Monday, December 27, 2010

The homelessness problem...

I took this picture a couple years ago of an empty "camp out" under a bridge where someone had been sleeping. I worked at the shelter last night, in the actual shelter not the drunk tank or detox and had some interesting conversations with a coworker about how, in a nation as rich as Canada, people could live like this. We of course didn't come to any conclusions, but I realized how much my perspective has shifted in the past few years.

Something I have been reminded about time and time again over the past year is choices. We all make choices, each and every day, and the choices we make have a HUGE outcome on our lives. It is fine and well for us to say that homelessness is horrible, and it is, but yesterday I spoke with someone who despite having been given a house, chose to stay at the shelter because that is where he felt connection and a sense of "home". Choices.

Last night I had multiple people beg me for food. See here's the thing though, we give out food right when the shelter opens, if you come later then that, no food, because once it's gone, it's gone. So, if you have spent the day/evening drinking rather than taking advantage of the abundance of free food in the city, I don't necessarily feel sorry for you. Choices.

Now, the above being said, I also recognize that once you're on the street, the choices aren't that easy. Addictions aren't exactly easy to break. To use an example from my life, the fact that I'm overweight didn't stop me from eating cookies yesterday, even though I know I probably didn't need to. And that's cookies. I can't even imagine trying to come off years of hard drinking. Then of course, there's the added challenge of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. In some cases, people's brains simply don't allow them to learn from their mistakes, so they make the same "poor" choices again and again. Mental Illness figures in, blackouts from substance use, peer pressure and involvement, low self esteem, self efficacy and little motivation for change.

So, while I will continue to advocate for funding and services for the homeless and near homeless, there is no way I can believe that is 100% someone else's fault. There are resources out there for those who seek them, there is food out there for the hungry homeless, and there are places of safety for those who need a break from life. I do truly believe there is more we can do, that the are clinical best practices we are most certainly not following, however I think I believe that there will always be homelessness, no matter what social net we put in place.

not a very happy holiday post.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Thoughts

I am not sure if I have thoughts this Christmas or not. In fact, in some ways, I'm really just kind of numb. I'm plugging along though, one day at a time, I just wonder if I'm being true to myself and letting myself grieve, or if I'm living in a state of constant denial. In some ways, I feel kind of blocked, like there are parts of myself that need to open, and face the feelings, face the emotions, face the realities.

Last night I went to Christmas Eve service at my dad and sister's church. I haven't been in that church since the funeral, and the time before that was also not the most pleasant experience. I was confronted with so many people who knew my mother, so many more then were at the funeral, and I left as soon as I possible good. I played the piano for the 11 PM service at my church, it felt good to be there, even if I did continually psych myself out on nearly every introduction. I wish it had been the whole worship team rather then just me up there.

This morning it was off to my dad and sister's house for awkward good times of my sister acting like a child, me defending my dad from her and dad and I planning our September vacation to the place where my parent's honeymooned. Then Christmas dinner at a family friend's, where I met a nice single man who seemed to meet most of my "criteria". My poor father was incredibly hung up on the fact that he was of a different skin colour and couldn't stop asking about his culture even though he was born and raised in Canada. My sister kept bringing up my cats, revealing just how crazy a cat person I was, which is NOT something I generally do when I'm trying to "flirt", or even just appear normal.

Then it was home to listen to my dad and sister wrap their presents, because apparently they don't plan ahead. Then opening presents, including some presents from mom which she bought before she died. That was hard. I left soon after, before 5:30 and then realized I had an entire evening to myself and NOTHING was open and NO-ONE was around to hang out with. I tried to drive and look at some Christmas lights, but I couldn't remember where we used to drive and didn't see many good ones before giving up and going home.

I went for a walk later, too cold to be out for too long though. Sophie Cat and I had snuggles, as did Ollie and I, and now, now it's bedtime I guess.

The first Christmas is over.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I have this neck issue going on, which may very well be a physical manifestation of my inner pain. In any case, my massage therapist asked me if I was "stressed" today. And for some reason, that question made me SO angry. AM I STRESSED? You think? It's only like 7 weeks since my mother died, and it's almost Christmas. And he knows that stuff, he was at my mom's funeral for goodness sakes. I'm not sure why I'm so angry about it, but I am SO angry.

the end.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

To my mother - may she rest in peace

My mother died on Tuesday November 2, 2010 at the age of 54. She had a somewhat mysterious cancer they believe started in her small intestine or appendix. No treatment they tried made any difference and it spread throughout her entire abdomen, unstoppable.

