February 2, 2010

bloody hell

Posted in shit happening at 5:12 pm by ben

I had to work on Saturday.  I don’t usually go anywhere near town on weekends but this client was on her way to Mexico on Sunday and she wanted her hair ripped out at the last possible minute.  When I got home I was greeted by the dog and the husband with kisses and tail wagging… respectively.  Though the dog does give kisses, my husband wags something other than his tail when he is happy to see me.

*Side note, he said to me the other morning “I’m just going to put my penis right here and if it happens to go in your vagina, that’s ok.”

I went into my bathroom, got changed, rinsed a facecloth and started to wash my face and my nose started bleeding like a sonofabitch.  I swear I didn’t even pick it!  I am not ashamed to admit that I have done a little nasal excavation on occasion but on that day all I was doing was washing my face.  I wrapped the cloth around my nose and squeezed the nostrils and sat down on my bed.  Twenty minutes later His Highness came in wondering why I was taking so long to get changed.  He gently pulled back the cloth to see if the bleeding had stopped and was greeted with a gush.  I made it to the sink but in seconds my bathroom looked like a scene from a horror movie.  It took an hour and a half for the blood to stop pouring.

My husband wanted me to go to the hospital but I refused.  This same thing happened to me about seven years ago and after several hours of blood loss my dad finally drove me to town (my husband was at work) where they tried everything to make it stop and eventually put a balloon up my nose and inflated it to put pressure on the inside to stop the bleeding.  I had to leave it in for 24 hours with this pump thing hanging out of my face.  It was a nightmare.  I was in no hurry to return for the same treatment.

I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night, I was afraid to breathe wrong and start it up again and my face was sore and felt bruised from all of the pressure.

Sunday morning we went out to the lake for a picnic and some sledding.  I didn’t really feel up to it but we had already committed.  We had a fantastic day, we built a fire, had a picnic and played in the snow.  I even got my arse on a saucer and slid down the hill.  I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard and felt so young.  It also made me anxious to be camping again.  I don’t think it’ll be too long before we clean up the cabin and start spending the occasional night out there.

When we got home my feet were chilled so I got in the tub to warm up.  Bad move.

The bleeding started again.

You know those movies where someone kills themselves or gets slashed in the bathtub?  That’s how I looked.  I cupped my hands under the flow and ran for the shower, leaving a bloody trail behind me and yet another bathroom crime scene.  I rinsed off as best I could (the sparkles from my bubblebath) and had my husband hold a cloth to my nose so I could towel myself and my hair.  More blood all over the bathroom again after my dear sweet husband already cleaned it up twice.  I sat on the bed and pinched my nose for another twenty minutes and still the blood poured out… or worse, down my throat.  I learned that I would make a terrible vampire, the taste of blood doesn’t do a damn thing for me.

“I’m taking you to the hospital!” he insisted.

I didn’t fight him this time.

We learned that the best way to get priority treatment at the emergency room is by bleeding all over their floors.  While my husband dealt with the paperwork a nurse brought me some kind of super maxi pad as I had soaked the towel I had brought to town.  It turns out that their industrial absorbents are not so absorbent.  My blood spilled over the pad and spattered the tile.  Nice.

They hustled me into the procedure room and the doc saw me immediately.  Hemorrhaging from the face is an express ticket to the front of the line.  He put a new compress on my nose and had me hold it while he started an IV.  He wanted to get some fluid into me, stat!  He soaked some gauze in liquid cocaine (to shrink the vessels, not get high… unfortunately) and jammed it up my nostrils, packing them so tight that my poor nose was stretched to the point I feared it would never return to it’s original shape.

It took about an hour for the blood to stop.  How do I know this?  Because since it could no longer come out my nose and it was running down my throat.  Gross.  They sent me home with the packing up my nose and told me to return the next day at noon to have the gauze removed.

I spent 18 hours unable to breathe through my nose and I will never take breathing for granted again.  When I did return to the hospital the doc took the gauze out and the bleeding started again so he quickly cauterized it  There is no pain quite like a hot stick being jammed up your nose.  I don’t know why torturers mess around with electric currents and pulling out fingernails when nothing could possibly cause more pain than searing nasal invasion.  The tears poured involuntarily from my eyes and I wiggled my toes like crazy in an attempt to divert my focus from the pain.  The cautery worked and the bleeding finally stopped.

Dr. Tan (I was disappointed to discover his first name is not Sun) sent me home with instructions to take it easy for a couple days, no picking, no blowing, no tea, no soup, no booze, no hot baths or showers, no exercise and no excitement.  I did finally get some sleep last night and I feel much better this morning as I drink my pee-warm coffee.   I am thrilled to report that my nostrils have returned to their proper size and only a slight headache and some minor crusty discomfort remains.  I think I’m going to live… for a while at least.


January 29, 2010

buzz words

Posted in shit happening at 4:12 am by ben

I’ve been in high gear since 5am and now after a twelve hour round-trip to take the kid to the airport (yes, we live in bumfuck nowhere, three hours from the nearest city) and eighty seven cups of coffee to keep me awake on said trip I am wired as hell.  I might not sleep until March.

Yes, my son finally got a job!  In fact he got two jobs on the same day.  Isn’t that the way it goes?!  First your money then your clothes.  He had 45 minutes to decide which job he wanted.  The first one was in Oakville, Onterrible working for a pharmaceutical company.  Woo hoo!!  I was so excited and immediately inquiring about free samples.  Turns out they make enema bags, vaginal moisturizer and other non-fun-medicinal crap that I have no use for… yet.  The other offer came from a professor at Waterloo (the university he attends) who is doing contact lens research.  The enema bag company paid more but finding a place in Oakville and transportation to and from work looked complicated so he went with the other.

