Health Care

More Functional Than Pretty But These Curtains and Tracks are Supplied by
KM Burgess Agencies Ltd.  ๐Ÿ™‚

This week I made a trip down the rabbit hole into the world of emergency health care. Fortunately, my distress was caused by nothing more than a case of pneumonia and bronchial spasms. After ekg’s, x-rays, blood tests and a treatment of brochial-dilaters, I was on my way with a couple of effective prescriptions and orders to have follow up x-rays next week.

My husband and I are very fortunate that we seldom have any reason to visit our local hospitals. On those rare occasions when we do make one of these visits, it is such an eye opening experience that I decided to share.

1) Say what you will about public healthcare, we have always been really well treated. Our facilities are aged and definitely in need of upgrading, but for the most part, our doctors, nurses, technicians, lab techs and everyone else on staff are amazing. They make the best of anything they have to work with and do a great job keeping up with the tremendous workload that they have to deal with. I cannot imagine how we are blessed to get and keep such amazing people in our little backwoods city hospitals.

2) Regardless of the urgency of our visit (and we have made a few seriously urgent visits), I am overwhelmed by the other patients and their loved ones – especially the ones whose issues are obviously chronic, long term or terminal. We visit this world once every 5 to 10 years. For so many, this is a regular part of their life. These patients, who are in such dire straights are, for the most part,  so patient, kind and grateful. It is incredible to experience such grace under pressure.

3) I have spent a fair amount of time at hospitals with family members – parents, children, and grandchildren. (I am supposed to be there as support, not the main attraction๐Ÿ™„). It blows me away to see this part of life from their side – the side of pain and suffering. I do not think I will ever make a good patient. I am a trainwreck in those places. My previously last visit, I arrived by ambulance with a totally collapsed lung. Within fifteen minutes, I was like “Give me a shot of morphine and I am good to go. Just get me out of here”. Long story short, I went home a month later with nightmares for a year. I am pretty sure there were some staff members (if not all) who were glad to see me gone – especially the head of radiology. In my defence, I had really big bandages taped to my back to protect my drainage tubes and when he whipped them off it hurt – like hell. There are probably still claw mark straight up the wall. ๐Ÿฅบ

4) How do hospitals, who are caring for such desperately ill and uncomfortable patients, find a way to destroy every bit of food that comes their way? I was at the hospital for about six hours on Tuesday and had not eaten anything before I got there. Three or four hours in, my husband asked if he could get me a sandwich from the onsite coffee shop as I was feeling pretty weak and shaky. The nurse said she would get me something. Which she did! With all she had to do, getting me something to eat became a priority. I should be grateful. I was grateful. But how the hell do you screw up jello? I realize I was only there for a few hours and was not going to starve with or without jello – but this was not an isolated incident. When I was in the hospital for a month, the only edible food came from the cafeteria or coffee shop. The kitchen sent me a quivering pile of yellow (pudding?) one time that was so hideous I still get nauseous every time I think of it. I may be wrong but it seems to me, sick people would heal faster with say homemade chicken soup. Alas, our hospital dieticians are trained to believe that the road to health is paved with ‘Fish Surprise’ , dry tasteless bread and yellow slime. ๐Ÿคข.  It just seems so mean to feed that to sick, helpless patients.

5) Finally, hospitals are so strangely unreal with their total absense of real world time and order as we know it. Five minutes becomes five hours and hours become minutes. Orderlies whip in and out to take you places and bring you back, random lab techs pop in unexpectedly to take tubes full of your blood, nurses show up to take your vital signs or stick IV’s in you. There are ongoing announcements, bells and whistles, and random clattering and clanging.  It is so bizarre and far removed from any regular day in the life of.  It is definitely an out of life experience, if not an actual out of body experience.

I am so glad that we have the healthcare that we do in Canada.  I am grateful that we have such dedicated people working in our hospitals – doctors, nurses, administrators, facility management, technicians, volunteers – everyone who devotes their days and nights to operating these facilities and providing their capable and compassionate care.  Finally, I am so grateful that my husband and I seldom have to take advantage of the health care that is provided in these facilities.  We are so blessed to generally have a  reasonable level of health and well-being.   I cannot imagine anyone resenting paying taxes to support this care that  is available to all Canadians who require it.    Especially, those of us who seldom require it.

