Pet Health

Kat & Casey

Last night my office partner got home from work to find her cat sick and suffering. It is always hard to have a sick pet. It is even harder when you cannot afford the medical care, medicine and special diet food they require. Luckily, Kori had a friend to help her with the finances to get Ziggy the care he required. By tomorrow night, he will be home chasing bottle caps and looking for kibble and cuddles.

When we had our dog Casey and our little blind cat Suzie we spent a fortune on veterinary bills. One month alone we spent $1,500.00 on ear surgery for Suzie and $2,500.00 for dental surgery and to remove a small growth for Casey. Even in a good year, our vet bills were in the hundreds.

When we got Kat, I looked into veterinary insurance. The cost is rediculous. There is no way around it, keeping a pet healthy and well takes money and a lot of it these days.

It costs a lot to provide veterinarian services. The equipment, staff, building, utilities, taxes, insurance, administration, cremation charges, supplies, ongoing education and training of staff – it all cost. The bottom line is veterinarians have to charge for their services because they have to cover their expenses and make enough profit to provide for themselves, their families and their own pets.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I know people love and need their pets and want to provide the care they require. With today’s veterinarian prices – I don’t know how a lot of people manage to do that.

Career Fails

I have been working for about fifty years. I am relatively intelligent, concientious and responsible. My employers, for the most part, have appreciated me. Unfortunately, even the best fall – and when I fall, I fall hard. If you are having a bad day at work, take a few minutes to read about a few of my less than stellar ones.

As a teenager, I worked at the local theatre. I sold entrance tickets and worked the canteen. During the movie, I would walk up and down the aisles making sure no one was smoking, drinking alcohol, making out, or pushing their knees against the seat ahead of them. I carried a BIG flashlight. If someone was out of line, I would shine my flashlight down on them. This was usually enough to get the offender to shape up. One night a classmate had his knees up against a seat. I shone my flashlight on his knees and he put his feet down. I walked to the front of the theatre, turned back, and as I passed my classmate, I noticed he had his knees back up. I reached out to gently tap his knee with my flashlight. The head flew off the flashlight and clattered to the floor. Lightbulb, spring, and batteries flew in all directions – shattering the silence of the moment – that moment when everyone is holding their breath in anticipation of the most terrifying scene of the year’s number one horror movie. That week my boss bought me a new flashlight. A really small flashlight.

After I graduated, I went to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Thompson, Manitoba – northern wilderness at its finest. I decided to stay a while. I applied for a position in a small construction company’s office. I agreed when my tentative employer asked if he could take me to lunch to discuss my possible employment. He offered to pick me up and I agreed to that as well. I did my long dark hair, fixed my make-up, dressed up in a pretty little dress and stepped to the top of the stairs – just as my sister opened the door. I had a good look at my boss- to-be as he stepped inside the house at the foot of the staircase. I took one step down, slipped on the top step and unceremoniously slid down the length of the staircase, body slammed the poor guy into the door and landed on top of him (with my pretty little dress wrapped around my throat). I found my resume months later. The note at the top of the page read “nice hair”.

My next adventure, was going to visit another sister and brother in law and their children. I became a nurse’s aide in their local hospital. I had a few bad days there but one that has remained particularly memorable. I was working the night shift. The head nurse sent me to change a patient’s colostomy bag. I had no idea what a colostomy bag was. I went to the store room and found a package marked ‘colostomy bag’. I cannot remember wondering what I would do with it. I proceeded to the patient’s room. As I stepped up to his bed, he said “I removed the old bag for you”. He lifted a towel off of his abdomen. I panicked, flipped the red emergency switch and ran into the hall, lights flashing, sirens wailing. Nurses, doctors and orderlies were rushing towards me. I rushed up to them and as calmly as possible said “My patient exploded – there is poop everywhere!”.

I finally decided that I should probably settle on office work and landed back in the construction industry, working for a millwork company. Amongst my many duties, I was in charge of getting shipments out. One month we had a large contract for cabinets to be shipped out to RNF in Prince Albert – several shipments, and I got them out without a hitch. Then my boss told me there was another trailer filled and ready to go. I grabbed labels, packing slips and bill of lading. Everything was filled out, the transport company was called, I had time to start working on the invoicing. Two days later, Logan Stevens from Yorkton called to ask where their cabinets were. Oh….

