Sunday, July 30, 2023

Lovin' my Governments

Saturday was glorious. I had no pain, few tinglies and the weather was ideal. Her Highness and I went for a walk together before checking out the farmers’ market, got some plants from the nursery, and picked up 12 more pavers. And I did a load of laundry. I love hanging up the clean laundry on the line!

I was still high on Friday’s CAYA experience. I kept thinking about it during the day, but this time without tears. 

I finished the footpath. I’d work for about 10 minutes and then have a good long rest—like half an hour of resting—before doing another 10 minutes of work. That’s how I got the pavers from the car to the site, and then into place. Filling in the soil in the cracks and along each side of the path was easy with my knee pad and working on my hands and knees. I’m very happy that the project is finished. Now I wait for all the moss I planted to spread over the soil between all the cracks. It should look pretty good in a few months.

Ron came by to walk Sheba. He’s been walking her every day and I think they both love their time together. Ron has always walked his dogs, but as the aged (they are 14 and now Sitka is gone) he had to walk just short distances and very, very slowly. Now he enjoys walking at a healthy pace and having a younger dog to walk with. It’s win for all three of us. Nancy happened by later in the day and said walking with Sheba is helping Ron cope with the loss of Sitka. After Ron and Sheba came home, Ron left, and I got to watering gardens.

In the evening, I went outside to admire the new footpath and to place the new plants I got where I want to plant them tomorrow. And I want to buy more plants. I’m addicted to gardening, and I couldn’t be happier.

I love going outside into the backyard at night. Pinecone Park has never ever looked as good as it does now. Clean roofs, a renewed deck, many more plantings this year and a new garden where the deck steps once were, all these things, plus the new dining set, make the yard look inviting and comfortable. My fellow islanders who visit like it for its comfortable coolness. Our Summers are hot and dry. The yard is mostly in shade because I have about 30 huge Fir trees on my property.

I’m relieved to be comfortable, if slightly lame, again. I want to stay here as long as I can. Everything growing here (except one Rhodo and 8 Ferns) was planted by me. Watching everything grow is thrilling for me. This year was significant. Things are maturing and it motivated me to do a lot more planting, to fill in holes. I’m going to do more of that next year and then the gardens will be full.

My new hoses are fabulous. They make watering much, much easier for me. Each of them is 100 feet long, so I can water everywhere very easily. There’s a lot to water here.

I wrote the thank you letter of a lifetime last night. I wrote it to Rheanne, who is my caseworker with CAYA. I am still overwhelmed by her warmth, and Nic’s, and the largess of the program. Rheanne pulled out of her bag, a device that did exactly, I mean exactly, what I wanted. And then there were more things. An iPad mini loaded with the most incredibly awesome speech generator I’ve ever seen. And a ‘buggy board.’ It’s a writing pad with a memory. Imagine a government agent knocking on your door and handing you the best gifts you’ve ever received.

Since losing my speech, the federal government has dropped the percentage I pay when I pay income tax, and the applied the discount retroactively from the onset of my condition and gave me a cheque for $10,000 in tax refunding. And the provincial government has sent me Rheanne and all her toys. What overwhelms me is not the money or the devices, it’s the kindness. I am deeply moved to be recognized and aided by my governments. It’s deeply affected me.

I was an outspoken arts worker when I was young. I picketed cultural institutions that hired non-Canadian artistic directors, and I picketed personal appearances of politicians who had bad or no arts policies. But I also volunteered with the NDP and worked, for a while, for the federal government. Then I became cynical, and I’ve remained as distant from politics as I can.

So, this experience with CAYA has been a nice bookend to my life, as concerns government relations. 

On my travels, I went many places and met many people. And my favourite thing to tell them about Canada was that I, a nobody, had met 5 Canadian prime ministers. I met Diefenbaker and traveled with him on a plane. I met Joe Clark and was enormously impressed by him even though he was with the wrong party for me. I met John Turner because I lived in his riding, and he came to my door. I met Trudeau because he came to officially open the theatre I’d designed and built in North Vancouver. And I met Kim Campbell and I’ve also once stepped in manure.

I think telling people that says something wonderful about Canada—that accessibility. Kim Campbell made a promise to me and then broke it. Then she called to ask me to help her stage a meeting. My experience with her was just one of zillions that made me cynical.

Today I will walk Her Highness, go to Silva Bay for a lunch of fish tacos from the food truck in the little park by the sea. There will be dogs, kids playing and several booths with artists and craft persons selling from booths on the lawn. Then, at 4:00, more prosecco, this time with Kris and Nancy. Then we go to Woodfire for dinner.

