Monday, June 29, 2009

One last postcard

Thank you, Toronto

And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and every highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

I had a blast! But I miss my man and must return.

To the lesbians at The Barn: Thanks for trying to sneak me in. I'll be your token male any day.

To the dancers at Remingtons: outstanding work!

To the performers at Play: Girls, you need to chip in for some A/C. That kind of heat melts away a lot of the illusion, if you get my drift. You are troopers!

To the guys from Boston: Thanks for exploring the town with me.

Postcards IV

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stupid dreams

I had a weird dream last night. BR and I were out driving with a couple friends. We pulled over at a scenic overlook, and all climbed up a hillside to get a better view. At the top, there was a grassy outcropping and a magnificent panorama of hills and countryside. As our friends were fumbling with their cameras, BR walked over to the edge of the outcropping, turned, and smiled at me. Then he fell backwards and was gone.

Our friends panicked, but I didn't. I knew it was what he wanted.

The dream appears to be a combination of a couple of news stories I read yesterday, mixed in with my own inner turmoil.

Woman rescued after being swept into sea at Peggys Cove

Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Pioneer's Helium Suicide

The Politics of Garbage

This UPI headline says it all: Toronto stinks on Day 4 of trash strike.

The key issues are pay raises equal to what was given emergency workers last year, and the city's desire to drop bankable sick days and replace them with short-term disability insurance.

I'm all for the right to strike when workers are being treated unfairly. I'm just having a hard time empathizing with a pay raise demand given the miserable fiscal condition of most cities during this recession. Where exactly is this money supposed to come from? When it isn't flowing in, it can't flow out. When the city goes bankrupt, nobody gets paid.

You say it isn't fair that the emergency workers got their raise last year? Times change. Budget forecasts get refined. Consider the emergency workers lucky to have negotiated their contract under sunnier economic outlooks.

I wish it weren't the case, but the timing of contract negotiations always adds a bit of chance to what should be a completely uniform process. Better luck next time, CUPE.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bless the Drag Queens and the Leathermen

For in this world we have no voice
We have no choice
My apologies to the Carpenters, and in no way am I comparing Drag Queens to beasts, or Leathermen to children. At least not the ones bigger than me.

It may surprise some, but gays are largely a silent minority. The vast majority of homosexuals live their lives without discussing who they sleep with at night. Unlike different races and nationalities, we can hide who we are to avoid discrimination.

Well, not all of us.

I have long admired both Drag Queens and Leathermen. Despite society's dictates, they are compelled to live their lives as they are. In the open. Harming no one. And they are often the foundation of best part of the gay community. The part that gives. The part that puts together fundraisers and runs non-profits. The part that vocalizes the needs of the silent. They take no prisoners, unless that's your thing.

So this gay pride week, I tip my gay hat to the Drag Queens and the Leathermen. Thank you for all you do.

I shot this video with my cell phone (duh), so I apologize to Donnarama for the crappy quality. There's plenty better Donnarama footage on YouTube.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the road again

Whoa. June has been a whirlwind, and it's only half over.

It all started back in April when my bosses asked if I would be available to spend two weeks at one of our call centers to help train tech support on the new product. I chose Burlington, Ontario for the daily non-stop flight from Austin. You know, just in case. Then the planning started.

Since BR's diagnosis, the longest we've been apart was 8 days. With this trip, I'm doubling it to 16. For each of those days, he needs someone to help him with the morning and bedtime routines, with meals, and spend the night on-call in case something happens. Sounds pretty much like 24 hour care, huh?

In the past, I've adjusted his paid caregiver's hours to cover the morning and bedtime routines, and then asked family and friends to stay with him until I returned. But who's going to be available for 16 days? Nobody we know. By June 1st, we had all but 4 days covered. But then it became necessary to part ways with the paid caregiver. It was a mutual parting, but still ...

The search was on for a new personal care agency. After 2 days of calling 6 services, I finally found one that a) accepted private pay clients, and b) accepted clients under 55. They cost 50% more than the previous agency, refused to do wound care, and warned us that they would likely need to schedule 2 different caregivers to cover all the shifts.

Try 7. By last Wednesday, I realized that there was no way I was going to leave BR with a constant parade of unfamiliar caregivers. Then a miracle occurred.

I had spoken with my sister Cindy about how we were hiring a new agency, and made a passing comment that I would much rather pay one of her daughters to come care for BR. Well that Wednesday she called and said my niece Jordan was interested in helping out. Jordan is 19, beautiful, and stronger than I am. With BR's approval, I quickly wrote up a Live-in Caregiver Agreement so that Jordan would know what she was getting into. That evening she agreed, and I bought her a ticket to fly down on Friday.

Two days of intensive training later, I was on a flight to Toronto. But not before getting to spend a day with aunt Beth, Dede, and surprise guest cousin Paige.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Closing the door on Spinal Cord Stimulation

One month after agreeing with the pain management team to move forward with a cervical SCS trial, and one week after getting a tentative date, the pain management team has pulled the plug on the trial. Doctor CYA doesn't feel that the risk-to-benefit ratio is low enough. I really wish he would have told us this back in mid-April, so we could have moved on to treating BR's other symptoms.

The pain management team will now be exclusively playing the role of providers of controlled substances, per Texas law. We are moving back to Percocet from Norco for break-through pain. We will also be talking to the neurologist about SCS affects on motor ability, and Solu-medrol infusions to treat fatigue and weight loss.