Tuesday 30 November 2010

Honour our First Responders

Bless them all
I have long been interested and supportive of our First Responders. I spent a brief moment as a Victim Services volunteer in Muskoka.  I know that most of them are hard-working, despite the Ottawa news about incidents. Muskoka Lakes volunteer firefighters have been fighting for recognition and better equipment. The OPP deal with many horrible situations, while ambulance crews fight for the lives of our citizens. Our 2nd day here in Perth, I watched the crews work in a car rollover.

I watched weary first responders a summer ago: volunteer firefighters, OPP (6 incidents one weekend), paramedics, attempting the rescue of two men, non-swimmers. The crowds watched in awe, as they worked hard to recover the bodies. Concern, as this could be one of their own. I wrote a poem about the event, it moved me so.
the meaning of death  A terrible time that summer. We lost so many.

Bala Falls drownings video

- 33 sec - 5 Aug 2009 - Uploaded by j3nnyj1ll
Two non-swimmers drowned while trying to save a 9-year old relative who was sucked out into the river by the undertow of the rapids.

I have a friend who is paraplegic. In order to go to the dentist she needs to be sent in an ambulance on a gurney. I attended as her advocate. It is an uncomfortable trip for her, as she is in constant pain due to her condition, but the crew were fabulous.  Such TLC. It is a necessary means of transportation for some. The ladies in long-term care (staff and residents) are always happy to see the handsome male paramedics. (If only they knew!)

I recall the day we took Dad to emergency in May, 2006. Our neighbour, one of the volunteer firefighters, helped with my Dad. It was comforting to have the pros there. Dad had both dementia and delirium (the latter undiagnosed due to dementia, caused by an infection). We loaded him into the ambulance. They sent him home saying there was nothing they could do. Now I know better.

Weary volunteers
In my Mom's case - my brother decided to take her to emergency the night before she died. They sent her home at 4:00 a.m. as she was palliative and there was nothing they could do. Another issue I've written about. Too many deaths on the way or at emergency.  In clear cut cases, there should be support for those who choose to become caregivers. No one in the Primary Care team: from the physician, to the Charge Nurse, the CCAC staff, the hospital, the oncologist, told me about Hospice, or offered information on palliative care.

This death was a surprise to only me, and the rest of the community. Her respiration slowed, she hadn't been eating much beyond a few tablespoons of food a few times a day. The PPS and/or the ESAS, are excellent tools to help track and predict palliative performance. Whether they decline slowly, or quickly, levelling off at times like steps on a stair, or gradually decreasing in functions, we know what approaching death looks like. It is shameful that our society cannot speak of it. It is our right to have a good death.

Small communities have different experiences of their crews. The clerk at the local store told me it was her son who was one of the paramedics who ferried Mom to (or from?) the hospital the last time. He came home and cried at the sadness of it all. Mom had a great life. She'd bravely fought cancer and had now succumbed, in peace, with her son and husband by her side. They are good people. Kind, caring, and committed. They have a wealth of knowledge, and a calm demeanor that responds to a crisis, while managing frantic family members.
Triple alarm, Bala, Apr. 22

Monday 29 November 2010

Social Media - do you tweet?

Social Media
I've been following and tweeting, and reading a wide variety of tweets. Out of interest, primarily on my laptop. It is a way of reading breaking news, see seeing what is going on in your city, region, country. Topics I follow are related to health care, safety, politics. 

I have been quite interested in the work, for example, of Toronto Police Services (@TorontoPolice, @trafficservices). I no longer live in TO, but their positive messages are truly reminders - I think they are powerful. 

We are human, and make mistakes. In a traffic incident the pedestrian always loses.

People Make Errors
I remember taking a class across the street in Nepean. I could hear the OPP siren, could see the cop barreling her way along the road on her way to an emergency (the station was just down the road), and still my gr. 6s who'd ran on ahead, ran across the crosswalk to the other side of the street.

People don't think. They consider themselves immortal. 'It won't happen to me!'

I am convinced that we cannot reach those who continue to take risks; driving, swimming, boating, to drink & drive, for example, but we 
have to target their family and friends. Pedestrians act completely crazy, in some cases. In downtown Perth, with voluntary crosswalks (I've seen them used as such). I've seen people walk out and THEN look.

