COVID-19 – Repeat

Oh my goodness this is getting tiring. We seem to be in worse shape today than we were one year ago. I’m still ordering groceries from home, still seeing only a very few people unless it’s outside, masks on, well distanced and even then, I’m picky-choosey in terms of who that might be. It’s the Tuesday after Easter and my grocery shopper is not doing well – shelves are empty – so many things out of stock. It’s not as if they didn’t know Easter weekend was coming. This is nuts!

I’ve had my first of two vaccinations (March 29) but my second is booked for July 19 – too far out as far as I’m concerned. I’m hoping, with more vaccine shipments, it will get moved up. Until then, I’m placing myself in near lockdown.

I did manage to see my cousin John and his wife Julie and two of their kids and grandkids over Easter weekend – all in separate places – and all outside. It was very nice to actually see some family faces – at least their eyes from a distance. They were all really careful to give me my space. It also gave my car a little run!

I remember feeling very tired and unenthused about doing anything a year ago when we were in a lockdown scenario. I became a sludge and had little interest in doing anything worthwhile. After a few months, I did start to do some de-cluttering in the house – closets, drawers, etc and got onto quite a roll. Unfortunately, that didn’t last and I’m back to being a sludge again. While the weather was yucky, I was doing jigsaw puzzles with a neighbour – but now, it’s too nice not to at least sit on the front porch. Good thing I have a KOBO E-reader full of books and there are some hockey games to watch.

I hope my friends who read my blog are doing well – thank goodness for Herbie (my kitty). We chat back and forth and snuggle at night. It could be worse.


Managing without one Hand

Towards the end of November (November 25 to be exact), I had surgery on my left thumb/wrist to relieve the pain of arthritis.  Both thumbs are affected – but better to start with the left one first and see how it goes.  The surgeon was Dr. Simon Chan, a plastic surgeon who specializes in hands and wrists.

For those who are interested – the actual procedure is/was called a Trapeziectomy with Ligature Reconstruction.  In lay terms, they cut a slit at the side of the bottom of my thumb where the wrist creases, took out a piece of bone (that was rubbing on another piece of bone), then harvested some tendon from a bit further up my arm and somehow used that to hold everything together.  When I looked it up on the Mayo Clinic website (the only site I’ve found that explains things in very simple terms), it said this could take as many as 6 months to heal completely.  Yikes.

Well – for the first 2 weeks I had a cast on my left hand.  My fingers were available and it went about 6″ up my arm.  I was told not to drive.  I couldn’t really use it and it wasn’t too painful being held tightly in place as it was.  Once the cast came off, my protection had skipped town and it was all trial and error from then on.

I’m sure there are things I’ve already forgotten, but here are the challenges that really stuck out for me:

  • In order to shower, I had to get my left hand and arm encased in a plastic bag with an elastic on to keep water out.  Try doing that with one hand.
  • The next challenge was doling out the shampoo.  The norm was to squeeze the bottle with the right hand into the left hand.  Instead I had to squeeze the bottle directly onto my head – no control over quantity.  I think I used half a bottle of shampoo in the first week.
  • I was able to use my right hand to wash under my left arm but not vice versa.  The flow of water would have to suffice.
  • On the first or second shower day, I tripped getting out of the shower and of course put out my hand to steady myself – the wrong hand.  That hurt….a lot.
  • Then there is trying to get dried off – a thing one usually does with two hands and a large towel.  Air drying works, folks.  It just takes a while.
  • How do you usually squeeze your toothpaste tube?  I normally hold the toothbrush in my right hand and squeeze out toothpaste with my left.  Putting the toothpaste tube on the bathroom counter up against the sink and squeezing with my left elbow worked just fine.
  • I could only get deodorant under my left arm.  Either my friends are very tolerant – and polite – or deodorant really doesn’t do much anyway.  Nobody complained or suggested I could use some pretty smelly stuff.  Same thing with cream – only on one arm – the other had to stay “unmoisturized”.
  • Ever tried blowing your nose with one hand?
  • Next, I had to get dressed.  The bra went by the wayside for a few days but then I learned how to do it up and put it on over my head as one would with a pullover sweater or t-shirt.  It wasn’t perfect, but it did the job.  I already had practice getting pants and stuff on after 2 knee and 3 hip replacements.  Shoes and boots had to be slip-ons.  The left hand had to go un-gloved if I had to go outside.  Nothing would fit over the cast.
  • Cooking and eating was another challenge – for the cat as well as for me.  I had to ask friends and neighbours to open several cans of cat food when they visited, covering them with slip-off lids or saran until needed.  They had that funny little pull tab on the top.  Just pulling doesn’t work unless something is holding the bottom of the can.
  • Using both a knife and fork was out of the question.  I could eat with my hands, sorry – my hand – or only make mushy stuff that didn’t need any cutting up.
  • Straining veggies in a pan – out comes the collander.  Washing dishes had to be done the same way – put a mug on the floor of the sink and hope it doesn’t move around too much while you clean it…..or use the dishwasher – for everything.
  • How do you change the sheets on your bed?  Even more difficult – how to you fold those sheets after they have been laundered?
  • Kind friends and neighbours took me to appointments and grocery shopping, or added my shopping list to theirs and delivered! – Others had to do up my seat belt for me like they would for a small child.  I could pull it out with my right hand but I couldn’t manage to click it into the waiting slot on the left.
  • Help was needed to get a glove or mitten on my good hand and, once the cast was off, definitely a large mitten on that hand.
  • After 2 weeks, cast comes off.  Can I drive now?  Doc asks if I could control the car with both hands should something happen.  Nope.  Another week of being totally dependent on others.
  • How do I play bridge?  I found a very neat gadget made of wood, curved with a slot running along the top to hold  my cards.  Whewwww!

