How To Take Care of Your Winter Feet

After living in Canada for a year and a half, I have had to re-learn how to do foot care. I gave up on foot care after I left ballet. It wasn’t important to take care of my feet regularly in sunny California or rainy, humid London because the climate didn’t require it. After my first winter in Calgary, I thought, “Yay!! No more foot care for at least 3 months!!” I was dead wrong. I still had to take care of my feet in the summer. It should have been a clue when I heard the following quote.

“Canada is not for the cold of heart or the cold of feet.” – Pierre Trudeau

Before I Share My Foot Care Advice, A Few Things:

Disclaimer: I HATE feet!!

I used to be a ballet dancer, so of course, I hate feet.

Don’t worry. I won’t be sharing any pictures of my dancer’s feet!

I have Small Foot Syndrome because everyone I knew was surprised I had small feet, even for a dancer. Still, I am happy I knew about foot care before I moved to Canada, even though I have a strong case of foot care fatigue. Winter foot care applies to the summer too. Don’t think you can’t get problems by walking a lot in sandals. I only call it winter foot care because winter is the dominant season here.

Prevention is Better than Cure:

That is extremely true for feet! When you get new winter boots or even any type of shoe, you learn where the rub points are. The best thing you can do is put Band-Aids or Moleskin on the areas before going outside! When I was in ballet, I would tape my toes prior to putting my pointe shoes on. That drastically reduced the number of blisters I got! The same thing is true for putting Band-Aids on areas where your shoes rub before you go outside. If your feet are blister-free, try to keep it that way! I used microporous tape and made sure it was good quality. Bad quality tape does NOT prevent blisters! At all. Band-Aids work well for wrapping my toes in shoes though.

Additionally, be mindful of how you put your shoes or boots on and take them off. I’m serious. That can determine whether you get blisters. Last winter, I kept my boots laced and slid my feet into them. It didn’t matter that I had Band-Aids on my heel. It still dug into my heel. Sliding my feet into my boots moved my socks into the wrong position too, even though I didn’t know it. Once I loosened the laces before putting my boots on and made sure my socks were in the right position, no more blisters on my heel!

When I lived in Colorado, I learned how to ice-skate and enjoyed that sport for three years! I found the lessons I learned in not letting my socks wrinkle and not sliding my feet in my boots are similar to putting on ice skates.

A Note About Boots and Sub-Zero Temperatures:

Too many layers of socks can give you blisters too. Blister prevention is critical in sub-zero temperatures because frostbite is a danger once the temperature drops to -20 C or below. Have you ever seen Scott of the Antarctic starring Sir John Mills? Well, it shows how damaged skin leads to frostbite. Know how many layers you need inside your boots and make sure they don’t wrinkle as well! Last winter, I walked a total of 20 blocks when it was -30 C with a windchill of almost -40 C. It was my first time doing something like that. Before I left, I inspected my hands and feet for damaged skin. When I left, I automatically knew that if I hadn’t checked for damaged skin, I would have turned back. When it’s too cold to be outside with damaged skin, no amount of layering makes it feel better. IYKYK.

Blister Cures:

If after all the prevention, blisters still happen, here’s what I do. Have you ever had a painful bubble of skin and wondered whether to pop it or leave it? Here’s my answer: Pop it. Plus, if you follow my steps below, it will feel a lot better, and faster.

  1. Soak your feet in warm/hot water with unscented Epsom salts. Scented ones irritate your skin. Move your feet around because it helps the blister stop hurting sooner.
  2. When your feet get wrinkly, or when the blister stops hurting, take a sterilized implement (I use nail scissors or a nail clipper) and burst it. Or get someone to burst it for you. Note: if waiting for your feet to get wrinkly isn’t an option for you due to nerve damage, wait until the blister stops hurting to pop it.
  3. Keep your feet in the warm water until the pain goes away.
  4. Wrap it snugly in a Band-Aid (it needs pressure). You can put something to moisturize the skin too if you want.
  5. Put on some socks that you love and put your feet up later (I will explain in a minute what my recommendations for that are).

You’ll be amazed at how much faster your blisters heal!

Cracked Skin:

When I was a ballet dancer, putting lotion on my feet was VERBOTEN after starting to dance en pointe! I basically went 8 years without moisturizing my feet while I was in ballet, and then it was another 10 years of never needing to do it. When I moved to Calgary, it felt brand new to me to start moisturizing my feet.

I found some foot masks at Dollarama which are great for moisturizing or exfoliating. I use them once a month during winter. Additionally, I use a cream that is dermatologically approved. In terms of cream, I like to use a balance between ones that are dermatologically approved and ones that are environmentally friendly. My favourite brands are both Burt’s Bees (for environmentally friendly) and Cerave (for dermatologically approved). It’s a shame that so far, I haven’t found anything that has both qualities. I’ll bide my time though. Here’s what I do: I keep an organic, environmentally friendly cream with honey in my bag. I apply it before I go outside in subzero temperatures and reapply while outside as needed. I also use organic, environmentally friendly face cream. When I need something to moisturize deeper into my skin, I use dermatologically approved cream.

