Showing posts from 2009

Our Christmas 2009 Picture Book.

Christmas Day 2009 seen through the lens of my Canon PowerShot pocket sized camera that doesn't seem to want to focus properly any more. (It probably has a dirty lens) My new Canon Rebel is set for delivery on Monday the 28th - too late for Christmas but appropriately on my birthday, since it is my birthday present.

The Christmas season officially begins in our house when Mary, Jesus and the others take their appropriate positions.

This year we added a baby-friendly version of Jesus which usually had the camel or Jesus perched on the roof singing "Silent Night" when their heads got pressed.

Jed gave up waiting for his mother to decorate the exterior of the house and chose the coldest (-31) day of the year to hang his own mishmash of Christmassy glitz.

This year's wrap theme was black and silver with splashes of red. Everything must be in a nicely shaped box and nothing has names on it. That way no one knows who gets what and there is less shaking and squeezing, and…

Skimmin' the details of the life of A&L in '09

Wherever we are at in life, it seems no matter how good our intentions are, we need a season like Christmas to help us to refocus, review, re-evaluate and reconnect. And so once again the annual review of the Albert and Liana Ziemer family assaults your inbox in an attempt to reconnect relationships and reminisce 2009.

January and February were spent shovelling enormous amounts of snow and shopping for our as yet unborn grandchild whose sex we did not know. We simply referred to the child as "Baby X". (Well, one of us shopped and one of us shovelled - we work well as a team.)

It's hard to believe that just one year ago the adorable bundle of love we now know as Xander was just a belly with a wooshing heartbeat. His arrival on March 3rd changed our lives. And change is good.

Albert has always been "Pa" to our children so it only made sense that he become "PaPa" to Xander. With numerous "Grandma Ziemers" in our family I decided I would be &qu…

I do Windows. I don't do Mondays.

Ten years ago we (my husband and I) were considered to be somewhat techno-geeks. I, the software guru and he the one to do the physical installs and upgrades. It was hard to keep up with all the advances in the computer market, but we did our best and rarely had a computer long enough to pay off the 12-month-no-interest payroll loans that his employer provided as an incentive to have employees educate themselves in the high tech world.

We had pirated versions of most software and every available version of Windows. I knew DOS, I learned HTML, I could format a computer in my sleep. I loved learning and I spent many a day and night acquiring a free education just by researching online (with dial-up and the screamin' fast 56k modem) and trial-and-error messin' around with stuff. My guru friend Greg used to harass me because I knew enough that I wasn't afraid to mess around with stuff but didn't know enough to fix every mess I got into.

I remember thinking I would never b…

Are you forkin' serious?

We ate at the Olive Garden two out of the three nights we were in Edmonton. And of course you fill up on their fabulous bread sticks and salad, but that's okay, it just means there will be lots left of your meal to take back to the hotel room for midnight snacking. The room with a mini kitchen including a fridge and microwave. The room with no dishes or cutlery.

The first night we ate at OG we went directly to Greg and April's house for a visit afterward. While we were chatting I said to her, "Do you remember five years ago on my 40th birthday when we were heading to Edmonton to go out for dinner, and you were moving to Edmonton at that time and we travelled together. And remember getting part way and you stopping and "borrowing" my Dire Straits cd with no intention of ever giving it back?"

"Oh my goodness! I'm so embarassed. Let me run get it for you," she says as she jumps up.

"No, no. It's okay I don't want it. I just wanna &qu…

Going Places with Suzy.

Here I am! I'm alive and well and preparing to go back to work next week.

That fact that I am alive and well is almost certainly due to my husband's extreme driving skills and Suzy's impeccable direction-giving ability. Yes, we decided before our trip to Edmonton that from here on we'd be Going Places with Suzy. We got a GPS before we left. It's a Garmin not a TomTom, so Jed insisted her name be Suzy. (I'm think there was a TV commercial about that a couple of years ago.)

Oh my goodness - that's capital Oh Em Gee! Suzy has changed my life.

We told her before we left home where the hotel was and she took us directly there. (As a side note: We did not stay at the cheap little Algonquin Motel near the Mayfield Centre that we have been frequenting every few years for a couple of decades. Each time we stay there, we comment  how we can't believe it's still operational - the land has to have way more value than the motel itself. Anyway we heard it's n…

Sucks to be them.