Good Info
As a long time follower of Education for the Driving Masses  I think that this empowers the bystanders. 
Typical rural drivers

My interest began when living in Muskoka, when the 3 young men died after an afternoon of drinking. Drownings in Muskoka are appalling, not accidents, but incidents.

I was a Victim Services Volunteer and the ignorance and risk-takers, appall me. A siren every Friday afternoon. Our volunteer firefighters were burned out the year we had 90 in 2010, 87 in 2009, 9 in Muskoka aloneDrownings in 2008 mimic the action on the roads: people taking chances with their lives, lives of others on land and water.

Social Media and Services
It raises awareness. It might save a life. It makes people think twice. It warns of traffic slowdowns. From breaking news, to defensive pedestrians, they are performing a good service.

Heads up!

My Retired Teachers Org. tweets, I cannot find but a couple of people who follow them, most do not appear to be retired. When you look at who follows, you can often see that the target audience is there for glory, or PR, or to increase web traffic, not to perform a service or to have any social relationship with you. The content of their tweets are telling. Some obfuscate their twitter messages by commenting on a football game, in the midst of serious political messages, for example. This is why I've stopped having messages sent to my phone. I was overwhelmed. Like many my age, my phone is outgoing and only for emergencies, or important grocery store input. 

For-profits of all sorts have hijacked social media to their own ends. I have a lot of Twitter friends, who also run a business, but this is not true of all of my followers. Some are seeking information in my Ontario Seniors Healthcare blog, many are for-profit agencies, though. 

Typical rural scene

It is time consuming, and there has to be a purpose to it. In my age group, bloggers over age 50, while many of us are; sharing information, ideas, reflections, photos, most under that age group are selling something. Which is fair enough. 

On those cold February days, when housebound, when our pets are doing something kooky, I find it fun to read about their antics. I have had intriguing debates about many topics, been inspired to write some poetry, inspired to go outdoors and take some photos. I like, especially, busting the myth that those of us over age 50 eschew our computers! I taught it and gave workshops to students, peers, parents, special education educators. 

Cheers to my readers. 
To TPS, and all our First Responders: keep up  the good work!

Saturday 27 November 2010

Before and after

My friends up north are digging out. We had freezing rain over the past few days, not too much! Lots of accidents, but nothing like Ice Storm '98, read more here: Ice Storm '98, praise be.  This morning there was a bit of snow remaining from overnight.

This is when I went outside to snap some shots. I love the vista, with big puffy clouds, blue skies, lunatic cat running after blowing leaves.

By the time I fed the birds, the clouds rolled in again, and my backyard disappeared!

Bits of colour here and there
Undaunted, I love the snow. The dreary colours of November (brown grasses, dead brown leaves) replaced by the crisp white are a welcome change.

The raven sits under the bird feeder, getting bombed with cracked corn by blue jays looking for the good stuff. The cracked corn is for the mourning doves, who seem to like it. They are ground feeders, and appreciate the seed even if the greedy blue jays do not.

It seems that the ravens enjoy the deer feed, too.

JB says the smell of it reminds him of feeding the draft horses on his family farm. Fond memories without electricity and running water in Chesterville.
Everyone loves feeding the deer!

Faithful assistant, Oliver!

Guinivere doesn't look amused!

Friday 26 November 2010

Dignity House Day Hospice in Perth

Perth has a fine community of caring, kindred spirits. As I said to a friend, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a retired nurse volunteer in Lanark County!

I am very proud to be involved in this project.
Alanna Scanlon -- Nurse Coordinator Day Hospice Program
I am a Hospice volunteer. I am proud to be part of the
Dignity House Day Hospice, Perth, Ontario, planned for January 17, 2010. There will be one Nurse in charge, with 5 trained volunteers.

The program runs from 10:00 - 3:00, on Mondays. The goal, of course, is a 24/7 Hospice, but this is a great first step.

I posed the question on my health blog: Why do people volunteer?
For many, it is to ensure that the services will be there when WE need them!
Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!
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We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. 
         -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet (1807-1882) 

Treating women with dignity

I was appalled to read this Editorial title:
'Little old ladies are crashing the systemMARGARET WENTE
First they blamed women for being raped, now they blame our precious elderly women for being ill, frail, or blame their caregivers for placing them in hospital. I have a pretty low opinion of Ms. Wente, perhaps it was her editor? I hope so.

