- The antibiotics are beating back the infection in my right leg. A week ago the infection had encircled the leg and covered about 80% of the lower leg. Now the circle is broken and it is about 20% of the leg. Remarkably if the dog brushes up on it, a kid hits it, or if anything falls on it, it still falls on the painful part of the leg.
- A lot of you have asked what the doctors are doing about it. The don’t really know why it the infection keeps reoccuring. About 10 times now I have been declared cured and within days of having absolutely no trace of it for weeks, it comes back when I come off the antibiotics. Each time it comes back with more force, faster, and harsher and I get way sicker in the process. In all of the opinions I have gotten, the doctors keep telling me that this isn’t supposed to happen.
- I still feel like death. There is a feeling that the infection has done long term damage to my body, especially the last time. Mentally I feel better. The fever takes a weird mental toll on you in that it is exhausting to be either freezing and trying to get warm or burning up and trying to break the fever and stay hydrated. It’s all I was thinking of for several days. Despite staying in bed, I was exhausted and not sleeping. I was too tired to even read anything.
- I try not to get angry or frustrated over it but I had some choice words for a doctor who was reminding me that my core fitness needed improvement. Umm, i have been told to stay off my feet for 14 months now, I barely go out and of course my fitness is going to suck.
- I was going to take this week off my StarPhoenix column to recover as I had nothing left in the tank but I read a great Sports Illustrated column on this years NCAA football season and how he had predicted how Ohio State would be an offensive juggernaut. It made me think back to all of the predictions that made so much sense in the pre-season of any sport and how few played out that way. I had some fun predictions for 2016 provincially, municipally and for the Riders. Prediction columns are fun, where else can I talk about Eric Olauson and Bill Belichick in the same space?
- A lot of you know that I have a passion for word processors. With a new Acer E-11 Netbook for Christmas, I am trying out a few right now. I just installed Corel Office which is a slimmed down version of WordPerfect, Quattro Pro and whatever they use for presentations and I am trying a full blown version of WordPerfect X7. I’ll let you know how it goes.
- Speaking of word processors, with my beloved Windowns Live Writer being discontinued by Microsoft, there is a new open source version called Open Live Writer. Microsoft has allowed some of their code to be open source (this is a big deal) and it is being developed and upgraded by a team of developers. The biggest difference is that Open Live Writer is compatible once again with Blogger.
- I wish someone would tell Jeb Bush that it is time to pull the plug on his campaign. It’s over Jeb.
- The lack of star NDP candidates for the upcoming provincial election tells me that the NDP knows that it isn’t going to win. Two relative unknowns in Saskatoon Fairview and Saskatoon Meewasin also tell me the same thing. Cam Broten may be Premier in 2020 but it seems like the goal is 20 seats (and be a government in waiting in 2016).
- Speaking of Saskatoon Meewasin, has there ever been a MLA with a lower profile then Roger Parent. No website and he even uses a @gmail.com email address on his bilboard ads. I can’t even find him in Google News (you search for “Roger Parent” and “Saskatoon”, he isn’t there). He is like the Saskatchewan Liberal Party of the Saskatchewan Party caucus. I would say this about a New Democrat, Liberal, or Saskatchewan Party MLA but if you are going to do so little work in being a MLA, you don’t deserve to even win a nomination or be elected.
- I saw Darren Hill beaking of at Rona Ambrose about this one Twitter but I agree with Rona Ambrose and that is the Liberal Party should have a referendum on changing the way we vote. Moving from First Past the Post may be the right thing (although I disagree with it) but it is a big of enough change to our democracy that we should have a say in it.
- A couple of things about Brad Wall. More and more his government reminds me of the Grant Devine regime with it’s dependance on mega-projects to spur the economy. The stadium in Regina, the Children’s Hospital (which we don’t need nor do we have the population to support) and the carbon capture project. Huge projects that are costing a recently struggling economy a lot of money. I might be okay with this but I don’t see a plan from the Saskatchewan Party on how to deal with low commodity prices other than complaining ot the feds (like Grant Devine). Now with no budget on the horizon before the provincial election and a struggling economy, it gives me an uncomfortable feeling that things are worse than we are being told. Of course in the end, Brad Wall might not be here much longer and may have his focus on the federal Conservativ leadership race.
