Tag Archives: Mom

Only Child – my health continues to eat my life

Saturdays are supposed to be days to relax – well maybe catch up on some errands and/or housework. But not for dealing with health issues. That is how I seem to spend most of my Saturdays and I end up cancelling right and left what I plan to do – including social comittments. At least my friend and I had decided (at the last minute) to go to Canada Blooms the other week on a Sunday.

Saturdays I drag myself around the house, trying to get some chores done, but lying down part of the time. If the weather is bad, I wouldn’t be doing errands anyway. But if I am to relax, to read, I want to feel good when I do. Not have aches and pains, etc. I do not want to be like my late mother in this way – constantly having lots of health problems and going to multiple doctors’ appointments simultaneously. At least my weight is now back up to normal – it went down on my abbreviated liquid and semi-liquid diets for a few days or so after both dental surgeries.

Except for the daily eyedrop dose for my glaucoma, and constantly dealing with IBS symptoms, I try to focus on one health issue at a time. This week it is my eyes – two appointments, the regular annual eye examination, one and half months late thanks to the dental issues. And the quarterly appointment with the eye specialist on Thursday.

I’m hoping both give me good reports, new glasses not needed this year (I can’t afford new ones anyway  – I’m still paying off dental bills and there are things that have to be repaired and replaced in and around the house this spring, which are not optional. Then there are the dreaded income taxes. Even living below or around the poverty level the government stills comes at you to pay taxes.) And also hoping the double-prescription eyedrops the specialist prescribed from a year ago, are still doing the job. That is one thing I make sure I do daily – squirt the eyedrops in my left eye.

But experience has taught me the hard way to not expect the best. When I do; when I take it for granted that things will be okay; when I go merrily along as if they will – SNAP – I GET A RUDE AWAKENING. Better to follow the Brownie motto – be prepared.

And shake my fist up at the sky.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, finances, God, Health, Health Seniors, Income Taxes, Life demands, Mother

Only Child on living with chronic pain

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

Chronic pain can effect people in many different ways. Some will wallow in no hope. Some will complain constantly. Some will ignore the pain (or try to) and get on with their life. Some will be martyrs. Some will overdue the positive to the point of near Pollyanna portions. Some will just pray. Spare me from the latter three.

I live in constant on and off again chronic pain from digestive tract illnesses  – abdominal pain, lower back pain, pain radiating down my legs. If I had to pick which of the above categories for dealing with it, it is a variation of “ignore the pain (or try to) and get on with their life.” I do try to get on with my life, to live my life. Call me stubborn, resentful of the disease, and call me angry. I think those qualities are what motivates me to get going, at least in part. But I am never grateful for all of this pIN and when I do my usual morning litany of gratitude and non-gratitude, the pain/my health (or lack thereof) goes into the latter.

I also remember my mother, her chronic pain, and what it did to her.

The last yea’s of my late mother’s life were filled with pain – her pain, physical pain. Daily. She had rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma. To add  insult to injury, both diseases were crippling and deforming physically. She was in and out of doctors’offices, in and out of hospital until the arthritis indirectly caused her death from a fall. The fall caused a brain aneurysm.

My mother wasn’t an anomaly. Many people, and not just seniors, live in constant pain from various diseases. I’m talking chronic pain, not just something temporary. And studies show that women, more than men, live this way. I’m not going into (this post, anyway) the causes for this, so those who wave the “blame the victim” flag about lifestyle choices, well, wave it quietly.

We who are in pain have to deal with this reality. Unlike my mother I have too much I want to live for ( some years yet, although I can’t see me doddering around much past 80), and I’ll be damned if I let pain stop me – if I can help it.

So, I try to alleviate the pain where I can but I won’t take opiates or any strong meds. The strongest I take is acetaminophen and I know it can damage your liver. But when you are trying to live in the present…you have to choose either now or a maybe later. I also try to eat healthy, although I’m not sure how much that helps if just eating supper can sometimes start the abdominal spasms. It’s not what I eat, but the fact that I eat. Taking the aforementioned acetaminophen and the natural tranquilizer Valerian, then just lying down, often gets rid of the pain. Sometimes a glass of white wine in the evening will help.