Here it is almost 3 months since I had this surgery and I still have swelling and pain in my left wrist and thumb area.  Last check-up (mid Jan) I was told it would probably take another 2 months and I was to keep on trying to use it.  I am doing just that.  Sometimes I overdo things and it really hurts and sometimes it simply tells me that what I’m trying to do or carry is just not going to work – yet.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  It is improving and I’m able to do more and with my left hand as time goes on.

My right hand needs the same surgery.  It hurts now, though not as bad as the left one did – maybe I’ll continue trying the cortisone injections for a while longer.  It’s hard to pick the right time to go through this again – I’ll have to put my big-girl pants on one of these days!





Friends and Life Stages

I had a delightful lunch with a dear friend and her husband yesterday.  We met about 15 years ago when our Moms were in the same long-term care facility.  We often had lunch together while we fed our Moms.  Some people just stay in your heart no matter how seldom you manage to get together.  They are in the process of moving on to a new stage in their lives – retirement residence living.  Both have health issues to complicate the situation.  We talked a lot about how to do this in such a way as to produce the least stress.  Easy for me to say, right?

In fact, I have been thinking of what my next step will be.  I am getting tired of the responsibilities of home ownership – especially since I can’t do many of the “to-do’s” myself and have to hire people (if I can find them).  I think a rental apartment is in my future and I’d like to do this before I’m in the position my friends are in of “having to do it”.

I know they will be fine.  They have 2 lovely and helpful daughters and good heads on their shoulders.  Once a plan is in place, it will all come together – and I am always here, ready to listen.


Is Spring Really Here?

With the northern snow pack yet to unleash its melt to areas already in a flood emergency situation, and temperatures still going south of zero at night, it sure doesn’t feel like Spring.  There are signs, however.  Buds are starting to form on the trees and shrubs, grass is starting to green up (of course my grass is always green – even in the dead of winter) and the robins are out and about.

I’m afraid for my appliances at the moment.  If things follow my Maytag range (stove/oven) and stop working just past the 10-year mark, I’m in big trouble.  My new stove arrives this morning with a feature I hadn’t heard of before.  It does have the self-clean where temperatures go way beyond my comfort zone – but it also has “steam clean”.  The bake/bottom element is underneath the floor of the stove.  You simply add a cup of water to the oven floor and turn on the steam clean feature.  This loosens all the mess you’ve made and you wipe it out with a damp sponge.  Yes, you should be doing this right after you’ve made the mess – but I do like having an option that doesn’t raise my anxiety level and also doesn’t use that awful oven cleaner spray.  We shall see how it all works out.

I feel very lucky that I have a neighbour who has set himself up as the local handyman.  My list for him this Spring is a long one – but he is gradually working through it….take down Xmas lights, patios, porches, garage floor and fences to power wash, new bench for the front porch to put together, out-of-control blue arctic willows to cut down and haul away, parts of the deck to be fixed, put new handles on my shower door – it just doesn’t ever seem to end.  As soon as one thing is done, I think of another.

I had a nasty tumble last week (my third this year) trying to take the new porch bench to the garage – I never know how I do these things – but in a nano-second, I found myself on the garage floor, having missed at least the last step – resulting in a few colourful bruises.  I should know better and ask for help.  I have no balance – partly due to the neuropathy in both feet.  I’m just too stubborn for my own good.  Lesson learned, I hope.

I guess Spring is here.  It just doesn’t really feel like it.


I almost forgot!

It has been a long time since I posted my thoughts – I almost forgot that I had a blog!!