This is my second little party in the garden this week. And there will be more when Steve is here. Everyone says nice things about the garden. It makes me feel great to hear their compliments, even though I pooh-pooh them. I’ve really taken to gardening, and it just happened. As I’ve often written, there’s never been a plan. Things just happened. 

I thought I’d need the fence to contain Sheba when I got her. But it wasn’t necessary. Sheba never leaves the yard and never has. But it did mean I could have a garden because the fence kept the deer out. And here we are: Gardening during the warm months; reading during the cold and wet.

Some ancient painted this! 

Saturday, July 29, 2023

The Miracle!!

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. I am saved. CAYA has saved me. When they were here, I cried, I seized and I danced. Rheanne and Nic were young miracles. I love them and CAYA. I am bursting with excitement.

I thought CAYA was coming to decide if they could help me. But they didn’t. They came already committed to helping and they brought solutions. I couldn’t believe it, and that is why I cried. Six years I searched for solutions to no avail. Kris found out about CAYA about 2 months ago and contacted them.

They care going to give me a new iPad mini and an app that is amazing. Plus, they’re giving me a keyboard to use with the iPad, that permits me to type more quickly. Best of all, they’re giving me a device that will generate speech to advise people who phone me that I have a speech problem and to be patient. I dreamed of such a device but never thought I’d have one.

And everything they provide is free. I pay nothing. CAYA is funded by the government of BC, and for some reason, that really moved me; most of us don’t get special benefits from our government. And the relief! Finally, after 7 years of seeking guidance or assistance, I get exactly the help I’ve been seeking for years. It seems miraculous. Both Kris and I were crying in response to Rheanne’s and Nic’s program and their kindness. What a way to start my day.

I floated through the rest. Of my day. 

I went to 5 speech therapists and not one of them would take me on. I could never figure out why, but I concluded it was because stuttering isn’t really curable. Plus, I went through a panic admission when I. lost my speech, but that led to the Pacific Speech Clinic and Dr. Shoja. That was fortuitous. She helped me understand my condition, process and accept the idea of childhood trauma being the cause, and learn to live with the symptoms. I went to another speech therapist, an internationally renowned one, who also turned me down.

No one told me about CAYA. I can’t believe that.

Kris is a very, very empathetic person. She is kindness incarnate, and she offered to help me. I told her that my biggest problem was answering the phone and I elaborated. That’s how we came to CAYA. I celebrate Kris for finding CAYA, but I asked the question. I do not say that to take away from what Kris did. I’m just saying that I asked for help with a specific problem, and that allows me to say that virtually everything that has helped me speak—using a mirror, memorizing with rhyme, using an accent, touching my face.

You’ve been reading me here for a long time. I have documented my struggles and adjustments, so you will know that that’s all I did. I didn’t wine or feel sorry for myself; I didn’t complain. I documented the problems to inform about solutions. I had a ‘shit happens’ attitude and carried on. But the dam broke today with Rheanne and Nic.

To experience the gifting of miraculous, practical and ideal tools was overwhelming. To find that R&N had a doctors’ bag of tools and software with them to show me that will powerfully empower me. And it surprised me to be triggered to tears by their comment that they were funded by the provincial government. To feel such deep, deep gratitude for kindness from our government truly moved me.

I get all my equipment in a month. (When I typed that sentence, I burst into tears.) And a person names Jan is coming to train me. Rheanne (more tears) will be checking on me every six months.

Finding my birth mother. I thought that would be a 10. It was a 10, but then I had to subtract about 4 for the anxiety and angst I experienced. Today was a 10.

And more good news (for me): I’ve no tingling in my left leg this morning and there may be a fractional improvement in the movement of my toes and ankle. Today I’ll do some shopping and minor garden work. That’s my modest plan for the day, plus time for some reading, a spa lazing in the sun on Nancy’s zero-gravity chair. (I bought myself a zero-gravity chair yesterday.) 

Some photos from John:

Friday, July 28, 2023

Prosecco in the Garden

CBC radio played Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor this morning, and it was heartbreaking to hear her and to think of all she endured for being brave enough to express her horror of the papacy and its moral corruption. Rest in peace Sinead. Peace!

And you too, Wally, my poor dear friend. He developed early onset Alzheimer’s and became someone unknown to all of us who knew him. Not too long ago, he was moved into a home. It was a decision that was very, very hard on his wife, Susan, their two adult children and grandchildren. He passed on Sunday, and it felt like a second death, this time of his body.