Mom made the decision to die just over two weeks before her death. She stopped eating and drinking, and for awhile, until her month got just too dry, even stopped the ice chips. She refused IV feeding receiving only the fluids deemed necessary to keep her PICC line open. Eventually as a family we made a decision to stop those too. For the last 4 days of mom's life she was not with us, even a little bit. She could not speak and did not show any recognition of anything but pain.

Tuesday, I came to the hospital on the 15th day of the 10 days they gave her to live. Within 30 minutes of my arrival she stopped breathing and finished her transition from the living to the dead, a 70 pound shell of the woman she once was. Dad and I were with her and my sister came later that hour (let me tell you it's awkward sitting in a room with a dead body...) We had dinner, then I went to yoga with a friend, and the grocery store. As soon as I got home from the grocery store I started sneezing, the cold which had been holding off til I was free from the hospital hit with a vengeance. I slept for at least 11 hours. Solid sleep with no ear open for the phone to ring.

Wednesday was a day of funeral home arrangements, church arrangements, nose blowing, and decongestant popping. Fortunately, my slightly obsessive mother had planned her entire funeral (and prepaid), written her obituary and done countless other things which made this process easier. My sister looked horrible, but dad and I got things done which basically consisted of signing some forms, agreeing to pay the INSANELY high cost of getting her obituary printed, and picking the flowers. Then a friend and I ran random errands and I moaned about my sinus. Then slept for 12 hours (Oh how I love sleep).

Thursday was a day of "rest" meaning I got up at noon and went to starbucks and then didn't do anything til yoga at 4. Then I hung out at home til I hung out with my best friend in the evening. It was wonderful.

Friday was, well, a day. A long, long, long day. Friday mom's ashes were interred in the morning. I, as the oldest daughter, got the honour(?) of placing her ashes in the hole in the memorial wall thing. Though we have a VERY small family, both my mom's brother and my dad's brother came, as well as my mom's cousin and my great aunt and uncle (I have no aunts and no cousins). The afternoon was the memorial service which was...packed. I am fairly sure I'll get six colds and two flus all at the same time from the number of hands I shook. Thankfully my friends eventually rescued me from the line I was suck in and we hid out in the church sanctuary. I was getting emotional simply because of all the raw emotion in the room. It's hard to explain. It was very difficult for me to meet all these people who were connected to my mom in some way and who knew, in many cases, a very different side of her.

Friday night, to distract myself from everything and get back into my routine, I went to volunteering and fed dinner to 200. (Or well, greeted 200 people at the door). I hadn't been in a month, and it often feels like coming home. I love it. Oh, and Saturday was inconsequential.

Which brings me to today. This is the first Sunday in probably a year where I haven't had to go to my parents house or a hospital. I love it. I absolutely love it. However, I didn't love the totally aimless feeling it left me with. Thankfully some libraries here are open Sundays and I went for a nice walk to get books. I also have wonderful friends and was able to get out for dinner with them.

I'm not quite sure what it is about being alone which scares me so much, and I really don't even think I'm scared of being alone, I'm quite happy/content right now, it's more the idea of not having anything to do/no where to be. I have another week off work (I was off the last two weeks as well), and there's a big push and pull going on in my brain about filling it or not filling it with social activities. Part of me craves time alone and part of me is so scared of having nothing to do and not getting out of the house. I now have something every day but Saturday, and it's only Sunday night... And of course I'll probably do yoga every day too. And maybe, just maybe, I'll take some time to write some of this out.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Well, it's the end of day 21 now...

I'm not sure what to write. Things just keep going. I've done 21 out of 30 days now, which is wonderful. My elbow hurts, my thumb hurts and my ankle hurts, but I'm seeing the phsyiotherapist on Wednesday so we'll see what she says. We brainstormed about my elbow already and somehow I managed to fix one side but not the other... random.

I've had at least one more day of tearful yoga, but yesterday and today were both nice and calm. I'm skipping all sun salutations and vinyasa flows to give my elbow a break, and I think that might actually be why. Less heart opening for starters. Yoga has felt very good the past two days. I've been doing the Moksha series, as opposed to Hot Flow which is different every time, and it's nice to fall into familiar patterns and know what's coming next. If I could drag myself out of bed at 6AM I'd love to go to the Silent class on Tuesday and be able to really sink into things. It's just not happening though.

So yoga = good. My body = sore. Life = well, life?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sophie Cat

This is how Sophie Cat greets me every day when I come home from work. If I come home at the wrong time however, no greeting for me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 12, 13, 14

Remember how on Day 11 I wound up in tears by the end of yoga class? Day 12 I had to stop myself from giggling, which was super nice, and a totally different reaction to a totally different kind of yoga. I went with a friend and we went out for dinner and talked afterwards. Wonderfulness :)

Day 13, yoga in the park. 600+ people all doing yoga, as a fundraiser, outside in the sunshine. I loved the feeling of yoga in the grass, lying in savasana with my whole body truly sinking into the ground. More wonderfulness.

