Archive for March 2014
Standing Up For The Planet by Bob Purdy
I work with developmentally and/or physically challenged adults during my day job at Tier Support Services. Most of the time I wonder who is working with who, it’s a coin toss who is teaching who, and who is benefiting the most!
The challenges that people I work with face on a daily basis are staggering, and yet they are some of the most positive people I know. Confidentiality prevents me from giving you specifics, however I think I can paint a pretty good picture of what life is like for them.
Imagine for a moment that you somehow end up in a wheel chair and only have feeling in your upper body and your cognitive abilities are challenged as well. Further imagine a typical day, starting with getting out of bed. Remember you have no use of your legs. Do you live alone, in an assisted facility, at home? If you live on your own, your surroundings all have to be built to your level, wheel chair level. Low stove to cook on, sink to get water from, fridge that is low, etc. etc. Now throw into the mix less than full control of your upper body. How long would it take to make a breakfast for yourself? Take a shower? Brush your teeth? Get dressed? By now you will have a sense of how long it takes a person with developmental and/or physical challenges to do things.
How do you stay healthy? Often people in these states are very susceptible to germs, obesity, injury and a host of other health challenges that add to the diagnosed challenges. How does this person get around town? Rides are a given, just the mode of transport that is a question. A variety of public transportation is made available to persons with developmental and/or physical challenges. Let’s say you need to make a doctor’s appointment, and it is booked for Tuesday at 3pm. Handy Dart is a type of transportation that can be booked here in B.C. where I live. You are pretty much at the mercy of their scheduling. For example, trips here cannot be booked between 2 and 3 p.m. due to a block booking at a local agency. Can’t get to this appointment on Handy Dart. Bus? Possible, if you want to roll 4 blocks to the nearest stop, take two buses to get to the office, then repeat for the ride home. Round trip time, including the appointment, approximately 2 and a half hours for a 15 minute appointment. That is if it doesn’t rain. Or snow.
How does this person survive financially? Here in Canada, qualified people can apply for and receive a PWD (person with disability) cheque monthly. Grand total of cheque, $900 and change. For many of the people I work with this is the only money they get every month. To pay rent and utilities, buy groceries, clothes, and whatever else a person in today’s world needs to pay for. Here in Kelowna, the best possible scenario for rent is approximately $600 a month. That leaves $300 a month for the rest. I know many people who make this work.
Assuming one is able, a person can work to supplement the PWD. Here in B.C. if you do work, you are allowed to make $800 a month over and above your PWD. If you make more that, the government in its infinite wisdom claws back the overage. If one was to make $1,000 at a job, the government would claw back $200. The net income for taking the initiative to work, $900 PWD +$1,000 income -$200 for the overage would net you $1,700. This person in a wheel chair who really wants to work is penalized for his or her initiative, not much financial incentive to make more than the $800 allowed.
This scenario is not fiction. Not only do people with developmental and/or physical challenges have to deal with what nature or circumstance gave them, they have to deal with systems and a society that adds to their challenges. Our office is only one of several that provides assistance to people not able to meet the challenges of life on their own, and all of those agencies have waiting lists of people that want to take advantage of our services. That means that many people with developmental and/or physical challenges are left to fend for themselves.
Sometimes Standing up for the Planet means Standing up for those who cannot Stand for themselves.
World Paddle For The Planet. Tofino, British Columbia September 13, 2014
Catching Up with Leslie Kolovich
Just thought I would do a little update on myself. It’s been a surreal experience the last 2 months. I’ve been quiet about the second half to avoid hearing “now what’s wrong?” Whew!
I had made it through the critical stage of a infected saliva gland. The doctor said no surgery needed. Four weeks and 3 days of pure pain and suffering had past. I was able to open my mouth two fingers wide, but still had a egg shaped knot on my jaw and my teeth were still quite tender to touch. But I could chew again, all was better!
I am a personal assistant for senior citizens and had missed seeing my clients and income for too long. I was eager to get back to work! I would take it slow as I really hadn’t done anything but couch and bed for all that time. I got the grocery list from my Thursday morning sweet lady and off to shop. She said to me as I was getting her reusable bags, “Leslie, take it easy, if you feel bad at all cut the shopping short”. I heard her words, and said, “I feel good all will be fine, but thank you for the reminder”.
