An Amble Scramble Day

6:00 a.m.

The roads are bad today. Attila called me when he arrived at work to warn me about it, and to offer advice on which roads to take to my appointment this morning. This is the worst part about winter, travel on bad roads. Tank and I will be fine, universe willing, but it will be a white knuckle commute to the appointment.

We are settling in to our winter routines, and at the same time breaking some of them from time to time. Last night we ventured out to a live music performance, and really enjoyed it. The down side is that Attila has a late night, and 5 a.m. comes very early for him the next morning. It does for me too, and usually this is of no consequence, since I am home and could nap if I needed to. Today, of course, is an exception, because I have to drive to an appointment. Luckily this takes place in the morning, my best time of day, so I will be alert and functioning at my best for the drive.

A thought occurred to me early this morning, as I was pondering life, the universe, and everything… which could be described as thinking about nothing. This morning I was thinking about the stars, and I wondered where my energy would find a home if the monsters controlling human “progress” return the earth to an inert state. I thought about life travelling. Then I wondered about spores, those dreadful, wonderful little entities that represent life, and death. I wondered if they survived a vacuum. I wondered if my energy would be contained in an interstellar travelling spore, landing somewhere out there in the unfathomable future. That is when I came across the theory of panspermia.

Panspermia is a new concept in my little world, and has opened up several lines of thought. I love having something wondrous to hitch my obsessions to.

2:00 p.m.

I have returned from my appointment. A 60 km round trip, it began on a less travelled road, which was icy in spots, but presented no real problems at the posted speed limit. The roads were completely clear by the time I left the appointment for my journey home.

The lived experience of our two different heat sources is quite marked. Our oil furnace outputs frequent, short blasts of hot dry air. When the oil furnace is doing its magic, the air is much warmer, and the humidity in the house decreases at an astonishing rate. I often feel overly warm when the furnace is pushing air around, and comfortable between firings.

Our air source heat pump outputs an extended flow of much cooler air, at the same temperature to which the thermostat is set. This air is not nearly as dry as the air heated by the flame of the oil furnace. At times, when this room temperature air is circulating, I feel a bit chilled by the “breeze”.

Today the weather is mild, and the air source heat pump is heating the house. I am now happily snuggled under my crocheted blanket, warm as toast, as the cool breezes flow around the house.

Lares installed the air source heat pump for us, and configured the system to work with the oil furnace. It has just occurred to me to ask him if the thermostat can be configured to decrease the temperature when the oil furnace is heating the house, and increase it when the air source heat pump is heating the house. That would be very handy!

I have taken a temporary break in the search for a suitable counsellor for Attila and I. There was no room at the inn, so to speak, when I called every acceptable-to-me counsellor within driving distance. I will try again in the new year, calling the same people and inquiring about a waiting list. In the meantime we continue to communicate with some intensity from time to time, with long breaks of relative harmony in between. This seems a good holding pattern until we can find someone suitable.

The lack of access to health care has been a real problem since we moved to Mist Cottage. The emergency department at the hospital continues to be overcrowded, with extremely long wait times for non-emergency issues, eight hours on my last visit, as it is used by many as an inadequate substitute for a family doctor or nurse practitioner. One cannot get regular prescriptions from the hospital, leaving seniors and others with chronic health issues, such as high blood pressure, scrambling to find a means to get the needed medications. People don’t notice the problem until they are an unwilling part of it.

Yesterday my Mom arrived in Florida, and settled into her winter home. She sent me a photo of her apartment, it is compact and walking distance to the ocean beach. Her first day there and she was already walking on the beach, and dipping her feet in the ocean.

I try to do a non-daily task every day. Yesterday it was baking muffins. Today it was washing a load of laundry and hanging it on racks, set up in the kitchen, to dry. Tomorrow, who knows.

Last night Attila and I travelled 80 km round trip to the city to listen to live music. It is what I enjoy most, particularly in small venues. We both enjoyed ourselves very much. Attila is stretched a bit to do this during the week, when the music we wanted to hear was on offer, as he had to get up this morning at 5 a.m. to go to work. Our compromise was that we left, far earlier than either of us would have like to, so that we arrived home and were tucked up in bed before midnight. A couple of real Cinderellas.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1°C
Date: 2:00 PM EST Wednesday 20 December 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -0.7°C
Dew point: -9.2°C
Humidity: 53%
Wind: WNW 18 gust 32 km/h
Wind Chill: -6
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.”
John Maynard Keynes
1883 – 1946

Fractured Health Care Delivery

I have been observing lately, and at times very close to home, that lapses in judgement happen to everyone. I have my own list. For some of these incidences on my list, there were no good choices to be made, so it is down to wondering if a different choice might have been a better one. For most lapses though, hindsight allows me to consider alternative options that might have been better choices on my part, if not in outcome, then at least for my conscience. My feeling, at this point in my life, is that I am better to go with what my conscience allows, rather than what others expect, or what seems logical at the time.