Day 14. That's today. Today I did two classes, a more intense one and a very restorative one. I'm fairly sure I'll be sore tomorrow, but you never know. It felt good to spend that time in the hot room. To just breathe. (And work my butt off) But especially to just breathe. Even more wonderfulness.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 11 - Cultivating Peace

By the end of yoga today I was crying. Not because of physical pain, although both my ankle and my elbow were hurting, and not because I was particularly exhausted, but just because I was crying. I'm not sure what triggered exactly, perhaps simply that my body doesn't always move the way I'd like it to, but I really think it was more than that. There's a lot of stress in my life right now, and stress tends to come out in our bodies. I don't know if yoga released some of that, or brought it to the surface or what, but there was something going on there. Tomorrow I'm doing some nice, basic, hatha yoga. Stretching in the hot room, but not Sun Salutations, no Flows and no rushing.

I sent this as an email update to friends, so perhaps I'll add it here as well.

I know I haven't been the most talkative this week, but I wanted to update you all on what's going on (for some of you you're jumping in in the middle here because I've been bad with updates, but here's what's going on).

My grandma (my father's mother) has pneumonia. As I last heard she is still conscious and eating (as long as it's pureed, she is no longer able to chew or to swallow hard foods) and is taking antibiotics. She is on oxygen and she is not expected to be able to beat the pneumonia and has been moved to palliative care.

My father is going out to see my grandma (across the country) and say goodbye. I am driving him to the airport tomorrow morning. Although he initially wanted me to come, we decided it would be better if I stayed here to look after my mother and came out for her funeral, either this trip, or a trip in the future. He is planning on returning on Wednesday.

We found out on Tuesday that my mother's chemotherapy did not work and her tumor has grown. The tumor coats many of the major organs in her abdomen including her intestines, lungs, and liver. They have decided to try my mother on a different kind of chemotherapy, however there are potentially lethal side effects associated with it and she has to be very careful. At this point the chemotherapy is simple to extend her life, there is no hope of a cure.

In addition to the cancer my mother has developed a blood clot in her leg which runs from her groin down into her calf. She was on injectable blood thinners at the hospital all last week but seems to have been stabilized on warfarin for now. I am taking her to the hospital tomorrow where they will check her levels and do care of the pic line she has in her arm for chemo.

In summary, at this point, I'm staying in the city and my father's going away. But, I'm also back to that uncertain place of not knowing when I might be flying across the country.

Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers. In particular my father who is leaving his very sick wife to say goodbye to his dying mother. Please also pray for my mother as she will spending a lot of time on her own in the upcoming days. And of course please pray for my sister has she is placed into the role of primary house keeper. And me, as I try and make sure that everything comes together, is taken care of, and everyones needs are met.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 10

My.body.hurts. I'm not sure what it is about today, but my body hurts. A lot. Maybe it's the fact that I did a 90 minute class today as opposed to my usual 60, but I'm definitely rather sore. Then again, my body hurt somewhat before yoga as I suppose it's probably cumulative.

I don't have any amazing reflections about patience or learning today. Mostly, I'm just at a point where I need to push through. Maybe I'll be deeper tomorrow. So instead, here's pictures of my cats.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 9

Today was the hardest day of the challenge yet for me. It was seriously hard to motivate myself to get to yoga. I felt horrible today, emotionally as well as somewhat physically, and I left work early cause I didn't feel like bursting into tears at my desk. I came home, climbed into bed, and fell asleep. Then of course I had to get up for yoga. Which really was a good thing, because it meant I couldn't completely screw up my sleep schedule.

At yoga, there was a new teacher, which is fine, if we hadn't also had 3 new staff start at work (two today, one last Wednesday). I can only deal with so much change and I feel like my life is in a state of constant flux. I had a bit of a hard time letting go of the teaching/teacher and sinking into my yoga. She did things a bit differently, and it just, wasn't working for me... or something. I dunno.

So, things I learned today: Sometimes it's okay to just give up, go home and take a nap. It really was what I needed. I really did need to not be at work for a while (despite just coming off a long weekend). Not knowing if I'm flying half way across the country to go see my grandma, is kind of getting to me. And mom's chemo isn't working...which I'd already guessed, but still.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 7 and 8

I've now passed the one week mark on my 30 day journey and have spent more than 7 hours in hot room this week. Naturally, it's summer and rather hot outside, making me question why on earth I didn't choose to do this in the winter.

