Monthly Archives: October 2012

Only Child posts early because of Hurricane Sandy

Some of Only Child’s patio furniture put away for protection from Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is due to hit southern and eastern Ontario  early this evening. By then it is supposed to be downgraded to a tropical storm. Tropical or hurricane it is still nasty. So, who knows if we’ll have power or Internet service, etc. then and overnight? So, I hope you’ll forgive me for posting one day early.

The last hurricane in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area was Hurricane Hazel in 1954, also in October. I was too little to remember much of that. I do remember lying in my bed and hearing rain pounding outside. My Mom also said that we were lucky and didn’t get any flooding in our basement because our house was up on a hill. A lot of the flooding was on low-lying lands in the Don Valley and Humber River areas. After that, the physical structure – sewers and dams, and the like – were changed to help protect against strong storms such as hurricanes. We shall see if they work with Sandy and also if my Mom’s pronouncement is true today. My house is up on high ground.

But there are other problems. I’ve diligently moved all patio furniture into the tool shed or indoors and any remaining potted plants and even Halloween decorations, indoors. I’m hoping to move the Halloween stuff back out and  the mum and pansies too. I’ve also barricaded the recycling bin (which despite its size tends to get blown around in high winds) with heavy bins filled with the branches of pruned plants and leaves. And put bricks on them.

The leaves still in the eavestrough worry me. I do have a gutter protection in them and the protection is supposed to catch the leaves and let the water go down the downspouts or catch the leaves until the wind blows them away. There will be lots of heavy winds but will it blow them onto the ground or into the downspouts?

I blame my handyman for this. These walnut trees  require up to three cleanings each fall. In a previous post I blogged about this handyman cancelling one eavestrough cleaning (the second one); he came later for this). Friday, with the leaves about all off the trees (except for five or six branches which the wind would and has taken care of) I booked him for yesterday to do the final cleaning. You guessed it – he didn’t show. When I phoned him, to ask if he could come a half hour early as it had stopped raining, he said he couldn’t come because he was working (he is an apartment superintendent), and “sorry.”

“Sorry” doesn’t cut it. I’ve done or had done all I can do. Last year, a masonry expert dug the area by one side of the house, sealed and tarped the cement below ground; this year the grading for that was done. The other side and back of the house was re-graded three years ago. And the previous owners had more sealing (the back) done with weeping tiles put in.

Thanks to this handyman, this morning I stood on a chair with a rake and a broom (not at the same time) hacking at the leaves and branches. Some came down. Getting right up close would have been better for removal. However, I suffer from vertigo, so on a ladder beyond about four feet I get dizzy and panic.

If I get basement flooding or any other problems coming from the eavestroughs, this handyman will discover the true meaning of the word “sorry.” Some of you may wonder why I don’t get someone else to do small to medium house repairs. My answer is “Who?” This fellow, when he shows up, does a good job and charges me very little. Come next year, I may look into finding someone else. But again, cost will be a big factor.

And to make it more worrying I am slated to do a TV appearance tomorrow (podcast  Internet TV station)  around noon to promote my new book – my debut collection of mystery short stories Beyond the Tripping Point. The TV appearance per se doesn’t scare me – I’m just worried about getting there. It’s in downtown Toronto but will I be able to get out the door here? Will  public transit be running or held up because of flooding, etc.? Will I be able to walk to the bus stop and from where I get off either a bus or subway outside to the TV studio? Will there be disaster in my home and on my property I’m leaving behind? What about power outages and other utility outages? Over the weekend I stocked up on batteries, water and food that doesn’t need refrigeration. I have flashlights and candles and an old transistor radio (anyone remember them?) run on batteries and a ghetto blaster with battery option. But I don’t do power outages well or basement floods or downed trees, etc. well.

I also consider being an only person with no partner a big factor here. Not going into a rant, just stating it.

I may post again later this week. Meanwhile for more information about my book go to my other blog http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com. My big book launch is this Sunday, November 4, 2 p.m. (eastern standard time) at The Rivoli in Toronto. Those in the area are welcome to come. Details at my publisher’s website http://www.bluedenimpress.com – click on “Toronto.”

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Only Child looks at dying with dignity

Only Child contemplates death and dying

When I was 16 I announced to my parents, “People should have the right to commit suicide if they wish.” The silence around the kitchen table echoed the shocked looks on my Mom’s and Dad’s faces.

What did I expect? We were all Catholic. Back then in the grey ages, the Catholic Church didn’t even bury suicides in consecrated ground. That has now changed.

