Monday, 29 March 2010

The Eyes Have It

(photo nicked from Wikipedia...)

I had to ride the bus today. I haven't taken public transportation in years, as I do have my own trusty vehicle. But I wasn't allowed to drive.

I was informed that my driving abilities would be rather impaired by late morning. I was hoping this would be fun and perhaps tasty, but such was not the case.

I had my pupils dilated today. So the ophthalmologist could have a good peek at my retinas... retinae... whatever the plural is for the inside back part of my eyeballs.

What could have been a 30 minute appointment turned into well over an hour. And that was far shorter than the 2 1/2 hours they told me it would take. So I took the bus downtown, fretting that I would be late for my appointment because I was relying on some city employee to swing by the stop at the appropriate time, pick me up at the appropriate time, and then deposit me safely at the other end of the route at the appropriate time. I was nervous. I hate relying on someone else to get me places on time. I hate being late! But in the end it all worked out just fine.

So I go into the office and present myself at the front reception and had a seat in the waiting area. I was thrilled when I was called in no more than 5 minutes later. What service! I thought. It pays to have early appointment times.

I was taken into an exam room by one of the lovely ladies working there. She asked a few questions, filled in some blanks on a form and then put numbing drops in my eyes so she could pierce my eyeballs to check my intraocular pressures.

Well, no... actually, she just pressed an electronic meter to each eye, right where I could see her do it, and got an accurate psi for each. I asked her if I was properly inflated to 32 lbs... She just looked at me... and told me to go wait out in the waiting room in the centre of the hall.

Dabbing at my now frozen eyes with a tissue, I sat in the waiting area with several other patients. I swear they were all easily the age of my grandmothers... both of whom have been dead for years. Is it only old people who go see the ophthalmologist?

After about 10 minutes, I was called into a different exam room by a different woman. She called me 'Mrs.' I'm not a Mrs but I didn't bother to correct her. I'm old enough to be a Mrs., and I have been Mrs. in the past but am not one now. I thought it would just confuse the poor dear so I let it be.

I sat there for a couple minutes and lo and behold! The doctor came in. Again, I thought, 'What great service!" He had a quick peek at my file, asked me a few questions, especially interested in family history of glaucoma (yes) or migraines (yes)... but not me. My eye pressures are normal. I almost never get headaches (knock on wood) unless I am ill, have sunstroke or have bashed my noggin on some immovable object. He then put more numbing drops in my eyes and some other drops that he said would dilate my pupils so that he could have a good gander at the backs to make sure everything looks tikkety-bo. It would take about 20 minutes for the drops to do their thing, he said.

Off I went to the waiting room again. Again I am surrounded by old folks, but a different mix this time. A few the same, a few different. I sit and wait. I get called into another room in a few minutes to have yet another woman measure the thickness of my corneas... again by sticking some small pointy meter against my eye. Back I go to the waiting area. I look at my watch. I look at the small poster on the wall admonishing everyone to turn off their cell phones as they have equipment on this floor that can be buggered up by the transmission and reception of calls. I had dutifully turned mine off while in the main waiting area out front so I knew it wouldn't be me buggering up anyone's equipment.

There's not much to look at in that tiny waiting area. It's a little passageway between the two halls that contain the exam rooms and offices. To my right, I can see an oscillating fan (that is currently oscillating away) and into one exam room. The room I had just been in, to be exact. To my left, I can see an office worker typing away on a computer and answering the phone. I can't read the screen but can see that she flits between windows readily while making appointments and entering information. And I get to watch (and listen) to her complain when the IT department does a refresh of the system and her computer freezes.

After sitting and contemplating this microcosm of inactivity, I get called back into the same exam room. But this time, all the lights have lovely rainbow halos around them and they are all turned up much too bright. The doctor, a very pleasant young(er than me) man with ugly horn rimmed glasses (very 'cool' and retro but did anyone tell him they don't really look good on him?) who then proceeded to exam my retinas (and retinae... I had to look that up and both are correct) very closely. He blinded me with the usual bright light from the cobalt microscope but then put a magnifying lens between it and my eye and magnified that bright light to sun-searing levels and had me look up and down and to the sides and every which way (but loose).