The first week has been great. It's been hard to fit the yoga in everyday and I often find my thoughts wandering to what I have on my mental to do list, what I'm going to have for dinner, or where I'm supposed to be next. Instead of getting angry with myself, I'm trying to let those things go and concentrate on breathing in the moment. Just paying attention to that moment, to that place and to the calmness of the yoga room; whatever's outside the room has to wait. In that hour I practice freeing myself from the stresses of life, the realities of my family dynamics and the frustrations of my job and concentrate only on my breathing and my body. The mental benefits are great.

In terms of physical benefits, I'm not so sure. It has only been a week. I'm doing this at the same time as physio and between the two I have days on which I'm pretty sore. That being said, I've been able to jump back into my practice at a place similar to where I left it before July 1st without too many negative consequences. While I'm still modifying/skipping some poses, for the most part, I'm right where I want to be. I've even noticed a bit of an increased range of motion in my ankle, despite the fact that I still can't kneel or sit cross legged.

All in all so far this has been a great experience. We'll see how the next 3 weeks go though, I've got lots going on so it'll be interesting to try and fit everything in.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 5 and 6

Day five and six get only one post because I was waaaaaaaaaaaay too tired last night to write anything coherent.

Yesterday was crazy. I had to get up an hour early to drive to the cat to the vet for his teeth cleaning. Then work, then physio (which was seriously a killer) and then back to the vet and then home with the cat, then yoga. I did have a smoothie in between physio and the vet thank goodness. My physiotherapist has me doing all these squats and lunches and this morning my butt is SO sore!

After yoga I stopped off at the grocery store and picked up a chicken and a salad as well as a couple other things and came home for what I thought was going to be a relaxing evening. It wasn't. Instead, before I'd even gotten into the shower my dad phoned to let me know that my grandmother has been made palliative and is going to die very soon...four provinces away. This of course throws my family into crisis since with mom so sick...

Today was a hard day for yoga. It was hard to get up, hard to get motivated and hard to stay motivated. It's almost as hot outside as it is in the hot room. However, I did it, and now I'm off to work at the shelter this evening. Perhaps more reflections will come later.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 4

It's day four, and I'm sore. Not horribly sore, but it's also not morning yet and I've done 3 hot flow classes in a row. Perhaps I'll take in a hatha class tomorrow, we shall see.

My first victory of the day was seeing how despite my ankle, my arm strength has really improved and I was able to hold crow pose (in the picture) for at least 5 seconds before I fell over. This is huge for me, because if you'd asked me two months ago if a 200+ lb girl would ever be able to hold an arm balance I probably would have said no. Yoga has been going well, despite the challenges I'm having fitting it into my day.

My other victory of the day was being able to tell my counsellor that since going back to yoga my mental health has been WAY better. I mean, I totally still have my moments (today I cried because I realized my mom would never knit my baby mittens) but things are going way better. She suggested that we not meet for a while, since I only get 12 sessions a year with her, and that I work on maintaining things on my own, using yoga for my healthy coping. So we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 3

Warrior pose. Today I am a warrior. Yesterday we found out that mom has a blood clot in her leg. It runs from her groin all the way to her calf and has slowly been growing. This is obviously not a good thing, and rather concerning. Mom's now receiving injectable blood thinners at the hospital everyday and taking Warfarin in the evenings. Chemo is bumped another week back. I have many thoughts about the chemo, but not today.

Today was a good yoga day. Much as there was some anxiety about fitting everything in and having to miss Wednesday church so that I could both do yoga AND work late (I've been missing a lot of time for physio) yoga went super well. I really surprised myself with my endurance and with the strength in my ankle. I mean, it's certainly not perfect, and the range of motion isn't there, but in terms of strength, not so bad.

What I learned today is patience. Patience with my body. Patience to say it's okay to do modifications on all my sun salutations because I just don't have the range of motion in my ankle to do an upward dog with both feet on the ground. Patience to know that I can't do a "proper" child's pose because I can't put that kind of weight on it. So, today I am a not just a warrior, I am a patient warrior.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Challenge Day Two

I chose tree pose to start this off with because of the rooting tree pose provides. It's a balancing pose, so it's certainly not a strength of mine right now, but I'm working on it. It seems like a good place to begin. Begin with roots not with branches or offshoots or large new growth, but begin by reaching down, down into the earth, and perhaps more importantly reaching down into the depths of yourself to call on strength you didn't know you had.

It's not even 9PM yet and I'm exhausted from my day. I didn't sleep well last night, there was storm in the air and it was hot and humid out. I worked, then went to physio and then went to yoga. Physio can be a workout in and of itself, so it was really hard doing the two in a row. By the end of yoga I was just lying on my mat; listening and absorbing the heat, but too exhausted to do anymore asanas (postures).

