February 4, 2019

The second month in 2019 and not much has changed in my life.   I made two roasters full of Holopchi the other day.  They turned out really well, even if I say so myself.  However, the day after I made them, I slept for almost 24 hours.   I should be grateful that I was able to make them.

January was a month of temperature and barometric pressure fluctuations.  Along with that came pain, horrific, debilitating pain.  It often amazes me that I manage to plug along day after day without too many complaints.  I do, however, carry anger inside, anger against the doctors who want to make it their goal in life to take away any form of pain control that allows me to survive.

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, my family doctor sent me to a rheumatologist in November 2018.  I asked for and received the report that she sent to my family doctor after my appointment.  She basically attributed my pain in the mornings as merely stiffness and made the suggestion all I needed was an exercise to deal with this stiffness.  After much deliberation, my husband and I decided that this could not stand as the truth in my medical records.  We wrote a letter to both the rheumatologist and my family doctor reporting the falsehoods in her report.  My end of February appointment with my family doctor should be an interesting meeting.  I have been penalized before when trying to set the record straight with a doctor so who knows what will happen.  Just another stressor in my life.

Tomorrow afternoon, my sister and cousin will be coming to my house for an overdue visit.  The three of us try to get together once a month.  Going through some of my mom’s papers that I had not had the energy to go through before this I found a letter written by my cousin’s grandmother.  It was written in the Gothic script.  My husband was able to translate it into English for her.

During the month of January, I managed to set up an online store selling collectibles, and art using my prints and watercolours.  The store URL is Luella’s Originals.  Check it out.

Well, it is time to try to sleep.  Hope you all will have a pain free sleep.

 

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January 14, 2019

It is the middle of January and we have been experiencing very mild temperatures for this time of year.  The barometric pressure has been bouncing all over the place.  This, of course, brings on a load of pain.  At one time I believed that weather changes could not possibly have any impact on pain but I have certainly learned my lesson.

NIH Medline Plus states  “Chronic pain is often defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. Whereas acute pain is a normal sensation that alerts us to possible injury, chronic pain is very different. Chronic pain persists—often for months or even longer.   Chronic pain may arise from an initial injury, such as a back sprain, or there may be an ongoing cause, such as illness. However, there may also be no clear cause. Other health problems, such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, decreased appetite, and mood changes, often accompany chronic pain. Chronic pain may limit a person’s movements, which can reduce flexibility, strength, and stamina. This difficulty in carrying out important and enjoyable activities can lead to disability and despair.”

Our daughter is an event planner and we attended her 12th Night Supper on Saturday evening.  She sold all the tickets beforehand and had a lovely group of people in attendance.   She and her son had a great time putting on a puppet performance called “The Night Before Christmas”.   At times like this, I wish that I was capable of lending a hand with the preparations.  Thankfully my husband was able to help with the dishes after the evening ended.  At least one of us could pitch in.

It is almost midnight and I should try to get some sleep.   The nights can seem very long when one wakes up every hour or so.  The bogeymen seem to come out around 3:00 AM and drive me around the bend.  At that time of the night, my mind comes up with the most terrifying thoughts and the memories I want to forget.poisonrai

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January 4, 2019

The beginning of 2019 has been an unmitigated disaster.  I had been battling knee pain since the 26th so you can imagine my surprise when I woke up on New Year’s day with the most horrendous hip pain imaginable.   Life can be a bitch.  The pain has finally eased off somewhat today.

At times like this when the pain becomes unbearable, I take a look at my life and wonder what the heck I did to deserve this “punishment”.  Oh, I am the first one to admit I screwed up royally in my life and have had to live with that for a very long time.  But enough is enough.  What I have also realized is that no one likes to listen to a whiner.

So I will wish you all a good night and crawl back into bed and contemplate my life.

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December 29, 2018

Opioids for Chronic Pain – My new blog.

