Sunday, February 26, 2012


As in half way through the pain management program at the Health Region's Chronic Pain Clinic.

Friday was the end of week three, with three more to do.

I want to share a couple of observations. I think these are important.

1. Every morning, we have at least a couple of half-hour exercise activities. (We usually exercise for about half of that.) Some standing, some sitting, some on the floor. In addition to that, each of us has a personal exercise program — tailored to our needs. We're supposed to attend to that, too; some we'll do in class; some we do on our own.

The physiotherapists working with us noticed something Thursday, to which they drew attention. After only three weeks, we are noticeably more agile. A good thing. Believe me!

2. But it's going to take a lot more work. Most of us are crippled, at least in part, with muscle injuries. When muscles are injured, they don't give us much support. Which, in turn, leads to either pain or more pain.

The goal, in part, is to treat pain by getting muscles working, so they can support our bodies and decrease pain. As I mentioned, we're making progress.

Nonetheless, it takes about 12 weeks to heal and reorganized injured muscles. To re-align the fibres they way they're supposed to be. We've done only three weeks so far. Lots more work to do. But I'll tell you, this is really tiring work. When I get home for lunch, I'm beat!

§      §      §

It's been trying to snow all weekend, in the Great White North (which is actually the Grungy Brown North this year).

When it's winter in the city
And streets are brown and gritty
Then the city's not so pretty
As you know.

We got warning of a major storm planning to blow in yesterday (Saturday) morning. I could see the heavy clouds hanging over the city. And then . . . and then the snow didn't some. No matter how hard those clouds wanted to snow, t h e y   j u s t   c o u l d n ' t   d o   i t . So, instead of the six inches we were expecting, we got about one. Snowdust blowing around. Sheesh! Much sound and fury, signifying nothing, as "Bill the Bard" Shakespeare put it. Meaning we're going to have a dry spring for seeding crops. Not an auspicious start. Not a good thing at all.

Blessings and Bear hugs, friends.

Cowboy one: Ya wanna got to the theatre tonight and see the moving pictures?
Cowboy two: What's showing?
Cowboy one: It's supposed to be a pretty good Eastern.

That was for the Academy Awards, which doesn't seem to have a category for Easterns. Awards show was held last night (in case you missed it, like I did). Frankly, Scarlet, I'd rather be blogging.

Friday, February 24, 2012


An Interesting Thought from the Bipolar Diva

Blessings and Bear Hugs, Everyone!
(with or without the Second Amendment)

            Please do not shoot the Bear with your second amendment arms.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


It's the end of the second week of our program. And, as in the ambulance business, things are picking up.

It was a four-day week, with employees of the Health Region having Friday off (the beginning of a four-day weekend). So we were very active while we were together.

Probably the key item of the week was getting my own personal physical therapy program. Exercises I can do at home to strengthen particular parts of my body. Exercises I need to do at home. Exercises I need to do in order to recover much of the strength I had lost during my disability time. By recovering strength, I can re-energize the hurting part of my body, and keep from re-injuring old wounds, or aggravating old pains. Oh, and by the way, the fact that you're hurting does not mean you're actually causing major injuries. A bit of hurt normally means you're stretching the muscles back into shape — the muscles which actually protect the injured areas of the body. Fascinating.

The other thing I learned in particular was the notion of pacing. Most of the people who have been through the program since 2004 have been pretty gung-ho people. Over-achiever types. Which means we often re-injure ourselves in the process, and become un-gunged (so to speak). The trick we've learned is to
1. figure out about how much we can do, and
2. start our rebuilding programs at about half of what we can do.
By starting slowly, we decrease the chance of injuring ourselves during the long-term recovery process. Simple, when you think about it. Though a challenge for the gung-ho, who want to get the job done, and done now! So I'm learning a new way of Bearing up.

§   §   §

In other news, on Thursday, it snowed. On Saturday, there was water running, flowing, cascading in the streets.  Such has been our winter this year. No wonder I'm so totally confused about hibernating. 

As well, Bear has begun tracking down his family history. My mother's family is traced back to Devon, England. The oral history goes back to Wales. That is all well documented. My father's family — I'm surprised. I had no idea. A mixture of German and British origin, I can take it back into the late 1700s in Upper Canada (now, Ontario). I never knew my Grandfather had so may relatives — and I can go back to his Great-grandfather. So far, no identifiable Loyalists (people who came north during and after the American Revolution of 1776 or thereabouts). They were called Loyalists because they were loyal to the British Crown.

Our family lived primarily in the Niagara Peninsula, where a number of key battles were fought in during War of 1812-14 — the last time Canadians and Americans were shooting at each other in large scale operations. Since then, we've really tried to avoid open hostilities. Ironically, the American government of Lincoln et al., was afraid that Canadians (still seen as British) might try to invade the US when Federal troops were busy fighting Robert E. Lee and his boys. Certainly, the British were allied with the Confederacy. So multiple division of Federal troops were massed near the Canadian-American border. But on the Canadian side, political people were busy negotiating their independence from Britain, and had no time to be meddling in America's heartaches. The differing approaches, revolution and negotiation, are still at the core of our respective nations' psyches. In 1865, the Americans (militarily) settled their differences. In 1867, Canada became a quasi-independent Dominion within the British Empire. Queen Victoria was very supportive of the Canadian initiatives; one could say, in the end, that she was amused. And much more.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Um. Well. Week one of the Chronic Pain Clinic's treatment program has come, and (almost) gone.