What have I learned today? Well, that's a hard question. I learned that it's expecting too much of myself to be able to sit cross legged or kneel yet, my range of motion is just not what it should be. I also remembered that I need to be patient with myself, that things will come when they come. Okay, so I didn't make it actively through the whole yoga class today. I stayed in active rest, and chose that as my way of practice. I once again became aware of just how much my body can take and where that line is between pushing myself and passing out.


Challenge Day One

So, I'm actually writing this on the morning of Day 2. Last night was HOT and busy and I got dizzy when I took my medications and then there was a bit of a crisis with my mother, which I'll write about somewhere else.

Anyway, reflections on Day 1 of the challenge. Wow. A step out of my comfort zone! The opening ceremonies were at this gorgeous outdoor area just inside the city. They didn't tell any of us what we were doing, just to come. What we were doing, was a Challenging our Obstacles Course (wheel of fortune anyone? it's a before and after!)

My first thought was "I can't do this". I made the assumption that I would not be able to participate because of my ankle. And while physically I maybe should have gone with that, emotionally I'm really glad I didn't. We had to make teams, which again, was a HUGE step out of my comfort zone. I strongly dislike talking to people I don't know (don't even get me started on the massage train at the beginning) but it turned out to be just fine. The other women in my group were great. They were super compassionate about my ankle and we had lots of great laughs together as we navigated trails, hills, tree houses and yoga poses. It turned out, that the only thing I really couldn't do was the three legged race. That would just be asking for trouble.

So, day one of the challenge. Not what I expected, but already I've been pushed way out of my comfort zone. Let's see what day two brings!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yoga 30 Day Challenge

Tomorrow I am starting a 30 day yoga challenge and I thought it would be really nice to blog about it... if I have the energy! The theme of the challenge is overcoming your obstacles and Ganesh here, the elephant God, is the Lord of Success and the Destroyer of Evil and Obstacles... or so the email I got tells me.

When I first decided to do the 30 Day Challenge this summer the biggest obstacle was the heat. How was I going to do 30 days of hot yoga in the heat?! Then Canada Day happened and my biggest obstacle became the fact that I couldn't walk and really wasn't sure when I'd be able to. I registered anyway. One of the first things I asked my physiotherapist about last week was whether she thought I'd be able to do my challenge, and she said YES (as long as I'm careful and stay within my limits and yada yada yada). My new obstacle is time. When I initially signed up for the challenge my schedule was about as empty as it ever gets and I thought it would be the perfect time. Now I've got physio twice a week, laser once a week, counselling etc... And let me tell you, physio is a workout and a half (i secretly call my physiotherapist the torture woman).

So, this challenge will indeed be about removing my obstacles, about finding time for myself in the midst of craziness and about shifting my priorities so I can accomplish my goal. Good luck to me! I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

for your viewing little purrito

The counsellor goes for counselling (aka I'm a bad client...)

I am fairly sure that on some level I drive my counsellor crazy. I honestly don't remember exactly what prompted me to email the Employee Assistance Program about counselling or how long ago it was. I suppose I could look in my calendar, but my calender is in the living room and I'm in the bedroom with my foot iced and elevated. They had me set up for an appointment in less than a week. The for profit world boggles my mind. I know they said it was fast service, but I was thinking at least a month. In any case, I digress.

I am not sure how I feel about this whole "going to counselling thing". I mean, I've done it before and had a really good experience, but I'm having a lot of ambiguity about it now. The goal was to deal with my mom's impending death and I was very clear that I did not want to change ANYTHING about myself... now I'm not so sure. My therapist seems to have a hard time with my ambiguity. Whenever I mention I'm not sure I should be in counselling she seems to get rather defensive. Sometimes she just calls me on my bullshit though, which is a much better approach. I think it is hard for me to accept that I'm back in this place. That there's still stuff I need to work on. That there's unfinished business in my life (of course I say all this at the wise old age of 23...)

This post isn't really making sense, and for that I apologize. I guess I'm just really not sure how I feel about counselling, and I'm having a hard time talking that out with my counsellor. On the other hand, she pointed out I haven't been writing and perhaps that is another reason I haven't been processing. So I'm trying to write.

Monday, July 19, 2010

more pics of my slowly healing ankle

So I've been getting low level laser treatment for my ankle from the massage therapist across the street and I thought I'd show you all his awesome tape jobs!!! He uses this stuff called Kinesio tape and it's wonderfully supportive and really helps draw out the swelling!

Sprained tale of woe...with pictures!