Just a quick post to let you know that I have finally accomplished a goal of mine which was to build another blog; this one dealing with Chronic pain and Opioids.  Unless you live with chronic pain and rely on some form of opioid painkiller to make it possible for you to crawl out of bed in the morning, you have no idea how cruel and frightening we the sufferers find the new laws about opioid prescriptions.  The intent of my blog is for fellow sufferers to share their fears, opinions, anger, and pain.  I also hope that this blog will turn into an advocacy group, a group that will present our case to the “powers that be.”  What boggles my mind is that the medical profession has no problem punishing 70-year-olds and older people who have legitimate chronic pain.  They are punishing us because law enforcement does not have the ability to stop the trafficking and consumption of illegal drugs like fentanyl and Carfentanil.   We are tarred with the same brush as all the drug pushers and drug dealers out there.  (Carfentanil is an opioid that is used by veterinarians for very large animals like elephants. It is not for human use. It is approximately 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and 10,000 times more toxic than morphine. This means carfentanil can be deadly in extremely small amounts.)

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Author Unkown

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December 27, 2018

newyear

Here hoping you all had a Very Merry Christmas and that the coming New Year will be filled with much joy, good health, and many blessings.   At the beginning of December, I began decorating the house for Christmas and actually managed to meet my goals.  In case anyone is interested here are some pictures of my accomplishments.

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December 17th, 18th, and 19th were really tough days.  Thanks to the constant change of the barometric pressure during those three days my pain levels went through the roof.  At times like this one has to wonder at the extreme cruelty of the “know it alls” who have decided that people who have severe pain issues do not deserve pain medication.  I was so worried that the pain would remain so debilitating through the upcoming holidays.  Thankfully the weather changed yet again and the pain levels slowly decreased to levels that I could cope with.  Mind you, to cope I take pain medications.  If I did not have these medications I would not get out of bed in the morning.  Each time I get my pain medication renewed I wonder if this will be the last time.

We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve this year.  There were six of us; my daughter and her partner, our grandson and his partner and Peter and I.  First Choice on Main prepared our Christmas dinner and it was absolutely delicious.  My husband picked up the meal, which was piping hot, a half hour before we planned to eat.  The meal consisted of turkey, gravy, meatballs, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, cole slaw, cranberry sauce, buns, and even the butter.  If you are interested in calling Sharon about home-cooked meals to go send me a message.  After supper, we opened gifts and spent the evening hanging out together.  Everyone spent the night and in the morning we had brunch before they left.

December 26th Peter’s brother Ken and his wife Roxanne invited us for supper.  As always, the meal Ken prepared was delicious.  We spent a relaxing evening catching up with events in each of our lives.

The three days that I was laid up earlier this month I spent most of my time reading to try to keep my mind off of the mind-numbing pain.  The books I read are “The Motive” by John Lescroart, “The Pure in Heart” by Susan Hill, and “Sanctuary” by Faye Kellerman.   I also just finished reading “Wild Fire” by Ann Cleeves, the final book in her Shetland Series.  So sorry that there will be no more books in this series.

In closing, I wish you all a New Year filled with much happiness, good health, and many blessings.

 

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November 30, 2018

IMG_0638

Why is it that the older we get the faster time goes by?  The end of November is here and Christmas is less than a month away.  Every year I make a promise to myself to finish my Christmas shopping by the end of November.  To date, I have not been able to keep that promise. 

Winter is here with daytime temperatures as low as -9C and nighttime temperatures as low as -18C.  We got enough snow overnight for my husband to use his snow blower to clear the driveway and sidewalks.  It was dark by 5:20 PM today.  If I had a choice the powers that be would do away with the twice-yearly time changes.  

The ups and downs of the temperature and the barometric pressure in November have played havoc with my poor old bones.  The constant fatigue is overwhelming.  When the pain and fatigue become too much I find myself taking a nap in the morning, in the afternoon and again after supper.  Then the guilt sets in.  I feel like I have wasted too many precious hours.  

We celebrated our daughter’s 48th birthday at our house on November 11th.  I made two roasters full of holupschi for supper that day something I had not done in years.  On November 17th we met up with family members Doug, Dale, and Derrick.  Dale and Derrick were out from Vancouver for a wedding.  We met for coffee and had a lovely visit catching up on family news.

