Category Archives: Help and Support

Only Child warmed by strangers’ kindness

Originally published on my author blog. But it also fits here as it deals with something an only child/adult runs into. And yes, it has to do with that trailer/shopping cart causing me big grief. I will add one thing to the story. I was able to return it to Canadian Tire and get my money back. Read all about it and how this author blazed unexpected trails here.

All thanks to the kindness of one friend and many strangers.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Books, Family and Friends, Gratitude, Help and Support

Only Child on stealing my time and line

Not really my landline. Mine is the touch kind.

Over the weekend I had my phone and Internet connection stolen. I say stolen because the  utility company techie who came to fix it found the cable had been cut, probably by vandals and the same thing happened in another nearby area of Toronto. He put in an order for the guys who fix the cable to come but said he didn’t know when but within 48 hours.

Not good enough, especially as I don’t have a cell phone (can’t afford one right now – more on why in a future post). I made two trips to my friend and neighbour Ev across the street to use her land line to call Bell, the utility company. I needed the exact status on my phone repair this second trip. But before I made it to her place I was called over by Jan down the street. Ev was there. Jan said the line went dead around 9 p.m. Friday evening (this was now late Saturday morning) in the middle of a call she was making. She had to borrow another neighbour’s cell to call it in to Bell. Unlike me, who got a customer service rep in tech support almost right away, she was on hold for an hour and a half. And the neighbour needed his phone because he was going away for the weekend. Because it was late Friday evening Bell wouldn’t even book a techie to come.

So, we had three seniors with no cell phone and Ev’s line working only because she was across the street and on another feed.

What’s wrong with this picture?

So, back to Ev’s and this time I put on my consumer advocate cum former journalist hat(s). Calling  Bell was not straighforward either as their Toronto lines kept giving me the message “this number is no longer in service.” Huh? That’s the number on my current phone bill. I had to call the Television section, tech support to get the 800 number to call for the phone and Internet. And yes I got through then. But the customer service person had no idea why the Toronto line didn’t work and did check – nada.

However, I can’t complain about the help from customer service – especially after I pulled the senior’s card – seniors living on this street and we don’t all have cell phones. The guy couldn’t get the cable techs to come any sooner (the recorded message had said the service would be restored no later than Monday at 10 p.m. which was NOT acceptable) and it would probably be sometime Monday because the techie who fixes cables in my area is off for the weekend.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I continued to push for a solution, hitting on the senior angle and no cell phones (both true) and after doing some checking the customer service guy was able to arrange for temporary complimentary cell phones to come Sunday for Jan and I – and there was a record of her call Friday night so I got her ticket number as well as mine.

We didn’t get our cell phones but the service was back by 1.30 p.m. on Sunday. Guess advocating for us seniors helped. And if they had to get the cable repair guy in to work on a weekend, too bad. They need more than one for each area of Toronto and they should be on call, even on a rotating basis.

But the time it stole. Jan was more upset than I, although if it had happened on a weekday when I need the Internet to work, I would have been more upset. The situation did give me a chance to visit with a couple of neighbour friends. Jan and I talked at her place for a couple of hours when I returned there to let her know what Bell were doing and gave her her ticket number.

Now I’m back on track, sort of. Still wrestling with time stealers and putting my foot etc. down. I have made a list of what is important to me to be doing right now and for the near future – just the subject/topic or whatever. In no particular order they are family and friends, work (including clients and my new mystery novel Beyond Faith coming out this fall – anything with the latter, house (including grocery shopping and basic cleaning)  garden, cooking, health, reading, walking and some TV for relaxation.

Anything else is out the window and that includes volunteer stuff (excluding facilitating my East End Writers’ Group writing critique meeting tomorrow evening). Out the window are other volunteer stuff, especially when others in the groups (not EEWG) bug me with questions that they can’t even keep to one email. Out the window are requests to help other writers figure out how to do their business – especially when they are on writing and editing listserves and could get info from many people there. Out the window is anything more than the basic housework and there better not be any repairs – emergency or other – that can’t wait.

