About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Monday, April 26, 2010


What an Opportune week to land on the letter O! Monday morning my DL had his operation for cOlOn cancer and I'm here to report that all seems well so far. Our worst worries were that the cancer might have spread (it doesn't appear to have done so) and he might have needed an Ostomy bag (he didn't). The surgeon told me that it was a simple resection and that he'll be in the hospital for at least 5 days.
This past month has been fraught with emOtion for bOth of us. At first DL said he wasn't going to have the Operation, but later, of course, changed his mind. I guess that was "denial." Then he started pushing people away from himself - he wouldn't talk to me or his friends and sunk into a deep Overwhelming depression. He believed he was going to die and was preparing himself for the absolute worst scenariO. Although I tried to stay Optimistic, which is my nature, that just frustrated and angered him. He finally began to Open up a bit to me and admitted that he was terrified that he would not wake up from the anaesthetic. He slOwly began to listen and accept that everything would be Okay in the lOng run. I was nOt going to leave him to die alOne and I promised that I would not mOther him when he gets hOme.
What I'm hOping for nOw is that DL will take this, do I dare say "adventure," as an Opportunity to find a pOsitive meaning for his life, will take stOck of whO he is and what he wants to accOmplish during the rest of his time alive. I truly hOpe he will take a good lOOk at his values and priOrities and identify sOme changes he'd like to make.
I knOw that fOr myself, I've taken stOck of my priOrities and a big wedding is definitely nOt necessary. I think it's important to cOmmunicate better with each Other and share Our innermOst and fundamental beliefs. I am very spiritual whereas DL believes the end is simply that - the end. One evening, he Opened up and wept that he would never hear music again when he dies. I had the mOst wOnderful OppOrtunity to tell him that Heaven is FULL of music and he was going to be in for a big surprise! It's mOments like these that can help give someone the strength to go on and cOpe with the difficulty of dealing with such a hOrrendous disease.
I'm hOping that DL will become more Open to hearing about an everlasting life full of music and lOve. One day, he will come to realize just how many people - all Over the wOrld - have been praying for him to Overcome this disease and move on to live the rest of his life to the fullest.
If he doesn't, see that mallet in the cartOOn?
To find out more about colon cancer, please click here.

I'd also like to thank everyOne whO sent up prayers and gOOd thoughts for us bOth - friends in Canada, the USA, England, Wales, and even Australia! God is gOOd...

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself" -Matthew 6:34

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

N is for Novels and Novelists

My news lately has been so nasty that I decided to tell you how I've been coping with the nausea caused by all the stress - by reading books by my favourite novelists.
The first is Ken Follett, a Welshman who is well known for his spy novels. You might recall his first Novel, Eye of the Needle, which was made into a movie starring Kate Nelligan and Donald Sutherland. Another of my favourites from Ken Follett is On Wings of Eagles, the true story of how two employees of Ross Perot were rescued from Iran during the revolution of 1979. This book was made into a miniseries with Richard Crenna as Ross Perot and Burt Lancaster as Colonel 'Bull' Simons.
Because Ken Follett was so well known for the spy genre, his fans were surprised when he came out with Pillars of the Earth in 1989. I read this book while I was recuperating from back surgery last year and found it full of strong women characters, suspense, and intrigue. The Novel is about building a cathedral during the Middle Ages and it received rave reviews. It was on the No. 1 position on reading lists in Canada, Great Britain, and Italy as well as being on the German best-seller list for six years! The sequel, World Without End, published in 2007, takes place two hundred years later and features descendants of the original characters. At the heart of the story is the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race: the plague known as the Black Death, which killed something like half the population of Europe in the fourteenth century. The people of the Middle Ages battled this lethal pestilence and survived – and, in doing so, laid the foundations of modern medicine. The book is on my desk at this moment, but I plan to read it over the summer while lazing in the garden. And the other great news is that it, too, is being made into a miniseries starring Donald Sutherland as Bartholomew.