The ups and downs of the temperature and the barometric pressure this past month have played havoc with my poor old bones.  The fatigue that plagues me every day is overwhelming.  I take a nap midmorning, a nap in the afternoon and then another nap right after supper.  Precious time is being wasted by these naps and I find myself consumed with guilt.  It seems to be a never-ending struggle just to get up in the morning to face another day.  

barometric pressure

Chronispain

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October 23, 2018

“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.” – Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President

We had a taste of winter-like weather during the beginning of October.  Snow before our Canadian Thanksgiving does not happen that often.  Hopefully, this is not a taste of what our upcoming winter will be like.

The September 15th weekend was a nightmare.  The bone spurs and chondrocalcinosis in my right knee decided it was a good time to see how much pain I could tolerate. I should be thanking my lucky stars that the excruciating pain only hung on for five days; apparently, this pain can last as long as a month.  Patches, one of our dogs, sat beside my bed all night and cried along with me.  I am a tough old broad and rarely cry so was rather shocked that the pain in my knee got the better of me that weekend.   On Monday morning my first call was to my Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Kayler.   His receptionist got me an appointment later that week on September 20th.  Dr. Kayler will be scheduling me for knee surgery in the New Year.

A common cause of chondrocalcinosis is calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystal deposition disease (CPPD). Calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystal deposition disease (CPPD) occurs when these crystals form deposits in the joint and surrounding tissues. The crystal deposits provoke inflammation in the joint, which can cause the joint cartilage to break down.  The disease may take a few different arthritis-related forms: osteoarthritis, a chronic rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-like inflammatory arthritis, or an acutely painful inflammatory condition called pseudogout.

Bone Spur in Knee. You can have bone spurs in knee joints for years without experiencing any symptoms. But when they do cause symptoms, they can be painful and interfere with the movement of your knee. Bone spurs are bony growths that can develop anywhere on the bones, but most commonly developed in joints.

Thanksgiving 2018. Once again we, including grandson Benjamin and Danika, celebrated Thanksgiving at Natasha and Mike’s house and had a wonderful time. Natasha cooked an amazing dinner. Her pumpkin pie was “to die for”. Her homemade pumpkin ice cream was incredibly delicious. Much love and thanks to Natasha and Mike for the most enjoyable afternoon and evening and for the amazing meal. We, as a family, have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, especially the fact that Peter has fully recovered from the heart attack he experienced Thanksgiving 2017.

Tomorrow we celebrate Peter’s 72nd birthday.  We decided to keep the celebrations low key; we will go out for supper and then have grandson Benjamin and Danika join us for birthday cake at home.  Peter and I got hit with a flu type illness two weeks ago and we cannot seem to shake it.   Enough already with the dizziness, intermittent nausea and extreme fatigue (napping for two hours in the morning, two to three hours again in the afternoon and often another two hours in the early evening).

Happy Birthday in Heaven Dad

My Dad – October 10th, 1919 to June 28th, 2010DadLuella

God saw that he was getting tired,
A cure was not to be.
So He put His arms around him
and whispered, “Come with Me.”
With tearful eyes, I watched him suffer,
And saw him fade away.
Although I loved him dearly,
I could not make him stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
Hard working hands to rest.
God broke my heart to prove to me
He only takes “the best”.

Author Unknown

I have rambled on enough for one day.  Time to take this kaput body to bed and listen to some “YouTube” on my iPad and wait for the dawning of another probably boring day.
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September 13, 2018

Luellatwowalkinmyshoes

 

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September 11, 2018

This article is a must-read for anyone suffering from chronic pain. My chronic pain began after I drank Radio Active Iodine, which I now know to be a poison, to supposedly treat my Graves disease. Last Friday I finally received a diagnosis and I was ecstatic. Sounds weird I know but to finally have a specialist give you a reason for the horrendous, debilitating pain is an enormous relief. However, I know all too well how scary it is to be told that you will no longer receive medication to help with pain relief. I, a 70-year-old woman who has not abused drugs in any way am painted with the same brush as someone who is addicted to and purchases street drugs without a valid prescription.