Why do we blame the women, do you suppose? We know that senior women are the most impoverished. Many of our homemaker grandmothers and mothers were stay-at-home moms. They don't have pensions. My generation is juggling children and failing parents. I gave up a phenomenal teaching job, with a new, gem of a principal, and a classroom community of precious gr. 8s, to care for my parents.

Where does the blame lie? The lack of beds, the unpreparedness for physicians, with little time, many chronic care patients, with complicated comorbidities. But the media blame the women.

  • We don't blame the many nurses, who monitor CADDs to ensure that our palliative patients are not in pain. The medical community, it has been said, has a 17 - 20% shortage of nurses.
  • We don't blame the physicians, who march into a hospital room and declare, "She just won't die!" and provide less than helpful homecare or palliative care. Or the shortage of geriatricians in this country.
  • Don't blame taxpayers who, like the Americans, want to be able to pay for private insurance plans, but not pay for other's healthcare: those in poverty, between jobs, or the working poor. Insurance companies who can deny their American members at the drop of a hat.

I am shocked at the tone of this article and some comments. We blame adult children (primarily women, daughters, daughters-in-law) who cannot cope with an ill senior. Hospitals who send them home, telling the daughter to provide care for mother, father, mother-in-law, father-in-law who all had surgeries.

My late father, 2007, with one of his favourite PSWs
We cannot blame the system, we can blame the women for being ill, not the shortage in trained Personal Support Workers (PSWs) who are undertrained, inadequately trained, not regulated, nor monitored by any agency. We do not blame the government for the lack of foresight in naming Aging at Home as a priority, but not providing further funding. nor do they rely on much but for-profit agencies. Long-term Care homes who reheat 'retherm' meals, which are awful, do not provide fresh fruit, yet send dividends to shareholders. Something like 5/6 of LTC homes are for-profit. Is this right?

The good news is that many nurses, working and retired, are spearheading projects, like Hospices, and supporting an organized system of caring for these frail, at-risk elders in our community. Most want to be home. Most want highly trained medical personnel to help them in their homes, or in residences, not institutions.

Look around your community. You'll see many seniors volunteering and keeping their hands, brains, and bodies busy. Knitting for others. Creating quilts for raffles, or family and friends.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Saw a man about a survey!

Much easier with proper staking
I suppose it is our part contributing to the economy of Lanark County! We hired yet another service.

It is rather vital that you know where your property stops and starts. This is true in deer country.

This one is in the bog!

light levels are so low in the forest

The pond - only partly ours!


Many birch trees are down
There are trails, where you can see the deer pass. Hard to photograph!

The critters don't care, but we don't know who owns the properties on either side. They are undeveloped, bogs!

Tuesday 23 November 2010

What are your fears?

I was listening to a podcast interview, Tapestry, on FEARS (Aug. 29, 2010), having had a wee visit with Dr. Insomnia. Rather timely after my reflection about HOPES.  
This book was written after the death of his son. Rabbi Kushner's son was diagnosed with a childhood illness at age 3 and was only expected to live until his teenage years. (He lost his son 43 years ago.) The Rabbi felt that enjoying each day ensured that no day was wasted. He grieved at his son's death, found some catharsis in writing his book (research shows the benefits of autobiography), and comforting words for us all. How differently would we live our lives knowing the day of our or our loved one's demise?

Rabbi Harold Kushner has been written10 books so far! He has comforting words, as only a well-loved spiritual guide can write.
The most recent book he has written:

What are you afraid of?
For some, especially in the U.S., they fear losing their home. Many believe that the poor are poor because they aren't working hard enough. We know this isn't true. Some are only a pay cheque away from poverty and homelessness. In Canada we have been hit economically, and for those who have lived through the depression, many fear poverty. It is a very difficult fear and it changes how you live your life. Think of those with their cash buried in their mattress! 

Other fears, not phobias, that limit your perceived success and happiness in life: 
Success, public speaking, death, dying, pain, rejection, doing the wrong thing, not being there for a loved one, technology, poverty, failure, being single, being married, getting old, being alone.