The list was long. I found myself leaning on the shopping cart taking it much slower than I normally do. This was my first shopping in 4 weeks my husband and daughter had been doing it for me. I was half way through the list when I started to feel a cold sweat, then both sides of my jaw started throbbing. I remember thinking, shoot I must be over doing it, the infection is not completely gone. I walked slower, leaning more on the cart thinking what is the one thing I must get before I cut this shopping trip short. I became more sweaty, and then light headed. I cut the shopping off. As I went through the checkout the bagger asked me if I was ok. I told her I was just recovering from an infection, did the brief overview pointed to my still swollen face, she offered to take my bags out which I normally say, “I got it thank you though” but this time I said please. Jaw throbbing, I became very light headed. I remember the bagger saying, you be careful and feel better. I started the car and called my friend as I knew I wouldn’t be able to drive myself home once I was done. But for some reason I felt like I could drive back to my client’s place. I only had 2 miles to go. I’m at a left turn arrow that was red. I’m talking to my friend trying to breath through my dizziness and shortness of breath. She says “Leslie just pull over somewhere safe and turn the car off”. At this point the arrow turned green I had half a mile to get back to my client’s apartment building. I kept driving and somehow pulled into her parking stall. Angels must have driven me that last half mile I really don’t remember driving from the light to the parking lot.
I call my client, “Miss Anne it’s Leslie, I do not feel good at all, I can’t bring the groceries in”. She says, “ok hang on I’ll go get the nurse where are you parked?”She could tell by my voice, I was in trouble. I tell her the color of my car and my location, she hangs up. I feel myself breathing shallow and cold sweat tingling in my scalp. I’m thinking something really isn’t right. I lean my seat back. I call my friend she said she was on her way. I call my husband he asks if he should come. I said please just coordinate with Joan. I see the nurse come out of the building, she doesn’t see me, I wave my hand out of the window and get a little voice to say “over here”. She gets to the car, asks me whats going on, I can barely talk. My cell phone rings, but I cannot pick it up. I literally had no strength to lift my arms and I couldn’t lift my legs either. The nurse tries to find my pulse, and makes the decision to call for an ambulance. Another nurse comes out and reassures me that help is on the way.
I closed my eyes and saw a pure white swirling light. I say to myself, ok if my time is done in this physical body then so be it, but if there is more for me to do I’m staying. I opened my eyes. I had to make a conscious effort to stay conscious. But it felt like a choice.
The paramedics arrive. It was a half a mile to the hospital. An IV was placed, heart monitors put on, and before I knew it I was in the ER my husband and friend right behind me. 8 hours later I was admitted to the critical care unit so they could monitor my heart. It was doing some funky rhythms, with my blood pressure spiking over 200 when I would stand. They did another CT scan to see if my saliva gland was still a player in all of this.
Three days had passed in the hospital, a full cardiac workup showing I did not have a heart attack, no damage to my heart. At that point the doctor felt like I was having some electrical malfunctioning with nodes, (I know there is a medical term for it, but it’s not coming to me right now, and this is a blog get on with the story). They would send me home with a heart monitor that would record if this type of thing happened again. Which it did! By the way, the infection in my jaw apparently was not a concern anymore it was “just a fibrous leftover” like scar tissue. Ok.
I had a follow up cardiologist appointment. He was confident that what I had was called Atrial Fibrillation. No danger of heart attack, but high risk of stroke. Lovely. With medicine, beta blockers and blood thinners it would be controlled and the risk lowered. Where does this come from and why? The doctor asked if I would like to participate in a research program on newly diagnosed A-Fib patients and that there was a small monetary compensation for participation. Great I’m all for helping and I need money. He scheduled a stress test for me the following week.
The research nurse came into the room said she needed to ask me a few questions. Do you smoke? No. Do you drink alcohol? No. Have you had heart problems before this? No. The list went on with my answers consistently, no. She said “shoot I hope you qualify”. I said, well you should study me because I don’t fit the risk category to have this! All the questions were done and she proceeds to hand me $25 gift card to Walmart for my participation. Oh my favorite store. No other options for gift cards available.
So where does one find more info about a diagnoses that now requires me to live with medicine? Of course you Google it! I poured through info and found the risk factors for someone to have A-Fib. It did not make sense that I would have this. However, two factors finally did. Stress and severe infection. I now know that any infection in the mouth has a connection to the heart. Ok I connected a dot.