While it sucks to be the person's whose mammogram results I overheard on Tuesday, thank God they weren't mine. My results came back clear and non-suspicious so I am officially in my second year of cancer free living. I will still be monitored every 6 months for a while yet but I can live with that.

Someone's got something going on between 3 and 4 o'clock.

You'd think with all the down time I have, I'd keep my blog updated regularly. You'd think. I don't know why I'm finding it hard. Possibly because I like a thread of humour to run through everything, but alas I'm not feeling all that humourous.

For the same reasons I suppose my book writing venture has come to a grinding halt. I'm about a third of the way through it but I haven't even thought about it, much less written anything, in over a month. Damn hormones.

Hot flashes have definitely come to my house. I'm learning to dress in layers to accommodate them. Well, I've always sort of dressed in layers anyway - except that I was always adding another on top. Now I'm playing the on again off again game. The flashes normally only last a minute or so, so if this is as bad as it gets I'll be laughing. But somehow I think I ain't seen nothin' yet.

I had my one year appointment at the cancer unit last week. I saw Dr Lamb, a female onco…

Accomplishing things is not a requirement.

Sometimes you just don't get it the first time.

Which is why, the day after my venture to the library, I was up by 7am, had a shower and got dressed (which consumes an entire day's energy in itself) and went to have a visit with the girls at work. I was tired by the time I left but convinced myself this would be a good day to go check out Connie's new house which she has lived in for over two weeks and I have not seen yet. I was, after all, already in the car and already half way across town.

Besides seeing her house, I convinced myself it would be a good idea because I was hungry. If I went home I'd have to make something. But I knew Connie would have food. She always does. Just as I walked in her door she was removing a pizza from the oven. Good call.

I was pretty tired when I got home but rather than napping, I hauled out all my art supplies and spread them all over hell's half acre. (I'm not sure where that saying came from or what it really means cuz I…

Footloose and cancer free.

My pathology report came back clear. Yay for living cancer free for one whole year. So far.

I have an appointment with my oncologist next Monday and he will likely give me a requisition to get another diagnostic mammogram done just to be sure things are still looking good. This seems kind of ass-backward to me - you'd think I would get the mammogram done before I see him. But hey, who am I to question the intelligence of the medical system.

Later today I will go have coffee with the girls at work.

I'm still a bit uncertain of what my employment future looks like. I have a couple of irons in the fire, but they are not heating up as fast as I had originally hoped. My surgeon suggested I be off work for approximately seven weeks after surgery. I'll think I'll go back for 3 days a week on December 1st. While this is only 4 1/2 weeks into recovery, I think I'll be fine. I can get away without lifting if I need to and I have way too much seniority to ever have to sweep …

Give me back my ovaries, dammit.

Sunday morning Dr Galliford came in to discharge me a day earlier than expected.

As a final word of advice he says, "Remember, no lifting and no vacuuming. Call me in two weeks."

"Um, when do I start hormone replacement therapy?"

"Oh no. I don't want you doing that. Not with your history."

Well then give me back my ovaries, dammit.

"When do I resume taking my Tamoxifen?" I already know the answer is 2 weeks, but I want his opinion.

"I think you can stop with the Tamoxifen because I've removed your primary estrogen source. But check with your oncologist." I already have. Menopausal women take Tamoxifen for two years instead of five.

Dr Galliford's comment totally took me by surprise and I knew I'd be going home to spend some time with google and then hunting down a naturopath. I had kinda already decided to have a naturopath hold my hand through this venture anyway after reading Sexy Hormones by Lorna Vanderhaeghe.


Room with a view.

Okay, I've been home from the hospital for a week now so I guess I should be posting an update.

My room mate was discharged on Friday and was waiting for her daughter to come pick her up. I asked a number of nurses if I could scooch over to the window seat when she left. They all were agreeable to this.

When Michelle (my neice who works in housekeeping) popped in to visit me late in the afternoon my room mate still had not gone home. But Michelle agreed that if the woman left before the end of her shift she'd clean up the room right away and move me over and then clean my side. I knew it was extra work for housekeeping, but knowing I was going to be there a few more days I really wanted the window for the view and the extra space it provided.

The woman never left before Michelle did.

The evening housekeeping woman was not nearly as agreeable to the extra workload.

"I'd really like to be nudged over to that space when you are finished," I said to the woman as she …

Farting is your meal ticket.

