Tag Archives: Help and Support

Only Child – some hope on cancer

In the wake of Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie dying from brain cancer, I think we need some hope, some good news about this horrid disease that strikes and kills too many.

I don’t know how many of you watch The Weather Network on TV or online (I do both). But one of their meteorologists, Kim Macdonald, has been off for ten and a half months with breast cancer.

But Kim is back and she is winning over cancer. She is such a bubbly friendly person and I always enjoyed her weather reports, especially her 60  second roundups from across Canada. Often they featured animals doing funny weather-related things. Kim always used the right tone – not insulting or patronizing but more a showing of the fun when animals meet weather. She has been appearing on the weather casts late evening, sharing the time with other meteorologists – as has been the trend lately on that channel. Here is her blog Weathering Cancer. Inspiring.

Welcome  back Kim  – we missed you and glad you are better.

And on a personal note, one of my cousins who was first misdiagnosed with something else – but then correctly diagnosed with cancer when it spread to her lungs last year. She is getting better and the horrible chemo is actually shrinking the tumour. She credits family support and spending the summer at the cottage also with helping. Kim also had good family support.

Which maybe tells us something. You need friends and family to get through this cruel world.

I’ll end on another positive note with a link to actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus photos on her chemo session. Got to love her sense of humour here.

And what Kim Macdonald posts at the top of her blog:

I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, aunt and friend. I’ve made my living on television talking about what Canadians love to talk about… the weather.I have breast cancer. It is not who I am. It doesn’t define me and it doesn’t make me special. It is my adversary and as such it will challenge me like nothing has. I think that’s worth documenting.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health, Health and Support, Kim Macdonald, Surviving Cancer, Tragically Hip

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

The beat goes on for Only Child’s problems

How Only Child feels about the latest problems.

If I thought all the excess happenings in my life I posted about last week were more than enough, I have now reached higher or lower (depending on how you see it) limits.

AND I DON’T LIKE IT:

Why? Because they steal from my time, cause much frustration and pain, an make me very angry.

Here are two to add to the long list.

Health – now it’s my feet causing me grief. True I have a common problem – hammer toes and bunions – partly inherited from my late mother and partly caused by a life-time foot situation-i.e. flat feet. But there is more to it than just that. I’ve had various degrees of this problem for years but the pain in the right foot is recent. It travels from toe to foot bottom to another toe and sometimes there is no pain. From yesterday the pain seemed to go down or be gone. But I’m not trusting that to be the end of it as there are still a few pain quirks.

Living on low income for years also contributed to it. Podiatrists’ services and their products are not covered by OHIP – the dwindling Ontario health insurance plan. Anyone who thinks Canada’ health insurance is great and universal, can think again. You have to have secondary health insurance for all the “extras” (which are really part of your overall health) and if like me you can’t afford the health insurance you are out of luck.

The other one is computer-related – sort of. It is okay to be learning as you go with a new Mac laptop (and my son got it for me – I’m paying him back) -that’s expected. I’m using the MacBook for Dummies 2016 version.

It’s when one of your social media accounts and some of the basics just won’t work. I’m referring to bloody Facebook where I have an author page. Suddenly I can’t post anything or create an event. Well I can type the info into the box but when I hit “post” nothing happens. Yet, so far my two blogs’ weekly posts are still streamlined automatically to my Facebook page from WordPress. But that’s WordPress, not Facebook. And trying to find someone in Customer Service to fill in a form for help to solve the problem, well good luck. I did post a question to the Facebook Help Centre – at least I think I did. Who knows if it actually got posted.

With WordPress, if I can’t find a solution in their Help Centre I fill out their help support form. And I get an answer within a few days. And the answers are  usually helpful.

These are just two of the never-ending problems I’m faced with (pun intended). In line with that and my cutting what I do actions I might just not make it to an event I was going to this evening. It is free but it starts at 6 p.m., and no it’s not dinner. I have client work to do today and after all this social media nonsense (to promote an event I’m involved in as an author), I need to spend some time after lunch doing this client’s work. The client has been so patient so far with all my health issues since the beginning of 2017 and also having to take time to do several rewrites of my new Beyond mystery novel Beyond Faith coming out this fall (Plug here). I do not mind doing the rewrites at the publisher’s suggestion. That is par for the course.

It’s all this health stuff and social media snafus I don’t like or accept.