My other favourite Novelist is Phillippa Gregory, who lives on a small farm in Yorkshire, England where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. She was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the Novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Now, six Novels later, she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.
With a keen interest in all things British, I truly enjoy reading her Novels about King Henry VIII and his six wives along with her other Novels that take place in Medieval England. So far I have devoured not only The Other Boleyn Girl but also her Wideacre Trilogy (Wideacre, The Favoured Child, and Meridon), The Wise Woman, The Queen's Fool, The Boleyn Inheritance, and The Virgin's Lover. Currently, I am about halfway through The White Queen. I would dare to say that Pillippa Gregory's Novels are more interesting to women than to men, but who knows? Maybe some men read her books.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Banishing the Blues

I spent some time at Vancouver's Van Dusen Gardens today after lunching with my two sisters. The sun was shining and it was warm enough to not need a jacket. I'm quite pleased with the results of my photographing many of the Spring flowers outside the gardens. It gave me a renewed spirit of hope that life is beginning to bloom again.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Struggling With Sadness

I've been feeling so overwhelmed for the past month that I find tears flowing down my face far too often. DL is feeling his own fear and desperation that he won't survive the big C and is, as a result, pushing his loved ones away. Not just me, but also his closest friends. I try to accomodate him but when he snaps at me, I find myself snapping back.
Today I remembered that I'd written about sadness quite a long time ago, so went into my archives to find it. Surprisingly, it's been exactly three years - do we have cycles of sadness in our lives? Anyway, I read it over and it made me cry again, but please do read it because the tears were not of sadness anymore. The story gives me hope.


Once upon a time there was a little woman who walked along the dusty field-path. She was quite old yet her steps were light and springy and her smile had the fresh glow of a carefree girl. She stopped at a cowered figure and looked down. She couldn’t recognize much.The being that sat in the dirt on the path seemed to be almost bodiless. She reminded her of a grey flannel blanket with human shape.
The little woman bent a little forward and asked: ”Who are you?” Two almost lifeless tired eyes looked up towards her. “Me? I am the Sadness”, whispered the voice haltingly and softly, almost too soft to hear.“Oh, the Sadness!” said the woman pleased as if she would greet an old friend.
“You know me?” asked the Sadness mistrusting.
“Of course I know you! You accompanied me every once in a while over and over again on parts of my path.”
“Yes, but…” said the Sadness suspiciously, “why don’t you run away from me? Aren’t you afraid?”“Why should I run from you, my dear? You know very well yourself that you catch on with everybody who tries to get away from you. But, what I wanted to ask you: “Why do you look so discouraged?”“I am … sad”, replied the grey figure with broken voice.
The little woman sat down at her side. “So, you are sad”, she said and nodded with understanding. “Tell me what bothers you.”
The Sadness sighed deeply. Was there really someone who would like to listen to her this time? How often did she wish for that to happen.
“You know”, she started hesitantly and very astonished, “it’s just that nobody actually likes me. It is my destiny to visit humans for a while but when I show up they are scared of me. They are afraid of me and try to avoid me like the plague.”The Sadness swallowed some tears. “They invented phrases that they try to ban me with. They say things like: “Nonsense, I can’t be sad. Life is always bright and fun.” And their fake smiles give them stomach cramps and they have a hard time breathing. They say: “Praise is what makes us tough,” and then they end up with heartache. They say, “One just has to put it all together and suck it up!” and then they feel all kinds of aches and pains in their shoulders and their backs. They say: “Only weak people cry!” and the banked up tears almost make their heads burst. Or they try to numb themselves with alcohol or drugs so that they don’t have to feel me.”
“Oh yes”, confirmed the old woman, “I’ve met people like that before.”
The Sadness turned even sadder… “But all I want is to help humans. When I am very close to them they can face themselves. I help them build a nest to cuddle up in to take care of their wounds. Somebody who is sad has very thin skin. Old sorrows surface again like a bad healed wound and that can hurt a lot. But who is able to face their grief and sorrow and cries? All the uncried tears can truly make their wounds heal. People don’t want me to help them though. Instead they put on a flashy smile on top of their scars. Or they put on a heavy shield of bitterness”.
The Sadness was silent now. Her crying at first was weak, then it became stronger and finally it was very desperate.
The little, old woman hugged her, caressed the shaky bundle and thought to herself how soft and gentle Sadness felt. “Cry, Sadness, let your tears flow”, she whispered full of love, “Rest so that you can gather your strength back. From now on you shall not wander all by yourself. I will join you so that discouragement and despair can’t take over anymore.”The Sadness quit crying. She looked her new companion straight in the eyes: “But, but who are you?”
“Me?” said the old lady with a smile on her face and then she laughed again like a carefree young girl.“I am HOPE.”
I have to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel, or else that fear of the unknown will just cripple me. I just have to let go and let God.

