Saturday, April 02, 2011

Update: Dad
I called the hospice twice today.  Janine said that dad had some more breakthrough meds for his breathing and he was resting.  Sophie emailed and said that she and Darwin went this afternoon and stayed for dinner with Dad.  By the time she left, he didn't fuss about going to bed and only asked once where I was. 

I also talked to mom and she said she was doing fine.  She was just talking to Auntie Maggie and also had to return a few calls to Bena and Leila.  I went to the beach today but didn't stay long. I had a nap after lunch.  I thought it was the heat but I think it's my body saying that I need to slow down for a few days.  Sunita and Ronin will be coming tomorrow so I am loking forward to spending the time with them too. 

I did some transcribing for my focus group.  I only have about 15 minutes more to do so I am going to try to do it in the next day or two.  Yes I am still working on my vacation although I wish I could stay here for a few weeks and do my work... The temperature today was about 30C and it was nice not to be wearing winter clothes. 


Friday, April 01, 2011

Update: Dad; Isla

Since I am going to be away for 10 days, I called the hospice last night and they said that Dad was settled in for the night. He was having some shortness of breath but it was controlled somewhat by the meds The bleeding on at the tumour site had subsided somewhat and there was no more for the evening.

This was an early morning start for me. I got up at 3:45am to get a flight to Cancun for 7am. I have been so busy for the last few weeks that I can almost feel my body saying that if I don’t get a physical as well as mental break, I am going to crash and from previous experiences of not listening to my body, when I crash, it’s a hard fall. I am prone to being busy and ignoring my body’s signs that I need to slow down so I am sometimes forced to a standstill by a simple cold that should take a few days to get over but it takes me a few weeks. So I decided that I should take a forced vacation – such as it is – and go for a much needed break.

I tried to find a place that is only one plane ride away in case I need to go back to Winnipeg in a hurry and this was a direct flight. We are actually staying in Isla Mujeres (Island of Women). It’s about a 20 minute ride from the Cancun airport to the Gran Puerto ferry terminal then we take a 20 minute ferry to Isla.

We came here for the first time in 2004 and then two more times with friends Mike and Joan and then a 3rd time with Subhadra. This is one place I keep returning to because it really allows me to relax. Life is unhurried and slow and it’s just what I need. There is a long seawall where I go with my coffee every morning and just sit and listen and watch the waves come in to the shore. The seawall was damaged by the hurricane in 2005 but they have fixed quite a bit of it now so it’s usable again. I thought of going to Guyana for a week or so and spending some time with my family but it’s so far away and sometimes the flights are unreliable so I nixed that idea. Maybe a later time.

Having said that Isla is a relaxing place, I called home to mom twice and there was no answer so of course I thought something happened to her. Then i called Sharm and she said that I should relax, that if anything happened at home, they would call me. I was still not at ease with that so I called the hospice at 9pm and Donna said that dad had a rough day with his breathing so they gave him some different meds and he was a bit more settled by the evening. I called mom again and she said that she didn’t hear the phone the first time and when I called back, she was on the phone with Auntie Lovin so she didn’t answer the call wait. She said that when she was at the hospice, dad kept asking for me – where I was and when I would see him. He called home later in the afternoon and he was still asking. When I called the hospice in the evening, I told them to tell him that I called and Donna said that it would probably reassure him. I went to bed thinking that I hope that he’ll be okay for a few more days. I am going to bed soon as I am way past tired and my brains need to slow down. Tomorrow is another day and the sun will rise...


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday to my favourite SUB!!!  Dad

Okay Sub, today is your birthday and you cannot hide out for too long.  We'll find you and make you enjoy your day!  This is probably a bit to late but here is a list of 30 books that everyone should read before their 30th birthday. A bit too late for me and knowing how much of a voracious reader Subhadra is, you've probably read most/all of them already.  You are the youngest of my three rare flowers.

Books to read before you are 30.  This list looks a lot like the books I had to read (and did not appreciate)  in high school. Now that I am more mature, I can appreciate them more but I could think of almost 30 more that I read that are equally as good.  I've read the highlighted ones so I still have a few more to go.

1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
A powerful story about the importance of life experiences as they relate to approaching an understanding of reality and attaining enlightenment.