So, the end opinion is my eyes are perfectly healthy and I have no evidence of the glaucoma that my mother and one sister are afflicted with. There's no unusual issues with my retinae, other than one has a tiny freckly on it but that's apparently common and of no concern. I was now free to go and get on with my life.

That's all fine and dandy, for one who has not had their pupils dilated to the extent that the iris is obliterated, and has had the equivalent of the high noon sun from equatorial Africa pinpointedly focused into their eyes. I am virtually blind... well, not quite but almost. I have to wear sunglasses in the building to make out where the elevator to the main lobby is. Then I have to turn my cellphone back on so I can call my sister and tell her my 2 1/2 hour appointment only took one hour and could she come pick me up? I had to take off said sunglasses to put on my reading glasses to see the numbers I was dialing on the phone.

I'm sure I looked legally blind as I squinted hard and help the phone near my face, eyes like black holes to nowhere. I then had to wend my way a block and a half away, in the brilliant sunlight, to await pick up. Thank goodness the building I was waiting in front of has a rather recessed front door and the overhang was like a dim cave.

After we went for lunch (where I wore my sunglasses inside the whole time and couldn't look at the windows), I had a nap after I got home and am almost back to normal now.

Well... as normal as I ever was...

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Good Words

Don't confuse the devices that connect us with the moments that keep us together.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


The 2010 Vancouver Olympics have been over for a while now. The excitement that permeated this country was so palpable while the Games were going... it was awesome! And with the first gold medal, the belief in our country's athletes became huge!

There was complete surprise and amazement when the golds began rolling in... and we completely stole the gold podium. I'm not sure we will ever be able to repeat that performance but it really doesn't matter.

What matters is the sense of pride in Canada that we have... Canadians have always been a quiet and polite bunch. Not loud and outspoken, but persistent, dedicated and hard working. That hard work paid off for our athletes and we soared above and far beyond anyone's expectations.

The voice behind the Olympic song "I Believe" is Nikki Yanofsky, a 16 year old from Quebec who is a jazz singer. At the age of 12 or 13, she was on stage singing tributes to Ella Fitzgerald. She's got an amazing voice, is gorgeous, and has been giving back to the world through her talent and her achievements with typical Canadian aplomb... quietly but with grace and style. I've included the video of her singing 'I Believe'... and every time I hear it or see the video, I am moved to tears with pride... I love3 her voice, I love this song... and I love My Country!!!!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

For Map....

The hurting is hard...

The hugs help....

Time will lessen the pain....

Hold on....

Thursday, 18 March 2010

So.... What's new?

Time chugs along, whether I am keeping up or not. Whether I get enough sleep or not. Whether I want it to... or not...

Work is busy. New patients keep coming out of the woodwork. I have no idea where they spawn but someone please, stem the tide! It's crazy some days! I go in to the hospital and there are 10 names that I am not familiar with. And I am at that place almost everyday! We have been shuffling existing patients to other units in other hospitals to make room for the 'new starts'. Then there are days like today, where every face was familiar, and it was relatively quiet.

Go figure...

The coming and going of St. Patrick's Day was a total non-event for me, other than some of the banter in Bloggerland about what it is (or isn't) in certain parts of the world. I don't own any green clothing. I don't like green on me... most shades of it don't suit me, so I never wear it. I did, however, buy Zoƫ a new collar yesterday... and it is green. Green suits her to a T. But she's a redhead.

There is almost no snow in my yard now. Yahoo! There is almost no snow anywhere around here. It is filthy with the scum of salt and sand from winter covering the roads and boulevards. We need some good rain to wash it away... and the city cleanup crews to do there thing, sweeping the streets, sidewalks and surrounding grassy areas to get rid of the tons of sand and gravel that is spewed all over the city. (I need to get my bike out of the shed and get it all cleaned up... so when the streets are clean, I am ready to hit the road!) Rain to start the greenery sprouting forth. There are tiny buds on some of the trees. Haven't seen any flowers poking through the newly exposed earth yet... and I do have a few daffodils that popped up last spring, so I am expecting them any time now.