Freedom

This year, I have chosen to focus on PEACE. Each morning I write out a number of affirmations relative to peace. Every night, I try to fall asleep with peaceful thoughts and feelings. Throughout the day I try to make peace my priority.

Typically, the harder I try to focus on improving one aspect of my life, the more obstacles life throws in my path. This year has proven no different. There is virtually no area of my life that has been easy and peaceful. Personally, there have been health issues, financial issues, family issues, work issues and of course technical issues. In a broader sense, our city, province, country, and world seem to be going to hell in a handbasket.

It would be easy to give up, but I have endeavoured to keep focussing on peace. On the fiftieth day of 2020, I have finally made a significant breakthrough. By making peace my priority, I have released the overwhelming urge to control everything in and around my life. This alone has brought me the peace I desire.

As humans, we all have the power to choose. The first thing we need to choose is where our priorities lie. Life is dicey and insecure, more so now than ever, in my mind. We are reminded daily that there is little to no security for ourselves and our loved ones. It is easy to become so insecure that we move into survival mode. We try to control everyone and everything around us. We justify becoming aggressive and trying to deprive others of their right to choose. This never ends well for anyone.

The only path to personal peace and growth is to focus on our own priorities, while respecting and allowing others to focus on their’s. There are any number of ways to accomplish this.  Here are a few of my suggestions:

1) If there are issues at work, focus on your task at hand. Ignore the office politics, the gloom and doom of company rumors, employers and co-workers who are being unreasonable or ignorant. You are there to do your job, you are being paid to do your job. Just do it. Focus on doing it well. Regardless of anything else that happens, you will gain confidence from a job well done and it will help you to develop an exit strategy, if leaving your position becomes inevitable.

2) Having health issues can easily become overwhelming. However, they can be made tolerable for yourself and those around you. The first step is to accept and acknowledge your health issues. The second step is to deal with your health issues with professional help you can trust, informing yourself about your condition, and doing everything you can to minimize the effects of your health issues – be it with diet, exercise or lifestyle changes and focussing on any improvement you can make. I am amazed at the accomplishments and legacies of people who have been affected or are affected by overwhelming health issues.

3) Financial issues are another of life’s challenges that can easily become overwhelming. I have been there. I know how difficult it can be. I have sold pop bottles to buy milk for my babies and have worked multiple jobs to provide for my teenagers. I have lived so close to the edge that an unanticipated car repair was virtually catastrophic. I survived – somehow you do, as long as you have faith that you will and you keep working towards financial stability. Once again the first step is to acknowledge and accept your situation. The second is to get  professional help if you need it and make the changes you need to make. Keep working towards increasing your income and cutting your expenses and you will slowly start to get ahead. It isn’t easy, there are times when it seems your efforts are totally futile, but if you keep working at it, it will happen. I have reached a point in my life where major unexpected expenses are frustrating, but I have to keep it in perspective and be grateful that we have the means to cover them.

4) Relationships can be particularly challenging. There are times when one must admit that a relationship is unhealthy, unsafe and the right thing to do is to terminate it. If every relationship starts out great, is great, and ends up in termination and anger, the problem is probably you. The thing with relationships is that they take respect, consideration, compromise, and trust. You cannot always be right. You cannot always be in control, you cannot always be ‘the winner’. No one else can give you the perfect relationship. You have to do your part.

5) No matter how much you love anyone – even your own children, you must allow them to make their own choices and suffer the consequences of poor choices. Inevitably, you will be forced to, so they can learn and grow. You can offer them a hand up if they are legitimately making the good choices – to a point. They are still the ones who need to put in the hard work. To encourage them to make poor choices or to pave every road for them is enabling them, undermining them, keeping them dependent on you, and serves neither of you in the long run. You have to step back and trust that your children will learn, grow, and live the life that they are meant to.

