Thursday, 31 March 2011

Highway robbery

Here in Manitoba, we have a government monopoly that runs the auto insurance industry. There's only one place to get it, and they have you by the short ones if you balk at paying what they charge.

Several times over the past few years, they've had a surplus in their coffers at the end of the year and all insured vehicle owners have gotten about a 10% rebate cheque in the mail.

Considering I pay about $1500 a year for insurance, it's been kinda nice to get that little bit of money in the mailbox.

They have been closely scrutinized by the public utilities board this year... and found to have a much larger surplus than they had admitted to. The PUB is forcing them to issue rebates of 45% to all of us motorists by the end of May at the latest. That's $320 million...

For a corporation that is mandated to operate with the best interests of car owners in Manitoba in mind, this surplus is seen by most of us as blatant thievery. I, for one, will be very glad to get that rebate cheque.

And I certainly hope to see my rates drop significantly too.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Monday, 28 March 2011

Well, it's a plan...

I saw the surgeon today for the first time. He reviewed my chart, poked and prodded, asked questions and had me move my arm around on my own.

Then he got one of those little plastic body part models out and started showing me where things were bad and what areas needed to be worked on.

He told me (and this is something I did not realize) that MRIs are not very good at telling you what specifically is happening in a damaged joint, unless it is huge and catastrophic. They show that there is a difference in the signal in that area and that's about it. It shows there's a problem but not exactly what it is. He said it is not possible to tell if I have just inflammation in the tendon, if it is frayed, or if there is a tear. And the only definitive way to tell is to stick a scope in the joint and have a look. That's not something they like to rush into, because even just going in to have a look can compromise the area more than it already is. And if they don't need to do surgery, they don't want to.

I'm okay with that.... kinda.

Although I was hoping for a "right, this is the problem and this is the solution" kind of answer, being in healthcare myself, I understand the conservative approach. Because it's not clearcut, we are taking the conservative route. But because this has been going on for a while, it will be somewhat fast tracked. He said he usually won't entertain surgery until the conservative treatment has been utilized for a good 6 months... as tendons are notoriously slow to respond and heal, owing to a poor blood supply (which is normal for that type of tissue).

Now, my shoulder's been acting up since last autumn so I am pretty much at the 6 month period already, but given the new injury from January, we are going to opt for conservative management for 6 weeks and then I will be reassessed for the need for surgery. I now have a regime of very specific exercises to follow, some of which I am to do every hour (!) while I am awake. Initially I will be using my left arm to greatly assist my right in the full range of motions that I will have to do. The goal is to see how much stronger the muscles in the shoulder will get and how much the pain and decreased functionality will improve. If, at the end of the 6 weeks, when I go back to see him, I am still having a lot of issues, then it will likely be on to scheduling an OR date.

However, if things have improved dramatically, then it will be continue with that program and start back to work in a graduated fashion so as not to strain the shoulder unduly while it is healing and gaining strength.

And even if surgery is required, I may be able to return to work part time with restrictions on what I can do until the time of surgery. Then I would be off for at least 12 weeks to recover from that.

So at least I have a time line of events now, and can get on with doing what I have to do to make the most of this. The move will be over in 2 1/2 weeks so then I can concentrate on just that. And with the snow clearing off the sidewalks and pathways fairly well, I will be able to go for long walks. There are miles of pathways accessible at the new place and I'm looking forward to getting out and about.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A bit tender

I have a sore cheek. The right one.

Yes, that one down there.

I had a minor slip on the ice today as my nephew and I were loading stuff to take from my place to his... my donation to the younger generation, so to speak.

And because I actually remembered to not flail with my right arm as my left foot whipped out across the ice, said butt cheek had to clench mighty hard to maintain my balance.

So.... I's hurted my bum. Which makes sitting even on the big (normally) comfy couch a bit of an ouch.

Guess I'll have to do some stretching and massage...

Almost there...

Two weeks today, I pick up the keys for the new apartment and do a pre-move-in walk-through with the property agent. I will be the very first tenant in this apartment. I don't think I have ever in my life lived in a brand new anything! So this will be an experience.

