Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in review - Gratitude month by month

Every December 31, I take the calendar out and transfer birthdays, anniversaries, and appointments onto the next year's calendar before storing the current year's calendar away (I have calendars going back several years, which would come in handy were I ever to write my memoirs, haha!)

If I could choose a word to describe what 2017 has been for me and mine, it would have to be 'miraculous'.  Rather than theme by theme, I thought I'd take it month by month to show you how that has played out in my / our life.


January 4 - My brother had surgery to remove about five inches of bowel due to having stage 1 colon cancer. The surgery was successful; they got it all, and he did not have to have chemo. While he was in the hospital, he had a gall bladder attack and because of the recent surgery, they only put in a drainage tube instead of removing the gall bladder. He still has the tube... but more about him later.

January 9 - I had surgery to remove my reproductive organs due to some pre-cancerous cells inside my uterus (discovered the previous October via a biopsy done under anesthetic). I was off work for about 5 weeks. After the initial recovery period, I discovered that I had more energy and slept better at night than I had been. 


February 16 - I returned to work after my surgery January 9. I had been team leading since October so was returning to that - what a wonderful experience! 

February 27 - My post-surgery consultation / followup - my OB/GYN told me that everything was fine and that I had far less chance of getting other kinds of cancer (e.g., breast) now that my uterus was gone. :) 

February 28 - I celebrated eight years in recovery from codependency (see my "What is Codependency" tab). It might seem like a small thing, but my life is so much better now that I am living a more free lifestyle.


March 14 - my husband had an MRI on his right shoulder to determine the cause of his shoulder pain and weakness that he'd had ever since a shoveling accident last winter.

March 25 - my husband celebrated 8 years in recovery from alcoholism. Every day is a celebration really, but this is one of those landmarks we remember every year. 

March is a hard month usually; we have had our fill of winter by the time New Year's rolls around, so in March, with winter showing no sign of abating, things can get pretty exhausting and discouraging. A couple of well-timed vacation days near the end of March tides us over until the next long weekend - Easter (which was in April this year.)

In mid-March, my brother had to go into the hospital to stabilize his sugars (he is an insulin-dependent diabetic and the sugars, due to stress, were around six times what they should have been). He was home again in a few days, but while he was gone, we had to rely on extended family members to take up the slack of caring for my mother. Some of these family members got tired of doing that. It was the beginning of the end of a lot of things - though we didn't know it at the time.


April 14 - Good Friday - A day-visit to see my mom and brother showed us how badly Mom's dementia had deteriorated since our last visit a few months previous. I was seriously starting to worry that she might burn the house down by leaving a burner on or something.

April 17 - Easter Monday - My brother again had to go to hospital to deal with a cardiac incident. He was only in the hospital for about a week, but while he was gone, those extended family members, who I mentioned earlier, put their sinister plan into motion.

April 19 - Due to lies told to a Social Worker, Mom was taken to hospital "for her own safety" since my brother was still in the hospital and the extended family members didn't want to care for her. As a result, she became a "court-ordered" patient and wheels were put in motion to keep her in the hospital until she could be placed into a nursing home.  


May 26 - My husband had his appointment with an orthopedic surgeon regarding the MRI he had undergone in March. The surgeon told him that his bicep muscle had mostly torn away from his rotator cuff in one spot and that he would need surgery to repair it. The wait times for this would be about a year or so. They finally settled on August 2018.

May 29 - My brother received a writeup of the allegations that put Mom into the custody of the province.  He showed me a photo of each of the pages. Everything they said was either a bald-faced lie or a gross exaggeration and misinterpretation of the facts. He had no money to fight it in court. We advised against fighting since it was the province (not the extended family members) who would gain financial control over Mom's affairs.


June 9 - After two years of talking about it, we finally got our tub "replaced" - we used Bathfitters and we were very pleased with the results! This was a big deal because the old tub (a purple one from the 1970s) was such an eyesore and so was the badly done tile job around it. Now we have a sleek, easy-to-clean tub and shower surround. 

June 16 - I started seeing a counsellor to help me deal with the stress of the situation with Mom and my brother. The therapist and I immediately clicked!

June 20 - My husband and I celebrated 36 years as husband and wife. 


July 10 - I headed out to Calgary for a 2-week intensive finale to my Group Counselling course. A good friend of my daughter's picked me up at the airport and drove me to campus. My room-mates were pretty good and even took me to the grocery store that afternoon so that I could have food for the coming week. Such a contrast to the last year I was there!

July 13 - That friend and her partner had me over to their house for the BEST steak dinner I have EVER tasted - and the partner even helped me with a computer problem I had been having. :)  They offered to take me out to breakfast on the 16th - Arielle's birthday (she would have been 25). 

July 15 - A classmate contacted me and drove me out to Canmore - close to the Rockies - and I saw the mountains up close and in person for the first time ever. NO comparison to only seeing pictures!! it was a spiritual experience for me mostly because Arielle had seen a similar sight when she and a friend drove to Calgary from Edmonton about a month before she died. 

July 16 - Breakfast at Denny's - what more needs to be said?  It was busy because it was a Sunday morning, but the food was great and my daughter's friends put themselves out to make the day a little more bearable for me.

