Notice is served. Alice, you’re outta here! Alice has been a lousy tenant – she has caused me excessive pain and immobility. She has stolen my dreams and made my life miserable. Just a few months ago I was able to walk over 20 000 steps a day, and take part in many adventures. Today I have a walker parked near my place on the couch, and a cane on standby. Alice, my arthritic right hip, has to go. And go she will. I’ve been scheduled for hip replacement surgery on January 3 in Kalispell, MT. I can hardly wait!
Unfortunately traveling to the US for surgery is going to be very expensive. But I have little choice. Here, most likely I won’t have a chance at surgery until June, 2018, a year after being seen by my surgeon. I was officially told I need new hip in March, 2017. That means the wait for replacement surgery in our “free” health care system would be over 16 months. I don’t want to even think about how immobile I would be if I waited another 6 months.
I could go on forever about how broken our public heath care system is, but it is fruitless. The problems are embedded so deep it will take over a generation to fix. I only hope that by the time my son needs it, the system will have started back down the right path. Changing a large public organization is harder than pushing an elephant through a pinhole.
In the meantime, we’re going to dip into our retirement funds and take the plunge. Goodby to travel and adventure over the next 5 years. But hello to pain-free living.
In honour of the #RoaroftheRings Olympic Trials taking place in Ottawa this week, here’s some curling trivia:
Canadians started curling as early as the mid 1700’s. According to Library and Archives Canada, curling came from Scotland and was played informally long before 1800. Legend has it that the 768th Fraser Highland regiment melted cannonballs to make curling stones. Records show curling taking place in Québec City in 1759 – 1760. Who knew!!!
Over the next 100 years or so, curling games were recorded in Montreal, Quebec City, and a smattering of places across the Atlantic region.
In 1807 a group of Montreal merchants banded together and formed Canada’s first curling club.
Who knew!!! And that’s today’s smattering of useless information:)
Did you know?
Today is the 100th anniversary of the horrific Halifax Explosion. I remember visiting the site in the early 1980’s when I went to visit my aunt in Halifax. I had heard of the disaster in one of my history classes, but couldn’t fathom the impact until we drove around the harbour and could still see remnants of the explosion.
I can’t imagine how this horrible event would have seemed back in 1917. More than 2000 people lost their lives. Countless more were seriously injured or left homeless. A huge portion of the bustling city was flattened. The devastation paralleled the horrific events of Pearl Harbour, a mere 30 years and 2 days later. Yet few Canadians think of the Halifax Explosion on December 5. Instead, we think more about the horrifying results of December 7 in Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. Although both were devastating, I have always wondered why we don’t hear more about our own disasters.
Another one of those things that make you go “Ummmmm”. It’s neither bad nor goood; it just is.
Let’s play the writing game. Here’s my first effort at responding to a daily writing prompt
She slowly began to emerge from the delicious haze of semi-wakefulness and dreams of her youth and, ever the optimist, turned to her side to begin her day. But every bone in her 92 year old body rebelled against her efforts, trying to drag her soul into the same abyss of pain she faced daily, and would only grow worse with each passing month. Summoning up courage far greater than any of those who summited Everest, or who brought home Olympic gold, she began her day. Breakfast first. A little light cleaning. Lunch. A few more chores. Over to extended care to spend the afternoon with her husband of 68 years, who sometimes remembered her. Home. A few more chores, Bed, Sleep. Wake. Repeat.
This is the life of the true brave; the life of those we often ignore, writing off as being old and useless. We do not worship them; we do not thank them for their years of forging the way so we can live in the style we want. We do not see what they once were; we see only frailty and weakness. Yet most of us could not muster the same courage they must do every single day, every single movement, every single moment. This is the life of the golden years – the reality of growing old and living with chronic pain. These are the people who deserve our hero-worship. These are the hoardes of seniors who every single day show truly unusual acts of bravery more deserving of respect than those who foolishly risk their lives chasing windmills on the likes of Mount Everest.