I quit taking my robaxicet by mid afternoon Wednesday for two reasons. I wanted it out of my system before anaesthetic Thursday morning and because the label clearly says not to exceed 6 tablets in 24 hours. I'd had 8 in 18.

Thursday morning my surgery goes quick and successfully. I was scheduled for two hours in surgery then two hours in recovery. I was awake in recovery after an hour and a half by 9:30am. I fade in and out of consciousness feeling no pain anywhere. Not my back, my incision nor my throat (which had been really irritated by the tubes during my breast surgery one year ago.) I offer up thanksgiving for morphine and happily settle into my room about 1:30pm.

I don't have a window space so my area is quite cramped and my night table and rolling bedside table quickly become piled with stuff that needs to be maneuvered every time something else arrives. But I do appreciate that none of the rooms in our hospital house more than 2 beds.

I am on a steady low dose of morphi…

Geez! She coulda told me.

With the medical school operating at UNBC the hospital is teeming with students training in every facet. My name was called at 6:30 AM on Thursday for my pre-op prep. I stood amongst a small group of girls who no more wanted to be weighing sick people at this ungodly hour than flying to the moon.

The nurse asked, "Who's with Dr Galliford's patient?"

No response.

She points to a particularly unresponsive looking girl and point blank asks her, "Are you with Galliford's patient?"

She snaps into reality and says , "I don't know the doctor's name, just the patient." She glances at my arm band and verifies, "Yes, she's with me."

I kiss Albert goodbye and they lead me beyond the curtain to the recliners and snugly warm blankets where normally you sit in a quiet vegetative state and wait for an interview with your surgeon and anaesthetist. My wait was anything but quiet and vegetative. Elaine stopped by to say she'd be there. Joyc…

I am not a good bleeder.

I arrived at the hospital to get my pre-op blood work done an hour and a half later than I intended. I take a number and realize there is only one person ahead of me.

Phew! I think as I grab a magazine and sit on a waiting room seat which is made of fabric and covered with many layers of stains. This kinda creeps me out. I convince myself it's probably mostly spilled coffee and dripping baby bottles and sippy cups, not the possible fluids I have shoved to the back of my mind: blood and leaking colostomy bags and soggy Depends and other manner of other conditions people may be suffering from and needing to have lab work done at the hospital.

I am thankful my wait is very short before I get called in. One of the two nurses confirms my good timing when she realizes there is no one waiting after me and comments, "Wow, I can't believe we've made it through the entire waiting room this morning." I quietly thank God for my running late and arriving later than I had planne…

I didn't want to clean the toilet anyway.

There's a lot of things to do last minute when you know you are going to spend five days in the hospital followed by a few weeks laying around. It might not be last minute stuff for everyone else, but for me, well I've always been a last minute kinda girl. It comes with being an expert procrastinator I guess.

I had today all planned out: get up, wash the bedding, clean the bathroom, wax my eyebrows, veet my legs, meet my friend Darlene for lunch, get my hair cut at 1:30, spend some time with Xander, double check my suitcase, have a glass of wine...

But last night got in my way.

I've been pretty diligent lately about not breathing in the same air space as sick people. I've been faithfully taking Echinaforce and vitamins. I made it to within 36 hours of surgery feeling good other that a marginally sore back.

I think I must have been protecting this sore back as I went to kneel on the floor with Xander in my arms. I twisted wrong and a sudden jolt of pain ripped through me an…


Oooooph! That kinda sounds like a kick in the guts don't it? I'm sure that's how I'll feel come Thursday. That's when I get my long awaited total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

Oophorectomy. What a strange word. It simply means removal of the ovaries.

And it simply means I'll wake up Friday morning in full blown surgically induced menopause. Actually I'm not quite sure it'll hit me in the face quite that soon. Even with all the information available at my fingertips it still feels like walking through the door of the unknown.

As I reached my "one year cancer free" mark last week I read through my blogs of last October. It's amazing the details and things you forget in that short time and I am glad to have kept a record, as scattered brained as it may have been at the time.

I am quite sure that this blog will continue to be my outlet and my record of feelings, thoughts and memories as I take this next phase of the…

I'll never be able to find my keys.

Cellphone, bank card, keys. What more does a person need to pack with them? This has always been my position in life. My purses, as a general rule aren't large enough to pack a regular sized pen.

