For the benefit of any new readers, I will repeat this introductory paragraph for each post that Bill and I write, at least for the next little while. His surgery in April and a life-threatening septic infection seven months later, as well as various other complicating factors, caused several episodes of delirium that resulted in cognitive dysfunction. While he isn't fully recovered yet, the improvement is dramatic and he continues to show steady progress. It is my great joy and privilege to be by his side to witness that as it happens. All writing in black is by Bill, as transcribed from his memory journal. All writing in blue is by Carol. Thank you so much for reading this. If ever you have a loved one going through surgery, you will need to be a very strong advocate for them. Nurses and doctors work hard to bring their patients back to health but they cannot know your loved one as you do. Report any personality or physical changes you see in him/her and follow up on that report, no matter how the medical system seems designed to resist your efforts. The danger is not over when a patient wakes up after surgery. Delirium can turn up a day or two later and mild cases can go undetected for months. A sudden trigger can push a mild case over the edge. Understanding that could very well save a life.
Saturday, November 30th
Listening to Saturday Opera hosted by Ben Heppner. Today's opera was La Fille du Regiment (Daughter of the Regiment) written by Gaetano Donizetti in 1840.
Donizetti, when asked which of his own operas he thought the best, spontaneously replied, "How can I say which? A father always has a preference for a crippled child, and I have so many." (Quote taken from Wikipedia page about Donizetti).
Listened on youtube to Pavarotti singing an aria from Donizetti's "La Fille de la Regiment" called "Pour Mon Ame" which is called the Mount Everest for tenors since it contains nine high C's. We listened together to this and picked out each high C. Here is the link. If your time is limited, you can skip to 5:40 to catch the 9 C's. This quote from Wikipedia puts the challenge of singing those C's in perspective: "[The nine high Cs come] comparatively early in the opera, giving the singer less time to warm up his voice. Luciano Pavarotti's stardom is reckoned from a performance alongside Joan Sutherland at the Met, when he "leapt over the "Becher's Brook" of the string of high Cs with an aplomb that left everyone gasping."
I have been out of sorts the last couple of days. I do believe I am stressing about the coming week's events. These events include a visit from B and H and appointments leading up to a possible reversal surgery at St. Paul's Hospital. To those planning visits, I think it is important to come even if Bill worries about upsetting his friends. Bill needs to see that his good friends continue to love him even if he is not in top form. At the same time, stress causes some setbacks so short visits with lots of laughter are probably just what the doctor ordered :)
We went to Harrison Galleries which also has a warm and welcome latte bistro. My favourite art work is a photographic print called "Spotted Aspens" (total of 50 prints). The value of a print is negotiable as the fine art market operates in its own universe of rules. The artist is Steven Friedman and I learned that the price of that piece is in the neighbourhood of $3000. I was fairly happy with my shot of it, but can tell you that it doesn't come close to seeing it "in the flesh." As for negotiating a deal, I may have to leave that to Bill :)
Sunday, December 1st
Bill woke up quite happy but began to stress more and more as the hour approached when the movers would arrive with items from his home (now sold). I had some difficulty understanding this, as his sister Phyllis (and other members of his family) had organized the move beautifully. He said he wasn't sentimental at all about letting that home go and added that he has settled happily into my (now, I see it as "our") apartment. I have read in this study that "engaging in activities or being stimulated past the point of fatigue can result in emotional flooding." That idea seems to be supported in Claudia Osborn's book that we have been reading together. It is also possible, it seems to me (though Bill may very well discount this idea), that he is worrying that he may be expected to live alone in his new apartment in my building. In fact, I see that apartment as an extension of our perfectly comfortable but admittedly small living space. It will be a pleasant retreat for both of us to enjoy, either together or separately, as time suggests. Carol's words above express my feelings exactly.
I decided to take Black Jack out before the movers arrived and was happy to see the lone Red-throated Loon.
I have never seen more than one at a time, so have been assuming it has always been the same one. The other possibility is that loons do like to hang out alone but that would need some time to explore loon information. Perhaps a reader could help me with that.
The young cormorants were gathered on a False Creek sculpture and made me smile,
as they so often do.
The movers called to let me know they were minutes away and it seemed the clouds lifted as I peered into the tree by the front entrance to our building.
I took a moment to catch a close-up of a pair of House Finches as well as another of this..
lovely male. He seemed to be in his breeding colours rather early.
One last shot across the street, with Tupper (seagull with a tail that points up) sitting on his favourite perch,
and then I saw the Green's Moving Solutions truck coming down the street.