Family love us for who we are;  not for what we have, or don't have; not what we do, or don't do; not for what we look like; or for our perfection. We cannot fear failure. If our loved ones and friends cannot accept our mistakes, then who can? We all perfect and we are allowed to make mistakes. The idea is to learn from them.

Easter: 1994
The saddest thing, he says, is to think of those with their dream girl one phone call away, afraid to make the phone call just in case she says no. Or that perfect job, with evil inertia holding one back from success or the joy that arises from taking a risk and winning. There is no shame in losing. I always counselled my students: you only lose if you fear failure and do not try.

Fear of trying. 
This isn't a world that condemns failure, the Rabbi tells us. We know that the media isn't very forgiving;  for this reason we have to endeavour to keep friends around us who do forgive us. You only lose if you do not try. It is more truly fear of rejection. This is shattering. This is why, methinks, being unfriended on Facebook is as serious as a slap in the face!  

Some fear singing in public. But look what happens when we lift our voices in song. Everyone smiles.

People complain. They have unrealistic expectations of us, of themselves. We image our dreams and create visions. My dream of being principal was shattered with my depression and caring for palliative parents. I dreaded not doing the right thing. Every day. I impacted me greatly. As with many in depression, I ended up having panic attacks, tied to something to do with my balance. A common story.

If something is facing us and we aren't sure we are up to it, we fear action. I know, when caring for my parents I was afraid of not doing the right thing. Friends can attest to managers who fear making a decision. It drives employees nuts!

To cope with fear of the unknown, have confidence in yourself. If you fail, forgive yourself. You will not be thought the less if you fail. You will be forgiven by those who love you.

Dad, in long-term care
As a caregiver I made some mistakes. I have forgiven myself for them. Some of my distant relatives have not forgiven me. They are out of my life, and have cut themselves off from me. I can live with this! As Maya Angelou says: you do the best you know how, with the information you have at the time.

There are times when you are asked to do something and you wonder if you can do it. When we reach deeply into our souls, the Universe sends us the energy or the person we need. Kushner says this is 'God at work in this world.' In my mind the Universe sends a teacher when we need one.

Here is to family!
We know that animals sense our fear. It is something in the fibre of our bodies that reflects in the way we treat one another. If we fear what someone will do to us we will reject them. The shell in which our soul is housed, the human body, is made up of 1026 atoms. Our minds can play tricks on us. Our complicated selves, driven by ego, and by fear, can cause misalignment of our energies.

The Hebrew Bible says (82 times, Kushner says), 'Be not afraid'. Being afraid diminishes our humanity. If we let our fears take over our lives we rob ourselves of the joy of life. Live in the present.

Be not afraid. If you don't make any mistakes in a day, you aren't really trying!

Sunday 21 November 2010

Wishcatcher...flying in the breeze

I'm not pleased. I wouldn't sell it. But I put together a number of crafty items, used my teaching experience and created a wishcatcher.

I painted the hula hoop with spray paint, meant for plastic.

The ribbing was from Michael's. A bag of sinew, in pieces, wrapped together. A glue gun is a fabulous invention.

The feathers, for now, are feather dusters!
There are little beads strung into the mix.

Olive, Giraffelope and my chair

The reindeer (Olive, the OTHER reindeer) I bought in Manotick, put her on my car roof, and drove to Muskoka as a gift to my parents many years ago. The car was an Achieva. I was so proud of myself!
my front lawn!

As I said yesterday, I've done Christmas & New Year's cards , macrame (now long settled into dust), when I was in young and home with kids. I made candles. I remember the 70s!

 Inspired by Muskoka Artisans,  (see LuceDee in Bracebridge), and now Lanark County artists (e.g., Perth Studio Tour,) I felt I could find some inspiration and creativity.

Teaching had its moments, but mostly it was deciding what NOT to teach!
I used to just lay out the art supplies, suggest a theme, and watch them create. Some were crafty, created models, others followed their hearts. Art is for fun. I loathe art that looks like all the others. For art is good therapy. It is not something we amateurs feel pressure about. Music was good therapy too. We wrote a class song in 2003, and videotaped it!

Creative activity could be described as a type of learning process 
where teacher and pupil are located in the same individual. 
-Arthur Koestler, novelist and journalist (1905-1983)