Monday, 24 November 2014

Christmas promised

Trying to get a breath is my whole life now.  Trying to stay calm enough, unanxious enough to keep from collapsing completely.  A thought can start a chain reaction of physical events that rapidly lead to panic, hyperventilation and other delightful things. So far so good.  Bad thing is though that any movement now leaves me drained and on the edge of collapse.  Lifting a hand without thinking and planning will do it now.  I do what I can when I can. 

I am close to stopped.  I really can't stop.

My house is a feels a lot bigger and impossible to maintain properly now.  

We see 3 people regularly in the month.   They don't forget us.  Our angels.

Nicole labours too hard and nobody but I cares.  I can't do anything to help her.  She smiles, supports me. loves me.  Every day she takes on more as I fade away.  I love her so much.  Everyday she is more and more alone as I need time to answer a question, to recover breath to speak.   

We are broke.  Fairly sure I will die before we loose the house.  We keep the mortgage current, so that is one fine bet!  The house is for Nicole.  It is enough to give her a little nest egg for her next life. Worrying about a few hundred bucks every month sucks and there are times it pisses me off and times it disappoints me.  

I don't answer the phone anymore.  I check voice mail once in a while.  

I had a CT scan two weeks ago.  I see Dr A at the Jewish on Dec 9. I may get the results from last summers echocardio done by the transplant docs and the CT results.  Two possible transplant showstoppers.  I don't feel very positive about my chances anymore.  I suspect a lot of what I am experiencing comes from a failing heart.  The symptoms are similar in a lot of ways.  I have sharp pains in the chest now when I push hard.  

I am happy.  Love is all, it is not just words.  I have endless love from Nicole.  We do not cry, mourn nor spend time being sad.  We laugh a lot, we play with our kitties and we ignore the brutal reality of my disease and the current state of our lives.   

I still like to say I make dinner every day but there are days I simply cannot.  There are days now that |I cant dress myself, where I spend the day on my recliner lungs refusing to work enough to let me push.  

I will keep pushing.  I will keep loving.  I will keep living as long as I can fight this disease.  I had to tell Nicole that the time where I can't fight, can't move is getting closer.  She will let me go when we get there.  I promised her I would be here for Christmas and I suspect I will be.  Right now I hope she doesn't ask for a renewal of the promise.  

I spend days inside my mind.  Playing games.  Thinking.  Being free of this horrible disease.  Not dwelling on the obvious.  Not at all!  For that I am thankful.  

Wish me luck.   Love.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Postcard from the edge

I gained a little weight finally, enough to be where I need to be. There are no signs of any pulmonary infections.  I am not coughing as much and I don't get into trouble very often.  I am able to manage 30 mins on the treadmill at 2 mph, most of the time without stopping for a rest.  I walked to the stores with Nicole on Sunday and even walked home up the hill.  It was nice but very hard. I guess I am about as on track as I could be.  Still, it gets harder every day.  More SOB faster, even at rest.  Thoughts and emotions count too.  The physical response is rather startling.  Just thinking stressful stuff can do it.  Anything and everything does it, constantly.  It is very boring, really.

Mentally I am not so great.  In terms of being sick and all that icky stuff I am ok still.  We are managing fine with that.  Watching Nicole have to do things because we don't get help is hard and discouraging.  Not having things like a little railing on the steps after a couple of years of asking, not having the money to fix it. Somebody is going to get hurt and there is nothing I can do about it.  

Everything financial is fucked up.  I need counsel but am afraid to go talk to the bank for obvious reasons.  We probably are ok on a balance sheet but nothing works currently.  I feel entirely incapable of dealing with this stuff, it makes me sick.  

Every damn word I write today I have to think of the consequences, of other people's feelings.  This is bloody absurd!  Why must I do this to myself?  I can write about this but I can't write about that. I can tell you about this pain but not that one.  

I have not told the doc about the daily prednisone, I just do it.  I need to call a bunch of people today to keep things working.  I probably wont.   I will exercise.  I will be happy.  I will live.  

Just write, Russell.  

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

October my my time races on

It has been a month since I posted so its time.  I have been feeling reasonably ok.  I am short of breath even at rest now, but, my rehab skills are still working reasonably well.  I have had no setbacks, no new infections.  I take 15 mg of prednisone daily and that is keeping both my appetite and my energy up.  I eat more than I have ever eaten in my life.  I cant gain weight though.  At least I am maintaining around 110.  Not quite good enough for transplant but within ten pounds.  I could still force myself to get protein supplements going, but I will hold off a bit.  

Emotionally I am ok.  When I focus on here and now all is well. When I dwell on things I can't control, less so.  

I am at peace with the world.  No ghosts.  No hauntings.  My course is a true one.

Nicole gets stronger, more awesome by the day.  I gave her full power of attorney two weeks ago.  

Lunch today with the boys.  

I miss G+.  I miss you peeps.  I will come out of my cave now.

I go to these places in my mind and stay awhile.

I used to worry and fret about the effects of the of my slightest actions.  I dont anymore. 

Now is for me.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014


I have so much to tell you but the moments are far too much fun to be able to stop a minute and write thoughts down.  

The wonder, bliss, joy does not go away.  It intensifies.  Nicole feeds it constantly.  She sees!  She understands!  Such wonders, I tell you, fill my universe, every moment magnificent.  

I stepped out of my circle maneuver yesterday long enough to call a notary.  The experience was a pleasant surprise.  Putting my affairs in order and leaving Nicole in the best position possible will only cost a few hundred dollars and be painless.  The moment of my incapacitation she will have full control of our assets and my fate. She knows what to do.  My world is Nicole.  Everything is Nicole. If anyone out there thinks it was ever something other than Nicole, you are mad.  Nicole.  

I see her so clearly now.  I understand her now.  She made me.  She showed me.  By example. Nothing else  With a smile.  Blessed Nicole.  Unconditional love.  This is heaven.  We are one.  I thank you Ma Belle for everything!  

I am stronger today than yesterday physically.  I work out mornings with great joy.  My body is still magnificent!  I play.  I stay in my tub afternoons, hours at a time, trying to think of a reason to get out, and cannot, so I refill and stay.  Spoiled rotten :)

My doctors want cookies.  No kidding.  They fully approve.  Dont even try to guess which.  I eat a lot of cookies.  I keep laughing and smiling and working and doing and playing and stuff.  Some day soon all sick people will eat cookies. They help make it way bearable for me at least.  

I love this ride to bits!  I am really becoming as a child again.  Why fight that?  Once a man, twice a child.  It is the way.  I might even get a bloody restart with fresh lungs!  Common now.  I don't suffer, I don't have pain, I am not afraid in the slightest, I am having a blast each and everyday just movin and groovin and being.  Doctors orders!  Perspective baby.  Get some.  So much love, kitties, such stuff you would not believe.  All day everyday.  Right there!  Oh man, every sunrise I tell ya!

I think I will make it to spring.  I think my heart is ok enough.  I think the cancer thing is no biggie.  Thing is though, I never think about those things.  Ever.  I had to concentrate quite hard to formulate the idea to write it actually.  No control . Butterfly.

Don't be scared!  I know its hard, but don't be.  

I am doing just fine.  Nicole's got it best she can.