Now, let’s hope I can keep to this.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

What happened to Only Child’s phone line

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Filed under Help and Support, Helping Others, Seniors, Time management, Uility Disruptions and Vandalism, Uncategorized

Only Child on gratitude – for a change

Sometimes we get into overdrive in complaining about what’s wrong in our lives and the world – mea culpa here. But a few recent events and also some info learned have made me stop and think – hey, I do have some things to be grateful for. Below are a few.

One with a problem that could have escalated into a big roadblock. For a change I’ve started early doing my year end business accounting – all the adjustments and then seguing to tax returns. But one, the info sheet for tax credits hadn’t arrived – credits for travelling on public Toronto transit with my pass. Usually the info sheet arrives mid February – this year it hadn’t arrived by early March, so I called. The customer service lady said that they had just sent them out the previous Friday (which was March 3) so to give it a week. I gave it to yesterday afternoon so I could check my mailbox. Only a magazine and junk mail, so I called – it was five minutes after they closed for the day. For some reason I looked in the mailbox again a bit later – another magazine and the TTC tax credit list. But the envelope was date stamped February 27. Post office or pre-stamped at the TTC. Go figure. Just thankful it is here and I have all my tax slips.

I now have a new guy shovelling my snow when we get a lot – which we are now although a temporary lull right now. Also I have lots of people who for a reasonable price, will do repairs, etc. around the house. No one to clean the house – can’t afford that although with my dust allergy it would be a good idea to have someone to clean the house weekly.

The two tooth extractions (although not welcome or wanted) were successful. Now it is on to the next medical issue – annual eye testing and wondering what that will reveal.

My son’s US tour with his band Beams went very well on all counts. They had a work visa, so no border problems. They had great gigs, met a lot of interesting people and the weather, unlike now, was good all over – and they travelled through New York state, did gigs in Chicago, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Austen and Dallas. And their new van didn’t break down, although Martin flew home from Dallas because of work (his day job) commitments.

And after hearing stories from friends about their house and finance problems (sorry, what they are and who they are is confidential. Not my place to spread it around), I guess I’m somewhat lucky. Sure I still live below the poverty level (although that may show otherwise when I do my taxes), but I seem to know how to manage my money to suit my situation (so far; toes crossed).

Despite much juggling and bellyaching, I do like the life I have and what I like least I am endeavouring to cut back and/or eliminate doing. And I prioritize. That includes setting a timer every morning when I do email.

What are you grateful for?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Balance, Family and Friends, finances, Gratitude, Help and Support, Life Balance, Life demands, Life learning, Only child, Prioritizing

Only Child on Luck and the like

Only child contemplates luck

Only child contemplates luck

Do some people have more good luck than bad? Do others have more bad luck than good?

I believe that is true and unfortunately I am one of the latter, at least as my life the past few years has shown. And before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I am definitely not the only one in this over-sized boat.

How do I figure this? If I go through my daily list of what I am thankful for and what I’m not (and the list varies from day-to-day depending on what is happening or happened recently), I find that the bad things take over a larger percentage than the good. Some of the good (like my writing and my garden and my son – in no particular order here) are big. But so is much of the bad.

Bad can be anything from being old, poor, not being healthy to being injured to death of close family and friends, to being alone. The list can be endless. A lot of the bad that happens to people is what comes under the heading of “unexpected things that go wrong.” These usually steal your time, your psyche, your life.

And yes, there is research, there are studies on good and bad luck. I don’t agree with all of it, such as maintaining a positive attitude 100 per cent of the time. That does not stop bad things from happening to people. Neither does a strong belief in God and that he will help if we pray to him. I (and I’m sure others) have proven that one incorrect. The studies don’t go into this latter aspect.

One thing I have learned from life, especially from my friends,  is those seniors who have a life partner do much better in life. Sure,  bad things happen to them, too – nobody is immune from that. But, they have a partner so have help, moral support. They are not dealing alone with the crap in life.