Welcome to the new me.

With my hospital stay looming only 6 days away it was time to start gathering my things, such as my new pj's purchased just for the occasion. Of course this led to my obvious need for a new overnight bag, so off I headed to the mall...

I was on my way to Bently but had to pass The Boutique of Leather so I just popped in on the way and found this fantastic treasure.

(Click on it to zoom in and see the detail - it's fantastic)

Yes it was my original intention to use it as an overnight bag, but I changed my mind. It will be my new purse. I love it that much. It's nice and leathery smelling and soft to the touch. It has some fantastic detailing: leather lacing for a hint of 'biker chick', green and red zippers for a hint of Italy (where I'm sure I wil…

Unequal treatment.

I stole this from facebook but I liked it so I thought I'd post it.

Two patients limp into their respective doctors' offices on opposite sides of town on the same morning. Both doctors determine that their patients need a hip replacement.

The first patient has an xray done that afternoon and is booked for his surgery the following week.

The second patient goes home and phones another clinic to make an appointment for the next week to have an xray done. The day after the xray he returns to his doctor to receive confirmation that he does indeed need a hip replacement. He is instructed to go home and wait for his file to be forwarded to a surgeon. Two weeks later the surgeon's receptionist calls and books an appointment for the patient to see the doctor in 5 weeks time. At this appointment the patient's need for a hip replacement is confirmed and he is instructed to go home and wait for the hospital to call and book his surgery date. Seven months pass before he receives h…

Not a moment too soon

Just when I was starting to wonder if I got the skill testing math question wrong, I received official congratulations from the people at Buckley's today.

If you'll recall, sometime last winter I made a silly little video clip showing myself making an ugly buckley's face and then doing a little happy dance when I was all better. I entered it in the Buck Up! contest. In June I was informed that if I could provide the correct answer to a math question I would be declared the winner of the contest (which I believe had about 12,000 entries)

This morning, I promptly replied to the email and reminded them of the other part of the prize: A 5-year supply of Buckley's products. I encouraged them to send it out immediately. I need it. I am sick and stuffed up and I must be well in time for surgery in 2 weeks.

I may have to go out and buy some Buckley's tonight.

Free continental breakfast on Sunday morning.

Most Sundays Jay comes to church with me. I also pick up Nissa and her two kids. We have gone back to having two Sunday morning services after a break over the summer. I opt for the early service. This makes for a pretty early morning for me, but it sure is nice being home from church by 11 o'clock.

Last Sunday when I arrived at Nissa's door to pick her up it was obvious they had slept in and there was no way she was going to have 2 kids ready for early church.

"Oh, but just hang on. I baked for you." Nissa said to me as she ran to the kitchen and got a nice pan of cranberry pumpkin squares. I thanked her and headed off to church with Jay as my only passenger.

I had a cup of coffee with me and the squares smelled delicious. And I hadn't had breakfast. So I sat in the car when I arrived at church and snarfed back a piece or two with my coffee before going inside. Mmmm, they were indeed delicious.

We got inside and I took my usual back row seat, with Jay settling …

My doctor is an idiot.

idiot id·i·ot (ĭd'ē-ət)
A person of profound mental retardation having a mental age below three years and generally being unable to learn connected speech or guard against common dangers. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.

Word Origin & History

c.1300, "person so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning," from O.Fr. idiote "uneducated or ignorant person," from L. idiota "ordinary person, layman," in L.L. "uneducated or ignorant person," from Gk. idiotes "layman, person lacking professional skill," lit. "private person," used patronizingly for "ignorant person," from idios "one's own" (see idiom).


While calling my family physician an idiot may fall under offensive classification, and to be honest I think his mental age is probably marginally higher than that of a three year old, but may I suggest that th…

I got a date with a knife.

Yay! I think this time it's for real. My surgery is scheduled for October 29th, which works out well because Jed is going on a youth retreat to Vancouver Island from Oct 30 - Nov 2.

A month or so ago when I was phoning OR booking to see where I was on the waiting list she told me it would probably be the end of Sept or early October before I got in. As of yesterday I still hadn't heard anything. My EI ran out on Oct 3rd. Well it didn't really run out, it's just that when I first applied we expected my surgery to be in early August and Oct 3 was my expected return date. I need to get a doctor to sign paperwork so I can remain in a state of retirement until I get into surgery.