6) Regardless of how passionate you are about any cause or point of view, others are equally passionate about theirs – and have every right to be. In Canada, there is currently and increasingly, a divide between those who are passionate about the environment and those who are passionate about the economy. The two sides become further apart as they fight for control and an overwhelming win. The harder they fight, the less likely it is that anyone will . Regardless of which side we support, we need to be open to compromise, respect and mutual concern for both the economy and the environment. We need to work together to ensure that those who drive the economy, respect the environment. We need to recognize the importance of a strong vibrant economy and recognize the efforts that industries make to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. It works both ways or it does not work at all.

Regardless of what the issues are, or whether they are personal, global, or anywhere in between, the solution is the same. We need to get our priorities in order, focus on what is important to us, release control of what is not, and approach the issues with peaceful hearts and minds. ๐Ÿ•Š๏ธ

Auto-Correct

It started out innocently enough.  I would write a simple text to my sister. “Hey! How are you feeling today?” And hit send.   Moments later she would receive a text that said “Harry, have you been falling today?”. To which she would reply “Are you furry drunk?”

Within months, these obnoxious auto-corrects had taken over my Google searches – no I did not mean how to skin a fox in Yugoslavia! (What would possess you to think I would want to skin a fox anywhere?) Then it infiltrated the body of my emails – “OMG! I am so sorry, I typed ‘shutters‘. I have no idea why auto-correct changed the ‘u’ to an ‘i’.”

Next, auto-correct took to questioning my choice of email recipients. I would choose ‘Bob Smith’ from my menu of contacts and I would get a message “Did you mean Joe Brown?”. “No, I meant BOB SMITH”. ๐Ÿคฏ

Now this has gone too far. I think “Cason” and I write “Dominic”. I think “Genie” and I say “Jennifer”. I even do it with inanimate objects. I point to the television and I say “table”. Frankly, I thought I was just getting senile. But no, I was speaking to my perfectly normal sister Elaine last night and the same thing has been happening to her. Artificial intelligence has taken over our brains and inserted an auto-correct function.

I would be fine with this, if auto-correct ever got it right. If this was actually a helpful tool. But no, that is not the case. Auto-correct shirts it up every time.

Building Memories

Acrovyn Crashrails & Corner Guards

This week I have been enjoying one of my first ‘lasts’ at work. The western sales rep for one of our biggest, and my favourite, supplier is in town. Construction Specialties manufactures many products (Acrovyn wall protection, entrance mats and foot grilles, hospital tracks and curtains, expansion joints, louvres, sunshades and more). I love their products, I love the quality of their products, and I love the people I deal with from this company – including and especially Peter.

Peter has been our rep for ages now and he is great to deal with. He is a great guy period. He knows the industry inside out and always has some interesting news for us. (This week it was paperless drywall – and the non porous reason behind it. It is a healthcare thing and way more interesting than it sounds). Peter knows his company and he definitely knows his products. If we have a problem or need support for anything, he is on it. He is respectful and decent. There is no question that he has our backs. We feel we can be totally honest and upfront with him and he is totally honest and upfront with us. It has been a great relationship for both sides from day one.

This week Peter is here for the annual Construction Specifications Canada tradeshow. He comes every year for it and spends the better part of a day with us. We (my boss Brian, Peter, and I) spend the morning catching up on news, go for a nice lunch, back to the office to discuss more business and then we meet for supper at one of Regina’s best steak houses. It is always fun. This year was special. This year will be my last for this get together. This year was also a bit of a celebration for one of my best years and definitely my best sale ever. It was an impressive sale by any standards and I was so happy to end my career on such a positive note. (For the record, I have never been one to spend my time chasing BIG sales. I take care of the little sales and our customers just trust me enough to bring the big sales to me.) ๐Ÿ™‚

I will have a lot of ‘lasts’ and ‘goodbyes’ in the next few months. It is kind of sad, but I know that I am fortunate that I get to make these special memories before I retire.

The Psychology of (my) Retirement

In less than six months I will be retired. I was so excited about the possibilities when I made my decision to embark on this new phase of my life. My family and friends supported me. It was all good!

