Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Holidays

Well, managed to get through another Christmas reasonably unscathed! Went to Jim’s folks on Christmas Day and then to my Mom’s on Boxing Day. Both of us come from such small families that this season tends to be a fairly subdued one. Jim only has one sister while I just have one brother and a daughter of course. Jim’s sister just got married for the first time in the summer so her husband also joins us for the holidays. Jim and I and Sara and her boyfriend, Andre, spend all of Boxing Day with Mom especially as she has now been on her own since my Dad passed away in 2003. My brother and his wife now live in Halifax which is about 1424 km or 885 miles from me, and as they are expecting baby number five, they certainly can not afford to come home for the holidays. He has now been gone over a year and a half but it wasn’t until now that it has really hit me just how much I miss him. Hopefully, Jim and I will be flying out to Halifax in June of next year after the birth of the baby – due date is the first of May so this will give them a bit of time to get settled.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lean On Me

So I managed to get through Thanksgiving 2007 unscathed, and in fact, actually quite enjoyed myself. From here, my Mom and I started to meet every few weeks for coffee and a bit of a chat - always on neutral ground in a restaurant and in public. Initially it was a little bit awkward as it was just the two of us alone together without the benefit of others to insulate us. For me, the combination of this time apart plus close to two years successfully on MMT had mellowed me considerably so many of the things that seemed to irritate me so easily in the past no longer held the same importance or reaction for me.

Surprisingly, my Mother had become a very different person in the interim. Just prior to our reconciling, I had decided that being estranged from my Mother was not how I wanted to remember our relationship should anything end up happening to either one of us - heaven forbid. I didn't want to have regrets over something that could realistically be easily avoided not to mention repaired with not too much effort. I decided that there would be no point continuing to get annoyed with some of my Mother's traits never mind the fact that there was little hope of her changing her spots this late in her life. In my mind though there were a couple of things that I would not compromise on when it came to her treatment of me but I also was prepared to be honest with her and let her know exactly what I meant - no more passive aggressive behaviour on my part!

It seems that my Mom had missed me while we were estranged and must have made a decision herself to try to change her own behaviour. Just the fact that she would even attempt to do this for me was enough for me to now do everything in my power to ensure that our relationship would never derail again. Except for the rarest of rare bumps in the road, we have been rock steady ever since. I was also so glad that we ended up reconciling prior to the attack on Jim and I in May 2008 rather than after it. If we had been estranged at the time of our attack I suspect we both would have always wondered if this had been our only reason for reconciliation even if it wasn't at all. Now, though, we'll never be plagued with this question. Never mind the fact that since our attack my Mom has been a tremendous source of comfort, support and strength and everything else that goes with this whole ordeal. 

Couldn't or wouldn't ask for anything more now cause I don't need to. I've got it all.

peace, love and happiness...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Love Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

I guess I am long overdue to finish the story of my falling out with my Mom. Initially during the summer of 2005, when I severed all communication with my Mom, I was still very much in the middle of a very active opiate addiction, so I barely even noticed what was really going on. All that I knew was that I had one less complication to deal with in the pursuit of opiate bliss. It barely even registered, at least not at first anyway. It is truly amazing just how very fluid an opiate addict's moral compass is capable of becoming depending on the given situation. While there were a couple of lines I was never quite able to cross - I never, ever stole from anyone I knew or loved, or in fact, anyone at all, nor did I steal from businesses or stores, everything else was pretty much fair game. I was the master of rationalization as well, able to convince myself of almost anything as long as it aided me in my pursuit. I was my own worse enemy, nor had I any shame remaining.

Six months after my Mom and I stopped talking, I had started tentative steps towards MMT - Methadone Maintenance Treatment - but these were still early days in deed. For most of 2006, I concentrated on getting better. Even though I had no communication whatsoever with my Mom during this time, I did nothing at all to interfere with the extremely close relationship my daughter Sara had always had with her Granny. They talked regularly on the phone and got together for coffees and lunches. Their relationship continued on without interuption. I did my best to keep my distance so Sara could continue to enjoy this relationship without any feelings of guilt or betrayal. She responded in kind by mentioning any time she was meeting up with her Granny, but this was done under the spirit of our household rules - that is the girls always had to run anything by us before they were allowed to proceed - rather than making a big production waving it in my face!

Christmas 2006 was a bit strange even though it was really no different than the prior one except that I had been on MMT for eleven months and my head was no longer as cloudy as it had once been. Still, it was kind of nice to enjoy a quiet one with just the four of us. By this time, our bank balance was also considerably healthier after eleven months of saving money that used to be spent on our addiction so I had a Christmas to end all Christmases! Everyone was terribly spoilt for the first time in a very long time, plus I put up all new - matching - decorations all over which was something I had only really half heartedly done the prior five or six years. 

It wasn't long before 2006 turned into 2007, and before I had a chance to even blink, it seemed like we were midway through 2007 already. Around the summer of that year, Sara started dropping hints that Granny wouldn't mind getting together with me although initially I pretended not to hear or understand. That fall my brother started doing the same although not quite as subtley. He was much more direct with me when he asked me to make an effort and perhaps come over to have Thanksgiving Day with the family. Sara followed her Uncle's lead and started mentioning this more and more frequently. By now, any of my malice or bitterness or anger had pretty much subsided especially as I had been doing exceptionally well with my recovery. I hadn't used in eighteen months and it was apparent. We were both working full time - Jim and I - and had managed to get ourselves completely out of debt, plus had even managed to put some away into a savings account. We were the pictures of health and everything else that goes with that so I agreed we would come for dinner. I initially agreed for the sake of my daughter as I realized how very important it was to her and how much this had started to upset her. The longer the separation between my Mom and I continued the harder it was for Sara. I started to realize just how unfair I was being to her. 

