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Caregiving & Not Caring At All

twofacedI found him on the floor.

And that’s how our little cozy home changed, for better or worse this year.

I’ve deleted three posts about how awful people are with their criticism and how deep down in my human soul, I hope that karma slaps them in the face. Le sigh….this is where not caring at all becomes spiritual practice, oh, and also letting go of all of that karma’s-gonna-get-you-bullshit.

My home has always been my sanctuary, filled in every nook and cranny with something meaningful, inspiring or fun (including the people in it).

As a writer, caregiving is rife with stories to tell, lessons to be learned and emotion.

One thing I’ve learned is that organized living helps reduce stress during times of crisis. Having some financial wiggle room is essential to being able to stay home and provide care, and self-care is golden. Also, the quality of the company I keep has been revealed as well. That’s right, I’ve heard how you’ve said I don’t need to be here right now. It stung, but I’m over it. Mostly because it says everything about your lack of character and nothing about mine.

Not only have I been indoctrinated into the lack of modesty of my partner, introduced to body fluids that are not my own, and run my chubby little ass off, I have also come to cherish two things dearly; my hours alone after my love has been tucked in and medicated to sleep, and the escape I get with my writing.

I would be lying if I told you that I’m not scared to death about how we’re going to get through this, with complicated issues including fever and infection that I never really thought about. But I would also be lying if I said I’d have it any other way. I belong here right now for the safety of my sweetie, and that is caregiving. Truly not giving a shit about those people who have no empathy, well, that’s going to take some practice…but I”m up for the challenge.

As a writer, I like to think that this experience is enhancing my craft. As a partner, I wish I could trade places and take the pain away. As a friend, frankly I’m relieved to have revealed to me who is true and who is not. My nature is a caregiver…not giving a shit, not so much.

 

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Nasty Woman ; Courage & A Sense of Humour = Freedom

courage-and-freedomLast night my partner informed me that you catch more flies with honey than sugar. I informed him that the time for honey had passed.

I was advocating for my friend’s health care. My friends are my family, and I protect people I love with passion and ferocity when need be. When a man does this he is seen as being a provider and a protector. When a woman does this she’s a bitch, or, as one privileged male recently was quoted as saying; she’s  a “nasty woman”.

Sometimes being a nasty woman is the only way to go in world dominated by a masculine norm.

Women who are intelligent and assertive have to be way more careful about how and what they say in every situation other than a wine-and-yoga-pants night with the girls. Take the recent defeat of Hillary Clinton in her bid to be president of the U.S.A. A woman with experience was vilified more than a misogynist, narcissistic business man who has robbed the nation of millions (if not billions) of dollars by way of evading taxes. But I digress…

We know when it’s time for the vinegar, and most importantly, we think it’s hilarious to watch your gobsmacked reaction to good sense, boundaries and intelligence. Those of us who identify as being anything but masculine are forced to function within the norms of a society based on the concept that male dominance and strength are the only values that everyone should aspire to. Our economy, education and news media are all based on this basic foundation of patriarchy.

Look at Hillary’s pant suits for goodness sake. Do we really have to dress like men to be taken seriously? I don’t give a flying fuck if you’re wearing a chiffon tutu and a smocked blouse, I will respect you if you know what you’re talking about. I will respect you more if you stand up for your rights, have boundaries, and can laugh at it all at the end of the day.

In the midst of my stern advocacy last night, any woman would have had a grin on her face. My mumster laughed this morning when she checked in to see how my pal was doing, sure in her knowledge that I would be successful in getting the care that was necessary.

When my ill pal finally met with her health care provider, she texted me; “Lol! I assumed that was you on the phone.”, I knew that not only would her health care improve, but she would get a chuckle out of it all too.

Being a bitch, nasty woman, or f’ing c@&t are all words that strong, independent women hear every day when it comes to expecting the same respect and treatment as men. Keeping your sense of humour about it is essential.

When a woman pulls someone up on the rug, it’s only because the ‘honey’ that we’re conditioned to communicate with has been denied again. 