2. 1984 by George Orwell
1984 still holds chief significance nearly sixty years after it was written in 1949. It is widely acclaimed for its haunting vision of an all-knowing government, which uses pervasive, twenty-four/seven surveillance tactics to manipulate all citizens of the populace.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The story surveys the controversial issues of race and economic class in the 1930s Deep South via a court case of a black man charged with the rape and abuse of a young white girl. It’s a moving tale that delivers a profound message about fighting for justice and against prejudice.

4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A nightmarish vision of insane youth culture that depicts heart wrenching insight into the life of a disturbed adolescent. This novel will blow you away … leaving you breathless, livid, thrilled, and concerned.

5. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
A short, powerful contemplation on death, ideology and the incredible brutality of war.

6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
This masterpiece is so enormous even Tolstoy said it couldn’t be described as a standard novel. The storyline takes place in Russian society during the Napoleonic Era, following the characters of Andrei, Pierre and Natasha … and the tragic and unanticipated way in which their lives interconnect.

7. The Rights of Man by Tom Paine
Written during the era of the French Revolution, this book was one of the first to introduce the concept of human rights from the standpoint of democracy.

8. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
A famous quote from the book states that “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” This accurately summarizes the book’s prime position on the importance of individual human rights within society.

9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
This novel does not have a plot in the conventional sense, but instead uses various narratives to portray a clear message about the general importance of remembering our cultural history.

10. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Few books have had as significant an impact on the way society views the natural world and the genesis of humankind.

11. The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton
A collection of thoughts, meditations and reflections that give insight into what life is like to live simply and purely, dedicated to a greater power than ourselves.

12. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell looks at how a small idea, or product concept, can spread like a virus and spark global sociological changes. Specifically, he analyzes “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.”

13. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Arguably one of the best children’s books ever written; this short novel will help you appreciate the simple pleasures in life. It’s most notable for its playful mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie.

14. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
One of the oldest books on military strategy in the world. It’s easily the most successful written work on the mechanics of general strategy and business tactics.

15. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
One of the greatest fictional stories ever told, and by far one of the most popular and influential written works in twentieth-century literature. Once you pick up the first book, you’ll read them all.

16. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
This is a tale that lingers on the topic of attaining and maintaining a disciplined heart as it relates to one’s emotional and moral life. Dickens states that we must learn to go against “the first mistaken impulse of the undisciplined heart.”

17. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
Probably the wisest poetic prose of modern times. It was written during World War II, and is still entirely relevant today … here’s an excerpt: “The dove descending breaks the air/With flame of incandescent terror/Of which the tongues declare/The only discharge from sin and error/The only hope, or the despair/Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre–/To be redeemed from fire by fire./Who then devised this torment?/Love/Love is the unfamiliar Name/Behind the hands that wave/The intolerable shirt of flame/Which human power cannot remove./We only live, only suspire/Consumed by either fire or fire.”

18. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
This book coined the self-titled term “catch-22” that is widely used in modern-day dialogue. As for the story, its message is clear: What’s commonly held to be good, may be bad … what is sensible, is nonsense. Its one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century. Read it.

19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Set in the Jazz Age of the roaring 20s, this book unravels a cautionary tale of the American dream. Specifically, the reader learns that a few good friends are far more important that a zillion acquaintances, and the drive created from the desire to have something is more valuable than actually having it.

20. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
This novel firmly stands as an icon for accurately representing the ups and downs of teen angst, defiance and rebellion. If nothing else, it serves as a reminder of the unpredictable teenage mindset.

21. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A smooth-flowing, captivating novel of a young man living in poverty who criminally succumbs to the desire for money, and the hefty psychological impact this has on him and the people closest to him.

22. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
This book does a great job at describing situations of power and statesmanship. From political and corporate power struggles to attaining advancement, influence, and authority over others, Machiavelli’s observations apply.

23. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days writing this book in a secluded cabin near the banks of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. This is a story about being truly free from the pressures of society. The book can speak for itself: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

24. The Republic by Plato
A gripping and enduring work of philosophy on how life should be lived, justice should be served, and leaders should lead. It also gives the reader a fundamental understanding of western political theory.

25. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
This is the kind of book that blows your mind wide open to conflicting feelings of life, love and corruption … and at times makes you deeply question your own perceptions of each. The story is as devious as it is beautiful.

26. Getting Things Done by David Allen
The quintessential guide to organizing your life and getting things done. Nuff said.

27. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This is the granddaddy of all self-improvement books. It is a comprehensive, easy to read guide for winning people over to your way of thinking in both business and personal relationships.

28. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A powerful and alarming look at the possibilities for savagery in a lawless environment, where compassionate human reasoning is replaced by anarchistic, animal instinct.