So, in the late fall of 2007 the healing started to begin.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

It''s Like Christmas Early! - ALMOST

Finally after three years and almost eight months, we've received notification that we've got a hearing with our province's Victim's Compensation Tribunal, tentatively scheduled for February 9, 2012. Hopefully, this is nothing more than a formality although to be fair, I don't really know how the whole system works, and, in fact, their web site is not terribly forthcoming or informative. I certainly feel that we deserve some form of compensation considering everything that we went through and what we continue to go through. While we both now suffer from PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Jim also has to deal with numerous physical injuries as well as brain trauma due to their repeatedly kicking him in the head with their heavy boots. Fingers crossed that all goes smoothly. 

Seems like you can't get some good news without having to receive the opposite. One day last week while riding the bus, I picked up a copy of one of our local newspapers that had been left behind and as I browsed through it, I happened upon a story about a couple that had been attacked one night last summer while they were ordering some food from a street vendor. I remembered the original story from last August as I've become interested in others who are also innocent victims of violent crimes which this couple were. Completely unprovoked, a male and a female, both complete strangers to the victims, attacked them badly enough that the male suffered a broken jaw as well as other facial injuries and required hospitalization. The female was before the court last week where she plead guilty, while the male accused of this attack goes before the judge on January 4, 2012. Imagine my shock when I read his name. He was one of the three who had attacked us! The other two are still serving their sentences in a federal jail somewhere in Ontario. The third had sat twenty five months in our local jail and as he had been arrested prior to new legislation that removed the two for one credit that prisoners used to be able to claim, he ended up being released in May 2010 having "served" a sentence equal to 50 months. He had been under fairly strict probation conditions, plus he was to be under these conditions until May 2012, but I guess this is all relative. I plan on following up with his probation officer to see if I can get more detailed info about all of this. Right now, I am hoping to attend his trial next year but this will all depend how strong I feel emotionally. Will just have to wait and see. You can read about their attack and what they are trying to do to regain some form of peace via the link below.

Finding A Way To Fight Back

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's No Good

So now we're well into the fall. My Employment Insurance has been approved with no waiting period - so to speak - as I am on a Temporary Lay-Off which means that I've only lost my job for the time being and will be called back once the company can afford me. Pretty straightforward EI claim as they've got none of the normal verifying of the reason why an individual is applying. In Ontario, this means that if you are implicated and found even partially responsible for your job loss, EI can deny your application. This also prevents people from quitting their job just 'cause and then apply for EI. Both of these situations automatically disqualifies the individual. At that time, 2005, I was entitled to 60% of my salary but as next to no taxes or deductions were subtracted, it was almost the same amount as my normal salary with all of the required taxes etc were calculated. In my near addled junky mind, all I could think was "Sweet!" Business as usual.

And it was for the first couple of months...sweet, that is, but like anything else, this didn't last. One of my friends ended up becoming our dealer after we ended up having a falling out with our original one. My friend was, and as far as I know, still prescribed massive amounts of narcotic analgesics.  On the first Wednesday of each month he receives/ed 720 8mg brand name dilaudids prescribed by his family doctor.  I had filled this prescription many times in the past for him, and as he was/is not on any sort of drug plan, it cost him about $320CAD every month.

He received these due to some injuries he had sustained during a work accident. As far as I know, him and two other workers somehow ended up being literally buried alive for a large part of one of their work days. When they rescued them all, he had broken both of his legs, some ribs, his right hand and one of the fingers on his left hand. I know that he also sustained some nerve damage in one of his hands. As far as I remember, he ended up being in hospital close to six months. Anyway, initially he never actually used any of his pain meds as he quickly learned that they were much more valuable to him if he sold them outright. Before greed overshadowed everything, he sold his pills at 10 for $100,  though this didn't last very long, or 2 for $25 or $15 each. Do the math. He made a shocking amount of money from this endeavor and as he didn't even use the pills at that time himself, it was all gravy.

Kind of ironic, but as long as there were pills easily and readily available, life continued on, and with it, the feeling one didn't have so much as a care in the world. Not surprisingly, this illusion could disappear in an instant and with no warning. The first time you woke up only to discover that the well had gone dry wasn't so bad. You hadn't yet trained your junky mind and body to go into automatic and painful withdrawal at this mere suggestion. Not yet, but very soon. By the end of this first day without the ready availability of pills, you actually managed to finally hookup. The moment you fixed, you felt returned to normal. Two weeks later when the same situation presents itself, your mind and body are less forgiving and understanding. Start to feel anxious and nervous the longer the day stretches with no sight of relief. Well into the evening, you impatiently wait but you're really incapable of doing anything much else as the waiting taxes every fiber in your body, and now it had started to become more and more frequent and difficult to find opiates on a daily basis.

After a short time, our bodies started to go into withdrawal when no opiates could be located, and this wasn't pleasant. This had started to bother me as obviously having to endure ever increasing periods of withdrawal was by no stretch enjoyable and I started thinking more and more frequently that there had to be something more than this. Also, our main connect had started to lose track of the picture, and had begun treating us with disrespect, and had begun to take us for granted. For the most part, Jim and I tried to buy these pills in bulk. There rarely were no more than maybe a half a dozen smaller purchases throughout the month. Now, one would thing that if one of his customers was buying 260 units monthly that perhaps he would be able to cut them a bit of a break, but sadly no. He charged us groups of ten - sometimes on the very rare occasion groups of twelve - which translated into 26 groups of ten units each, charged at $100 per group, which adds up to $2600 each and every month!