Be courageous ladies. We need to care for one another. Above all else, keep laughing in the face of those who don’t understand how wonderful nasty women are.

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Noses, Vaginas and Other Things That go Bump in the Lab

Yes, you read that correctly.

petri_dish
“It’s no use reminding yourself daily that you are mortal: it will be brought home to you soon enough” ~Albert Camus~

Today, the Globe and Mail was clearly needing to fill some inches in the Life and Arts section. Just as clearly, they didn’t have much to choose from.

Having worked in the news business and as a health care advocate, I have to say that the Globe and Mail stooped to a bold, new, blatantly obvious journalistic low today.

The article used to fill the gaping 8 inch hole on page L6 was headlined, “Vaginas and nose parts grown in lab”.

No, I’m not kidding.

This is not only a bad headline, but a really bad article.  Bad as in, it insulted the integrity of, “The super seed square-off”, article which dominated the page.

Seriously? Our newspapers are giving more room to seeds than what we’re spending billions of dollars on in an effort to out-smart mother nature and father time?

According to the Canadian Press style guide (at least when I was writing for a newspaper), journalists should strive to write for readers at a grade five level. Except the Globe and Mail. They had much higher standards.

Those standards have obviously changed.

To insist on writing that any type of tissue or organ transplantation, ‘carries a risk of complications’ seems a bit patronizing at best. Hell, if it didn’t carry a risk of complications, we’d all be walking around with new parts, and none of us would ever die.

Why not write about the ethical issues surrounding organ and tissue donation? Why not report the news?

I have known people who have been the recipients of organ and tissue donation. I have known people who have clung to hope while their dying bodies are riddled with cancer and the side-effects of the drugs that are supposed to miraculously stop them from their inevitable death.

I have never known anyone stupid enough to have to be told that organ transplants are  risky.

We should demand that our national newspapers at least make the news entertaining, or just give up the charade of trying to pretend that they report any news at all.

Dear modern pseudo-journalists,

Please tell me about vaginas, and other organs being grown in a lab together. Tell me why they didn’t match the headline up with body parts that seem somewhat better paired. Let’s say vaginas, tongues and perhaps penises? Tell me about the vagina, tongue and penis committees established to ensure seamless integration of each part with the others. Tell me who gets along better with the tongue, and how the nose copes living so closely to the vagina.

Whatever you tell me, just don’t write ridiculously insulting news that isn’t news at all, and expect me to take it in like an indiscriminating storm sewer. At least make it entertaining.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Working Class

It's not always easy to find meaningful work.
It’s not always easy to find meaningful work.

The middle class is increasingly being squeezed into the lower class. It’s much like strapping a size 8 girdle on a fat chick. The wee sexy, delicious bits poke out the top end, but the rest just oozes out lower, and is far less tantalizing.

With that comes a broader, deeper, blanketing sense that the world is out to get you. No matter how hard you work, try to save, or hoped your now outdated Bachelor’s Degree would save you, the realization that this is as good as it gets depresses you even more.

Or maybe you don’t reach that obvious conclusion. Maybe you’re just bitter. Maybe you’re too lazy to think about what you read in the newspaper, or don’t see on the news.

But I don’t think that’s the case with you my sweet little dried apricots. No. If that were the case, you wouldn’t be here, with wonderful ole’ me now, would you?

If you work eye-to-eye with anyone (as in any type of customer service, or human services profession), you’re getting the short end of the stick. Someone else is making all of the money, and you’re schlepping their stuff so you can try to pay your bills.

If you were eye-to-eye with the end-user of any product or service, you get the brunt of every interaction. Some are pleasant, and others, well, let me sum it up;

1) People always think that you (personally) are trying to rip them off.

2) That your schedule should revolve around them, no matter what the hour or what the cost to you. (My personal favourite is the line, “Well, I work”, when trying to schedule appointments. I’ve got news for you genius, I do too, and this is when I’m available. ) No one is out to get your personally. We all have our limits.

