Category Archives: personal

Contextless Thoughts

  1. We are 95% done Christmas.  The only big discussion that is tearing the family apart is which shaving system do Mark and I go to.  I am tried of paying big money for Schick Hydro 5 blades (which work great but are expensive) which Mark wants an upgrade from his Gillette Sensor 3 razor and blades.  I am not sure what I am going to do.  Some of you have expressed strong opinions against Henry’s razors but Mark is considering the M5 Magnum.  I may also consider the Costco alternative.  Of course we don’t talk about this in front of Wendy who erupts and brings up how much more money and how much lower quality women’s razors are.
  2. Some of you read my tweets about a City of Saskatoon contractor tossing a handful of grass seed down on some dirt a week ago and thought I was mad.  I am not.  By them cheaping out and not doing the job right, let’s me plant a premium blend of seed on the boulevard and then let is fill out the grass in other areas.  18 years ago when we moved in, we had a huge path that cut it’s way through one part of the side boulevard.  After a couple of years of planting and replanting, I found the right combination of grass seed and it took off through the entire boulevard.  Part of the plan of seeding in half of the driveway with the same kind of seed is to see it take off and grow back into the back section of the boulevard and take over the crappy grass there (it’s fine if it is raining but the combination of weird seed and no top soil means that it goes yellow if not seeing water almost all of the time, even after 20 years of mulch and fertilizer.
  3. Mark’s jaw is back to normal which means he can eat real food.
  4. Oliver is taking karate at Mayfair School three times a week.  After watching a Jackie Chan fight scene, he said, “I think I take that next year”.
  5. Wendy and Oliver took in the 2015 Santa Claus parade.  Wendy took photos and posted them on her website.
  6. Varsity Scripsit by Tandy for DOSFor the first time since the early 90s, I don’t have word processor on my computers.  I am now writing my columns on Google Docs and I have loved the transition.  Since no one has asked, here are the list of word processors I have loved.  GeoWorks Writer (DOS), Varsity Scripsit (DOS) by Tandy, Microsoft Word 5.5 (DOS), WordPerfect 5.1 (DOS),  Microsoft Word 2.0c (Windows), Microsoft Word 6, Microsoft Word 95, WordPerfect 7, Microsoft Works, Microsoft Word 97, Microsoft Word 2000, Open Office Writer, Libre Office Writer, Apple Pages and now Google Docs.  Of all of them, Varsity Scripsit, Microsoft Word 2.0c, and AbiWord (depending on the version) are my favorites.  Apple Pages and Open Office Writer were the worst.  I may purchase Corel Office for times I need more complicated page layout options.
  7. Part of still doesn’t believe Donald Trump is serious about running for President.  He isn’t spending any money on a field organization.  No advertising, no nothing.  I still wonder if it is a marketing stunt for his Trump Hotel that is opening in Washington this spring.

Winter is almost here

I read this in The StarPhoenix today.  It was enough that I wanted to cancel my subscription. 

A special winter weather statement has been issued by Environment Canada for the City of Saskatoon.

According to a warning posted Monday afternoon on the Environment Canada website, an “intense low pressure system with a strong cold front will sweep across Saskatchewan Wednesday bringing an abrupt end to the mild November weather.”

Behind the cold front, temperatures will plummet to normal for this time of year, with overnight lows falling into the minus double digits, the national weather forecaster predicted.

Alongside a drop in temperatures, Environment Canada also predicts blustering northwesterly winds, with central and eastern sections of the province hit the hardest by gusts between 60 and 90 kilometres per hour expected.

I guess this means summer is over.  Sigh.  I missed it.

Most of you know that Wendy struggles with major depressive disorder.  She has written about it a lot if you care.  It comes every summer and has been horrible since Oliver was born.  It manifests itself in some severe self-destructive behavior and since we are married and have two sons, it affects the boys and I as much or more than it does her.

You know what, for the first time in over 15 years, it never made an appearance.

Some friends have asked what the difference is.  She has been on medication for years and that hasn’t always helped as a large part of the depression is psychological but for whatever reason, it hasn’t hit this year.  I have some theories but here is the one that makes the most sense.

Two Christmases ago, I gave her two cameras for Christmas.  I was working at Don’s Photo and Wendy had asked for a new compact camera.  Well actually she didn’t but her camera sucked and she was accepting that fact.  I bought a Fujifilm JX600 compact camera for her and later that season, someone traded in an Olympus PEN EPL-2.  I got a good deal on it and bought it for her.  She cried when she opened the gift.  She said that she would never need another lens but a week later, Olympus had their 40-150mm lens on sale for $103 so she bought that for herself.