And today… I have been having a great week. It is only Tuesday, but so far so good. This afternoon, I got a call. A contractor called to tell me they wanted to proceed with an order that I had priced. It is a big order. I grabbed the file and started going through it. I had missed a major step in the pricing. My boss came back from site and I brought him the file. I had already figured out that I had also made one mistake in our favour, that there was one cost that had decreased and another that we could negotiate a better deal on. He offered a couple of additional suggestions. We will make it work, we will even make a profit. But…

Working is a part of life. We all have bad days. Through the years, I have found that when things go wrong taking responsibility is key. Finding a fix, if possible, is crucial. And, you cannot die of embarrassment even when you really want to.

Back to Work

It was back to work this morning after a week off to recover from pneumonia.

It is strange how one can plug along day after day, doing what one has to do – until you can’t. I was struggling to eat. I was struggling to breathe. I was definitely struggling to think and focus. I was just so exhausted. Now that I feel so much better, I cannot imagine how awful I was feeling before and why I did not realize that there was something serious out of sync.

I felt so good today. I dealt with a dozen files, wrote up a dozen invoices, sent out price requests and samples. I cleaned the washroom. (I am not going to care once I am gone but I cannot imagine how a half dozen adults can use a washroom for a week, rinse coffee cups and wash dirty hands and not once wipe off the sink?) 🤷. It is not rocket science. 🤦 I went through the electronic plan room and checked out new tenders that had been uploaded. I answered countless calls. It felt so good to feel efficient, energetic and reasonably intelligent.

I am still anxious to retire – more so every day. But I am glad that I feel well enough to kind of enjoy being back to work!

Childbirth

Genevieve

Last night I watched one of those movies that included the typical childbirth scene that is intended to bring the expansion of the human race to a screeching halt. The mother- to- be writhed and screamed, changed colors on occasion, and fainted at least twice before welcoming her little one into the world. For the benefit of anyone thinking of becoming a first time time mother, I thought I would put my two cents on the subject out there.

1) There is no such thing as a typical birth experience – even if you have ten such experiences in your life, every one will be different and the offspring you bring forth will be totally different. It keeps life interesting.

2) If you waste your energy writhing, screaming, changing colors and fainting, you will never get the job done.

3) When your time comes, you will be so jacked up on excitement and adrenalin, you will not even notice most of the pain. Even if you do experience A LOT of pain, once that little one is placed in your arms NOTHING else matters.

I have had several birthing experiences to base my opinions on so thought I would share:

1) My mother often told of the painful deliveries she experienced. To be fair, my mother gave birth to six children. My sister Lorraine thought it would be fun to try to slide out sideways. From all accounts it was not. She gave us and all of our arrivals a bad rap.

2) When I was eighteen and totally naive on the subject of childbirth (and most other life altering events), I spent several months working as a nurse’s aide on the night shift at a small hospital. One night the charge nurse thought it would be amusing to assign me to the labour room to watch over a first time mother. Every few minutes she would scream. I would jump a foot and shriek. The resident paramedic came in, asked what idiot had sent me in there and booted me out. He stayed with the young mother until the doctor came to see her through a safe delivery. From what I heard it all went well.

3) I had three children by natural (?) childbirth. When I was pregnant with my son Mark I developed severe toxemia. By the the time he was born, I was so wasted on Valium and other medication to keep my blood pressure to a level where I would not stroke out that I did not even know I was pregnant much less giving birth. Mark slept for the first month of his life which helped me to get ample time to rest and recover.

4) My second birthing experience was the arrival of Danny. My husband and I were playing cards. Every so often my insides would turn to jelly, I would pass gas and experience an hysterical fit of giggles. At some point, I noticed this was happening regularly at closer and closer intervals. We headed to the hospital, where the nurses in emergency assumed I was having a psychotic meltdown, however they sent me up to maternity to be checked out. This was at 11:35 PM. The elevator was out of service and my husband was on crutches. I hauled myself and my suitcase up two flights of stairs. Danny leapt into the world at 12:05 AM. To this day, he still leaps into every day as if it is his first opportunity to see the world.

5) My third and final personal birthing experience was Jennifer. I awoke at 5:30AM to the unmistakable signs of impending birth. My husband was working away from home so I was alone with a three and a half year old and a one and a half year old. Thinking of Danny’s quick arrival, I called my in-laws to get me to the hospital. My husband arrived a few hours later. And we waited. At 5:30 PM we watched I Dream of Genie. Sometime in the next hour we moved to the delivery room where Jennifer finally made her entrance into the world. I remember two things. One she was absolutely beautiful. Two she was shrieking like a banshee. She still is and she still does. (39 years later)

6) Finally, my husband Dan and I were in the delivery room when my daughter Jennifer gave birth to her daughter Genie (Genevieve). It was WOW! It was bad. Jennifer did not scream or writhe but she definitely changed colors a few times and passed out several times. Genie was born five weeks early, tiny, and perfect. Jennifer recovered and went on to repeat the experience with Rory, Madison, and PrimRose. It never got easy for her – but it did get better.