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Chill day

Have been taking prednisone for about two weeks now.  I did one burst of ten days, tapered dose starting at 50 mg down to 5 mg then stop.  The stop lasted two days and I started to feel poorly again. Superman was not in sight.  So, I followed the new action plan that calls for 50 mg for five days followed by five days of 25 mg.  Half way through that now.  I feel okish but now I need to be very careful about pred dependency, too soon.  This very well may be a silly notion cause everything is pretty much now, now. The deep long lasting infection was not killed by the avelox.  It was beat up though.  I have virtually no voice and burning sensation deep in my lungs.  It's still there.  Today I better write my nurse, advise and get council.  This is no time to screw up or make guesses.  I do feel alright, considering.  I do not feel or think of myself as sick most of the time.  The therapy and training is paying off huge.  I do not exceed my capacity, unconsciously I seem to monitor this all of the time, and that lets me be blissfully unaware of my broken body.  

So why do I feel so blissful lately?  It is both simple and complex, but mostly simple I recon now.  I made many poor choices, seemingly,  in my life.  I always thought that.  I strove hard to understand why all of my life, an understanding that eluded me.  I live an examined life, I always question myself, my motives.  

I believe now that I did one thing right, one thing perfectly without ever realizing I was.  It was the big one though.  The really important one.  The one thing you need to be to find the peace you knew at the beginning.  Complete the circle.  

I was true to myself.  Always.  Never once did I waver through my entire life.  I could not.  This was my saving grace.

It also ruined many things.  Lack of compromise does that.  

I would have screwed it up had I known. :)

I got my headaches this morning, we all do.  Mostly I am over the moon with joy.  I was up again today waiting for the dawn of a rainy day.  Awesome.

I gained ten pounds in a week, almost back to what I have to be, around 115 to 120.  

I am eating huge.  Drinking huge.  Moving huge.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014


When I left the hospital last week I was in a state of shock.  While I have long known that my disease could strike me down more or less any time, I was not really prepared nor expecting the meeting that Nicole, I, my Dr and care nurse had.  It was blunt and it left me reeling somewhat for about a day.  

Full acceptance of your impending death is not a straightforward process as I have found out over the last year or so.  Being told that I have arrived at the end, and that extraordinary effort is required to sustain life for another six months is surreal and at first, terrifying.  Transplant dreams. Dreams of life. The terror, the fear was short lived. Hours.  I knew. I know. Nicole knows. Digested.

I woke up the next morning so early!  The next one too, and all of them since.  I doubt it will ever change now. I bounce out of bed. Alive!  I have finally found heaven.  I am in it.  Here. Now.  All around.  This is it. 

How about that, eh?  I am rich beyond all measure.  I have no regrets.  I have made all the amends my soul requires me to make. I faced my demons. I am immensely proud of the man my life produced. There is no bullshit in the place I live in now.  If I was not at peace now I would be immensely fucked.  The demons would be tearing at me, waiting to consume me.  Ha farking Ha.
Peace and light.  No sign of anything but laughter love and the immense circle of life in my mind and outside my window.  That is all there is!!

 Bill dudes, go away.  Harsh not my mellow I care not.  Equity we got.  When I get around to floating over that way I will take a look, maybe.  Really :)   

I feel good.

I called a couple of people today to come and visit.  They both said sure, next month!  Wow, eh?  Whats a next month? lol

Love love love

short bursts of words and thoughts for a few days

Nicole and I are beaming in our little home looking at the meadow loving cats and each other to bits  xoxoxoxoxoxo

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Scarey Place

Yesterday was something else entirely. I went to the Jewish to see my pneumologist and my support nurse.  There was a very frank discussion, all the cards on the table.

The end of this journey is far closer than I wish it was.  It is all in my hands now.  Do I have the will to keep going or not is the only question now.  

I accept it and will try with everything I have, everything I can do. I will not stop moving and trying.

I dont know what the results were from the echocardio last month at Notre Dame. I thought I might have the results yesterday but they are not in yet. Notre Dame might or might not call me back over it.  Does not really matter though. Next spring is the time I might get through that window and get new lungs.  Not before.

My weight is dangerously low.  We started dealing with that yesterday.

I am having some kind of exacerbation, an infection somewhere, and am on the avelox and pred now.  The drs say I handle my action plan well and they loaded my scripts up again.  If I am still in this state in a few days or if it gets worse I call and we try to figure out what to do.

Nicole and I made sure we are on the same page regarding resuscitation, intubation and all those unpleasant things. There is an urgency now about seeing a notary or a lawyer and give Nicole my share of the house, give her power of attorney over my affairs. Money we don't have but somebody just wont get paid.
I need to do this ASAP.  Not asking for any here just writing as it is.

I had a bad nights sleep.  I woke up knowing I had to write and get out of the state of mind I was visiting.  I am ok.  I knew everything already.  Its a good thing to have it up front and easy to see. Work to live. Don't do the work and die very very quickly.  Work hard and if you are lucky you might stay alive long enough for the miracle.

I am ready to fight for my life with everything I have.  I am fighting.

I need a few more days I think to digest this and get refocused. 


Sunday, 10 August 2014


The last five or six weeks have been full of difficulties. None on their own serious.  All of a sudden my lungs became far less elastic, I can feel it.  This caused me to run into serious breathing difficulties virtually all the time, from any movement, any emotion.

At first I did not understand what was happening to me.  I did become quite afraid for a period of weeks.  Fortunately I did not get depressed, not in the slightest.  I am more thankful for that than anyone will ever be able to understand. 

I adapted to slowing down even more. Glacial.  I never stopped moving, doing.  Not one day.  Doing that was the hardest thing I have ever done.  I know I have to keep moving.  I will die within weeks if I stop.  I just know it. 

We kept cheerful, laughing all the bloody time at everything.  Everything. 

I had to withdraw into myself.  Focus all my energy on me here and now.  Hence the silence. 

A week or so ago I had a flash back from pulmonary rehab that I think has given me a lot more time.  Enough time.  I am now virtually certain I am going to be on the lung transplant list, fast tracked, sometime next spring.  I have already been called back to Notre Dame.

The trick I remembered was ratings.  One through ten chart.  How breathless are you at this instant? 

I remembered the drills.  I bought in wholesale.   I conditioned myself over a few weeks.

There is a tiny part of my brain that knows the number.  One through five keep going.  At seven, stop in place.  At eight go sit down for twenty minutes.  Past eight and your are fucked, and maybe on your way to the hospital in an ambulance. 

Easy peasy!

Back to work.  Back to being in control. 


Doctors week this week.  Feeling quite poorly today and for the first time since January I will invoke action plan and hit the prednazone.   I am about one hundred pounds.  Hitting the fats now.

Love everybody  

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Is it July already?

The last couple of weeks have been eventful, full of good stuff, with a bit of bad, and, some just plain weird tossed into the mix. 

The bloody disease is working hard to finish it's awful work. Today, I feel as good as I could possibly feel, and it still feels good enough to want to go on, but, I have so little capacity, so little energy, less than I ever imagined could be possible. The control I have over all expenditure of energy is quite amazing actually. The down side is optimum quality of life means do not move quickly, move slowly and methodically, do not use energy faster than it takes to recover it back. Do not try to move five feet "normally", you will be so out of breath that passing out, collapsing your lungs or having a heart attack are all real possibilities. If you moved those five feet while trying to cross a street, too bad. When your energy runs out it runs out instantly, not like in past life. It Is Instantaneous, there is no reserve. You are going down. There is being scared for no good reason and there is scared for a good reason. I avoid going out at all without support, now.  Outside my home is too far to go.  I cannot.  It would be the most stupid thing I could possibly do. 

I imagine I am having some difficulty in adjusting to the changes.

Wayne and Wilson took me out for lunch last Wed.  It was great.

The Saturday before, I saw my nieces for the first time in a long time. It was lovely. They know I always love them, and I could feel that they love me and Nicole, too. There were hurtful events surrounding that visit, but, nothing to do with them. That's just the way it is, I guess.