Raphael (left) and Pat were delightful. Bill spent just a few minutes with them but said this:
Pat and Rafael (I'm not sure which of us got the spelling correct) from Green's Moving Solutions moving company arrived on time (11:30 a.m.) with the delivery of my apartment furniture. They were so pleasant and efficient and honest. No moving company scams would happen with them in charge.
Bill's new apartment is on the 8th floor of our building and..
has this wonderful view over David Lam Park and Pacific Street.
Pat worked hard and did a very quick job of assembling Bill's notoriously difficult to assemble bed. He is going to school in January to become a shop teacher. I think he will be excellent with young students as he is cool, funny, smart and efficient all at the same time. Hard to beat that combination in a prospective teacher.
Raphael is studying neuropsychology. It is amazing to me that he was able to act as apartment decorator, mover of all things light and heavy, and keep up a fascinating conversation at the same time. He had recently read a book that showed improvement in cognitive function came more from getting patients out and about (with supervision) than from formal therapy in a hospital setting. Raphael, if you see this, please correct me if I have quoted you inaccurately. I'd also love the link to that book if you get a chance. When I asked Pat and Raphael to do "the happy dance" for a photo, Raphael, without missing a beat, said, "That will be extra." As you can see, they relented :) Two wonderful guys. I can't say enough good about them and surely do wish them each a happy future.
After they left, it became obvious to me that Bill was sporting a small cold that has probably been working on him for a few days. Perhaps that, more than anything else, was responsible for his slightly negative mood. He managed to rise from his nap in time to walk to Harrison Galleries for the by now expected wonderful lattes and cookies that we appreciate so much. He wrote later in the evening:
I was out of sorts in the morning but perked up a bit in the afternoon. Carol and I with Black Jack kept our afternoon ritual for lattes and cookies at the Buzz Bistro located inside Harrison Galleries.
On the way home, I took some photos of Christmas decorations that are spouting up all around the neighbourhood.
We left Black Jack inside the entrance to Choices while we did a bit of shopping. She is always quite happy to wait there, but wasn't allowed to have any treats, something that upset her greatly. Bill wrote: Poor Black Jack is having an intestinal upset so Carol has her on a 24 hour fast. I might add that this truly hurts me at least as much as it hurts her, but this has been the fastest way to cure all such upsets in the past. She does seem to be fine (if hungry) this morning (Dec. 2nd), so I will feed her a small lunch and hope for the best.
I like Choices market a lot. They have a good selection of organic fruits and vegetables and lots of options for healthy food choices. Bill was getting a bit tired by this time, but bravely did his best imitation of a smile when I asked him to pose.
Love the colours and the glimpse of Bill's new shoes in this shot. He says he's loving them.
I took just a couple of shots between Choices and home. The poor snowman was lying on his side in this one, but he will hopefully bounce back soon.
Once home, we ate and then spent some time reading the Claudia Osborn book together. I asked Bill to stop me if any particular quotes caught his attention. In fact, I ended up pointing out some that caught mine instead. This one, by Claudia, as she heads to New York City for a two-week evaluation of the affects of her head injury made me smile: "Learning to master my personal life in the Sturm und Drang of New York was like learning to ride a bicycle in the Tour de France."
While Bill didn't officially stop me as I read the words and thoughts of Marcia, Claudia's life partner, he did have some comments to make once we talked about them. Here are her words, as copied down in Bill's journal:
"In the acute stages of an illness, it's easy to be a good friend - exhausting but rewarding to nurse a loved one back to health. But, her (Claudia's) health never returned and chronic care takes tenacious strength where you are also battling grief. I often feel unequal to the challenge."
Bill's thoughts about this: Claudia and I share certain basic fundamentals of brain trauma but we differ in small details. I felt that his observation was most astute.
My thoughts as I read those words: I have recognized at times that I am going through a grieving process for some losses (shared activities as well as changes in Bill) but believe many of those losses are already being recouped and others are mutating to ones at least as precious and fun-filled as those before. One other thought is that these words come early on in the book (Chapter 7 of 26). I know from having read the reviews that this story has a positive outcome and look forward to understanding the growth that will take place in both Marcia and Claudia.
This shot was my last one of the day, and was of the window lighting along the side of 499 Drake Street. It had a dreamy feel to it that seems now to have been a precursor to the wonderful sleep that I had last night. Thank you, as always, for taking time to read the blog. For other events in the lives of people around the world, perhaps you will stop by the Our World Tuesday blog meme. I can guarantee that you will find new perspectives and lots of entertainment in the posts submitted. Happy Monday, everyone!