Published Last week in Jerry Jazz Musician

13/08/2018

Revelation

The light on the road
to Chicago turns us
toward each other,
stories full
in our mouths.

There is room
in the Volkswagen
for what we need,
growing in the music
of Al Green and Norah Jones.

Reaching ahead of our
selves, we hold hands
as the dusk settles
her skirt around us, we
look for a bed in the dark.

The car empty
of all but the moon
we dream, in Chicago
more jazz
less blues.

 

(From Music for Men Over Fifty; Songs of Love and Surgery)

 

 


Me – My Left Foot

06/08/2018

I am in Bed 3, though not right now. I am doing well enough I can go home and look after myself all long weekend. The walker photo is from week before last, the end of week two. I can easily make the rounds of the rehab gym on forearm crutches, and then on Friday, I successfully completed two laps with only two canes! Holy nervous cats that made me feel good.

My amputation at HSC was April 5th, and I was home April 9th, for my wound to heal,  and in Rehab July 16. Walking has been my main objective. For whatever reason, I do not have a lot of phantom limb/pain. The downside however is gravity when I walk, stand or sit. There is some improvement to sit now that my faux leg can hold up what remains of my left leg, like now working at my computer at home. My back’s a mess, lousy cartilage the culprit, plus the ankylosing spondylolisthesis (one vertebrae slipping over another), with genetic inheritance the main cause. So pain remains a significant disability.

The PT in Rehab have been great. Though I hope I can finish by Friday. Need to work more on my balance and walk around the room without mobility aids, though I will likely continue to use at least one cane to bolster my confidence and for things like pushing the door opening buttons. I will also get moving on my all-terrain scooter, not for my recovery but for wider range. While I will always have a wheelchair and forearm crutches, I want to roam and have some fun.

 


Roommate Bed 4

05/08/2018

Roy has a spinal injury as a result of  fall in his bathroom. He hit his head and his back, badly damaging three vertebrae requiring surgery. He and Eugene have been here in room 525 the longest.  Roy is nearly ready to go home, likely by the beginning of September. His home is in Beausejour, which Wiki tells me is French for “beautiful stay.” He is pleased with the renovations to his suite in Manitoba Public Housing, and most recently received notice that the Manitoba Paraplegic Association will cover much of the outfitting costs including adaptive small appliances like a special can opener. Roy has some use of his hands, but there is no sensation in his thumb and forefinger of his right hand. He now smokes with his left hand. Roy was a mason, a brick-layer, though not a stone mason, as he is quick to say.  His work can be seen in and around Brandon. He has spent time on the outside, a homeless alcoholic for close to two years, and another two years inside jail, with a heavy cost to his family relationships. Now sober and into his seventies he is grateful for his care, and the home he has waiting for him. I like to make him laugh.


Roommates Bed 1

Dennis is in bed one, in our room 525 on the 5th floor of the Manitoba Rehabilitation Hospital on the Health Science Centre campus. His amputation is the result of “a toe infection that went crazy,” a complication of diabetes. He lives in the Birds Hill community on a small acreage with his wife of 41 years. His work in the trades, with a specialization in dry wall taping, his primary  income as they raised three children. He is the most recent arrival in our room.


Roommates Bed 2

Eugene & Joyce

Eugene’s spine was crushed in a farm accident on April 8th,  20 miles east of Russell.  His son’s emergency call to 911 got a quick response from Rossburn Fire & Rescue. His son kept him motionless until the rescue workers arrived applying a cervical neck collar, and other aids to minimize movement, before taking him to Rossel which has an airport. He was flown from Russel, with his wife  Joyce, in a plane with a doctor, nurse and several other emergency flight crew.  A critical factor in his recovery was how quickly he was able to get to HSC, in just under 12 hours, with emergency surgery from 8 to 12. He  arrived in room 525 on May 1st, Joyce being at bedside all the time, except at night, retiring to her room at Canad Inns. Both agree her support and advocacy has been essential in his recovery. He is paralyzed from chest down, and there is a lot still “up in the air,” including what will be covered by insurance, and how much home care they might expect, as they decide what their next chapter will look like. Born in 1943, he went to work on the farm when he was 16. The family, including one son, now farm 4,000 acres growing grain, and raising cattle. 


My (New) Left Foot

27/07/2018

My new left foot is resisting me, or me it, more likely. 

I will write down the instructions for putting it on, because I always forget something. Today my walker, my extra liner socks, and my shoe for the right foot. Those are just things, and easy to retrieve. I need them to do the next thing, so eventually I’ll  gather everything and begin. It’s the next thing that’s frustrating. Forgetting from one day to the next the basic instructions ….so rote and repetition

like the short script, I’m writing this weekend, that I want to remember for the cabaret in September.

So to continue…once the pin  at the bottom of my liner is perfectly straight (which adheres and connects to the stump bone) the waiting prosthesis needs to be at just the right 45% angle on entry to push firmly with my hand on my knee,until it engages the lock, whch you can see moving when you’re in like flint…ok in half an hour. Frustration leads to brute force, and the chances for bruising and tears go up.

My new wheelchair is deeper so it’s better I move forward on the seat. My OT is trying to find a much better sear cushion, with a $300.00 price point, I’m still not in the top range up to $800.

The best news is going back home, even if just for the weekend. Leave tomorrow at 4pm right after PT, return at 6pm on Sunday night. My bed can’t be vacant  more than two nights without reeking havoc on the empty bed counts or other paperwork. It will be great to go back to Gimli even if there’s sewage in the lake; the Film Festival and just being home will more than make  up for it. Plus some real daily life trials will help focus what we are doing next week in therapy. 


