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Cameron's House of Fun

Fatherhood, politics, education, random thoughts (heavy on the random thoughts) and stuff (always stuff).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Read this

Beverly Cooper (Wilson) Campbell

CAMPBELL, Beverly Cooper (nee Wilson). March 15, 1936 - June 16, 2005. Artist. It is with enormous sadness, tinged with joy at a life well lived, that we announce the death of our amazing, vivacious, loving wife and special friend, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister, sister-in-law and friend. Loving, devoted and dotting wife of Alexander Campbell, mother of Marjorie and Cameron, loving mother-in-law of Darren and Christine, adored grandmother of Lucas, beloved sister of Margaret Dawson (Ottawa), the late R.D. Wilson and the late Tommy Wilson. Friends of the family are welcome for visitation on Monday, June 20, 2005 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lachine Cardinal Funeral Home, 2125 Notre-Dame Street, Lachine, 514-639-1511. There will be a service of celebration at 11 a.m. followed by a reception on June 21 at the same location. Interment will follow at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Palliative Care Unit at the Montreal General Hospital in Bev's name would be sincerely appreciated. Donations can be made through the Montreal General Hospital Foundation (514-934-8230) and earmarked for the Palliative Care Unit. The family gratefully acknowledges the help, comfort, care and kindness shown to the family and Bev by all the volunteers, orderlies, nurses and doctors throughout her illnesses and in her final days.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Race Is Run

At 4pm today my mother, Beverly Wilson Campbell, died.

I am numb.

I'd like to say something wise or even pithy.

But it appears that I am all out of wisdom and pith.

I'll try to put all of this into words more clearly later.

In the end she held on to see Marjorie married and not a day more. The human will remains one of the most amazing forces in the world.

The morning after

So the wedding was the very definition of the word bittersweet.

My sister was beautiful.

Darren was handsome. Both were nervous.

There was a harpist who was coming in to palliative care, but came an hour early to play for the wedding.

There was flowers, and cake and canapé and champagne and wine and other refreshmentss.
The staff cut the back out of my Mom's wedding outfit so she could wear it over her hospital gown and they hooked her up to a oxygen tank. They then draped the bed with a lacy blanket, and wheeled her to the solarium room.

The ceremony was a simple civil one. When my parents were asked if they blessed the union, my mother bellowed out "ABSOLUTELY!!" Lucas delivered the rings (practice for the second, religious ceremony on Saturday I guess).

All in all it was as nice as a wedding in the palliative care ward could be.

Near the end of the little "party" afterwards Mom's oxygen tank ran empty. So she got rushed back to the room and reconnected.

Later on last night they gave Mom some stuff to help her rest. Since then she hasn't really woken up yet.

I guess ........

well I guess the end is nigh....

I've never felt so heartsick and relieved and guilty and sad and teary in my entire life. I want to puke and cry, and perhaps do both at once. Which would be gross at a new level.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hospital Watch: Wedding Edition

My sister is getting married today.

In the solarium of palliative care.

The people there have organized a harpist, a pianist and a guitarist.

There will be food, drink etc.

It's enough to make an old cynic like me start to like humans again.

OH: I kinda just pointed out new news. Mom was moved to the palliative care unit the day before yesterday.

This is good and bad.

Good because they provide the very best care imaginable. The people there clearly walk on the right hand of God (or the deity or force or power of your choosing).

Bad because you can't pretend that someone in palliative care is going to walk out of the hospital.

Today promises to be the very definition of "mixed emotions".

Monday, June 13, 2005

Hospital Watch

So, my Mom's docs have changed the way her pain meds/relaxation meds are delivered. Instead of getting one big ass does of morphine every once and a while (calms the breathing, relaxes her (duh) and deals with any pain) she is getting less, more often. In Cameron speak I told her "ooh.. you've moved from the street shit to the high class penthouse drugs".

This caused her to giggle. But to be fair, I've often found that stoned/drunk people find me much funnier than I am.

That said, the upshot of this is that she is much more lucid. She isn't having wired ass dreams; samples of which include waking up babbling about rape or waking up, looking around the room and announcing to my sister and father "shit, so it is real I am dying... I thought it was a bad dream." (I'm glad I missed that last one, I'm not at all sure I could have coped with that).