When I say that we were regulars, I truly mean that we were indeed that. I am in no way attempting to inflate our use, and in fact, am extremely ashamed and embarrassed even sharing this info, as it paints a pretty distasteful picture of what we allowed our addiction to become before we were finally able to put the breaks on it. Now for just over 24 months dealing with him, we never deviated far from this number. We almost always paid in advance, and always paid cash - no bartering or asking for them up front, etc. If we did have to request a front, it was rarely for more than a few days. Now, I get why he didn't want to cut us too sweet a deal as he had begun to rely on our money each and every month. Who wouldn't want to receive this amount, especially considering there was no work needed at all whatsoever in getting it? No hustling, no nickel and dime sales, less traffic coming and going to his house because he didn't need a dozen or so more customers minimum to replace the two of us.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Barrel of a Gun

The summer that my Mom and I ended up having our falling out certainly turned out to be a quite a bit more than a mere convenience for me as it turned out. While there had never been any question that we both had been heading down this path ever since my Dad passed away, I most definitely made the most of the opportunity when it presented itself to me and did nothing much to prevent its derailment. Even though we'd been at odds in the past over issues more serious than the one that I finally used as my excuse to sever our current relationship, by this point it didn't matter. Definitely the proverbial straw for me, as there were a number of very legitimate reasons why we could not, nor should not, continue on with our current relationship as it stood.  

At the same time, I knew that I was also motivated by the fact that there would now be one less potential distraction interfering with my current usage. By this time, I was having a difficult time balancing my active addiction with my work and social responsibilities, my family obligations, as well as dealing with the general day to day mundane stuff one tends to encounter as we drift through our lives . So with that stress gone for the time being, I was able to refocus more of my energies on what was becoming increasingly more and more important, and I don't mean work.

Ironically, about a month or so after my blowup with my Mom, I ended up receiving a temporary layoff  notice from my employer stating that I would be required, immediately, to take a leave from work of between 12 and up to a maximum of 16 weeks. At that time, I had been working for my employer, a software company, for a number of years. By the time I received this notice, our office had been reduced to a staff of just over twenty from a high of near a hundred and fifty employees less than a year prior. Even though I knew I was still a valued employee, I also recognized the financial duress the company was currently experiencing.

Plus, talk about timing. Bloody pathetic on my part, but reality none the less. One less distraction yet again. The writing was so on my wall and yet...


Monday, October 24, 2011

Altered States

I've gone through and reviewed all of my links as I had noticed that some were no longer active, as well as discovering a number of new ones. As well as the links that appear regularly as part of my site, I've included this separate post as a means of highlighting the category Altered States | Parents of Addicts as I feel that it is not only an extremely important category, but one that seems to be constantly growing which should be a grave concern for all. If there are other blogs out there that I'm not yet aware of, I would love to be notified so that I can add them to the list.

peace, love and happiness...

Saturday, October 15, 2011


It would be a full two and a bit years after my Dad's death before my Mom and I would actually have our falling out. Our relationship just seemed to get progressively worse over time. My Mother had always been a bit harsh although often I barely noticed as I had gotten used to her treatment over the years. Usually, it was only after someone else took the time to comment to me about it that I would give any serious thought to what I should do, at least that had been the pattern in the past. Once my Dad passed, I seemed to have become more sensitive to any of her criticisms, and increasingly found it near impossible to stand.

My Mother always seemed to have something to say about my looks, my hair, my clothes, my job, my hobbies, you name it and she could find fault. I never really knew why either, nor could I understand why she always seemed so dissatisfied with me. Growing up I had been a straight A student and had received numerous scholarship offers to university upon graduation from high school. I was never in trouble and even maintained a part time job all through high school so that I could support myself financially. In fact, I was able to buy my first car in cash just after my seventeenth birthday and paid for my entire trip to the British Isles the summer I turned 21.

For the near six months that I drove my Dad to the hospital five days a week, she reminded me each and every day at least three times not to be late, and not in an absent minded sort of way. She was very insistent and quite mean about it too, even though I did not once show up late to pick them up for the hospital. And so on...

Now I can't put all of the blame on my Mom's shoulders for our falling out as I was dealing with some serious issues of my own the summer of 2005. I was easily at the height of my addiction, and I was finding it increasingly difficult trying to conceal it from everyone. No one at home nor work or anywhere knew what I was hiding and this secret was starting to weigh me down. With each passing day, I found it harder and harder to keep all my balls in the air.

By this time, we were spending on average well over $2000/month attempting to support our habit, and by then, this was barely covering its maintenance. Obviously our personal finances were starting to suffer because of the amount we were spending. No amount of additional hours at work seemed to prevent our bills from starting to pile up. My nerves were wearing thin and I was starting to become careless at work. I knew a meltdown was imminent and felt at a loss at being able to prevent it. 

I needed to share my burden with someone and I thought at the time, that my Mother might be the one, but once I had, I quickly realized how desperately wrong I was. Initially, she seemed so very empathetic but this lasted barely 48 hours and then all hell broke loose. It had taken so much to confide everything and she had promised that this would remain between the two of us, but it didn't. Almost instantly she was on the phone to her sister telling her what an awful daughter she had and who knows what else. She actually told me all this the next time we talked. I was shattered. When I asked her why she did exactly what I had asked and she had promised she wouldn't do, she really had no defense.

