And then there was smoke and cars, cars, cars!

Well we remain in St Albert AB at the Kinsmen RV Campgrounds which is a terrific place to hang ones cap when in this area. The sites are extremely well maintained with full hookups and several drive through spots for those who struggle to back into sites. The washrooms are very clean and staff are super helpful and friendly. Also, located adjacent to the park is a series of athletic pitches from soccer to Rugby to cricket to football so the evenings are never dull and without activity. The amazing cycle/walking trails in St Albert are worth taking in as well. One trail runs right beside the campground so I have been able to access these very safe and well maintained trails with ease. Now if only the smoke would clear!

Would love to do more cycling but today and recently the smoke from BC wildfires has been intense. Health authorities have been suggesting that one remains inside if at all possible. My eyes are sore and lungs feel yucky (technical term). I am to play golf tomorrow with Brother in Law Jim, so hopefully this smog settles down over night.

Kath remains at the struggle with swelling in her new cast. We were hopeful that the swelling would have settled down by now but it remains a troubled spot. She had the original cast off this past Sunday, got an X-ray, and a nice shiny new fibreglass cast so we were hopeful this would be the start of something that would feel like healing…. not so much. The plate and eight screws holding her radius together look good though; don’t you think? Another two weeks in this cast and hopefully she can transition to a velcro brace to allow her some movement to get that swelling to dissipate and then start some Physio. We need to get that golf swing back in order by Christmas!

IMG_1037IMG_1036

This past weekend we were privileged to witness a great car show in St Albert as well. Must have been hundreds of cars from all over North America so obviously a well rated event. The quality of the work done on these cars was impressive. When I come back in my next life, I want to be an old 46 Willy’s Jeep… or that sexy Audi.

Smokey or what!

The BC forest fires have deposited a murky grey smog over much of BC and Alberta these past few days. Many, including Kath and me are experiencing sore eyes and a stitch at the back of our throats. Just when I thought it would improve, another thick layer came rolling in like a runaway train this afternoon. Can’t imagine how those with Emphysema and COPD are managing with this. Staying indoors with the AC on is about the only tool so those without AC will be struggling a great deal. Hopefully there will be some cooler and wetter weather to follow or perhaps we will all perish in the flames! The reddish smoke filled sky and muted sun late in the day are seen below.

Kathryn is doing ok with her cast/fracture these days although the extreme plus 30’s heat wave isn’t helping with the swelling. By the end of each day her left wing is fairly numb so she packs it in ice and keeps it elevated in the smokey smog.. She will get the cast removed and sutures out on Sunday but we expect another cast for another month. We’ve adjusted our arrival plans back in Victoria to end Sept 24/25 to facilitate me getting on a plane for Cornwall to attend the first TRP1 there. Finally getting TRP nationalized is a big treat given it took almost two years to get that done for COPE. We are operating on a completely different plain this time thanks to WWC.

Finally got that nasty root canal re done this past week. Seems the Banff version just didn’t take so after several additional and delightful dental chair sessions, I was referred to an EndoDontist who made short work of it. My tooth is feeling great so candied apples all around!!

Met with an old CF buddy last evening. Scott MacLeod and wife Debby joined us at an Italian spot in St Albert; Bucco Pizzeria. It was great to see them again. Scott has now left the CF and has moved on to the College of Physicians and Surgeons office in Alberta. Nice to see good people get ahead in life and continue to do great work.

IMG_1024

I have been cycling regularly this week to get in shape for the WWC Highway of Heroes HHR bike ride from 25-25 Aug from Ft Langley to Victoria. Things are going well as I carefully negotiate every railway crossing! I managed to get 9 holes in this morning at the Twin Willows Golf Course just off 137th Ave in Edmonton. Great course, well watered, nice greens and plenty of water to take your ball. I did nine holes and shot a 40 for the back nine so I am happy with the way I’m hitting the ball this summer. Many more rounds to come and hopefully Kath can catch up in the fall when her putting arm is back in shape.