Well, perhaps not any time. We have an Alberta Clipper moving our way and the temperature has plummeted. At noon today, it was +7C. Right now (at 7:30 pm), it is -3C with a very gusty wind that is making it feel like -12!!! Apparently, we may be getting a 'dusting' of snow overnight. We were so lovely and warm and sunny just a day or so ago... *sigh* I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto... And these red shoes ain't doing a damn thing! *click, click*

I don't like red either...

On a more positive note, I am sporting a brand new Patellar Fixation device! No, that's not some new electronic gadget. It's a knee brace. Years ago, I used to run. I loved running. I ran almost every day. For me, it was effortless, despite the faster breathing and profuse sweating. I had rhythm, I had grace, I didn't have speed but who cares... I wasn't in a race. I zoned out almost instantly when I ran. Got that runner's high within minutes. It was lovely! It kept me fit. It kept me slim and allowed me to eat almost anything. And. It buggered up my knee... And now that knee keeps me awake at night with its throbbing ache. It prevents me from rising to my feet after squatting down. It causes me to occasionally hop down the stairs on one leg (the other one) because it suddenly decides it doesn't want to participate. So I got to see a lovely Sports Medicine doc who poked and prodded at my knee, twisted and turned my leg, had me stand on a stool and lay on a table, and groped around inside my shoes. He then gave me a script for a knee brace and said the office would make arrangements for an MRI of my knee... at the hospital I work at, no less, which is mighty convenient.

So right after he was done torturing me, I took my now quite sore and aching knee next door to the medical supplies place and got fitted with my spiffy state of the art patellar fixation brace. It has a fat wishbone shaped insert in the front to confine my kneecap, straps of velcro that run hither and yon to snug up and nifty little plastic 'hinges' on the sides to keep things from wobbling out of alignment. It's black. It's hot.... as in making my knee sweaty. But, most importantly... it works! The instant I put it on, I could tell it would help. I wore it to work today and it was fabulous to not have a horribly sore knee! It ached a bit. I won't deny there was no pain at all, but it was a huge improvement over most days.

Now I'm wondering how long it will take to get that MRI. Whatever those images show will tell the doc whether it's conservative medical management or surgical repair needed. I also got a script for some topical analgesic cream as it really bothers me at night when I'm lying in bed, trying to be all relaxed and such so that sleep with happen. I try to avoid taking pills for the discomfort so it can, at times, be very difficult to fall asleep. Will be getting that filled tomorrow.

A necessary but rather distasteful project piling up on my desk at the moment is my income tax return. I've started... and so far, the online tax prep software is telling me I am getting all of $127 back. But I have a mountain of receipts to sort through and tally up. For more deductions. I want that refund to grow! I want to to be significant!

I figure they don't really need 30% (or whatever it is) of my income... so they can damn well give some of it back!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Wait times

So... I know in the past, somewhere back in the mess of words on this blog, I've made mention of the fact that my back is buggered.

Three years ago this month I got bucked off a horse. No... I did not 'fall off'... I know how to ride, and I ride well. (Or at least I used to... I don't ride at all anymore.) He wasn't one of mine. He was at a friend's for his annual spring tune up. (She's a horse trainer and I know the horse's owner.) I had ridden him before on several occasions and never had any issues. And in March, in Canada, there are no insects to bother a horse. There was only my friend and myself. And the two horses we were riding, of course. In an indoor arena, with four walls and a roof, so there was no wind either.

There was no indication that anything was bugging him. I wasn't even asking him for anything particularly strenuous. We were just loping around at a nice, comfortable pace, toodling about the arena.

And then he blew. No warning. No getting pissy or antsy, acting up and giving me a sign that he wasn't happy about something. Nothing. He went from quietly loping along to rodeo in one stride.