The job is not what he was hoping for but everything else about it just worked.  He can live there now until May 2011 when he graduates.  There will be no more moving around and hauling and storing his crap, his next move will be for a real job as a real engineer hopefully making REAL money!  My husband’s brother and his wife live in Waterloo so they offered to have him stay with them until he finds something more permanent.  I am sure they would let him live with them for the duration but I would never put that on my kid.  My brother in law is the cheapest (he won’t eat out without a coupon), rudest pain in the ass I have ever met.  He’s a lawyer (‘nuff said?) and he argues about everything, and with everyone.  This is the man who made his three year old son cry while playing Candyland!  The wife and kid are awesome and they love my son (AJ refers to my husband as “my cousin’s dad”) but my kid understandably doesn’t want to impose and he doesn’t want to have to worry about them and their feelings if he stays out late or doesn’t come home at all.  It’s just better if he gets his own place.

We had a little time when we got to the city before we had to be at the airport so we stopped at Safeway and picked up some fruit and veg and snacks for Dee and Katie and took them up to the hospital.  I think it might very well have been the best money I ever spent.  She was so happy to see us and incredibly touched and grateful for the food.  Katie just finished her latest round of chemo and she’s in pretty rough shape.  She is quarantined so the nurse sat with her for a few minutes while Dee came out to see us.  She looks tired and more than a little ragged and worn.  It kills me that she has to go through this, and alone.  I wish there was more that I could do.  I just did what I do best, medicate with food… myself and everyone else 😛

My other cousin Trixie had some daughter drama of her own on Monday.  Kayla is 14 and this is her first year of high school.  She was walking to school and when she got to an intersection she paused as a van pulled up to the stop sign.  She saw the driver turn to look at her so, thinking he had seen her, she proceeded to cross the street.  The driver had not seen her at all, he was looking for traffic and not pedestrians, he looked the other direction and when nothing was coming he hit the gas and went straight through the intersection.  He said he heard something but figured someone left something on the hood of the van (?!) and he was across the street before a lady screamed and flagged him down.  He hit and dragged Kayla completely through the intersection.

The lady saw it happen and was horrified.  They had to back the van up so that Kayla could get out.  Fortunately it was only her coat that was pinned under the tire.  Her hand prints were on the bumper where she grasped and struggled and scrambled to hang on lest she be completely run over.  My stomach  is in my throat even writing about it.  She could have been killed.  Her nickname is “Lucky” and she earned the monicker that day.  She was scraped and bruised and her jacket and jeans were shredded but she is ok.  I couldn’t hug her long enough when I went to see her.  She doesn’t remember the actual impact (also fortunately) and she can’t figure out why everyone is making such a fuss.  She was even embarrassed by the attention of the police and the ambulance attendants and kept telling them she had to get to school, she didn’t want to be late!  I love that child so much I can’t even bear to think about how bad it could have been.

I tried to do a little retail therapy this afternoon but even retail wasn’t therapeutic.  I am getting used to sending my kid away but it never gets easier to see him go.  I called him “Yoko” this morning because he broke up the (Rock) band and now I need to find a new drummer.  Damn kid, how dare he leave me yet again?!  I didn’t find any clothes or shoes but I did get a little excited when I stopped for a few groceries on my way out of the city and the store had a big gardening display.  It’s been so nice here, most of January has been right around or above freezing.  We still have a bit of snow but nowhere near what we usually do this time of year and it actually smells like spring.  I can’t wait to see dirt.   In fact I bought some so I can get an early start on some plants in the house.  My husband loves that I turn the living room into a greenhouse in February.  I tell him if he’d build me a real greenhouse I would leave all of the dirt outside.  That’s when he stops bitching.

This post is all over the place.  No wonder when my brain feels like it’s full of bees and I’m so jittery that I’m sure if I drank some milk I’d shit butter.  I wonder if wine would mellow me out.  Hmm, it’s worth a shot… or five.

January 18, 2010

family matters

Posted in shit happening at 11:44 pm by ben

My cousin Dee gave birth to baby Katie in September of 2008.  Dee is 38 years old and was already the mother of two (14 and 11) from her first marriage.  The guy she is with now, Jay, is several years younger and they wanted desperately to have a child together.  After three miscarriages Katie was born.  They were so relieved that after such difficulty carrying to term that Katie was a healthy baby… or so they thought.

Late last spring Dee brought Katie and the older kids out to the lake and it was then that I noticed something was amiss.  Katie’s head lolled to one side.  When I asked Dee what was up with her she told me the baby was just being shy but as I watched her through the day it became increasingly clear that this was not the case at all.  A few days later Dee took her baby girl to the doctor because she was listless and kind of out of it.  The doc knew immediately that there was something very wrong and sent them to Children’s hospital in Calgary where they discovered that the child had, not one, but two brain tumors.

They operated immediately on Katie and were able to remove one of the lumps but the other was too close to the sight and speech area of her brain so they opted to try to shrink it with chemo before attempting its removal.  After six months of chemotherapy the MRI showed that the tumor had not shrunk at all and there was another one.  Just before Christmas they operated and successfully removed the second tumor to find that it was not cancerous as the first had been.  The oncologists in Calgary had never seen such a thing so they contacted the Mayo clinic to figure out their next course of action.  They sent Dee and Katie home for the holidays, this was the first time either of them had seen home in over six months.

We went out to see them between Christmas and New Year’s but with so many people around Dee and I didn’t have much opportunity to really talk.  What she did tell us was appalling.

The hospital is brand new, it’s a state of the art facility, the best of the best of everything… or so they claim.  I can’t comment on how well the doctors are doing their jobs but I can say I am completely disgusted with the nurses and the kitchen.