29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck’s deeply touching tale about the survival of displaced families desperately searching for work in a nation stuck by depression will never cease to be relevant.

30. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
This anticommunist masterpiece is a multifaceted novel about the clash between good and evil. It dives head first into the topics of greed, corruption and deception as they relate to human nature.

31. BONUS: How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
900 pages of simple instructions on how to cook everything you could ever dream of eating. Pretty much the greatest cookbook ever written. Get through a few recipes each week, and you’ll be a master chef by the time you’re thirty.

32. BONUS: Honeymoon with My Brother by Franz Wisner
Franz Wisner had it all … a great job and a beautiful fiancée. Life was good. But then his fiancée dumped him days before their wedding, and his boss basically fired him. So he dragged his younger brother to Costa Rica for his already-scheduled honeymoon and they never turned back … around the world they went for two full years. This is a fun, heartfelt adventure story about life, relationships, and self-discovery.

I went to the hospice this morning at about 7:30am and checked with the nurses before going to see dad.  They said that he had a good night but by about 7:00am, he was short of breath.  They gave him some meds and rubbed his back a bit and also gave him his oxygen tube.  She said that she was glad I came as that tends to calm him down a bit.

 When I got to the room, he was having his breakfast but struggling a bit to eat, swallow and breathe at the same time.  I sat with him and he told me that he was quite short of breath.  I said that they had checked his oxygen level and it was at 99% so he was getting enough - he was only feeling like he wasn't but from what I have read, that's a real feeling.  He seemed to accept that I was not doubting him.  He went to the bathroom while I made his bed and when he came out, I made him  change from his belted pants to his fleece pants.  He wanted to make sure that he didn't leave his handkerchief in his back pocket of his pants.  Some things don't change I guess.  He still has to have his white handkerchief with his initials in his pocket. For as long as I can remember, he carries one or two in his pant or shirt pocket.  He has a box of tissue right at his bed but the kerchief has to be there too.

We talked a bit about my focus group session and the one I am having next week and by the time I was done. he was breathing a lot easier, although he had to sit up in bed for a period of time before lying back down.

NB: I am going to be away for about 10 days so I may not be posting updates as frequently. As I get information from phone calls to the hospice and the rest of my family, I will post accordingly.  Take care all.

Have a great weekend,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

30 Ways to Make Today a Good Day
(by Marc)

I was searching on the internet and saw this.  I liked it so I thought I would post it.

  1.  Get started a few minutes early.
  2. Work on something that’s meaningful to you.
  3. Complete an important piece of unfinished business.
  4. Spend time with positive, friendly people.
  5. Do something nice for someone else.
  6. Be present. Focus on where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with right now.
  7. Do one thing at a time.
  8. Listen to your self-talk. When you hear negative thoughts, think about the positive side of things.
  9. Smile, even when there’s no pressing reason to do so.
  10. Unplug. Entertain yourself with real-world experiences.
  11. Go somewhere new. See something new. Meet someone new.
  12. Do something that makes you laugh.
  13. Challenge your mind. Learn a new skill.
  14. Challenge your body. Exercise for 30 minutes.
  15. Let someone help you.
  16. Clear a little clutter by getting rid of something you don’t need.
  17. Be honest with yourself and those around you.
  18. Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, let them inspire you.
  19. Spend a few minutes alone in silence, just thinking.
  20. Focus on solutions.
  21. Keep an open mind to new ideas and information.
  22. Handle important two-minute tasks immediately.
  23. Stay out of other people’s drama. And don’t needlessly create your own.
  24. Say, “Please,” “Thank you,” “I’m sorry” and “I love you,” when you should.
  25. Don’t try to please everyone. Just do what you know is right.
  26. Eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  27. Savor the natural joy of simple pleasures.
  28. Notice what’s right with the world.
  29. Focus on all the things you already have, think about them and appreciate them.
  30. Get to sleep a little earlier tonight so you’re well rested tomorrow.

 And remember, a smile is the most beautiful curve on the human body. So go now and strut your stuff.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Sharm!!!  dad


I was going to call you in Fargo at 7:11am (the time of your birthday) but I decided that since you have a cold and you're not feeling great, I'd send you an email and post it on the blog.  So  happy **th birthday.  Since you're one of a kind, here is a rare orchid for you.