Wayne arranged for a club mate of his to come and pick me up on Sunday so I could spend the afternoon at Pointe Claire LBC. It was nice but a bit bittersweet. I have been away for a couple of years now, there are a lot of new people I don't know and a lot of the folks I played with and against for two decades are gone. Very bittersweet indeed. Monday, yesterday, I slept and curled up on the couch with a blanket. All that activity left me wasted. 

Friday last was my second visit to the lung transplant mecca, Notre Dame Hospital. I had an echocardiogram scheduled. I did not get results, but, the attending Doctor said in passing that things looked pretty good.  I think she knew what she was doing.  Everbody knows that a requisition from Dr. Poirier has to do with a lung transplant. So, I am hopeful, but a little more scared of the process and it becomes more concrete and more likely.

I really do not know how to deal with losing my independence. The prospect keeps me looking everywhere but where I ought to be looking.

I have neglected G+ for weeks. Ostrich syndrome.  I am out of the moment.  


Monday, 23 June 2014

The way it are today

Nicole and I quietly celebrated our 28th anniversary on Saturday. I made us a nice dinner and dessert. 

Notre Dame Hospital called me last week. I am going to have an echocardiogram there on July 4th. This is probably one of the two hurdles I have to get over if I am to get the lung transplant before it is too late. The other being a CT scan next April that shows no growth on that thingie in my left lung. So far so good. With the echocardiogram, at Notre Dame the heart decision will be rendered shortly. It is or it is not strong enough.  Be nice to find out. Maybe I actually will.

The last month has sucked both mentally and physically. I am weaker, less able to do things, get drained faster and more completely and it takes longer to recover. I can literally feel my lungs, deflated and spasming trying to get up again. So far they always do, sorta.  This is the new normal. There is no infection.  I feel somewhat angry and very alone. 

Spending far too much time worrying about friends, family and my blog.  I need to overcome this. I think you are supposed to die with nothing left unsaid.  I hate myself, sometimes, for self censoring my very thoughts as though they were toxic. 

I will get back to writing. I will find my direction. I will not die politely. Maybe the next time someone asks me "how are you", I will tell the truth. 


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Quebec recently passed a law making physician assisted suicide legal. 

The step they took brings me immense relief. 

I can keep living a good life and not dwell on the mechanics of how to end my suffering when the time comes.

This is a good thing.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


Thank you to the Montreal & the Toronto Police Departments.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Rocky Raccoon

Nicole heard the shrill screams and cries when she was doing some work in the garage. The sound drew her to the double sliding windows at the back of the house.  In between the windows was a little terrified raccoon.  Nicole came upstairs and told me in horror about what she had just seen, it was 10:30 in the morning. We went outside and had a look, and, indeed the raccoon was not stuck, but he was trying to find some kind of shelter. We did not know yet that he could not see nor walk, that would take many hours to realize.  Our first instinct was to leave him be, to wait until his mother came for him.  He seemed uninjured.  We waited. He screamed, he cried. He got out from between the windows, and he moved around a bit as you would think a newborn raccoon would. He really could not walk. He moved by pulling with his claws, rolling himself. It was slow and agonizing to watch.  His loud screams and cries lasted for five hours. It was driving us out of our minds to stand back and wait, but the only thing we knew was that we had to do that. We had to give the mother a chance.

Around 2 or 3 pm the little raccoon stopped moving and he stopped crying. He was collapsed in the grass, unmoving, under a little table in the center of my yard. We still waited with heavy hearts. I went out to get a close up look at him. He did not move when I approached, nor did he react very much when I touched him, though it was clear he was alive. He was surrounded by a swarm of green bottle flies, hovering and fighting to get on to him. By then I had researched what to do and I took our first step towards helping him. We got a small box and a blanket, the box small enough for his mother and placed him in it, wrapped up loosely so he could warm up and still breathe, be protected from the flies, and, it would still be easy for mother to fetch him out if she showed up. We moved him to the side of the house, where it was quieter and more sheltered. There were no more cries. 

At 5:30 Nicole and I could stand it no longer. I had been online through the afternoon researching and chatting with a few people who had answered my post asking for help or advice, most notably +Susan Gabriel , and it was time for us to make a call. Mother was or was not coming back. We took him in and removed him from nature, or we did not. Either way whatever we did would be the right call as long as we stepped up and ended his suffering. I have a couple of friends, older guys, people who grew up on farms and they told me to dispatch it or to bring it to be euthanized. They are as kind and humane as we are. They would not turn their backs on someone or something in trouble in front of them. They also believe that if it happens in front of you, you own it. You walk away, turn your back you are worthless and inhumane. You step up cause it's yours. We took a different, but no more humane route. 

Once we had decided he was coming in and we were going to try to save him, I hit up the neighbours for help. The young family across the street who I was sure would be delighted to have the three teenage daughters participate had no time. They were on the way to the pool in the backyard. The hypocritical born again empty shell two doors down offered to arrange for jesus to fix shit up.  When I told him that jesus wanted him to get in his fucking car and drive Nicole to the pharmacy for formula and a bottle the living POS blessed the raccoon, turned his back and actually said, "keep me posted". My christian friends who hold their faith quietly in their hearts are not like this. Most christians are not like this. The hordes of programed robots that open every sentence with praise jesus, who turn away from life and do nothing for their neighbour because their jesus lip service will heal all are. They are fundies no different than the fucking taliban. Dead and empty. OK. Sorry.  Still pisses me off immensely.  I now classify myself an atheist who remains spiritual. I respect everyone with a deep quiet faith who walk the walk and don't bother much with the talk.

Nicole walked to the pharmacy to get a bottle and some formula. In the meantime, I brought him in.  No way I can begin to describe the comfort being touched and cuddled brought him. He stopped shuddering, drew himself tightly to my chest and purred. 

Nicole got home and we started to get formula into him. I have never taken care of a baby, Nicole either.  I can't say thank you enough to +Susan Gabriel  +Ken Green and others who stayed with me for hours and hours offering me links and practical knowledge based on experience in saving wildlife. Together, with Nicole supporting me we got him through the night. I got one hour sleep that first night.

The advice we were getting was invaluable. We treated the raccoon as if he were MERS or something even more vile. Rubber gloves, javel buckets, everything sterilized. No blankets shaken or open. Nothing could contact our house, leave residue for the cats. We were insanely vigilant about this for the first three days until we were sure he represented no danger to me, Nicole or our precious cats. This protocol made everything take longer but we were not going to take any chances. The first 12 hours or so with us he took in about 30 ml of formula. Far less than I now know he needed, but, enough to keep him alive those 12 hours. 

On Sunday morning we got real about what the hell we were going to do with him. I posted for help on FB and G+. I emailed all kinds of organizations, called every dept of the city, Mcdonalds College, the petting zoos. You name it I did it. Nobody came up with anything or anyone that I had not already thought of. I had a strong sense that we were on our own. We were going to have to find him a home or we were going to have to do "the right thing". We did not want to do the right thing. The little guy never cried once after we brought him in, despite his injuries and his suffering. Not once. He purred. I will always know that he was grateful. He knew. I remembered Jenn and Carl, the people we got Sugar and Spicey from. They were genuine cat rescue folks who went all the way for their foundlings. I called he early Sunday morning and they were in until we got it done. They would do anything it took. They did, too. At one point during the morning Nicole remembered that her sister Cecile's daughter Sylvie had worked as a vet tech and she had a lot of experience in fostering baby animals both on her own and on behalf of the SPCA. She had fostered four raccoons over the years. Serendipity was with us. Sylvie and Cecile had just that very day moved into a place in the country. They told us that they would take him in if we could not find another arrangement for him. We agreed that we would take a few days and see where we had gotten to.  Meanwhile Jenn had called us back to say she would come to our house the next day, take the raccoon to a vet who specializes in raccoons and get him checked out and treated. She was ready to come get him but when she asked if I could get him through the night, if I thought I was up to it and could I do it, I told her yes. I was invested.