Yesterday was all about my little garden party. I actually did real work! I slid the paving stones that Dan and Steve delivered for me, to get them into place. I didn’t lift them, and then putting the soil in the cracks and around the edges was easy. I was on all fours and had a beauty of a knee pad. It was easy to do. Now, the footpath is almost done and I can easily finish it.

As I was finishing that job, Nancy arrived. Her partner, Ron, has been walking Sheba and Nancy has been a constant source of support through my sciatica attack. She lent me her zero-gravity chair that I use a lot. It’s comfortable even when I am in pain. They are fabulous neighbours, so I was very sad when she told me why she had dropped by.

She and Ron are having one of their two glorious Shepherds put down today. Poor Sitka is in very poor shape, and it is time. But it is such a hard decision to make. We cried and hugged together; she knows I care. We share a love of animals. They all will be in my mind all day.

By 2:30 I was ready for a nap in advance of the arrival of my friends. I had more pain today than I’ve had for the past 3 days, so I a nap was in order. Even a short rest makes the pain go away. Instead, I get the tinglies.

My friends all arrived at 4:00. The prosecco was cold, and I had a nice charcuterie plate of cheeses, tapenades and some saucisson sec—besides the Prosecco, I had some flavoured San Pellegrino water. And lots and lots of delicious fresh Bing cherries. And the sun shone down in dappled light upon us. It was a perfect afternoon for a gathering and my fellow dog walkers are never ever short of things to discuss.

Regina, Di, Dona and Erik and Nola were my guests. We had a blast being together with snacks and Prosecco instead of talking as we walked the trails with our dogs.

Today the CAYA people come to see me. They are the people to whom I’ve applied for help with dealing with the phone. Kris is coming as well. She’s the person who discovered CAYA. When I called her yesterday, she wasn’t home and so the answering machine responded, and I could not get a single word out.

Then I’m going to work on the footpath. I’m going to work carefully, as I did yesterday without any adverse consequences. Late in the day, I Zoom with Dianne and that’s my day. It’s going to be a nice slow easy day. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Garden Party Day

Each good night’s sleep leads to each day being better than the day before. The marijuana pills are doing such a great job of easing me into deep, healing sleep. Tuesday was the best day I’d had in weeks. I walked around the house and even took short trips into the yard without a cane. I walked upright, too. But things are different.

There’s deficiency in my left foot and leg. My left foot doesn’t rise like my right foot does when I am walking. And I get the tinglies now instead of pain. I’m not restored to function, but the pain is gone. I feel good.  

At 3:00 on Tuesday, the sky cleared, and we were back in sunshine. Ron, Nancy’s partner, came to walk Sheba. When they came back, Sheba and I fetched my new 100-foot non-tangling hoses from the post office and got them installed in the yard. Doing the watering is going to be much, much easier for me from now on.

Wednesday was spent cleaning up around the yard and in the house. Today is my little garden party with my fellow dog walkers in the late afternoon, and I wanted everything to look at welcoming and tidy as possible.

We’re back to perpetual sunshine, but it’s cooler now. All this week is predicted to be sunny and 25°. That’s perfect Summer weather.

Wednesday was uneventful. I did some shopping and puttered around the yard much of the day. I remain without pain most of the time, but infrequently I get terrific shocks of pain when I do something wrong. So, I’m still taking it easy. Last night I slept well without any sleep aid, so that is great progress.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Welcome Rain!

The sky leaked all morning yesterday. At 11:00, neighbour Ron came by to walk Sheba for me, and when they came back, Sosa, from next door, was anxiously awaiting Sheba’s return. They played together and I was happy that she had some relief of the boredom of her life with me and sciatica. Then we were off to the village to fetch my prescriptions as the leaks stopped, the wind rose, and the skies brightened. 

But in the afternoon, the real rain came thundering down on my metal roof. I was thrilled for the gardens and the forest. Sheba, the cats and I were happy as can be; I was under a blanket with a book on the chaise. It rained all afternoon. Sheba was bored to tears. I finished the 22nd Commissario Brunetti mystery. I have eight to go.

By 8:00 pm, there were big patches of blue sky. It’s been very nice to get a break from watering the gardens. 

Today has dawned like yesterday. The sky is grey and it’s drizzling. It’ll be another indoor day of little action. We needed the rain we’ve had, but I’m ready to return to the endless good weather again. I want to be outside.