A little friend, and change of (medical) plans

While picking cucalmelons this morning, I found a little friend!

We’ve been seeing LOTS of frogs about this size, every time we to go through the garden beds. Usually, they hop off too quickly for me to get photos, but this one didn’t move!

He was even okay with the cucamelon leaves being pulled aside.

I am very happy to see so many frogs in our garden beds. I’m sure they’re doing a great job of eating up things that would be eating our vegetables!

On a less cheerful note, the original plan for today had to change. This was the day I was supposed to bring my husband into the city for an appointment at the cardiac clinic. They want to discuss the possibility of implanting a defibrillator in him.

Unfortunately, about a week ago, my husband discovered cats had peed under his hospital bed, and under the small table with the mini fridge he keeps some of his medications in. He cleaned it up himself, rather than asking any of us to do it.

He still hasn’t completely recovered.

When his pain levels didn’t improve by Monday, he called the cardiac clinic about his appointment. The letter he received said to expect to be there for at least 2 hours. He explained his situation. The choices were to either cancel the appointment, or they could find some way to accommodate his pain levels and disability.

The appointment got cancelled.

They way he put it, the response was along the lines of, how dare he mess with their system.

They will send another letter with a new appointment (I find it interesting that they make these appointments with zero input from patients), and after he gets the new letter, he can talk to them about accommodations. Of course, he has no way of knowing if he’ll have a good day or a bad day – or even a good week or a bad week – that far in advance. That’s why he was stuck phoning them only about 48 hours before today’s appointment. No matter; even if he’s having a good day, being able to lie down on a stretcher of something would probably be needed, just after such a long drive.

I understand why the province has a single cardiac clinic in a central location. It is probably much more efficient, and allows for things like better access to equipment. The problem is, like almost all Canadian provinces, we are geographically huge, and not everyone lives in or near this particular city. We’re just an hour away from the city (though it can take another half hour to reach the clinic, depending on traffic), and it’s difficult enough. I can’t imagine living in one of the fly-in communities and needing cardiac care. Sure, the small communities don’t have the population base to warrant their own cardiac clinics, but there are large towns and other cities that could serve these more remote communities.

The fact that it’s such and inconvenience for them to accommodate my husband’s disability is also frustrating. They’re in a hospital, for crying out loud. And with so many hospitals cancelling care to make room for all the pandemic hospitalizations that never materialized, there are plenty of stretchers and beds available that could be used for someone like my husband, without having to prearrange it weeks in advance.

Another unfortunate thing with my husband is that his pain levels have forced him to cancel a number of appointments. He has also done things like walked out after being forced to wait well past his appointment time, due to pain caused by the wait itself, and basically has stood up for himself. He is likely now considered a “problem” patient. I don’t think they realize that, when it comes to his list of health problems, his recently developed heart condition is actually not at the top of the list. Not even close. With everything else going on, this new development doesn’t even phase him, and certainly doesn’t frighten him, as it probably more typical. His pain needs to be gotten under control first. Some of his other health problems are caused by the pain itself, and will improve on their own, accordingly. They have not been able to figure out why his heart failure developed in the first place, and we’re pretty sure it has more to do with the large number of medications he is on, and has been for such a long time, than anything else. We already know that there is no surgery or treatment that can “fix” the physical source of his disability, and it will continue to cause further degradation of his spine. The only real thing that can be done is treat the pain. That’s the foundational thing. Without that being addressed, treating his other problems are little more than stop-gap motions.

This has been explained at heart clinic appointments a few times. I’ve watched notes get taken for his file, that the whole team looks at. There is no reason for them to not be aware of his disability, and what that means for his appointments. Even the fact that we have to drive so far and the affect that has on his pain levels has been duly noted.

Yet when he tries to address this with them, he’s made to feel like he’s inconveniencing them somehow?

Not impressed.

Well, next week he has his first appointment with the pain clinic. Hopefully, that will get the ball rolling on more effective treatment.