I’ll stop here for today but not before I show off the amazing cherry pie our daughter Jennifer made for our little family gathering the other night. She gets those skills from Kathryn for sure.. Talk soon.  C

IMG_1018

Settled into St Albert

We arrived at the Kinsman RV Park in St Albert last Wednesday. First time at this park and we have found a beautifully kept grounds and very pleasant staff. The weather has been a bit unsettled vacillating between rain, thunder, lightening and then hot and humid… typical Alberta situation where if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.

Met a nice couple, Jim and Sharon who have been full-time RVing for 11 years. They’ve been all over including US and Mexico so they are a wealth of experience for us to tap into. Jim was an electrician prior to retirement so he was able to solve my electrical issue without too much difficulty. All good now. Note to self; when loading the bike bags, don’t let the hard shell hit the battery isolation switch! Sometimes it’s the simplest fix and other times not so much.

Kath and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary on the 2nd. We had a fantastic dinner at a restaurant in St Albert called “XIX”. Simply amazing food and service with a contemporary decor. Many thanks to the staff who provided an excellent dining experience for Kath and me. We would highly recommend this terrific restaurant.

IMG_1015

My dental issues have popped up again which had me referred to an Endo Dentist this week. They did a digital 3D X-ray (very cool) and discovered the root canal recently established when we were in Banff wasn’t doing well. The plan was to redo it yesterday and I already feel the difference. BTW, for those of you about to retire from the CAF, make sure you sustain your medical/dental coverage as I have accessed it plenty over the past two months and it has saved enough to pay the pad fees for a month… just saying.  In short I think I am now done with dental shit for awhile… I hope.

Kath is doing better with a keen reduction in the swelling of her left arm which left her very uncomfortable towards the end of the day. She is starting to get used to a reduced functionality with that hand and compensating by using a hip or bracing items that normally need a two handed approach against her body. When that fails I find myself taking the role of her left hand and making things happen.  It’s a team approach and thus far seems to be working well.

We are off to daughter Jennifer’s place this evening for a BBQ with her boyfriend Jeremy’s parents and brother. Looking forward to seeing these folks as it’s been a year since we last connected. We are already missing the Grandchildren nestled so deep into Saskatchewan.  We will need to figure out how and when to get back there.

Given the situation with Kathryn’s wrist and timing to get the cast off, we will likely amend our arrival back date in Victoria so she can start physio well before we head south for the winter in mid Nov. Those friends and family on Vancouver Island can likely look forward to seeing our faces again end Sept. All good. C

 

On the move again

Kath and I left the Gordie Howe Campground in Saskatoon this morning but not without some parting shots at us across our bow… As I was bringing the slides in, the breaker kept triggering and allowing the slide to move only 6-7 inches at a time. Most disturbing especially since we wanted to get ourselves up and going trying to move away from the last week of disappointing wait times for surgery and bumps. Spoke to an RV tech and he suggested I might have an issue with the RV’s converter so we’ll get that looked at when we get to Edmonton. I put a 20 amp fuse in the breaker slot replacing the 15 amp and it worked well to get the slides in. Thought I had that solved when the auto levelling system wouldn’t work to retract the stabilizer legs. WTF!! I hooked the truck to the trailer with power on the advice of the Tech and that gave me the 12 volt power I needed.  All that to say we got the slides in and support legs up and we hit the road. Holy crap!

Settled into North Battleford for a quick lunch at Mickey “D’s” and then on to Lloydminister for the night. Amazing dinner at Montana’s for their best ribs ever.

Kath is a bit sore this evening with a swollen wrist pushing from the inside of that cast. She is a trooper but it’s obvious she is struggling this evening with personal comfort. Satellite TV much appreciated tonight as we sit back and reflect upon our last month in Saskatchewan. It had its ups and downs but time with family made it worthwhile. Connecting with Jeff, Brooke, Olivia and Anderson brought smiles to our day. Tooth pain and a fractured wrist were ugly elements to be truthful but we are moving on and looking forward to our time in Edmonton. This starts tomorrow!

