Wednesday, August 30, 2023


Wow, Monday night was incredible. The lightning and thunder were loud and bright and endless. I can’t remember a storm like we had last night. And there was lots and lots of rain.

Sheba, bless her, is showing dramatic signs of improvement. She’s been going through the worst case of paw rot ever. I was so happy to see her get out of bed this morning and take up her regular routine. She’s slow and she still has problems, but she is clearly in less pain and I am not nearly so stressed.

And I heard from CAYA that my training is a go for Friday. Hooray! To celebrate, I bought a cheezy Buddha statue to sit atop a stump in my garden. I’m okay with cheezy once in a while. I think it’ll look okay. I’m keen to have something on the stump.

I had a great time bringing order to my pantry. Since moving into Pinecone Park 6 years ago, I’ve been adding more and more things to my pantry, and it was bursting and chaotic. Well, no more. I spent most of the morning organizing its contents and it’s wonderful to have everything in order. As good: I cleaned up the inbox of my email program. That, too, was long overdue.

I read most of the afternoon. It stayed cloudy all day, but it didn’t rain. Today has dawned much brighter. I have errands to do this morning. My afternoon will be soft and slow. Yay!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

My Devices and Self-Esteem

Monday began early. I had to water all the gardens before leaving for Nanaimo and my last physio appointment. Just as I finished the watering, Julien and Marlane woke up, so I made them breakfast and we had a nice morning chat over toast and eggs. As they packed up their things, I encouraged Sheba to come outside, and she followed me.

Once outside, she surprised me. She walked to her usual place on the boulevard to go to the bathroom. Finally! And I was thrilled to see some return of life in her. I lifted her onto the bed in the back of the van and Marlane and Julien and I got our stuff, got into the van, and we headed for Mad Rona’s where they were meeting with a friend over coffee.

I hugged Marlane with all the love I had in me, and I told her that I loved her. I cannot remember ever being so thoroughly smitten with someone so quickly. I’ve loved Julien since I met him, so I’m not surprised he found a partner equally as engaging, warm and open as he is. I had an incredible visit with them and hope they return. But they live in Rotterdam, so ….

We didn’t wait long for the ferry, got off and roared to Walmart for some supplies, and then to Cory. It was a great visit with him. And then we went to the ferry for the ride home. There were several people on the boat that I knew, so the 20-minute trip flew by. And then it was off to Pinecone Park and an evening of relaxation. As we arrived, there was a short burst of rain. Hooray!

On the way home, I did my entire monologue (I think) without mistakes. I check it against the script today. Regardless, what I did in my head today was good enough to pass. 

I was so glad to be home. I could barely talk all day and I had an unusually long and rough seizure in the morning. I couldn’t even talk with Julien and Marlane. I said individual words and a lot of gesture. I also got great use of my boogie board for communicating at the physio, and at Walmart. I love the boogie board.

Then, a spa, dinner, and The Great British Baking Show. I was so, so glad to be home and able to rest, and today I have no demands at all on my plate—not even watering. Yay!

The highlight of the day was my boogie board. It impresses people, just as I expected it would. One person clearly loved it. He said he wanted one and asked me where I got it. I’m supposed to get some training on Friday. I can hardly wait. 

On the 20th of September, I am going to the eye surgeon’s office for the first time to have cataract surgery on both eyes. I believe they are doing them both in one surgery. I’ve been through the process before, and it was with the same team. I’ll have two appointments and then the surgery. I’ll have the boogie board, and I know that I’ll be using it.

But I will be using one of the devices I’m learning this week. I will record and bank, an introduction that explains my speech, seizures, and asks that as many questions as possible be answerable with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I’ll also record another that adds to the above that I would prefer that all correspondence between us be by email. And for my ferry trip to the first appointment, I’ll record for the ticket staff person at the ferry terminal, a request to buy credit on my frequent travel card.

I’ve been functioning well for seven years; I can get on without them. When I struggle to speak, I jiggle. My face and head contort slightly, my arms can make movements that embarrass me, and it’s a struggle for me. Plus, being with people and talking is when I have most of my seizures. These devices enable me to present very, very differently. I can make and maintain eye contact with the person I am speaking with. I rarely make eye contact with strangers; it just doesn’t happen when I am speaking. I can’t change that, everything is moving.

But no more.

I often feel kind of grotesque having seizures in public—especially long ones or jerky ones. I had two when I was with Julien, and one of them was a long one. It feels so Jekely-Hydish to me. They come on abruptly. These devices allow me to present, making eye contact and without shaking, grimacing, jerking, etc., and feeling like I’m wearing a tuxedo and exuding confidence.

My devices delight people.

I will be living in two very different worlds. I’ll live my life on Gabriola as I have been, but ‘out there,’ in the world, I will be living through devices because out there, I am mute.

Usually, I present with a written notes and go to appointments with a pad and pencil, but I can say short things and I can use gesture and single words. With my doctor here, I do quite well with speech. I’ve seen her several times, and always in the same space. But I write it at home, and then my appointment begins with me staring at the side of her head. Small things, but interruptions to ‘normal’ communication. There’s a kind of disconnect. 

I’ve been feeling burdened by this speech problem. I had rather poor self-esteem before losing my fluency. I feel as I did when I had bad acne. There have been other consequences to my life from FND, as well. I can’t attend many events because I don’t want to have a seizure. Here, I go to events with friends.

The devices will improve my self-esteem and convert a frequent uncomfortable exchange into a very positive experience—a source of pride in adaptation.