3) People who disrespect your time. If you’ve set an appointment, you’ve done so for a reason. In other words, you’ve set aside time to pay particular attention to that individual. Being late for an appointment flies in the face of allowing anyone to provide good customer service.

4) Wasting time. If a professional has given you information. That’s the information. Don’t take it to Philosophy-Flipping-101. Just do what you need to do.

5) Leaving multiple messages the same day or within 24 hours for someone just slows down how fast they get back to you. Listening to your annoying 3 minute long whining session more than once is a waste of time, and as annoying as a toddler with a snotty nose and cling-on booger.

A special note to seniors and folks who don’t work…poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on someone else’s. Take up a hobby and make a cup of tea. We will get back to you. No one puts you off because they’re trying to tick you off. At the end of the day, unless you’re a sociopath, you want to leave your work feeling like you’ve at least helped someone, even in a small way.

Just a note to everyone out there who is poo-pooing unions right now; Give your head a shake. Unionized environments are quickly becoming the ONLY jobs that are secure, and can sustain a healthy family and social lifestyle. Don’t fall for conservative government fear mongering. Health care, fair wages and working hours are a right we should not have to fight for again.

Businesses are squeezing every second out of their employees until they burn out. If you have a problem with customer service these days, I suggest you get your saggy butt down to an Occupy event.

These are just a few short examples of how our faltering and bourgeois economy is dividing and conquering the working class. When you meet with someone eye-to-eye, as I like to say, you are meeting with another human being just like yourself, who is as worried, stressed and blessed as you are.

So, remember, if you’re meeting with a person, and their name isn’t on the sign above the business, they’re just trying to get by like you and I. Don’t be an asshole darlings.

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I Love You Like Chocolate

choclateheartAt the time of this post, it has been 39 hours since I last indulged.  Considering I partake twice daily (on average), 39 hours is a lifetime.

After three trips to my own physician, and finally a fourth to a new Doc who seems to know what a tongue depressor is for, I think I’ve finally gotten to the root of my suffering.

You see, for the first month of this year, I have been a dry, red-eyed, swollen-lidded, shell of my fabulous self

Not only have my beautiful ice-blue eyes been suffering, but so has my honey-sweet mouth. Quit laughing. My body has staged a protest, and I’m tired before the day even begins.

My lips have swollen and cracked. The inside of my luscious mouth feels as if someone poured a boiling pot of water inside of it.

Needless to say, I’ve been feeling less than fresh.

browniesThe mystery illness tagged on to the end of a bad bout of the flu. It popped up one evening after I baked a double batch of my decadent chocolate walnut brownies.

Walnuts. Of course! I was having a bit of a reaction to the walnuts. No big deal.  After all, my mouth has always gotten a bit tingly after eating walnuts and pecans. I figured I was just a little more sensitive having been racked with the flu.

After a week of suffering, I dropped my head in defeat and went to see my doctor, a professional, who is not so much a professional. He shuffles as many patients in and out of his office in a fifteen minute period as possible, and rakes in his maximum billing from our deeply flawed medical system.

“I think I’m having an allergic reaction,” I say to him. I’ve lived in this body for almost 40 years, I know it pretty well.

He doesn’t even look in my mouth, and tells me that it’s just a virus, not contagious, and to go home. Wait, let’s do some routine blood work. Oh yah, and turn your heat down you’re just dry, it is winter after all.

Four days later, barely able to see through swollen red eyelids I get a call from his office to come back. Now I’m not only sick, I’m cold too. “Turn down the heat,” I think to myself, “what a moron“.

Dr. Feelgood looks at me startled by my red eyes ( as if this is the first he’s heard of it), and says, “That could be contagious.” He doesn’t look at my mouth or get any closer to looking at my eyes. He gets out his pharmaceutical company pen and writes a script for antibiotic eye drops.

He also tells me that I need a full abdominal and pelvic ultra sound. I’ve already read my blood test results, and I know that the report is simply reflective of the virus I’ve had. Doctor Dimwit would also know this if he listened.