But there are all the outside factors that contribute – stress being the big one. What causes the stress – financial problems, house problems, weather (if there is a threat for water to get in the basement, for example), family and friend problems, computer problems. All these and more can cause stress and that doesn’t help.

How much of people’s pain is worsened by stress? And of course, the worry about the pain adds to the stress load. But you have to deal with it one way or the other. Those who say “just relax” are only postponing dealing with the pain. Those who say “pray” are expecting some other being to get rid of their pain. . I’ve tried both and neither works. I see the same around me and in the world.

So I try to grab the stress-inducing problems by the bull horns (no bull here) and try to solve them; sometimes I ask for help from others.

I love my late mother very much. But I am not her and I am not living her life.

You have to own your life – pain and all.

This is the way I feel right now. If I get ALS or MS or a few other diseases, I could change my mind.

I’ll end with some links on chronic pain, including some statistics and studies.

The Prevalence of Chronic Pain

Scleroderma from the Mayo Clinic

Women’s College Hospital Pain Clinic (disclaimer here: one of the doctors here  – Dr. Gil Faclier  – was instrumental in getting rid of 90 per cent of my migraines – back in the 1980s when he was a resident doctor, when this clinic was still at Sunnybrook Hospital).

Some alternative medicine info:

Chronic Pain in Depth: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Pain Management Alternative Care

I also get regular newsletters from the Mayo Clinic – the digestive newsletter and the Women’s Hospital monthly Women’s Health Matters newsletter.

And I walk a lot. And garden – although not much of that lately with winter rearing its ugly head. Doing creative things like cooking and writing, especially writing also help with the endorphins and taking you to a different level, to some enjoyment in life, some life purpose.

How do you deal with physical pain?

Cheers.

Sharon’

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Gratitude, Health, Life demands, Only child, Pain

Only Child stranded by public transit

Only Child and Mom

Only Child and Mom

When I was a child my late mother and I used to travel on Toronto’s public transit (TTC). We t00k buses, streetcars and the subway. It was like an adventure with Mom leading the way. I always felt when travelling with her we were good, and any problems that arose, she could fix them.

I wish Mom had been with me last Thursday when I ventured onto the TTC to an area I’ve only been to a couple of times before. These previous two times I returned home a different way from going there because I had errands to do. This time I wanted to come right home.

In preparation I did a trip planner on the TTC website. I might as well have mapped out a trip to Mars – the angry red planet – for all the good my planning did. And Mars would have been appropriate for some of what I felt when I finally returned home. The problems were caused by stupid bus drivers and even stupider bus schedules on the Woodbine C and D bus lines.

When I boarded the bus near my place I tried to verify with the driver that this Woodbine bus at some point goes all over Hell’s Half Acre in residential land instead of straight up to Lawrence Avenue. Bus driver verified that and told me to get off at Underhill. When I mentioned the trip planner online suggested another street beginning with “C” he had no clue. When the bus was arriving at Cardiff (voice and digital stop announcements are done electronically on Toronto buses), I rushed up to the front and told the driver “that’s the street.” His reply was how complicated it was to get to the stop going west on Lawrence as where I actually saw the bus stopped on Lawrence was going east (it appeared to be going west).

So, I stayed on to Underhill and got off. When I asked about getting on around here to return home he said I could get on at Underhill but it was better to stay on to Victoria Park and transfer there from the Lawrence bus. That was going out of my way and made no sense because it’s the Victoria Park bus line there and why would I want another bus change (and another transfer from the Victoria Park bus) to get home when the Woodbine bus was supposed to take me right home?

I noted tha on the south side of Lawrence the street was called Railside, and boarded the Lawrence East bus to my destination – the Toronto Botanical Gardens library to do some research for a personal essay. After that I walked back to Don Mills Road to the public library to pitch my writing workshops and crime writing talks to the librarian.

Then I walked to the nearest bus stop on the south side of Lawrence just east of Railside. Common sense told me that the Woodbine bus that turned up Underhill when I was going west, would come back that way and turn east on Lawrence. What goes up must come down.

Not exactly. I waited for almost half an hour. I talked to another woman waiting around and she said she thought the Woodbine bus came back down Underhill and turned left onto Lawrence.