We got him through Sunday and sunday night. He was eating a little more, and he now had enough strength to move his arms and legs around. Not much, but it was progress. There was one crisis where we were sure he was in the process of dying. I was trying to nap between feedings and Nicole was warming him. She woke me up in tears saying he was dying. I looked and I agreed. I took him and stroked him, rubbed him hard. He started to purr. I got the bottle into him and he noisily took in 30 ml. It was enough. He seemed ok after that. Ok for a severely sick animal. I got two hours sleep I think. Nicole was able to get a few more.

Monday morning Jenn called to say she would bring him to the vet at 4.  I was so happy about that.  He was in critical condition, severely dehydrated. The day passed without much incidence other than a deeply disturbing phone call that I got late morning. The voice on the other end identified themselves as being from "Animal Advocates". She told me that they had heard we had found a baby raccoon. I had in fact by then posted for help. At first I was elated, here is more help.  That did not last long. She said well you know it is really too bad but he is too young to rehab, nobody will be able to do anything, we really are the only people who will help you. She said we were really lucky, that if I gave her my address they would come to our house, take the animal to be euthanized, or more properly that would arrange to kill it for us. My home phone is listed in Nicole's name. Her name don't show up on my FB nor my G+. This was a scam. A company called Berger Blanc, I think. They are the official animal killers for the City of Montreal. They get a bounty for every animal that they kill legally. Dirty bastards.

Genn came, took raccoon to vet. Drama ramps up to 10. First call, vet's first impression is that we can do nothing. This is a vet who has 4 raccoon. This guy loves raccoons. Jenn says it looks bad. He is blind, probably in both eyes, maggots have now appeared exiting his dead eye and his anus. We had not seen the eye ones, but we had seen the ones that came out his anus. We thought it was worms.  Another call from Genn two hours later and the message is considerably different. He has one eye that might be saved. They spent two hours pulling maggots out of his eye and his butt. He got shots of antibiotics, and, he ate like a pig. Vet now says this guy deserves a chance. He might just make it. It was clear though, the vet told us, that he could not be rehabbed back into the wild. The vet could do nothing to place him for us, nor take him in. We called Cecile and told her that he had one chance only now. Her and Sylvie.  Nicole and I had decided we would not suffer a blind raccoon to be released. We would do what had to be done if it came to that. They said we want him. I told them that we would nurse him for a bit and if he indeed did have a good eye, and if he could survive the maggots we would let them take the raccoon. They agreed, and we agreed to keep the raccoon until the weekend when they would come to get him.

Jenn and Carl brought the raccoon back to us early evening on Monday. They spent two hours with us going over the vets instructions and they also taught me basic baby skills. For two days the little guy fed for about ten minutes. I just did not know any better. Afterwards, I knew to make it last 30 minutes or more. Monday night went much easier for both Nicole and I. The raccoon was carrying nothing that was any danger to either us or our cats. All I had to worry about was baby poo and baby pee. The workload went way, way down. Baby poo now makes me happy. Baby pee all over you is a wonderful thing. I never knew that before! I got about 4 hours sleep. The entire time with us the raccoon was wrapped in a blanket pulled against my chest or on my lap. Between feedings when I tried to sleep, we did it on the recliner, me under one blanket him wrapped up in another under mine, hard against my body. I could feel his purrs and the warmth. Body heat had a lot to do with keeping him alive.  I know it.

Tuesday brought lots of little imagined mostly, problems. I was ready with the tweezers to get any all the time. I checked every few minutes through the day. We did not see any and that was a great sign. Hatched fly eggs, the maggots, can only live inside a living body for between eight and ten days. They die if they do not morph by then.  Things were looking good.  Jenn had offered to come and get him anytime that I needed a break. She knew I would not make it through the week, and I did not. I was delirious by dinnertime and I made the call. I told her we needed help and to please come and get "Rocky". I had named him, finally. She did and I was to get a two day and two night break.  I slept like a stone for ten straight hours.

We got regular Rocky reports through the day. He was doing even better under their wonderful care. They are fierce about animal welfare and staying up every night, driving anywhere, doing whatever it takes for a critter that ends up in front of them. They are magnificent. Cecile, being Cecile, changed everything at around 4:00 pm yesterday afternoon. They wanted to come and get him that very evening. I called Jenn, she moved her world around and promised to bring Rocky over at 10 pm, meet Cecile and Sylvie and brief them on exactly what had happened and what would have to happen in the future. Rocky will come back into Montreal whenever he needs to, and there are still issues to address, and Jenn will make sure our fees stay down. She is doing a fundraiser for the operation he will need later this summer to clean up the dead eye. 

I can't describe how wonderful Nicole and I feel.  I am still beaming from inside this morning. Rocky has his forever home. Rocky will have his own little house.  Jenn and Sylvie are going to build it together. We get pictures every day. We have a party scheduled for later in the summer at Rocky's place. 

We got it done. Life. Love. There is nothing else that matters.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Toy time

The last time I drove my car was almost a year ago, June 24th of last year.  We had been at a Fete St. Jean party at the club.  When we left to go home it was raining hard, and the car had a flat tire.  I could not even contemplate changing a car tire, I might as well lift a house, both equally impossible.  A kind person changed the wheel for us.  The drive home was a nightmare, the rear right wheel locked up for some reason shortly after we left the parking lot.  I decided I would get the thing home if at all possible without me having to get out of the car.  I was frightened and close to panic.  The car shuddered and squealed from the seized wheel but I was able to keep it going, somehow.  I was so afraid of having to get out of the car, move, talk to people and coordinate getting the car taken care of and getting home.  It was all too much.  As George T. had warned me once, don't let your mind write checks that your body can't cash.  I was out in the rain with a busted car and about to get into real trouble.  We made it home safe.

I decided not to fix the car right away, to do without for a while, save some money.  Summer past, fall then winter and now spring is here.  I have not driven a car.  I got rid of our car in November when I first started to realize that maybe it would be better if I gave up driving.  Better for everybody. Better for that little kid I will not hurt because I lost consciousness behind the wheel.

Driving was something I learned to do in the 60's.  I bet I spent time during the late 50's on my dad's knee steering on the highway. Those were different times.  I crashed my first car twice, both times lucky to get away clean, before I was 19.  One was my fault, the other not.  Both I would have skated away from only a few years later when I had learned to control a car.  I worked hard at learning how to control a car.  Parking lots and losing control were one of my favorite things to do.  You gotta lose it to know how to get it back when it's all going south on you.  I ran the uninhabited dirt roads in Rawdon where there were no houses or people, yet. I think I got pretty good at it if I do say so myself.

Back then we were, collectively, idiots when it came to driving. Everybody drove smashed.  If you could walk or crawl to your car you were good to go.  Really, it was only as a young adult that awareness that perhaps were were being assholes started to creep in with public service messages on tv.  I drove so drunk, so many times it is unfathomable from the perspective of 2014.  How I did not kill someone during all that time?  We learned and we all stopped doing it.  Life went on and a whole lot of folks got to keep living.  Ask my bro in law about crossing the T Can in Alberta someday.  