My Daily Fog

24/07/2018

Monday night

Just back from a meeting of diverse theatre artists with disabilities from neophytes to working professionals planning for the “Lame is” cabaret September 14 and 15, presented by the sick and twisted theatre company, Deb Paterson Artistic Director.  There were at least a dozen of us, working out ideas and groups.  I deviated from agenda for a meltdown while listing my disabilities, though promising “Comedy Tonight!” 

While crying at home doesn’t worry me, crying in a working group  takes me back to one of my first public meltdowns, at a staff meeting, and seeing the expressions on the face of those around the table, most of whom I hired, and in one case  a  look of disgust while turning away. I remember that look every time I do it again, still not able to unhook that look from my psyche. There seems always more work to do. 

I can say I have been treated well by the health care system, responding to my mental health  and physical health issues you can find in the about section of this site. A combination of white privelege, caring family members and patient advocacy all important. Mind you I don’t  see any rich people  here, and while trauma, injury and disease is common to the rich and the poor alike, and while reduction to essentials like breathing might make economic ststus harder to see, I can tell that no one percenter is in a four bed ward. 

Tuesday morning

I’m waiting for foot care for my golden good foot, because between the toughness of the nails, and the weakness in my hands I can’t manage it myself.

Plus I’m not supposed to bend my knee out (flamingo style) so as not to stress my artificial hip. Small little thing, but I have to wait for the foot care nurse. I’m not an urgent priority because I’m not diabetic. Triage. Waiting. Aha! Good person, this morning, foot care nurse, a relief. Now back up on my feet. 

Good person also my son Theo, who brought more stuff from the van. I have a lot of stuff. Leg extender for wheelchair, a reacher all the better to reach you with, toiletries, books. Lots of family support, sibs and kids, all good. I get a real coffee and meet him in the courtyard garden.

OT yesterday afternoon was about wheelchairs. Do I want a box frame that comes apart to load, or a cross-braced wheelchair that folds in half, and has wheels that come off. I also need to choose a recipe to cook a meal in the kitchen. 

I met my new PT Monday at 3:00 pm, learning a whole bunch and realizing I’ve ended up falling behind in my walking, so must aim for wearing new left foot for three hours today, two spent walking. Also stairs, but that’s during therapy.

Now I think I’ll confirm my appointment to see my shrink on Wednesday. 


My New Left Foot

22/07/2018

Walking

Here I am showing off for my daughter and her phone camera. This is as good as it gets, until tomorrow, day after tomorrow, day after that as I become more accustomed to my new leg and new left foot. There are no fancy $10,000 mechanics and electronics, and it’s heavy, considering that part of me has been weightless since my amputation April 5th. Thirty percent more energy it takes I’m told and then I ask from your average good foot or the mess of my own human foot bones and ankle, encumbered by a brace, almost as heavy as my new left foot. I’m playing a Sheryl Crow song from her early hit record that goes “Nobody ever said it was going to be easy, but nobody said it was going to be this hard,” so I manage to walk fifteen minutes at a time with walker, twice a day on the weekend.

Tomorrow I have OT at 2:00 pm, and PT at 3:00. I am back to wearing my right ankle brace and my gauntlets, all part of many different pain management strategies.

I have arthritis in my hands, particularly associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Right now I’m putting to much weight into my hands running up to my shoulders, but the gauntlets ease that up, plus they in themselves encourage less weight because they’re just enough awkward, unless I hold the walker just so, and my hands likewise, to encourage a stance you see in my Sunday photo, July 24, 2018.  

And by the way….I seem to be in the lucky 30% …little phantom limb/pain. Don’t want to jinx my progress…..pain in enough other places, but one major source of high level pain seems to have gone with the foot. 


My Daily Fog

21/07/2018

short k

Hearing the k move from text messages, short for ok, to everyday speech, said quickly and shortly from the back of the throat. k I hear it from a real life friend in Winnipeg. 


Caregivers use it in the Rehab Hospital, predominantly women, to acknowledge they are actively listening, even if I’m mansplaining, usually OTs and PTs now having reached gender parity, hopefully also pay equity.

Yesterday  met S K in her second career as a PT in the big gymn. She had learned typesetting while she was at the Manitoban for some of the same years I was there. After ten years, as printing technologu changed, she went back to school and now working professionally as PT in the Rehab hospital.  

K Is also for Kroetsch, “The Sad Phoenician.” The letter k below is read by me. Posted as an mp3 file the audio lasts sixty seconds.

 

 


My Daily Fog

20/07/2018

Today I learned my wheelchair had pop-off wheels, which I didn’t know or remember. I can’t believe someone showed me and I NEVER used the feature. It is possible  I might leave the wheels on when loading  it into my van, thinking it would be too much of a bother to take them off, but surely not every frikkin time! So thanks to Allie  I will remember I have an option…for the next month when I will be standing on two feet and walking most of the time. 

I’ve named this blog Fog because of my penchant for not paying attention and thinking about everything except what I actually am doing in the moment. Even so I argue you can be in an imagined moment just as mindfully as being in the moment sans imagination. My fail in this scenario is that often I’m not having great thoughts or wildly imagined moments, but thinking about the next thing I planned to do. 


Today I walked 600 metres, four times around the gymn with Ron spotting me. Tomorrow more of the same except I will keep the two wheeled walker, the first I can remember it being the right length.

I ran into Shelley  Kowalchuk who I knew at the Manitoban in the 70s. I was resting because I did the laps two at a time. It was great to catch-up, even briefly.

My daughter Bronwyn brought cherries and peaches, Yay!  She came  from work.  I always like to hear the latest conundrum facing her as a young professional in the federal bureaucracy. I’m also glad it’s not me in her shoes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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