Wrong!

Imagine my surprise and horror when I saw a Woodbine bus (C or D – couldn’t make that out on the front from the side) come barrelling down Underhill right across Lawrence and down Railside. It stopped at the stop just below Lawrence. I ran there – but I had  to cover part of a block on both streets and missed.

There was a map of sorts on the post at this Railside stop. Very confusing as it didn’t show where the Woodbine C and a B came back from Underhill and York Mills. A D bus  route was drawn in using broken lines – but only for the Railside portion. Times given for its arrival at “my” stop were only for rush hour and didn’t coincide with when the bus I missed had arrived.

I felt scared and alone. How was I to get home? I couldn’t afford a cab – even if one came by. None did. But several Woodbine C buses came by along Lawrence going west and turning north on Underhill. None of them came back.

The Woodbine D finally did (and not at the scheduled time) and I got on. I asked the driver  where does the C bus gets back to Lawrence.

He said “Cardiff.” The same bloody intersection where the C bus driver when I was going to the TGB library told me not to get off at. If I had, this would not have happened.

This D bus driver wasn’t all that knowledgeable either because when I asked him how often the D bus ran he said “I don’t know.”

And this D bus did get me home but not before going over to Victoria Park Ave. – which is not on the route going the other way. So I panicked and charged up to the front of the bus to make sure the bus was going to my stop. Now it was clear what the bus driver going had meant by taking the Lawrence bus back to Victoria Park. I have also noticed on previous Woodbine bus rides from the south end to my place that sometimes the bus drivers take 20 minute breaks at the south end. From what I can figure out, it’s not all their fault. It’s the wonky schedule.

Of course I put in an online complaint to the TTC, including the Woodbine bus schedules need overhauling so that routes going and coming travel the same way (well in reverse order to each other of course) to avoid confusion. Only exception would be extra rush-hour service (like the Railside diversion). And I suggested they fix the bus time schedules and the map signs at the stops.

Now if my mother had been there….

I’ll write in a future post about my experience at the Toronto Botanical Gardens library. Only good thing happening last Thursday.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Mother, Mother and Child, Only child, Public Transit, Toronto, Toronto public transit

Only Child on Seniors and Falls

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

My late mother had a few scary falls as she neared senior’s age and the short time after when she was still alive. I remember her falling going up the basement stairs. She was watching a TV show and they were offering a prize. You had to phone in right away to win. So Mom charged up the stairs.

Shortly after she had a phone extension put in downstairs.

But the really bad falls came after she got arthritis, particularly the last year of her life. She fell on the three steps at the entrance to her sister’s farmhouse. This was a new house, not some rambling old structure. The killing fall came a few months before her death. I was out with friends and when I came home she told me she had fallen off the vanity bench in her bedroom and banged her head.

Flash forward almost four months. One Saturday morning I got up – not early – and found no coffee on and Mom not even up. She was still in her bed and as we later learned in a coma. I called the family doctor who rushed over. He figured she’d had a stroke and called an ambulance. By that time my fiance had arrived and the two of us rode in the ambulance with Mom. The doctor followed.

Mom had a brain aneurysm so the doctors operated on her brain. She never came out of the coma and died five days later.

The official cause of death was brain aneurysm, but I know her falls from arthritis killed her.

Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees with my falls assessment. According to them, 2.5 million get treated in hospital emergency because they fell. Hip fractures aren’t just from old arthritic bones but 95 per cent of the time it’s a fall that causes the hip fracture.

Scary stuff. And I’m well on the way in the falling down department – even going back to soon after I moved back to Toronto. It seemed that every winter I fell outside – in slush, on ice. And I was in my early 50s then. Of course I complained to the city, to the Mayor, about the city workers not doing their job cleaning the streets and sidewalks property (one was at a major intersection).

Now, I’m falling in the summer. Tripping over paper hanging wire left by some careless jerk on the sidewalk. Even tripping over the large black walnuts dumped by squirrels in my lawn. For the latter I landed on soft grass and in a bed of black-eyed susans. But both the squirrels and the unknown jerk got cursed.