Inside Canada’s ‘other opioid epidemic’ — patients cut off from medical painkillers
Special to National Post
National Post
By Dawn Rae Downton
Illustrations by Mike Faille

My Year on Death Row:

It started in my feet, which ached constantly whether I wore flats, heels, trainers, or went barefoot. Physiotherapy and orthotics? Useless. Soon the ache climbed my legs, wrecking my knees and seizing up my hips, then my lower back. Eventually, I was diagnosed with sacroiliitis, an uncommon inflammatory arthritis that can follow trauma or infection, or, rarely, childbirth. Mine, cause unknown, made one orthopedist say my spine in an x-ray looked like a 90-year-old’s. I was 39.

Over the next few years, I made at least quarterly visits to a Halifax pain clinic. I tried acupuncture, meditation, mindfulness, massage, and yoga. I tried physical, occupational and cognitive behaviour therapy. I tried injections to block nerves and trigger points, IV lidocaine infusions, anti-inflammatories, anticonvulsants and antidepressants with names straight out of Tolkien — Elavil, Aventyl. I tried cannabis and even (God help me) group therapy.

My pain screamed back. I couldn’t sit, lie down, stand or walk.

“One must have a mind of winter,” said Wallace Stevens, as if he’d gone through this, and so I did. I was hopeless, bleak — until, with opiates the very last resort under pain management protocol, I was trialed on transdermal fentanyl. It worked almost overnight. I was back!

And then, 12 years later, just like that, I wasn’t.

January 23, 2017. Abruptly, at a routine appointment, my GP of 25 years announces she’ll no longer prescribe me fentanyl. Yes, she’d done it for more than a decade on the advice of my pain specialists. But now it’s me or the College of Physicians and Surgeons Nova Scotia, which licenses her and has called out “weak” doctors for “over-prescribing” narcotics.

“This is politics,” I say, snatching up my parka to leave.

“Only half politics,” she replies.

She dangles two Rxs in front of me to get me through the next couple of months — then says she’ll only give me the second one when I return to hear her out on the perils of opiates. I will have to sit through the sermon at the soup kitchen if I want my dinner. I don’t go.

About one million Canadians have by now had similar shocks. We’ve heard all we want to about the downsides of opioids, whatever they are. Unlike millions of other adults and children with chronic pain in this country (as many as 29 percents of us), we suffer so miserably and relentlessly that we rely on these drugs — oxycodone, hydromorphone, medical fentanyl — to lead remotely stable, productive lives.

At least we did until a new pain prescribing guideline came out last year. Developed by a team at McMaster University who pitched it to Health Canada, the avowed goal was to contain the opioid crisis — two decades of egregious over-prescribing that has turned patients into addicts and diverted deadly doses of narcotics to the street. Or so the story goes.

But many large-sample studies (including a 2016 review of 39,140 Ontarians) show that less than one half of one percent of medical users become addicted. Opiate prescriptions also fell 32 percent between 2009 and 2015, even as “opioid-related harms” keep climbing. Read the fine print on the latest national statistics — 4,000 “apparent opioid-related deaths” in 2017 alone — and you’ll find that the great majority involve other substances, illicit drugs like heroin and street fentanyl.

We have a tragic drug crisis. But medical analgesics are not what’s driving the addict overdoses and deaths that sparked Ottawa’s no-narcotics policy. And that policy has created a second crisis: “a climate of fear around opioid prescribing,” as three doctors put it in a letter to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, that has scapegoated many patients and left them with untreated pain.

For you, too, catastrophe is just a car crash away. I know a woman whose life changed when she slipped on an ice cube and split her pelvis. It could have been any of us. You’d be nuts to toss an old opiate fill, maybe that one you didn’t finish after dental surgery. It’s not like you’re going to get more if you need it.

Perhaps it’s easier to crack down on doctors than it is to intercept illegal opiates, like the tiny but potent shipments of powdered fentanyl mailed in from China. Except now both addicts and patients have dealers on speed-dial, and stories proliferate of patients who’ve died trying to replace their medications on the street.

People in intractable pain, who report worse quality of life than patients with other chronic conditions, also carry double the average suicide risk. They trade suicide plans in pain clinic waiting rooms. I have one, and I’ll use it if I have to.

Addiction researchers would say I’m depressed, or have a “substance use disorder.”