I remember mumbling something to her during that call that I couldn't do this anymore with her, that I needed to get well and the longer she was around to poison everything, the longer it would end up taking me to get healthy again. I quietly hung up the phone and from that moment on had no communication with her for eighteen months. I didn't look back and in many ways, these eighteen months ended up being some of the happiest and relaxing ones of recent memory. Even though this fracture looked as if it was irreconcilable, in the end, it turned out to be the complete opposite, but another year and a half was to pass before I was able to find out.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mommy Dearest

Over the years, my Mother and I have had, at best, a somewhat strained relationship, although for the past few years, we somehow were both able to put this to rest and have enjoyed what has very much felt like a normal and healthy one. To say this has been like a breath of fresh air does not even begin to do it any sort of justice. As this was something I had dreamt my entire adult life of having, I was careful to ensure I did nothing to jeopardize it, although I wouldn't have just accepted it without question had I felt that there might be possible negative consequences. In fact, in order to reach the previously unattainable, I had had to completely severe absolutely all ties with my Mom for near two years. Drastic action begets dramatic results it would seem.

Growing up, there was just Dad, Mom, my slightly younger brother and myself. When I was five, my parents decided it was time to leave the land of our birth, Ireland, to try our luck in another country halfway around the world, Canada. While I have some very vivid memories of this time, I certainly was far too young to fully comprehend the drastic, not to mention dramatic, changes occurring within our little family. Immigrating to a new country is daunting enough when one is young, single with their whole life ahead of them, I can't even begin to imagine the stress involved for a couple just a few years away from forty with two small children in tow! Not only this, but they had to do it completely on their own as no one else from either one of their families had done this, nor would anyone ever do it. 

What this meant was that neither my brother or myself had the luxury of being part of an extended family while we grew up. Although we had a total of nineteen cousins, we rarely ever saw any of them as an ocean separated us and still does. While we were fortunate enough to spend many a summer vacation visiting and getting to know them all, it was never quite the same as if we had been able to share our daily life on a regular basis with them. On occasion, I sometimes found myself filled with envy if one of my friends had the opportunity of being able to get particularly close to one of their cousins simply because they could - location...location...location.

Yet, in reality, as I grew up, this was really nothing more than a minor handicap because all in all, I was darn fortunate enough to have a pretty idyllic childhood. My folks were amazing enough and neither myself nor my brother were ever victims of any sort of abusive treatment. We were treated more than fairly, and certainly didn't lack for much of anything growing up. I seemed to naturally gravitate towards my Dad, while my brother seemed to be my Mom's favorite. I most definitely was my Daddy's Little Girl, and I surely managed to stay this way until he passed away in 2003. We shared similar interests and I always found it much easier to confide in him than I had ever found in my Mother.

While she doted on my brother who could do no wrong in her eyes, I struggled to simply get along with her at times. She could be overly harsh and critical of me if allowed, but as long as my Father was alive, it rarely happened. From time to time over the years, I'd find myself worrying what would end up happening to our relationship once my Father was no longer around to temper our behavior and treatment of the other. 

Then in 2002, my father was diagnosed with cancer. After his first month of radiation and chemo, he found himself getting weaker and felt that he could no longer drive himself safely back and forth to the hospital. As my Mother had never learned to drive, he asked me if I would drive him back and forth to his hospital appointments. Of course I agreed without hesitation but this also meant that I would be responsible with having to take him five days a week, every week for approx five to six months. 

Although this obviously greatly impacted my life as well as my own immediate family’s, I didn't mind doing it in the least and would gladly have done it again without hesitation. As some days I was required at the hospital for near eight hours, plus had to be there Monday through Friday, I quickly found it was impossible for me to continue to work full time while I did this. Luckily, I had an amazingly empathetic boss and was able to take a six month leave of absence without pay remarkably easily. Tragically, she found herself in a near identical situation with her own father a mere two months after me so...

I began driving my Father on a regular basis about the second week of July and continued to do this every day until just before Christmas of the same year.  My father managed to finish all of his radiation and chemo treatments a scant six days before Christmas Eve. Christmas that year was nice, although we already knew that my father had ended up not responding well to either one of his treatments and wasn't going to be really getting any better. 

This was confirmed before the third week of January had even started. In the interim from Christmas til this time, I had returned to work and was trying my best to settle back into some sort of routine. I was barely back at work, when my father was admitted to the hospital for what ultimately turned out to be the rest of his life. From the moment he went in, I made sure that I visited each and every day though it became increasingly harder to see him suffering so much as it got closer and closer to the end.

For the first time since I had been told that he had cancer back the previous June, I started to really feel stressed and overwhelmed. I often found it quite challenging trying to juggle a successful return to work while meeting my own immediate family’s needs - Sara was only twelve when all of this started and had yet to lose anyone close to her from death so...

At the same time, I found I was at the beck and call of my mother without the benefit of any safety net. As I knew that this was incredibly hard on her, I tried not to take some of her many and frequent outbursts personally . I got it. She felt powerless to help her life partner, a man that had looked after her now since 1956 and visa versa. All faults aside, they really were a truly magnificent couple who loved each other deeply until the very end.

OK, this entry now seems to have taken on a life of its own, so in the interest of looking towards a bit of a conclusion on the way to wrapping this all up, I'm not going to bore you with all of the specifics of what ultimately caused my Mother and I to have this serious falling out. Instead, the following anecdote should illustrate quite nicely what I was more of less up against.