If you are planning, or in the process of starting your family, go for it! I doubt if the birth will play out like the typical movie scene. I hope that it will be amazing, memorable and worth any pain involved.💖

Shift Work

Dan

There are many careers that involve shiftwork. My husband Dan, works in the pipe mill of a steel plant that runs twenty-four seven. Currently they are working a five on four off/ four on five off mix of day and night twelve hour hour shifts. Shiftwork is never ideal but it has it’s benefits and it has definite challenges. Some of my thoughts, based on our experiences:

1) Shiftwork is brutal when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Your body is constantly trying to adjust to changes in routine. Eating, sleeping, lack of sunlight, too much sunlight – it is all hard on a body! In a steel plant, you have the additional challenges of air quality, noise, temperature control and dangerous work conditions.

2) Shiftwork can be a major strain on a relationship – especially if your partner works conflicting shifts or has a regular Monday to Friday 8 to 5 career. In our case, that has been a bit of a bonus. Our time together, day or night, is so random and rare, that twenty years in we still very much appreciate our time together and look forward to our retirement years together. There are, however, a lot of relationships that do not make it.

3) Shiftwork makes meal planning difficult to impossible. When I am working, Dan leaves for nightshifts before I get home from work. When I am home, we eat supper by 3:30 in the afternoon so we are not particularly hungry but are both snacking later in the evening. When Dan works days, I come home, make supper and wait hours before he comes home and is ready to eat. By the time we finish supper and clean up, our evening is over.

4) We have never had the challenge of raising a young family together but it has to be hard on both parents and the children. It is even harder raising children if the parents are not living together. A major change in shifts at Dan’s plant lately was a legal and logistical nightmare for many parents.

5) There are a few bonuses to shiftwork – Dan can handle vehicle repair and medical appointments and the like on his mid-week days off, there is almost always someone home with our dog, Dan can get peak golf times during the week when he is on days off, I come home to fresh cooked meals on Dan’s week days off (definitely a bonus as he is a great cook), and when he is off shift, he does have four or five days in a row to rest and recover. This will be especially nice once I retire and we can use such times to take short trips and get out of the city.

6) Workers who work shiftwork tend to have a special bond with their fellow workers (in a survivor mentality/shared pain type of way). They also tend to have an intense passion and dedication for the work that they do.

Overall, shiftwork can be challenging for a worker, their partner and their family. Like anything else, it takes work and it has it’s rewards!

Good, Bad or Ugly?

Spring has Sprung

I am having one of those super great days that runs along like a roller coaster

1. My meds are kicking in and My breathing is so much easier today! But, I am not loving the pharmaceutical companies that cannot create one single drug that does not cause headaches, vertigo, constipation, and/or diahrea! 🤦

2. Spring has sprung, the sun is shining, the air is warm, and the snow and ice are quickly melting! But, our vehicles are filthy. I get that Dan has been taking my little car to work and there is no avoiding the puddles, mud, and steel dust out at Evraz. No idea why the Jeep is so bad. It has not been going anywhere! 🤷

3. I went to the bank this morning. Banking is good! But why do so many (obviously retired) seniors want or need to go to the bank at ten o’clock on Saturday morning to pay all of their monthly bills – one at a time?!  (Like they did not know they had six of  them going in 🙄).  Seriously, once I am retired, I am never leaving my house on Saturday.  Wednesday morning sounds good. 😒

4. With all this springy weather, our streets are melting and drying off. I love dry streets! But why do dry streets bring out every lousy driver in the city? I put my signal on to move into the left lane. Some dough head took that as a challenge to boot it so he could cut me off – just so he had to slow down because he was turning left RIGHT THERE! 🤯

5) And finally…  Spring has sprung, I am feeling much better, I have places to go and things to – life is good. 😊. But, I have to return to work on Monday and with the way things have been there for the past two years, I would definitely rather not.  😢. 

153 DAYS TO RETIREMENT 😊😊😊

Keeper of the Stars

“It was no accident, me meeting you…”. Tracy Bird

It was 1994. With three teenagers to raise and provide for and a recent escape from unholy matrimony (as I referred to my first marriage), the last thing I wanted or needed in my life was a man. My life was good, happy and fulfilling.