On three separate occasions the nurses have tried to give Katie the incorrect medication.  Dee has had to become somewhat of an expert on the drugs her daughter is being given, she learned this the hard way after a nurse arrived at the room in the middle of the night and tried to put something in the IV that was meant for the kid in the next room.  Dee called the woman on it and when the nurse checked the syringe she realized the drug was indeed ordered for someone else.  What would have happened to Katie if the drug had been administered?  What would have happened to the other kid?

The other two times were similar situations but Dee has begun to question every ‘professional’ who comes near her child.  Dee pays pretty close attention and she knows what her daughter receives and how often it’s administered.  Recently she asked about an unusual amount that was about to be given to Katie.  The nurse read the vial, then she read the chart and said “Oops, you’re right.”

Are you fucking kidding me??!

The most recent incident came with the start of the current course of chemo.  The nurse put in the IV and walked out of the room.  Not seconds later Dee noticed blood running up the IV line.  She called the nurse who returned to the room with an “Oh, I forgot to turn it on.”

Really?  Seriously??  You forgot to turn the IV on?  No biggie.  Well I wonder how small a deal that would be if it was YOUR infant in the damn bed!

Dee has lost weight.  She has always been thin but now she is too thin.  I asked her if she was looking after herself, eating properly etc.  She said she tries her best to take care of herself because the only nutrition Katie is getting at the moment is from breast milk so she knows how important it is for her to get proper nutrition.  “It’s impossible to eat properly in that hospital though.”  She told us, “The food is all garbage, hot dogs, Alphagetti, Kraft Dinner, etc.  All packaged food, not a fresh fruit or vegetable to be found in the place.”

I was dumbfounded.

When she asked about the food they claim that they want kids to be served food they’ll eat because they need the calories.  I call bullshit.  Most parents don’t feed their children all of that processed crap anymore.  Certainly there is no reason why they couldn’t have the occasional junk food meal but according to Dee everything they serve is fried, nuked or out of a can.

“No fresh fruit or veg on the trays at all??!”  I asked again, astounded.

“Nope, the best the offer is applesauce from a can.”

How are kids supposed to heal and recover if they aren’t getting the nutrients they need?  I can understand wanting to get calories into them to make them stronger but fuck me with a fork  there are far better ways to get calories than from frozen fish sticks and potato chips!  These are empty calories at best and there are no alternatives.  Dee herself is forced to eat these meals (and pay extra for the privilege) or she goes without eating at all.  She can’t leave the hospital since Katie is in such a fragile state that the most benign germ could kill her, so she has to eat the trash on a tray or starve… herself and her baby.

I cannot even wrap my mind around a medical facility that doesn’t serve healthy, balanced meals… to kids as well as their parents.  How do they get away with this?  I am willing to bet that money has a lot to do with it, that they think it’s cheaper to scoop slop than hire a real dietician and real cooks to make real food.  I am livid about this.  There is no justification as far as I am concerned.  I told Dee that if it was me and my kid in that hospital I’d be losing my shit over all of it.

“No,” she said.  “When it’s your kid in there all you have the energy to fight for is her.”

I hugged her and apologized.

Katie’s prognosis does not look good.  This current round of chemo is a nasty beast.  Most chemo flushes through the system and is expelled in urine or feces.  This chemo comes out of the skin.  During the course of the treatment (48 hours a pop) Katie has to be bathed ever four hours.  It’s tough enough to have to deal with the other effects of the chemotherapy without this added strain on Dee.  Katie can’t walk or talk, she’s only 16 months old and all of the messing with her brain has slowed her development so she is also unable to sit on her own.  Dee carries her constantly, the woman will soon have the biceps of a bodybuilder.  She is exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally and she is frustrated with the uncertainty of the whole situation.  Her older children are living without much supervision, Jay doesn’t know how to cope so he spends most of his time working (or high) and all she can do is cherish every precious moment with her baby girl because she doesn’t know how many more she will get.

Dee and Katie came out to visit us before they went back to the city and I asked her how she ‘s handling the overwhelmingness of it all and she said, “I can’t look into the future because I don’t know how much future I have with her, all I can do is give her everything I have right now.  Katie and I snuggle a lot, we giggle and sing and tell stories and give lots and lots of hugs and kisses.  We take one day at a time and we’re grateful for every single one.”

Enough said.

January 11, 2010

nano bites

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:47 am by ben

My kid is home.

You might be wondering why I didn’t write “MY KID IS HOME!!” in a more excited fashion.

Well, here’s the scoop.

My son has sixteen months before he graduates (an eight month work term followed by his final eight months of school) with a degree in nanotechnology engineering… and speaking of nano, he says the stuff in G.I. Joe was ridiculous. I say if someone can dream it someone surely can build it.  Nanomites will exist someday, mark my words. Some crazy motherfucker with a inferiority complex, a small penis and a boatload of money will hire some poor schmuck scientist (ie. my kid) to build some creepy little metal munching mites so he can take over the world!  What I really want to know about all of this science crap is why aren’t there any rich lunatics who want to hire a scientist to make a calorie-burning chocolate cake?!!

What I don’t get is why anyone would WANT to take over the world.   Global warming, wars all over the place, H1N1, AIDS, poverty, starvation, energy crises, Mariah Carey, who would want to deal with all of that ugly mess??!   Being any kind of ruler at this point would be seriously overrated, overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated and probably wouldn’t have near as many perks as it would have even ten years ago (right Bill Clinton?).  Personally I’m happy to be as far from the top and all of that responsibility as I can get, I sure as hell wouldn’t be spending kajillions of dollars to assume command.  If anyone is going to take over the WHOLE world it should be the dude from Dateline who catches the perverts. Nobody would fuck with him.   People would see him coming and run the other way in fear of hidden cameras and a public shaming.  Why can’t I think of his name?  Stone Phillips keeps popping into my head but it’s not him.   I could look it up but I know it and it pisses me off when I can’t access the information.  It’ll come, be patient.