By the time my father finally passed away the second week of March, I was pretty much overwhelmed with so many different emotions, never mind feeling so very, very tired. Through the last week of his life, I had spent every night at the hospital sleeping beside my father in a bed that his nurses had put together for me. The following day the only thing that I wanted to be excused from was having to take my mother to the funeral home to finalize our earlier arrangements. I was so very shattered that I just didn't have it in me to do this. As Jim and I had taken Mom there prior to Dad's passing, I figured now that it could be my brother's turn, especially as he had only visited him twice the whole time he was in hospital.

At the time, I really didn't give this request much thought at all, but it soon became quite apparent that perhaps I should have. My Mom was a little bit demanding of my time the first few months after Dad died. After working hard all week, I rarely had a chance to slow down once the weekend arrived as I was required to chauffeur my Mom around so she could get whatever errands she needed to get done. It seemed as if every place that I happened to take my mother, whenever she was offered condolences, she just had to stop so she could also share a particular story with everyone. 

All puffed up and proud, she told everyone who would listen what an absolute rock my brother had been to her, and how she wouldn't have known what to do had he not been there to look after everything the day after my Father’s passing. Canonization for sainthood must surely be around the next corner. Not one mention of what I had done for five months, nor even the last three months that he spent in the hospital. Nothing at all, nary a word, and, to make matters worse, she did all of this right in front of me, and not just on one occasion, but multiple times. I started cracking up in short order let me tell you.   

This was barely the tip of the iceberg and now that my Father was no longer around to temper my Mother's actions and treatment of me, I found our situation intolerable not to mention untenable. The longer it continued, the more I felt poisoned and shattered, and increasingly more and more depressed. Ultimately, for my own self preservation, I ended up having to sever all ties with my Mother. It turned out to be easier than I had ever imagined, and in the end I managed to avoid my mother and her abuse for nearly eighteen months. 


Monday, August 15, 2011

The JW Marriott Rosseau Resort & Spa

I can easily say that this is some of the most beautiful scenery to be found anywhere in Ontario. Took my breath away that's for sure. We were fortunate enough to recently spend what was a truly luxurious and decadent four days here at this resort and spa which is located on Lake Rousseau in the Muskokas - a few hour drive north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada for any that don't recognize any of these names! Jim's sister had her recent wedding here - July 30, 2011 - and it was simply magnificent. Words can not even begin to do it justice. I will post very, very soon with all of the wedding details as this was one massively extravagant affair! Shudder to think what the final tab was - their Dad picked up the entire weekend! I mean, the entire wedding, a nice, cozy, intimate affair with 82 of her closest and dearest. Yikes. Gulp.

If you're interested in seeing more of what they have to offer, check out their web site.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Three Years

It has now been exactly three years since we were attacked and Jim stabbed by three completely unknown and random strangers. In that time, our life has changed so very much. Most of the changes have turned out to be for the good, but not all. The changes that we didn't want or expect are the ones that we continue to struggle with, and do our best to overcome at the very least. Even though this amount of time has passed, there are still so many reminders of what happened that day.

After the first officer arrived on the scene, the paramedics and other support personnel were quick to follow. Everyone was wonderful to both Jim and myself. I would think that all of twenty-five minutes passed in total from the time that we knocked on the tenant's door to the time that the ambulance pulled out of the parking lot. Once things started happening, they started moving rather quickly. I know that it was just before 6pm when the ambulance left with Jim. I had wanted to be on it with him so very badly, but the police managed to convince me that I would be better served remaining behind for the time being as it was important that I give my statement while everything was fresh in my mind. In the end. they were probably correct. Jim was taken into surgery immediately, and even if I had gone directly to the hospital, I still wouldn't have been able to see him until he was out of surgery which turned out to be close to 1:30am Tuesday morning, or almost seven and a half hours after he left the apartment building in the ambulance. At least while I was giving my statement to the police, I didn't have time to dwell on anything else!

It took almost two hours for the officer to take my statement, but then, I was able to remember quite clearly almost everything that had just happened. I've always had a pretty great memory and it certainly didn't disappoint me this time. I don't know how great my recollection would have been had they waited to take my statement, and now, in hindsight, I am glad that I didn't have to test it. The officer was utterly fantastic, which was quite surprising considering how old, or young as it would be, he was. He couldn't have been much more than twenty six, and by the initial look on his face when he had first arrived on the scene, hadn't been exposed to too many gruesome sights as yet. I am a smoker, and he allowed me to smoke while I gave my statement - I had to sit in the back of his police car so I imagine that allowing anyone to smoke in there was fairly rare. He was patient as he took down all of the details. Midway through, I could hear quite a bit of excited chatter coming through his police radio. Suddenly, he stopped to pick up his radio and rapidly jumped out of the car, calling back to me that it looked like they had managed to get one of the three attackers. Even though he had rolled the window down for me earlier, there was no way for me to leave the car on my own as the back doors automatically lock. I could do nothing but wait for him to return.

About fifteen minutes after he had bounded away from the car, he returned all excited. Apparently, they had managed to capture one of the three not too far from our building. He had been hiding across the street behind another apartment building's large green generator. The officer said that while he had somehow managed to change his clothing, he had forgotten to change his socks which were completely covered with Jim's blood. I guess he resisted somewhat as the officer said that in the end he had to be hogtied! Imagine that. Once back, we picked up where we had left off. I managed to finish my statement just prior to 8pm. Even though the police had offered me a ride to the hospital, by then one of my friends had managed to show up so her boyfriend was able to give me a lift. In the meantime, Sara and Katie had gotten to the hospital and were waiting for me to get there. When I arrived, they told me that Jim was in surgery, his second one since he got there! 