I've picked up more boxes, to pack up the last of things. I'll start moving the smaller, lighter stuff, with the aid of my eldest nephew (thank you for volunteering your time to help me, hon!) right after that. And on April 13th, the movers come to haul all my furniture over. Then the sale of the house is finalized on the 15th, and a new era begins.

I've not lived in an apartment for many years. I think the last time was in '93, briefly, before my foray south of the border to nurse in the USA. And prior to that, it was in '79-80. I've always rented houses, usually with someone else, because having pets meant an apartment was not an option. Apartments are largely a pet-free zone here in Canada.

So this will be a 'new' experience for me. I hope it goes well. It is a brand new building, and a 50+ one as well, so I'll not be bombarded with the sounds that children bring to life. Not that I have anything against children, as I don't, but not having any of my own means I've never been accustomed to living with those sounds and find them disruptive.

I'm soooo ready for this to be over and done with. I've been preparing and packing and sorting and cleaning for weeks, it seems. The end is in sight but it is still three weeks away and time tends to crawl when you are not cramming all the moving prep in around a work schedule.

But I'll be facing south, with lots of light coming in the windows, and a little balcony to sit on to soak up those rays. I've already purchased a couple of chairs to grace the balcony and cradle my backside in the basking. I'm hoping to be able to hang a couple of planters with flowers to add some colour and heady scent to that small space.

One of the biggest challenges with the balcony will be to keep Lila from hunting birds. I have visions of her flinging herself off the balcony in an effort to catch some little winged thing as it flits by. Therefore, I believe the cats will be trained to wear harnesses and be leashed at all times when outside. (Pips already has one and knows what it is for. She loves going outside!) Much easier to reel up a kitty at the end of the rope, than to go four flights down to retrieve a broken and potentially dead carcass from the ground. And that wouldn't be the bird...

It's getting nicer out, although Spring isn't really here in full force. But that slows the chances of major flooding in the province, so I'm okay with that. Warm days (and warm here now means right around the freezing mark) with colder nights prohibits huge melts of snow. I just wish the sidewalks were completely clear of ice. Since not having the dog to walk, I have only gone out for a walk (on purpose, rather than walking while doing something else) for the first time two days ago. It was a brisk 30 minute walk but somewhat treacherous in places with ice, and only one arm to windmill for balance. I kept the other hand in my pocket to avoid unnecessary movement... as it hurts. We've been blessed with the usual blazing sunshine and the cats have taken to soaking it up while sleeping on the floor. I've had to open windows upstairs, even though the outside temperature is still just below freezing, as the house heats up from the sun. The cats have now been trained to the sound of the crank opening the window... they bolt from wherever in the house they were to press their tiny noses to the screen, ears twitching with the twittering of nest building birds.

I suppose, one day, life will regain some sense of normalcy. I'm awaiting that, although I wouldn't say anxiously, but certainly with anticipation. I just have no idea when that will be...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Freshened up a bit

I was finding it all a bit too dark. Too depressing.

So I changed the background on my blog to something a little more uplifting... lighter in flavour.

After hunting through all the backgrounds available, and peering at the tiny bits to see what caught my fancy, I decided on the handmade paper look.

I like flowers, but gardening is beyond me. I tend to kill most everything in a planter. I like nature scenes, but too many of them had the light bits in the centre (covered by all this typed stuff) and the darker bits around the edges, so that left me with the same feeling as the previous background.

The sports stuff... well. No. Just... no. Same with the techno stuff, the abstract designs, etc. I liked some of the watery ones, but their blue just didn't coordinate with my blog banner blue, so they were eliminated for clashing.

Besides, I am somewhat of a crafty person and I could so make paper like that. Rose petals and bits of rosemary. It would smell nice, in a woodsy rose garden kind of way. I've actually made paper in the past, using a blender, onion skins and bits of flower petals (can't remember what they were, but tiny and blue seems to ring a bell - it was more than half a lifetime ago, after all). A bit messy in the making, but the end result was lovely.

Perhaps I should do that again. Once I move, I will have lots of time on my hands...

Well, I shouldn't say that yet. I see the surgeon on Monday to find out what the grand plan is for my shoulder.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Being Canadian...

There's a chain of stores here in Canadia that has put out the quintessential Canadian commercial. At least to me, it speaks volumes of what we Canucks are all about. Never mind that it's a store I frequent frequently, because they have all the auto stuff you'd ever need (including a service department), sections for housewares, lighting, plumbing, gardening, pets, camping, sports, etc, etc, etc. I'm sure you get the idea.