Last Christmas I bought her a 19mm Sigma f/2.8 Art lens which she loved.  Later on she bought herself a Sigma 60mm f/2.8 Art lens which I’ll be honest, I don’t know if she ever uses.  In March, I used some Christmas bonus money and bought her an Olympus OM-D E-M10.  It’s not Olympus’ professional camera but it’s a great camera and she loved it.

Being sick this summer, plans to go to the Fringe or the Jazz Festival were changed.  I would go home and sleep while Wendy would go out with the boys, always bringing the camera.  Instead of waiting for me to take the lead, she would just do something.  I realized that photography had made her more independent and helped her fix her relationship with Mark that the depression had damaged.

If they weren’t off taking some photos at the SaskTel Jazz Festival, they were off walking along Broadway grabbing a coffee and shooting some street shots, or going to Waskesiu to explore a trail or five.

I also think the positive feedback makes a difference.  When she would post about Jian Ghomeshi’s alleged crimes this summer, she would get hateful comments.  When she wrote about violence towards women in Guyana, she got hate mail and even angry responses from her (Guyanese) parents.  When she posted photos on Flickr, she got favorites from photographers she respected and questions about lens and settings.  Maybe finding the right community makes all the difference.

So yeah, personally it was a crappy summer with a leg that keeps getting worse but as a family, it was a great summer because for the first time in a very long time, the grey clouds of depression never came by.


Today I went back to the future… well I went to the ambulatory care unit of RUH which is still awesomely decorated in a 80s color scheme.

It’s the same old, same old.  My ankle is still infected and after 10 months, they still can’t get rid of it.  They can fight it to a stalemate but can’t actually beat it.

My appointment was at 10:30.  I had hoped to be out by 11:30 as I had some things I wanted to do.  Since I never saw the doctor until 11:45, that wasn’t going to happen.

What did happen is that when they took my pulse when I was admitted, it was 226 bpm.  They kind of freaked out.  I then started a bad fever and started to get the chills, all while casually waiting for my doctor.  This is what happens when my antibiotics are done.  I am fine while on them and then within a day or two of being off them, I get violently ill.  Horrible chills, mind numbing fevers until I get delirious, double vision (from the high heart rate).  Then when I am on the antibiotics, life is good and people say that I am fine.  Then the antibiotics run out and I get extremely sick.

Since this happened while he was seeing me, he ordered a bunch of immediate tests and seemed happy it was happening as it was the ideal time to do these tests.  I am glad the specialist was happy but I would have been even happier if he said, “you are cured”.

So I go down the mall at RUH to “Tests” and I am kind of excited about this.  I have crappy, hard to find veins.  The kind that Gamma Dynacare can’t get blood from.  They try three times and say, “never come back”.  At the hospital they keep digging and digging.  It may be painful but the blood comes out.  I sit down in the waiting area and they have some sort of The View clone on the TV.  If I was on life support, I would unplugged myself to avoid watching it.

I get called into the lab and the lab tech engages in a mighty struggle with my veins but finally I start to bleed.  I explain to her mid struggle that this always happens and I can handle the pain.  I’d rather watch her needle dig around for a vein that watch whatever was on the television waiting room.   As I get up to leave, she says, “That was a struggle.  My next step was to take you to the lab and cut you with a knife down there.”  I am pretty sure she was joking but after the struggles that I have had in the past with giving blood, I’d have gone along with it.

The next fun part is always getting my prescriptions filled.  The last time I went, there was a new pharmacist there.  She looked at the prescription and freaked out and didn’t want to fill the prescription.  Her assistants (who I have dealt with for years) look over and go, “No that’s accurate, he’s kind of messed up.”  They also recognized the specialists name and were fine with it.   This time the was more concern than freaking out.  As one said, “You’ve been on a lot of different kinds of antibiotics”.

I am not sure if the latest antibiotic is going to work or not.  It has beaten back the infection a bit so we are going with it for three months to see if they can break the stalemate.   When I started this, they gave me a prescription for three weeks and that was a big deal and it was 5th the dosage.  Now it’s like five times the amount and three months.

So when Premier Brad Wall mentions escalating healthcare costs for the reason why taxes need to increase in the province, I’m the reason.