So has the law on suicides. Did you know that in Canada it used to be a criminal offence to commit suicide? Of course you had to survive the suicide to be charged. Kind of ironic if you didn’t actually commit the deed you were charged. I know there is still a criminal charge of attempted murder of another person but that’s murder.

I’m talking assisted suicide here. And my views on suicide have changed somewhat since my pronouncement at the dinner table.

Lately, there has been a lot in the news about dying with dignity and assisted suicide. In July, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled physicians who help terminally ill patients who request assisted suicide should be exempt from the Criminal Code section referring to “aids or abets a person to commit suicide” The BC court gave a one-year moratorium to its decision so Parliament could rewrite the current law. Read more about it at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/07/13/pol-cp-federal-appeal-assisted-suicide.html  The advocate and main plaintiff here was BC resident, Gloria Taylor, who had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The court granted her an exemption from the current law for a year.

Almost 10 years ago another advocate for assisted suicide, Sue Rodrigues, again dying from Lou Gehrig’s Disease and again in British Columbia was not granted her wish for assisted suicide (Sue Rodriguez v. The Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of British Columbia). However, Rodrigues had her doctor-assisted suicide. The doctor’s name was never revealed and no charges were laid against him or her. Read about it (with references) at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodriguez_v._British_Columbia_%28Attorney_General%29

Shortly after the June 2012 BC Supreme Court decision, the Federal Parliament appealed to revoke this law. And Gloria Taylor died this month– from natural causes – an infection.

Except for perhaps abortion, controlling our last days on earth (as much as we can; we can’t control getting murdered) is the biggest issue evoking passion on both sides of the fence.

My take is the individual who has either a terminal illness and/or who is suffering from a debilitating illness should decide whether to live or die. And for those of you thinking it is God’s will whether we live or die and even when we live or die, ask yourself the question “ Have you ever heard or read about anyone saying that a murder or fatal car accident is God’s will?” Shouldn’t this aspect apply to terminal/debilitating illness as well? For example, doesn’t a lot of whether a person with cancer or heart failure dies on the operating table or not have something to do with the surgeon’s skills and the patient’s condition?

The individual’s choice means if the individual wants to keep on living as long as possible, then so be it. Give the person all the medical and emotional support needed. But if he or she wants to end life when things go from bad to worse – but aren’t in any condition to do so – then assisted suicide by a medical doctor should be allowed with appropriate guidelines and it must be stated by the ill person in a Living Will, etc. (when they can still do so) that this is his or her wish. We don’t want a greedy offspring with Power of Attorney signing Mom or Dad up for assisted suicide just to get his inheritance. But do we want someone kept on life support who doesn’t want to be because that is the way it is done medically and legally?

I no longer think that anyone who wants to kill himself should be allowed to do so. If a person is depressed he or she should be helped and supported (and not to die). Having had a cousin in his late 30s kill himself and also attempting suicide myself thirty years ago when I was depressed has made me see some light here. I had little support (except a shrink) back then (postpartum depression blew up into a full depression if you must know) and I think with more support I might have never tried to go to the other side. Just lucky here as I miscounted the number of pills that would do it and I called a distress centre. But that’s another topic for another post. My depression wore off when another illness hit – migraines. Today it’s anxiety and worry I deal with, not depression.

What I do think is if I’m terminally ill or have Alzheimer’s I don’t want to stick around to the bitter end with all the pain and suffering to get there – not just mine, but my family’s. But I want to live as long as the quality of my life is still good. I’ve already appointed my son as Power of Attorney if my health gets to the point where that is needed. And as my lawyer told me, the POA only puts the person in charge of your health. You (I) have to specify what the POS person must do. I have – in a Living Will which I gave my son and in a talk I had with him and his girlfriend/partner.

In a nutshell, figure out what you want to do about your death and dying (and that includes funerals, burials, or not, etc.) – do all the legal paperwork and let your family know your wishes – verbally and in writing. My lawyer has also told me about visiting dying clients in the hospital where family members argued about whether to pull the plug or not.

Now we need governments to do the right thing and give people the choice.

Comments?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Assisted Suicide, Death and Dying, Dying with Dignity, Family, Health, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Suicide

Only Child will get her sleep

Only Child in her office – getting down to business with work and sleep.

My mind has turned to mush. I forget where I put things; I forget to do things; things get mixed up, and some things go and stay missing.

Am I losing my mind?

Maybe?

Is it Alzheimer’s?

Probably not.