My motional fulfillment comes from my friendships. But a huge minority part of me desperately wants a life of isolation. This is why I live on an island and stay here every day that I can. This is my compromise, and it is working.

Sometimes when I write this stuff, I think I am out of my mind to admit it. Perhaps all this will help me get an insanity plea one day. Like if I met Putin and had a gun.

Do I hear an amen?

Last night there was thunder a one-minute downpour, and a short shower. I can’t remember ever feeling so happy about rain. Then, through the night came much more rain. Hooray! 

I recently opened novel #26 of a thirty-edition series. I thought to myself, The end is coming,’ And right away, like a movie on a screen, in my mind’s eye, I saw myself as a young lad, comfortable in the large grey chair, sturdy, like an elephant, and my feet on the matching ottoman, reading about Frank and Joe Harding, The Hardy Boys. That’s when I fell in love with reading.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Julien and Marlane Visit

I was out watering early this morning and it was really warm. Yesterday was a really hot day. By noon it was 32°!

My day began, of course, with watering, but yesterday, watering did not challenge me. It was wonderful to be outside on a quiet Sunday morning in total silence, save for birdsong and my fountain trinkling, and feeding all my beloved rooted friends. Now, when I look at all the work that needs to be done, I just let it go because Bronwyn is coming to tackle it all.

At 10:00, I Zoomed with my BC Stuttering Group. They all have become great friends over the years of our monthly meetings. I thoroughly enjoy our sessions. I have a big ol’ man crush on one of us, Irfan. He is so handsome, warm and friendly. 

It was lunchtime when we were done, and then it was time to go to the ferry terminal to pick up Julien and Marlane. I left poor Sheba at home. She was in very poor shape. She has a very sore foot and I guess pain is hobbling her. I urged her to come outside at noon because she’s been in the house since 5:30 Saturday. She peed and then collapsed. Her legs just gave out and it broke my heart.

I was very happy to get back home and with her once I’d picked up Julien and Marlane. It was such a beautiful afternoon for them to be here. When I picked them up, and after we exchanged greetings, I asked them what they wanted to do about dinner: Go to The Surf, get pizza from Woodfire, or eat at home. They offered to cook dinner. YAY! SO, we stopped at Nestor’s on the way home to get food. 

At 4:00, they took the car to go swimming at Sandwell. I stayed home to chill, and when they came back, they made dinner. It was so, so nice to have dinner made for me and it was absolutely delicious. Marlane put a lot of dill into the smoked salmon fettuccini, and it was incredibly good. I have never done that before but will again for certain. Yum! And they gifted me with some old un-pasteurized cheese. It was the best cheese I’ve ever had.

And then we talked until 11:00 and they I invited them outside because I could hear my friendly Barred Owl outside. She called out often and my friends were thilled to hear her. Plus, we saw a satellite overhead and they loved the clarity of the stars overhead. But what really amazed everyone was that the water coming out of my tap is so warm. After a great time together, we all went to bed happy.

She spent the entire day yesterday, and all night, in bed. This has never ever happened in past bouts of foot problems. She has 3 feet in peril. But this morning, I washed all Sheba’s feet with Polysporin and then I lifted her off the bed and she followed me outside, doing quite well after initial hesitations. She walked out to the boulevard and went to the bathroom. It filled me with hope and happiness to see some progress.

I’ll be lifting her into the car and onto the bed in the back so that she can come with me to my physio appointment. And when we come home, the weather is predicted to change and we’ll both spend the next few days gently together.

Tonight, with luck, rain!

Sunday, August 27, 2023

A Perfect Late Summer Day!

Saturday was fabulous. It was such a nice day! At 2:30 it was 30° but I was reading in the shade and so I wasn’t felled by the heat. 

Sheba and I went for an early morning walk in one of my favourite places to walk, a big open meadow that is always in the sunshine. Then we went to the farmers’ market where we saw lots of beings we knew—4-legged and 2-legged. And then we came home to water and just as I was about to dive into my book, Pete came over and we tightened some of the screws on my roof.

And while he was over, Ron came to walk Sheba, and that was perfect given that she’d be alone for a while during dinner. I was blissfully happy all day. I had to do very little watering.

Just past 4:30, Nancy and Kris arrived for Prosecco in the garden. I showed them all my new communication devices because it was Kris who discovered CAYA for me. And then we went in to Woodfire for dinner. I love the food at Woodfire; I love the atmosphere at The Surf.

We had a blast at Woodfire. Jess was our server, and we all know and like her. We don’t know, but also ‘like’ the bartender. All three of us have been ‘lusting’ after him forever, so last night I told Jess that we’d all need a cup of bartender to take home and minutes later guess who arrives at our table. His name is Chris, he’s hotter than molten glass, and he’s the nicest guy you could ever want to meet. God bless Jess!

We had a lovely chat and he mentioned that he created all the mixed drinks that they are serving, and he said he was proudest of his chocolate/raspberry martini, so we ordered one to share and taste. I drank most of it. It was the first time in my life I have consumed vodka, but I couldn’t taste it. What fun we had.

It was a spectacular day!

Sheba is really feeling poorly. She has a second bad foot, so we’ll be staying close to home, and I’ll be paying lots of attention to her. This afternoon, Julien and his partner arrive for a short visit. I must go into Nanaimo to the physio tomorrow, so they will come to Nanaimo with me and catch a ride from Julien’s father to go to his brother’s wedding.