What a winter!  It started in mid November and it snowed again last night.  Is this ever going to end??  The snowbanks where the  plows have piled the snow are not quite as high as they once were – I can see over them now if that makes things better!

Interesting news lately – all sorts of nonsense going on with the Liberal Party.  I got quite caught up in the JWR SNC Lavelin stuff – even watched the full 4 hours of her initial testimony.  She is quite a lady.  Just think what things would be like in Canada with somebody like JWR at the helm…..not that I’m hoping for any sort of Liberal election win, I just think she is brilliant, well spoken, extremely ethical and very strong.  What more could one ask for in a Prime Minister?  She just picked the wrong party.  Now that she has been booted out of it, I can’t wait to see what her next moves will be (along with Jane Philpott) – maybe they will create a new party?

Real estate is completely crazy in Ottawa.  There is a huge lack of inventory – if one can have a “huge” lack of anything!  Buyers are lining up at nearly every listing trying to out-bid each other and potential sellers are sitting tight because, as buyers, they are having the same problems trying to find something to buy.  Real estate agents are working twice as hard showing buyers many properties only to lose one deal after another.  First-time buyers are finding it very difficult to get into the housing market so they are turning to entry level condominiums which, in turn, are becoming difficult to find.

My brother recently had a successful heart valve replacement and he is “on the mend”.  He won’t likely catch up to the number of body parts I’ve had replaced, but a heart valve is pretty key to living a longer life!

Such is life in the nation’s capital!





A few months ago I received a Facebook message from an old friend I hadn’t seen since my early teen years.  He now lives in Los Angeles and, after googling him and checking out his BIO, I discovered that he has had, and continues to have, a significant career in the music business.  Pretty impressive.  I just got back from a visit with my longest and dearest friend (friends since we were 4 years old) who lives in Redondo Beach.  Since we had plans to see a show in L.A. I made arrangements to reconnect with Mike and we met for brunch (the 3 of us) before our matinee performance of School of Rock at the Pantages Theatre.  We had a great visit and heard many stories about musicians he has worked with – Rod Stewart, for example.  We talked about Elvis for some reason and he mentioned that he had written an article about the fact that he never did manage to meet him.  This article is below.   Mike is a very good writer and I thought it worth sharing with my friends.



January 5, 2010

I Never Met Elvis

I never met Elvis.

Came close a couple of times, but I missed that boat.

When I was writing for the Detroit Free Press a call came through saying Elvis was going to play in that city. The performance subsequently took place on Sept. 11, 1970.

At the time I wrote a lot at the Freep as it was and still is called, including a weekly column that appeared on Friday’s in what was named the Youth Page (hey, I was in my early 20’s at the time). The column was called Pop Pourri because I wrote mostly about pop music, although it was slanted towards what the youth of the day wanted to hear or talk about…some politics, a little fashion, some gossip. Due to the phone call regarding Elvis’ pending appearance in town, I wrote a sentence in my column about it.

The concert sold out.

With one sentence. Olympia Stadium. 15,000 tickets gone. Now, we could say that’s the power of Elvis. But wait, it was my column. People read it. One mention of Elvis in my column and the show is sold out…. I must have saved them a fortune in ad money they didn’t have to spend. Did I get an invitation to meet the man? Hell no. I did get a call from some woman who said her husband served in the army with Elvis and would I work it out that he got to say hello to the King of Rock. I can’t get to meet him myself lady. And he OWES me.

Ah well. They did give me free tickets so I got to see him perform live once in my life. And it was unbelievable. There he was. Up there on that stage. There was the man who at that time still looked sleek and silvery, cool and powerful. He walked on stage, the place went into bedlam mode. People who banned their kids from seeing him fifteen years earlier were going nuts. And he came forth and filled the stadium with song and handed out scarves to screaming women (not girls, women). It would have been nice to meet the guy, though.

As I said, I did come close a couple of times. The above close encounter doesn’t count.

In about 1975 I had the deep and wonderful pleasure of working for a while with the great Roy Orbison. (For you kiddies who don’t know, Roy had 22 songs hit the Top 40 and Rolling Stone Magazine listed Oribson as No. 37 in their list of The Greatest Artist of ALL TIME and No. 13 in their list of The 100 Greatest Singers of ALL Time. I say they listed him too low in both lists, but we can’t do much about that).