My immune system is also down and I have a low-level cold (at this point). And I’ve been getting to bed too late (or too early if you figure the time after midnight in a.m.). So, it’s sleep deprivation. Because I have not been carousing all over town until the wee hours of the morning, that’s not it. The root cause of all this is doing too much – a lot of that I blame on being the only person here who has to do and/or organize everything. Can’t do anything about that now (no time and no money) but there is something I can and will do.

TAKE BACK MY SLEEP TIME.

Studies show that sleep deprivation affects both physical health and mental health, particularly cognitive performance. Your short-term memory and even your long-term memory can take a nosedive and your decision-making abilities can go out the window. According to a study, Sleep Deprivation: Impact on Cognitive Performance by Paula Alhola and Paivi Polo-Kantola (Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2007), not getting sufficient zzz’s regularly can impair lots more, including your mood. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC265629 for the long list of sleep deprivation effects and the references to corresponding studies. It’s enough to make you want to crawl under the covers and never come out.

I’m not going that far but some things got to go or at least slow down. Consider last week where (among other things) I did/had to deal with the following:

  1. My handyman finally showing up – on a work day. It interfered with my work time and because he was one and a quarter hour late, not everything got done. I forgive myself for being really grumpy then. He deserved it (if you remember from previous posts he had cancelled a Saturday appointment).
  2. Juggling client work and meetings (in person) and via email and phone with new clients (not complaining here. I need and like the work. I’m taking it in the context of what else was happening).
  3. Trying to do end-of-season garden cleanup plus protect vulnerable plants from cold weather/frost with our yo-yo weather (that is the nature of gardening, but again I’m taking it in context with everything else).
  4. Doing readings from my book, including out-of-town (this I like doing), attending all day workshops on Saturday (my East End Writers’ Group sponsored it so I had to be there even though I felt sick).
  5. Plus the regular daily stuff – cooking and cleaning up (although I cook extra on weekends and leave what little “big” cleaning jobs I do until weekends).
  6. Etc., etc., etc.

That’s only part of it. Not getting done was phoning friends as promised, more clearing out of my office (I did do some so I have room for new client files). This week started out with a malfunctioning CD/DVD drive in my desktop computer so my computer tech was just here this morning. The drive wasn’t dead yet but something in it was loose so it was headed to the DVD/CD drive cemetery. My techie replaced it and then I found out his rates went up – but he gave me a discount because I didn’t know and he wasn’t here for a full hour. So, I gave him a post-dated cheque because like most freelancers I’m waiting for another cheque to come in. I also have a whopping house insurance premium (over $1,000 for the next year) due the beginning of next week.

Seems no matter what you do you can’t crawl out from under it.

Except for my sleep deprivation. I’m determined to get at least my required seven and a quarter hours of sleep each night. So, I have to get strict and maybe even a little nasty. My plan?

Put myself first.

Say “no” to many things including some social and business events, particularly where it involves me helping someone else. I’m doing too much of that (mainly in the business end) and spreading myself too thin.

Delete more email – some without first reading the email – just go by the subject and the sender. I don’t mean obvious spam. I’m doing some of this but I will up it.

Stick more to my daily schedule – I do daily schedules but don’t always follow them – now it will be to-the-letter barring extreme unforeseen circumstances. This means clients will have to get in line to get their work done if they want it done properly.

Don’t beat myself if I don’t have time to return friends’ and business phone calls and emails. I will get to it – when I have time.

Don’t get sidetracked by other things – especially those that don’t really interest me and/or aren’t pertinent.

Pace myself in what I do.

Take breaks and leisure time.

And get enough sleep.

Excuse me while I go to the next item on today’s “to do” list.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Balance, Cognitive disorders, Gardening, Goals, Health, Lists, No, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Sharon A. Crawford, Sleep deprivation, Stress, to do list

Only Child looks at gratitude

Only Child is grateful for her family – with son Martin and his partner Alison

As we Canadians just celebrated our Thanksgiving it is time to look at gratitude – especially its relation to happiness. In the past 10 years a number of studies have linked the two. I’m not impressed with the results.

Look at the title of one study Practicing Gratitude Can Increase Happiness by 25%. That doesn’t even make the halfway mark. This article at http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/09/practicing-gratitude-can-increase.php refers to a study carried out by Dr. Robert A. Emmons in 2003 which is published in his book Thanks. While Dr. Emmons covers all sides of the fence in his studies (gratitude, hassles and everyday occurrences), the bottom line is only 25% upped their happiness scale for expressing gratitude.

In another later study by Dr. Emmons, subjects did a daily practice of writing down what they were grateful for and the gratitude-happiness ratio increased. Another study focused on adults with congenital disorders and adult-onset neuromuscular disorders. The ones that wrote down their gratitude every day slept better, woke up more refreshed, and felt more optimistic. More studies are outlined in this excellent article by Ocean Robbins in The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/having-gratitude-_b_1073105.html.