And since some of you asked for the (gory) details, here they are. (Those not thrilled by gory details can skip this, though — truth be told — there isn't much gore.)

When they advised that this was a multi-disciplinary process, they were right on. For example, this week I've had time with the Occupational Therapist, a Physical Therapist, the Psychologist, and the Nurse (a friend, who happens to coordinate the program). We've covered everything from where I hurt, how badly I hurt, what I do about the hurt, and what I hope to learn, accomplish, (and endure?). We also have exercise time, twice a morning, for half an hour at a stretch (so to speak). That's where we get bent into something, and not (hopefully) bent out of shape. They say, "Only do a little bit, don't hurt yourself."

So you know what happened to the Bear, don't you.


Back, bent out of shape, or something. Frustrating, at any rate.

I think it happened while the Physical Therapist was checking out my mobility. But by Wednesday, lunch time, Bear was uncomfortable. (They're going to claim it was self-inflicted; I'm saying the Physical Therapist told me to do it, and I'm sticking with MY story.) And I'm still not comfortable. Sigh!

There is also lots of time for "Self-Management." That's where you try out things you have been learning, on your own. That can mean putting ice on injuries, or heat, or reading up on what you have been doing but don't understand. Or practising some of the exercises that we've been shown (as if we didn't get enough of that, already).

BTW: putting something cold on an injury as soon as you can; that helps to limit the swelling, and pain. Put it on for about 15-20 minutes. Later, you can use heat, but first, the cold. And not cream or something in a jar. A frozen pack for putting into the summer picnic cooler is grand. So is a bag of frozen peas, or beans, or corn — that you won't be eating later. But double wrap whatever it is in a towel first. You want to cool the area, not freeze it.

Classroom stuff. Last event of the morning. Chronic Pain and Sleep (developing better "sleep hygiene" when you've got chronic pain — actually quite fascinating). Goal setting — what I want to accomplish while in the program. General Discussion, where we share our experiences. Relaxation. That was this morning's session. I got so relaxed I slept through most of it. Hibernation inside a building! Not quite what I expected, but, well, when it happened, I decided to accept it with gratitude. I got home, had lunch and slept all afternoon — which is what I've been doing most afternoons. (They warned us early on in the process that afternoon sleepiness was one of the things which might happen; I said, "YES!") I told you I'd be hibernating half days on this program.

If you want more details, ask away. There's nothing to hide (so far).

Please Bear with me; there'll be more next week.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Well. It's like this.

I was nicely settled in my den, stretched out, then curled up. It's still too warm to be really comfortable, but I thought I would give it one more try. Found the right spot to lie in so I wouldn't get wet from the melting show. I was resting delightfully. Oh yes; this was going to be a great winter after all. I had started dreaming about warm sunshine, clear brooks with crisp water, the scent of all the flowers — things to which I would awaken in the spring. Hibernation. Finally!

And you know what happened, don't you. (Such clever people you are.)

Yes, I was woken up! Bounced out of my bed in surprise. As if Tigger had found me and insisted on playing.

I was not amused.

Bah! Humbug! @%#^$&)@!! (That last bit is Bearspeak; it's one of the few expressions which I cannot effectively translate into Human language.)

So, the bad news is that my hibernating ended abruptly. With a bit of shock and awwwww! OK, more than a bit.

Despite that dismay, I discovered I had been awoken for a good reason!

Tomorrow, I begin a six week course at City Hospital (one of the three hospitals in River City). Every morning, Monday to Friday. It's the Chronic Pain Centre's Treatment Program.

(For those of you who new to this blog, I have lived with chronic pain, mental and physical, for a long time. A lot of "war wounds" shall I say — things which have been treated but which have never entirely healed. And on the other side, chronic depression since my teens. Those of you who regularly drop in already know that I am a "peculiar" Bear.)

Right. I've received the outline for the program. It includes things like goal sharing, movement (stretching), relaxation, and time in the pool. (How many of you knew that hospitals have swimming pools in them?)

I've been advised that the program is actually fairly strenuous, and it might be wise not to plan too much for the afternoons. (So I'm planning to hibernate half-days; beats no hibernation at all.)

This is a real step forward. The plan is not to cure the pain of those who are participants; the plan is to teach us how to live creatively with our pain, and reduce the negative experience by doing good things to/for ourselves. I consider that to be a big plus! I expect to pick up some useful ideas. (Actually, I have already learned some interesting things.)

Needless to say, I'll let you know what is happening.

And if I'm restless in the afternoon or evening, I may drop around to visit.