Thursday, December 29, 2011

Let it snow

Well with the new year coming soon, thought I would write a bit about the last year.

Funny someone the other day commented on wishing us a happy new year, saying after the difficult year we have had.

I thought, now why would they say that?, we have had a great year. It has been tumultuous and with many stressors, but all and all a great year.

I guess compared to the previous years, that is.

Last New Years eve I was determined to stay up until midnite to make absolutely certain that the year was OVER, totally OVER. Oddly enough, things changed after that.

The whole move back here was hard, but as expectedly so. I guess we have gotten through this year with a goal, of a life that was as stress-free as possible. A life that we can be doing the things that we like to do the most. And I do think we are getting closer all the time.

Our kids are doing well, Dylan, the plumber who was in accident in September is still in a cast and it has been very trying to keep him getting to his doctors appointments despite him being screwed around by the clinics, being sent to the wrong places etc etc etc. He gets so mad at the system he does not want to go to the doctor at all, however he has a very fragile fracture that can lead to chronic wrist pain if it does not heal properly. From all we can tell, this ordeal should be over soon and we can stop humouring him.

Josh is into his third year of university in the humanities, sociology, psychology anthropology political scienc etc. It was hard to explain to him why the whole family might not want to watch the movie about the final year of Tolstoys life... He is extremely well read on politics, and Ken and I have a lot of fun talking with him, but the conversations would not be the type many others might engage in.

He came home this term with questions about what he needed to get a social work degree. WE looked it all up and he has almost all the credits he need to apply for the fall, and the grades look in keeping with what he has, so it appears that at long last he has direction. Everything we read about social work seemed to be JOSH..... a job with his name written all over it. THere even seemed to be jobs out there in this field. So we are excited and more importantly HE Is excited.

We have taken up snowshoing this year, and I have included a photo from a few weeks ago. The guy who has built our house, with his wife, have taken us UP to the snow. We drive up in a 4 seater, 4 wheeler to an area of higher elevation and more snow. It is great fun.

I am getting closer to the 3 year mark for my cancer, closer to the “beat it” stage. Hard to know if it is ever safe to tempt fate by using those terms..... like “beat it” or Survivor”.

I have been feeling pretty cocky for quite awhile, and recently was doing some research for a woman in India with the same cancer.

She posted several questions on line and I wanted to get her the newest information, and since I am a doctor, I have access to complete studies for free.

Turns out that some things have changed with regards to prognosis and cancer. They have looked in the past at status of lymph nodes as a prognostic indicator, and if the cancer has spread to them it means the risk of recurrence is higher. There is something else that has recently gained a lot of attention with regards to several cancers, including prostate, cervix and endometrial cancer, and that is Lymphovascular invasion.

Lymphovascular space invasion (LSVI) denotes a worse prognosis, and thus warrants more aggressive treatments. what this means is that the cancer has invaded the lymph system, and/or blood vessels of the organ of origin, in my case the uterus.

Why is this important? Well I guess it underlines how important the aggressive treatment was and I find it kind of scary, wondering some days if I really have beat it, and when I CAN say I have beaten it, BUT anyways, I am still having the pain after meals, guess I always will, it seems to be a lot worse lately.

I am not really worried, but I am not totally unworried, if that is a word.

Ken and I have been working hard to get the clinic so that it is running seamlessly. There has been a lot of extra work involved, but it IS going great. We have incredible staff that we just love working with, a real team. We are getting further and further from the politics.... well sort of.

I recently had an interview in a newspaper (the closest city to us), essentially telling “our” side of the story on how we left Interior Health, and I have also convinced another doctor who has left to tell them HIS story, so that the public can see that the doctors are leaving, not because of “personal reasons” as interior health tells everyone, but that Interior health is really driving the doctors away from Chase.

Hard to be totally out of politics.

I have also found out some very cool news, that all US citizens no matter where they are, can vote in the US elections. You just have to sign up. Ken and I became US citizens about 3 years ago. SO I feel very special, being able to have a say in the election of a country whose political policies affect the entire world, yet only US citizens can vote for who leads this world power.

The other really interesting tidbit..... What act can cause you to LOOSE your US citizenship???

To join the military of another country.

I am throwing around ideas for how to spend the third anniversary of the cancer, and the latest idea is to fly to New York and have a day “in the studio” with Ben Wisch, the producer of my last cd, and record my new song “It is so hard to be a good dog”

And then send it out as a single. WOOF WOOF.

Speaking of dogs, Rex is now over 15 years old. he gets around and does not seem to be suffering, but he is dribbling urine all the time though.

So we have gotten him a doggy diaper, essentially a cloth diaper that we wrap around him with a “kotex” in the appropriate place to catch the urine...

Just thought I would put that out there in case anyone else ends up in a similar situation :)

Happy New Years, and love to everyone.