The latest

Last week found me in the ambulatory care area of Royal University Hospital.  The part hasn’t been updated since the early 80s.  I felt like the dress code should include feathered hair and mullets for all of the staff and doctors to keep the vibe going.  Not only is the area still decorated in early 80s decor, it looks new.  Not sure how RUH maintenance staff pull that off.

I was off the antibiotics that keep me functioning when I went and saw him.  The night before the infection came racing back and covered my lower leg and ankle.  I had fevers and chills all day at work and I could barely make it up our stairs to get to bed.  Wendy came home and freaked out and wanted to take me to emergency but I just wanted some sleep and I wouldn’t get any in ER.  I was pretty confident that I wasn’t going to die and I found it unlikely that a night ER doc would know how to cure me.   So the next morning I rolled out bed, went to RUH, realized they made the parking garage too small once the new Children’s Hospital opens up, and admitted myself.

The specialist grilled me a while and affirmed part of my treatment but also brought up that no one has done even the right tests yet.  He also told me that the antibiotic I was on was the wrong kind, not strong enough and in the long term has made things worse.

So I am on a new one.  The advantage of the old one is that it kept me out of pain.  Not being on one means that it is incredibly painful and while the new anti-biotic is more potent, it takes time work.  When I am off the anti-biotic, the infection spreads like wildfire in a day.  Yet when I am on the anti-biotic it takes a week to beat it back.  The big change is that the pain in the leg is just overwhelming now.  It was bad but nothing like this.  It’s getting better as the redness goes down but there isn’t a part of my right leg that doesn’t scream in pain with every step.

The specialist did have a very technical discussion about my leg which I was fine with.   I asked questions and he explained them.  I felt better at the end of the appointment.  He did throughout it keep saying, “those little bugs in your leg” which made me smirk each time.   I would have also accepted, “that gross thing that is eating your leg” as another description.  I felt better when I left which was an improvement over the other specialist appointment where I was told to quit my job and that I wasn’t serious about getting better because I wouldn’t quit my job.

So there you go.  Leg is still messed up and for this week at least, got a lot worse.  Of course the good news is that it looks like it could start to get better.

My leg

I should have posted this sooner but I have been busy and tired.

The good news is that I am not going to die in the next couple of weeks and they didn’t find a fast acting tumor.  So sorry to disappoint those who were hoping for that outcome.  I appreciated the emails.

I did my tests at RUH, was pumped full of radioactive chemicals (sadly no super powers came from it) and was scanned, scanned in the exact same way, then I was scanned again.  Finally I was scanned the fourth time.  I am assuming they were looking for different things.

I did find some time to read my file and it was alarmingly full of errors.  It mentions two ulcers and there is only one.  It mentions my left leg and it is my right leg that the infection is part of.  It doesn’t surprise me.  There has been sloppy mistakes made constantly in how forms and things have been handled.

What’s worse is the amount of nurses and technicians who say, “It happens all of the time”.  That doesn’t make me feel comforted.

So basically after all of those tests (and about $50 in RUH parking fees – tell me again why RUH parkade is the MOST EXPENSIVE IN SASKATOON? It’s not like you have an option to go anywhere else), and a fine cup of Starbucks coffee, I am told that a part of my bone has died and I get to wait until the middle of September to the next step.  Yes I said a month.  That is healthcare in Saskatchewan for you.  You wait months to see a specialist, then you get the rushed tests, then you wait a month to see the results.

Of course no one is really dealing with the infection which beat it’s way past the antibiotic this week.  I am on a yet different one.  No expectation of making me better but I was burning up earlier today and partly from the fatigue, my breathing was really shallow.  Since the inflection is also in my skin and the bone, when it gets bad, it is really painful.  The ankle swells, is extremely painful to touch and the bone feels like it is going to burst.  If you have never felt like your ankle bone was about to burst, it’s painful.

The pain is kind of manageable but the fever makes it so I can’t sleep.  I find myself going downstairs to get some cold water, take a cold shower, drink more water, find another fan (as if that is going to help), go out for a walk, drink more water, take another cold shower…. it’s not exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep.  Then when that doesn’t work, I browse the web.  The markets in Asia aren’t the most exciting reading but you got to do what you got to do.

So right now for treatment, they are treating my vascular system in my legs which seems wrong to me since I don’t think I have a vascular problem.  The problem I have is that I have a massive amount of antibiotic resistant infection in my bone marrow and when the antibiotics stop and the legs swell up, everyone goes, “vascular problem”.  Yet when I am on antibiotics, the swelling goes away.

