Monday, 5 September 2011

Next stop - Amsterdam - Rhine - Zurich

Itinerary - two days in Amsterdam, Rhine cruise with AMA Waterways on Amacello to Basel, train to Zurich where we spend two nights and then fly home. More details at


We're only participating in the cruise portion of this itinerary and 'doing our own thing' in Amsterdam beforehand and from Basel to Zurich.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

NYC, Florida and Bahamas Here We Come!

We're off tomorrow bright and early for Syracuse, where we catch the train to New York City. Although the purpose of the trip is not really to visit NYC, it seemed a shame to be there and not get at least a small taste of the Big Apple. We're staying at the Westin New York at Times Square Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday we're taking a bus tour of the city and then in the evening we're going to see "Mary Poppins" at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

Sunday is pretty leisurely and we're off to the Port of New York to board the Norwegian Jewel. We chose this cruise particularly because a) it departs from NYC which is easy and cheap for us to get to and b) there are not shore excursions which are very demanding in the walking department. We stop at Port Canaveral and could take a tour of the space centre, but it's expensive and long and we may just investigate the port or stay on the ship and enjoy the empty pool and hot tub.

Next stop is Great Stirrup Cay, an island that Norwegian Cruise lines owns. They have apparently done quite a lot of development, particularly of the area where the tenders dock and food facilities, so that would be interesting to see (having been there on our last cruise).

Then we're off to Nassau, and it is apparently easy to get a real taste of the city without walking too far from the ship.

Then a couple of days at sea while we return to New York. We dock at 8 am on Sunday (April 3) and plan to get a 1:15 train back to Syracuse. Then we'll motor home to Gananoque.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Not a patient patient

I have to admit, all in all, that there is improvement in my mobility since my AVM surgery. I'm still recovering from the surgery - I had a misguided mind set that once the incision was healed I could get on with the rest of my recovery. Unfortunately, back surgery is a slow, painful process and it's going to take longer than I thought.

The day I had my stitches out I made an appointment to start physiotherapy. I want some guided exercises to help recover muscle strength in my hips, legs and feet and to learn to compensate for those deficits which are long-term (I can't bring myself to say 'permanent' yet). Unfortunately, the first two sessions have been spent concentrating on ifc (interferential current) treatment of my back. I'm quite prepared to have the physiotherapist heal my back, but I'm afraid I'll be out of insurance long before she gets to exercises for my muscles. We'll see how it goes for a few sessions. It's quite enlightening to be faced with health insurance limits that Americans must face for even their basic health care let alone surgery or hospitalization.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Dateline - surgery plus one week

An email update to my friends following my AVM surgery:

It's now been exactly a week since they rolled me into the OR at Toronto Western.

Here's how things stand. The surgery went well, as far as I can determine. I heard precious little from the surgeon - no details whatsoever afterward about the surgery (McP: this is where I could have used you) - and a very small amount second-hand through PetDoc and Colleen from a chance meeting they had with him in the hall while waiting to hear about me. They really had to get quite aggressive in order to get more than a dismissive "We know what we're doing." He did tell me I no longer have a spinal dural arteriovenous fistula and, after all, that is what it's all about. The goal of the surgery, his assistant reminded me repeatedly, is to stop things from getting worse; any lost function which returns is bonus.

I was supposed to return to PetDoc's apartment later the day of surgery - wasn't gonna happen! I had excruciating pain moving and was admitted to get that under control (ya gotta love the morphine pump - wouldn't let me take it home, though). Thursday I would have gone home in the evening but we discovered a pretty significant rash which the doctor couldn't explain. I was given Benedryl and moved to a semi-private for the night. The next morning Colleen and I got a cab to PetDoc's (she was working Friday). I was still, at this point, experiencing the excruciating pain but pain is not a hospitalizable offence. The pain was never from the incision but more generalized and quite intense when I would move - I mean scratch-my-nose move. Just as I was beginning to fret about how I would arrange for more pain medication (the hospital's pain-doctor-expert-lady had prescribed what appeared to be a very short course of medication) PetDoc (nice having a real doctor in the house) diagnosed some of my pain as muscle pain and we found that an extra-strength Ibuprofen in addition to what I was taking did the job!

Yesterday we returned to Gananoque - Toronto to Colborne with PetDoc and Colborne to Gananoque with Dadamom. It is nice to be home and as I become more mobile I'm looking forward to getting back to familar activities. I'm pretty much over the trauma of the surgery and weakness, etc. of lying around for 2-3 weeks and it's time to get on with it.

The major deficit is muscle stiffness and weakness in my legs and feet. I have the strength to stand and could kick a soccer ball - it would just feel very different from this time last year: more like I was swinging a log attached to my hip that was jointed at the knee. I can feel my legs and feet just fine and bend my knees, ankles, toes; it just feels very stiff with a sensation of numbness. I still become numb through the whole pelvic region if I sit without my 'special' cushion.

We were told that the compression of my spinal cord would be relieved over a period of weeks and what is going to happen quickly should happen within a couple of weeks. Any further recovery will takes months and even years. I'm going to start some exercises and return as soon as I can to regular activities. One of the most significant obstacles is still my feet - when I remove my sandals my feet and ankles become almost immediately very numb. No other footware prevents this from happening. Therefore, navigating in snow is awkward; I would grab a shovel and piddle around in the driveway or on the back porch if I had a way of making it less unpleasant; I may just have to learn to tolerate the unpleasantness. Or this may be one of the changes that will take place over time; Colleen, fortunately, understands completely about the feet (one has to be very understanding to tolerate sandals 24/7). After her stroke, she had a similar feeling and she encourages me by telling me that it was a year or more before that sensation changed.

If you have reached it to this point in my email you must be a real die-hard or a masochist. I thank you all for your help, concern, prayers. I apologize for the length of this missive, but I'm trying to make sure I have passed on an adequate amount of information to everyone who might care.

Will keep you posted (albeit more briefly) as things progress.

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