They have something for everyone at some point in time.

So I just thought I would share the commercial with you so that you'd have a better understanding of Canadia and her humble inhabitants.

Real Canadians, though. Recent immigrants can be found standing in the doorway of the store in shock. Not over what the store carries... but wondering what the hell they've gotten themselves into by moving to a country that has every climate on the face of the planet except that of Jamaica.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

What does it cost in your country?

There's a war of sorts going on in Canada.... against the telecom companies that are upping their internet usage rate to... *ahem*... try and keep up with increased bandwidth use by people who download movies and such. Which they charge by the month for, when they pay by the second... Now what's wrong with this picture? Plain and simple massive gouging is all I see!!!

Apparently, all technology stuff is horrendously expensive here, compared to other parts of the world. I know, even in the USA, cell phone service is a helluva lot cheaper. And internet access is ridiculous. Just ask the guy in this video!!!!!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Kodachrome Kitty

I have an ancient version of Photoshop Elements on my computer that came with a digital camera I no longer have.

Every once in a while, I open a photo in there and fiddle around with it.

This is just the latest...

I was bored. What can I say? ;-)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

I wish I had the energy to deal with this situation.

I wish things were not as they are.

I wish you would make that damn phone call!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Sitting pretty

Lila's new favourite perch. It's just the perfect size.

A little quicker spin on things

I'm sure everyone is aware of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that has devastated Japan and affected several countries and millions of lives.

I found this little bit of info while reading the online newspaper today. My thoughts are with all of those affected by this disaster. Stay safe, everyone!

Buildings burn in Yamada town, Iwate prefecture after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake hit  Friday March 11, 2011.

WASHINGTON - You won't notice it, but the day just got a tiny bit shorter because of Friday's giant earthquake off the coast of Japan.
NASA geophysicist Richard Gross calculated that Earth's rotation sped up by 1.6 microseconds. That is because of the shift in Earth's mass caused by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake. A microsecond is one-millionth of a second.
That change in rotation speed is slightly more than the one caused by last year's larger Chile earthquake. But 2004's bigger Sumatra earthquake caused a 6.8-microsecond shortening of the day.
The Japan quake is the fifth strongest since 1900.
Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Out of sorts

Well, in some ways, I am. And then again, not...

But in others, things are coming into alignment.

I am sorting through all the boxes of stuff that made the last couple of moves with me, without being looked at. I've found photos from Christmases long past, relationships long gone, evidence from jobs eons ago.

I have laughed over a lot of stuff, like the letters from my oldest niece when she was about 13 or 14 (she will be 32 this summer). Short little notes written with a teenager's way of stating the obvious. I have also cried over some things, like photos of my parents, both long gone and still sorely missed. A letter from my youngest brother, a number of months after our mother had died, telling us things he went through with Dad and then Mum, up until the times of their deaths. The heart wrenching openness of his emotions, of sharing his fears, his thoughts, his overwhelming love for and with us. I sobbed openly with reading that one, Lila staring at me as she paused in her exploration of all the boxes.

So far, this year has been one of tremendous change for me, and it's not even close to being over yet. This shoulder injury has led to a complete lifestyle change, one that was not entirely foreseen or at all wanted, but one that is turning out to be a probable good thing.

With the sale of the house (the paperwork is now in the hands of the lawyers) comes the realization that in the near future, I will be completely debt free. And I mean completely. I have not been in that state in many a year. There have always been mortgages, car loans, lines of credit, credit card bills... the stuff that life seems to be made of these days. I can only imagine how liberating that will feel.

I now have a date with an orthopedic surgeon (at the end of the month) to get an opinion on the course of action for my miscreant shoulder. I saw the sports medicine doc again yesterday and he did a few more tests, confirming yet again that it is a torn rotator cuff and surgery is highly likely. He also advised that I pursue an appeal with the workers compensation board, and to not attempt to analyze why they denied my claim. He said in his experience, there is no rhyme nor reason as to why some cases are denied. It is an insurance company after all, and we all know they try like hell to not pay out a cent. I have requested a copy of my file from them (to which I am entitled), have copies of the two MRIs (the actual images - it's kinda cool looking at the inside of my body, and even if I can't make out exactly what everything is, I do recognize a lot of the structure) and have contacted the local nurses union - they have an advisor who deals solely with these cases.