I think to myself that  he needs someone to pull his giant, useless brain out of his ass.

I go home finally looking as bad as I’ve felt all month. The heat gets switched back up to ‘tropical’, and I decide that my doctor must go. I put a call in to another physician and am told I have to wait two weeks for my initial appointment.

After a week of the drops, and now swollen, oozing, red eyes I’ve decided that I’ve had enough. I throw out the requisition to have my internal organs prodded and decide that perhaps I should just get a real doctor to actually look at my mouth, and maybe shine one of those bright light thingys in my eyes first.

I wait 15 minutes at a local speciality clinic, and am seen by a lovely doctor who actually looks in my mouth. “Your entire mouth and throat are inflamed.” He says. I fall in love with him immediately.

Next, he examines my eyes. He even uses one of those little wands with the light in it.

“It looks like you’re having an allergic reaction.”

He prescribes some wonderful elixir of hope for my eyes and my mouth. Not only that, he tells me that if after two days I don’t feel better that it’s not an allergy and to come back.

The prescription is filled within minutes. In my car, bundled in my black overcoat with the heater on, I drop the drops in my eyes and dab the mouth-goop on the inside of my cheeks.

I feel almost instant relief. It feels so good, I slide my tongue over the goopy pectin film that has coated my cheeks and teeth, and then over my puffy, cracked lips. Sweet relief! I decide that things are looking up.

To celebrate,  I make double chocolate cookies with chocolate dough and white chocolate chips. No walnuts this time just in case.cookieswith

I wake up the next morning tingly and sore again. You know what makes you feel better when that happens? Chocolate cookies for breakfast. Just to be safe, I ate two.

My lips puffed up. My eyes turned red and swelled up again.

Oh. Shit,” I think to myself,  “It’s the cocoa”.  It’s that decadent red cocoa high in fat and yummyliciousness. It’s my go-to-socially-acceptable-legal-narcotic-of-choice.

I casually mention this at work to my colleague. “My sister is allergic to cocoa,” she says sipping her coffee, “She can’t use sunscreen because it makes her break out in hives.”

NOOOOOO,” I want to scream, but instead I say, “Oh my gawd. That happened to me the last time I went down south. I was a huge hive.”

So there you have it folks. I’m now waiting to have the tests to officially confirm that I am allergic to one of the essential elixirs of life as I know it.

Don’t get me wrong, there are other things that get my libertarian-on; deep, delicious, chewy red wine, men who know how to use their hands and their hips, Charles Bukowski, a good single malt, cold gin on a hot day, Hunter S. Thompson, and dark, rich coffee. But none of these can replace chocolate.

Chocolate is an indulgence you can have any time, any where.

You can pull a little nibble out of your clutch at a wedding, at your desk, hell, even in a court room. Think about trying to do that with a man or a glass of wine. Not possible.

So to my boyfriends out there who are sure to be shopping for my Valentine’s day chocolate to go with the diamonds and bedroom acrobatics, please just skip the chocolate, and go heavy on the orchids this year.

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Ontario Women Stripped of Health Care Coverage

English: Statue of crying woman by World War v...
English: Statue of crying woman by World War victim memorila in Častotice, Třebíč District. Česky: Socha plačící ženy u památníku obětem sv. válek v Častoticích, okr. Třebíč. Autor: Eduard Činčera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll make this short and to the point.

Today the Ontario Ministry of Health announced significant cuts to OHIP coverage for women, putting us at higher risk for diagnosis of life threatening disease at more advanced stages.

Our pathetic excuse of a government reduced coverage for annual PAP tests from once a year to once every 3 years. They quote new, recommended ‘guidelines’.

Yah, right. Guidelines concerned with the bottom line, rather than with the well-being of an already poorly cared for population; women.

Perhaps our Ministry of Health might consider reducing the billions of dollars spent on chemotherapy drugs pimped to cancer patients who are at the very end of life, offering us, the citizens of Ontario, compassionate health care, rather than lining the pockets of Big Pharma?