So after I lather on a “powerful steroid” leg to deal with the itchiness of the Coban wraps tomorrow. I realize that no one really seems to have a grasp at what is wrong with me despite me getting worse.  The weird thing is that for one of the very few times in my life, I have no idea what to do.

For someone who doesn’t trust others very well, this is a long way out of my comfort zone, what’s worse is that I fear that it is costing me my leg.

No wonder I don’t sleep well most nights.

Update: Progress!  I only have the Coban wrap on the leg that needs it (I am really happy with that).  Am working on seeing if I can get into the infectious disease specialist that everyone thinks I need to see.

Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park

While in Banff National Park, Wendy and I took the boys up to Johnston Canyon which was insanely busy.  The parking lot was packed and by the time we left, people were parking over a kilometre in both ways down the Bow Valley Parkway.   We had plans to take the boys to the upper waterfalls.

So as the sign says, it is a 1 km hike to the first falls.  Yet when I started the Map My Hike app on my iPhone, it said that it was 4k with a return hike. 

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

I think I have met these three people before.

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

They enjoyed the walk.  They weren’t tired but the progress was at a standstill because there was a group taking selfie’s up ahead.

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

This is my favorite shot from the hike.

The hike along Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

A Parks Canada employee has what looks to be a long and wet day ahead of him.

Parks Canada employee preparing for what looks to be a long days work at Johnston Canyon in Prince Albert National Park

IMGP0396Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

This is the legendary lower falls of Johnston Canyon.  We had planned to go to the upper falls but as the photos show, the crowds were brutal and the antibiotics I had to deal with the infection in my ankle hadn’t beaten the infection back very far.  Combined it meant that it would be a long hike and since we are coming back next summer to hike to the inkpots, it wasn’t a big deal to call it a day and dodge the selfie sticks back to the car.

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkWendy Cooper at Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

I think we can all agree that I nailed this picture of a chipmunk.

 Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

Did I mention that the trail was packed.  This is the main reason why we didn’t go to the second falls.  So many people (and my ankle was really hurting me).  Also, most of the people we passed on the trail were looking at their phones.  Apparently world class scenery and nature doesn’t compete well with Angry Birds.

 Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

If you want to see more photos from Johnston Canyon, check out the full set on Flickr.

Sawback Picnic Area in Banff National Park

Sawback is a small picnic area on the Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Johnston Canyon.  It used to be small and has gotten smaller since Parks Canada has moved the tables near to the roadside turn off and allowed the vegetation to take over old picnic areas.

Growing up, it was my favorite place in the world.  We used to take a yearly trip from Calgary (and later Saskatoon) to Johnston Canyon and then picnic at Sawback.  I was looking forward to taking the boys there and was quite disappointed when all there was left was some picnic tables near the parking lot.


It wasn’t the picnic areas that make it so great, it was the babbling brook of glacier runoff that make it so much fun to explore as a kid.  I knew that didn’t go anywhere so I followed an overgrown trail into the bush and 50 feet into it I found the brook.


Mark and Oliver did exactly what I did year ago and this jump across it and get all wet.

Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkMark and Oliver at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkMark and Oliver at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park

This shot was right after I had scolded the boys about making faces every time I tried to take their photo.

Mark and Oliver at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park

So while the picnic tables placement kind of sucks, we will return in 2016 with a proper picnic blanket and food.

Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkWendy at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkA forced family photo at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park

I told Mark that there is a sacred Cooper tradition of dunking one’s head into the glacier water that ran out of the Sawback mountain range.  He put his hands in, screamed from the cold…

Mark dunking his head into freezing glacier water at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkMark dunking his head into freezing glacier water at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park


And dunked his head into it.

Mark dunking his head into freezing glacier water at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park

After he got out and was struggling with hypothermia did I tell him that he was the first of the Cooper’s to do such a thing.  Yes, I am a horrible father.

All of the snapshots I took at Sawback can be found in their album on Flickr.


Well I am at the Cancer Clinic tomorrow for a series of tests.  I guess “cancer clinic” and tests says about all it needs to. 