Pain is my disorder. Sacroiliitis is progressive. My back has had years to get worse.

February 20, 2017. It’s freezing. A wind tunnel grips the hospital; a gust of ice on the harbour knocks me off my feet. But I’m lucky, or so I think. When my GP cuts me off, I have my pain clinic to fall back on. My doctor, a longtime anesthetist, has always seen me quarterly. Today, he takes over my prescribing directly.

Still, it feels fraught. I hear about many GPs and pain specialists retiring early, quietly bailing in the adversarial atmosphere, while younger doctors are taught that medical opiates are useless poison. In the past four years, for want of practitioners, a dozen pain clinics in Nova Scotia have dwindled to four.

Those who do remain are being investigated if they write “too many” opioid prescriptions, or doses above recommended guidelines. As the pain specialist Mary Lynch describes the process in the Canadian Journal of Pain, doctors targeted for “educational” reviews are made to substantiate their patients’ treatment plans for months on end. Some doctors have lost their licenses, others their prescribing privileges. The rest, she writes, are duly intimidated.

An Ontario pain patient tells me his GP came back from “re-education utterly transformed into an anti-opioid zealot” who’d no longer prescribe for him — “not anything.”

I ask my doctor if he’s being investigated.

There’s his smile. All’s fine, he says.

But he’s no longer allowed to treat me unless I sign Canada’s new quid pro quo “pain contract,” known euphemistically as a treatment agreement.” I must not sell or share my prescriptions, fill prescriptions at different pharmacies, and ask for an early refill for any reason. I even have to agree to be drug-tested (despite the Supreme Court’s ban on the practice). No signature, no narcotics. Even then, many patients find themselves forcibly “tapered” or “discontinued” from longtime treatments.

Experts point out that these “agreements” destroy doctor-patient relationships built on years of trust.

I note that I’m signing under duress.

April 19, 2017. Between appointments comes “an awful leisure,” as Emily Dickinson called what we go through after a loss. My husband, whose first language is not communication, looks paler and grimmer every day. He doesn’t say much to me, but in an interview about how the new guideline is affecting us he says he feels “helpless … like we’re living on death row.” Listening to him, I’m breathless: I’ve been counting on him to save me.

I poke around the garden, cutting daffodils for the clinic.

Seeing my doctor’s face again, I’m elated. There’s my health record on the monitor, the ultrasound he uses for procedures, the gurney and its crisp white sheet on which we’ve sat together so often, laughing. He has an open, guileless face. He hates the tight spot we’re in.

With our doctors abandoning us, each new prescription feels like a reprieve. The keynote at the last meeting of Canada’s pain specialists was the American anesthetist Jane Ballantyne, who recommends that, instead of drugs, even patients with severe pain should use “coping and acceptance strategies that primarily reduce the suffering associated with pain and only secondarily reduce pain intensity.” What can that mean? How do you reduce “suffering” without reducing “pain intensity”? (And why honour a figure known to patients as “No Pain Jane”? The conference organizers didn’t answer my requests for comment.)

Even with fentanyl, I’m at best a five on the so-called numeric rating scale — where zero is no pain and ten is all pain. Without fentanyl at all, my pain is off the charts, a 15. Imagine your hand pressed onto a red-hot burner. Imagine you can’t lift it off.

I’m like my friend Mike from London, Ont., who tells me, “I will not survive the loss of these medications.” Mike has cervical dystonia, a horrific and rare condition, but even Ontario’s Exceptional Access Program won’t allow him the pain relief he needs, and representatives of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario attend his medical appointments without introducing themselves or asking his permission.

I tell my doctor about Mike. He writes my refill. He’s unusually quiet, but that’s OK: On death row, no news is always good news.

July 13, 2017. Or is it? Fear gnaws at me. Are you retiring? I ask my doctor repeatedly, trying to pin him down. He has three or four years in him yet, he says — as he always does. But he’s taken on many abandoned patients; his patient load has set off alarms on the province’s prescription database and he’s buried in paperwork. Today he seems withdrawn. He peers at the refill he writes, adding a squiggle to the progress note on the desk. I’m good at reading handwriting upside down, but not his.

