Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday, Late Afternoon

The photos above are of the proposed new Vancouver Art Gallery.  I am impressed but have no confidence in their ability to raise sufficient operating revenues to make it worthy of a new home.
My sciatica improves every day. Today I had much more confidence in my leg, far less spasm and the sense of having thick, tight calves is past. Thank goodness. And thank goodness for my response to this challenge. I have had unbelievable pain but no sadness; I focused on the daily improvement.
Tonight I am going out for dinner with Nicola and Amir. Nicola is a food snob and so I know we will eat well. I am meeting Amir tonight and excited about that because I have seen shows he has designed and briefly met him.


This is a photo of me taken in the art room at my high school. It was taken the month I graduated. When I graduated I had hair.

The photo was a gift from my high school sweetheart, Leslie S. She gave it to me last Saturday at our 50th reunion. At our 40th reunion, she gave me the ring I had given her to wear when we were in grade twelve and going steady.

Yesterday I wrote an email to her. I titled it: I Have Great Taste in Women and in it I told her how beautiful she is and that I still love her to bits. She is, and was, the best of women; she still is resplendent to my eyes.
In elementary school, the person I admired most was Mike P. I think my admiration was tinged with a little fraternal love. I desperately wanted a brother (but any sibling would have done). He was someone I admired from afar, however, we were never friends. And then we graduated and I never saw him again. Until this past April.

In April, he volunteered to join those of us organizing our reunion and that is how he heard about my play. He emailed me to say he was coming to see my show. It was both a thrill and a total shock because I had stopped going to the reunion organizational meeting during rehearsals and the run of the show.

It was serendipitous because there was a line in my autobiographical show inspired by Mike! I kid you not! This is the line: "I became an assimilator, creating a self by making choices from the palette of human behaviours I saw around me." I so admired Mike that I consciously incorporated aspects of his deportment into mine. I was delighted to be able to tell him about my early admiration.

At the reunion, as things were winding down, I left early and so I made the rounds to say goodbye to a few people. Mike was not on my list but he was near someone to whom I was saying goodbye and I suddenly found myself facing Mike. He had his large hands outstretched and had grasped me by the shoulders.

He looked meaningfully at me and said some nice words and then I left. As I walked to the bus stop I gave thanks to God for making one of my earliest dreams come true: I am now good pfriends with Mike.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Post Traumatic Stress Euphoria

It’s the dawn of a new day.

I took the photo above at 7:16 am today. See that gorgeous full moon shining through the golden sunlight of dawn and signaling the start of a new cycle? I am starting over too!

I have Post Traumatic Stress Euphoria. I have been up for almost two hours and I haven’t had a single spasm of pain so far. I just wiped away my tears of relief, joy and disbelief. Last Thursday, in the vice grip of the worst pain I can ever remember having I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. Today though, I cried at the moment of acceptance that it was over.

I am still walking as though I have pain. I walk like a man on a tightrope because I don’t yet trust my limb and in my ability to walk. I have come through hell…

But I went to heaven. My reunion was joyous. I have reconnected with so many people with whom to propose a meal or a walk—dare I plan long walks again?

This is my new life plan: To celebrate my self-imposed home exile. Last night with Pam and Ross and Cimbar is how I want to spend as much of the rest of my life as I can in the company of good food, good wine and good friends…. And not moving…. And no projects, no travelling, and no guilt. Oh, and dessert.

Crack of Dawn Monday

First, I turned in my bed without even mild pain. Now, it is 6:00 am and I have been up for 40 minutes without a single spasm. I have even put laundry in the washing machines and sat and risen a few times. Mind you, I am moving carefully and slowly, still lacking faith in my right leg. But there's no doubt in my mind that full recovery, which I thought of as impossible, is possible. Praise the lord and pass the bacon.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

About the Weekend

Sunday was spent enjoying a surprise visit from my buddy Todd and his son Hudson. They are part of a family I adore. We ate, we walked and we shopped, Todd, Hudson, me and my cane. The weekend is about to end with champagne in the sunshine in my living room followed by dinner with Ross and Pam at Chambar—a great, if a bit young and hip, restaurant.

Saturday involved negotiating pain and being part of setting-up for the graduation reunion that began at 4:30.  It was a blast! There was plenty of food, the band (of two) got people dancing and the weather was perfect. It was a truly remarkable time seeing old friends who, for the most part, seem not to have changed.

There was sadness of course, hearing some stories, remembering people who are no longer with us and seeing one old friend who appears now to have rather severe MS. Paul is a true gentleman whom I have adored all my life, and to see him struggle to speak was devastating.

Many people thanked me for my part in organizing the reunion. I did not anticipate their thanks but their gratitude helped me see that our party was a real success. In fact, the organization is its own reward. I have a plan to have annual drop-in summer picnics in the summer and periodic lunches to which we will invite all who are interested.

We have had a reunion every ten years but I think we are going to drastically pick up the pace. Those of us who are left and happy want to party.

Deborah and I went through elementary school and high
school together. We were also in the West Vancouver
Boys and Girls Band together.

My co-host, Brian K.
Our own Robert Redford: Bruce M.
Sill handsome, warm and wonderful.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Morning Casualty Report

The Fall gardens everywhere are stunning.

The great news is the weather prediction for our 50th Anniversary High School Reunion on Saturday. My colleagues and I have been planning this event since the Spring, so the weather is our reward. The balconies of the Rowing Club are going to be a very popular place—drinks in hand.