For a couple of years things went along great. My kids and their friends filled our home with love and laughter. I filled it with groceries and other basic necessities. As the months went by, we were able to take my mother on an unforgettable family holiday. We moved from our little basement apartment to a much nicer and roomier duplex in a better part of the city. I traded in my battered and worn sedan for a sweet turbo charged convertible. Life was good.

The only downside to my life was that I was grieving the loss of my father who had recently passed away (although I always felt that he was very much with us through those years) and my health. I had lost an unhealthy amount of weight in previous years. I was working for a millwork company and was frequently in the warehouse, which was in the same building as our offices and showroom. I was, and am, asthmatic and seriously allergic to trees and everything tree related – wood, sawdust, wood smoke, feathers (birds have feathers and they live in trees). It still seems rediculous that I would put myself in such a situation but I loved the place and everyone in it.

Although everyone else at work was male, I didn’t really think anything of it and I didn’t really think anyone considered me as anything but one of the guys (who happened to always wear skirts, heels and makeup). A couple of years in, my bosses hired an autocad guy to work in the office. Since said bosses were busy on Dave’s first day, I took him out for lunch to welcome him to the team. He took the opportunity to hit on me. I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not date, would not date and dropped it. He did not, but he was not there long and he just never got anywhere with me. He did however, tell his friend Dan about the company. Dan had years of experience working for industrial steel companies. With a downturn in the economy, the company he had been working for went out of business and he had found himself unemployed.

Soon after, Dan walked into the office and asked to speak to Ken, one of my bosses. I took one look at him and ran to the other side of the warehouse to find Ken and to tell him that there was “a BIG native man there to see him”. (In my defence, I knew very few natives, had never seen a Hungarian before – and I was very sleep deprived at the time).

After a short interview, Ken hired Dan. Dan went home and was to start work in a couple of days. The day before he was scheduled to start, his mother passed away suddenly. He came to the office to explain the situation and his pain was obvious. He was very close to his mother. She was, to him and to all who knew her, a very special woman.

A few days later, Dan returned to start work. He was introduced to everyone and announced to the rest of the guys that he was there to work and marry the receptionist – me. Nobody told me of his plans or that he was Hungarian (which was totally irrelevant but it was hilarious that I was oblivious to the fact until a year later, after we had been living together for a month).  I did however learn that he worked hard, took pride in his work, and that he stood up for himself and supported his fellow workers. 

On July 31st, 1999 we were married. Our family and friends were there to support us. We had a beautiful wedding. We both agreed that as heaven’s gates opened for his mother, my father had been there to welcome her. Together they had conspired to bring us to each other.

By that point our economy had improved, Dan had gone to work at the pipe plant of our local steel factory and I had moved on to a healthier environment. We moved in to Dan’s house (an ongoing project) and we built a good life together. We have definitely had great times together, good times together and faced difficult and heart wrenching challenges together. We have come to love, respect and and admire each other. We have definitely learned to annoy each other and at times to take each other for granted.

This week, I realized how very much I love Dan, appreciate him and how perfectly suited we are for this life that we share. This week, Dan had a few days off between shifts. On Tuesday, I called him from work to tell him I was was very sick and struggling to breathe. He rushed over to pick me up and took me to the hospital emergency ward. He stayed by my side for six hours, on his last day off this week, to support me. When we got back home, he went to get my medication and pick up supper. The next evening, when he returned home from work, he told me some silly anecdote from work that made me laugh until my sides hurt. Last night we started talking about people winning large lotteries. I said my biggest concern, if we ever won, was that we would want such different things that it would be hard to find workable compromises. Dan agreed. Then we started talking about what each of us would want and our thoughts on the matter were almost identical. We had even both always thought of how important it was for us to show our appreciation to two special doctors. A few years ago Dan went to the emergency department with a blinding headache. A young doctor looked up from from his paperwork, yelled “get that man on a stretcher – he is septic” and proceeded to save Dan’s life. He was fantastic. My special doctor, went above and beyond to take care of me and keep Dan fully informed of what he was doing, after my lung collapsed and no one could repair it. He saved my lung (without surgery) for which I will always be grateful. Both of these men were such gifted physicians and such dedicated humanitarians – and they were both high on both of our lists of ‘lottery win’ priorities. (In the guise of their dream medical equipment I would expect).

I know – I had no want or need of a man in my life. Until he met me, Dan was quite content with his sports and his cat Hank. I am however, eternally grateful that my father and his mother felt otherwise.

‘I tip my hat to the keeper of our stars. They sure knew what they were when they joined these two hearts.’