So I sprained my ankle, thus having much time on my hands and figured, what better to do than come hang out on my blog. I've never done this before and would love ANY and ALL advice or stories about sprained ankles/crutches/breaks/sprains/etc... Basically it's an, I'll tell you mine if you'll tell me yours!

So here's my story. It's Canada Day and I'm doing what I generally do on Canada Day, hanging out with friends. In fact, I helped two of my friends build a fence, we used hammers, and nails and power tools and built and AWESOME new piece of fence.

Then of course it was off to the Canada Day Festivities. The assistant general manager of one of my cities big attractions goes to my church so a lot of us had VIP passes to the event. This gave us access to a "private" area in which there were tables, alcohol and a good view of the stage. So I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed part of my blue Bacardi Breezer while listening to music and attempting to chat with friends over all the noise. As dusk fell, people came around selling glowsticks, which of course, I had to have, so off I went, wallet in hand, with my heart set on wearing a glowing necklace for the rest of the evening.

Then all of a sudden, down, down I went. I felt my ankle twist out and then possibly in and discovered that I couldn't breathe. Panic went off, but I stuck to my goal, passed my wallet to my friend, and instructed her to buy me two glowing necklaces through the fence of the beer garden (fully expecting to be up in a minute to continue the party. A minute passed and then another as my concerned friends looked on. I finally admitted defeat and lay down on the grass to avoid passing out while someone went to get some ice.

My friends grabbed ice from the beer counter. Apparently the volunteer at the beer counter felt the need to get the first aid people (which was probably a good idea in retrospect). Unfortunately, the first aid "people" turned out to be a paramedic from the Major Incident Response Vehicle parked behind the VIP tent where I was lying in the grass. After it was established that I could bear absolutely no weight on my right ankle, the paramedic gave me the bad news; I had to go to the hospital, in an ambulance. I tried to talk him out of it, but with half my church on his side, I really didn't have a chance. So with some help, I hoped over to the cement and then, much to my embarrassment, they stuck me on one of these...

That was all fine and dandy until next I had to climb into this off road jeep sort of thing. Seriously, we only went about 25 metres on the first stretcher. By this point they had my whole ankle wrapped up in a pillow with an ice pack held together with triangular bandages. So, when 50 metres later we stopped to wait for the ambulance I was sitting in full view at a public event with a pillow tied to my foot. Then it was out of the jeep thing and onto the next stretcher for a ride to the hospital. I did catch a couple fire works out the back window though!!!

I have to say my hospital experience was great. I was there maybe an hour an a half total and one of my friends came with while another picked us up. The x-ray showed no breaks so off they sent me with crutches. Note: I live on the third floor of a walk up apartment building. fml. But up I climbed and to bed I went.

I will tell you though, that I am NOT in my happy place. It's super hot, super humid, I can't walk, feeding the cats is a nightmare, my house is messier than usual and my bed has crumbs in it. This is my first time spraining my ankle badly enough to need crutches, and let me tell you, I NEED them. The doctor said two full weeks of off my ankle. Did I mention it's my driving ankle? Blargh.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

quick update

I want to start writing more. I think it will be good for me. Life has been rather...overwhelming lately and it's been rather hard to get started.

My mother is so very sick right now and there's really no hope for her to get better. I've been stressed about work, lots of internal drama more so than client issues. To top everything off I sprained my ankle on Canada Day (July 1) and did quite a good job of it. It's really well sprained. I'm still using my crutches quite a bit and start physio for it on Monday.

I've been seeing a counsellor through Employee Assistance, which has been...interesting. Certainly not the easiest thing I've done recently and I'm still not sure it's the right thing, but I think so?

Cats are good. Oliver Lockhart has been literally in my face all evening. Right now he's got all four of his paws touching my arm which is making typing very difficult. I'm also trying to ice/elevate my ankle and so I'm at a rather awkward angle.

I have lots to say, particularly about counselling, but for tonight this will have to suffice.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today my mom told me that she is in so much pain (from the cancer) that she just wants to curl up and die.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's been awhile, so I thought I'd post another update. Life continues. Mom is having surgery on Monday which will hopefully be reaaaaally good for her. I've been working on using up my holiday days (which have to be gone by March 31st) as well as my sick days (same deal) while earning extra money working at the shelter. Over all, I'm actually doing quite well and I'm feeling like things have worked themselves into a new balance.

I worked at the shelter two days this weekend. There is something SO freeing about not having a caseload and something incredibly freeing about not having voice-mail. I am in LOVE with not having voice-mail! Seriously, I too Thursday off and I came back to EIGHT new voice-mails. Seriously people, if you leave ONE voice-mail, I promise I will get back to you. When you leave me THREE, it makes me not want to call you. (That being said, I'll still call you).