Anyway, G.I. Joe was a shitty movie but that was a total digression.

The Boy (who turned 21 in October and is technically now a man) decided that for his final work term he wanted to do something more businessy and less researchy.   Yep he gets hims smarts from hims ma.  Had he applied for research positions he could have had his pick of the postings since he has such valuable and relevant experience.   He chose instead to ignore the sure thing and wait for a job he really wanted.

We are nearly two weeks into January and he still hasn’t gotten that job.   I do appreciate that he’s trying, he has applied all over the world at investment capital firms and other business development thingamajigs for all sorts of jobs that I don’t even pretend to understand.   What I gather from the scraps that my pea brain has been able to piece together is that he is looking for a company that invests in engineering that would like to hire him to be a sort of consultant… like an expert witness.   He would look at a proposed project and help the investors decide whether it is feasible, financially viable, if it’s been done, if it’s impossible etc.

Two of the companies he’s contacted outside of the university co-op job program have expressed an interest in him once he graduates but so far he’s had no bites for this eight month term. There is a glimmer of hope that he will still be able to graduate in 2011 if he completes a four month work term, but if he doesn’t get anything by May he’s fucked.   He’ll also be screwed for tuition as we won’t be able to afford it next term.  Holy shit kids are a lot of work… and expensive!

He’s been home since Dec. 19th and while I love having my buddy home (there is always someone willing to play video games with me) it’s time for the kid to go to work!   I turn all indulgent mommy when he’s here, I cook and bake more which means I eat more and I hang out in the basement in front of the TV more which means I drink more and I exercise less and yes I am blaming my son because I have no self control. Damn (adult) kid!

He applied to three new postings this weekend. One is in Calgary which would be so convenient, one is at Microsoft Canada and the other is at the Canadian Mint. Hopefully one of them pans out so he can start making some greenery and I can go back to eating greenery.  I talk a pretty tough game right now but wait until I’m putting him on yet another plane.  (CHRIS HANSON!  I knew it would come to me.)

I guess if all else fails we can work on that cake, now there’s a science project I could *ahem* sink my teeth into.  *slaps knee*

For my money a fat fighting chocolate cake would be the real investment opportunity, a frickin’ gold mine!  Forget about taking over the world, I want to make it pay huge to be thin.  That my friends is pure genius and everybody wins, the kid gets a job, I get thin and rich while eating chocolate cake, win, win, win.


(that was my evil genius laugh)

January 4, 2010

this post goes nowhere man

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:49 pm by ben

I am trying to decide if it’s weird or comforting that the majority of people who know me as ben now too know me as Brenda. I feel a little like The Wizard when Toto pulls back the curtain, no more mystique, no more magic, just plain old me. I am ben, she is me, we are one and the same though we are rarely seen together. Now I’ll have The Beatles in my head all day, “I am she and she is me and we are rarely seen together. Goo goo g’joob.”

Yes, it is “goo goo g’joob” and not “koo koo k’choo” as I always assumed. How do I know this? We’ve been playing Beatles Rock Band.

It is interesting to note the musical progression of the four lads from their early days of simple love songs through the hallucinogenic induced lyrics of their druggy days and on to the politically motivated songs they wrote before Yoko ground her heel into the thorax of the band and unceremoniously squashed the life and heart out of it.

I was never a Beatles fan, certainly I was too young to be the screaming kind of panty wetting fan of the 70’s. If I was wetting my panties in the 70’s it was referred to as an “accident”. I did however like a few of their songs and I used to sing All My Lovin to my son as a lullaby when he was little.

Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you
Tomorrow I’ll miss you
Remember I’ll always be true
And then while I’m away
I’ll write home every day
And I’ll send all my lovin’ to you.

In retrospect it’s not really an appropriate mother/son song but it was more about the closing the eyes part than the rest and frankly I’d have sung Helter Skelter if I thought it’d make him go to sleep. I was disappointed All My Lovin’ and so many others (Help, Yesterday, Hey Jude & Ob-la -di Ob-la-Da) were not included in the game. Instead they filled it with the likes of And Your Bird Can Sing, Dig A Pony, Hey Bulldog and several others of comparable uninspired insipid dreck. The nice thing about this version of Rock Band is that all of the songs are fairly easy to play and sing. I am even able to play the drums for a good many of them although I am much more Paul and John than Ringo. We have taken to calling the Boy “Ringo” since he is the most proficient drummer in the family. My husband generally catterwalls and yowls worse than Yoko but he made a real effort of Something that I must admit, dampened my drawers a bit… in the non-accidental kind of way. I’ve always been a little weak-kneed for boys who could sing.

I don’t think this was the intended direction of this post but it appears that it took a course of its own.  Music makes me happy and I find great joy in playing the Rock Band/Guitar Hero games (not to mention Super Mario Wii and all of the word and puzzle games I’ve put on miphone) and although am not great at it I like to sing (I sound best when I am alone and nobody else can hear me) and play guitar and I have been known to tuck a microphone into my cleavage and do both simultaneously.  This is however much more difficult than walking and chewing gum at the same time especially when I don’t know all of the words and have all of the coordination of an octopus on LSD.

Yes, I am a dork.

We both are.

Goo goo g’joob.

December 31, 2009

back in the new year groove

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 pm by ben

Is there anybody out there?  Nod if you can hear me.