Monday, April 12, 2010

M is for Medicine

It's hard to believe we're halfway through Round 6 of ABC Wednesday! Yet here we are at the letter M already...and I've decided to focus on the word medicine this week. It seems as if we've done nothing but do the rounds to general practictioners, surgeons, oncologists, medical labs for blood workups and CT scans, nurses, anaesthesiologists, and others who will help us deal with things from a psychological point of view.

I'm struggling to maintain my sense of humour, weird as it may be, but it's the only way I can deal with all that's happening to my DL. He is having a terrible time coping right now and I guess it's normal for him to go through these stages. First there was denial, then weeping, and then anger. He's been pushing his loved ones away stating that he'll handle this on his own. Now we all know that's impossible. But for now, we let him alone to absorb this terrific impact.

Medicine has come a long way from the days of witch doctors and grasses, roots, and herbs to the current technological advances. There was a day not too long ago in the past when one would simply accept the word "cancer" as a death sentence. Now, not so much. So many types of cancers are literally curable and most can be treated so that the patient can continue with as normal a lifestyle as possible. Yet we still panic when we hear the C word and are told surgery is scheduled April 26th. (Note: see how quickly you get in when it's something urgent!)
I don't deny that I will not be able to breathe a sigh of relief until about two weeks post-surgery when we will (hopefully) hear the words "It hasn't spread. You'll be fine without further treatment." Maybe those words will be a wakeup call to take better care of ourselves. But if we hear anything other than those words, we will need to make the best of what time is left for us and live day by day.

In the meantime, I believe I've heard an expression that goes something like this: Laughter is the best medicine.
To see more contributions to ABC Wednesday, just click here.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

L is for Lorazapam

Lorazepam, also known at Ativan, is a drug that is approved to treat anxiety. The drug is thought to work in the brain by enhancing the effects of a chemical in the body that is naturally calming. As a result, lorazepam is able to reduce anxiety, cause sleepiness and relax muscles, among other things.

Last week, I mentioned that knowledge is power and that we're going to arm ourselves with as much knowledge about cancer as possible in order to fight accordingly. However, that said, no one ever told me that the shock and worry would hit me like a brick bat! My blood pressure has shot up to 160/90, making me lightheaded and dizzy with a head that feels as though it's going to explode. After seeing the doctor on Saturday to make sure I wasn't having a stroke, I came home to bed, silently weeping so as not to worry my DL. D2 happened to phone for something and I asked her if she had any tranquilizers in her arsenal of drugs. She did, so when DL realized how distraught I was, he whipped out right away to pick them up. One .5 mg of lorazapam did the trick and I was able to doze for a while and get up for a late supper.

I think I'm over the first of the shock, but next come two appointments with a surgeon and an oncologist - Thursday and Friday. Perhaps more tests and/or CT scans or an MRI plus surgery within the next few weeks. We've postponed our late September wedding, but are hoping that the honeymoon trip we booked will still be a possible recuperation trip instead. If not, I have cancellation insurance and we'll just go from there.

I had breakfast this morning with an old friend who went through this same problem two years ago. It was so gratifying to hear how well she's doing, and that she didn't need chemo or radiation. She also told me that it was almost harder on her husband than on herself because as the loved one, you feel so helpless.

I've also found that it is times like this that one's true friends rise to the challenge. And I think I've found my sense of humour again, too.