I am a relatively health 59 year old woman who suffers from severe osteoarthritis of my hip. I have therefore unfortunately entered the endless cycle of waiting for surgical services in Alberta. I am trying to understand why our wait times are so long, but am having an extremely difficult time finding the right information to explain this backlog. According to my doctor and other front line medical workers, the waits are not due to a lack of staff or facilities. Instead, they are due to a lack of funding for surgeries. Again, I have a difficult time understanding this lack of funding when we have such a healthy budget for healthcare in our province. As you are aware, our province spends $21.4 billion per year on healthcare, or over 45% of the total provincial budget.
I beg of you to please find a way to streamline our system. I know I am just one of the thousands of Albertans who are forced to give up on our dreams, change our lives, and sit back and wait for help for what ails us. I must face the reality of changing my life from a very active and involved community member to someone sidelined by pain. Instead of spending my early retirement years fearlessly taking on new adventures and challenges, volunteering for community events, and so on, I now must face different challenges. Simple tasks have become difficult. Instead of taking pride in parking in the farthest spot from the shopping mall’s doorway so I could get in a few extra steps, I am now looking for a small store with parking close to the door so I can handle the trek in and out of the store. Shopping malls are becoming my enemy, as they are too large to navigate. I now look for a grocery store that has free shopping carts near the doorway so I can lean on the cart while I shop. Instead of going about my daily activities without even a second thought, Going to the bank, taking care of the house, and taking care of the yard have become activities that I have to think carefully about so I can find the most pain-free way to get them done. In other words, at less than 60 years old, I have joined the army of seniors with mobility challenges.
Not only are my daily activities now more difficult, but my health is challenged.
Last year I was very active. I managed to lose weight, reduce my cholesterol and blood pressure, and become a very healthy Albertan, other than what was then moderate arthritis. But this year, reduced mobility is starting to take a toll. When I do walk, my gait is misaligned so my other joints are stressed. I feel my knee and foot starting to suffer. I believe that by the time I have surgery, I will have seriously damaged my other hip, knees, and feet from the stress put on them when I try to compensate for a sore hip. I also am finding it difficult to maintain a high fitness level, leaving me vulnerable to other health challenges. In my opinion, the longer I wait for surgery, the more of a burden I will become to the health care system because of problems resulting from dealing with the pain.
I also ask you to consider the overall decline in my quality of life resulting from an outrageous wait for surgery. I had all sorts of plans for my early retirement years, including finding rewarding part-time work and volunteer activities. I worked hard my whole life so that I could fulfill them. But most of these are now gone. From start to finish, this process will take over two years, including the basic recovery time. I will have lost some of the prime years for reaching my dreams. As an Albertan who has actively contributed to our economy and society, I find this possibility very depressing.
Yes, I know you can argue that I can still find a rewarding life – and yes, I can still be involved in many things, and offer a positive contribution to our society. And yes, I know my problems are small compared to many other very ill Albertans. And you would be right. But that doesn’t mean my plight should be minimized or rationalized. . The ridiculously long wait system has robbed me of my choices, of my plan for my life. I am the one who has to deal with the pain every time I take a step, or move my leg. I am the one who has to deal with a lack of sleep difficult because it is difficult to get comfortable at night. I am the one who has to look longingly at those who simply walk pain free to the neighbour’s house for a visit. I am the one of the many who has to suffer while we hopefully wait for that magical phone call from the surgeon’s office saying that they finally have a date for surgery. I ask you to consider those of us who suffer daily with pain while we wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and the wait some more, for help from our health care system. I beg of you to find a way to make our system more efficient so that people like me are not face with interminable waits for so-called elective procedures.