By now I was Director of PR for Mercury Records and for a while Roy was an artist on that label. He was in a career lull and all his legendary stature wasn’t doing him much good. I don’t know the specifics but he wasn’t selling records, and concert tickets for a Roy Orbison show weren’t that hot. He would eventually recover from that and by the time he died ten years later he was experiencing hit records as a solo artist and as part of the Traveling Wilburys (whose other members were Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Tom Petty). I always loved the comment from George Harrison, the so-called quiet Beatle, when the Traveling Wilburys came together. It showed Roy’s stature and level of importance. With glee, awe and some degree of disbelief the legendary Harrison said, “I’m in a band with Roy Orbison!”.

Orbison was a true gentleman. It was just such a pleasure to deal with him and although we as a record label didn’t revive his career at that time, he was grateful for the attention. He was soft spoken, humble and rather matter of fact about things. One day he, his wife Barbara and I were sitting in a hotel room in Nashville (Roger Miller’s “King of the Road Inn”) just chatting about things and the subject of Elvis came up. Roy asked if I had met him and of course I had to admit I hadn’t. And Roy just looked up and said, “If we are ever in the same town at the same time as Elvis, we’ll go over and say hello”. Oh My God! One legend just invited me over to meet THE legend of rock. It was a beautiful gesture and I know Roy would have lived up to it except…..Elvis died before we have had the chance to “say hello”.

The second opportunity was just that I was almost at the right place at the right time. Also in the 70’s a Canadian band called Bachman Turner Overdrive was experiencing a string of hits and a level of success nobody had suspected could happen. We didn’t doubt their talent, which was immense but because the leader, Randy Bachman had already had huge success as a member of the premiere Canadian band, The Guess Who. And in this music business, especially at that time, lightning just didn’t strike twice. Anybody who had success in one musical configuration just so rarely saw success again. In fact when BTO, as they became known, first met with the staff of Mercury Records we told Randy that it would be a slow build. We’d have to kind of re-introduce him to the rock audience in this new set up. Ok. Fooled us. Their first record sold millions and they became huge on the concert circuit. It was a nice mistake to make.

So, BTO is in Los Angeles making a record, probably the follow up to their huge debut and I happened to be in that city on business. At the time, by the way I lived in Chicago where Mercury Records had its headquarters. I visited the band in the studio and had a nice time with them and manager Bruce Allen, then I headed out to do some work and fly back to Chicago. Not long after Bruce called saying I should have stuck around. “We got a call from Las Vegas,” Bruce said. “Elvis wanted to meet us so we drove over and hung out with him one night”. Rats! Foiled again.

I never did meet Elvis.


Mike Gormley

L.A. Personal Development





Just Surviving

My last post was shortly after a new hip to replace a previous hip replacement (they call them “revisions”) and to introduce my new sleep buddy – Monsieur CPAP.  Well – not much has changed.  I’m having a rough time with this recovery.  I still have to use a cane or I limp badly, I still have considerable difficulty getting the darned leg into the car when I’m driving, my wrists are complaining loudly about the overuse of them with walkers, crutches, canes, and just the action of getting up from a chair!…..and one of my other nasty visitors has turned up again – vertigo.  Whoever called this the Golden Age was certainly full of something!!  Somebody told me that the only thing “golden” at this stage of life is your urine – if you are lucky!  I think they nailed that one.

In spite of all my complaints, I am back at my favourite exercise haunt – The Liquid Gym.  I  know it sounds like a wonderful bar – but it’s treadmills and exercise bikes under the water.  Whoever dreamed this up is an absolute genius.  Exercise without discomfort – unless you count the trials and tribulations of getting dry (in a humid dressing room) and dressed at the end of the session.  I’m hoping the therapist I see at the hospital will see a difference when I go back to see her late in the month.

The CPAP story is a successful one – at least I think it is.  It is a wireless gadget so I can get a report in the morning on my computer about how well I did the night before – # hours used, # times the mask came off, how much air leaked out, etc. etc. – last night my score was 100.  Yeah Me!!  I a finding myself sleeping 9 and 10 hours – EVERY NIGHT!! –  and the best part – I sleep through the night without getting up to pee!!!  I have no idea if I still snore or not – my first trip with a roomie (Sept) will tell the tale on that aspect of things.  Aside from the fact that it adds extra tasks to my regular morning routine (clean nose piece and humidifier dish with gentle soap and water every morning, clean hose once a week and clean the entire headgear contraption monthly – or something like that), I am not finding it the least bit difficult!!  The kitties just have to wait a few more minutes for their breakfast.

I did watch the entire season of Downton Abby and I highly recommend it – to everyone – men and women alike.  What a fabulous series.  I was very sorry to have it end.

At the moment, I’m pretty buried in Real Estate listings – the spring market is alive and well.  I have a love/hate relationship with this work. On the plus side, it provides extra much needed and appreciated income and it keeps my brain working.  On the negative side, it interferes with my social life and my ability to find enough “do-nothing” time.  Oh well.  We can’t have everything and I’m very lucky to have found work that I can do from home on my own schedule.