It is never a good idea to give other people’s opinions, or your head, full reign over your decisions and actions. A balance must be worked out between your heart and your head, and often this requires hard work.

The weather has turned cold. The dawn was sunless. The weather people are predicting snow squalls with serious visibility issues for driving this afternoon, which should be in full swing as Attila makes his commute home from work. It looks like the snow shovel might come out for the first time since last March.

Plans this week have not worked out well. A night out was cancelled due to warnings of imminent snow squalls that did not materialize. My plans to visit a medical clinic tonight will have to go on hold, snow squalls again. Saturday is supposed to be much better though, with only snow flurries predicted.

I continue to work on my Plan B, it is taking shape, the thoughts and feelings around needing it are beginning to feel familiar, and not so scary. I continue to search for a counsellor. Every day I call and leave a message with a counsellor, who’s fees are eligible for the company health plan coverage, and every day I receive a call back to let me know they are not taking new clients. The list of people I would be comfortable with is almost exhausted, so I may begin again at the top of my list, and inquire about waiting lists. There is no point in seeing someone I am not comfortable with.

It is hard work not falling through the widening cracks in Ontario’s health care structure. A recent call to the medical clinic, where I have been on the waiting list for over two years, gave me a bit of a shock. In May, 2016, I was told that I was at the top of the waiting list of 400 people. When I made yet another call to check on things this week, I was told I was way down the list because I had requested to go on the list in June, 2016. NOOOOO Luckily I write things down, so I had the name of the person I talked to every time, and the dates I had called, and a record of what I was told at each call. The list was consulted again, using my dates, and indeed, I was at the top of the waiting list until someone transcribed the list last June and my name was shoved down the list “by mistake”. I am not sure I believe it was a mistake. I have to wonder if there haven’t been new clients accepted at the clinic, over the last two years, who have connections of some kind. If I hadn’t called, we would be so far down on the list that we would not hear from them for years to come, possibly not in my lifetime. They say they are hiring a new doctor and that I should get a call in the new year… I’ve heard this before from them, so I am not holding my breath.

Another health related gap, is that the report from heart specialist appointment last September did not arrive at the walk-in clinic office. The walk-in clinic did not notice the gap, and it took three calls to them to finally talk with a receptionist, who will request the records from the heart specialist. There were recommendations made that I need to follow up. There are other issues my kidneys and gallbladder that were not followed up as promised by the walk-in clinic, so I will have to after them about that too. Walk-in clinics cannot offer any continuity of care, they aren’t really structured that way. No senior citizen should have to live with this kind of fractured health care delivery.

These things tend to run in cycles, in my experience. So hopefully I will be able to address all of the current gaps, and then enjoy a period of rest before the next cluster comes along.

My Sister-The-Middle-Girl let me know last night that my little brother has had two strokes, which left him dragging one of his legs. The doctors had been trying to figure out why his leg was dragging, and a CT scan revealed that he had had two strokes, unnoticed by him. There are no other discernable effects, other than his leg. My siblings and I, we aren’t children anymore, we aren’t young anymore. And yet, when I think of each of them, in my mind they are the beautiful children that I knew in my early years. For me they are forever young.

We picked up the car from the garage last night, and at last I have a vehicle to use during the day. The bill was substantial, not unfairly so, but substantial on our budget. Belts will be tightened accordingly here at Mist Cottage. The car is working well now, ready for Attila’s commute to work, and for visiting our loved ones during this holiday season.

The errands requiring transportation had been accumulating, and I am now able to begin whittling down the list. The first one was to get the Drive Clean test performed on Tank. With that accomplished, I could pay the annual license fees. Because I was waiting as the doors were unlocked, at the garage for the test, and then the MTO office (Ministry of Transportation) for the license renewals, I was first to the wicket at both locations. Within an hour I was back home and taking care of the accompanying task of applying stickers, and filing. Hopefully next week the weather will be nice enough to make a few trips to the city to check off the other items on my list.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-2°C
Date: 8:04 AM EST Friday 8 December 2017
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -2.3°C
Dew point: -8.8°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: W 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -7
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It is unbecoming for young men [women] to utter maxims.”
Aristotle
384 BC – 322 BC

Monkey in the Middle

I spent the day yesterday at the walk-in clinic and the pharmacy.