I went to the hospice this morning on my way to work because mom said that when she went yesterday, dad was not like himself.  he hardly got out of bed and did not engage in much conversation (not that he does a lot now anyway).  I checked in at the nurses desk and Margaret said that he had quite a bit of pain last night so they had to give him pain meds two or three times and he was asking for a cool gel pack.  They asked me if it works and I said that I told him a couple of years ago after a round of radiation treatment that he should use it when his face is hurting so since that time, he uses it whenever he has pain. I don't know if it works but he seems to think that if I say it works, it probably works. When he gets the pain, to me it's visible because the whole area gets very red as if it has a fever so the gel pack at least cools the skin down a bit.  

Margaret also said that there was some bleeding and one spot was kind of squirting.  So she was going to wait for another nurse to assist with the dressing change in the event that the tumour started to bleed again. They said that he's been very quiet for the last few days and I told them that he told Uncle Deo that it's time to go. They said that he seems to be at peace with his life.  

I went into the room and he was sleeping so I woke him and kissed him.  He looked a bit groggy at first.  He looked extremely tired and very fragile.  I asked if he had breakfast and he said he did not have his dhall and roti.  I went to get a bowl, spoon, glasses and a cup of coffee from the dining room and came back and heated his breakfast.  He ate while I made his bed and after I was done, he asked how my focus group went last week so we talked about that for a few minutes.  He said that he was very proud of me and that he knows that I will do great things for the people who I am writing about for my research.  He asked if I was done reviewing my 300 and something pages and I said that it was all done and I am now transcribing the focus group notes from the digital recorder. I told him that I put out a plea for help on the blog but no one offered so I am left to transcribe at the rate of 10 minutes to each minute of recording (okay so that was a slight exaggeration but only slight....). 

Typing is one thing which I really do not like to do - or more specifically - transcribing from audio to text.  It is painfully slow but I have 40 of the 90 minutes done and it only took me many hours!  And to think I still have another focus group to do next week.  Yikes! Anyway, we talked about the discussion so far and he said that what I have to say will be important for vocational teachers.  I told him that it is very ironic that as a blue collar tradesperson, I was saying the same things but I had to cross over the social boundaries to white collar work before anyone would listen.  That's a huge problem for which I am writing. 

After our discussion, I took him to the bathroom to brush his teeth and wheeled him back to the bed.  I tried something a bit different today and it worked very well.  When he tries to get into the bed, the handle is in the way and he can never get far enough in the bed to be comfortable so he has to try pushing himself up towards the head of the bed.  Today I lowered the handle and he sat in the bend of the bed just where he needs to be to be lying in a comfortable position without any adjustments.  Then when he was settled between his 4 pillows, I raised the handle and it was perfect! 

I put some cream on his feet and he wanted some on the bruise he still has on his forehead and I covered his chest with is throw and said goodbye.  I took the breakfast dishes back to the dining room and left to go to work.  Ammm... did I mention that when he went to the bathroom, he brushed his teeth and had to splash on his after shave?  Yes he did.  It's funny how the sense of smell can be so powerful.  I think whenever I smell Old Spice or Mennen, I think of dad. Any of you seen that Old Spice commercial with Isaiah Mustafa?  He probably got the idea from Dad.  haha...... I bet Dad could teach him a thing or two....


Monday, March 28, 2011

Update: Dad; Smile
Yesterday we went out to Perkins for a late breakfast before going to the hospice.  I love their french toast but I had fish and chips instead.  Mom had the french toast but I was good and didn't even ask for a piece.

We went to the hospice after and dad was just finishing his lunch.  He had cream of mushroom soup and a blueberry smoothie.  I spoke to Nurse Amanda prior to going into the room and she said that he was feeling tired.  He was very quiet - saying about 10 words at most.  I wheeled him into the bathroom to brush his teeth.  While he was doing that, I changed his bed linens and tidied up his table. He went back to bed as soon as he was done and settled in but didn't look too comfortable because he was too low on the bed.  I tried to move him up but I could not and he is not strong enough to push himself up on the bed. 

Around 1:00pm, my cousin Sunita from Florida called and she and her sister spoke to dad briefly.  Mom said that when dad was at home, Sunita called almost weekly to see how he was doing so we arranged for her to say just a quick hello.  Dad kept saying that he was doing well but from the length of the conversation, he is not.  Shortly after that, I called Uncle Deo in England and dad spoke to him for a couple of minutes as well. He told Uncle Deo he was doing well and wanted Uncle Deo to come from England and spend a day with him. I heard Uncle Deo tell to keep fighting but dad told him that it's time to stop fighting and that he wants to go.