Just a thought, but what am I thinking?! There’s no money to be made by making ethical decisions.

I urge every person in the province of Ontario to write a letter or send an email to their MPP demanding accountability and better health care for everyone.

Contact your Member of Provincial Parliament and let them know that cuts to already inadequate women’s health care are unacceptable.

I’ve made it easy for you, you can just copy and paste this letter if you don’t have the time to compose your own.

The women in your life will thank you for it.  Your mom, will likely thank you with a couple dozen of your favourite cookies still warm from her oven. Your sweet, sexy gal-pal will certainly give you a long, sensuous smooch.

 

Dear: ___________-

 

I am writing as a resident of _____________ to regarding the recent change in OHIP funding for women’s annual PAP tests. Depriving women of adequate health care by withdrawing annual payment for these tests is unacceptable. Cuts to our health care system such as this put low-income, high-risk women and their families at significant risk of more advanced disease when diagnosed. This of course ultimately results in higher health care costs.

As a citizen, I demand my government be accountable for the decisions that are made with regard to our health care system. It has been eroding over the years, with decreased coverage for everything from eye exams to cancer screening tests such as CA125 and PSA tests.

Myself, and my family expect a response from you as our Member of Provincial Parliament with regard to the steps you are going to take to demand quality health care for EVERYONE in the province of Ontario.

Sincerely,

______________

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Valentine’s Day Suggestions for the Sick

Children's Valentine, 1940–1950
Children’s Valentine, 1940–1950 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The hunky husband of one of my pals has been devouring the recent Valentine’s Day blogs.

He’s a dolly, really, he is, but all of my well-intentioned VD tutoring won’t help him this year.

This morning I sent a text teasing my friend’s hubby about the ‘dirty’ stories I expect to hear about on the 15th.

Be careful what you wish for my sweet little muffin tops.

I was informed that my friend is scheduled for a colonoscopy on the 15th, which means a clear out of the unholiest of the unholies on the 14th. Dirty, dirty, dirty indeed!

Her misfortune got me thinking about those who may be celebrating with someone who won’t be up for alcohol, chocolate, acrobatic sex, or possibly even cuddling.

For my friend, Mr.MyBaby’s-Bombing-The-Bathroom, I suggest  a few thoughtful gestures;

1) Take the kids out for dinner. You won’t want to be anywhere near your darling woman, and she’ll need some quiet time of her own.

2) Stock the bathroom with the latest edition of some magazines (no, not your porn), with House and Home, Hello Canada, Elle or Flare.

3) Beat her to the punch. Surprise her ahead of time with a special celebration, or give her an invitation to a romantic date. (Call me and I’ll help you with the romance part).

For anyone else who’s honey is under the weather, or fighting the health crisis of a lifetime,

here are a few suggestions;

1) Get a sitter if you have kids. Just spend some quiet time together.

2) If you have caregivers, make special arrangements to have your loved one’s personal care finished so you can spend some quiet time together.

3) Give them a gentle foot massage with unscented lotion.

4) Bring them special sheets; pink, red, or with hearts or cupids.

5) Put photos of their nearest and dearest in a heart-shaped frame where they can see it.

6) Light some candles, put on some soft music, and cuddle. If you can’t light candles, get the kind that take a battery, they give a light glow and won’t blow you up if your sweetie is on oxygen therapy.

7) Heart shaped jello jigglers or a strawberry milkshake. Reminisce about all of the silly things you’ve done together.

8) Extra time together. Time is precious when you’re really sick, so take the day off and give your honey some extra time if you can.

9) A letter. A simple letter can be a daily touchstone for someone who’s not feeling well. They can read and re-read your loving words every day, and know that even though you’re not with them,  you care. If you’re not much of a writer, find a poem that express how you feel. If you’re sick, ask a caregiver or volunteer to help write a letter to your valentine. They miss you too.

10) A simple kiss. A gentle hug. Resting your hand on their arm or leg. There are few things more powerful than human touch.

I hope this helps inspire some tender Valentine’s Day Moments for you and your sweetie.