When I parked the car last June I had full intention of getting back behind the wheel.  Now, I know I never will drive a car again and it's my choice.  Fate, karma call it what you will protected me when I was ignorant.  I am no longer ignorant about the harm that a vehicle can cause.  I had SIX heart attacks last year, and hundreds of minutes where I was debilitated instantaneously by coughing, for minutes at a time, eyes closed, entirely out of it for a minute or two.  

This is really the most thought I have given to the matter since I decided for certain a couple of months ago.  If I thought about it much the pain would be too sharp to bear.  Like a lot of things about this journey, you just have to go with it and not look back. Looking back is death.  Looking at now is life. I don't look back much at all and I do not look forward either.  I try to see and be.  That's all.  

A couple of days ago I was sitting by the big window watching a little girl walk with her mother.  She kept stopping to bend down to play with the daisies.  Nicole and I were talking about me, about how I was doing with being stuck and shut in, the not driving, all of the huge changes in my life. I pointed to the little girl and told Nicole that the little girl was my role model, to become as her was my goal.  I want to make all of the adult complexities that permeate life go away.  I want to destroy the ego that will one day erase that child.  One a man, twice a child.  I think I have done well so far.  I do not see as I did.  I do not carry weight I don't need.  I am at peace with the world.  As this world shrinks the possibilities expand.  


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

It is 10:00 AM, I am outside, the temperature is 16 and rising fast. A glorious day to spend outside.  I think I have cleaned up about 1/3 of our property.  My goal is to get another 1/3 done today, but, who knows.  I am writing now because I have a story to tell and I rather hope it takes all day to flesh it out as it deserves.  

Quick health update: I feel excellent, better than I have in two years at least.  Don't take that to mean I have more breath.  I don't. I do however feel much stronger than I have in a long time.  That, combined with the skills I learned at rehab and a mind free of clutter makes life most excellent at the moment.  Everything is working.  Time to push hard.

It is playoff time in these hockey mad parts.  Last night I held my breath, screamed in agony followed by cries of joy and generally lost my mind for a few hours while Nos Glorieux, Le Club de Hockey Canadiens, my Habs battled the evil, satanic Boston Bruins.  We won and lead the series 2 games to 1, but that is not the point of this story.  How I came to be a die hard Habs fan for life, is.

Some of my earliest memories are of Saturday night hockey games. I was maybe three or four, the year would be 1958 or 1959. Hockey Night in Canada came on TV at 8:00 PM, midway through the first period.  Of course at that age I was not watching the game, I was either tucked into my bed at home, or as often would be the case, lying on a pile of coats, along with my sister, at Nana's or Auntie May's house, supposedly sleeping.  Now, if we were at home only some drapes separated our bedroom from the living room where the tv was.  Invariably there would be a significant number of people in that living room, whooping it up and drinking beer and rum and cokes.  Our parents at the time were the ripe old age of 21 or 22, the grandparents double that.  It was a large and young extended family that lived close to each other.  Saturday nights were for getting together and having a good time.  It was hard to miss anything.  

My dad got me playing, or rather, trying to play hockey at a normal, young age.  A canadian boy in the early 60's played hockey, outside, on a team.  You cleaned the ice before the game, and between periods, yourself.  The changing room was an old CPR caboose with a wood stove.  It don't get more authentic than that.  To my dad's everlasting disappointment, and maybe just a tinge of shame, I was entirely hopeless at hockey.  I could not skate off my ankles.  No supports available at the time helped.  I skated on my ankles seriously bad.  I tried immensely hard to learn how to skate.  I walked the four blocks up to the skating rink at the park on Vimont and la Fontaine to skate by myself hundreds of times in attempts to get better.  I could not skate backwards nor stop properly.  I played anyway for a few years, my dad tying my skates, cheering me on, hoping I think against hope that I would find the spark that would turn me into a hockey player.  Even at that age of 6 or 7 kids were being identified as being serious players with potential.  I was nowhere near that quality.  I think in the maybe 3 or 4 years I played I distinguished myself by getting 1 penalty.  No goals.  No assists.  I was so desperate the last year to do something, anything, that one game the kid who was the goalie did not make the game.  I guess in those days teams of  7 year olds did not have back up net minders.  I volunteered.  Big mistake.  I don't think I stopped a single shot, and 7 year olds with wooden sticks hardly did anything with a puck that resembled shooting.  Everything happened in slow motion and I was paralysed.  Not good.  My poor dad.  He knew it was over.

A few years later as a 10 year old I came out of the athletic wastelands a wiser lad.  Hockey had a million negatives for me, but there were lessons learned as well.  I loved to move, run and compete, even when I had no success.  I found soccer and football, curling and other games that I excelled in at various times.  I think my dad was sort of "meh" about them though.  It was not hockey.  

By time I was 6 or 7 I was allowed to watch the game through the second period on Saturday night.  The Canadiens always won the Stanley Cup, year after year it seemed, until I was 25.  

I went to my first game at the Montreal Forum for my 10th birthday, a present from my dad.  The Detroit Red Wings were playing the Habs in a late February or early March game.  Gordie Howe was my dad's favorite non Habs player.  Dad had been talking about how good he was, how he did things in the corners and how mean he could be.  It was a night I am sure my dad always remembered.  I think Howe had what was known as a Howe hat trick, a goal an assist and a fight.  It was to be the first of many, many games at the Forum with my dad.

Later, during my early teenage years my dad took a part time job at the Forum slinging hot dogs and beer at Habs games.  I don't think dad really needed the money but it helped.  He enjoyed playing the angles and he loved being able to see all the hockey he wanted.  After a while, when he knew the folks and the ropes, the doors to the Forum opened for me.  I more or less had a standing room season ticket.  I lived the dream of a Montreal kid by going to the Forum when I wanted to.  So many great memories.  "The Stanley Cup parade will take the usual route" says Mayor for life Drapeau each and every spring.  

My dad's connection to the Forum and les Canadiens stayed strong the rest of his life.  Once, I would have been 30 ish, I needed something special for a golf tournament fund raiser that Nicole and I put on for Children's Wish Foundation.  I asked my dad if he could score a couple of season tickets to the Habs, an impossible request here in Montreal.  Dad came up with them and the auction raised over 10K.  Dad made a lot of good friends at the Forum.  He was part of a great and glorious tradition.  How could I not be Bleu, Blanc, Rouge for life?

Go Habs, Go.  Dad is watching the Drive For Twenty Five.

Friday, 2 May 2014


What we doin here
I started writing Transplant story when I realized that I was inevitably going on what I had come to view as a journey. It's for me.  In the last thirteen months I find myself looking back at early posts in order to better see where I have been and where I am going.  It has been helpful to me.  Keeping that record helps me to adjust my thinking and perspective as circumstances change. That is the only reason I do it.  It is sad and somewhat telling that sometimes people might view it as a means to an end, a manipulation if you will, or sadder still, an attempt to elicit sympathy. That Transplant story is wound into my G+ experience is a happy coincidence, a most happy one for me.  It was just a matter of timing, I found G+ at the same time I decided I needed to write about what was going to happen to me, and they acquired Blogger about the same time and it was right there in my face, so I grabbed it and started.  

I joined G+ in mid March 2013.  A lot of the folks who comment on Transplant story regularly I met very early on through G+.  Virtually all the comments that are made on Transplant story come from my G+ world, not MRL.  In a perfect world I probably would not spend upwards of a half a dozen hours or more everyday interacting with my circles, that time would be spent with RL people.  I am shut in, mostly.  The phone rings a few times a week.  There is a knock on the door once a month or so.  Out of sight out of mind.  I have no bitterness.  My RL is quite full, considering. I am very loved.  There are though far too many hours, days and weeks where it is just Nicole and I.  G+ fills the void and does so in an amazing way.  I have heard "your internet friends" said a few times IRL during the last year, always with disdain and a lack of comprehension. What a wonderful thing I have found and become community with.  I leave the comments on because most of the comments come from people who help keep me strong and who encourage me.  Any thoughts someone might have that suggest otherwise says a whole lot more about you than it does about me.  