So what are some of the other things that these studies show?

Stephan Makri, PhD. from the City University of London,  says, ““I think that luck means different things to different people—some people use it as synonym for serendipity,” he says. “But others were clear that the two were different—luck was totally out of our control and there’s nothing we can do to influence it.”  By the way the article also quotes Dr. Yanlong Sun,  professor of microbial pathogenesis and immunology, Texas A&M College of Medicine, “As both a scientist and a person, I do believe in luck, that it is something I cannot manipulate or operate on.” The article also  quotes Richard Wiseman, psychology professor, the University of Hertfordshire, England, who has done several studies on luck. Wiseman says from one study “unlucky people seemed to demonstrate more anxiety.

Which begs the question? Are peope  unlucky because they are anxious? O are they anxious because they are unlucky?

Read the article on all this: “The Science of Luck” by Alexandra Osola, from Popular Science here.

What is some of the bad luck coming my way lately?

Computer problems, which I may or may have not fixed.

Two watches on the fritz at once. It better just be a new battery needed for each. With the big health issue I’m facing (see below), I don’t have extra cash for anymore expensive extra expenses. Also I need to keep track of my time, even though the powers that be may not be doing so.

Things going missing somewhere in my house. Disclaimer: I am not a hoarder and with what I do have I’ve been systematically sorting through and purging.

Ongoing health issues – the latest the biggie – the tooth extraction which comes up next Monday. I previously posted about the difficulty of  finding a good oral surgeon. But what is scary about all this is I haven’t had a tooth extraction for over 30 years and back then the situations didn’t go well. Mind you they were wisdom teeth (and that’s a misnomer for sure. Somebody goofed here in “creating” us). Also I have a lot of other health issues (which the surgeon is aware of – I did have to fill out a form and did have a consultation with him) including a compromised immune system. And then there is weather – it’s winter and if we get snow right after (like overnight after and the day after), guess who will be shoveling that white crap? The fellow who used to shovel my snow the past seven years didn’t show up this year. I tried to get someone else, but no luck.

And there is that word “luck” again. Hey, luck is a four-letter word, so what did I expect?

Dark days indeed. No wonder I often don’t get around to opening the blinds in the basement.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Balance, God, Good and Bad Luck, Health, Help and Support, Prayer, Seniors

Only Child – that’s a wrap for 2016

My son Martin, his girlfriend Juni and me

My son Martin, his girlfriend Juni and me

2016 may go down as the year many people came to hate, or at least dislike. From friends and family, what I see and read about, and yes, my own experiences, show this to be the case. It wasn’t all bad, so 2016 can’t be completely dissed as other years have (such as 2013 with both a flooded heavy rainstorm and an ice storm in Toronto and surrounding areas. A friend of mine in Toronto had her power go out for days for both storms). But that’s the prognosis in some news reports, even this one which is on the sarcastic side.

We had the best summer this year weather-wise and otherwise. The gardens were gorgeous. And let’s not forget the winter of 2015-2016 – mostly in January to March 2016. Little snow and only a couple of days the end of March with mixed precipitation and yes, some water got in my basement one of those days. This winter it has been too much snow so far, although the rain yesterday got rid of most of it, albeit some places in Toronto were flooded and/or had sewage back up into their basement (yeck). Here, I was lucky, but then I do raise my fist up to the sky to you-know-who. We had freezing rain before that, but I’m not even sure that happened in Toronto because when I woke up it was light rain. Places like Guelph and Kitchener, Ontario did get the freezing rain (for a few hours – all melted when the temperatures rose to 10 Celsius). But kids were skating on the streets of Guelph.

Health hasn’t been good for some of us. I have the tooth problem – the extraction coming up in January. But worst is I lost a close friend, Tanya from next door, to cancer in February. Now, one of my cousins has cancer of the lungs (like Tanya) and bone cancer. And like with Tanya, the damn doctors messed up with a misdiagnos, so treatment started later rather than sooner. I’m glad I got the chance to have dinner with her (and several other cousins) in August when I visited in the area and this cousin sat beside me so we could chat. I hope it is not the last time I see her.