Kathryn Update

Howdy folks. As an update, Kathryn has not yet had the required surgery on her triple fractured left wrist. We moved our rig into Saskatoon to be close to the hospital so when they pull the trigger for her surgery we will be close vice having to drive 2 hours. She was told to be NPO last Sunday evening for a Monday surgery and then was promptly bumped from the Monday schedule; and then bumped again each day this past week due to more serious Ortho traumas coming in from the days activities and traffic snarls in Saskatoon and area. The hospital staff politely describe it as a “back log” but what it looks like is a significant lack of capacity and staff. Just one more reminder of the downside of socialized medicine here in Canada. The system works well but it can be a slog of a wait when your injury gets triaged low. We aren’t taking it personal of course and just trying to be patient and go about our day with a tinge of optimism for tomorrow.

One of the most difficult and oddly cruel aspects of the RV park we are staying in (Gordon Howe RV Park), is that it is adjacent to a pretty nice golf course. We get to watch others do what we wish we were doing all day long… I want to give a shout out to the good folks running the Gordie Howe RV park for accommodating us so well. We were unplanned coming in here and they have shuffled other campers around so we didn’t have to move our rig while we wait. Many thanks.

Kathryn is in good spirits otherwise and doesn’t require anything for pain just now. She has a cast on her wrist and arm and keeps it in a sling most of the day until the swelling becomes too much to manage. She then gets it well elevated and uses some ice to assist. We have also considered getting a referral to Edmonton for surgery as well but were informed we’d likely see the same wait there. Anybody have a good Ortho Surgeon connection in Edmonton?? We are hopeful that this evening at 6pm we will get the call for tomorrow and we will be on our way by Tuesday after a day to recover. Wish us luck!

Here’s a few recent shots of our last couple of days in St Brieux Saskatchewan. Our daughter Jen and boyfriend Jeremy as well as Anderson, Kath with sling and Olivia. All great kids!

Of Pain, Frustration and Love

Bit of an odd and serious sounding title to this blog but I think you’ll agree it is fitting.

Yesterday morning as I was getting ready to head out for a short 2 hour cycle. Kath mentioned she would like to get some exercise as well so we departed the campsite with confidence that we’d be back within two hours as I had several teleconferences and emails to send that day thus a long trip wouldn’t fit. It was a beautiful sunny warm St Brieux Saskatchewan day without the traditional wind we have come to recognize here, so I thought this would be a good time spinning the Cervelos up.

Three kilometres down the road we needed to cross a set of railway tracks that crossed the highway at a 35 degree angle making them a bit tricky. Not to mention the road disrepair was considerable so needless to say it was an area requiring a bit of gentle attention. I went across first reducing the angle to a more perpendicular approach and turned back to say to Kath to “be careful” and BOOM! Down she went. Her front tire slipped precariously into a groove beside the iron rail that pried her free from the seat and sent her to the ground with outstretched left arm. She connected with the ground left palm first and then left leg.

I circled back as she was making her way to her feet but cradling her left arm. I could see immediately one of those wrists was not like the other. It was already swelling and clearly displaced at an angle not common to humans. My heart sank for her as I knew this wasn’t going to be good news. She rested in the shade quietly and after a few minutes of me checking her over I decided to cycle back to get our truck and make our way to the Melfort Hospital.

Fortunately we were just a few minutes from the campground where I quickly packed our first aid kit, Motrin, Birkenstocks for our feet and a change of shirt for Kath; we headed into town. We were greeted by a very helpful set of Nurses who tended to Kathryn’s needs perfectly. An X-Ray proved the fracture was not simple and a Orthopaedic consult in Saskatoon at the Royal University Hospital (RUH) was warranted. I felt the colour drain from our faces when the Doc informed us this was a complex fracture and may require a surgical repair. We headed back to the trailer to pack a bag and then made our way to Saskatoon after we secured our wonder dog Nikki with our son Jeff who would retrieve her after his work that day.