A few G+ people have written me privately to tell me some wonderful things.  I have touched and inspired them.  That makes me feel fantastic.  

Transplant story has about a year before any real transplant stuff takes place again.  I plan to tell some stories, talk more about Nicole and share my feelings about the universe.  I like stream of consciousness dumps too but I seem to get into trouble with those.  On vera.  

I love you RL, you too G+ peeps.  Find me anytime on G+.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Have yourself a lovely summer, they said

Dr. A. said while recording notes, about me, very advanced COPD, progressive bilateral emphysema, currently STABLE!  


The meeting with Dr. A. and Ester lasted about an hour.  Nothing hurried or rushed.  They are very methodical.  They remember who I am, what is going on with me.  They touch patients.  They listen.  I love these two.

My lung numbers, FEV1 and such, are pretty much unchanged from last time, and the numbers are highest since last spring. 

 We think I had six heart attacks during the spring and summer of last year.   Three times between April and June last year I had what I thought were severe breathing attacks that lasted perhaps an hour or so each that I was able to ride out without losing consciousness. Another took place a week or two before the main event that put me down, I wrote about it in late August.  Then the one that put me in the hospital at the end of August, and another that took place a few days later while I was in the hospital.  None since.  None of them had anything to do with my lungs as I assumed.  Heart attacks they was.  That being said, the latest echocardiogram from February shows modest improvement in the magic number (for the transplant folks) LVEF1.  Dr. A. says I hit 40%.  Dr. Poirier said thats the number I need as a minimum.  I am probably somewhere around borderline.  Questions about building my heart up were politely deflected.  I did not press.  I think they are hopeful.

The tumour, growth, dare I say, cancer, is stable and unchanged over the last year.  Now it has to remain that way for another year before I will qualify for a lung transplant.  I feel confident it will stay that way, and, until I am advised otherwise we shall nevermore call it a cancer.  My lungs have many lesions, this is just another.  No biggie.

Just so we kept on a roll I asked the Dr. please, pretty please, may I have my scans at the Jewish?  Can you please save me from the complete failure to communicate that results every farking time when I get tests at the Lakeshore?  Yes.  Joy.  A cardiologist please.  Yes again.  Everything now happens at the Jewish General.  Everybody on the same page for the rest of my life.  No more wasting months getting information to the right place.  I like that a lot.  Now, even the ambulance goes to the Jewish General.

So, chill for the summer.  Doctors orders.  My high fat ice cream prescription has been refilled.  I gained and maintained eight pounds over the last couple of months, enough to make my BMI peachy perfect.  No appointments for four months.  However I do have immediate access to Dr. A. through Ester if the need arises.

I slept last night right through.  Not a lot has changed since yesterday in reality, but I feel quite a bit different.  I have nothing to do other than keep doing what I have been doing.  Ester called me an iron man yesterday.  Just keep doing what you are doing.  I am far more active and stronger than they would expect, even though it feels otherwise to me.  I have adapted to not being able to get out, but I don't like it.

I doubt I will drive again.  I don't think that would be in anyones best interest.  Fear of losing consciousness while driving will not go away.  Even coughing fits, which happen multiple times a day now, can last a few minutes and are entirely debilitating and come on with no notice.  I so love driving.  I love, love, love driving, anytime, anywhere.  I am done with you.  Thank you Autobhan.  I love you.

This remains a transplant blog.  I had my doubts yesterday morning.  I went to the hospital yesterday to get buried.  The bastards said, not so fast.  

Hello Aunt June.  Hello Sis.  Hi Cousins, nieces, great nieces and nephews.  See ya tomorrow for muscles and beers, Wayno and Wilson.  The quiche was wonderful Lana and Brenda!  Stay safe on the road Gary!  Hello Kimmy!  See you all soon Quebec Lawn Bowlers!  I'll be watching.


Monday, 28 April 2014

True story

Appointment with Dr. A. late this afternoon.  I don't care much.

Sleeping horribly lately.  Haunted by hate.  Do not comprehend.  

True story:  Owed money (2K) by ex employer (family).  Wait the legally mandated nine months before asking the government to help collect.  Collect.  Watch as family, friends and acquaintances receive emails advising them I run a grow op.  Watch them get copied on an email to my two nieces telling them that I am trying to harm their family and to cease having contact with me.  Contact stops.  Years pass.  Heart broken still.  Honest.  True story.  Not one word out of place.  We were good, loving influences.  Nothing short of evil this is.

I feel better now but I imagine my blog will now be savaged again. Death threats and wishes for my expedited death are expected as the order of the day.  Tonite I will sleep.  Tomorrow I will exorcise as I WISH.  Fuck the trolls.  Fearless I are. 

Regarding that true story:  Everybody saw.  True story.

I simply had to spit this bile out.  


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Inside, upside, all around and down again

If I let myself feel anything right now nothing good would happen. Staying numb, not thinking, is the thing, at least for now.  If I get all logical and think things out in my current state of mind the only conclusion would be to get serious right now about planning out the end game of my life.  I have not done that beyond knowing that the best case scenario if I want to avoid becoming stroked out, locked in and the other horrible fates that await me, is going to be suicide.  Any other choice and I will risk having things happen to me that I am more afraid of than I am of dying.

Nicole and I have talked about "it", and I have broached the subject with my family and friends.  Everybody seems to understand.  No one has suggested that my thinking is cloudy on the subject.  I want to live!  I think everybody recognizes that.  I am even willing to suffer quite a bit more than I already do, to live a little more, but there must be a limit otherwise I risk losing control of my own fate.  Go massive heart attack!  Go team!  Just not yet, please.

By time I left Dr. P.'s office yesterday we were smiling at each other, I had calmed down.  Notre Dame had not sent him anything. Two months and nothing.  At least I have data from him to send to Notre Dame, but it will amount to nothing, I am no stronger than I was and the prognosis only gets worse with time.  He did not remember, even with my file open what drugs he had prescribed. He asked me for my drug list, I said no, use my chart, you tell me. It took him ten minutes during which I grew increasingly angry with him as I caught him out on various points which indicated he was virtually unfamiliar with said chart.  He told me, no kidding, honest, that if I was in Lakeshore for something and surgery was indicated he would sign off on it.  I pointed out that ALL of my pneumologists assure me that I would not survive any surgical procedure.  He replied that, well that's your lungs,your heart is up to it.  He don't know it yet but his ass is fired.  Dr. A., when I see you later this month we need to coordinate this circus.

One thing that Dr. P. said that makes sense:  It may be time to apply to other jurisdictions, specifically Toronto.  Montreal is known to have really strict criteria, Toronto is more flexible. As if.

I would have had no way to end this positive today, but, my old friends Wilson and Wayne just called and they are coming to drag my sorry ass out to lunch at a brew pub.  Happy Daze.  