- I am suprised by the Cleveland Browns inability to acknowledge and get help for Jonny Manziel being an alcoholic and having a drinking problem. There is a difference between being a party goer and what Manziel is doing. I am also suprised by Manziel not being able to control his friends cell phone’s. You don’t think Tom Brady’s friends have cell phones? Yet you don’t see those kind of videos appearing of him. In fact with Tom Brady’s Facebook, he has done an amazing job of controlling what people see of him.
- This is one of the most damning things I have ever heard someone say of a coach. Despite that it is what destroyed Josh McDaniels, Bobby Petrino (multiple times) and how many other countless coaches. Football is a people business and while we talk of the genius of coaches like Belichick with x and o’s, it is their ability to manage and lead men that makes them so impressive. Not just players but assistant coaches, support staff, and even the guys who take care of the field and bring them all together. Chip thought it was X and O’s. He was wrong.
- When did Facebook rants become news? Ryan Meili ran twice for the leadership of the NDP, lost both times and would never run for his party again. When he runs provincially or federally under someone else’s leadership, I’ll take this more seriously but for now I don’t see this as big news. I agree that Broten is taking the party to the centre, it’s worked well for the NDP in the past under Romanow and Calvert but it has been a disasterous move for the party federally and provincially elsewhere other than Alberta. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
- We gave tickets to the boys and a BB-8 droid this morning. They were up doing their thing and I reminded them they forgot (gasp) one gift. They were shocked when they saw the tickets. Then Oliver started to cry. Really cry. Heartbreakingly cry. He saw Theatre 12 printed on his ticket and took that to mean he had to be 12 to watch the movie. Once we had a that worked out, it was okay.
- The boys loved BB-8. They were recording holographic images and having a blast. The dog on the other hand saw a ball with a head on it and wasn’t impressed on being replaced as the centre of attention.
- As we drove to the Scotiabank Theatre we were early, Oliver wasn’t impressed. When we parked, he leaps out of the car and starts to run to the theatre. Apparently he was excited.
- I enjoyed the larger roll that Chewbacca played.
- It’s nice to see them bring back a swashbuckling character again in Poe Dameron.
- I thought Kylo Ren was one of the worst villians of all of the Star Wars movies. I did enjoy seeing him get his butt kicked by Rey. I know he was wounded by when Finn scored some shots on him, you knew he was mostly the mask and nothing else. This was the fallen Jedi that drove Luke into exile?
- Also, what is the purpose of Kylo Ren. He didn’t really command anything. General Hux was in charge and felt comfortable in challenging him. Vader would have force choked him twice before the movie had reached half way through. Ren seemed to struggle with more psychological issues than any of the other fallen Jedi.
- Yes it’s a franchise reboot but it needed to be. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, the midget who plays R2D2, they are all old and it’s hard to base a trilogy around them.
- How many times do you have to have your giant space weapon destroyed before you adopt a new strategy? It’s like the dark side is controlled by Saskatoon City Council. Stop making the same mistakes over and over again.
- Why so few Rebel pilots still? The Rebel fleet is of a decent size yet they always keep throughing fairly insignificant amounts of fighters at the Empire/First Order when facing existenial threats. A massive weapon that can destroy the galaxy you call home? Let’s send 30 fighters against it. I know Y-Wings have been around since the Clone Wars but a fighter bomber would have been incredibly helpful here. It’s like the U.S. military with the F-35. One kind of fighter should do it all…
- I don’t really get Leia in this movie. Yes decades of war has been tough but she ignores Chewbacca who she has known since she was captured on the Death Star (she also didn’t give him a medal in Episode IV’s finale) and then now comforts Rey who barely knew Han Solo rather than Chewie who has known him and been his best friends for decades?
- Then despite the entire movie being a desperate struggle to find Luke Skywalker and get his help again, she sends Rey to meet him with Chewbacca and doesn’t go herself?
- It was worth the price of admission and in two years I’ll be doing it all over again.
Merry Christmas to those of you who are searching the web looking for something to read.
Quiet night around here. It was my first day back at work after the unpleasantness of the previous week. To be honest, I would have been far better off back in bed recovering. I came home tonight in tremendous pain and I don’t think a lot was accomplished by me being at work but lessons learned.
The best part of the day was that it was over at four. Wendy picked me up and we came home and I went to be for a while. She ordered pizza and let me sleep until around 6:00 p.m. We opened our stockings, inside was one of these.
Kevin is now in charge of the wifi.
Wendy gave me a new netbook (which is currently upgrading from WIndows 8.1 to 10). I missed the entire Windows 8 experience and in the 5 minutes I played with it, I can see why so many of you hated it. There was a new wireless mouse in there.
The boys got me a netbook bag as well as some hiking stuff. They also gave me a bunch of books on everything from war journalism to The Generals by Thomas E. Ricks, a book I have wanted since it was released and I read this article in The Atlantic. It will make some great early 2016 reading.
All of them got together and gave me a Ricoh Theta S which should be a lot of fun. If you have never heard of a Ricoh Theta S, it takes 360 degree spherical images, a kind of a virtual reality camera that is about the size of a Nintendo Wii controller. It should be a lot of fun to explore with.
Probably the gift I needed the most was a 500 lumen lantern that Oliver gave me for camping this summer. On a day where July seems very far away and the idea of hiking into the mountains seems even further, I really, really appreciated it.
So the good news around here is that last week the infectious disease specialist I am seeing about the infection in my leg declared that the cellulitus been cured and was good to go. I was pretty excited since the infection had been there since 2014. I even went out and celebrated.
He did say that if he was wrong, I would notice a fever returning. That’s no surprise as that has been what has happened every other time the infection has been “cured”.
On Saturday I had plans to go out to a Christmas party but I wasn’t feeling that great so I decided to go to bed early. I woke up with horrible chills. By the time it was all said and done, I was wearing a toque, gloves, and had a dozen blankets on me. Since Wendy was sick as well, I was hoping it was just the flu.
Sunday I went into work and was burning up. Sweat was pouring off me. Wendy came and got me and took me home. The chills came back worse then before. Wendy pointed out that I was delirious at one point and I was either burning up or shaking violently with the chills. Around 10 p.m. I got up and then fell down the stairs. Wendy said that I had blacked out. As I was laying at the bottom of the stairs in a fair amount of pain I was like, “Really, this is getting stupid”. I also managed to crack a rib.
It was while laying there that I saw the tell tale red streaks going up my ankle towards my knee. The infection was back with a vengeance and was bigger, redder, and giving off my heat than ever before.
The specialist had told me “self-initiate” treatment (start taking the antibiotics again) and call his office. I gobbled down some antibiotics and settled in for the longest night of my life. I have never been so cold. Every blanket in the house was on me and I still wasn’t warm. I thought about heading to RUH emergency but I couldn’t see myself sleeping there and if I am going to be horribly uncomfortable, I might as well be at home.
Wendy got up and called the specialists office today. I know some specialists are hard to deal with and aloof but I have met several nurses who have dealt with mine and they think the world of him. While I would prefer not have to see him, he is always pleasant to chat with and super thorough and accommodating. His current nurse called right back, reminded me to “self-initiate” my treatment (I love how doctors and nurses talk) and made arrangements for me to see him. I have never been so happy with how I have been treated. Of course their urgency is because I am so sick.
So I’m back on an obscene amount of antibiotics for now which work while I am on them. The next step is to find a solution that will help me long term and finally kill this thing. I have heard people make MRSA jokes and comments. There is nothing funny about it at all. It’s hard to believe that it has been infected since November 2014 and they still can’t kill it.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mark’s jaw is back to normal which means he can eat real food.
- 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”.
- Wendy and Oliver took in the 2015 Santa Claus parade. Wendy took photos and posted them on her website.
- For 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think I have met these three people before.
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.
This is my favorite shot from the hike.
A Parks Canada employee has what looks to be a long and wet day ahead of him.
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.
I think we can all agree that I nailed this picture of a chipmunk.
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.
If you want to see more photos from Johnston Canyon, check out the full set on Flickr.
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.
This shot was right after I had scolded the boys about making faces every time I tried to take their photo.
So while the picnic tables placement kind of sucks, we will return in 2016 with a proper picnic blanket and food.
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…
And dunked his head into it.
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.
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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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….
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- I 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.
- 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.