Inside the house I’ve fallen a few times, missing a step – on carpeted stairs. Then there is the bathtub. When I finally got my main handyman Mike here on Friday, I had him install two hand bars on the tub wall. And I will continue my practice of holding onto railings when going up and down stairs at home and in subway stations. Particularly the latter as my son fell down a few subway stairs and broke his ankle earlier in the summer. He is 37.

The CDC offers several tips to help prevent falls. Besides the bathroom bars, they also include getting your eyes tested annually (which I do), check for carpets you could trip over; check with your pharmacist for any medications you are taking that could make you sleepy or dizzy. And take extra Vitamin D. We don’t get enough in the nearly sunless winter months. I know that for a fact as three years ago I suffered from Vitamin D deficiency. Some days the pain in my bones was so bad I could hardly walk. I knew it wasn’t arthritis as the pain wasn’t in my joints but in my calf bones. Upping the Vitamin D dose a lot fixed that one.

So, you need to be vigilant about falls and possible causes. That won’t cover the weird like picture  hanging wire. Maybe the action here is to make sure you don’t just leave loose or carelessly throw something that someone could trip over.

God won’t necessarily have your back. That 95 per cent statistic proves that.

Read more of the CDC article at

http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Falls prevention, God, Health, Health Seniors, Mother, Old Age, Only child, Seniors, Seniors and falls, Vitamin D Deficiency, winter falls

Only Child looks at distraction causes

Only Child literally got a wake up call this morning

Only Child literally got a wake up call this morning

Lately I have moments of sudden distraction with upsetting results. My mind will run around in circles or be over-focused on a problem or an item on my to-do list. Then I go to do something you usually would do automatically. And I mess up.

The scary part is I am not aware of doing the automatic function incorrectly. Until it is done.

The latest was preparing to cook rice in my rice cooker. I had removed the inside pot to fill it with the rice and water. Instead I poured the rice and water into the main cooker. That is the part the instructions tell you not to immerse in water.

I discovered the mistake right away and dumped everything out. I dried the outside and inside of the rice cooker, scooped up what I could of the rice from its dumping point, washed it yet again. This time I put it and the water into the actual pot. Placed the pot into the rice cooker, put the lid on and plugged it in.

Some people would not take this chance of getting electrocuted or having the whole thing explode or burn. I was willing to do that because I was angry that this had happened and I didn’t want the hassle etc. of replacing the rice cooker. The cooker was also a gift a few years ago from my son. And being of “a certain age” I sometimes don’t care about consequences and just act.

I was also very hungry. And there may lie the problem. Hunger plus not enough sleep. Throw in too much to concern myself with and you have a cognitive behaviour alert. Not dementia – not yet anyway.

My late mother had a few of these “senior moments.” The one that sticks in my mind is when she hauled the bacon instead of the steak out of the freezer. She might have been heading for Alzheimer’s. It certainly runs on her side of the family – those with Strauss blood in their veins. But Mom died at 63 of a brain aneurysm so it was too soon to tell.

I have a lot of malnutrition problems cause by IBS and just getting older. As you age your digestive system can’t digest food as well as when you are younger. And don’t tell me to take digestive tablets. Tried that and while some may work for a few weeks, after that they register nil. So I have to eat small snacks in between meals. Often I forget or what sometimes happens I am running necessary errands which go into the supper time, mainly because of time and the time part often has to do with when the stores close. If a store closes at 7 p.m. you have to get their before and when you are working all day (albeit it from a home office) you tend to dash off doing those errands – some business related – before dinner. I also don’t like early evening meetings either unless they include dinner or large amounts of snack food that I can eat. (Gluten-free). I also haven’t been getting enough sleep because of too much to do and sleep can also play havoc with your cognitive abilities. I got my wake-up call (literally) on that one this morning when I woke up 45 minutes late because I had forgotten to set the alarm. Obviously that is the length of time I need to sleep (although I felt groggy when I first got up until after a couple cups of java). When I got up this morning is too late for workdays, so I will have to go from the other end – get to bed sooner, which means something has to be done about that end of the “to do” list.