I love working at the shelter. I love my counselling job too, but I really really like hanging out with the homeless. As my long time readers will remember there are a lot of good reasons why I don't work at the shelter full time, but every now and then I get nostalgic for it. There's just something so very real about it, and I feel like I am really able to impact people. That being said, in terms of measurable change, I make a far greater difference at my other job. But, measurements, smeasurements.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yoga = Awesome

Today, for me, is a planned sick day. I love planned sick days. They give me so much time to make life less stressful...and to just get stuff done! Right now I'm at my mom's house doing laundry and chilling out. I'm about to help her with her bath. Later tonight I have a church meeting and then home to hang out with the cats... one of whom (cough, Sophie cat, cough) was up chewing on my hair at 7AM...grrrrr.

I did two yoga classes today. Yoga is one of the many things that has been helping me stay balanced and sane so I can cope with my life. In doing two classes, I chose to do one that was a really intense flow class and one that was a calm gentle restorative practice, again, creating balance. Balance or not though, I'm feeling kind of sore and jello like.

Creating balance in life is always difficult, but it becomes even more difficult when one part of your life requires a lot more energy then it has in the past. One thing I use when I lead the stress management group at work is an ecomap. Ecomaps track where the energy in your life is coming from and going to. It looks at which relationships are strained and which relationships are strong. If i was to draw an ecomap for myself right now, there would be a huge amount of energy going towards my family, it's a strong relationship, but I am not getting all that much energy back. Therefore, in order to maintain balance I have to draw on energy from other parts of my life, other parts of my ecomap if you will. Yoga, is one of those things which gives me energy. While it does take physical energy, I also find that it gives me physical energy and it definitely gives me mental energy. So, while some might see that my taking time almost everyday of yoga takes time away from my family, and some of my other responsibilities, it's something which gives me the strength to carry on.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I love that work can be a distraction from life. SO many people I know have jobs that they hate, that they can't wait to leave, that they dread, that they use life to escape from. I am SO blessed, in that I like my job enough that it can be stress relief. Yes, my supervisor has massive mood swings, and yes I don't always get along with my coworkers, but the truth is, I like my job. I've had to have some hard conversations with clients the past few days, but despite that, things have gone okay.

Things with my mom aren't the greatest right now, and I'm somewhat worried that my sister is suicidal, and there's the possibility my dad could lose his driver's license tomorrow, and I was really hurt by someone I thought of as a close friend, but things could definitely be worse. In fact, today seems to have been a fairly good day...especially since yoga. Yoga seemed especially hot today, but I came out feeling really good. I may be a wee bit sore tomorrow though...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

back to the grind

So I'm back at the main job tomorrow morning. Full time counsellor once again. I look forward to the stress relief as long as my boss is off my case. I don't even truly remember what she was on my case about though so hopefully she's forgotten as well.

I held my mothers hand today as she screamed in pain while they took our her chest tube drain. The doctor told her it would "pinch a little". His version of "a little" is apparently quite different than hers. Poor woman. The good news is that the drain is out! Hopefully that means she's home tomorrow!

I am tired. And the thing is, I can't decide if it's harder to tell the truth, or to just pretend that everything is fine. It depends on the situation, I guess, but yeah...

I hope to get back to posting about social work tomorrow after I actually do some. All I've done this week is feel sorry for myself, wonder if I should be feeling sorry for myself or if I should get over it, and then wonder if in fact I should be feeling sorrier for myself. It's a never ending cycle...

Finding balance. It's all about finding balance. And so, I'll keep plugging away at this, one day at a time. One. day. at. a. time. And if I can't do one day then we'll break the day into sections and go from there.

As Dory would say, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

last day of holiday

I feel like I need another holiday. I feel like I need a holiday where mom is NOT in the hospital for all but one day of it. I need a holiday where I can do yoga twice a day instead of managing to squeeze in a class almost every day, but it was tight.

Mom is in the hospital till at least Monday. They still do not know where the fluid in her chest is coming from, and they do not feel that she is responding to the chemo the way she should all. In fact, they feel she really isn't responding.

On the good side of things though, because I do like to find that balance, I've had some good hangouts with friends this week. I got a queen sized bed for the cats and I. SO much more room then my twin/single bed. SO much less cat in my space! I did do yoga almost every other day and had some really good practices. AND, I fixed/repotted all my plants today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

holiday day three

So, I've been on holidays for three days now. Well, holidays from my day job, I'm still picking up shifts at the shelter. Monday I worked at the shelter, did yoga, slept. Tuesday I did yoga, drove the United States to shop, slept. Today I visited mom in the hospital, will do yoga, will sleep. Hopefully I'll see a friend sometime because tomorrow is hospital, yoga, work at the shelter, sleep.
Mom is back in the hospital again, this time with a pleural effusion (fluid in the cavity around her lungs). They've already taken off two litres of it and hope to pull more of this afternoon. We don't know when she'll get out yet, maybe not till Saturday but maybe as soon as tomorrow afternoon.