Initially, they had taken him into repair the two and a half inch gash on the right side of his throat as that had been the most obvious injury. It wasn't until he was out of that surgery and upstairs getting an MRI - I believe this is what was done next - that they noticed he had an immense amount of internal bleeding.  It was discovered that both his liver and spleen had been lacerated badly, plus one of his lungs had been punctured and since collapsed. It was this second surgery that ended up lasting the longest, and from reading his medical report which we had to request for our lawyer, I finally discovered just how very serious and how very touch and go, this had all been. 


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Party Animals Review | BBC2 2007

I thought I'd try something a bit different for a change. If nothing, it keeps things from getting all first ever review of one of my favourite series...

This eight part BBC2 series originally aired overseas in 2007, although I didn't have a chance to watch it  until last year when TVO, here in Ontario, first presented it. While I enjoyed it immensely, I didn’t fully appreciate how truly wonderful it actually was until very recently.  I happened to get another chance to watch it again and, got to watch it all at once giving it my undivided attention.  I was not disappointed.

Diverse, classy and clever, Party Animals is an incredibly gripping drama series which follows several young political researchers and advisers in Westminster as they struggle to balance their burgeoning careers with their ever increasing turbulent personal lives.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that it also just happens to star two of my absolutely favourite actors, Andrew Buchan (Scott Foster) and Matt Smith (Danny Foster), both of whom are starring in one of their first feature roles! They are utterly mesmerizing as is the main female lead, Shelly Conn(Ashika Chandiramani). Through each of them, we are given an intimate view of the political landscape through very different lenses. Danny is the determined researcher for Home Office Junior Minister Jo Porter and is about to make an enormous mistake which could possibly undermine his integrity not to mention his beloved job.

His brother is the complete opposite. Scott is a confident, in fact near arrogant, lobbyist who finds his world literally is turned upside down when he meets the beautiful Ashika Chandiramani. She turns out to be like no female he has ever met. For the first time, he finds himself in uncharted territory becoming increasingly uncomfortable with his own person and embarrassed by the reputation he had acquired. Ashika is the chief adviser to Shadow Minister James Northcote  with who she is having an affair.

When she meets Scott, she has just started to question this relationship with a married man and finds the attention from Scott flattering and somewhat bemusing at the same time. She too finds herself in unknown waters yet is intrigued by the excitement she feels whenever she encounters Scott.

As the series progresses, the lives of these characters intertwine in monumental ways with some truly devastating and heartbreaking results. It is easy to see how their personal lives end up being so bloody messy when combined with their character’s naked ambition, desire for power, mixture of sex and friendship and love never-mind the daily stress of having a career in politics! It’s enough to leave the viewer dizzy and breathless and not a little frustrated.

If you are anything like me you will soon discover that the more Party Animals you watch, the more you'll want to watch. As it is also a challenge to find, anyone having difficulties locating a copy is more than welcome to contact me as I’d be happy to help you out!

Andrew Buchan and Matt Smith as brothers Scott and Danny Foster.


...And just like that, I've found another blog of a recovering addict...when it rains it pours...

This blogger says that she is a 26 year old over-comer of many addictions and mental illness and this is one of her outlets to dealing with an addicted mind that still fights. Very strong religious emphasis.


peace, love and happiness...


Life of a Recovering Drug Addict

I just found a wonderful blog written by a former addict who looks as if they're well on their way to a successful recovery and wanted to post the link for anyone that might be interested in checking it out. There seems to be a scarcity of journals/blogs etc written from the perspective of the recovering addict as of late, while it seems that on a daily basis a new journal is started by yet another parent of an addicted child which is just so utterly tragic. Each one I come across seems to make my heart feel just a little bit heavier. It is so very sad. I know I'll be thrilled the day that I find no more new additions to my ever growing list of links.

Life of a Recovering Addict

peace, love and happiness...


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Condemnation Part Two

The day of our attack and Jim's stabbing was pretty uneventful. It had been a quiet, lazy day as most middle of the month days can be in apartments. Nobody moving out, nobody moving in. The weather was nice so there was little physical work to do outside. Most of Jim's current work orders had been completed and any administrative tasks had been dealt with by me earlier in the day. Just before five that afternoon, I stopped into say goodnight to the girls that worked in our Regional Office. While I was in there chatting, the Office Manager asked me to check on one of the units on the sixth floor as they had just received a noise complaint from one of their neighbours. I left the office immediately and jumped on the elevator which took me up to the sixth floor in no time. Even before I got off the elevator, I could clearly hear audible sound coming from down the hall. There seemed to be what appeared like loud crashing noises being made as heavy furniture or items came crashed to the ground after having being thrown into the air.

I knocked fairly loudly on the unit's door while announcing myself clearly at the same time. After a brief hesitation, the door opened to reveal a young, black male in his early twenties. When I asked to speak to the tenant, he advised me that she wasn't home at the moment. I asked him if he knew why I might be here, and he answered that he did. He also told me that they were all getting ready to leave as they had just called to request a taxi to collect them. I thanked him for his time, and reminded him that it was the actions of himself and his friends that would reflect positively or negatively on the tenant as she was responsible for any of her guest's behaviour, whether she was there herself or not. He apologized to me, promising that this would be the end of it. While I was talking to him, I took the time to survey as best I could the state of the unit. I noticed that a book shelf had been overturned, as well as the sofa and coffee table. This would explain the loud thumps I had previously heard to be sure. While I was only able to see two others while I was standing at their front door, I could not help but notice that both were most definitely under the influence of something. Regardless, there wasn't much more that I could do so I thanked the young man that had answered the door and returned to my own apartment which was located on the main floor at the time of the attack.