As for the rice cooker, I kept my attention on it and the cooker seemed to work fine and cooked my rice. Of course it was less rice and I hadn’t put the right amount of water in it. But when I added the steamer of vegetables that part also worked.

Now excuse me while I tackle more of the work part of my “to do” list. This afternoon I’m teaching a crafting a short story workshop at the library and I need time to eat lunch after I do a couple more things.

Any of you have similar experiences? What caused them? And what did you do?

Please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Health Seniors, Malabsorption, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Time, Time management

Only Child gets her house in order – literally

Some of Only Child's house-cleaning tools.

Some of Only Child’s house-cleaning tools.

Part of my “delete project” includes sprucing up the house as I go along. You can’t just ditch stuff (into recycling or repurposing or the garbage) without cleaning up where they used to be. Or you can take it the other way around and in the process – ditch stuff.

It is also amazing what you will find.

This past weekend I decided I just had to do something about the wooden oak floor in the front hall, living room and my office (formerly the dining room) plus the laminated wooden floor in the kitchen. The former three looked a little scruffy – what you coul see. So I decided to do something my late mother seldom did – move the furniture to clean. (Mother’s idea was to vacuum and dust if company were coming and maybe a few times in between).

No company coming here but after seeing the shiny wooden floors at my cousins when on holidays last month my shabby floors looked terrible. True their wooden floors aren’t oak and are much newer but…

So I pulled out the chesterfield and found two pens, a cat toy, and dirt. So I got to work – removing the items, vacuuming and mopping and then using one of those Swifter-like mops (the ones with the bottle attached to put in water and in my case, Murphy’s Oil) all over the floors in the living room, my office, front hall and kitchen.

What a difference.

And when you physically cleanse something, it also helps cleanse your mind. You feel a combination of relief, satisfaction and “hey, my house now looks good.”

At least it does with me. It also frees me up to do something I have been wanting to do for awhile – another sort of delete.

More on that in another post.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Clutter, Home and Garden, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child clears the clutter

Only Child in part f her office where it is neat and tidy

Only Child in part of her office where it is neat and tidy

One of my friends is on the big paper purge at her place. She is doing it full time. I may get in a few minor sorting jobs – such as old magazines weekday evenings. However, I concentrate on bigger purges in my “spare time” on weekends  when I dig a little more into eliminating the clutter at my place. Weekends before garbage collection, I focus on “garbage,” and weekends before recycling I hit the paper “collection.” The latter and some electronic stuff are the bulk of my physical clutter. The rest have been purged over many years.

A lot of this paper pileup is old journalism stories (notes for published and unpublished story ideas). I don’t need all this anymore, especially as I no longer write feature stories – my writing focus is fiction, memoir, personal essays, and book reviews. Most of the first two is in book form. The other paper clutter is old editing client files. The delay with both (besides my time problems) is for safety and security reasons as you can’t just pitch it all into the recycling bin. So I rip them up – faster than shredding and I can’t afford to have one of those big shredder companies in a big truck come here to do the job.

My criteria for rip and dump is based on my late mother’s when we were downsizing from house to apartment. She tore me away from reading an Agatha Christie mystery novel to downstairs where she had big cartons of paper sitting on the laundry room floor. She pointed to the one with my school stuff and asked, “What do you want to keep here?”

I’ve changed her criteria slightly to “What do I still need here?

When that weekend’s clearing job is done, I look at the de-cluttered areas and feel like a weight has been removed. I’m not fighting files in a drawer (well, that drawer anyway). I have to keep going back to look at the emptiness and cleanliness. I’ve also learned that de-cluttering has another function for me.

Cleaning and de-cluttering even small areas of my place gives me some control. That is especially welcome when I have very little control over all the crap coming at me – house repairs and replacements that I can’t afford – the labour let alone the parts. I’ll be hitting some of the little left in the RRSPs this spring for money to pay for the most urgent repairs and replacements. Then there is my time. With no partner, time and money are barely there some days.

I’m really tired of having to do and organize everything myself (and pay for it too). So, a little bit of clearing the clutter goes a long way to give me back some control of an environment out of control.

The latter also means weather but that’s a topic for another post.

Comments on what clearing your clutter does for you?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Clutter, Home and Garden, Living alone, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management