I love you all.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

I dunno

It is probably safe to say I survived winter now.  I would not have bet on it six months ago, but hey, I have never been much of a gambler anyway.  I turned 60 a month ago.  Sixty I never thought I would see.  Family history and a decade of hell bent self destruction seemed to ensure I would not.  Here I am, though. Mentally I am stronger than I ever have been before.  I know who I am and I love that person.  I have learned my lessons well.  I don't have any answers as to my direction at the moment.  I feel lost but I have not stopped searching.  I lack a dream, something to work for and towards.  Perhaps that is too harsh.  I do have something and that is Nicole.  Making sure she will be ok now and in the future.  For sure that is my main goal in life now and forevermore. I mean me, myself, I.  What do I yearn for?  What do I want beyond a good death?  Physically, I feel perfectly powerful until I move.  When I do, all of my energy is instantly vaporizes into nothing.  Empty.  Fall down in a heap empty.  I am constantly surprised by this.  Constantly.  Every time I expect to be like I was.  Strong, coordinated, quick.  I am not.  This is too rude.  Like a baby, helpless in a heap.  The infernal optimist will be fooled again and again and again.  There is seemingly no end to the surprise my weakness brings, each and every time I get up.  Outright stupidity and self deception or indomitable spirit?  Indomitable I say!  I have no dream, no yearnings and that is bad, bad, bad!  You can't look forward without a dream, and if you don't look forward you are dead.  I am not dead.  I need a dream!

I need to write everyday, honestly without ego, with perspective. I have been asleep, wasting my time being introspective and closed. Open flower, open.  Spring is here!  Live!  Love!  Blow up that bubble! Now! 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Hey, you! Yes you! Wake up!

This winter, like most, feels never ending.  While it seems such a small thing, my hopes are all tied to getting outside the house, finally, once it warms up.  Somehow being outside in the warmth of the sun will make everything better.  

I hope when I get out of the house I will be able to walk a lot to strengthen myself.  When I walk more than a few steps lately, unless I pace myself at a ridiculously slow speed, I am head spinning, eyes closed tight, breathless instantly.  This happens hundreds of times a day.  I feel my heart, too.  Sharp shooting pains.  Hopefully this is a product of my imagination.  I don't know.

The sameness of my days is wearing on me.  My mind, when I am not struggling physically and at rest forgets the disease and the handicaps.  A hundred fresh starts and a hundred walls a day.  Either I never learn or I am indomitable.  I can't decide which is true. Probably both.

Two months since the echocardiogram and fucking Dr. P., the cardio who is tasked with fixing my fucking heart still has not granted me a fucking audience. I sent a sarcastic email this morning.  I see Dr. A. at the end of April.  If I have doubts about Dr. P. at that time I will dump him and get another cardiologist.  

I need to get my mind busy.  Living in the moment probably does not mean ignoring everything.  

Thursday, 13 March 2014


When I got home from the evaluation at Notre Dame I purged my mind of all of things medical.  Two weeks later I am still not dealing with any of it in any way whatsoever.  These few thoughts are about all that have crossed my mind about my situation.  I needed to get a CT scan and an echocardiogram to the appropriate doctors so they can determine if the growth has grown and how my heart has been doing for the last 5 months or so.  So far, I can't be bothered.  I will get it done soon.

I am well enough, not stressed much at all.  I know I have to get my ass in gear.  There just does not seem to be much of a rush.

Restless.  I feel restless.  That must be good.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

My day at Notre Dame Hospital transplant unit

We got to the Jewish General on time for my 8 AM appointment for a PFT.  The tech was great and it was not too difficult at all.  I saw Dr. A at about 10.  There were a couple of SNAFU's but they proved to be not serious, just information delayed.  When I set up the CT scan and the echocardiogram, no one told me that I had to physically bring the CD's with me.  I should have realized though. It meant that I still do not know what that little nodule has been up to since last fall, nor do I know what, if any recovery my heart has made.  Dr. A. emphasised not to say tumour when I was in the presence of the transplant doctors later in the day.  Nodule, not tumour.  Say tumor Dr. A said, and you will be tossed instantly. So, no scans for Dr. A until he either gets the report, eventually, or I physically get him the CD's.  There also will be no reports for the doctors at Notre Dame, but Dr. A told me to relax, that is was not really relevant for today.  No problem.  He seemed pleased that I had gotten to knock on the door.  I thanked him and got a follow up appointment for April 11.  He will call me if there is any cause for alarm from the pending test results.  Ain't gonna happen.

We got to Notre Dame two hours early for the 1 PM appointment. Nicole and I went for a bite in the coffee shop and Cecile went off on some personal errands.  At noon I could not wait anymore and we went up to the clinic on the 7th floor.  

When the elevator door opened I stepped out into the realm of the people who might give me a chance to bike and walk and run again.  Everybody was warm and genuine, all of the paperwork was done and ready.  We were ushered into a quiet waiting room and told that we would first see a spirometry tech, then be interviewed by an intern, followed with a visit with a nurse, and then finally an meeting with the director of the program, Dr. Charles Poirier.

Spirometry results matched those that were done earlier in the day. Results were lung volume capacity at 26%.  Actually, a peachy result.  The last couple of times it was around 15%.  

The meeting with the intern was actually fun.  I wish I had wrote down his name, he is a really nice guy.  From Universite de Sherbrooke.  The interview lasted about 45 minutes and covered just about everything you could imagine.  I did not try to steer the interview in any way.  I spoke honestly and frankly.  I did not try to paint myself as a person with no quality of life.  I had to detail what I knew about lung transplants, the stats.  I was questioned at length about my expectations from a lung transplant.  He was impressed and told me that I had done my homework.  I He did not much care that I used cannabis every day as long as I was not smoking it, though it interacted with some of the more than 50 drugs I would have to take post transplant, so I would have to give it up at some point.  I assured him I would.  He told us I met the criteria for transplant as far as the information I had presented with went.  The nodule, my heart and my current quality of life were all issues that would need to be looked at, but as far as a quick interview and review went, he felt I would be able to go on to the next step and be listed for transplant.  This of course was subject to a thorough review of my chart and an interview with Dr. Poirier, both of which would happen shortly.

Nicole and I returned to the waiting room for a short while until the intern returned and told us it was time to meet Dr. Poirier.  We were ushered into the same office as earlier.  Dr Poirier is a warm and charismatic person who makes a strong first impression.  He greeted us warmly and welcomed us.  He was very direct and straight to the point.  My lung condition meets transplant criteria. The nodule has to show two years of no change before they would list me.  My heart is not strong enough to survive the surgery currently.  I would most certainly die on the table.  If that changes, they will list me for a lung transplant.  It would have been nice to have had the CT scan and the echocardiogram for him to read, but it really does not matter.  They will be sent to Dr. Poirier shortly. Dr. Poirier will stay in touch with Dr. A, and Dr. A will stay in touch with Dr. Poirier, both of whom are now in touch with Dr. P, my cardiologist.  If and when I meet the conditions I will get on the list for transplant.  

I left Notre Dame Hospital extremely satisfied.  I  was wise not to build up my hopes unrealistically.  There has been no emotional letdown at all. If the stars align, then they align.    

So, I got some stuff to do.  Pending seeing the cardiologist, which ought to happen in the next few weeks, I am hitting the treadmill hard.  I will start lifting weights again.  Time to visit some transplant forums and find other people in a similar situation to see what I might be able to do to strengthen my heart muscle, if that is in fact possible.  In the moment and positive.  

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Nice day out there

Shit has sorted itself out.  Big assist to Nicole!  Happy I spit it out.  Feel better. I am ready for all the poking and prodding on Tuesday.  It be sunny out there.  