Arrival at the RUH in Saskatoon was uneventful and we observed before us an ER in total chaos. The waiting room was standing room only, the waiting area just to register was standing room only. Patients were on stretchers in the hallways and client medical assessments were ongoing even in the entrance security area. Its been a while since I ‘ve witnessed this type of scenario and I must admit it triggered me some.

Finally we were registered and commenced the marathon wait for ER doc, then Ortho consult, then a plan. Our first Doc was a resident who we fondly named
“Doogey” as we were sure he hadn’t started shaving yet. Dr Butcher…. that’s right I said “Butcher”, was our Ortho doc who presented as extremely professional and thorough. He explained the situation with the fracture and shared the X-Ray with us showing several problems. at least two fractures on the Radius (big arm bone) and one on the Ulna “smaller one”. There was displacement of the bones and a rotation to the wrist that if left untreated would no doubt prevent normal function of the wrist and likely arthritis later. His plan was to try a local anesthesia with finger traps and weight attached to try and allow gravity to re extend the joint where it should be and then do a manual manipulation of the wrist to ensure proper placement and cast it for healing. This all made sense but I was concerned about the level of pain Kathryn would endure through this. Kathryn, as the strong willed Irish Catholic gal she is, agreed to the plan and prepared herself for what would turn out to be a significantly uncomfortable event.

Many hours past in the ER as we waited for Dr Butcher to have the time to do this procedure. Every few minutes another ambulance pulled up with more injured cargo requiring his skill set. Kath’s pain cycled as expected hovering around a “5” when the Morphine was working and spiking to a “10” when she was moved or poked. We began to learn the names of the other clients awaiting care as we were all trapped by the injuries we came with. Nurses came and retrieved one client and then another, and then they all came back to wait for the next go around. There were people with dementia who became combative and threw punches at nurses and docs, young men fainting while visiting their father in the ER, Rugby players showed up with splints already in place fresh from the tournament ongoing that night, and whole families there to support their Grandfather who was having a Cardiac event. Kath and I were totally immersed in all this commotion as curious onlookers and full of empathy. I felt like I was seeing this hospital staff doing its level best to contend with the situation and they did so with a smile and kind word. Finally, it was Kath’s turn. Dr Butcher used a rather large bore needle to try and inject freezing directly into the fracture. I won’t go into the graphic description of this part. I tried to comfort Kath with a reassuring hand on her shoulder as she endured intense pain associated with this process. It’s all I could do and it seemed not enough. I thought that would be the worst of it… I was wrong!

Then and once the freezing had established itself, Dr Butcher proceeded to manually  “push” the bone fragments back into place….. WTF! Kath was simply in agony with this but remained willing to proceed hardly making a sound as this well intentioned professional moved her bone fragments about. Finally he seemed to achieve some relief when he felt the wrist come back into alignment; it came with a “snap” or “clunk”. He sat back and looked at Kathryn’s face now drained of any colour and told her “she was the toughest person he had ever met”! He said “he had done this treatment many times and usually to men and they usually screamed through it”. I felt this incredible sense of pride in Kath as she stared this horrible event in the face and endured what most others could/would not.