I ask you to consider the following information, which I am sure is typical of the thousands of Albertans like me who are stuck in our system. Look at our wait times and ask yourself what you can do to make this insanity stop. http://waittimes.alberta.ca/
FYI – here’s the timeline of my wait:
Date of my initial referral from frontline practitioner: January 16
Date of Diagnostic X-Ray – February 21
Date of Diagnosis through Chinook Bone and Joint Clinic – March 16
Date of Initial Surgeon Appointment: June
Probable number of weeks before surgery after June appointment: 48 – 60 (10 – 14 months)
Total anticipated wait time from initial referral: 80 – 90 weeks, or 20 months, or almost 2 years.
Full recovery time – 6 months to 1 year
Total time lost: As long as 2.5 to 3 years from initial referral to full recovery
It’s official. Alice faces an eviction notice. Sometime in the next ten months Alice will be out of my life forever. Recently she as caused me great pain and suffering. Her fickleness a robbed me of vitality . She has lulled me into a sense off fake hope, only to viciously turning me faster than Trump turned on his cronies.
Nevertheless, I will be a little sad to see her go. She as been with me for many years, all my life in fact. She supported me through childbirth, bore the brunt of the burden on my Yukon adventure, and kept me company on a daily basis. Before she turned nasty, she was there for me while I recently finally grew into the person I always dreamed of being.
I didn’t think she paid much attention to me but obviously she was listening when, I pronounced to the universe upon my retirement that I would try to “do it all” in the next 3 year, before my body gave out on me. Perhaps she was jealous and couldn’t stand to see my success. So, out of seer spite, over the last year, and true to my unfortunate prophecy, she began to turn on me – the nasty parasite. Her actions were insidious, building intensity slowly. I, like the proverbial frog in the frying pan, didn’t realize what she was doing until it was too late. A little ache here, a sharp pain there, a grinding, popping noise everywhere – the symptoms soon grew in intensity. So much that a few months ago, she almost incapacitated me.
My harsh awakening came on while I was carrying out an otherwise mundane task one cool January day. Up until a few weeks before that date, I still dreamed of grand retirement adventures – hiking the West Coast Trail next summer, tackling the legendary El Camino trail with my sister, and of tackling the many mountain trails near our vacation property. No dream was too big for me – until Alice sought her revenge.
The need for Alice’s eviction smacked me in the face when I found myself in tears in the grocery aisle. I had to pick up paper towels, but they were 5 rows away. I didn’t think I could walk that far, as I was debilitated by her pain. At that moment, I knew I had joined the legions of seniors who grasp desperately to their shopping carts for support the moment they enter a grocery store – who seek the parking spot closest to the door so they don’t have to walk so far. Who most certainly have no place on steep mountain trails.
Thus began my final journey to have Alice evicted – in other words, I knew I needed a new right hip. I decided to call my hip “Alice” so in a few months I can proudly declare “Alice doesn’t live here anymore”.
And it is now official. I am on the countdown. Sometimes in the next 10 months I will undergo a full hip replacement. I know I will be fine once it is done, and my healing is complete. But this disease has slowly robbed me of many retirement dreams. I waited too long to really run a marathon, too long to hike the West Coast Trail, too long to tackle many of the physical challenges I had dreamed of meeting. I know I will have to find other dreams to replace these – and ultimately I will. But in the meantime, I will allow myself a little time to mourn the change. I have to face reality – that I am soon going to be 60 years old, and I have osteoarthritis – a disease that will continue to slowly pick away at my physical vitality. The dreams of my youth need to fade away and make room for dreams more suited to this new phase of life.
I’ve decided that a positive unanticipated outcome of our long healthcare waiting list is that it is giving me time to adapt to the change. I am having the proper mourning time to adjust to my new reality. I am slowly experiencing a gradual shift in outlook. I know I
will still find metaphorical mountains to climb and will be just fine. In the meantime, i am trying to stay as active and healthy as I can so I have the strength to face what comes – and the desire to find a new reality that will be just as fulfilling as the one I thought I would have.
So, sometime in the next 10 months – watch for the final eviction notice. Stay tuned!