, barring emergency situations, so Attila’s lunch breaks are a great way for us to touch base. Also, while I am here for the summer, Attila will not be working at his second part-time job during the evenings, which is great.

I had better get this entry posted before I fall asleep again! 🙂

Worldly Distractions

Weather

20°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Tuesday 7 July 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 19.7°C
Dewpoint: 16.8°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: SSE 15 km/h

Quote

“To resist the frigidity of old age one must combine the body, the mind and the heart – and to keep them in parallel vigour one must exercise, study and love.”
Karl von Bonstetten
1745 – 1832