I have no quarrel with the studies, the articles or the books. My point is nobody’s life is perfect and burying the bad while expressing gratitude for the good in your life doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it’s because of my late Mom’s weird sense of honesty. Maybe it’s my grade six teacher always harping on “I’ll give credit where credit is due” and my silent addition (“and discredit where discredit is due”).

Or maybe it’s because my parents died young – Dad at 66 after almost seven years of cancer off and on and Mom at 63 of a brain aneurysm five months after its cause hit her (she had arthritis and it caused a nasty fall onto the hardwood floor in our apartment). I was 16 when Dad died and 22 when Mom died.

Add in my own long list of ailments (which I won’t bore you with but they number almost as many fingers, including thumbs on my hands). I certainly don’t feel grateful for these health issues, especially as they are all permanent and some interfere with my life. I try to make the best of my situation but that doesn’t make me grateful.

Except for one health problem – migraines –for two reasons I am grateful for migraines – Migraines started me writing in the healthcare field, but my migraines are long gone. That makes a big difference.

I’m not advocating that we skip giving gratitude. I’m just saying we should also acknowledge what we are not grateful for. Doing so gives me motivation to improve my situation where I can but also to acknowledge others suffering which may be worse and perhaps lending a helping hand. For example, if I see someone struggle to get on a bus and they have a cane I will move so they can have a seat close to the door. Or if I see someone with feet or leg problems struggling down the stairs or taking their time, I give them their space and am thankful I can still walk with ease – most days. When my legs or feet “act up,” it’s a different story.

Some people can be grateful for having cancer and I am not slamming them. I think gratitude and well, non-gratitude, are subjective. I also believe in balancing the gratitude/non-gratitude equation. Fair is fair – something else I learned when growing up.

It really doesn’t do to be all Pollyanna. There can lie the route to denial.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Death and Dying, Gratitude, Happiness, Health, Mom and Dad, Mother dying, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, startling statistics

Only Child learns (again) seeing is believing

Only Child does another contemplation session on trust versus seeing is believing

When will I ever learn? Last Thursday I had yet another broken promise shoved at me. I phoned the handyman I’ve been hiring for five years to confirm the time for when he was coming on Saturday. He couldn’t make it because he was working at his regular job. (He is an apartment building superintendent). Why didn’t he factor this in when we originally made the appointment? Now we’re fiddling around with maybe this coming Saturday, which is also Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. And besides weather issues (most of the repairs are outside) we now have family (mine) get-togethers to consider.

I should know better by now than to take things for granted, something I thought I learned when my father was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was nine and a half years and my mother lied about what was wrong with him. She told me he had TB. I found out the truth from my best friend, The Bully, at school.

Over the years I’ve stumbled over trust issues and through ups and downs have learned that there is very little you can trust. For some reason I seem to have more trust in my business (writing, editing and teaching writing) than in my personal life. In the latter there are a small number of family members, friends and acquaintances I can trust, some up to a point. Clearly, this handyman isn’t one of them – at least for keeping appointments. The quality of his work is good and so are his prices. Those are two reasons I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding another handyman (or woman for that matter). If I could do the work myself I would. Some jobs I can’t do either because I don’t know how, don’t have the physical strength or have vertigo (if I have to go higher than five feet up, I get dizzy and freeze). The handyman has no qualms about going up to roof level to clean out eavestroughs – I’ve even found him sitting on the roof talking on his cell.

It seems that in many instances where I took for granted and trusted that all would be well, all was definitely not well. (The air conditioner going on the fritz when I was on vacation is one example.) And I do put it out there (God, the universe, whatever you believe in) that I need help with this, I need such and such. Some of it is small stuff and at the end of the day it probably doesn’t matter whether I get what I ask for or not. It’s the big stuff that gets ignored that bothers me. I find I have to shout to be heard. So much for ask and you shall receive. And if that is an ex-Catholic talking, so be it.

What’s the solution? Live each day on its own? I’ve tried that but the immediate future creeps in, especially when I’m dealing with a troubling situation.  For the last few years I’ve stopped planning more than a few months ahead. When someone asks “Where would you like to be in five, ten years?” I want to shout “Why plan that far ahead; I might be dead by then.”

So, I will continue to be watchful, at least, with what is happening. And in most instances business as usual will be “when I see it I will believe it.”

What says you? How do you handle the uncertainty of the future?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Believing, Betrayal, Family and Friends, Life demands, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford