Saturday, July 26, 2008

Finally Home

I'm not going to go into every detail of the nightmare getting home from TO was, suffice it to say, I am not impressed with Air Canada (who is?) nor the staff in either airport. I was very very happy to finally touch down and see Lynn and Odette waiting for me. I was still a little upset when I got outside and a fellow passenger was more than happy to teach me some new french words to describe my flight. It no longer mattered though, I was home, I had my wife, my truck and a feeling that I belonged somewhere again. Even driving the truck was fun since I knew where I was going and that made all the difference in the world, I was going home.

Lynn had made pork chops in sauce with mashed potatoes for me and that's what I stuffed my face with when we got home after greeting my three best fans, Jake had an acadian flag neck kerchief on and boy was he ever big, all of them were very happy to see me and I was very very happy to see them. We all talked for an hour or so and then we all went to bed. Oh my, if I thought the hospital bed was Nirvana, I can't begin to describe sleeping in my own bed!

Disaster strikes!

I woke up the morning of Dad's b'day party and couldn't move my arms without crying out in pain. My hands were a swollen mess and my wrists, elbows and shoulders were heavy and painful. I couldn't move my neck, it was stiff and felt like it was locked in spasm. I don't know what brought this on but it did not bode well. As the day progressed it got worse and by the time everyone was arriving it was becoming unbearable. Anna finally convinced me to let her call Lynn and get her to tell me to go to the hospital. Lynn of course, did and off we went to the hospital, Rick and Mark and I and the second part of my vacation adventure was about to begin.

After five hours in the emergency room at the hospital, I was finally seen by a doctor who seem quite concerned about all of this and suggested that I might have meningitis which apparently is quite serious, I was moved to a room in emergency, all by myself while they did tests including a spinal fluid removal thing with a very large needle. They took four vials of fluid for the test and my nurse "Paul" was great, he told me that the fluid was clear and that was a good sign, I had a fever and my blood pressure was not good. They gave me Tylenol for the pain and started me on intravenaeous fluids and antibiotics. Rick and Mark stayed with me throughout and finally left after I began to fade out.

Two days in emergency, with vampires taking my blood it seemed like every hour and visits from doctors wearing masks. The sign on my door read infectious and everyone had to wear a mask when dealing with me. It hardly inspires confidence. They continued to run tests, CT scans, MRI's, blood work and Xrays, slowly but surely the pain began to recede to a dull roar but I still couldn't move my arms and I could barely hold anything. I was however, fairly mobile since my legs still worked so I could with some effort get up and go outside for a cigarette. It would have made a funny video watching me bob my head down to reach my hand for a drag. I couldn't light my own smoke since my hands wouldn't work but there was always someone around that could help. After two days in the emergency room and varying diagnoses from the doctors, I was moved up to a semi-private room eight floors up.

I had the room all to myself when I first got there and my first thought was a shower, if I thought that a video of me smoking would have been funny, me taking a shower would have been a laugh riot. No curtain on the shower, a hand held shower nozzle and me with no strength in my arms, I think I only washed half my hair but boy did it ever feel good. Getting dressed was interesting, that goodness for Mark and Rick n Anna. The bed which actually had a pillow was Nirvana and I was hopeful that I would be able to sleep but that wasn't to be the case. My new roomate had arrived and they drugged him up to deal with the pain he was having but boy could he snore. Needless to say I made more forays over the course of the night outside for puffy breaks, if you can't sleep, smoke, I always say. By the third day, I was able to move my arms but still had little strength in my hands, sleeping was still difficult but Anna brought me a couple of extra pillows and they helped a lot. There was a phone in the room and even though we had to share, it was nice to be able to talk to Lynn and as things began to finally loosen up, it got easier and easier to move around and yes even comb my own hair, what a treat! I used the handicapped shower and that was an immense improvement over the shower in the room, you could sit and shower and that made everything that much easier. As I started feeling better, I began to dream of getting out and my doctor wanted to make sure that the infection had been beaten into submission before allowing me out, so I was stuck until at least friday. That was not good news, even if she was probably right. They still had no idea what had caused the infection, nor any idea why it had the effect it had on me although they thought it might be related somehow to my neuropathy. The effect of the infection was to make my arms neck and shoulders feel like the worst pain I have ever had in my hands which is where my pain usually is. The swelling continued to go down and slowly but surely I became more and more capable. By the time I was still a day from being released, I was chomping at the bit to get out. All the while this was going on Lynn had to deal with the insurance company from the airline who were constantly trying to get my status from either her or the hospital. I knew I was going to be free once they removed the IV from my hand and then there was going to be no stopping me.

I met some very nice people while in the hospital, 99.9 percent of the staff were great, the .1 percent included two doctors and one nurse. In the end I was released without any answers but with my mobility back. My hands are still a little weak but getting better.