July 21 - The flight home. My daughter's friend's partner drove me early to the Calgary airport, so I spent a LOT of time waiting at one airport or another. I was supposed to arrive at 11:10 pm, but due to the absolute worst thunderstorm of the year on the Eastern seaboard (affecting flights leaving LaGuardia in NY), my connector was delayed.  It arrived two and a half hours late in Toronto, and then when it finally took us to the Maritimes, the same storm was affecting our ability to land in PEI (five inches of rain on the runway). We diverted to Moncton, spent an hour inside the plane while the pilot was on the horn with officials in both places, and then finally took off to land in PEI around 3:15 am. I could have kissed the tarmac when we landed here! 


I spent more time than usual in the sun. After my time in Calgary and the intensity of Summer Institute, I welcomed the chance to relax whenever I could. Aside from a dental filling and a couple of birthdays, there's nothing written on the calendar for this particular month. 

However, my daughter did decide to take a course through Athabasca University online, a precursor to eventually transferring the credit to UPEI. It was a big move for her psychologically, and although she was anxious, we were confident that this was a good move for her.

My brother was diagnosed with cataracts.


I began a four-month hiatus from school. No courses that I needed were being offered in that term, so I paid my program fee (to hold my place in the program) and then prepared to fill the time with something else. I must admit that I didn't know WHAT I would fill the time with, so September I spent a lot of time lurking on Facebook, playing computer games, and watching television: luxuries I only sipped in moderation when I was taking classes.

I took to calling Mom about 3 times a week, and my brother at least once a week. During this time, he was learning how to manage a household on his own for the first time in his life, so I was giving him tips and tricks to getting things done and bills paid on time. I also helped him stick-handle through the process of trying to get quotes to put in an oil-fired furnace to replace the wood furnace he could no longer tend (he had qualified for a grant for this).


Photo "Young Plant" by amenic181 at
I rediscovered crochet in October, and began one birthday project for my brother, and started my Christmas projects. Finally there was something productive to do with my evenings and weekends!

October 9 - Thanksgiving - We had friends over and I cooked a turkey with all the trimmings, including some deep-dish pumpkin pie I made myself. The food was good, but the company was better!

October 26 - What was to be a trip to NB to take my brother to an ophthalmologist's appointment (pre-surgery) ended up with me going to the Moncton hospital after learning he'd had a heart attack the day before. Fortunately the damage was minimal. Yet he was still having chest pain.

I remember having a great visit with him, including telling his kidneys to return to function, and telling his pancreas to behave themselves, in preparation for an upcoming cardiac procedure. 

While I was there, I visited my mom, who was still in the hospital awaiting placement, and who thought she'd only gotten there about a week ago (it had been over six months.) It was a good visit, not at all like I might have feared.

October 30 - My brother had his cardiac procedure and it went perfectly! They put in two stents in the vessels on his upper heart muscle because there was a 90% blockage in one and a 70% blockage in the other. His kidneys didn't fail and his sugars actually improved with the decrease in stress.  Within hours, all the pain was gone - just gone!! - and he was able to get a full breath and even was able to walk for more than 50 feet by the end of the following day!

He was still waiting for the furnace project to get going, however, after he got back home. He was keeping the electric thermostat on 58 degrees and using the blanket I had crocheted for him to keep warm when the temperatures started dipping. The hospital stay gave him a reprieve from that, but the weather wasn't getting any warmer and with a badly insulated house, things were pretty chilly.


After involving the NB Ombudsman as well as some creative plans to get the furnace work done, the grant people finalized the agreement with an installer to put in the furnace. They started the work on my brother's birthday, near the end of November. 

Interestingly, the nights didn't get as cold as they usually did that time of year. 

He also made arrangements through Social Services to get transportation to and from medical appointments. This was a big relief for everyone!

My daughter decided to attend UPEI as an "unclassified student" while she was taking some upgrading to qualify for a program there: the Kinesiology degree. This was a huge deal for her.


December 3 - My brother's first delivery of furnace oil happened early that Sunday morning and he texted me, "Sis, it's 68 degrees and so warm." 

December 8 - Mom was moved into the nursing home. At last count she seemed to be settling in, but the staff was discouraging visitors that she would associate with her going back home. As yet, we have not yet seen her.

December 11 - Many discussions with UPEI Registrar and Student services later, we had the joy of seeing our daughter register for a Kinesiology course at UPEI to start January 3, 2018. 

December 13 - My brother had an appointment with his surgeon (the one who did the cancer operation). She's been monitoring his creatinine levels to give her an indication of how well his kidneys are doing. Before the cardiac procedure they were at 600 (the high end of normal is 113). He told me on the 13th that even though the doctors could not explain how, his creatinine was now at 225, and that he was in the best shape he has been in for several years! What a great Christmas gift!

December 23 - A good day-visit to see brother - we gave him his Christmas gifts. He cooked a scrumptuous meal and enjoyed our company to the full!  He still has his drainage tube but now has a target date for the surgery to remove it (and the gall-bladder): March 2018. That is quite the relief. We are still waiting for word from the ophthalmologist on the date for the cataract surgery. They want to talk to his cardiologist first. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

December 25 - This was the first Christmas we have spent alone (with just the 3 of us) since Arielle passed away. It appears we were ready for it - a quiet one with just us - and a good turkey dinner to share and lots of leftovers!

December 26 - Shepherd's pie with friends who came over for supper and the evening. A good time was had by all! Precious memories built and exchanged, and nobody left the table hungry, haha.

December 31 - Today. We are planning a quiet evening at home with a dear friend.

The year ahead looks bright with many significant changes coming up and lots of bends in the road ahead. Yet all we have seen, as R. W. Emerson said, leads us to trust our Creator for all we have not seen.

I wish my readers all the absolute best of all things for 2018.

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