Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Photo Tour Continues..........

This is the residents' garden. All the beds are raised to make them wheelchair accessible. The Garden Club 'meets' every Friday morning for some serious planting, weeding or just sitting in the sun.
On my journey around the grounds in my new scooter, I came upon the ruins of this left-over stone structure from the past. I love ruins! They hold a special magic for me - a sense of wonder. What was this in a former time? Was it a home? Was it a garden shed - or maybe a chicken coup? Maybe the gardener lived here, or perhaps a doctor. West Park has lots of history. In the late 1800's and early 1900's it was a sanatorium for children with tuberculosis. The sanatorium was closed in 1974, torn down and rebuilt as a rehabilitation hospital.
Another shot of the ruins. It was completely overgrown with wild grape vines - absolutely beautiful!
And finally, the sun, setting on the place I called home for 8 weeks. I am grateful to all the staff for the treatment I received as a patient there. They were all wonderful, making my stay so much more enjoyable. From the nurses who made my bed the way I liked it to the doctors who insisted on finding out my official diagnosis, everyone treated me with dignity and respect. I never felt like a patient! I am also grateful to the Physiotherapists, who helped me re-learn how to walk and climb the stairs again, the pool therapists who lifted me in and out of the pool so that I would be allowed to 'walk' in the water when I couldn't do so on land and the Occupational Therapists who recommended equipment to make my life more bearable and who had me do mental and physical exercises to get my mind and body back in shape. I made some wonderful friends at West Park, from the woman with whom I shared a room in my final week, to the residents who attended Coffee House, Pub Night, the Garden Club and Craft Club. One of the residents presented me with a card on my last evening, thanking me for being nice to her during my stay. (Sorry, folks, I'm wiping away a tear at the moment.) I will keep in touch with her. I plan to make some afghans and lap quilts for the residents who will spend the rest of their lives at West Park. At least I was able to go back home. Some of them don't have that luxury. And lastly I want to thank one special person, with whom I was able to discuss life and the world we live in. She made my stay, not only a physical journey to ambulation and self care, but a psychic journey to a healthy mind as well. If you read this you will know who you are! I feel privileged to have had the chance to meet you and hope that one day our paths will cross again.

A Photo Tour of West Park Healthcare Centre

Pathway through central park. A nice shaded place on a hot afternoon.
The gardens leading out from the second floor. I looked down on this fountain from my room. The roof in the back actually covers the front entrance leading from the main floor.

A view towards the Recreation Centre. On humid days I found huge toads. hopping around in the courtyard below.
I called this the Secret Garden. There was a gate which I had to go through to get into it. I was reminded of the book, "The Secret Garden", which was one of my favourite books when I was young.

Another shot of the Secret Garden. I loved these wooden columns and raised flower beds!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm Home!

The window in the corner, behind the trees on the top floor was my home for the past 56 days, but now I am home! Hurray!!!! It took a long time to get here. I was packed and ready to go at 9:00am this morning. Then it took almost the whole day to get all sorts of things ironed out before I could leave. (like follow-up doctor's appointments and finding a place that will provide me with physiotherapy on an outpatient basis.) We made several stops on the way home and we were smack dab in the middle of rush hour, so the drive took forever! I am now totally worn out, but happy to finally be back in my own home. Mimi is happy too! She has not left me alone for a minute since I got here. I took some more photos of West Park a couple of days ago. I found the place to be very photogenic. Is it possible for a place to be photogenic? Oh well, anyway, I was able to get some interesting shots which I will post tomorrow.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Strawberry Social at West Park

Ontario strawberries are at their peak! And there is nothing better than a Strawberry Social to bring folks together for music, contests, fun and, of course, food! Yep! You guessed it - the food of the day was strawberries and ice cream! Yum!

West Park is a friendly place, with lots of gatherings for patients, residents and staff alike. On Thursday they held their annual Strawberry Social. Everyone was brought to the park in the centre of the complex by volunteers and staff. A band provided the musical entertainment. Huge bunches of helium-filled balloons were tethered to 'strawberry' weights. Ribbons and streamers floated from the trees. The organizers wore bright aprons made out of strawberry printed material and 'Strawberry Shortcake' caps. There was even a 'hat contest' to judge the best strawberry-decorated hat! There were prizes for the winners. And of course, strawberries and ice cream for all! The weather cooperated to the utmost! The temperature was in the high twenties (celsius) and there was no humidity! The sun twinkled through the tall trees, creating just the right amount of shade to provide comfort. I rode my new scooter out to the park. How exciting! It was so nice to be independent! In my wheelchair, I would have needed help to get up and down the hills, but in my scooter I can go anywhere! Don't worry, I will show you photos of it at another time. A great time was held by all at the Strawberry Social!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Cat Without a Past