One week later I’m back at the cardiologist for the treadmill test. I feel good. I’m walking, she turns up the speed and puts it on an incline, within 10 seconds, BOOM my jaws feel pressure, I’m getting light headed and dizzy and my heart rate jumped to 206. The doctor goes “Whoa” ok we captured it! Stop, lye down. Cough for me. I could hardly talk. I could hardly cough. Tears came to my eyes as I recognized these symptoms from one week ago. I became weaker and very short of breath. The doctor says this is definitely SVT. Supraventricular Tachycardia. Remember that electrical thing I knew there was a name for?
It took an hour for me to come out of this episode. He gave me nitroglycerin, and 4 baby aspirins and his nurse checking my BP every so often. Nitro is crazy shit! Excuse my language. Crashing headache. All the while, (now all you male readers hang on because I’m about to go all female talk on ya) I was having a period from hell! I had mentioned this to the nurse and asked if this could be from the blood thinners. She said she would note it and it quite possibly could be. No more mention of my period. The doctor called a SVT specialist at a hospital about 75 miles west of us. The good news is that with SVT it is something that can be eliminated with a procedure!
I was to wait for this specialist to call me to set up a consult with him, but was assured it would be next week. I asked the doctor if this meant I didn’t have A-Fib? He said, “well we know for sure you have SVT, and sometimes those home monitor read outs are not the best, but we captured this event today leaving no doubt”.
The week went on. I was exhausted from the episode and from the loss of blood from this most unusual menstrual cycle. When I say loss of blood I really mean it! Not to get into the gory details I felt like I was going to die! I called my general practitioner to find out if it could be my blood thinner, then I called the cardiologist they told me to stop it for 2 days. My GP said, if after 48 hours of not taking thinner it doesn’t slow down call your Gynecologist. It had been 40 hours and I wanted to live. I called my gyno! She said come in first thing in the morning for an ultra sound, but if it gets worse go to the ER. I couldn’t afford a 3rd trip to the ER, so I held on.
8:00 a.m. my husband takes me to my gynecologists office. Oh the joy of this for him! He has been a trooper holding all of us together and working 2 jobs to keep us afloat. After the ultra sound my doctor determined my uterine lining was too thick, endometriosis, and she suspected there were polyps behind the lining. My deductible had already been met, so lets do the ablation procedure while we were in there! OK I’m ready to be done with this monthly ordeal! She called over to the hospital and got me into the surgery lineup. Spring cleaning! I love my gynecologist! The whole office was amazing so caring, sympathetic, empathetic and genuine. It’s a female thing we all understand.
The operation took 1 hour. I was there for 6 hours when I awakened to a sweet nurse who reminded me of my mother, asking me how I felt. I felt fine. She gave me a little pill for pain and gave me the rundown of what I could and could not do for the next two weeks. My youngest daughter was there getting a good education of after female surgery. She’s also been a trooper. She knows the type of flowers I love and the type of chocolate that will always make me happy.
So here I sit on this rainy, blustery Friday in my home writing my health story, getting everyone up to speed. I still have the SVT to deal with in the next couple of weeks, but hey, Life is Good, and soon to be even better. I can get back on the water, back into whatever is next. Remember this writing is a first draft, kinda like a journal for myself really just so I can keep up with my ever changing life. Love Leslie
The Paddler’s Planet by Christian Wagley
As I work to live a life of effortless spontaneity, I find that thoughtful inspirations come forth easily from daily living. Last week those inspirations included a large car repair bill and a long drive along one of the most wild and special coastlines in the southeast U.S. Both of these led me to think more about maintenance—of our possessions, of nature, and of our lives.
I live by choice in a walkable urban neighborhood where most all of my travel is on my two feet or on two wheels. My 1986 Volvo station wagon does a lot more resting than driving, though it never fails to “crank” when I need it and as I tell all who ask: “It won’t quit running.”
While it won’t quit running, it was running a little rough, so I took it to my favorite mechanic for some work before my four-hour drive down the coast to present at a workshop. The $800 bill for some overdue work was the most I’ve ever paid on the car in our 13 years together, but oh how it purred like new compared to its formerly sluggish ways.
By choosing a vehicle I knew to be reliable, and caring for it well, I have simplified my life and reduced the need for expensive and time-consuming repairs. My bicycle and two feet require even less maintenance and expense.