The housing market might think it is spring – but the weather hasn’t been co-operating.  I’m tired of snow.  My snow tires are coming off tomorrow morning and the car is being cleaned, inside and out, tomorrow afternoon.  Enough already!!




Surviving Joint Replacement Surgery & a new CPAP Machine

On January 26th, 2016, I had my FIFTH joint replacement.  My very first hip, done in October of 1999, had gone past its “best before date” and had to be redone.  I am now totally bionic and then some with 2 knees and 2 hips made of precious metal (stainless steel) parts.  You certainly don’t want to be behind me in the security line-up at an airport!!  All the bells go off and the pat-down is on – unless, of course, there is a scanner – my new best friend when travelling.

My sister-in-law came and looked after my 3 cats while I spent 2 short nights in hospital and then helped me out for a few days after that.  Her father turned 100 on February 1st, so the timing worked well for both of us.  This surgery seemed to be easier than others in that on day 2, I could get myself in and out of bed.  Previous surgeries left a gap between my brain and my leg muscles – nothing worked!!  Things are still pretty tender though and the exercises given me by Physio not a whole lot of fun to do.

Restrictions, at least with my surgeon, go on for 6 weeks – no bending more than 90 degrees, partial weight-bearing only, and no driving…..and of course, no crossing your legs and no twisting.  I am pretty handy with the grabber – in fact, I can even pick up blueberries (one by one) from the floor – and pills – as small as they can be.  This is the time when everything you touch falls on the floor.  The basket of my walker handily holds my coffee, my phone, my e-reader – but doesn’t easily allow for loads of laundry.  Everything takes a lot of time.

Having not been a Downton Abbey follower before now, I purchased the boxed set of DVDs and a friend/neighbour comes over just about every day to watch one or two episodes.  We are almost finished Season 2 now and I’m loving it.  I can’t imagine having to wait a whole year to see what happens next.  Downton Abbey marathons are much, much better.

I still have my real estate admin work for 6 agents and I read a lot.  Between real estate work, chores (which take forever), Downton Abbey, reading and my hockey games, the days go by very quickly.  Neighbours and friends pop in and out, helping me with things I find difficult and/or driving me to the occasional appointment.  I am so grateful for my friends.  Life would be difficult without them.

Another new thing in my life is a CPAP machine.  A sleep study in mid-January (sleepover at the hospital with 24 or so wires attached to your body, a small bed and a “sleep well” goodnight) showed that I stopped breathing 85 times per hour.  How on earth was I even functioning?  I guess your body gets used to anything.  With the machine, my events are now down to less than 5 per hour which is considered normal.  It is not, however, a pretty picture.  The cats don’t seem to mind.

Never a dull moment!



Kitty Update

Well, it has been a long haul.

After 10 days of not eating, vets, vets and more vets, things seem to be heading in the right direction.

Herbie and Blaze are eating well – though I have’t yet found a dry food that Herbie really likes.  I’m afraid to put them on either the wet or dry food they were eating before just in case food played a roll in their illness.

Olivia has to be coaxed to eat – perhaps she is just playing her usual Drama Queen role – but I know she prefers to nibble and the two male beasts gulp their food down and then go after hers.  So – we’ve been spending time in my bathroom, with the bedroom door shut and the boys on the other side of it.  This has to be done multiple times a day just to get enough food into her for survival.  She has also started to nibble at the occasional bit of dry food.  If that’s what it takes to keep her eating, I will indulge her. She was small to begin with and I’m sure she has lost a couple of her mere 9 lbs.

My vet has been terrific.  They call to see how things are going.  I provide updates in emails.

I’m hesitant to say, particularly with Olivia, that we are completely out of the woods but I sure hope so.  My bank account can’t handle much more of this – and there is still Herbie’s dental work to think about at some future date.

Keep your fingers (eyes, toes, etc) crossed for us.



Worth Repeating

This “comment” has been taken directly from today’s letters to the editor (Ottawa Sun).  Larry Comeau said it better than I ever could – so here it is:

For a government that has run up the biggest provincial deficit and debt in Ontario history, has been plagued by scandals and is currently under two separate OPP investigations, I find it rich of Premier Wynne to declare this election is about trust.  That being said, Ontario voters have proven over the last three elections that they can be bought with their own money.  This is especially true in the GTA, where the bulk of Liberal largesse has been promised.  Tim Hudak has an uphill battle.  This is one of the most important elections ever and unless major changes are made to the direction being followed we may well be the next Detroit.

Well said.

The whole thing is frightening to say the least.