This is Mookie, my daughter's cat. He is a regal cat - very sure of himself. Always ready to take a nap on his favourite cat tree. His light orange coat made him standout among other cats. He was a hefty beast, weighing around 19 pounds. Recently though, he started to lose a lot of weight.My son found this handsome feline about three years ago and tried to contact his owners when he saw the signs which they had posted for his return. But they did not think that Mookie was their cat, even though he looked exactly like the photo on the poster and everytime some one called his name, he would look up at them, seeming to smile. He would come running to sit on my chest and purr in my face every time I went over to my daughter's place to visit. No one knows exactly how old Mookie was. He seemed much older than the vet's estimate. And although we wished he could talk, he could never tell anyone what adventures he had had in his life up to the time that he came to live at my daughter's house. He was a sophisticated cat. He would sit calmly on his cat tree or nap happily away for hours. My daughter was instructed, by the vet, to get Mookie to exercise more because he was so huge. She would run around her house with some exciting cat toy on a string so that Mookie could chase it. But usually he became bored with this 'game' after a few rounds of the livingroom, dining room and kitchen. Then he would just sit down in one spot, smacking the toy as my daughter ran by with it, until she was exhausted. Mookie believed in conservation. He did not want to waste his energy on a silly toy. After all, there was always some napping to do. And Mookie did the nap thing very well.

Over the past couple of weeks, Mookie had lots of medical tests done on his once healthy body. The vets' diagnosis was cancer - probably some kind of glandular cancer. There was nothing they could do and they said that he was in a lot of pain. Mookie stopped eating and drinking a few days ago and we were all sad that we could not do anything to make him feel better. It seemed as if this loyal friend deserved more from us.

Mookie passed away this morning, as he lay under his favourite shrubs in the garden. Well, actually any spot in the garden was his favourite, for Mookie loved the great outdoors. He would roll in the newly planted petunias and sniff every branch of the cedar bushes that were within his reach. The vet was kind enough to make the trip to my daughter's house to put Mookie out of his misery. No sterile veterinarian's office for this furry friend. He died peacefully in the garden. Goodbye Mookster!! We love you! You, the cat without a past, will remain in our hearts forever.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Poem

A friend suggested that I read the book, "You Can Heal Your Life". by Louise L. Hay. In it, Hay describes her beliefs about life and the world. She claims that we each decide to incarnate on this planet at a particular time and space. We come here to learn a specific lesson so that we can advance our spiritual evolutionary pathway. We choose our sex, colour, country and look for a set of parents who will help us to actualize what we want to achieve here on earth. I was intrigued by this because I have always looked at people who were living a difficult life as being more evolved than I am. I thought that they had achieved a higher level of existence, that I still had a lot to learn and many more trips to make to this planet in order to reach a place where I could be free. Hay goes on to claim that we can cure any illness that we have by simply forgiving our past, moving into the present and loving ourselves. It seems so easy. As I read through her book, I was beginning to believe her theories, until I came to the section where she lists all the ills of the world and tells her readers how to overcome them. Pimples, for example, are small outbursts of anger which can be cured by having calm thoughts and being serene. Having malaria means we are out of balance with nature and our lives. We can cure it by telling ourselves that we are united and balanced with all life. What I want to know is... how does that malaria-carrying mosquito know that we are out of balance? Why does it bite us? Can it sense our imbalance? I guess she kind of loses me at that point. But I still believe that we have to pay a price each time we are incarnated and each visit to this planet comes with a higher price tag. I am convinced that the 'residents' in this hospital (people who will spend the rest of their lives here at West Park) are more evolved than I am. I look at their twisted, contorted bodies and realize that I am still intact and have a long way to go before I will be as evolved as they are. I wrote a poem the other night, while sitting in my bed, thinking about life and all that it brings with it. Let me know what you think.

The beauty of a field of daisies
Their tiny blossoms turned to face the sun
I am breathless.
The stillness of an early morning
Broken only by a robin heralding the day
I am quiet.
The softness of a yellow butterfly
Fluttering from blossom to fragrant blossom
I am thoughtful.
The sound of distant thunder
Rumbling like an angry god, disturbing the silence
Impending doom
I listen.
The clatter of a sudden summer downpour
Drenching the land, leaving sparkling drops to glisten in the immediate sunshine
I am pensive.
The sight of wheelchair-bound humanity
Twisted into grotesque contortions, sitting, waiting, waiting...
I am humbled.
A shriek of laughter from an otherwise motionless mouth
Gladness in the face of adversity
I am speechless.
I am healing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Backyard

Even without my care and attention - in fact, I haven't even been home - my garden is doing extremely well. I think it is all the rain we have been having lately, and of course, the mild and snowy winter that protected my plants and helped them to survive the cold. This is the strip of garden along the back of the yard. There are lilies, lavender, roses, phlox, shasta daisies, sweet wiliams, Maltese cross and even a few cherries, ripening in the foreground. I especially tried to keep the pool out of the photo. That is because it was just a large hole in the ground when I was home last weekend. We are in the process of filling it in. It is just too much work to look after. And with only a couple of months of warm weather each summer, a pool is just not practical. I hope to have some raised flower beds built in place of the pool. That way I will still be able to do some gardening from a wheelchair if neccessary. God I love gardening! I miss it! I can't wait to go home for good and get back into the swing of things. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you! That will be happening soon - probably within the next couple of weeks! Am I smiling? You'd better believe it!