The good news is that I am learning how to move so as to lessen the spasms that terrify me and hurt so incredibly much. I am also capable of sustaining a spasm quietly now; you get better at everything you practice with diligence. I am walking with a cane. That is essential, and I will be checking in my locker for crutches that give me much more stability—I used crutches in the hospital.

Also, I can do just about anything but I do everything as part of a new, slower and intense way of being. I am constantly thinking about where I am going and how to do things. I work to keep my right leg bent to reduce the probability of a spasm with movement.

I am in constant dull pain and have intense periodic spasms. My day is pretty much carrying on whilst in mild pain or stopping and trying to find a position that allows for no pain at all if possible. Nights are brutal. Turning in bed has to be thought through carefully, but I can now get out of bed without inducing a spasm.

I was offered drugs for pain but refused them. I hate them because they make you constipated and lazy and vegetable like.

Next week, I will go to see my doctor if I remain in this condition to know more about what, exactly, is wrong and what the prognosis is. I will take physiotherapy if it will help.

I quit my brand new job teaching at Emily Carr. Why deal with all that whilst dealing with all this pain and trouble? The classes are three hours. No thanks.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

DREADFUL Thursday Morning

UPDATE: The x-rays revealed no bone damage so the good news is that whatever is wrong is "soft tissue." The doctor I saw guessed that I have torn a ligament but I have no recollection of an injury or accident. I am to take it easy and go back next week if I am still having severe spasms of pain.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Let's see… I got up at six because I was up late dining with my friend, Robin. Now it is 6:30 and so far I have screamed loud enough to wake my neighbour, cancelled my teaching this term and Emily Carr, terrorized my cat with my crying, screaming and the cane and written for an appointment with my doctor. Something is dreadfully wrong with my right hip and leg.

I learned about referral pain and had spinal surgery once before when my arm went like this. It is a far more inconvenient situation with a leg—and it may actually be my let or hip and not my spine that is the issue.

I have known something was wrong for a long time and I thought: This will either get worse on its own, or better. Well it got worse, far worse, and very suddenly. Thank God I do not have pain when I am sitting up.

You never know what is coming your way!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tuesday Afternoon

Well, using paraffin as an adherent with which to fasten beads to my lamp doesn’t work. I may try glue after I do some sewing with the $200 worth of teeny-weeny beads I bought. I learned how much I love sewing when I was making my costumes last winter so sewing with them makes far more sense. It is like meditating for me.
Boy has their been a shift in my thinking! In the past, when faced with an entire week without a single engagement (except, of course, for my weekly lunch with Dwight) I would despair. Now, I am thrilled to be able to set each days agenda and pace according to my mood and the weather. I feel that I have adapted well to a life with neither travel nor a project.
Over thirty years ago a man robbed me who wanted $40. I didn’t have it but in his twisted mind he thought if he was mean to me that it would materialize. He held a knife to my throat and made me drive to a place where we could not be seen and because he did that, he was charged with kidnapping which comes with a far, far worse sentence (25-year minimum) than robbery or simple assault.

            When I got away, shock held me together until I heard D.’s voice. As soon as I heard him I fell apart because at a fundamental level, I trust him and love him and I have just discovered he has cancer. As with the assault, his diagnosis has taught me how much and how deeply I care for him.
To cheer me up, another photo dump:

Tuesday Morning

Tuesday was warm and beautiful. In the morning, I took my second bag of fish back to the aquarium store. I have given them probably sixty fish in the past month. Now it is easier to keep my tank clean with far less biomass in it. Then, I walked the wall. Heaven. And in the evening, I loved eating dinner bathed in brilliant end-of-summer golden sunlight that filled my apartment. And today, Wednesday, has dawned the same. We start Autumn in glory.

First I said goodbye to the other half of my heart, Leon.

The clouds lately have made the views breathtaking.

Click on this to enlarge it. It's worth it.

Heliotrope has a unique smell that I am
passionate for. My nose is my BFF.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

John and Jill

On the weekend I went to a party. John and Jill were there. They are both younger than I am—they are around fifty years old, I think. John is an actor singer; he leads a blocal band called Spirit of the West and he is currently in rehearsal for a show written on which he has collaborated with our mutual friend Morris Paynch. It is called Waiting Room. It has a lot of my friends in it. It is a miracle that it is happening and it is likely going to be extremely powerful.

It’s going to be powerful because John has Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (E-OA). Jill is earning her sainthood caring for him. He needs her help or he cannot function. He is already severely challenged intellectually. All of us who see how Jill cares for John are blessed to be witness to their love and their way of living with a devastating impact of E-OA.

It was fascinating to hear how they are running rehearsals. Jill attends every one and will be beside John throughout the run of the show. Everyone including the Arts Club is determined to make this happen, to give John a last kick at the can before the disease takes him away. It is going to make an incredible impact, I suspect, when it opens.

Jill and I got to into a wonderful discussion because she, like me, is dealing with the commercialization of an autobiographical story—she has just completed a workshop of her play about a woman whose partner develops E-OA. Both of us are authors and subject and both of us discovered the importance of telling at least one lie in our story so that we can say that it is not all true to viewers of our work.

Monday, I went for a lovely Autumn walk.

There was a parade of tug boats in False Creek for some
reason that appealed to the little boy in me.

See that little Locg Ness monster in the upper right of
this photo? That was one of three otters in lost lagoon.
Otters and river otters are back with a vengeance and I
could not be happier. They are to-die-for cute.