I have had to do a ton of paperwork for this, of course, and fork out a lot of money to prepay my benefits at work while I am off. I had to pay for four months' worth. If I am still off at that time, and WCB had not decided to change their tune, I will qualify for a disability benefit. I suspect that will be the case, but at least it will be a little more money coming in than the employment insurance benefits I am receiving right now.

I think the biggest thing in all this is the mindset that all will (eventually) be good.

The move will be good (I have a date to get the keys for the new apartment, and the movers are already booked), the new place is very nice and I will be the very first resident! They are just finishing the building now. It's a new suburban development and having checked out the website for it, it looks to be a really nice place, with creeks and trails and lots of park land throughout the area, as well as some retail and restaurants within close walking distance. (That area is just an open field right now, but it is immediately south of my apartment.) It won't take me long to get to work (when I finally return), a major shopping centre is about a 7 minute drive away, and I am about 20 minutes closer to the barn!

Eventually my shoulder will be good too. I have to believe that, because I refuse to spend the rest of my life like a wounded chicken, one wing flapping lamely in the dirt. I have found some cool videos online of difference arthroscopic procedure to repair various types of torn tendons. Well... I find them cool, anyway...

My personal life is pretty much the same, still complicated and still not really what I want or need, but I just don't have the energy to deal with that at the moment, so it will just have to chug along as is until such time as the rest of the stuff gets straightened out.

One thing you have to say about cats, though. They don't get all bent out of shape and worried the way dogs tend to do when boxes start coming out and things start shifting here and there. They just view it as an ever changing playground and a source of constant amusement!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Pack rat?

Ever notice how much stuff one seems to accumulate when living in one place for a little while?

Living by myself in a 3 bedroom house with a basement has meant I've never felt crowded by my stuff. Since I will shortly be moving (meaning by mid-April at the latest) into an apartment (which means no basement!), I have to get rid of quite a bit of said stuff. I went from being farm girl/horseperson to city girl/non-horseperson. I did rid myself of a lot of the horse/farm stuff then, but not all. Time to do a complete clean!

I've already gone through the clothes. Gave lots of stuff to charity. If I haven't worn it in two years, it left the building. Like the quilted coveralls and insulated rubber boots that followed me here from the farm. Don't really have a use for those at all anymore! Especially since I don't even have a horse any more. They came in very handy when working outside in the winter flinging bales of hay and fixing fences, though.

I still have some barn stuff, like 5 gal. pails and rubber feed pans, plus odds and ends. I am donating those to my friend's barn, along with the ancient (but still in really good shape) LaZboy recliner from the basement. They have a viewing room that looks out onto the riding arena, and more comfy furniture is a always good thing!

I sold quite a bit of extraneous furniture already through a website called kijiji where you can advertise stuff you want to get rid of. That's how I found a home for the dog too.

My buyer and I have settled on a fair price for the house and are finalizing the paperwork for the sale. I will be completely moved out by April 15th, if not sooner. That's a weight off my shoulders, to be sure! I'm going to sign the lease on the apartment for April 1st so that I can start moving little stuff on my own. I am going to hire movers to come in and move all the furniture and big stuff in one fell swoop. Will have to find a little wheeled dolly for moving the boxes... I am not going to be hauling them about one-armed!

Now my main focus will be on the dastardly WCB and getting an appeal started. I'm getting a disk with the 2nd MRI on it (already have the first) and will push to have one radiologist review both MRIs. (They were done at different facilities and hence were interpreted by two different radiologists.) Even if there isn't a huge difference between the two, it's obvious that the amount of damage done to my shoulder on Jan. 26th was enough to push it over the edge and into Uselessdom. I'm no slacker and am none too pleased to have been off work for almost 6 weeks. I actually like my job, despite it being very busy and quite stressful at times.