Besides the summer weather and gardens, there have been some good things in my life. My going blind possibility seems to have been stopped thanks to the wonderful ophthalmologist I see on a regular basis and the double-prescription drops she prescribed. I am now officially living below the poverty level, but I now qualify for 100 % coverage with the Ontario Drug Plan for Seniors. Good thing, as the drops cost $72 for a very small container. And who knows what the oral surgeon will prescribe when I get the tooth out.

And my son, Martin and his girlfriend, Juni, I am very thankful for them. We had a wonderful Christmas afternoon and evening together, exchanging presents, chatting and catching up and of course eating (not necessarily in that order), despite the two of them having colds – which Martin warned me about when we talked on the phone before they came over. They were careful when sneezing and did a lot of hand washing.

And Martin is giving me the Mac Laptop I want and need. He has ordered it, so the note with their Christmas card said. It won’t arrive until late January. I will have to pay for some of it to get it as part of my business. But we will work that one out – after the dental crap is over with.

As for 2017, I will go into more detail about that in next week’s post. With dental surgery, the guy who has been shovelling my snow going AWOL (so to speak) from it this year after eight oor nine years of service, and of course, the winter weather and finances, who knows? I will be making many changes throughout 2017 and will try to follow what Martin wrote in their Christmas card.

“Let 2017 begin with optimism and promise.”

And that’s what I wish for all of you, too.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 2016 and 2017, cancer, Christmas, Gifts, God, Health, Help and Support, Only child, Winter Weather

Only Child’s health is eating her life -literally

Only child contemplates new health issue

Only child contemplates new health issue

Again with apologizes to Elizabeth Verwey (whose book is titled “My Business Ate My Life”) for my title above. Elizabeth’s book deals with workaholic entrepreneurs. My title refers to my health or lack of good health.

I now have another big health problem, although if all goes well when it is supposed to (hah! hah!) it is temporary. This one is dental, starting with pain and pressure in a lower molar on Sunday. This is the molar the dentist just filled in with a new big filling in February of this year to replace the one he did in 1999 that was falling out.

Definitely not right or fair but not much seems to be right or fair in my life this year. I saw my dentist yesterday afternoon and yes he said I have two options, root canal or have the tooth extracted. The conversation right after went something like this.

Me: :”I would rather kill myself than have a root canal.”

Dentist:”I guess you’ve made your choice.”

Me: “Any possibility of more fillings?”

Dentist: “No because the cavity has gotten into the nerves in the root so fillings wouldn’t work.”

And in case the above conversation makes my dentist come across as mean, he is definitely not. He is very understanding and he said the above kindly and quietly. We discussed the problem further. The upshot is that they don’t do root canals or surgery and I would have to see a specialist – which I should have known as I had to see a specialist in the early 1980s to remove an abscessed wisdom tooth. This one isn’t abscessed yet and I’m pouring on Oil of Cloves as necessary.

So, I have to see a specialist – an oral surgeon. One of the ones they reference is only one short bus ride from me and my dentist says the doctor is sympathetic to those using social services. I reminded him that I am not on social services, just have limited income. He said this dentist would still be sympathetic to my situation. We agreed early January for the surgery (pending getting an appointment for it. What do you want to bet that won’t be possible?). He gave me the specialist’s business info sheet and said I was to call him to book an appointment and then he would send them the x-ray he had just taken of the offending and offensive tooth. I thought the first part odd – don’t dentists do the calling to specialists and the booking? That is what happened in the 1980s. He also waived charging me for the x-ray and for my visit yesterday. “We were just chatting.” I could have afforded the low rate he was charging me for the x-ray but was still in shock about the necessary surgery.

Anyway I said I’d call the specialist’s office this week, thanked him and wished him a merry xmas.

So, supposing I get to this specialist in early January and the surgery goes well (big assumption and big presumption), there is still the problem of travel. Getting there by bus should be okay, but these specialists (as my dentist told me and as I remember from the 1980s) want you to have someone to drive you home afterwards because it is surgery and you do get drugged and get the freezing.