Lynn couldn't get me on a flight until Sunday, so that meant I had two more days to stay at Rick n Anna's so I could finish my vacation on an upbeat. Mark and Mila took me to see Batman, which was wild and I got to take a bunch of pictures with them and Dad too.

Before I knew it, it was time to go and even though Anna was cooking gnocci and buttertarts, I couldn't wait to get home.

Of Fathers and Sons

As I said, my father hasn't changed much at all other than the grey and being a little thinner than I remember. He cooks himself breakfast most mornings, eggs n sausage some blood pudding and drinks a couple of cups of coffee. He gets up about the same time as I do around 0500hrs and likes to have a nap in the afternoon. He has a new girlfriend Catherine who has a brand new Camry, I'm not sure if he likes her or the car better but she lets him drive it whenever they're together. They do the casino and racetrack and the occasional meal together. Dad still drives like he's been doing it his whole life even in the hustle and bustle of traffic in TO. He still dreams of winning the big one and if he does, he wants an F150. He likes the idea of being up high and surrounded by steel. He lost a hearing aid while playing golf, inadvertently missing his pocket when he went to put it in his pocket. But he takes it in stride, something he does with pretty much everything. If you look up easy going in the dictionary, his picture would be staring back at you. It's hard to believe that he's 82. He still offers plenty of advice on life and love and his take on all of it is quite amusing. We went to visit Mom's grave, prior to the strike thank goodness and he replaced her flowers. I don't think he visits as often as he used to but I think that's to be expected and besides, I think that you can remember her just a well anywhere and not just there.

Nephews and Niece and an assortment of kids, oh my!

Slowly but surely I am settling in for my holiday, getting used to reading actual papers, several of them and quite thick too. Hearing english all around me with just a smattering of Italian to even things out. Slowly but surely my nephews and niece make their way to their parents house and along with them come a gaggle of kids. It's so nice to see them all, boy have they ever grown and funnily enough they don't seem older to me. They all love the new pool, it's the perfect size and depth for kids learning how to swim and the adults who are there to watch over them. Even Miko seems to have a spring in his step when they're around but that's mainly to avoid them as best he can. I took a pile of pictures, including the birdhouse that they've got that is currently occupied by a very busy couple of sparrows. All is peaceful and serene but oh so warm and humid. Anna's flower bed is beautiful and Rick has done a wonderful job of laying stones down around the pool and walkways.

A Wonderful Holiday

I survived the plane trip to Toronto but only barely. You fly a turboprop from the Bathurst airport to Montreal where you board a real plane for the rest of the trip. All in all it wasn't so bad other than getting lost in the Montreal airport and not having enough time between flights for a smoke. I arrived in Toronto, my luggage was the second bag off the plane and I was outside smoking before I knew it. I waited patiently there for my brother to pick me up and was merrily sitting and smoking when I noticed their truck, I waved and waved but they drove right by me, it could have been the blonde chick standing next to where I was sitting that caused the problem or it could have been, as my brother said when he finally came around and found me, that he hadn't been looking for Custer. My hair is a little longer than they are used to. A relatively quick trip back to their house where Anna was waiting and I was once again transported back to my youth. I never fail to feel like I'm 12 years old again when I am with them. Anna is quick to feed me whatever my heart desires and Rick never changes, it's like I'm in some kind of time warp. Dad looks good, he's wearing two hearing aids now and his hair has finally gone all grey but he still has all of it and he's still skinny, maybe a little skinnier than I remember but then I'm a lot fatter than he probably remembers too :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dinner Date with My Son and his better half Mila

Ahhh...the joys of a buffet, mountains of food to choose from and beaucoup de refills :) I am looking forward to seeing Mark, it's been over a year and I've never met the Mila monster so it should be fun all around. Hopefully I can convince him to come either to the birthday party or some other day just to visit with Rick and Anna and to meet his grandfather. We'll see how it goes...maybe they'll want to cool off in the never knows. I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Off I go, into the wild blue yonder

Well the day is here and I'm off to the center of our Country, the focus of every news show we watch, yes you guessed it..Toronto! birthplace and the epicenter of all that is Canadian. Home to my father, brothers and my son. As a special treat, I'll also be enjoying my fathers birthday on this trip so that will make it all the more special. I'll get to see Mark, my little world traveler and of course my brothers Tedd and Rick and the entire family, kids, grandkids (not mine) because my brothers are way older than me and with luck sampling lots of Anna's home cooking and some homemade pizza and calzones that Rick makes. Mark will finally get to meet his grandfather, whom he hasn't seen since he learned to walk, which he did at Pappa's house so very many years ago. It should be fun, I'll try and get lotsa pics. I don't know if I'll be updating while I'm gone but we'll see how it goes. I miss Lynn and the boys already. Type atcha all soon.