Monday, November 7, 2011

winter comes

Hi all
Well it is starting to get cold here and we are snuggled into our warm little house.
The geothermal system was installed last week, and we are just waiting for a few checks on the furnace before switching it over to full geothermal heat.
The heat will come through coils in the ground that circulate 8 feet down, where it is warmer.
They then go through some sort of compressor that, I do not totally understand, but that is how we "extract" the heat.
The big thing on this system is that it requires electricity to circulate the fluid, and to run the fans.
However the only source of heat in this area would either be a propane furnace, Or an electrical one, and if you are totally heating your house with electricity it is expensive.
We did not do this for the money, because it will take us years of electricity savings to pay for the rather expensive geothermal system, but the way we look at it, we can pay for the system when we are working and then when we are retired, we will not have to pay large electrical bills.
We are hoping to get a solar panel next year that ties into the grid. This area gets far more sun than Oregon and so that should also cover the costs of electricity, and eventually we will have no bills, and no dependance on "outside" sources.
I just glanced outside and it is snowing.

I would love to post pictures but lack a part to the camera, hope to rectify that soon, in fact hope to write more soon. Life is really settling down. We have a new computer system in our office which was a huge step, and one that I really had not planned on making given that Ken and I both work part time, but for a variety of reasons it had to be done now. The BC government reimburses us for part of the costs, since they want everyone to be on electronic medical charts.
It has been a huge expense and we have had to shut down the office for a few days and pay for the staff to be there, for training sessions.
Anyways it is working and we are all learning quickly about how to use it and so life should soon settle from that perspective.
We came up to Canada with the plan of working "for" someone else, so that things like employees, payroll, ordering supplies, dealing with computers, we thought.... would all be taken care of by someone else. Turns out when you work for someone else you lose any level of control over your situation and we started to feel that we had jumped out of the pan and into the fire.
We left Bandon because the hospital situation, we had battled, for years. We could see what administration was doing and no matter what we did we could not change it.
The years of stress over that situation, we felt, perhaps, might have had an effect on me getting cancer, and so decided that whatever it took we were NOT going to stay in such a "poison" environment.
We got here and immediately started to see that being employed by Interior Health was in many ways, the same situation. Only difference was that we left an issue with ONE administrator out of control, and came to a new situation with MANY administrators out of control. We decided that we just could not go on and deal with these stressors on a day to day basis. The only way we could carry on in medicine is if we could be in a situation where we could just practice medicine, and in order to do that we needed to have our own clinic.

So here we are at "this stage of life" basically starting up a clinic, learning how to do payroll, how to order supplies, etc etc, and once we are past this setting up stage, we WILL have a situation where we do not have to deal with politics anymore. We figure we will live a lot longer and happier if we can just go to work every day and not even have to think about really bad administration.
So the idea is to QUIT complaining about all the work at the new clinic and just be glad we do not have to deal with any of the Wathen's of the world, or the Interior Health's of the world.

It has been extremely sad to read about the Bandon hospital. Dr McClave recently showed me a a letter I sent to the board, in 2003, in effect, predicting all of this. While I read about all of the "excuses" given for why the hospital is doing so poorly I would have to say it is really really bad administration, that has not only NOT dealt with issues as they came up, but he has created many of them as well. He has been running that hospital on a personal level for years, making decisions based totally on his own personal biases, which inevitably have always been wrong.
He has not had any one seeing over him as he has always made sure that board members are elected who will just believe everything he says no questions asked.
The sad thing is that several people are losing their jobs, but I see no evidence that he will be.

Mad world, its a mad world.

I had my appt at the cancer centre last Friday and got the thumbs up, CA 125 is low, and no evidence of recurrence. I go every 3-4 months.
I am still having a lot of the effects of the radiation, but I guess I am working with it, trying to balance what I eat etc. I am beginning to lose weight, as I just cannot eat full meals, and some days am so nauseated I just cannot eat much. I guess that is not such a big deal at this time, to lose 20 lbs would be great, not sure after that.

We have been living in our house for about a month, it is not finished, however most of the unfinished "bits" are things we just have not decided what we are going to do. For example we have two bathrooms with showers tub etc, but we do not have bathroom sinks yet
Basically because we wanted to do something clever and have not sorted out all the details yet.
Our main bathroom I have decided to use an antique sewing machine, tile the top of it and place the sink on the tiles.
it has all these cute little drawers.....
the master bath we have not sorted out yet.