I’m not an addict, but I’m beginning to act like one: single-minded, furtive, chock full of rescue fantasies and trapped in the hellish headspace the threat of pain creates.

I try to make him laugh. I published an op-ed about using fentanyl without being a junkie, I tell him, and I’m hearing from my past. I feel your pain, one old boyfriend writes to me. (He really does say that.) Another, as kind as I remember him all these years later, is horrified. He says what everyone says when I tell them what’s happening: it’s unimaginable. He also asks how he can help. He knows lawyers.

But for months I’ve canvassed scores of lawyers for one who’ll challenge the guideline and provincial medical colleges for malpractice and human rights infringement. The guideline contradicts Health Canada approvals for opiates for moderate to severe pain and violates our human rights protections under sections seven, eight, and 12 of the Charter. It also runs counter to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs signed by the UN and WHO and a resolution from the World Medical Association that “governments must ensure the adequate availability of controlled medicines, including opioids, for the relief of pain and suffering.”

READ MORE: Eels, opioids and very painful skull incisions: A brief history of pain treatment

READ MORE: Why pain — and pain treatment — is still a grey area of medicine The Canadian Civil Liberties Association doesn’t answer my emails. The Ontario and Nova Scotia Human Rights Commissions inform callers they “don’t get involved in health.” My provincial Ombudsman responds to my complaint. But after asking me to produce an expert witness — a pain specialist who’s had to restart the prescriptions of many abandoned patients — they toss her testimony and retreat from an investigation.

Calgary’s Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, meanwhile, spends months telling me they might help, then decides they don’t have the resources for a Charter challenge. (This is the same group who represented Lorne Grabher, the Nova Scotian denied a vanity license plate lest his last name offend anyone.)

Why am I fighting this fight in the first place? Treatment guidelines are developed by specialists who manage the conditions involved. So why wasn’t a single pain specialist allowed to vote on a guideline that now threatens me? And why have our medical colleges mandated so-called “recommendations” that cause so much pain? Even the guideline’s chief editor has called the awful fallout an “over-correction.”

October 3, 2017. I’m over-corrected.

I’m hardly in the door before my doctor sits me down. The clinic will close at year-end. The college demanded he complete countless dawn-to-midnight chart reviews that have exhausted him into retiring. By now he’s looking down, his face grey. “We won’t let you go without a…” he says. “We won’t….”

There’s a roar in my ears. I sobbed for ten minutes. Between us, we can think of no one he can refer me to who won’t “discontinue” me.

The very day I lose him, a young American friend with Ehlers-Danlos — a connective tissue disorder that can dislocate joints and break bones — loses his doctor, too. At 20, he’s planning suicide. I track down help for him in Kansas before I email every pain doctor and patient advocate I know in Canada, for me. Only “sorrys” come back, the very first from a pain specialist, a friend, I counted on. I also get pained replies from friends who thought they knew the doctors in their lives: but everyone has changed. We’ve stepped into a parallel universe, a wintry galaxy whose suns have set.

I email my American network, for me this time. A friend in Houston who lost six inches of the spine when she was mistaken for someone else in surgery has finally found a young Vietnamese pain doc who’ll treat me, too. She’ll pick me up at the airport; she’ll put me up. But carrying opiates, or even scripts for them, across the U.S. border? Yikes.

And then, out of the blue, an offer from a kind pain specialist in Alberta for quarterly visits, or at least the first, after which teleconferencing might do. It will buy me at least a year, until he retires. A year to find another year, and so on.

While we work out details, I read a Scientific American story on the misinformation around overdose deaths. I email the author, a psychology professor at Columbia University, to thank him, briefly mentioning my situation, including my own suicide plan. An hour later, someone’s thundering down my door so hard the cats’ geyser up from the sofa and vanish: New York police have told Halifax police that I’m “insane,” a jumper. Eventually, they leave, satisfied that I’m staying alive for the moment (and agreeing I’m entirely sane to want to withdraw from a life no longer worth living). They’re so friendly I almost ask them where I can find dealers in Halifax.

