Monday, December 2, 2013

Bill and Carol: Post #7 for Our World Tuesday

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."[18]

In my Vernon BC High School there was, hidden in the basement, an early mechanical gramophone also known as a Victrola. After being wound up, it would work with our old 78 rpm records. I was amazed at this early example of sound recording (which we take for granted today).
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 :)

I was happy to meet Mr. Harrison, the owner (with his wife, Jennifer, I believe) of the gallery and coffee shop.  He was most friendly, if a little shy about having his photo taken.  

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!


  1. What luck to have such awesome moving guys! They seem willing to work hard for their bright futures and they know how to make their jobs fun. Life if full of transitions as we move from one phase to another. I wish you and Bill bright futures, too, in this new chapter.

  2. What a great view from Bill's new apartment. I hope you have many happy times there together.

  3. first, i am glad bill will have his own stuff in his own place - to be used, visited, lived in as either of you feel the need. second, i loved those moving guys - characters, for sure, but bright, honest, NICE, hard-working... can't ask for better. third, thought i'd mention, many dog owners swear by canned pumpkin to settle a dog's stomach. not the pumpkin pie mix - just straight canned pumpkin without seasoning. i keep a can or two here, although i've not used them yet. but i've had friends and coworkers swear by it. just thought i'd pass it along...

    fourth, knowing how much you both love music and art, this weekend i saw a shirt for sale in a catalog and immediately thought of you. it read: earth without art is just eh. :)

    hugs to you all.

  4. I enjoyed your photos and your blog. It sounds like you, Bill, and Black Jack are a good team! I'm surprised to see green grass and your movers' short sleeves.

  5. Oh, what a wonderful place to be - so much beauty & so much light. Great post. Blessings to you.


  6. I too listened to "La Fille du Regiment" and counted the high Cs. I thought there were 10 so was disappointed that I had missed one; you have reassured me that I caught them all. I am going to tell you the name of the moving company because they were so excellent both in the packing up of the house and the unpacking into Bill's apartment. It is Green Moving Solutions. Matt, the person who answers the phone, is equally kind, caring and delightful. After speaking with him, I did no more scouting of companies. He also recommended an excellent storage company where we stored everything for a week. Now, I will phone him and tell him that I have spread the good word! Pat, by the way, was part of the team both times!! What a wonderful young man as are Jesse and Rafael (Spanish spelling or Raphael which I think is the Italian spelling). Phyllis

  7. It's been some time since I've been here and I wish I had the time to make the rounds more often. That said, I'm here now and delighted to read things are coming together. The movers come across as laid back gents. Love the pics!

  8. Glad to hear of your daily adventures. First, regarding the nine high C's you must hear Juan Diego Flores the new young tenor from Peru. Outstanding!
    If Bill is like me, I find that the anticipation of events, company, changes etc.event itself is far more stressful than the actual events themselves.
    One last concern. Do make sure you and Bill wash your hands after going to the store using the elevator or having your latte. I'm not a health freak but Bill's health history makes me concerned that he avoids being exposed to colds and flu etc. any more than necessary. ... menus, door knobs, stair railings and so on. Have you ever been on a cruise where they have had an outbreak of the norovirus? Watch the crew disinfect the ship!
    Stay well and happy -- Black Jack too.

  9. Hello Carol and Bill.
    This post has really struck a cord with me. The journey back to health from a head trauma, whatever the cause, is quite challenging for the 'patient'...not to mention the 'nurse'. Bill, I just want to let you know that I can relate so directly to what you are going through. Every step forward can seem like a chore and impossible to do. But those steps that come easily are the ones to hold on to and embrace with all your life energy, as those are the ones that will begin to show themselves more frequently. They really do.

    I don't have to tell you Bill how fortunate you are to have your 'partner-in-crime' with you for every step of the way through this journey to recovery. I know how difficult, yet rewarding, this is for Carol. I watched my husband Ron go through similar observations as Carol has related in these posts. It can be scary for both at times and it is an equally strenuous journey. But given time, the rewards are wonderful.
    This was very moving for me to read. It brought back our recovery period....the good and the not so good times. I admire you both and wish you all the the best is yet to come.

    Now where can we find movers like these guys!! Not that we are moving anytime soon, but hey these guys are hard to find!! Good idea to have that extra area available for those times when being alone is essential.

  10. I just wrote a lengthy reply and inadvertently deleted everything by touching a here I go again.......TexWisGirl's suggestion for canned pumpkin is a very good idea. Sophie had a problem recently and the vet suggested Pumpkin ~~~ so every meal a dollop of this sweet nectar is added and she loves it.

    As mentioned above by Jim, we have spent 6 years dealing with(hate that word) living with the effects of a concussion. We walk every day religiously rain or shine, snow or wind storms ~~ life must continue and being outside experiencing LIFE has been the best remedy. Little did we know that someone had wrote a book about it.

    We have had good times(LAUGHTER) and sad times but my internal essence is to laugh and smile and move forward. Yes, I am vulnerable and have had miserable days but know that these will pass. Yes, they will come back but I know how to handle them now. I do regret losing so many friends from lack of empathy and understanding but emotional/mental problems have played a significant role in the lives of Jim's family all his life and some people just can't separate the the past from the present. We march on though.
    Thanks for being so candid and look forward to more help from you and Bill.
    Thanks so much Bill for helping me!


  11. I was sure thinking about you both on "moving day". I am so glad to see that all was well in hand. You were fortunate, in deed, to have such nice fellows move you, Bill. So difficult when you don't have the right ones. One of my favourite quotes is "Of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most". Supposed to be funny unless there is truth in it. I just want to add that I have been reading about the brain and the new neuro pathways that can be made are truly amazing. It takes some time and importantly, repetition. YOU can do it!!
    p.s. Photographer extraordinaire, Steven Friedman, is a friend of mine and lives on Salt Spring with his lovely wife Joanie and their yellow Lab.
    love and hugs, Raven

  12. Just want to make a quick comment here. It was one of our more difficult nights but these comments (on Bill's as well as on our joint post) really made both of us smile this morning. Jim, that eyebrow point earned a LOL moment :) Thank you to each one of you. I can see so many heartfelt wishes and sentiments expressed. Just beautiful!

  13. This is a courageous post and clearly it has struck a chord with several readers. Some of their comments were very poignant and their support and encouragement were offered with great kindness. As it turned out Bill, the move was trouble free, and Pat and Raphael provided some interesting conversation along with their hard work. So perhaps you can cross one stress off your list and take this happy outcome as a sign of good things to come.
    I'm prepared to try the pumpkin on Zoe's "delicate" stomach. If it doesn't work, you might notice a minor earth tremor in Vancouver.

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