I will write soon love janet

Monday, October 31, 2011

a song placed in a movie

Hi all

I have been meaning to write, but cannot get the pictures out of my camera, lost that little piece that is supposed to transfer the pictures
However in the mean time I have gotten some news that I think is pretty incredible.
Several of my songs have in the past been chosen to be place in "libraries" for companies who try to place songs for movies.
Today I was informed that my song "for whom" from the cd "For all of his wealth" has been chosen to be in the next Men In Black movie entitled "The Dark Watchers".
THe director/writer has written about me on the website

We have exchanged several emails since then and he is quite interested in my stuff. He seems to have a common "stealth activism" principal as me.
He said that though he writes Sci Fi movies, there is a deeper message, and this one is "back to the garden" sort of message, which I can see why he chose the song.
He says on the site that that song speaks to everything he believes in.

Yesterday we started on our geothermal heating system which involved pipes that circulate fluid 8 feet down in the ground, and will be our main source of heat.
I guess I do have lots to write about, but am so excited by this new news I am having trouble collecting my thoughts.

Anyways check out the site.
I phoned Josh and told him about it, and he said he would check out the movie, I said it would not be out until 2012 and he said, well the world will have ended by then.......



Monday, September 19, 2011

Movin on up

To the east side......
Well sort of.
We have (for all intensive purposes) moved into our new house. The "intensive purposes are: sleeping, and watching our one tv show an evening.
So far our house has been drywalled and much of it has been painted.
Our friend Vinnie is coming back up from Oregon to finish the tiling projects.
We have this huge basement and so have almost emptied the storage unit (one more small trip), into our basement. This has a huge sentimental importance to us.
Our stuff is in it "final resting place".
We left Bandon formally in June 2010, informally in January 2010. We made trips weekly to move more stuff into our Eugene house. We worked to get everything settled in Eugene, until last January when we decided to move back to Canada. So once again we packed everything up in boxes, numbering each one (for border crossing)
We moved half our stuff into a furnished rental house in Chase, and the other half in a storage facility. THEN in April we moved ourselves and half of our stuff out to our property, into an RV and 2 large sheds. (we left half the stuff at the storage facility in Chase).
Getting settled into a house is a big deal, and we feel we have done it several times over the past several years, and it is hard, emotionally, when it keeps changing.
How the bathroom is going to look, where the pictures will be hung?

SOOOO this is why we are so excited this time, we really cannot foresee any reason that we will leave here. We have good job situations, our kids live nearby (for better or worse). Our parents live about 4 hours drive away from here (each in a different direction ).

Ken's father died about a month ago. It seems he had a heart attack about a month before that, and then a series of blacking out episodes, that in the end turned out to be heart arrhythmia's.
It was very sad, but in the end he went very quickly, and so that was a blessing.

Our older son Dylan was in a dirt bike accident, running straight into a tree. We are very indebted to the friend whom he was riding with.
Dylan had a head injury and when his head hit the tree, (though he was wearing helmet), he went into a seizure and lost consciousness for about 15 minutes.
His friend wrestled to get his helmet off, made certain his tongue was not blocking his airway and literally carried him back to the truck, then took him to the hospital. He sustained a small bleed to the subdural part of his brain. He was confused for the first day or so, but then he was fine mentally. He also fractured his scaphoid bone, which is a bone in the wrist that can be a real toughy to heal. It is elongated, and only has one blood supply, and so if the fracture goes through the middle of the bone, there is a part of the bone that has no blood supply. If it does not heal, it can become a serious chronic pain issue as well as hinder the ability to move the wrist. Since Dylan is a plumber this is kind of a big deal. So he has a cast from his finger tips all the way to his arm pit, something that is very hard on him. Nonetheless, he played paintball this past weekend and is back to work. So we will be anxious to see the xrays at the end of this month. (he likely will need a cast for at least 3 months)
If anyone is interested..... (we are not),... his bike is fine....

Our garden has been incredible we have about 15 quarts of tomato sauce, 40 pints of dilly beans, 10 quarts of pickled beets. I have started just freezing the tomatoes, but we do not have a freezer until thursday and so am hoping that the weather will hold out a few more days, as there are tons of tomatoes left to be harvested. Our new house has a cold room where we will have boxes of carrots. Potatoes did not work out well, and we did not own this place soon enough to get a crop of garlic.
We have about 40 pepper plants and they are each loaded with about 20 peppers.
THe really big lessen I learned this summer in my garden is to try to avoid cross pollination.
I planted several types of winter squash, pumpkins etc... and I now have a wild assortment of unrecognizable squashes....
Also I planted several varieties of peppers and the plants have a variety of colours on each plant. The problem is that the ones that are the "wrong" colour, are also smaller and odd shaped, and many of them unusable. So next year I will have to expand if I am going to have different varieties of the same plant.
I did get several cantaloupe, but I do not think that the warm weather will hold out long enough to ripen them.
The peppers I am going to grill/blacken and then freeze.