The Re-Farmer

More deer damage, and a medical update

We had a really hot day today, so when things cooled down enough, I went out to water the garden plots and sunflowers.

Which is when I found this.

All the leaves on one side of this one have been eaten!

This is the first of the large sunflowers that has had this kind of damage. 😦 At least the top didn’t get chomped off.

One of the more recently chomped smaller ones is showing signs of recovery.

It also had a friend!

We’ve got a lot of grasshoppers and locusts this year, but this is the first green one like this that I’ve seen. 🙂

When I was done and dragging the hose back to the house, I found Creamsicle napping on top of the straw bale. 🙂 My coming close for a picture woke him up…

I caught him mid stretch. 😀


Today, my husband and I had our doctor appointments that we should have had back in March. They were supposed to be physicals, but the doctor wasn’t expecting that. Which is when I found out he does physicals in the mornings, when, as he put it, his mind it still fresh. Which was not a problem, since we had lots to catch up on. He hasn’t seen my husband since December, and has seen me only while I was accompanying my mother.

Us all having the same doctor is coming in handy.

Before doing a full physical, he wanted us both to get fasting bloodwork done. For my husband’s part of the appointment, we updated the doctor on his upcoming visit with the pain clinic. Even though he hasn’t seen my husband in more than 6 months, he remembered that we’d already been waiting for almost 2 years, so he was a bit shocked that this was going to be a first visit. We also told him about the appointment at the cardiac clinic to discuss my husband getting a defibrillator implanted. He had questions about that. Mostly, why does my husband suddenly have such a low ejection fraction? It turns out that the cardiac clinic has not been sending any files to our doctor, so he had nothing. He still has nothing, really, because the cardiac clinic has not been able to find why my husband’s ejection fraction is so low, and are openly perplexed by him. The doctor has requested for us to remind the clinic to send the files to him, so he can see what’s going on. Same with the pain clinic, when the time comes.

In our previous province, all medical files were electronic, and could be accessed by any authorized doctor. So my husband could go from his GP to the specialists at the pain clinic (all 4 or 5 of them that were assigned to his case), to any other specialist, and they would all have access to the same information. Here, there is no connectivity. When our previous doctor suddenly moved out of province, we had to pay to have our files sent to the new clinic. A GP can access the electronic files at their own clinic, but not the files at the heart clinic or the pain clinic. They all have to send their files to each other, as needed. All of the specialty clinics should be sending everything back to the primary caregiver every time, so that at least that one person has all the information. Why that isn’t happening for my husband, we don’t know, but the doctor was not happy with having so much information missing.

We spent some time talking about my husband’s medications, and the problems he’s been having getting refills for the painkillers. So that’s been updated but, after we get the bloodwork done, he wants to look at switching my husband to morphine, and focus on pain management a lot more. There’s one medication in particular that he was wondering why my husband is on at all, and he just didn’t know anymore. I suspect the total number of prescriptions my husband is on will be reduced.

I’m happy to see him being pro-active about it. The previous doctor didn’t want to change anything until after my husband was seen by the pain clinic, but that took so long, the doctor moved out of province before that could happen!

My own part of the appointment was short. I have only one prescription, and I’ll see him again after my bloodwork is done. We ended up chatting a bit about my mother, since I’ll be bringing her back to see him tomorrow.

As for our follow up appointments, he started to ask if we could book them in the mornings when I mentioned I’d asked for the afternoon, because of the drive. When he realized how far away we live, he completely back tracked and said to make the appointment for whenever works best for us, and to book another “joint” appointment, and he will accommodate us. Since our bloodwork requires fasting, we will book the appointment after we get it done, which likely won’t be until Monday.

So we’ll have at least one more medical appointment this month, on top of the others.

With this doctor wanting to work proactively on managing my husband’s pain, I suspect we’ll be back fairly regularly.