I definitely don’t follow the old serenity prayer. I believe that if problems are shoved at you, you do two things: solve the problem and if the problem is caused by someone else, get after them. But I also believe we all get too many problems to deal with in life.

Which throws out another belief, i.e., God gives us only the number of crosses we can bear. Or something like that.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Facebook, finances, Health, Healthcare coverage, Life demands, mystery novels, Only child, Pain, Problems

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 and Senior Loneliness

Only Child's Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

Only Child’s Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

When my father died from brain cancer at 66, life turned all downhill for my mother. She had lost her husband of many years and had to go it alone. This was the mid-1960s so changes for women were just getting started. And although my mother had me, I was a teenager and really not much help for mom’s loneliness and her health, which after Dad’s death went from good to worse than bad.

First, it was her arthritis in her hands and feet, which landed her in the hospital for tests, disfigured her hands (rheumatoid arthritis) and damaged her feet to the point of what resembled wounds. I remember coming home from business school and finding her sitting in the living-room, one foot bandaged and propped up on a footstool. Her two visitors were not friends, but the managers at the insurance company where she had started to work when Dad died. They were not there to offer her support, but to try and convince her to quit her job which she was having difficulty doing. She had gone from typist to proof reader because of her fingers.

Fortunately I was able to get a job as a secretary later that year and help Mom with expenses, including doing the actual grocery shopping. But Mom’s health continued to deteriorate. She also had scleroderma, which gave her puffy cheeks and changed her voice to almost a squeak. She died at age 63. Official cause was a brain aneurysm but really the arthritis killed her. Because of the arthritis she fell off her vanity bench which gave her a never-ending headache. She figured she needed her eyes tested and had booked an appointment for an eye test but never made it as she went into a coma and died in hospital.

I have passed both my parents’ ages of death and have mixed feelings about it.  Although I may have escaped some of the medical conditions of my parents (although I do have arthritis – in my neck and bunions and the like on my feet), I still feel very wary going through the rest of my life. Yes, I have had my own medical issues to deal with, but I’m learning that there are two factors that make life very hard to deal with for a senior – living alone and being poor.

I have covered the being poor before, but living alone to my mind, is not the best scenario for a senior and happiness. Apparently, some studies are showing otherwise. See Loneliness among the elderly  where  surprisingly the majority of lonely seniors are married or living with a partner.  But my many years living alone have proven otherwise. Living alone means not having someone there to help you, to support you, provide companionship, and help you deal with all the crap life shoves at you. I realize that not all duos are good – some are abusive; some provide no support.

However, when I observe my friends who have partners of some sort, I see a plus. Sure, they have problems, health, maybe financial, etc. But they seem more positive, have that support (and some even say that) and are happier – the latter just radiates from them. My take here is if you have a good partner, you can deal with life better.

Partners can mean many things from the traditional marriage, to living common-law, to not living together all the time (i.e., maintaining separate homes for whatever reason – often financial – pension laws you know).

One friend who used to live in my neighbourhood had a long-term relationship with a fellow. Their relationship and its setup worked worked very well for them. Both lived in separate houses – in fact he lived just outside Toronto. But they spent weekends together at her place and travelled together. Sure they argued and had differences of opinions – most couples do. But they were supportive of each other, not only with health issues but house issues. And boy, my friend had a doozie when her mean next door neighbour shovelled snow from his driveway onto her gas meter and the entrance for the gas into her house – the latter was blocked and she got gas fumes in her house. She phoned both her partner and me. Both came over here. He got on the phone to the gas company and organized everything there. I insisted she stay overnight with me, but in the meantime she went back home (outside) to supervise the gas company arriving. Her partner and I had another thing to do for her – get some important legal papers off to Fed Ex before they closed to meet a deadline for her.

True, yours truly had some part in this. But consider the scenario without her partner. And remember I don’t drive.

My friend’s situation does not have a happy ending. Her partner was diagnosed with brain cancer and died shortly afterwards. Yes, she was there with him, but has been alone since then.

I have to deal with the crap in my life alone. My son does help where he can but he has his own life. I also have no brothers or sisters.

So, some statistics be damned, I still say a senior living alone is not the happiest and healthiest. Read 10 Dangers of Seniors Living Alone. And I have only covered the tip of that iceberg.