By the time I got back to our apartment, it was close to twenty past five which meant for all intents and purposes we were finished work for the day. Jim and I were getting our jackets on when our phone rang. It was John from the sixth floor and all he said as way of introduction was "They're at it again." I asked him if he would call the police as they could only receive a complaint of this nature i.e. a noise complaint from another tenant and not the property's owner or representative. He responded that he "couldn't be bothered" but he still expected Jim or myself to do something about the situation, and to do this immediately! If it had been any other tenant, I most likely would have ignored the complaint but because it was from this particular tenant, I knew that if neither one of us responded that he would most definitely submit a complaint to our Regional Office regarding us. I also knew that he would be peeking through his own door waiting for one of us to return to the unit in question. With all of this in mind, I grabbed Jim to come upstairs with me figuring that as soon as we'd dealt with the complaint, we could be on our merry way to do some shopping at the mall!

If only we had managed to get that far. We both could hear a bit of noise as we stepped off of the elevator but nothing like I had heard earlier. This time Jim placed himself directly in front of the tenant's door while I stood slightly off to his left. He knocked a few times with authority, but didn't have a chance to announce who it was. We both heard the deadbolt and lock just prior to the door opening up. Literally the second that the door opened and without any sort of warning, a fairly large fellow jumped across the door's threshold and pushed Jim extremely hard across the hall and against the door to the opposite unit. Our building has proper fire doors which are by nature extremely sturdy. When the back of his head hit that door, I could literally hear his skull cracking. It not only seemed like such a loud sound but the only sound. Jim was immediately knocked out and didn't end up regaining consciuousness until the beating was near its end. In short order, two other pretty big fellows came running out of the apartment.

At one point, one of the three assailants took a moment to push me off to the side, otherwise all three of them were intent on savagely attacking Jim. It was utterly incomprehensible in so many ways. They all seemed to be following the lead of the first fellow to attack, and were mimicing everything that he was doing.  If he was pummeling Jim with his fists then so were the others. If he was jumping in the air and kicking Jim with his heavy boots, then so were the other two. It was deeply upsetting as I felt complete helpless and useless. I didn't know what to do after my intial attempt at jumping on one of the attacker's backsides, in the vain hope of distracting him, had been quickly and effortlessly stopped! From a great distance, I could hear my own voice screaming at them to stop, that they were killing my husband and that I didn't understand why they were even doing this to us. My brain couldn't seem to remember how to dial for emergency services although my fingers somehow managed to dial 911 all on their own. It wasn't until I managed to barely hear a distant voice offering assistance that I even realized what I had done. The kept repeating that I needed to tell them where I was in order for them to send any assistance. Eventually I managed to get my cell phone to my mouth, and was coherent enough to obviously offer our address to them.

Probably the entire attack lasted all of two minutes, perhaps a bit longer though I honestly can't say. Near the end of the attack a fourth fellow came out of the unit and actually attempted to help me and Jim. He tried to pull the others off of my husband in an attempt to get them to stop. When the attack first started, I was absolutely convinced that they were not going to stop until Jim was dead. That's what it looked like to me. I had never witnessed anything so utterly savage and out of control as these three lads appeared to be to me. Then as suddenly as it all started, it seemed to end. I don't know at what point the four of them made the decision to stop or even why they made this decision. All of a sudden they seemed to have taken flight, and just as quickly, were gone from my sight. I couldn't even begin to tell you which direction they took or how they even managed to get off of the sixth floor. The moment that they were gone, the only thing that I could see was Jim, and the state that they had left him in. I couldn't get over how much blood there was. It seemed to be everywhere. It was soaking through the carpet rapidly and there was so much of it, you could actually see where everyone had stood as footprints had been left behind. There seemed to be an equal amount of blood all over the door and wall behind Jim as well as all over both of us. We were covered.

At that point neither one of us was aware that a weapon had been used. I never say the knife and Jim said that he never felt it. It wasn't until the first police officer had arrived on the scene that a weapon was even mentioned. He noticed something peculiar about Jim's jacket and t-shirt - if you can believe it, Jim was actually wearing a red jacket and similarly colored t-shirt at the time of his attack !!! By this time Jim had regained consciousness but was having an extremely difficult time talking and breathing. We would later learn that this was a result of one of his lungs being punctured and subsequently collapsing at the scene of the attack. After closer examination, it looked like he had approx seven decent stab wounds on his left upper arm, five on his upper back, four throughout his head, six on various parts of his chest and one dangerous looking wound near his throat on his right side. They had managed to literally split his forhead in half. There was a constant stream of blood flowing from this wound. All in all, he did not look in very good shape.



Sunday, May 01, 2011


It's been almost three years since Jim and I were attacked, and Jim stabbed multiple times, while at work. Even after this amount of time passing, I still find it rather difficult to talk at length about this event. Just thinking about what happened that day still feels so surreal to me, almost as if I am watching it happen to somebody else and not myself. I have pretty much avoided even mentioning that day if at all possible in any of my entries. The few times that I did bother to reference the attack, I pretty much made sure that this is done in passing and as casually as possible. Immediately following the attack, I was still so much in shock that it was relatively easy avoiding this topic. Even today, I find it difficult to wrap my head around what ended up happening to us that Monday afternoon, and how, almost three years later, we are still suffering from the events of May 12, 2008. Now, though, I feel I am ready to share all of the details and specifics of this attack and stabbing that has been so absolutely life altering to me and my family - kind of mind boggling what can end up happening in what was probably no more than two minutes in length!