I'm having a hard time figuring out how much I should visit. I suppose the easiest answer would be to ask my mom, but I'm not so sure I'd like the answer. I don't want to hear something like "as much as you can". That being said, I also don't want to hear something like "well, i know you're busy, so don't worry if you're not here a lot". I'd love to hear something simple like, "well, if you could come an hour each day that would be lovely". However, this is her cancer, not mine and I need to remember that.

I also need to figure out how to better communicate with my dad and my sister but that's a different post.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Writing has been hard lately. Writing makes things real. I tend to process things through writing,a and sometimes I just want to hide from reality, hide from processing things, hide from life. I've done a lot of hiding this past little while though, and maybe it's time to come out of my shell just a little. Perhaps it's time to open up, even to myself, about what I'm feeling, or maybe, to at least figure out what I'm feeling.

My mom is really sick. Really, really sick. When her bad menopause turned out to be ovarian cancer, I was concern. As she got worse, I was more concerned. I did some reading and realized that things were quite bad. In fact, things really suck. This week she wound up in the ER because she stopped peeing. Just, stopped. They still haven't figured out why. But she got a blood transfusion, got a whole bunch of fluids, spent two nights and is back at home. Now they are worried that there is fluid around her lungs. She's having a hard time breathing.

When I gave her a bath last night, there was just nothing there, nothing except a GIANT fluid and tumor filled abdomen which is now over 40inches around and 19 inches from top to bottom (full term pregnancy size). I can count all her ribs, I can run my hands down each and every vertebra in her spine. Last week she got into the tub on her own, holding onto a towel over the curtain rod for support; she pushed away my hand. This week she grabbed for my hand as I guided and supported her in.

I don't know what I feel. Part of me wants to know what I am SUPPOSED to feel, although, the social worker side of me knows that whatever I feel is normal. I'm all over the map. My mom and I have never, ever, had a close relationship. I'm a daddy's girl through and through. But now, now here I am. Now I'm the support, now I'm there, I've gone from talking to her once a month to seeing her at least once a week and talking to her sometimes almost everyday.

My mom has started telling me things, things I wished I could have heard when I was a teenager. She told me on Friday while we were in the ER that when I was a baby and she would leave me in my carseat during church she ached to hold me again by the end. Yesterday she mentioned that driving me (and my sister) home from high school was something she really missed because she missed hearing all about our days. These are things I never knew. I always saw my mom as cold, and uncaring, and distant. Now she is lost and vulnerable and very proud of her social worker daughter (she kept telling all the ER staff that I was a social worker).

So I don't know what to think. Mom's cancer has brought us together in a completely new way. But it's all happened rather suddenly and in a rather tragic way. This person I'm getting close to is disappearing before my eyes, in some cases, very literally.

For the next while this blog may be more about cancer, or venting, then social work. I don't know. I really want to try and write, it's so good for me. We'll see. I'm not so great at putting my deepest feelings out there, better at describing situations, which can be therapeutic in and of itself I suppose.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

oh the things they say

Yesterday was a rather amusing day in terms of the things my clients were saying and doing. It's important to keep in mind that I work in an employment agency for adults with mental illness to put at least one of these in context.

First of all, I was talking to a client on the phone who has recently begun job searching again. She has a great resume and TONS of relevant experience so I was very surprised she'd only gotten 1 phone call given the number of resumes we'd sent out. To my surprise I discovered that she had gotten many phone calls which she had ignored/turned down because they were from "chincy community agencies". Apparently she had driven past some of them and decided she didn't like the exterior of the building so wouldn't follow through with them.

Then, I spoke to a client who was very upset because her psychiatrist told her that being depressed is part of having depression. This caused her to lose hope and believe she would never be able to do anything for the rest of her life. I'm honestly not sure exactly what she was hoping her psychiatrist would say...

Next came the client who states they went to a job interview but had no idea where or what the company name was. In fact, they couldn't even remember what street it was on. They gave a vague area of the city. At this point we are not entirely convinced the client had a job interview at all, but who knows.

Finally, right after this client, another client called excited about a job interview, but once again, they didn't know where. However, they did reassure me they were going to get a hair cut, which means my persistence in the area of personal grooming for clients may finally have paid off uncomfortable as it is for me to discuss with them in counselling.