I’ve tried several times in the last five months to put pen to paper… electronically speaking… and post something on here but every time my words fell flat and I found myself playing some stupid word game or another.  I am the queen of procrastination and distraction.  All hail me.  Shit, I’m not even sure that anybody will read this let alone praise me, and you know what?  I’m really ok with that.  I have missed writing, I’ve missed having that voice and shouting into oblivion not knowing if or by whom I will be heard but finding sanity and some kind of bizarre peace in speaking my mind.  I want that back.  I need that back.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I hate to make promises that I know can’t keep, especially to myself.  On this the afternoon of the eve of of the new decade however, I find myself in front of my keyboard with an urge to blog that is more overpowering than the call of wine and snacks from the kitchen.  That has to mean something.  It’s time to sweep up the cobwebs, squish the spiders and blow the dust off of this place and find my blog mojo again.

I’m excited about blogging for the first time in a long time.  I was even more thrilled to discover that WordPress has an app for the iPhone.  Oh yeah, did I mention I got an iPhone for Christmas?  If I didn’t I am sure I will mention it soon… and often.  SQUEEEEEEEEE!!  Best. Toy. Ever.  Especially for someone on dial-up!  I can check emails instantly now instead of the usual fifteen minute ordeal.

We’re staying in tonight, our boy is still here (and he’d rather spend the evening with us over his friends… I am not sure if that says more about us or about his friends) and we’ve got some friends and family coming out for games and drinks and enough frickin’ food to feed a small planet.  They better eat it all too, the diet restarts tomorrow right after the obligatory post-drinking chocolate milk.

If there is anybody left out there… and I wouldn’t blame deserters since I’ve certainly been one myself.  I’ll do better next year, I’d even bet there is an app for that!  I hope you have a fabulous time tonight and I wish you and yours all of the best for the new year/decade.

Cheers and New Year’s kisses all around.


Ahhh it’s good to be home.  🙂

July 22, 2009

recreation complex

Posted in tales from the lakeside tagged , , at 3:49 am by ben

First off, my husband and I want to express our appreciation to all of our friends for their support during our recent tragedy… and always for that matter.  You all mean more to me than you will ever know.  Thank you.


We were due for some fun and some sun and fortunately for our sanity this weekend provided both.  My husband got off work at 6 AM on Thursday morning so I got up at 5:30 to start getting things loaded and my gardens watered.  He showered and got ready and we hit the road.  

My girlfriend Jack was coming out to spend the weekend which lit a fire under our (his) butt to get the cabin sleepable.  We moved our bed in and while my husband slept I puttered around our site watering plants, painting an old bedside table and prepping veggies for the stir-fry he requested for dinner.  I just have to say here that I don’t like cooking at the lake, I am happy with sandwiches and salads but somebody prefers “real” food so once in a while I must appease his stomach and make an effort that does not involve the lips and arseholes of cows and pigs stuffed into tubular casings.

By about noon I had all of my chores done so I took the dog for a stroll.  She had been bugging me all morning to take her swimming which involves her dancing around me and heading for the water every time I move.  I am not sure why she won’t go by herself, she always waits for one of us, maybe it’s a security thing… or she just wants to show off her mad diving skillz.  We walked down to the dock and I dangled my feet.  It’s been hot out so the water was lovely.  I thought I might like to take a dip but didn’t feel like making the trek back to camp and didn’t want to wake my husband in order to put my suit on.  I could just strip down and go in my skivvies, I thought.  There was nobody around.  The water was so inviting I was about to shed some clothing when I glanced up the hill and saw my husband staring down at me.  He laughed, it was like he read my mind.  “Go ahead.” he said as he walked down toward me.  “There is nobody else out here.”

I didn’t need a lot of encouragement.  I slipped out of my garments and dove into the water.  It felt fantastic.  My happy place is in that water (as cold as it can be) and add to that the freedom of nudity and I am a joyful, carefree girl.  My elation however was short lived.  I heard a quad.  Someone was heading in our direction.  FUUUUUCCCKKKK!!!!

It was a young couple from the other side of the causeway, they were touring around just across the small harbor from where I was fluffydipping (because when I do it there is nothing “skinny” about it).  I imagined the view they’d get if I did have to scramble from the water.  Without a ladder on the dock I would have to drag my fluffy white arse up onto the wooden structure like some sort of seal begging a fish from the trainer… lovely.  Before I had a chance to panic and send my husband for a towel to at least shield me from the mortification of getting caught naked, the quad turned around and headed in the other direction.  I wasted no time getting out of the water, in fact I exited so quickly I ended up with a couple of slivers in some not so comfortable places.  I threw my clothes back on and just as we began to walk back to the cabin my aunt came around the corner in her Jeep.  Apparently the days of frequent island nudity are over… and with that goes the picnic table sex.  *sigh*

That first night in the cabin was heavenly after a year in the Bluebird Hilton.  The bus was stinky, cramped and the temperature was too hot on warm days and too cold at night.  Our new bedroom has a lovely cross breeze and it’s well insulated so it stays relatively cool during the day and a little heat goes a long way.  It’ll need little more than a candle to keep it warm even on cold days.

On Friday we did the flooring and wainscoting and moved a futon in for Jack.  By the time she arrived we were beat so we all went to bed early.  Jack has been having a rough time lately too, she and her husband are splitting up and their house goes on the market tomorrow.  She needed a weekend of fun and relaxation as badly (or more) than we did.  There has been nothing but basic civility between her and her husband for a very long time, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when she flicked a bug off my boob and told me that was the most action she’s had in years.  

We hung out all day on Saturday, mostly in the water, and got in some real visiting time (and some sunburns).  Jack only lives a few hours away and we do talk on the phone regularly, but nothing is like real face to face conversation.  I always forget how much I miss her until I spend time with her again.  She is as close to a sister as I have.