All in all though, her oxygen absorption rate is still pretty high and she seems ok... but, baring some miracle (requests for which seem to be covered nicely THANKS MIKE!) she will never leave the hospital. All this seemingly better absorption and calmer Bev just seems to mean that she will certainly live long enough for my sister to have a civil ceremony on Friday in her hospital room in advance of the Saturday wedding. After that, no one seems to know. I need to sit down with a doctor or one of the more senior nurses and get one of them to take the medical file apart for me and turn it into something like Medicine for Absolutely Overwrought Dummies™.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The whole booky truth and nothing but the booky truth.

Ok, so here goes. I've been tagged by the wonderously revived as a blogger Kelly over at Onthefence in this whole book thing. I welcome the distraction, and was getting worried that no one loved me (shades of high school gym class during team sports all over again).

Without further ado:

Number of Books That You Own:

Using the IKEA shelf method (we are EXPIDIT people, not BILLY) I'd say somewhere between 550 and 700 books (I'm too lazy to go and do a proper count) ..... this is counting both my and Christine's collection.

Last Book Bought:

It was a skillz to pay the billz kinda purchase More Eric Meyers on CSS. I've restarted working doing design and implementation so I need this kind of thing. Meyers, unlike virtually every other computer how-to guy has an actual voice to his writing. It's conversational, jargony only when needed and extremely easy to read. The subject matter is still kicking my ass a bit, but that is a function of me, not Myer's writing.

Last Book I Read: (for the first time)

Ok, so I have 10 answers to this question.

A buddy who is a teacher in Toronto scored me the complete (to date)
Lemony Snicket collection (this is the last one I've read). As a reader (even one older than the target audience) I found them very engaging and fun to read. They reminded me of Jacob Two Two. As an education geek I am awed by the way that the author works new vocabulary into the story, providing a definition and context for it... it is like a tiny little situated/just in time learning deliverable in every chapter. The sarcasm and satire also make me happy.

As for the other book I've read recently: We got Lucas this book called Mouse and Kat and The Evil One, based mostly on the insane graphics and typography. He actually loves it and demands to look at it constantly. It is so cool as to be painful.

Five Books that mean a lot to me:

Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure Of Humanity In Rwanda by Romeo Dallaire. I think about what is right and what is easy and how they are not often the same thing a lot. Dallaire shows what doing the right, hard thing can do to you. I'm not sure I've ever wept reading a book before. I know I did reading this.

Way Of Chuang Tzu translated by Thomas Merton. A poet monk translating the work of a poet monk. WTF more do you want in life? Seriously, the basis of Taoism as presented in English by Merton is thoughtful, thought provoking and beautiful.

A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and North America in the Nineteenth Century by Witold Rybczynski. I would read a Rybczynski book about toliet paper (I read one about the screw so mb I have). Both the subject matter (Olmsted was a god and a facinating human) and the writing (OMG to be able to write like this) are awesome.

Dispatches by Michael Herr, new journalism, Vietnam... the book that made me want to be a journalist. Probably also the book that made me realize that I probably never would be that good. Also the book (combined with Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun) that ended the idea of war as romance for me.

The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. My CEGEP teacher was right this book, and the movie based on it are some of the finest religious work ever done. Period. Maugham is probably viewed as gauche or some bs now. But the man could write. Oh the man could write.

There are a million more, but that is 5.

I'll come up with some people to tag tomorrow.

But first, an update

I'll do the whole book thing in a minute, first I wanted to update about my mom..

Basically she is never leaving the hospital. Or she will. But not in the way that people like to leave.

The damage to her lungs from the clots is too severe. Her breathing too laboured, her ability to absorb oxygen too deteriated...

In you or I (assuming you are hail and have strong lungs) a clot would be dealt with via heavy doses of anti-coagulent. In my mom, there exists a possibility that there are cancerous growths in her lungs (and other fun places) and the drugs that would break up the clots would cause her to bleed out through the tumors.