This was the third different doctor I have seen at the walk-in clinic. After reviewing possible lifestyle changes to be made, and determining that they have all been made, this doctor wants to add another medication. I filled the prescription and I am thinking about taking it. He had not heard of the information I brought in with me about my cholesterol lowering medication causing an increase in blood pressure, and he did not think that there was any possibility that I might have an adrenal tumour, one of the factors listed by the Mayo Clinic that might be responsible for increased blood pressure; he listened to me and dismissed these concerns. For high blood pressure the Mayo clinic advises adding medication after medication, so that seems to be the logic he is using, more drugs. When I took the prescription in to the pharmacist, she pointed out that I was allergic to the medication he prescribed, after I had carefully gone through the whole allergy thing with him, it doesn’t inspire trust. The drug store consulted with the doctor and he then prescribed a completely different sort of medication. The information sheet for this medication states that if you have a heart problem you should not take the medication. Again, this does not inspire trust. I am putting off taking it until after I go in for the heart tests that the doctor recommended and is setting up. I don’t think I have a heart problem, but life is full of surprises, and the test results will affirm that there is nothing to worry about in that department.

I requested a flu shot at the doctor’s office, and he told me that they could not determine if my allergen was in the solution (bogus, not true, lazy or scared not sure which) and that I would have to go to the drug store to try and get the shot. Again, this does not inspire trust.

When I got to the drug store they wanted me to go to the hospital to get the flue shot. Shit!!! Monkey in the middle health care. I have been through all of this before, every single year I have to spend hours and hours and hours of upset trying to find someone who can read a @#&$%^$ label!!!! The hospital told me last fall that they don’t give flue shots, there is no use going through all of that again and wasting their time and mine. So I refused to get up off the chair at the drug store, I sat there and just kept talking, calmly, in a friendly manner. Eventually they gave me the spec sheet and it listed the non-medicinal ingredients. We went through them, we talked about them, we read through them a second time, a third time, I recited all the chemical names given to my allergen, we read through the non-medicinal ingredients again. My allergen was not in the flu shot. Eventually, after much urging and insistence on my part, they gave me the shot. I stayed in the store for a good 15 minutes to ensure that there was no reaction, said a friendly goodbye and finally headed for home.

My blood pressure may be high when I arrive at the walk-in clinic because I know I am heading for a difficult experience. Next time I will call ahead to see what doctor is working in the clinic, and if the doctor I saw yesterday is there, I will wait for another day to visit. Attila and I have been very lucky over the years, to have wonderful Family Doctors. Our luck seems to have run out.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

12°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Saturday 5 November 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 12.2°C
Dew point: 7.7°C
Humidity: 74%
Wind: WSW 13 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.”
John Ruskin
1819 – 1900

Forms!

Attila and I had a busy day. This time, it wasn’t about unpacking boxes, it was about filling in forms and applications, exploring possibilities, trying to peek over walls of bureaucracy.

We applied for prescription drug coverage, which we no longer have. We applied for a local family doctor, and are now on a very long waiting list. I sought assistance in getting a flu shot this year, things don’t look hopeful on that score. This kind of stuff has to be done, and we are always glad when it is done. I always feel out of sorts after wrestling with the machine of modern bureaucracy.

The weather was beautiful today. We were out and about together this morning, dropping more items off at the women’s shelter, buying milk, mailing forms. The sun shone, the breeze was warm and gentle, and the morning passed pleasantly. Attila left for work right after lunch, so I spent the rest of the day working on administrative things related to health care.

I just realized tonight that when Attila is working the afternoon shift, the feelings I had about living here alone last winter are affecting how I feel now. The evenings were the hardest, when we were living apart, and now the evenings without Attila are triggering some unwelcome feelings. Right now, when this dampened feeling comes over me, I think about Attila coming home in a few short hours, and the sun comes out from behind the clouds. Eventually my unconscious mind will figure out that Attila is coming home every night.

My book needed more edits than I had anticipated, so the second draft will be my copy of the book, as it is not suitable for Archives Canada, or for sale. There were a few things that I did not catch when I edited the book, things that were actual errors. However, some of the errors were the work of the autofill devil, like the word hand instead of and, things that the spell checker would not catch. And then, after reading the actual paper copy, I decided to add a section, a transcription of my GGG Grandfather’s letter home to Scotland, after the families first year in the wilderness.

There is something about a real paper book that is so much easier to interact with than a digital screen. Perhaps that is because I grew up with paper books, and so prefer them.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

12°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Monday 19 October 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 11.6°C
Dewpoint: 4.6°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: SSW 36 gust 54 km/h

Quote

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
A.A. Milne
Winnie-the-Pooh