On Sunday Trix and her family arrived, they had spent the majority of the weekend out of town but since we all love Jack we all took Monday off in her honor to spend that extra day with her.  Trixie had had a rough weekend and was looking forward to a few paralyzers.  A bottle of Kahlua, a bottle of vodka later we ran out of milk so we completely freaked out my cousin Dee when we asked her if we could have some of hers… we tried to convince her that we needed it more than the baby did.  She left shortly after that, I hope she didn’t really think we’d milk her.

It got a little drunk out after that.  My husband has a pair of shorts with little white skulls on them.  When the shorts get wet the skulls turn blue.  I took great joy in splashing him at every opportunity and excusing my behavior as “Look at the skulls turning blue!”  It wasn’t long before Jack and ten year old John got into it and the water fight was on.  John switched teams from Jack to His Highness depending on who was winning at the time and it was after a short chase down to the dock that all of the skulls turned blue when my husband got pushed in.  When he got back to camp he chased John with a lighter threatening to torch him (nice!) and swatted Jack’s ass with a fly swatter.  She did admit that it was almost as exciting as touching my breast.

As Trix and I stumbled back from one of our many trips to the outhouse that night we discovered a can of yellow spray paint at her brother’s place.  She picked it up and proceeded to “paint” my toe nails.  We doubled over laughing as I reciprocated by painting hers. .. Though technically I got more of her feet than her toes.  Then, giggling like the drunken fools we were, we raced back to the outhouse to ambush Jack’s toes too.  There we were all three of us with fluorescent yellow spray painted feet.  Somehow I doubt our pedicure clients would have appreciated the artistry.

I was surprised to wake up without a hangover yesterday morning and my day started with more giggling when I got out of bed and saw my glow-in-the-dark piggies.  Sadly Jack didn’t fare as well.  She got up, threw up and went back to bed three times before she managed to keep some Gatorade and some Advil down long enough to feel better.  “Never again!” she wailed, “I am too old for this!  And how the hell do I get this shit off my feet?!”

The panacea for our collective woes was a weekend of fun and frivolity and limited responsibilities.  

The remedy for said weekend was some Gatorade, Advil and paint thinner.

July 15, 2009

rest in peace

Posted in shit happening at 2:26 am by ben

To say it has been a rough couple of weeks would be a grave understatement… pun intended.  

My husband’s brother Karl returned to Ontario on Saturday July 4th leaving us alone with their dying mother.  We spent all day every day by her bedside, leaving only to grab a quick meal and to sleep when Sal came in to spend the night shift with her.  The nurses brought in a cozy recliner for him to nap as he was able and he often awoke covered with a blanket that they had placed on him in the night.  They offered him a cot but he wanted to be able to get to her quickly if she woke or needed anything so he refused the bed.  It was sweet to see him so devoted.  He was able to get a little sleep during the day knowing we were with his beloved Katy.

My mother does therapeutic touch.  We have always referred to it as “voodoo” and I’ve never been much of a believer.  I prefer to mock that which I do not understand.  My MIL believed in it however and often when she was unwell or recovering from something or another my mom would stop in and give her a treatment… which consists of a transfer of healing energy without actual physical touch.  Yes it’s odd but I look at it the same as I see chicken soup for a cold, it might not help but it can’t hurt.

Saturday evening my parents came to the hospital to see Katy, mom did a little voodoo and left the room crying.  I went outside to see if she was ok and she told me that my MIL was ready to die but someone was holding her back.  “Sal?” I assumed.  

“I’m not sure but I think it might be Ken.” she said.

When I returned to the room I sat next to my husband and took his hand and said “Honey, are you ready to let her go?”

“No.” his voice was small and pained.

“You know she is not coming back from this right?  You know that there is no miracle and no chance that she will survive this?”

“I know.”

“Then tell her it’s ok to go.  Promise her that we will take care of Sal and each other.  Let her know that she will find peace where she is going and that her god is waiting for her.  There is nothing left for her in this world and it is unfair of us to keep her.  I don’t want to lose her either but it is not about us, letting her go is the kindest thing you can do for her.”

I left the room to let him take some time with her.

When I returned he was kissing her goodbye.  I did the same and told her I loved her, knowing at that point that it would be for the last time.

The phone rang at 6:00 the next morning.  She was gone.

Two minutes later the phone rang again, it was Karl letting us know he was home.  My husband had to tell him not to bother unpacking.

We got to the hospital by 6:30, Sal was by her side, still holding her hand.  We spent a few minutes with her before they took her body downstairs and then we all went over to their house to start making phone calls.  

Monday we met with the funeral director and since my husband and Sal were both pretty out of it most of the decision making was left to me.  We kept everything fairly simple, cremation (her ashes will eventually be buried with Sal), a service at her church and a tea courtesy of the Legion Ladies Auxiliary (she was a member).  Still there was a lot to do, paperwork, choosing a guestbook and an urn, deciding on the little funeral flier thing… I spent hours going through photos to find just the right ones and I happened to know who her favorite poet was so I had to find something suitable from her too.  We spent the entire day on the details and I even borrowed a large electronic photo frame from my aunt and I scanned and loaded tons of pictures of Katy on it for the tea.  It turned out to be a really nice touch.  We also placed bread, salt and water on the table with her ashes and the flowers.  The trio is a Doukhobor tradition (custom?) that signifies “Toil and peaceful life.”  I think she would have appreciated that.

Tuesday we cleaned our house from top to bottom and I cooked the world’s largest lasagna.  It is imperative that I am the consummate hostess even in stressful times.

Wednesday night my Boy, Karl, his wife May and their son and Earl all arrived together from Onterrible.  