November 30, 2017. One month left until the clinic closes and I’m out of pain relief. And then an anonymous voicemail summons me there. I arrive with my husband in the falling dark. Snow is coming down, the first of the year. It’s cold and late. Inside, most of the lights are off. Except for cleaners, we’re alone with my doctor. Media discovered in mid-November that the clinic was closing, throwing hundreds of patients out of care. Several broadcasters interviewed me — and here’s the surprise result. I’m to be saved, perhaps to be kept quiet. Arrangements have been made. I agree to keep them confidential. I can’t disclose them even now. They’ll be temporary. But it’s better than flying to Alberta. It’s the best I can get, and it’s something.

Still, it takes me days to realize I’ve had good news. Then I suffer survivors’ guilt. On my birthday, I hear from a woman in California who’s seen my op-ed and tracked me down.

I don’t know whether you’ve ever been asked this, she emails. I am housebound. I had a serious suicide attempt three months ago solely due to the intractable pain. Can you share your euthanasia plan? I have great trouble figuring out a plan.

I stare at her note. Is it legal to assist a cross-border suicide? Is it a trap? Am I seeing threats that don’t exist because of all that do?

My heart goes out to you, I write. I stare some more, then tell her what she wants to know. I go downstairs, wondering how I made it to this birthday and whether it will be my last since my life now depends — as it really always did — on another doctor and a prescription pad. I can’t know now that the coming months will be quiet and calm for me compared to this one. I blow out the candles on my cake. I make a wish for mercy for the California woman, whatever mercy means anymore in these cold, dark days; whatever it means for my own body of pain and my mind of winter.

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September 10, 2018

Summer has come and gone for another year.  It seems as soon as September 1st rolls around the temperature literally changes overnight.  It is no longer warm enough at night to heat the pool; cools off much too quickly.  Fall happens to be my favourite time of year, spring my least favourite time of year.

Dennis Joiner TombstoneThe end of July and beginning of August brought back many memories of the wonderful times we spent with a dear friend Dennis Joiner.  Abbotsford businessman Dennis Brian Joiner, 49, was shot to death sometime at the end of July beginning of August 1998.  After missing for five days his body was found in a bushy area a few paces off a dirt road in the 15600-block of 34th Avenue, in Surrey, B.C.   I wonder how much longer it will take for the murderers to be publically identified.  I wonder whether there will be any deathbed confessions. It is sad and disgusting that persons who know better have spread horrible rumors and vicious lies about this kind and generous man.  You have to wonder what could possibly be their motive.  Our family has been a recipient of Dennis’s kindness, hospitality, and generosity and I am sure there are many more families that given the chance would say the same.  It is time to stop spreading these lies and rumors about Dennis.

This following probably sounds weird to those of you who do not have undiagnosed medical problems.  This past Friday I was incredibly relieved and very happy to finally receive a diagnosis after suffering from chronic pain since 1998.  The pain began after I, being ignorant of the side effects, drank Radio Active Iodine to kill my thyroid.  Graves disease, an autoimmune disease, was the reason for drinking this poison.  The rheumatologist I was referred to in July ordered tests that provided a reason for my pain.  I have arthritis in both ankles, the left ankle worse than the right.  Also, have arthritis and bone spurs in both knees, arthritis in both hips, the left hip worse than the right because of bursitis.  I have arthritis in my lower spine as well as in my shoulders.  You cannot imagine the relief to finally have a reason for the constant pain.

After my appointment with the radiologist, I continued on to the Grace Hospital for an
MRI of my poor liver.  For someone who did not drink alcohol because the alcohol caused horrendous migraines to end up with autoimmune liver disease (cirrhosis of the liver) does not seem quite fair but then who said life was fair?  Thankfully the MRI was done with contrast which gives a much clearer result.  Now I wait to see if my liver damage has remained the same or whether it has gotten worse.  Hopefully, I will know in a week.

It has been years since I have done any kind of needlework.   I have decided to spend time this fall and winter working on some petite point projects and smocking projects.  There is a special little girl that would look adorable in a smocked dress.  I started a petite point project today, the first of a series of Ukrainian dancers.  My grandson was a Ukrainian dancer for eight years.  The finished pictures will be a keepsake for him.

Ukrainian dancersUkrainian Dancers 2

 

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