The cancer they are testing for is almost “always fatal” according to the literature I have read about it.  The good news is that if it is found right away, it can be cured.  The bad news is that  I am well past “right away”.  From what I have been told and read, the symptoms I am showing are consistent with both a type of cancer and this long term infection.  In 4% of cases, it is cancer.  Since it is a fast acting cancer… well you get the drift.  While there is a 1 in 25 chance that I am screwed, there is a 24/25 chance that I will be okay.  Of course with it being election season, the margin of error is…

To be blunt, I don’t expect them to find cancer but something is wrong with my ankle and foot that is beyond the infection.  I can feel something in my ankle.   From what I have read and been told, ankles kind of mutate when they have a bone marrow infection, so it could just be that.

That being said, if they tell me I have cancer in my leg, I’ll be be able to say…. well I don’t know what I am going to say.  Nothing witty comes to mind right now.  I’ll have a witty line ready for Tuesday.

As for around here, the focus will always be on next summer.  Wendy wrote up our plans for 2016, which is to spend about 10 days in a rustic Banff National Park campsite and use it as a basecamp to explore a lot of trails around Lake Louise and Banff.  We picked out a 2 person hiking tent for next year and I intend, well hope to use it.

Things I Think I Know

Well I survived my appointment with the surgeon with all of my limbs still attached.  A lot of you were asking questions so here is what I know.

  1. The treatment with the wound clinic has been ineffective (I knew that… all they did was change a bandage and lecture me most days for things out outside of my control).
  2. The test results show that the infection is taking a serious toll on my entire body.  Part of the body is fighting on, other parts have given up.  It does explain why I go to work, come home and nap until the next morning.  It also explains why I haven’t been that social this year, I am so tired all of the time.
  3. Part of that is that I am probably now a Type I diabetic.  I know this is warped but there has been so many other serious things, this doesn’t seem to be a priority for anyone. The infection drives up my blood sugars which exhausts me.  Part of the problem is that to figure out what to do with the diabetes, the infection needs to be brought back under control. 
  4. Treatment is going to be long and unsurprisingly, expensive.  The treatment the surgeon wants to try isn’t covered under healthcare in Saskatchewan.  Some basic research yesterday shows that it is in other provinces but not here.  That makes sense because it works and is faster than what we cover in Saskatchewan.   I can’t remember if I file this under lean or the New Saskatchewan.  Either way it’s ridiculous because…
  5. Everyone I deal with at the Saskatoon Health Region seems shocked and bothered that I am still working and not laying at home on my bed waiting to die.  Believe me, every single morning I was wake up and say, “I feel like death” and “I just want to stay in bed” but staying in bed causes a lot of pain while being up and about does not.  So I try to get an appointment where I can get treatment and then go to work.  I get told, “well the seniors like those early morning time slots”.  I understand that being retired is hectic but seriously?  I try to get treatment after work and am told, “We don’t offer that treatment in the evenings.”  The best is when I am scheduled for a treatment and am told when I get there, “Oh, we only do that in the morning and at a different facility.”  Or they don’t call me but insist they did.  Or I show up at appointments and am told that I cancelled it.   It is not a lot of fun dealing with CPAS and it is even harder when you are trying to keep working….
  6. I get asked all of the time if they are going to take my leg.  I don’t know yet.  Some doctors are more optimistic then others.  What we do know now is that antibiotics aren’t killing the infection.   When I am on antibiotics, the infection is at bay but as I saw this week, the infection literally moves up my leg in 24 hours after I am off it (I am back on them now).   I also am told that there will be surgeries in my near future and there will be a lot of them.
  7. So that killed the hope of hiking to Grey Owl’s Cabin in August.  I know this is stupid but that makes me incredibly sad.  You have no idea how badly I wanted to take that trip with Wendy, Mark, and Oliver.   The new treatments were going to start today.  Since we had planned to leave for Calgary at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, those treatments are starting next week when I get back.   Wendy and I had talked about her taking the kids to Calgary herself if I needed to stay behind but I am hopped up on antibiotics that will keep me going until I get back.  Without them, I was told I would have been hospitalized in Calgary which is why I was nervous about going.  As the doctor said, I have a long and hard road ahead of me, a vacation right now is a good thing.
  8. I appreciate the advice that EVERYONE is giving me and that is that I go to the Mayo Clinic.  Umm, I have about $200,000 equity in my house.  Wendy and I have looked at re-mortgaging to do this but to go down, it would take every bit of money we have and then what happens if it doesn’t work?  I bring up the costs for just a week of treatment and people’s jaw drop.  Let me be blunt, the Mayo Clinic is for the wealthy.  Wendy and I are very middle class.  Throughout this I am realizing that people see the Mayo Clinic as their last hope.  If everything else goes bad, there is always the Mayo Clinic and “those” doctors can help you.  They may be able to do so but only at a tremendous cost that most of us can’t afford.