That might be a problem. Back in the 1980s, a first cousin once removed took me there and back (several trips because of the abscess) and I believe she even stayed over at my place in Aurora for a day or so afterwards. This cousin, whom I loved and was close to, died 12 years ago.

I am a senior on my own and while I do have friends, most of them don’t drive. Hey, it’s Toronto and we have public transit, such as it is (and don’t get me on that for this post). Two of my friends in Toronto, both near me geographically, do drive. Both have their own lives. One looks after a grandson once a week plus does other things on other days. The other one has her own health issues – knee problems requiring physical therapy twice a week. The third friend with a car lived next door – Tanya, the friend who died from cancer in February. I still miss her and not because she used to drive me occasionally to get heavy stuff – like garden soil).

So my choice of days to make an appointment is limited. I’m presuming because this oral surgeon is a specialist, there won’t be much choice and as there are others in the practice, he may not even work every day, although I thought I heard my dentist mention that they have Saturday hours. Good luck getting an appointment for then.

My son drives but has no car – he leases occasionally. I will see if he would be available. UPDATE. MY SON JUST EMAILED ME BACK AND HE WILL GET A CAR AND PICK ME UP AFTER MY DENTAL APPOINTMENT. FAMILY IS BEST.

Otherwise, I will take public transit home, no matter what state I’m in. Cabs are out of the question – not just for costs, but I will not be in any condition to call a cab afterwards and pre- booking won’t work as there is no guarantee about how long the surgery would take. I know this from personal experience – mine and others.

I may just have to lie and say a friend will come to pick me up and then afterwards “Oops, guess she couldn’t make it.” What are they going to do about it after the fact? Drive me home?

Even though I dread it and wish it wasn’t necessary, I will get the surgery done and in early January if I have any say in the matter. But as most things in life (mine, anyway), seeing is believing. That’s something I have learned from very hard experience.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Dental Surgery, Family and Friends, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Life demands, Uncategorized

Only Child on dreading the day

Dreading the day or night? That can be a sign of having an anxiety disorder. High anxiety has followed me through most of my life from the early teens. It is my black dog and no matter what I do or don’t do, it hovers and often strikes. The difference may be just that some of the anxieties have changed since I turned senior.Sharon CLB mid 1990s

Well, it turns out that up to 15% and counting of seniors suffer from anxiety. Medical experts, research and the like didn’t cotton on to that for some time and instead focused more on seniors’ physical ailments, dementia and depression. See information from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Now they are taking note.

That 15% figure comes from the NCBI  PubMed. And they are saying that a lot of us seniors with anxiety disorders got them first earlier in life (with some exceptions such as acrophobia). Research is also finding that the anxiety is chronic. They got that one right. I have a few other ideas of my own here. For example, today many seniors, especially women, live alone, so don’t have someone to support them emotionally. Not that all duos are supportive, but often you get some opposites in there, someone who will listen and offer some suggestions, hopefully in a non-judgemental, friendly way.

And I can hear the “pie in the sky” and “when cows come home on roller skates” skeptics reverberating in the background. I know that the above supportive scenario is the ideal situation rather than the norm. And I don’t know what the solution or solutions are to decrease this menace. Certainly less big problems popping up so often in people’s lives would help. And I’m not going to even go into how confusing, complicated and over-busy our world is today. Just think too much technology, to many things to -do and of course dealing with our weather around the world. Enough said about that here.

I will be looking into some more information on anxiety in older adults with some ideas on possible help (I don’t say solutions; the only solution may be to get the hell out of Dodge, but we will all be doing that at sometime. High anxiety can  make that happen sooner as it can lead to heart attacks, strokes and cognitive disorders. It’s that last one that bothers me.)

For now I would like your comments on anxiety – and it doesn’t matter if you are a senior or not. Anxiety really doesn’t belong to any age.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Seniors, Stress, Worrying