Our house has a full kitchen, as far as cabinets etc, however the sinks are not hooked up to anything (son...paintball).... so no plumbing got done this weekend.
The appliances are arriving on Thursday, and so hopefully a very functional kitchen by next weekend.
Since we are sleeping in the house, we really wanted at least a toilet hooked up. The first two nights it was off into the woods in the middle of the night, last evening Dylan gave us all the instructions to hook up a toilet. So it was pretty darned exciting to hook it up last night, see if flush, sans any leaks.....

Ken and I are both working at the little clinic down the road now. It is just great, there is a lot that is going to go into initial setting up of clinic, but once it is complete, it will be great.
I work 2 days a week and he works 3 days. Currently he has to go into Chase to work in the ER once a week, so he is only here two days a week.
Just thought I would update the blog, as to our whereabouts.
Much Love

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Janet and Ken Bates first blog

Hi all, I write as we are creeping up a long hill in our very fancy, but rather flawed sprinter van.

We are on our way to Williams Lake (my home town) for a show tomorrow night “in the park”.

Today is my 55th birthday, and a very special one.... well they all are aren’t they?

I am 2.5 years (almost) from my surgery for stage 3c endometrial cancer, and like the posters say, every birthday is a victory. The newer posters say “lets hope for a world with less cancer and more birthdays”

I am sure that war kills more people than cancer does, and so I would also hope for a world with less wars and more birthdays.

Pretty darn amazing what can happen in just one little year. Last year on my birthday, I never would have imagined that I would be living back in Canada just a year later. Who would have thought?

Ken and I moved back to Canada after 14 years of living in the USA, last February. Since then we have purchased an acreage, created a very large garden, and got a pretty darn good start on a house.

We have also done our doggondest to raise a ruckus here. Well we did not plan it that way, but we do have a way of creating conflict. We started out back in Canada working for “Interior Health Authority”, and just assuming all was well in health, after all we were back in Canada.

We discovered that despite all the wonders of universal health care, there are still rogue administrators (just like where we came from in the US) So to make a long story short (really is there such a thing as a short story?).... We are essentially starting our own clinic just 2 blocks down the road from our acreage. How good can it get?

There is a pharmacy next to our clinic, and a grocery story across the road, and a wonderful coffee shop next to that that serves fair trade coffee (and has expressed an interest in playing my cds and selling them there.

Oddly enough there are 2 hardware stores another block away in different directions, and a bottle depot in between. There is a wonderful lake a half a mile down the road, and a beach where Ken and I can launch our Kayaks.

(I am basically a fraidy cat, and so I have just purchased one of those hoby Kayaks that I can sit on top of and pedal with my feet)

We live in a town called Scotch Creek, which is on the North side of the Shuswap lake and about 12 miles from the trans canada highway.

There are about 2800 people who live on the north side of the Shuswap lake in one of 4 small unincorporated towns.

We are currently living in a Park Model home which is like a bit RV with a few winterizing features. It seemed quite big (it is 32 feet long), until mosquito season hit (yes, you just knew that there HAD to be a flaw in paridise)

Now we have been staying inside more and it seems to get smaller by the day.

Our new house next door is going to be about as cute as our mini cooper is, but we have at least another month before we can even think about moving in, likely longer.

They are currently working on insulation, and from there will be starting to drywall. Things were going well until this week when we discovered that the company that put in the ducting for the geothermal heating system, did not do a very good job. So we are at the point of wondering if we need to completely tear out the ducting and start over with another company, or just stick with what we have. You see all the ducting will be covered up with the drywall, and so this is indeed a timely issue.

Of course you have the one company who seems to have taken a lot of shortcuts (Literally) and ran their ducting through some of the plumbing and just CUT the plumbing lines.... yes the JUST CUT THE PLUMBING lines, which is pissed off the plumber to no end, and he is not about to forget it. AND the plumber is our oldest son and so we are not about the forget it.

It is apparently VERY Bad etiquette to cut the plumbers lines. THen they put the furnace ducts right where the builder had put a door in the basement.....

SO the builder if very pissed off at them too.

So our builder (who really thinks that geothermal heat is a waste) has gotten another guy in to do a quote to fix it. Well this other guy has essentially said that the entire ducting needs to come out and be totally replaced. and he is going to charge basically a small fortune to do this. We are not sure he is not being just a tad melodramatic about all of this, I mean there must be SOMETHING that the other guys did right. OR he has found out that we are both doctors. (as opposed to two part time doctors who just lost their shirts in the US economy)

Geothermal heat is where you run pipes a few hundred feet into the ground to extract the heat that is maintained under the core. EVERYONE tells us that it will not pay for itself in our lifetimes, but we keep telling them it is not about the money, we just want to do something right for the environment.

We are getting closer to Williams Lake so for our first blog, I will leave it there.

Much love to all

Janet Bates and Ken ..(perhaps he can write some of these too)