Friday, 21 February 2014


The shame, misery and uncomfortableness that I cause myself by asking for help now trumps any benefit I might have gained from the actual help.  No more asking for help.  No more hearing "call me and remind me," no more "ok no problem and then having to remind you twice when the time comes.  No more.  I am done.  No more waiting for answers that will never come. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Two great friends

Sugar AKA L'il Shug
Spice AKA Spicey, Spicer

Our beloved Rufiie died in the summer of 2012, far too young.  He was a real character, everybody loved him.  He would jump, shoulder height on command, sometimes without, into our arms.  Our house was somber the rest of the summer.  When I broached the idea of getting a kitten with Nicole a little while later she was adamantly opposed.  It was too soon.  The lack of little feet making noise on the floor bothered me and left me sad, more than I would have expected.  Finally, in mid September of 2012 I asked Nicole again and this time she was less opposed.  She was ready to think about it and talk about it.  

I had already begun looking for a kitten.  Our kitten was going to come from a rescue shelter.  Using Google I found a few local veterinarian clinics where staff were sheltering cats and offering adoption services.  Craig's List and Kijiji were also full of ads offering cats for adoption.  I made a lot of calls over a couple of days and nothing was jumping out at me.  By now Nicole was warm to the idea of a kitten.  

One ad on Kijiji caught my attention in particular for some unremembered reason. I decided to call and it was a good choice. The lady I spoke to told me all about her shelter network.  She was one of many activists who took in unwanted or abandoned litters of kittens.  They had vets in the network who provided the necessary medical services.  The activists sheltered and socialized the kittens and found homes for them.  I liked what I heard.  It was her turn now to question me.  She wanted to know all about the animals we had over the years.  She wanted assurances that the cats would remain indoor cats, not ever be declawed or given away.  She told me there would be a contract outlining my obligations to both the shelter and the kitten.  It was almost too intrusive.  I came close to just saying thanks, I am going to go elsewhere for a kitten.  Fate kept me from doing that.  She told me she would bring some kittens over to our home the next night for us to meet.  She would conduct her interview of us then.

She showed up the next evening with her boyfriend and six kittens in tow.  She opened the cages and it was kitten chaos.  They were all around eight weeks old.  They were all adorable.  The cat lady, as we came to call her, wanted to see our house.  She asked a lot of questions which were clearly aimed at getting a sense of how a cat in our house would be treated.  She outlined what would be contractually demanded of us if we we chosen as adopters.  The shelter did not want the relationship with the kitten to stop at adoption.  They would provide sterilization and vaccination services.  If for whatever reason we could not care for the cat we are obliged to return the cat to the shelter.  

She liked us.  She was sure we fit the adoption bill.  Then she dropped a big one.  You ought to adopt two, one is no good.  Cats are way happier if they have company.  We were not convinced whatsoever at first.  She had done this before though, and we were putty in her hands.  We would try it for a week, see how we felt. We actually believed it, too!  

The six of them were scampering about, into everything as kittens will do.  Picking two was almost impossible.  There was a soft grey male who I could not stop looking at and a black and white female who reminded me of Rufus and Rufie.  The others were all so beautiful, too.  While asking questions we learned that a little tortie sort of chimera kitten was the black and white's sister.  That resonated with both Nicole and I for some reason and we picked those two.  Arrangements were made to have them brought back to us in two days.  Two evenings from now there would be life in the house again!

Next day cat lady called to inform me that higher ups in the network wanted to investigate us more thoroughly. They wanted to speak to our vet.  I just about blew a gasket.  The whole process 
was starting to feel a bit ridiculous.  I capitulated and provided the info.  She called back later in the day to confirm everything was fine and she would bring the kittens that very evening.  I went out to the local pet store and dropped sixty bucks on a cool cat condo to put right in the middle of our 12 x 6 big window in the living room, along with a monster big domed litter box and a whole bunch of other kittie supplies.  They were going to come home in style!  We had settled on Sugar and Spice as names. 

Right on time cat lady, boyfriend and two adorable kittens arrived. Bit of paper work to do, kittens to cuddle.  Kittens vanish under the bed.  Wisely, we decide to leave them be for a few hours.  Cat lady tells us she will call us frequently in the next few days.  We were still unsure about two kittens.  Hah!  Suckers!

We could not stand it anymore, it had been a few hours since they had scampered under our bed.  We each went to a side of the bed and we gently talked to them.  We coaxed them out.  Onto the bed they went for pets and cuddles.  That was that.  They never hid away again.  Sugar spent the night on my head, literally.  She washed my buzz cut scalp thoroughly.  It took her all night.  I let her do her thing.

Spicey seemed the more standoffish one.  Wrong.  I bonded with Sugar the first morning.  She was sitting on top of the kitty condo and I was across the room on the couch.  She made eye contact with me and for the first time I saw those intensely green big wide eyes.  I said come on Sugar, you know you want to!  She flew across the room from the top of the kitty condo and bounded into my lap.  I was now owned.  

Over a few days we learned about the two of them.  Sugar was indeed well named.  She was a goofy little love bug.  Large frame, little legs, moves sideways and sounds like a robot.  Spice, totally confident, loving, occasionally wicked with the claws.  Amazing little athlete. Owns her twice as big sister.  She is a scrawny little thing.  That's a spicey little cat!  

I had no idea just how much I would bond with these two kittens. I had loved pets before.  What was different this time?  I was different.  Home with them 24/7.  I have been away from them only 8 days in their lives.  I am absent from their lives only a few hours a month.  I am always with them.  I also have a newfound appreciation for living things that comes from living in the moment.  I always have time for them.  They always have priority over anything else, Nicole excepted.  I love them and they return the love, all day, everyday.  Nicole and I laugh and laugh some more.  Just another day with the girls.  So much life in our home! Such fun noise!  You just never know what will happen next.
I struggle up those stairs from the basement, resting once or twice on the way.  Spicey never leaves my side.  She stops when I stop. She bobs her head and grunts, rubbing against me when I get to the top.

When I go to do virtually anything Sugar is my shadow.  She follows, watching my every move intently, rubbing against me constantly.  When I rest on my recliner she is never far from my side.

Spicey the love bug can be found wherever a lap is available. You can pretty much handle Spicey however you want, upside down, over the shoulder, rolled up into a ball.  She is good with it all.  Just don't touch her anywhere near the base of her tail.  She will rip you up.  For a long time I am one big prednisone bruise.  It was cool though, my bad.  She no longer uses the claws.  Phew.  She also plays fetch the ball with aplomb, at least sometimes.  

Life is like an equation.  It balances out, always.  As I lost on one side, I gained on the other.  See?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Where, I is at?

If I had actually wrote down all I had composed in my mind this month, I would have written at least five thousand words, probably more.  There are a couple of reasons why thoughts that should be appearing here are not.  First, I am profoundly detached from most everything, which is not all bad, considering.  Second, I am censoring my thoughts for a number of reasons, all of them bad.

It has been a hard month physically.  I had a cold, and an abscess. I ended up having to take prednisone and more antibiotics for a couple of weeks.  I feel ok now, more or less, but my breathing is weaker than ever.  Back to being as busy as I can be in the house. I can move around, cook and do stuff for a couple of hours each day before I can't do it anymore.  Mentally I think I am doing ok.  I am detached from my illness, my fate.  After all, there is nothing left to do but watch and see what will happen for a while.  There will be time to make decisions and wonder about what will be, later.  I am not detached from Nicole or my friends.  I stay in the moment virtually all of the time, stress free and happy even when I feel ill.  Asking for help is stressful as is hatefulness, but that's about it, at the moment.

ECG on Friday, followup to last summer's heart attacks. Next Wednesday Dr. A. reads the results of the CT scan and tells me how the tumor is doing, and afterwards to Notre Dame and The Lung Transplant Eval.  I am almost indifferent.  The only thing I am remotely worried about is how we are going to get there.  I will make that damn Para Transport application this week!

Me, Sugar, Spicey and Nicole are doing fine.