And so it goes

It has been a horrible few days.

We are still in Canada but leaving soon and it is really hard. I want to be here (because my daughter broke her leg,horribly) but I want to be home (because another extended family member just died from cancer).

Either way, I can’t do it. The airfares are non-refundable outside of immediate family death. And probably not even then but it would help with minimising costs.

 

I feel sick when I think about my daughter’s accident. It was so unexpected.

I’d been staying with her for a few days, just hanging out. My husband was staying with his family in their mountain lodge; her boyfriend works at a resort around an hour’s drive away. We had all planned to meet up together at the boyfriend’s resort and husband and I were going to take them out to a really lavish dinner that night and then my girl, husband and I were going skiing together at a really cool place with his family the next day, after staying at the lodge all together.

Daughter and I took the bus from Banff to Lake Louise and met husband up there by pre-arrangement in the afternoon. We were walking down the path to the carpark, to put our bags in the car, and she slipped on a non-visual icy patch in the (gritted) path. She screamed and screamed as she landed and I knew immediately her leg was broken because I heard it snap.

There was an awful hour wait for an ambulance to come, kneeling in the snow around her and holding her leg up. Passerbys were so helpful and donated rugs, coats and sleeping bags to keep her warm. There was a paramedic literally walking in front of us, who stopped to help. (I knew what to do and was starting to do it but when he offered, i gratefully accepted; my child needed my emotional support more.)

 

She’s a tough cookie and kept her complaints to a minimum. The entenox mask in the back of the ambulance had her immediately laughing but I wasn’t surprised to find that the x-rays showed a shin, top of the foot and ankle break, as well as a dislocation. They admitted her to hospital that night, relocated the leg and organised surgery for the next day.

Her insurance company tried to make her fly back to Australia for surgery because it was cheaper (they phrased it as ‘non-emergent’); it appears to be the default option so you have to get a doctor to say it is urgent. Which it was: she was losing blood circulation in her foot, let alone the pain level.

Anyway, the next day was the worst, before surgery. So much pain for her: they ended up bumping her to the top of the surgery list because of it. She had an epidural with twilight sedation but the epidural had unpleasant side effects and it was hard for her after.

Husband and I did a lot of running around, sorting out insurance, buying clothes for her to fit over the cast, getting prescriptions filled and organising her stuff so that she could stay with her boyfriend a while (he lives up two flights of stairs as opposed to four).

She came back from surgery with a nice purple cast and a pair of crutches. When she was released my husband drove her up to BF’s place, after we cleaned out her apartment and packed up things. I knew things were getting better when she felt ok enough to be snappy with me!

I’d called all the members of my immediate family to tell them because I knew they’d want to know; being away from people doesn’t mean that you aren’t wanting to be involved, as I know to my cost.  Only to hear that my sister-in-law’s dad was seriously ill and, again, nobody had told me.

SIL and my nephews came back early from their overseas trip. The trip that was meant to distract them from the fact that my brother had died just a year ago. Her father died last night. We can’t get home in time for the funeral.

I am just so, so sad for her, for the boys, for us, for the whole family again. It has beena tough week.

 

 

 

 

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Amazing things I get to eat:

 

Bbq-ed elk sausage (yes, they bbq in the snow in Canada) and blueberry pie. Homemade pie, where the blueberries were home picked as well, from a patch where bears also appreciate fresh fruit.

 

Amazing!

 

I am eating all the things in Canada.

 

 

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Luck or serendipity?

Currently I am going through the process of paperwork and legalities for the business that my partner and myself are starting. It is tedious (and expensive!) and sometimes I feel daunted at the prospect of attaining the results I want.

I’ve never run or operated a business before and sometimes I get a bit panicky when I see how enormous the task is. But then I remind myself that we want to build it slowly because we want to get it right so that it is sustainable. I try to break it down to  small bits, which I know I can accomplish and eventually, I suppose, those small bits conglomerate and it will be achieved.

What we are planning to do has taken a slightly different slant. Still niche touring, though. It seems foolish not to pursue an opportunity right in front of you. Other tours can come later on: this is our way into the market and the way it will differentiate our company from the others.

I was away on tour last weekend: a 3 day camping trip with students from the university. By all rights, I should have been home for the Sunday family brunch that I organised (such a bad wife, daughter, step daughter, friend etc) but I find it very hard to say no to work right now because I need the money. I didn’t envisage the contacts  we would make or how important that weekend would turn out to be.

Almost everywhere we went there was somebody qualified to do what we want, in all different areas. What’s more, they wanted us as a company infrastructure probably equally as much as we wanted/needed them as experts.

And they all knew other people to facilitate the process and it mostly turned out that I knew those other people already, or my partner did, and both of us have excellent reputations in the touring business. I’ve built up my worth and goodwill over 20 years and it is paying out right now.

There’s a new international airport opening up near to where we plan to do the tours. From Asia to here is six hours or so. Potential market there. Also great for other international travellers.

Literally everybody we have spoken to about this venture has given their enthusiastic support. If it goes as we hope, next year might be the last year I work for somebody else.

In the meantime, though, I get tired just thinking about next year and its demands!

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I hate people posting on FB about the anniversary of my brother’s death. I don’t want to even remember that day, let alone have to deal with well meaning wishes reminding me.

I thought about calling my mother. I thought about calling my sister-in-law. I did neither. They both know what day it is and talking about it makes it much worse for me.