At least I’m consistent

After being assured that my latest batch of antibiotics would work on killing the infection in my leg.  Taking the antibiotics via IV was supposed to give me a deeper penetration and therefore kill the infection fully.  I finished my last batch of them on Thursday (and out came the pic line) and things looked better.  Last night I told Wendy that I could feel the infection return.  This morning I could see that it had and it is currently moving up my leg.

Tomorrow I have a doctor’s appointment with a vascular surgeon and we will talk, umm, options for what to do next.   It’s not going to be a fun appointment.

My white blood cell count is normal which means that my body has just given up fighting the infection.  My protein count is supposed to be 7.  It’s 150.8 because of the infection and inflammation.   Not only that but the ulcer on the bottom of my foot is bleeding horribly this morning after months of improvement. 

So I am off to City Hospital for treatment of the ulcer.  Then I am going to head downtown to shoot some photos and deny what is happening.  This afternoon I am off to Don’s Photo where I am going to calibrate some lenses for Mark and I before returning home to battle the coming chills and fever all night. 

I hate this.  I just want it to end.  Hopefully I have two legs at the end of the process.

This and that

Some random thoughts…

  • I really should not have filed a column for The StarPhoenix this week.  Typing 800 words with a pic line in your hand hurts.  It doesn’t start out that bad but after 200 or so words, it is agony.  So when you read it Monday, envision me in pain and ignore the fact that it felt mediocre and forced to me.
  • Mark Cooper: PhotographerI don’t know how it happened but these arrived in the mail today.  Well actually I do.  Mark has been out with his Pentax K-x and now with his Pentax K-30 for up to six hours a day taking photographs of the city.  He went down to the Lion’s Skatepark and instead of guys being upset that he was taking their photos, they were excited and all wanted to know where they could see his photos.  Mark asked if I would help him design up and print out some business cards on blank stock.  In the end it was cheaper and easier to do some cards up at Vistaprint so we did.  This is what he came up with.  He is thrilled with them.
  • Mark is also talking about joining the Royal Canadian Navy for a three year tour after high school.  To say that Wendy is unimpressed by this idea is an understatement.   The phrase “rising tensions between NATO and Russia” does not go over well in our house.
  • I haven’t really talked about it but I did order a new Pentax K-3 with a 18-135mm lens last week.   I have been too sick to go out and use it but it did allow me to give my Pentax K-30 to Mark.

Pentax K-3 with 18-135mm lens

  • Mark is thrilled with his “new to him” K-30 and I am looking forward to trying out my K-3 around town.  First I need to get rid of the pic line in my hand.
  • Everyone asks if I am going to make it.  It’s been a week of injecting saline solution and antibiotics into my arm and the cellulitis is clearing up but it does that with oral anti-biotics.  The problem is that it comes back as soon as they stop.  So while it looks good, I really don’t know and won’t know for another couple of weeks.
  • The pain is a lot less in the leg.  Last week the dog licked me and I thought I would lose it.  Tonight socks were able to come off with no pain.  That is progress.


After three days of sleeplessness, fevers, and chills I went back to St. Paul’s Hospital.  The cellulitis had gone from my ankle up my calf and almost to my knee.  As of 5:00 a.m. this morning, the infection was winning.

So the plan was to be at St. Paul’s by 6:00 a.m.  We walked in, saw triage and was given a bed right away.  I was quite pleased with how fast this was going.  I expected to be home by 10:00 a.m.  Since the teaching is done at RUH, it meant no interns, no residents and just a doctor.

So the nurse saw it, gave an expected course of action.  The doctor saw it, affirmed her course of action.  He ordered blood work.  The blood work came.  I was rolling along.

The white blood cell count came back as normal.  Which was kind of odd since I have this chronic infection.  The C-Reative Protein test came back.  I did well in it.  It was supposed to be around 7.  Mine was 150.8.  Beat that folks.

So they gave me a dose of IV antibiotics and then I wait until 3p to leave.  I had to see Home Care to get me to agree to give myself an IV.  Then they made me sign off on giving me my own medication via IV.  Then they taught me to give myself medication via IV but not really because I already had it.  I did get an instruction guide. 

Oh yeah, they put the IV into my hand.   Not only do I look like a hardcore addict but you type with an IV in your hand (of course I can inject heroine into my hand if I ever decide to take up drugs).