Thursday was the funeral.  It was also our (uncelebrated) 21st anniversary.  The service was lovely albeit a bit churchy (imagine that!).  I laughed when the pastor said that Katy wanted him to talk about Jesus during her funeral.  The brothers rolled their eyes thinking it was just the clergyman’s way of throwing a little religion into things.  I told them I wouldn’t be surprised at all if their mother had actually said that just so her boys would be force fed a dose of God since they were a captive audience.

There were so many tears.  I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone in the church and I couldn’t look at her photo.  And then my mother started singing.  Not just her, that would have been really weird.  My MIL’s favorite hymn was Just a Closer Walk With Thee and as the congregation began to sing I immediately distinguished my mom’s larger than life voice.  I leaned over to my son and whispered “Can you hear grandma?”  He started to giggle.  I started to giggle.  Fortunately we were in the front row so everyone else thought we were sobbing.  I think Katy would have gotten a kick out of it too so I can’t feel too bad about it, besides, it felt good to break the tension.

Friday was family day, we hung out here, visited and looked at old pictures.  My husband had the biggest glasses in the world when he was a teenager, Karl had a perm that made him look like Alex Trebek and Earl had the shortest short shorts ever… with his mullet.  Whenever I need a laugh I now know where to look.  I even scanned their nightmare fashions onto my computer so that even if they destroyed the originals I still had a copy.  Fun is fun ’til we’re looking at photos of me!

On Saturday the clan went home leaving us with a too-quiet house and more flower arrangements than we know what to do with… and no leftover lasagna, obviously it was a hit.

I was going to write a tribute to Katy but I can’t, at least not yet.  I wrote her obituary and it took all I had just to do that.  I think I did right by her, and her sons.  I hope I made her proud and showed her what she meant to me.  She is in my living room, between Buddha and the gargoyles.  It’s still hard to believe that in such a short time this woman, this mother, this true Christian, this kind, generous, honest, gentle, charitable, reliable, humble person has been reduced to eight pounds of ash in a cherry wood box.  I hope there is a god and that she is with him, she deserves that much at least.

As for us, we’re alright.  We miss her but they tell us it gets easier.  Beyond that we are simply exhausted.  Drained.  Sad.  

July 3, 2009


Posted in shit happening tagged at 4:05 pm by ben

She’s not going to make it.  I want to stay positive and when I am with her or Sal or my husband I work hard to keep my chin and their spirits up.  Inside though I know that this is progressing way too swiftly to be anything but bad.

It was supposed to be a simple laparoscopic ‘kidneyectomy’.  Katy (my mother-in-law) just had a small lump and it was to be a quick and easy surgery, the doc didn’t even think she’d need more than a day or two in the hospital.  That was just six weeks ago and now everything has changed.

Two weeks after that first visit to the surgeon Katy returned for some more tests which showed that the single tumor was now three.  In two weeks it tripled.  My warning bells went off, why didn’t the doctor’s?  It’s going to be very easy for us to be angry with the docs at this point, to us it feels like they dragged their heels but realistically it has only been six weeks.  We only have one patient to worry about and sadly they have so many more.  We get it, we’re just not happy about it.

It took some time for the surgeon to talk to the oncologist about what treatment route would be best and last Wednesday they finally got their shit together and she was scheduled for her pre-op assessment.  She collapsed in the waiting room.  

She was admitted to the hospital immediately and every day the news gets worse.  Her heart is all fucky so they have her on something for that as well as blood thinners.  Surgery at this point would kill her so they have to get her strong enough and her heart rate under control first.  She was taken off her pain meds and went into withdrawal… if it wasn’t so sad it would have been funny to hear the doctor tell my husband that his mother had the DT’s.

When we got to her room for the first time I sat down beside her, she grabbed my hands and started sobbing, “Brenda, I am so scared.”  I choked back my own tears and assured her that everything would be ok (I even believed it then) and that we just had to be patient but it would all be just fine.  My husband had to leave the room several times.  He is her baby and they’ve always kinda stuck together.  It’s killing him to see her this way.  Katy is a shell of herself, she has lost a lot of weight, she is pale and her usually bright and smiley eyes have become vacant.

We were still hoping for the best but the news this afternoon didn’t come with a side of hope.  They did a chest X-ray to find out why her breathing is so laboured and they found more spots.  The doc said she couldn’t say anything for certain until radiology filed their report but she is quite certain what those spots mean.  A death sentence.

I wrote the first part of this post on Monday.  On Tuesday they sent her for a CT scan and they discovered that the cancer has invaded a bloodstream and is now into her lungs and beyond and they have told us she only has a matter of days, to give her a week or two would be overly optimistic.

Now we wait for her to die.

My husband’s brother Karl flew out from Ontario, he’s a lawyer and thinks everyone is beneath him and he’s more than a little bit of a douche but I think it helps my husband to have him here.  It relieves a bit of the burden and pressure that he’s been under to be able to share it.  I am relieved that The Boy is not here.  As much as we would love to have him home right now, I am glad he won’t see his Baba this way.  She would not want him to remember her in a hospital bed.  If he can’t come home for the funeral, we’ll do a private family memorial when he does come home in August.

I want to do right by her.  I want to make sure everyone else does right by her too, she deserves so much more and nothing less.  All we can do is keep her as comfortable as possible.  She doesn’t seem to be in any real pain but they have her on a slow morphine drip to keep her calm.  She hasn’t spoken (coherently) in two days but she is restless and agitated and she is developing some nasty bedsores.  

I am dealing with all of my fears of death, dying and hospitals.  I do my best to keep her mouth from drying out by swabbing it with lemon sticks and giving her sips of water or juice when she can take it.  I hold her hand and talk or read to her even though I am sure she doesn’t hear me, I keep a cool cloth on her brow and repeatedly put vaseline on her parched lips.  There was a time not too long ago when doing these things was not only foreign but also unimaginable and frightening to me.  I don’t normally deal well with any of this, it freaks me out, but she means so much to me that my own hangups have ceased to matter.  