Somehow the closer I get, the harder this has been getting. Retirement has not been looking that promising. Finally, in total frustration, I sat down and wrote a blog about my current struggles. I put it all out there. (Well most of it). I hit publish and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I suddenly realized what I was really struggling with.

For the past five decades, I have been in the enviable position of being a ‘caregiver’. I have had the physical, mental, emotional and financial ability to help and support others – husbands, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, employers, co-workers, friends and the occasional stranger. Now, I am suddenly planning for a life where my main focus is caring for me. It never occurred to me that such a change in focus would be a problem for me, much less others – especially those who I have done the most for over the years.

There are probably a lot of people who come up against these mental struggles when they are planning or kicking off their retirement. I wonder why nobody talks about them. ๐Ÿ™„

Jen & Danny with friend Dave. (Almost family๐Ÿ˜‚)
My Mother and I
Grandbaby Cason
Co-worker Kori
My Husband with Maddy & Prim
Mark & Erin and Dom

Getting My Retirement Back On Track

The closer retirement gets, the more it looks like an unavoidable train wreck.

In July 2019, I decided that I would retire on my 65th birthday (July 2020). This was not a rash decision. I gave it a lot of thought and took a number of factors into account.

1. I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with my husband. With his 24/7 shift work and my 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, our together time was limited.

2. I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with my sons and daughter and my grandchildren.

3. Although I have always seemed more youthful than I actually am, and felt I could easily work for a few more years, I decided I wanted to retire when I was still felt young enough and strong enough that I would have the energy to pursue new interests.

4. There were situations within the construction industry and the construction company that I worked for that made my job stressful and frustrating. I did not want retirement to be about getting away from what I was doing but I was ready to leave it behind.

5. And, last but not least, I wanted the opportunity to start enjoying the retirement life that my older siblings were already living. ๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿงš๐Ÿ„๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ’ƒ

I discussed my decision with my husband, my children, my boss and my siblings. Everyone was on board and encouraged me to do what I felt was right. I threw myself into preparing for retirement๐Ÿฅณ

That was then, this is my now:

1) In recent weeks my husband seems to be less enthusiastic about my impending retirement. He has to work for another four years to get his full pension and he seems to resent that I will not be slogging it out with him. I get it. I really do. But I know this will be better for both of us. We will have more time to spend together. I will be able to carry more of the household workload. We will both be able to live around his schedule. I want to do this, but I do not want to go into this feeling guilty and resented.

2) I will no doubt have the opportunity to spend more time with my sons and their families. That will be nice. In August, my daughter kicked me to the curb and banned me from seeing her children. To say that I am devastated from the loss is a total understatement.

3) I am definitely not feeling youthful. I have been sick since October and I am exhausted. I look old and I feel old. ๐Ÿ‘ต Retirement, as I see it now, is the opportunity to nap – a lot.

4) Even though I was definitely ready to leave my job, I wanted to go out feeling really good about the job I did and the contribution I had made to the company I worked for.  Things get worse every day.  I do not care how I get out. I just want to get out.   That is not how I wanted to begin my retirement.  I did not want it to be about getting away from where I am.  I wanted to be excited about where I am going. 

5) Finally, my siblings and the retirements they were enjoying.  I have a sister two years older than me.  We practically grew up as twins.  We have been best friends before bff’s were even a thing.  She had a kidney transplant last March.  She still, and will always, takes a handful of pills every day.  The side effects are brutal.  She was always the bright one, the quick one, the happy one. Now her life is so hard. My oldest sister has always been large and in charge. Not do much large physically, but definitely in charge. She has always been a hoot. She has been dealing with recurring cancer for years. She has been keeping it at bay and living a good life. She has been sick since before Christmas. She has been exhausted and losing weight, confused and weak. Last week she was diagnosed with aggressive, advanced Alzheimer’s. We are all heart-broken for her, for her family and for us.

I am less than six months from retirement. I should be more excited and relieved and happy everyday that it gets closer. I should be, I want to be, but to be honest I am struggling. I definitely do not want to stay in the workforce but these days I do not know if retirement is going to be any better. ๐Ÿš‚