I think that was the biggest frustration, I asked them several times to keep the needle out of my hands for work and they stuck into my hand because it was the easiest place for them to jab a needle.  Actually they seemed amazed that I would be working and not at home.  Like I have written before, some of us need to work, especially with an illness that has no end date right now.

Then I was allowed to go to City Hospital where they gave me boxes and boxes of medication.  I have more gear then a safe injection site (and with my hand, I look the part).

Some thoughts.

  • Since the start everyone has been saying that my leg is a vascular issue despite the vascular tests being largely normal.  I have been saying it is an infection.   It’s weird, I have had a few doctors look at my leg closely and none of them have thought it was cellulitis when it clearly was.  I am sure this happens lots but doctors appear to “thin slice” to use Malcolm Gladwell’s term.
  • I have a problem with what the hospital charge for parking.  It cost me $18 for a day of parking and it wasn’t like it was I was there for a party.  That is obscene and taking advantage of people.
  • Here is something else that blew me away today.  Everyone in emergency today was on a waiting list for a specialist and their condition had deteriorated to the point where they were sent to the E.R. (we had time to chat).
  • I am not really that comfortable injecting myself with an IV medication everyday so I asked if I can come in and have it done.  Nope.  My choices were inject yourself or have a nurse come in on their hours (which doesn’t work for my schedule) and they can do it for you.  I can’t go to a clinic or hospital to have it done.  I just want a time and I’ll be there early but nope.  I don’t know why this can’t be done.  So this is patient centric care in Saskatchewan.  Do what you aren’t comfortable doing because it’s cheaper and you have a piece of paper.
  • Cellulitis hurts.  Badly. 
  • I don’t know if this is going to work.  Every treatment they have tried so far “is going to work”.  It’s been 8 months and I am getting sicker.

Random Thursday Night Thoughts

For seven eight months now, I have been battling this infection in my foot.  It has gone from a part of my foot into my ankle, my skin (cellulitis) , and now my bone marrow.  They have been pumping me full of antibiotics and then to keep from developing colitis, they give me probiotics.  If you have ever had probiotics to go with your antibiotics, your quality of life goes way down.  They are just there to minimize the worst of the what the antibiotics are going to do to you.  Even my pharmacist would get freaked out at what I was being prescribed.  The antibiotics make some progress but at the end of the day, the infection comes back worse when they are done.

It came back yesterday and I was stuck with the worst fever and chills cycle that I have ever experienced.  Then today I topped that fever and chills cycle.  My whole body aches from it.  That was my last two days.  I spend hours trying to get warm and then the fever goes the other ways and I have a hissy fit trying to get the covers off of me and so I can cool down. (no one throws a hissy fit like me when I am burning up and I have seven blankets on me)

As a diabetic, this is not a lot of fun because it plays havoc with my blood sugar levels.  Twice in 2015 my blood sugar has gone so high that I have acne on my hands as the body is trying to figure out what to do (yeah, that was gross).  As one doctor said when he looked at my blood sugar numbers, “oh fuck”.   It’s so far down on the list of things they need to fix that they haven’t really made any progress in dealing with it.  Of course it means that a combination of fighting this infection and the high blood sugar levels means that I am exhausted all of the time.

Of course part of the treatment is with CPAS.  If one department needed to reorganized and changed as part of lean, it is them.  Wendy goes to every appointment with me because she helps me with this wound on my foot. This should be straight forward but it never is.  Several times I have been given appointments for things that don’t happen on that day or even that facility.  Other times they call me and say, “You had an appointment”. Wendy and I are saying, “umm, no one said anything to us about this.”  Then we get lectured because we show up for appointments written on an appointment card (and confirmed) but don’t show up for appointments no one tells us about.

Then when I am there, I get lectured by nurses because I haven’t had this test done or an appointment yet with a specialist.  You know I tried to walk in and ask for a MRI myself and that didn’t go so well… I don’t even know what to say (which as we all know, is rare for me).  I’m the one caught in the cracks of a slow system, you don’t think I want this resolved?

I wish I could say it wasn’t painful but it is.  The dog licked my leg this morning (creepy, I know) and I thought I would going to pass out.  The one saving grace from all of this is that it is summer and I can wear short pants (also trying to get a job at the PMO).  I have had jeans on lately and the pain was horrible.  It’s not like I don’t have a high tolerance for pain.  I have had neuropathy for years and cope with it without pain killers but this is something else.

