Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Good News on the Home Front

We're at the stage of assessing what new equipment we'll need for the house for me to move back home and carry on.  And there's a lot of it, from a ramp or lift to get me in the door to a hospital bed.

The two of us have been discussing this for some time, but first there's a government agency that has to inspect you house and say ok.  She arrived Monday, and the good news is that she was pleased with our plans.  Having the main floor all level and only two  steps up from outside is a big help.

Later Monday a vendor of mobility aids also came to assess things.  He also had some good ideas, and Mrs.F.G. found  him easy to talk to.  That's important, as all the arranging is falling on her shoulders while I'm  still here in London.  Best of all, he said they could loan us equipment for the first few weeks, so I can safely get home as scheduled.  More good news.

There is of course some paperwork to go along with this, and we need to get started pronto.  More good news is that it appears government subsidies and our health insurance will cover almost all the costs.

Feeling more optimistic about getting home on time now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Learning to Drive - Again!

I now have the use of an older electric wheelchair so tthat I can practice driving before we head home. It's not as easy as you might think.

It takes a little bit of fuss to get it fitted to me.  I don't think we got it quite right this morning, because it's quite  uncomfortable at the end of the day.  Just about everything on this chair is adjustable.  But there's no tray across the front, so I've had to adjust to eating off the little hospital table which I had been using to store things on.

There are two other disadvantages.  It only has a tiny and flimsy little pouch for storage, barely big enough for my cellphone.  And the battery only lasts about two hours, although that's probably just the older battery in this particular chair.  And you can't read the tiny little control screen if you're outdoors.

Oh, but the independence!  After my therapy sessions were done, this afternoon I headed out all by myself.  Stopping in the cafeteria, I picked up a Tim's coffee and straight oudoors.  I explored most of the gardens, but spent a good while sitting by the butterfly garden watching for things to photograph. Nothing new today, but I got pictures of some of the veggies.

I'm finding it is easy to drive, especially down the straighter paths, but it's tricky in small spaces like elevators.  It's almost impossible to position yourself to be able to press the buttons - so I now have an elevator wand to use.  I'm very pleased to finally reach this stage!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Butterflies and Birds

I've seen several more birds since I first posted my list of birds here at Parkwood.  And we've been seeing some interesting butterflies recently.

- there was a small flock of pigeons ('Rock Doves') that flew over when we were out in the garden.
- I've seen a few swallows dipping through the air outside my window (presumably Tree Swallows).
- we were sitting by the raised bed gardens when a Downy Woodpecker landed on a post 4 feet away.
- finally, I'm sure I saw a Purple Finch mingling with the sparrows one day.  It has no dark stripes on its head, unlike the more common House Finch.  And it really should be called the 'Pink Finch' rather than purple.  That's the most unusual bird here so far.

As for butterflies, there have been quite a few Cabbage White and Monarchs around all along.  It's the best year for Monarchs I've seen in some time.  We must have seen 40 or 50  - or half a dozen that fly around a lot!  Lasr year I only saw 1 or 2.

We've also found a big caterpiller of the Black Swallowtail.  It's bright green and black, with yellow dots, very similar to a Monarch caterpiller.  Then the other day I saw a Red-spotted Purple on the Butterfly Bush.  The red spot on each forewing is very inconspicuous, but it has a bright row of blue spots along the back margin of each wing.  And the 'purple' looks almost black to me.  It should be called the 'Blue-spotted'.

I got some shots of a Hummingbird Moth on the same plant, and today there was an Eastern Swallowtail when we went out.  Quite a spate of interesting butterflies in only 4 days.

I know you're asking 'Where are the pictures?' , but you'll have to wait yet.  Once I get home where I can download them, I'll start sharing photos.  I have over 400 so far; they'll keep the blog going for some time!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Financial Records for Spouses

Are you in a marriage or partnership where one partner deals with all the finances - banking, bills, insurance, investments and taxes?  Have you made up a record sheet giving all the vital information so your partner could take over should you become incapacitated?  If not it's high time you did.