What do you think? I’d like to hear from seniors living alone and seniors with partners. I won’t bite, whatever you say.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only Child and her parents in another time and world

Only Child and her parents in another time and world

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Happiness, Health Seniors, Life demands, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Mother dying, Older Women living alone and health, Only child, Seniors and Happiness

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

Ice Storms Tornadoes Rain bring havoc to US and Canada

Tree destruction from ice storm

Tree destruction from ice storm

Wicked weather over the January 13 weekend and continuing this week if nothing else proves that we can no longer feel safe in our world – as if most of us didn’t already know that .It is heartbreaking and the icy conditions and tornadoes in the USA and now the ice storms, rainfalls and winds in Ontario from the same storm hit it home harder. So do the  torrential rains coming up to lower British Columbia. These and more (watch The Weather Network, especially the Force of Nature videos clips and that last word in the title is a misnomer and also Accuweather) should serve as a warning that we have to do something about this. Before we can even get -to climate change, first there are the current situations’ damage  that have to be taken care of.

Those last three words are important here. We need to go beyond hope and beyond prayer and get in there and help each other. If the power is out in your neighbourhood, make sure your neighbours are okay and help them  – if you have a generator and gas fireplace and/or gas stove, open your home to those that don’t. I keep thinking of the big southern Ontario ice storm of December 2013 and how my neighbours helped me and how my son, especially helped my then boarder and me by booking (and paying for) a hotel room for a few days in downtown Toronto where the power stayed on. My son, Martin, also took us out to dinner near the hotel, picked us up and drove us home for Christmas (we had the power back on then) and even brought Christmas dinner and helped cook it. Fortunately, I hadn’t opened the big freezer during the power outage, the freezer was full and except for the odd item in the fridge-top freezer and fridge that didn’t make it into my makeshift freezer – an old-fashioned milk shut-turned mailbox on an outside wall, food was okay.

Put salt on your driveway, sidewalks and verandah to melt the ice. As long as the temperature doesn’t go much below freezing it will soften the ice somewhat. Then get out there and move the ice with a sharp shovel. A garden digging shovel works fine. I know some of you with be tut-tutting the choice of salt, but in a situation like this people’s safety is the main thing. If you really want to get all environmentally proactive clearing the ice, use sand, but good luck finding any in winter.

I also have another problem to watch and with me it can happen without the torrential rainfalls in BC. I’m talking about basement flooding. Many properties in the area I live in have this problem due to the area being low level, with old sewers. The City of Toronto is working to remedy this situation but it will take years. See basement flooding program for more info on this.

My problem can happen no matter what the sewer infrastructure is because a contractor named  Nigel Applewaite who I hired to dig the side of the house with the wall cracks and to seal it, didn’t dig down far enough. He won ‘t do anything about it and has blamed it on the sewer drains. I had city workers check that out – twice. Drain was clear.

There was one other thing that developed that has something to do with it – the-eavestrough middle on the east side of the house got mis-shaped into a bow, no doubt from something in “nature” – i.e. extreme weather and/or raccoons.  My handyman noticed it when he put up heating cables there and on the roof. I hired a professional eavestrough company (I checked with three of them) last year to fix it. The eavesgtrough needed re-aligning. So far it seems to be helping, but I keep an eye on my basement floors and heavy towels on the floors under two windows are a permanent part of the decor. Today, with heavy rains and winds from the east I am doing regular checks of my basement and there better not be any water get in.

One thing all this weather damage does to you. If you’ve lived through it, you become wary and worried, sometimes to the point of paranoia.

Another reason to help your family, friends and neighbours when extreme weather hits. They say misery loves company. But so does picking up after all the misery. It is being pro-active together, much better than burying your face in whatever. Much better than doing something to relax. You need to take action and sometimes the adrenalin from the worry and the bad surprise can act as a catalyst for strength to try to fix the situation.

Just think if a group of neighbours, friends, etc. all work together towards this.

Fix the current disaster, then move on to climate change action. Do it in steps from the beginning.

And yes, I haven’t forgotten that governments and corporations have to do their part too. Some are.

But that’s a topic for another blog post.

As for Nigel Applewaite, he has had flooding in the basement and garage of his home. Sometimes what goes around does actually come around if we just let it.

Be safe.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Faulty Contractors, Floods, Helping Others, Hydro power outage, Ice Storms, Life demands, Only child, Rain and wind storm