On Friday Dr Hartley went to visit and dad was asking him about his sore mouth.  The Dr said that the cancer was now attacking the inside of the mouth so mom asked what would happen if/when the point came when dad would not be able to eat and Dr Hartley said that they could put a feeding tube into his stomach.  Dad absolutely refused to consider that.  He said he didn't want to live like that so when I heard him telling Uncle Deo that he wanted to go, I could see in his eye that he is tired of fighting.  And for any of you who know him well, he's put up a good fight in the last 5 years.  Logically, he should not have been here considering that he had 16-18 months. And logically, since the cancer invaded the lymphatic system more than 4 years ago, it should have spread to other parts of his body a long time ago, but so far, it seems to be contained in his head and neck (although most recently it has spread to his chest as well).  His face is completely disfigured on the right side and now distorted from the growth of the tumours on the left side.  Fortunately, if there is anything fortunate in any of this is that his pain  so far has been managed quite well with the pain meds. although he's getting higher and higher doses of it. 

Soon after I got him settled in bed, Tim (the lawyer) arrived with all the papers for the sale of the house.  Tim was asking on Friday if dad was coherent enough to know what's going on.  I told him that he not only knows but can ask any appropriate questions if he needs to.  Tim put the papers in front of him and the first thing he told Tim was that his name was spelled incorrectly in the legal documents.  He has a silent H in his name so Tim had to make the changes and dad initialled them.  Before he and mom signed, I asked Tim to explain all the documents so that they know what they are signing.  I DO NOT sign documents - no matter who asks me to - unless I know what I am signing.  And you should do the same.  I have also reminded my daughters that they are not to sign legally binding papers unless they know what they are signing.   Tim explained all the documents and dad and mom signed them.  

When he was done, Karran came back into the room and helped dad move into a comfortable position on the bed.  I adjusted his 4 pillows - yes 4. He sleeps on his left side and has two pillows for his head - one slightly overlapping the other, one for him to hug and one to brace his back.  That's how he likes his bed so that's how I fixed it.  He got comfortable and I covered his upper body with a crocheted cover and he settled into an on and off sleep.  During that time, two volunteers came into the room with a trolley full of good baking, tea and coffee.  They served it on fancy teacups and saucers so we each had a cup of tea and a half a slice of lemon cake.  It was as delicious as they said it was.  The volunteers and families of residents bring in the baking and the volunteers serve it every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at the hospice.  It's such a lovely and generous thing to do.  They both walked into the room and said "Hello Dood!" as if they've been friends for a long time.  We stayed a bit more and when I heard dad snoring, we got up, kissed him and left.  

We went home and roasted some eggplant that Indi brought last week and had that for dinner.  For those of you not familiar with it, it tastes like the Greek Baba Ganoush and we had it with fresh roti. Yummm.  After dinner, mom and I baked a cake to take to the hospice today for the staff.  I did that a couple weeks ago and asked them to share it with each other.  Mom also took in some roti for a couple of staff members including Peter the part-time chef. He is really quite accommodating to dad's meal requirements as is Tracy the main chef who is away on holidays but made some curry sauce (go figure!) and left it in the freezer for dad to have while she is away.  I made some more stir fry with rice and some plantain and fish but everything is now blended so that they all look like soup - but they do smell yummy. 

By the time I went to bed last night, I felt like I had walked two marathons this weekend.  Actually I feel less tired after I have walked a half marathon than I felt at the end of this weekend.  However, things are moving along and we are getting some things done.  It's been two weeks since mom moved in and she seems to be a bit more settled now.  The house is sold, the new buyers are interested in some of the contents,we are starting to clean and get rid of stuff and we have started taking some of the perishable items over to my home. The list I made on Friday night for the things that have to be sold/given away/stored is helping us to get organized.  I think in another or previous life, I either must have or will organize things/events/etc.  It makes for more efficiency and I function better when I'm organized.  I was going to say that it's the teacher in my but I was organized way before I ever became a teacher.  If you're a mother, you'll know what I mean.    

Well, I hope the staff at the hospice enjoy the coffee cake full of maraschino cherries.  mom will be taking it there soon.  Next time I'll send some of the raisin bread that I bake.  I don't like raisins but I make raisin bread.  Robin and mom like it so they can enjoy it or I'll bake and take to the hospice where they can toast and enjoy. 

Happy Monday to all and smile at someone today for no reason...