We have an older friend back in Guelph whose husband managed all the finances.  He died suddenly and she was left helpless (to say nothing of the grieving).  She could not even turn on the computer, which was password protected.  She struggled for weeks to figure out just how to get started.

So a few years back, before my first heart surgery, I prepared an info sheet for Mrs.F.G.  It had info like the passwords for our online banking and a dozen other things, info on how we pay our bills (in an online world we pay bills three different ways), and key contacts who could help, like our insurance agent and financial advisor.

A key piece of the picture is to get yourself a good financial advisor.  We have an excellent one at home in Meaford, who deals with both our investmens and income tax.  And I've made sure to get Mrs.F.G.  in to meet him so she's comfortable seeing him without me.  Another key piece is to make sure  bank accounts and investments are held jointly.  This makes things so much easier (banks don't like giving you access to someone else's bank account, even if they are your husband/wife).  A third key piece is to have you financial records filed in the same easy-to-find place.

So this time, when I was lying comatose in a hospital bed for a month, Mrs. F.G. knew where to start.  The staff at the local branch of our bank has been very helpful, and our son came to help sort out more details.  But having that basic information was very helpful.  I have not looked at banking statement or bill since mid-Feb, but it's all been taken care of.

There's more I could list, but I hope I've made my point.  In an online world, where everything is password protected, you owe it to your partner to pull all this info together.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

It's Carnival Day!

I woke to see people setting up tent canopies down the pathway, toward the Veterans' end of Parkwood.  Turned out to be their annual carnival, scheduled from 1-3.

So after lunch we headed out to see.  There were about eight games set up under the canopies, from a fish pond (where everybody wins) and face painting to roulette wheels.  I think the vets enjoy their gambling!  There was quite a crowd of people coming and going too, vets, family, staff and volunteers.

We sat and watched the musicians set up and had some ice cream. Then we briefly looked inside and found a large gathering room where events are held.  There was a bar in the corner too.   There must have been 60 vets out, and almost all were in wheelchairs.  Part of the support came from a motorcycle club in Windsor.  There were six big bikes parked oiutside.

Passing through the raised bed gardens we spotted a Monarch feeding on the Butterfly Bush, and snapped a few pictures.  I continue to be impressed by the cell phone's camera.  You can't adjust either exposure or speed, but the camera seems to choose what's just right.  My pictures are sharp, clear, and properly exposed.  I haven't had my big camera with me in hospital.

The meals continue to be great too.  Lots of food and it tastes good.  I eat the meals twice - once in my mind when I'm filling out the menu choices, and once for real.

Friday, August 10, 2018

First Real Meals

I've just finished my first day of  three 'real' meals since Feb.  And they were delicious!  A salmon fillet tonight as good as any I've ever eaten.  I am really impressed with the food here, and three meals provide three more events that I can enjoy during the day.  What a big change in my life here very suddenly.

I'm almost ready to post pictures of my meals as some of you do.  Those have been a real inspiration to me the last few weeks as I got closer to real meals.  And I'm really looking forward to savouring every morsel once we get home!  I will never take good food for granted again.

As for the wheelchair, it really is  magic - for the price it should be!  You steer it with a joystick, which also controls acceleration and braking.  But it's not easy at first to drive in a straight line.  The curves on the other hand, are great.  It will turn a complete circle on itself very easily.

For an hour I was fitted to the chair and learned about the controls.  Then I tried driving it, which is pretty intuitive except for those straight lines in narrow corridors.  And then we were allowed an hour on our own.  Sadly, the chair had to go back with the sales rep, but I expect to get one on Monday that will keep for several weeks.

For those of you wondering, it really doesn't go very fast, but it gives you a lot of independence compared to being reliant on someone to push you.

A good day today, my closest cousin visited, I had those three great meals, and this evening got good pictures of a Hummingbird Moth with my cell phone camera.  I only wish I could post them to show you.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Step Two - Success!

No time for a full post tonight, it's been an intense day!  But I passed the swallow test and had my first real meal since Feb.  And it was delicious!  Also got to drive motorized chair just like the one we'll be getting.  Great fun!  More tomorrtow.