I wish I could say that I have faith in our Medicare system but I don’t.  8 months.  Of course my mother lost her leg in a very similar way.  It just took a couple of years.   The weird thing is that this just seems normal here and from my personal experience and family history it is.

Knife Fight

I use a knife at work and for months, I have used a Strider folding knife.  Strider makes knives for Seal Team 6 and they are really, really nice knives.  This one is smaller but still looks intimidating which isn’t the look I was going for. 

I found a Gerber Rip Stop knife and I decided to get it but Wendy said that the boys would want to get it for Father’s Day.  So instead of letting me have it, she got me a $3 knife from Wal-Mart.

I had it with me and never really used it until one day it wouldn’t even cut through tape.  It was that bad.  Mark found out and starts to re-inact a potential 911 call.

Mark: Help, I am being attacked by my knife wielding lunatic father.

Operator: Are you hurt?

Mark: Well kind of.  He has jabbed me several times and I am starting to get a rash.

Operator: I hasn’t broken the skin?

Mark: No but a couple more days of this and I could get a callous or something.  Maybe a minor infection.

Operator: All the police are busy but I can send a dermatologist early next week….

The knife was that bad.   So finally I get the Gerber Ripstop and the first thing I test is that it can cut Scotch tape.  So at least I am making progress.  It also doesn’t look intimidating  So we are winning in that way as well.

Father’s Day

It was a weird day around here today.  Wendy’s father is dying of cancer.  While they used to be close, he has been horrible to her from the night she told him that she had been molested as a child.  He changed that night and has been horrible to her ever since.

In hindsight if he had said to her that he never wanted to ever talk to her and owned that, it would have been easier but no, her mom has tried to work things out while at the same time blaming Wendy ever since then.  With him dying he wanted to see Wendy (just Wendy, not Mark and Oliver) one last time.  Wendy said no and he kind of burnt every bridge remaining.  Well not that there were not burnt bridges left but he knocked over the piers as well.

It’s really tough on her.  They used to be close.  She thought of him as a friend.  Over the years her mother has been clueless on everything while at least her dad understood some of what she was going through, he would then be cruel while fully understanding what he was doing.  In many ways he hurt her more than the people who molested her did.

So every Father’s Day I get the full brunt of all of that emotion and anger that Wendy feels towards her father.  It just spills out.  Today was no exception except that it had all of the emotion of her being upset that I was sick as well.

Today I had big plans.  The infection in my leg plays havoc on my blood sugar levels.  That makes me really tired so the plan was to go to bed early last night and sleep in today.  However everyone was upset at that plan and was somehow mad that I went to bed early (except the dog) and early this morning they were upset that I was still sleeping.  That was the start of my day.

Another transition in the house is that I am no longer making everyone get ready.  I am frustrated with having to get Wendy and Mark moving out the door every time that I have calmly told them that I am going to give them an itinerary and if they aren’t going to be ready to leave on time, I will leave them behind.

So Friday I let them know that I had tickets to the Saskatoon Valkyries game and that I would leave for Gordie Howe Bowl at 12:30p.  No one was even close to ready.  So I left without them.  That upset everyone even more and made them even more emotional and upset.

I come home and lay down because the last thing I should have done is sit on a bleacher and watch a football game today and waited until my foot had returned to normal.  Again, that caused more anxiety because I wasn’t having fun. 

This kind of anxiety just freezes Wendy and Mark.   Wendy doesn’t know what to do and just introverts everything until she explodes.  Mark is processing this too and doesn’t know what to do. 

So finally I send all three of them out of the house to go for dinner.  The silence was awesome and I got some reading and writing done.

In some ways it is easy for me to deal with things because I have been down this road before with my mom and I know whatever happens, happens.  The doctors will make emergency referrals and do emergency tests and then two months later I will see the specialist I should have seen a month ago.  It’s the Saskatchewan way.  You may die because of how slow our system is but you won’t have to pay for it (somewhere right now Brad Wall is preparing a bar graph that shows less people dying or losing their legs while on a waiting list then under the NDP).

In Wendy’s defense, she had good care when she was really sick.  She has sat there while angry nurses have gotten angry at me because tests haven’t been done yet and have had them say, “Doesn’t anyone realize how serious this is?”  Last time I said, “think of the greater good.”  It didn’t go over well.

In the end, Father’s Day is a difficult day for Wendy.  That makes it a confusing day every year for the boys. 

One of these years we will have a nice Father’s Day.