I called the ob/gyn's office yesterday and told her my story. She informed me that my family doctor would have to take care of it because the surgeon can only sign off for the actual surgery procedure, not time beforehand. She casually informed me that their surgery dates were booked up for th…

A is for Aaron. B is for book (and blog). C is for cancer.

I knew the blog would suffer once I started writing my book. But I am up to about 7000 words now.

Besides the book, I have been sidetracked in the last couple of weeks with the death of a long time friend, Aaron Taylor. Even my book has been put aside this past week as I collected and scanned photos and listened to every sad song available on the internet as I pull together a slideshow for the memorial service to be held tomorrow (Oct 3). Maybe I'll post it after the service.

I also designed memorial cards and printed off 400 copies. I am wondering if that will be enough. The Prince George Citizen did a nice write-up about Aaron and invited all to attend the service. It's always a tricky guessing game when planning a funeral because there is no guest list and no means of RSVP. I hate it when you run out of cards I always feel like I cheaped out and didn't print enough. But then I don't like having hundreds left over neither cuz it feels like not enough people cared to…


I don't have anything else to say right now

To the pure all things are pure. To the rest of us.....

I received a phone call yesterday morning from Nancy from my church. Nancy works for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Apparently there's a big convention here in town next weekend. Nancy apologized for the short notice then asked if I would possibly interested in making some centrepieces for the tables. Turns out the woman who was originally going to do it had something else come up.

Since sitting around waiting for the hospital to call doesn't exactly take up all of my time, I had no reason to say no. Before the conversation was over, my mind was already building things with the miniscule fifty dollar budget she gave me.

Nancy isn't part of the decorating and set up crew so she told me she'd get someone else to contact me with details of how many, colour scheme and other things I would need to know. She gave me the name of the woman and I responded, "Oh, she sounds very familiar to me. I must have met her before."

She went on to explain what things she does wit…

Clever? Or just 'whatever'?

Ok, give me your honest opinion. Does this not seem exceptionally intelligent to you. I know I tend to be biased and gush extensively over Xander. Even at times exaggerate my gushiness and enthusiasm for the sake of the blog. But I really do think he's smart. He was here playing yesterday and as unusual as it was, I did not have a camera pointed in his general direction. I wished I had captured it on video. He was playing with his foam blocks from Uncle Jed, which he loves. I put the the bucketful on its side just out of his reach on the floor, trying to encourage him to move forward. At the tender age of six months he hasn't quite mastered the art of moving forward and ends up scooting backwards when he tries to move.  He pushed a couple of times and ended up six or eight inches farther from his goal of the blocks. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but most kids would continue to push themselves away or cry in frustration or get distracted by something else. Not Xander. He looked …

Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

Having been off work for six weeks now and not having a lot of energy to accomplish much physically, I've been thinking. A lot. This is not unlike my life under normal circumstances except that I don't have to dedicate six hours a day to employment.

It's becoming evident that they can carry on at work without me. Not so evident that I can carry on without a pay cheque. Retirement tempts me. Reality sets me straight. But I have a few irons in the fire, so to speak, and we'll have to see where it all leads. Probably right back to work.

But I have decided to start checking things off my bucket list. And writing my book tops the list.

The idea of writing a book has been bouncing around in my head for about 10 years now, so naturally many ideas have emerged from that. Ten days ago on the back of a motorbike somewhere around Blue River I decided there's no time like the present. The book was never gonna materialize if I didn't just plunk my butt in a chair and start…

Just say "Nein."


Apparently it's exciting when the numbers all align like this. The number of weddings and lottery ticket sales skyrocketed on Wednesday, September 9, 2009. It was also an excuse for retail outlets to promote the economy by offering a myriad of "9" related sales. Walmart was no exception.

Numerous times on Facebook that day people posted that Walmart was having a photo sale. You could get 99 photos printed for $9.99. I even had people phone and tell me about this sale. (I dunno, maybe I have a reputation for taking an exorbitant number of digital photos of Xander or something.)

I appreciated people thinking of me and giving me the opportunity to participate in this. However, each time I got a reminder of the sale I thought things through and reasoned why I would not partake in the sale:

Costco is my usual place to print and they are only 15 cents per copy regularly - and I've seen them as low as 6 cents at times.How would I limit my choices to just 99 photos?I re…