At the time of the attack, Jim and I were Building Managers for one of the larger high rises in the city. The building we were responsible for looking after had always been a pretty quiet and peaceful one. In the half year that we had been there, there had been no unusual or significant events that stood out as particularly unusual. Pretty much a gravy job all in all. Jim and I shared a single position so to speak, and we divided our duties accordingly. For the most part, I did all of the administrative work related to this position such as rent collection, maintaining building's rental ledger and ensuring all vacant units were in "rentable condition" et al , while Jim looked after all of the physical aspects i.e. cleaning and maintaining all common areas of the building, garbage and snow removal and any unit repairs as required.

Obviously, being a Building Manager of a reasonably large apartment building - 96 units over eight stories - you can absolutely be assured that there will certainly be some very special moments, not to mention a stereotypically odd assortment of characters residing within these eight floors. Some days were definitely easier than others, as were some tenants, but all in all, we knew we had it pretty easy. The majority of the tenants were easy to get along with and undemanding at best. Everyone seemed to respect each other's space so intervening in tenant disputes of any kind were practically non-existent. For the most part, I rarely found any of our tenants irritating or annoying, but like everything else in life, there will always be an exception to the rule!

The exception of our building just happened to be one of our sixth floor tenants who had lived in the building with his wife and two young sons about five years at the time of our attack. Where all of the other tenants were a joy to interact with, he was the complete opposite and then some. You could count on hearing from him on a daily basis, even on weekends and after hours which were normally supposed to be free of any work related issues, not to mention your time off and away from work! John, as he will be referred to from now on, would literally be waiting on the main floor for one of us to unlock our office bright and early every morning without fail. There was always some important nugget of information that he felt compelled to share with us without delay. It took every bit of self control not to over react and lose it on him. I don't think I've counted to ten as often as I had during those six months. Jim and I eventually learned how to effectively deal with him so that we were able to minimize any interaction with him while leaving the impression that we were taking everything he said seriously and then acting appropriately. It took a bit of time and finesse but in the end we became extremely adept at handling this particularly loathsome tenant!

Now, to compound issues somewhat, the Regional Office of the company that we worked for just happened to be located in one of the empty units on the first floor of the building that Jim and I both lived in and were responsible for maintaining. As well as annoying us on a daily basis, he also paid a visit to the girls working in the Regional Office every day. You have no idea what an utter treat this one tenant could be, never mind how much crap we were expected to suffer because of him, but suffer we did. At the end of the day, he was nothing more than a bit player in the bigger, more important picture - or so I thought. Work is work is work, and most of the time, it didn't come home with me - so to speak. Obviously, when you work where you live and live where you work, it tends to be a little bit more difficult to keep the two separate, but this is certainly not impossible. I always ensured that there were very specific boundaries created with the tenants, and then, made sure that they were all very much aware of what these boundaries were. John would prove a bit challenging to these boundaries, and ultimately, because of him, Jim and I would find ourselves in a most untenable work situation!


Monday, April 25, 2011

She's Now Legal Anywhere!!!

Last Sunday was my daughter Sara's twenty-first birthday. We had a very quiet and intimate dinner at my Mom's. Now that my brother, his wife and their four children live in Nova Scotia, there are just me, Jim, Sara and her boyfriend, Andre, Katie and my Mom. Only the five of us which was nice and relaxing, and completely different then our usual family dinners. As much as I adore my brother, the moment they all arrive, chaos ensues. His kids range in age from one to 13 now, and when we all get together they tend to get overly excited and start bouncing off of walls especially as the day goes on and they eat more and more sweet treats! So compared to other years, our celebration was positively subdued. It was an especially nice change of pace for Mom as she normally gets herself all stressed out over serving the dinner. To this day, I do not know why as she is a brilliant cook. She cooked a turkey to boot! We were also kind of cheating cause we were celebrating Easter as well as Sara's birthday. This way Mom wouldn't have to do it all the following weekend, plus now our time would be freed up to go to Jim's parents at their convenience.

There is a bit more that I wanted to say, but I just noticed the time and I have to dash. Shall be back later on today!

peace, love and happiness...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And The Band Played On

One of my all time favourite movies was produced and shown by HBO in 1993 and starred Matthew Modine, Alan Alda and Saul Rubinek to name just a few. It was based on the book of the same name, And The Band Played On, which had been written and published by Randy Shilts in 1987. Unfortunately, he was found to be HIV positive in March 1987 and died from AIDS in early 1994. This book is an extremely carefully detailed account of the first five years of the AIDS epidemic and all of its major, and minor, players and their struggle to be heard and taken seriously by the government, press and public at large. At the book's initial publication, its author was widely regarded as America's most expert journalist on the AIDS epidemic primarily due to the fact that he had been the only reporter in the world to have worked full-time covering AIDS as the story developed having joined the San Francisco Chronicle in 1982. Thanks to the enlightenment of his employer, he was able to devote himself almost exclusively to reporting on AIDS and it is this reporting that ended up providing the core of his book. The book itself is utterly riveting and is so much more than simply a history of the early years of AIDS. It is beyond majestic. It's about politics, people, and institutions and their responses of fear, denial and indifference, courage and determination. It is also easily my favourite book of all time. It is also a book that I have just recently finished after having finally located a copy after years and years and some more years of searching for it! Not only did I actually manage to find a used copy in mint condition, the entire cost of the book, plus its shipping and handling from the UK to Canada, cost me less than $8.00 Canadian after calculating the currency exchange. Is that not utterly insane? The second I had located this book, I transferred the required funds from my PayPal account along with all my particulars. Within a week's time, the book had arrived in my mailbox all safe and sound!