It was just one buck. One very large buck. One buck huge enough that he launched me into the air, where I flew ass over tea kettle and landed on the sand of the arena floor about 25 feet ahead of him. Landed on the small of my back. Did you know that sand becomes hard as concrete if you hit it suddenly?

My lower back did not appreciate that landing. The flying through the air was no problem whatsoever. But the landing was rather abrupt. My friend was at the far end of the arena and saw my airborne antics but there was absolutely nothing she could do except watch in horror.

I didn't get the wind knocked out of me, because I didn't land on my upper back first. And I didn't break anything, although I certainly wish I had. And as I lay there in the sand, unable to move my legs, trying to breathe through the intense burning pain that was searing through my pelvis, that damn horse had the audacity to wander up to me and look at me as if to say, 'what are you doing down there?'

I wanted to kick him in the nose as hard as I could.

But I couldn't move my legs at that moment. I was hyperventilating through the pain. I told him to fuck off and die right there on the spot, the bastard. He ignored me. The bastard.

So once I could get up off the ground, I put ice packs on my back and drove off to the physiotherapist's clinic. I could move. I could twist. I knew nothing was broken. But it was swelling and burning and it hurt like hell.

I became lovely shades of dark purple and black and looked like I had a fannypack attached permanently to my rear end from all the soft tissue damage and swelling.

Over the past three years, I have had physiotherapy, traction, massages, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, drugs, CT scans and last November, an MRI. I finally got a referral to a neurosurgeon to see if there is anything that can be done to fix my back.

Because I have three herniated disks. I have difficulty sitting for any length of time. Standing in one spot is also an issue. (Guess what I do at my job?) And bending forward slightly for longer than 10 seconds or so can send me to my knees. I get sciatica in one leg or both. I've had my whole right leg and foot tingle the entire day. Nothing like walking on pins and needles... I have now had steroid injections twice in my back done by a physiatrist (physical medicine doc) and have been told I get one more in August and that's it. No more. It helps a bit (although not when he's sticking the needle in until he touches the bone and then withdraws it slightly to make sure he's injecting the right spot.... there is nothing to describe that kind of hurt, and even though I have a very high pain tolerance, that has me hyperventilating and fighting very hard to hold still). He also told me he'd bet dollars to donuts that the neurosurgeon will recommend surgery because one of the herniations is impinging on a nerve root.

But here's the rub. I had to have the MRI first, the neuro office told me. Then the surgeon would review my MRI and determine if I need surgery. And then he'd see me. So, over three months after the MRI, I'd still not heard from the surgeon's office, so I gave them a call. Oh yes, the girl said, your name is here. I'll put you on the waiting list. Waiting list for what? I asked. For an appointment, she said. You have a waiting list for an appointment? I asked incredulously. Yes, she said. And just how long of a wait is it to get an appointment? I asked. Well, she said, we have people on the list going back to 2008...

You have got to be kidding me, I said. No, was all she said.

I hate our medical system for this. The government is all about speeding up wait times to see doctors and they even put some of it on their website. Especially things like hip replacements, heart surgeries, that kind of thing.

Neurosurgery doesn't make that list. I guess it's not that news worthy an item.

If I had $30K I could head down to the USA and get it done rather expediently. I don't even have that much equity in my house. It ain't gonna happen.

I've found a spine doctor in Vancouver (you'll remember that place from all the Olympic hoopla recently) online and have sent him my info to see what his opinion is. He's in the private medical sector. He's also 3000 kms away. But I have a cousin in Vancouver and could probably make arrangements with her if I need to go there for anything. But again, I need to know the cost.

We supposedly have universal healthcare here in Canada, so getting my back taken care of shouldn't cost me anything out of pocket. I pay enough taxes that I shouldn't even have to think about forking out cash for care.

I guess having a fucked up back just isn't fashionable enough to warrant media attention and shorter wait times. I just may call up the local paper and my MLA to see if I can get things sped up a tad.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Always fun to watch dogs have fun! This is a hoot. Tillman is a skateboarder of international fame. Looks like he's decided to find something to do in the winter too.