One armed or not, things are moving forward rapidly and I need to keep up. I want my shoulder seen to and fixed if that is what it needs. If not, then I need a different job. But I sure as hell do not want to spent the rest of my life with an arm I cannot raise to any great degree.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Slogging onward

My dog now lives in someone else's home. She moved today, along with all her accoutrement. Food, bowls, toys, beds and blankets, her entire wardrobe, collars and leashes, poop bags, stuff to clean her ears and lubricate her joints... all packed into a few bags and loaded into their car. She went willingly, tail wagging, oblivious to the major change that just occurred in her life. But they will love her and take good care of her. The young woman is a veterinarian so what more could I ask for?

Other than to be able to keep her.

But it is as it is right now. I will miss her (I do already) but it's not like she's died... she's just moved on to another phase in her life.

I have a (highly likely) buyer for my house, which means I won't have to list with a real estate agent and won't have to pay through the nose for a glorified salesperson. It also means a lot less work to do around the house, because it is someone I know well, and who has told me to not bother finishing the painting and other renos I wanted to get done. "Rest your shoulder", he said, "and I will finish all that." Not that I had been using my right arm much, but some things you just can't do with your non-dominant hand and so my shoulder is a bit (more) bothered.

I have found an apartment that allows me to keep my two cats. It's brand new... in fact, they are just putting the finishing touches on the building right now and earliest move-in is April 1st. I don't think I would be ready then, as I haven't really started packing and sorting yet, but it wouldn't be too long after that. But since I thought I would have to list my house when I went to see this place, I asked for as late a move-in as possible, which was June 1st. I talked to them today and they said to just let them know when I want to move in. I've paid the deposit so the place is mine. And it's nice. It's roomy - 943 sq. ft - a 2 bedroom with a large laundry room and comes with five appliances - fridge, stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer - all in the suite! How nice is that! Plus I have a southern exposure, a nice little balcony, and I am in a 50+ building, so no squalling babies to deal with at 3 a.m. (I have nothing against children... really I don't... I just don't want to live that close to any!) I am on the top floor so no one tromping around above me and only one suite away from the end of the building. And it has an elevator.... *happy sigh*

I do, however, have a fight now on my hands. The Workers Compensation Board has denied my claim for financial coverage while I am off work, saying that because I had a pre-existing condition in my shoulder and that since the 2nd MRI (the first was taken before the injury at work on Jan. 26th) didn't show much of a change from the first, there is no reason they should pay me anything. So the fact that before this incident, I had a fully functioning arm (albeit a slightly achy shoulder) and after this incident, I was (and still am) no longer able to lift my arm to the front or the side and have constant and sometimes intense pain seems to have no bearing on the case.

I still need an orthopedic surgical consult to find out what needs to be done with my shoulder. That hasn't happened yet and I have called the sports medicine clinic where I have been going to try and expedite that appointment. Because if it requires surgery, then I want to get that ball rolling as quickly as possible. Our surgical wait times are usually horrible, and the recovery and rehab period after that kind of surgery is lengthy, so I may be out of commission for months.

I've a plan for my vehicle too... I have to have a plan. Because if I have this surgery, I will not be able to drive what I currently own. It's a 5 speed Chevy Blazer, and shifting gears is a pain right now. It will be impossible if my arm is completely out of commission. So once the house sells, I will be trading it in on something with an automatic transmission, so I won't be without wheels while I'm healing. I know I could always use public transit, but I have always hated relying on the bus.

So some things are falling into place nicely, and so far it is just the financial end of things that I have to fight over. At least I am collecting Employment Insurance benefits, but it's a minimal amount. If I am off after 119 days, I will then qualify for disability through work, which will be more. But still... I just don't understand why government agencies are so happy to take the money you pay them, but so freakin' difficult to deal with when it is time for them to pay out! What a pain in the ass. 

Well, they don't know they are up against a Viking woman who will not back down. I'm fighting this to the bitter end!

Anyone got a left-handed battle axe? I'm needing a new set of cutlery, methinks...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Separated at birth?

If you have had the pleasure of visiting Pearl's blog, you will know she has two cats. Everyone knows Liza  Bean as the sly, smart one who's always scheming up something.

And Dolly Gee Squeakers may be gorgeous but according to Pearl, she's not the sharpest tack in the box.

She and my Lila are a matched pair. Literally. They look alike, and they are just as not-so-smart alike. All pretty and not much brains. Check them out for yourself!