By the time we were done, my husband was at his limit – and we still had the drive home to do. He was worried about his appointment at the cardiac clinic next week. The letter said that there have been a lot of delays, and to expect to be there for as long as 2 hours. That’s after a 1 1/2 hour drive. We’ll have to make sure to call in advance so they can have a stretcher available for him to lie down on; something they were able to arrange to do for him before, after a previous appointment was so late, he ended up walking out because he was in just too much pain. They’re a cardiac clinic. They don’t take into account any other issues a person might have, unrelated to the heart, unless it’s brought up directly.

Another reason why not having central files is a problem. When he goes to any specialist, he has to explain everything else to them. At the cardiac clinic, he could see any one of a team of 5 that works together, so he has to explain his disability, and why he uses a walker, all over again with each one. Otherwise, they assume that his use of a walker is related to his heart condition.

It’s frustrating, to say the least.

At least now we’re able to actually get appointments and treatment. The months of delays because of the pandemic shut downs have really messed things up for him. Our province has once again had more people testing positive for the Wuhan strain of coronavirus, and people are freaking out and demanding things shut down again. What the media isn’t including in their reports (though it’s on the provincial government website, for all to see), those new cases are from 5 days of testing, and represent only .9% testing positive. The total number of positive and presumptive positive cases for the province since March is .03% of the entire population. A person is more likely to get hit by a car than test positive for the Wuhan strain of coronavirus. People don’t seem to understand risk factors at all anymore, and the panic means people like my husband are having a hard time getting medical care. During our appointment, the only time it came up at all was when I mentioned we were supposed to have today’s appointments back in March, when everything got shut down. My husband’s appointment at the cardiac clinic got cancelled. While my husband did get one appointment rescheduled at the cardiac clinic, for a test in nuclear medicine, next week will be the first time the cardiac team will be seeing him. He’s had a couple of telephone appointments, but that’s it. He had also finally gotten contacted by the pain clinic just before the shut down, which that added a few more months to his wait.

If things shut down again, lack of treatment would certainly mean his condition degenerating further. Lack of treatment is more likely to kill him, than any of us coming in contact with the Wuhan strain of coronavirus.

He is certainly not the only person in this position.

Frustrating is really quite an understatement.

The Re-Farmer

All is well

It feels like it should be much later than it is, but it’s only just past 10am as I write this. My husband and I started our day early, so we could leave by 4am for his angiogram.

All went well. He is currently in recovery and monitoring, on a real hospital bed and everything! We got the lowdown on aftercare, and a nurse is coming by regularly to check his wound and his vitals.

We are looking at a mid afternoon discharge. The one thing that is a bit of a wringer is that he can’t use the arm at all for 48 hours. That means he can’t use his walker. He always has a cane handy, though (it just happens to be my cane at the moment! 😄), so he can use that.

Getting in and out of the van will be … interesting.

The doctor was able to let is know right away that they found no blockages. Which is good news. We just still don’t have an answer as to why his heart got so weak. Our guess is, it’s all the medications he is on, and for so many years.

He has to see his doctor for a follow up in 2 weeks, but we will have to find a new doctor ASAP, since the doctor, with another doctor, is leaving the province at the end of November, and the clinic has no idea when, or even if, they will get new doctors. We might be going to another town, 40 minutes from home, to get a new doctor. We shall see.

One step at a time.

The Re-Farmer

Time to put my feet up

Today, my husband finally had his appointment in at the heart clinic in the city. It was in the afternoon, but they say to come in 45 minutes early. We figured out when we would have to leave to make it with plenty of time, then left a half hour earlier than that, for time to pick up gas along the way.

It was a very good thing we did!

Not long after we left the town we fueled up in, we drove right into a downpour.

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A light at the end of the tunnel?

After I wrote about our foggy morning, yesterday, my daughter and I headed to town for her shift.

Locally, we had a light, moody fog. By the time we left, it was pretty much gone.

On the way to town, we drove into a wall of fog, that just kept getting denser as we got closer to the lake!

I took this picture in the grocery store parking lot.


Keep in mind that my phone’s camera cleans visibility up quite a bit with smoke or fog, so in real life, the visibility was actually much less. Even so, I would normally be able to see several buildings, including the hospital my husband is in, from here!

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