My husband sits beside her bed, his arms folded on the bars and his chin resting on them, he watches her intently looking like a little boy, forlorn, waiting for his mommy to wake up.  

It kills me.

I hate this.

June 23, 2009

on the purge

Posted in shit happening tagged , , at 6:39 pm by ben

My world in bits and bites.

-My mother-in-law still does not have a surgery date and I am getting pretty pissed off about it. In two weeks she went from having one spot on her kidney to having three. They know where the cancer is, they know what has to be done and someone is still dragging their feet. She refuses to let me call them, she is trying to be patient and is probably afraid that I will make someone mad and prolong things even more but she is feeling lousy and getting very frustrated. She sleeps a lot and she cries a lot and nobody deserves that, least of all her. I might be forced to kick some ass… and I might take a great deal of pleasure from that.


-My husband’s brother Earl came out to see his mom (Katy) a couple weeks ago. He put on the big altruistic front but he is nothing but a selfish, self-absorbed, cockknocker with a god complex. We went for dinner and all he did was complain about staying at his mom’s… her home was small, stinky, noisy and he doesn’t like the man she’s been with for 20 years. I told him repeatedly “Suck it up (princess) it isn’t about you!” I could see that Katy and Sal were uncomfortable having Earl at their place so after two glasses of wine I offered to let him stay at our house. My husband’s eyes got really big. He was on graveyard shift that week and he knows I can’t stand Earl and he would never have made such an offer as he knows better than to put me in the position of playing hostess to his asshole brother. One more glass of wine and I might have invited Hitler to come for a visit. Shockingly, my bil immediately accepted my offer. I was mortified and about to break up with wine for betraying me but as it turns out it was a cathartic experience. I am not the 21 year old he walked over and mistreated 21 years ago at my wedding. I am not afraid of or intimidated by him in the least and having him here allowed me to vent and speak my peace about all of the mistreating he has done to me as well as his family. I did not attack him, but when a topic came up I spoke my mind and let him have it.

One conversation went as follows:
“You know what I remember about your wedding?” he asked.

“That you spent the entire weekend telling everyone that we shouldn’t be getting married? Or that we were too young, or that you claimed I was trapping your brother by getting knocked up? Ot that I was just after his money… which I am still looking for by the way.” I struck fast and hard.

“I was going to say the mosquitoes.” He winced a little.

Of course he retracted much of what he had said but he also defended himself. I expected no less but I felt better about it. I was far more angry about his treatment of his mother and how he could come all the way out here (for the first time in 21 years) and be so cunty toward her. I made it very clear that his actions were unconscionable and unacceptable at any time but more so given her current condition. I told him he was a bully and his intensity and narrow-mindedness are not what she needs right now (or ever) and that he should get the fuck off her back and accept that this is who she is and how she chooses to live her life. He took most of my criticism well but the sad fact is that in his mind everything (and everyone) should be a certain way and anything less is worthy of his scorn.

My husband was appalled at some of his brothers words and behaviour and stated matter of factly “He needs medication.”

I told my son of my experience with the houseguest from hell and all of his OCD and ADD and twitchy high strung actions and The Boy said “Oh my god, he is dad times ten!”

Earl was sadder to leave than we were to see him go but I am relieved that I got the opportunity to purge and defend my MIL. Earl is, was and always will be, a dick.
Dick, dick dick dick of Earl.


-Speaking of purging, I also recently had a small (but powerful) breakthrough with my mother. She got snarky with me over a comment I made about childhood responsibilities, “Oh here we go, all about your horrible childhood.” she rolled her eyes in exasperation. I (very calmly) explained to her that I did not have a horrible childhood but that I felt neglected by her as a kid. My younger brother got a lot of attention because he was sick for his first three years and a badass as he got older and my baby brother was the golden child and perfection in a diaper so even as a teenager I (felt like I) didn’t matter. I was a sad child who became a pissed off teenager who turned into a bitter adult. For the first time I was able to defend that little girl who felt unworthy, unaccepted and often unloved. I got to stand up for the injustices she felt.

At first my mother was defensive but I kept my voice soft and was very clear that despite all circumstances it was how I felt at the time and whether or not they were justified or exaggerated they were MY feelings to feel. I think she got it. At one point she admitted that she didn’t feel like I needed her. My mom thrives on being needed, it’s like her purpose and gaining that knowledge spoke volumes to me. We both gained some understanding that day.

When she left she hugged me hard and said “Don’t ever think that there was ever a moment that I never loved you.”  
We may have turned a corner.


-Without going into too much detail (because I don’t know if he’d have issues with me sharing) my baby brother is not well. He’s lost a lot of weight since February and not because he is trying. His belly is a mess and he has panic attacks when he eats making him unable to eat much at all. My SIL is afraid, she doesn’t know how to help him and the tests that their doc is doing are taking too long and thus far nothing is improving. They were here this weekend and I hardly recognize my brother, he neither looks nor acts like himself. I am very concerned and would do anything for my brother but there is nothing I can do and I am feeling horribly helpless.


-In lighter news, I have lost 41 lbs since February (although unlike my brother I have to work at it every day) and I am desperate for some clothes that do not hang off of me so my husband is taking me to the city for a bit of a shopping trip for our anniversary and my birthday and to shut me up about not having anything to wear.


-In even better news, MY BOY IS COMING HOME!!!! He finished his exams in the middle of August and then he has almost three weeks before his next term begins. I am beyond excited that I’ll get to (s)mother him for that long when I haven’t even seen him since Xmas. I am counting the days!  52 to go!!

Previous page · Next page