(please understand that as much as I sound dispationate about all of this, I have been testing my tear duct output quite nicely thank you very much)

All of this to say that plan B has swung into action relative to my sisters wedding. On Friday she and Darren will get married in a civil ceremony at the hospital in my mom's hospital room and on Saturday the scheduled religious ceremony will happen at the church.

Anyone with thoughts on how to get an internet connection to my moms bed and a webcast from the church will be my friend forever.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


My buddy Kelly over at On the fence (Go. Read. Now!!) has tagged me with this newfangled books thing that is sweeping the blogosphere. It will make a most excellent break from what is going on in my life right now. But it will probably have to wait till tomorrow morning this afternoon tonight. What with web design and mb visiting my Mom at the Montreal General.

On the subject of the Montreal General. WTF is up with most hospital architecture? Everyone who is there knows they are sick. Why does the design of the building have to remind them. Every time you look around the very pores of the building are screaming "YOU, MY FRIEND, ARE VERY VERY ILL."

Mixed messages

So, I got a call from my Dad from the hospital last night. Basically, as of the time of that call, my mothers ability to absorb oxygen is deteriating. She's on the mask etc but less is getting into her blood stream etc etc. We are now calling what is going on what it is, pulmonary embolism. The problem is (or the bigger, overarching problem) that because of her cancer, her treatments for same, the treatments for the side effects of the treatments (etc, world without end...) she has pretty much run out of treatment options. So, basically we're hoping that the anticoagulants, in the dosages that she can handle, will do their job. Honestly, at this point we're hoping for weeks.

Sort of update: I talked to my dad this morning, he discovered that my mom was on morphine to manage pain. Morphine is a wonder drug for pain, it also slows respitory and heart function as a side effect (disclaimer, I am not a medical professional, I am merely patient no more). So my dad asked if they could try her with some other pain killer and as of when he left last night her absorption rate was back up to where it had been when they first stabilized her.

Further update (this entry is taking forever to write): I just talked to Mom, she sounds better, calm and relaxed, and the doc was about to examine her....

Oh, and Marjorie is flying in from the UK 3 days early. She was scheduled to arrive on Friday to take care of final prep for her wedding (MY BABY SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED.. WTF?). I feel badly for her, the whole thing is totally preped and really can't be moved if something goes wrong. Bugger.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

A metaphor

You know when you're on the highway? Or on a long straight road? And the car you are in starts speeding up? The lamp posts start off as distinct entities. You can say "look, here comes a lamp post." Then wait a bit for the next. Then as the car starts to go faster the lamp posts come a bit sooner. Then as the car goes into "really big ass ticket and points off your license" territory the lamp posts become a blur, like one big lamp post or like they have disappeared all together.

This is what illness is like.

Specifically long term cancer.

My mother is still in the hospital. It is unclear to me whether the blood clots in her lungs are as a side effect from some therapeutic anti-cancer thing or if they are some new fun of metistatic breast cancer but she is going to be there for at least a week. This sucks on a number of levels:
  1. It is my completely non scientific opinion that sick people get sicker in hospitals.
  2. This means, barring some amazing miracle, she will have to carry oxygen down the aisle at my sister's wedding.

So, my metaphor, when you are sick with something serious, the lamp posts are very separated. In my mom's case they weren't super far apart, but they were at least distinct events (breast cancer, "stroke-like incident" related to chemo followed by bowel perforation due to a reaction to the steroids she took after the "stroke-like incident"). But lately, with all (try and follow this) the treatments, and treatments for the side effects from the treatments and the treatments for the stress of the treatments and the treatments for other non-cancer problems (and the treatments for the side effects from the treatments for other non-cancer problems) the lamp posts are coming fast and furious.

Like any fast ride everyone involved is scared witless and none of us really want to think about the destination we're racing towards.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

How to tell if you are sick

This is how you can tell if you are sick: When you can't breath properly and they take you into the hospital and discover that the problem is blood clots in your lungs.

And this is viewed as a good thing.

That's how you can tell if you are sick.

Mom's in the hospital again.

On oxygen.

Taking a massive ass diuretic.

About to start blood thinners.

Fuck you life.
Fuck you.