Our Frustration mounted when Dr Butcher informed us after the X-Ray to confirm the correct placement of bone that it had only partially worked. The plan now would be a surgical repair after a CT Scan the next day. We of course agreed and set off with a script for morphine for the night and in search of a all night Pharmacy and hotel. It was 0300 and we were in a strange place; what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Pharmacy-no problem but no hotel rooms were available in the city!! After checking a couple of hotels I pulled into the downtown Raddison Hotel and encountered two great staff, Chris and Shelaigh. They didn’t need to do this but after they turned us down for a room, Chris started calling all over the city looking for a room for us. After the tenth call and disappointment that we would likely not find a room that night, Sheliagh suggested to Chris that they give us a reserved room for Air Canada Air Crew. The aircrew person had not shown up and it was after 03:30 at this point so they likely wouldn’t get there. They agreed after I had told them Kathryn was out in the car recovering from an 11 hour experience at the hospital not to mention she had nothing to eat during that time as they said she might go to the OR for surgery that evening and needed to be NPO. We were both so famished we stopped at the all night McDonalds and ordered two large fries which we didn’t even eat as when we got to the room we crashed. I can’t thank those two staff enough for their kind generosity to us and especially for Kathryn as she was at the edge of her capacity to tolerate much more. It was 4am when we settled.

The phone rang at 0730; it was the CT Scan folks telling us we had an appt at 1130. This was good news as it meant things were happening as Dr Butcher had planned them just a few hours earlier. CT went uneventfully and we settled back into the familiar ER waiting room again to wait for word as to a surgery day next week. We noticed in the waiting room another woman sitting with her son also cradling her left arm with the right hand and clearly had a fracture in the exact same place as Kath. We struck up a conversation with them as we each compared notes as to how this happened. As it turns out she was also out for a short one hour cycle before her Grand Children were to arrive. She went down on the same outstretched hand and also received the same road rash Kath did on the left lower leg. She marvelled at Kathryn’s sling and I suggested that she might try one to take some of the strain off her right hand and better support her broken left wing. Her son grabbed a sling off the cart and before I new it I was installing a sling on this new friend in the middle of the waiting room. She seemed much more comfortable as she told us of her trip to the UK and Germany next month which now might go a bit different.

We were given our marching orders by 3pm today and we headed back to St Brieux to await a date for surgery. This was a challenging day and a half for us especially since we were not in our own home Province. This is our lifestyle now. Both Kath and I were well treated by all concerned and the outpouring of offers to help as well as empathy from family, friends and colleagues has been overwhelming. In the middle of all this I realized that we will be OK and get through this. We will flex our plans and make sure Kath gets the care she needs including Physio when the cast comes off as we need to get that golf swing back for her. As a couple we managed this well from my perspective, there was no panic, no anger, only frustration that it happened at all, but mostly I saw the woman I have loved for over 33 years now demonstrate inner strength, fortitude and patience to accept what happened and push forward with purpose towards the solutions. We very much did this as a team/couple and I am very proud of her as even when she was the most uncomfortable, she offered up empathy to the hard working Docs and Nurses who were doing their level best for her. Love you Kath. C

Humbolt Tragedy Remembered

Kath and I had the pleasure of attending the Wounded Warriors Canada Tribute to Your Service Event at the Elk Ridge Resort north of Prince Albert Saskatchewan this past week. An absolutely beautiful area and an amazing resort with everything one might want/need. 27 holes of fine golf course awaited us as well as zip lining and horseback riding. We had the pleasure of meeting several of the Nipawin EMS and fire veterans who were the first responders to the Humbolt bus crash. I am pleased to report they are doing ok but still grappling to understand and process the accident. They played a pivotal role in caring for the survivors as well as provided dignity for those who were killed at the scene.

WWC Intends to run a Trauma Resiliency Program (TRP) in the coming months to assist this group in recognizing the impact of this traumatic event and help them to establish new ways to manage it so it doesn’t develop into a PTSD. This is a key time for them and Kath and I were privileged to play a small role in helping them to see what was available to them. We shared parts of our story as a family impacted by PTSD which seemed to hit home for many of them.  It was great to be joined for our final dinner together by the Hon. Pamela Wallin Senator. She has long been a supporter of WWC and of course lives a few hours away from Humbolt.

Today we visited our Grand Children at Jeff and Brooke’s house. Olivia was a hoot building up towers with Kath and then smashing it down each and every time. I snuggled with Anderson who seemed especially interested in my glasses. These visits are really making the visit worthwhile as we are reminded how much fun being Grand Parents can be.