Only a year. We are now past the death inflicted ‘firsts’. Hopefully, it will get easier.

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The first year without him

It has been nearly a year since my brother died. I think I’m doing much better but every so often it hits me like an explosion again. I’ve cried and cried today.

I just knew the anniversary of his death was around about now but I’d blocked out the actual day. It was December 11.

I remember different things about that day but I don’t remember all of it. I don’t think he was supposed to die so quickly or I wouldn’t have left the hospital. I think I was having a day off from doing the sleeping over night shift because I was worn out.

The nurses noticed a change in him and told my SIL that she could call family. While she was talking to me her friend came out of the room and I heard her say, “You’d better come now.”

I knew. I told my husband that he had just died but we shouldn’t tell my mother, who we were driving down (her husband being away for the day). As soon as we drove into the hospital car park I saw the priest there in his long black garb and I wasn’t surprised. My husband dropped us off and went to park and we went straight up to the ward. I can’t remember what my mother did but I remember my SIL grabbing my hand and pulling it under the covers, onto his stomach, saying “he’s still warm, feel!’

I didn’t want to but I let her do it because she obviously needed to. His lips were starting to go white as the blood left them.

I don’t know where my husband was at that time. I walked out into the hallway because they wanted to do a bedside blessing/moving on thing and I didn’t want to be part of it. I remember calling my stepfather and telling him because I knew he’d want to come home and support my mother.

I remember my mother yelling at me because I’d done that: she didn’t want to interrupt his day sailing and she would tell him later. I tried to say to her that he would be unbelievably hurt if he wasn’t involved and I knew this because of how I felt when nobody told me he was even diagnosed with a brain tumour. She screamed at me anyway.

I was so embarrassed that this was going on in the public hallway. I just wanted to hug her and grieve with her but she wouldn’t even touch me. I always knew he was her favourite child but that really rammed it home.

I don’t remember funeral plans as such. I recall I had a reading and that my husband would do it if I couldn’t.

I only remember flashes of the funeral. I know that so many people came up to me and I was so touched that they did but I couldn’t process anything.

I know that I am doing better. I particularly know because I had an appointment with my psychiatrist yesterday; followup from treatment.

He’d asked me check in during the year about how well I was doing and to look at starting some sort of medication maintenance. I was definitely open to the idea but it wouldn’t work with my lifestyle. I have the best intentions in the world when it comes to regularly taking medication but it doesn’t survive on the road – there have been days when I’ve noticed an untied shoelace at 7 am and not had a moment I recall it needs attention until 1 pm.

The medication he wants me on has some nasty side effects and needs to be monitored, in order to avoid them. That’s a little bit scary when you can be 12 hours driving time from the nearest town and the ultimate side effect is death.

 

I asked about maintenence ECT and that, again, needs to be done on a regular basis, which my job would never allow.

We settled on rescue ECT because it is so effective for me. That means outpatient treatment as soon as life crises start to overwhelm me – I need to monitor myself and my husband needs to also. The doctor was inclined to support my view that I was doing okay and that means a lot.

I am honestly just being family aware and bracing myself for the next bad time but currently I do generally like life, apart from these horrible waves of grief.

Next person will be my mother, I think. She has various anomalies that medical people are constantly checking out and I think I already know that the answer is cancer; they just have to pin it down to where. Note, she doesn’t have this point of view and I respect that but I can hear that damn deathclock clicking again.

It’s been a pretty good year, all told. I’m so grateful for a break from heartache but I don’t think I can expect it to last.

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And here we go again

Not directly blood me and mine this time around. But family nonetheless and definitely there will be an involvement.

 

I feel like yelling out loud to the skies: “For fuck’s sake, God, you couldn’t give us even a year?!”

 

It feels like an old fashioned roundabout, in hell.

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Silly complaints

As a tour guide you get used to dealing with a lot of petty issues. There are always passengers who gripe about things and you try to resolve things as best you can, no matter what the problem, because it makes for a better tour.

 

A lot of these issues involve conflict with another tour member and you have to be judge, jury and executioner. I don’t have King Solomon’s wisdom but I have got fairly good at finding common ground and I have got very good at just listening and not saying anything committing, because being heard is sometimes all that they need. Doesn’t mean I don’t roll my eyes hard afterwards, though. And I am totally judging them.

Rarely, I am presented with a situation that makes me want to slap the complainer and one of these types presented to me on this last tour.

Day 1, mind you.

He started out by saying “I don’t want to be a whinger on the first day..”

Immediate internal “Uh oh!” from my partner and myself. Partner responded “Then don’t be. I am not in the mood today.”

Passenger ignored that warning light. “It’s about the guy sitting in front of me.”

Okay, then. Some sort of personal space issue/inappropriate behaviour/health problem?

Not really.

“He’s too tall.”

 

WTF?

 

“He’s blocking my view out the front with his big fat head.”

(For clarification purposes, it should be noted that we practice seat rotation and on this particular trip we had  12 spare seats on a capacity loading of 28.)

There was a moment when my eyes locked with my partner. The words bubbling up on his lips were identical to those being held clamped down by mine: “Well, don’t fucking sit behind him, then!”

 

A more diplomatic answer was given (along the lines of assigned seats just for start of day; feel free to move around; we told everybody this, including you, on day 1) but we made sure that everyday after that he was assigned to that same seat behind the too tall guy.

#lifeontheroad #tourguidelife

 

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