That’s also part of the appeal of paddling. It’s simple and low- maintenance, whether you’re paddling a standup paddleboard, kayak or canoe. There’s not much to maintain and little that can break or go wrong.
Our natural ecosystems run the same way. They are often very diverse and incredibly complex. But they are actually pretty simple to care for, as they have been running for eons without any oversight from humans and take care of themselves if we are thoughtful enough to learn about them and to treat them with love and respect.
Throughout my trip I saw some of the best of what’ s left of Florida’s natural coastline, where longleaf pine forests come down to the sea to touch the white sands, clear waters, and rich estuaries. These are large preserved parks and forests owned by government and mostly allowed to operate under the rules of nature. And from that those timeless themes of simplicity and care emerge once again.
Choosing simplicity makes it easier to offer the necessary maintenance, since there’s simply less to do. Selecting a reliable car and minimizing my driving make it easy to treat my car with care, and it has served me well. We must also go gently on ourselves, extending love and care to body and soul, making it easier to maintain full and healthy lives.
All of that goes for the planet, too. My old station wagon has a few more rust spots on the outside, but it is still quite beautiful as the inside only seems to get better. Our living planet benefits when we live simply, freeing-up time and energy we can now give to the care and maintenance of the one home we all share.
Standing Up For The Planet by Bob Purdy
As I pulled into Rotary Beach on Okanagan Lake for my daily paddle this morning, I noticed a person lying on a bench of one of the picnic tables on the grass. The first thought that came to me was, “This person may be in trouble”, it was such an odd sight to see. As I drove into the parking lot I kept an eye on this person, and as I was watching the person sat up, so I knew all was well. I pulled into my usual parking spot and went about the business of setting up for my paddle. Today I was dedicating my paddle, and I wanted to take pictures to share with the person I was paddling for. As I was taking pictures I happened to catch a glimpse of the person from the bench, who was now up and walking. A very flamboyant walk it was, this person was clearly marching to the beat of their own drum!
After I finished taking pictures, I finished suiting up and started to head towards the water. On the way the flamboyant walker approached me, looking quite distressed. The person was a Japanese Elder, a Woman, and she was very intent on getting my attention. I left my board and paddle, and began walking towards her. When we finally met, she was trying to tell me something. I had a very hard time understanding her, her English was very limited. She knew I was not understanding her, so she began leading me to the subject of her distress. She stopped me in front of a tree that had wire wound around the bottom three feet or so of the trunk. This is a common practice in our area to keep the Beavers from chopping the trees down. She said ‘Pain”, and was pointing to the wire wrapped around the tree. She pointed out that the wire was wrapped very tightly around the tree, and that the tree was in pain, it would not grow properly. I finally understood that she was telling me that the tree was in pain because the wire was choking it, and could I please do something about it. I’m not sure if she understood my words, however I am very sure she understood that I would make sure the tree would not suffer. I told her that I would call Parks and have them loosen the wire so that the tree could breathe again. She appeared to be satisfied with my commitment to look after the tree, and she resumed her flamboyant walk.
This encounter affected me profoundly. First, I rarely encounter people with the belief that all things have feelings and emotions. This Japanese Elder not only believes it, she acted on her belief. She went to bat on behalf of a tree that most people would not have given a second thought to. She must also have recognized something in me that knew I would take action as well on behalf of this tree. She knew I would stick with her until I understood what she was trying to tell me, and she further trusted me to take whatever action was necessary to relieve the “Pain” this tree was feeling. The moment when we both recognized that we understood each other was magical, and we reached that point without the benefit of language.
I have walked by that tree hundreds of times. I have seen the wire around the base of that tree hundreds of times. Not once did it ever occur to me to walk over to the tree and check to see how tight the wire was around the trunk. It took a Japanese Elder with a flamboyant walk to teach me that I ought to take closer notice of such things! Domo Arygato!…
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a phone call to make about a tree!…
World Paddle for the Planet September 13, 2014. Home base Tofinio, British Columbia. Plan your event on your home waters and help us send a Wave of Change Around The World.
Enjoy this powerful video with Ta’Kaiya Blaney, 12-year-old Sliammon First Nation from B.C., Canada. We are all connected. Join in the global synchronization on March 22nd with prayer, mediation, and ceremony for our waters. See more at: http://www.culturecollective.org/speak-spirit-water-voice/#sthash.XbOPqxqD.dpuf