When I was living in London, there was this solution that I bought called Surgical Spirit. I know, kind of a creepy name right? It was an alcohol solution that contained castor oil to prevent your skin from cracking. It toughens your skin without drying it out. I used it every night after my bath when I was in ballet. If liquids were still allowed on planes, I would go to the UK and fill up a suitcase with Surgical Spirit! But, since I can’t do that, Mum figured out how to make it! With her chemistry background and my ballet background, we make a good team!

Recipe for Surgical Spirit Substitute:

  • 1 cup Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
  • 1/4 cup Listerine
    • Note: It must be Listerine! It has the required amount of methylated spirits.
  • 1 tbsp Castor Oil

Mix together well.

The reason this works so well is the alcohol breaks up the dense fat molecules in the castor oil. Give this a try and let me know if you see a difference in how tough your skin is!

Calluses, Corns and Plantar Warts:

I keep a steady supply of callus removers and corn removers. Plus, if anyone gets a plantar wart, god forbid, we have home treatment supplies for that. I’m currently treating this plantar wart that I have had for years without knowing it, and doing it aggressively! Summer is the time to treat plantar warts because I’m not shoving my feet into winter boots! One thing I have not tried yet, but will likely try next year is getting a medical pedicure after putting my winter boots away. That way, my feet will be all refreshed for summer. I’ll let you know how that goes!

My Mum knows that if she sends me to the pharmacy to get one thing for our feet, I will come back with things to replenish our supply of what we currently have! She’s fine with it because that’s the ballet dancer in me! We joke that we should buy stock in Life Brand, Dr. Scholls and Compound W!

Footbaths:

Remember the post I did about the best material possessions I got since moving here? There’s a reason why some of those items have to do with feet! A proper footbath is an investment here, not a luxury! During the winter, I use it once a week to get rid of dead skin. A buildup of dead skin is a bad thing when you have months of winter ahead of you!

I deliberately got a footbath that runs for an hour. Twenty minutes in a footbath is not enough to get rid of dead skin! Originally, I bought a footbath with a 20-minute limit, but the motor started to smell after 10 minutes, even when I used it the first time. A strong motor is imperative! I also use a pumice stone and scraper on my feet when my footbath is done but the water is cooling down. I change the pumice stone and scraper every 6-12 months.

Nice Socks and Leg Pillows!:

After I have had a rough day on my feet (or not), there’s nothing I love more than wearing nice socks and raising my feet on a leg pillow! In the post I referenced in the previous section, I talked about the leg pillow and reading socks that I got. I personally love leg pillows that are adjustable. Mine can be used in four different ways! It benefits circulation to raise your feet to your heart level on a regular basis. But there are some other benefits. Sometimes, my skin gets this burning feeling when I wear shoes too long. Putting my feet up relieves it, but also wearing special socks.

I wear different socks depending on what I need. If my feet are too hot, I just go barefoot. Sometimes, I need something super soft against my feet because the skin feels tender, so I wear my reading socks. I can’t believe I didn’t discover toe socks until my mid-20s! They would have been a lifesaver in ballet! I have moments where the joints feel bad and putting on toe socks relieves the joints because it spreads my toes a bit to relieve the inflammation. As a former dancer, I absolutely LOVE good-quality socks! You would have thought I had a major sock fetish if you knew me when I was in ballet!

I have some other hacks for footcare and winter self-care, but that’s another post! Hope you liked what I had to say about the subject from a dancer’s perspective. What do you do for foot care? Let me know in the comments!

From Self-Care Challenge to Well-Being Days

Hi everyone! Hope you are all preparing for a lovely Easter! I’m going to have a relaxing Easter and do one of what I call my Well-Being Days. My Well-Being Days started as a Self-Care Challenge and have flourished into something amazing. Read on to find out the process!

My Initial Self-Care Challenge:

I want to go back to when I first moved to Canada. Little did I know that I would start a habit that would change my well-being. It’s hard to do self-care when moving to another country because too many things can happen at once. If there is one thing life has taught me it’s to prioritize my well-being when times are good and slow-paced. Then, when times get hard, or even fast-paced, I have the resilience to see it through.

My nerves were frayed for the first month I was in Canada. When we first arrived, Mum and I were heavily dependent on my cell phone. I had to use it far more than I normally do. I was exhausted, which meant it took a while to get things organized. The only escape I could find was in reading and writing. In my first full month (November 2020), I decided that I would take a few days for a self-care challenge. I chose one day to devote to finances, one day to just organize all the crap that had accumulated, one day off from my phone, and one day to just rest (and I mean REST!). I ran those days by Mum and she thought it was a great idea and wanted to do them as well.

The Results of the Self-Care Challenge:

After each of the days, I found myself thinking, “Wow! These kinds of days should not just be a luxury! We should do them every month!” Do you know what was REALLY funny? Mum was thinking the same thing! I find self-care challenges overrated and words like well-being overused. This time, it worked like a charm! I guess desperation was the motivator to kick-start something lasting.

Our Well-Being days were born! We learned the first time we did them that the days should have guidelines and few if any, hard and fast rules. Over time, we added more days to our Well-Being Days. Will I continue my Well-Being Days once I start my own business? Heck yes! I am not a fan of working myself to death. Been there, done that and it’s not happening again! I’m going to whip a dead horse here. Brutally. These kinds of days should NOT be a luxury! I have found they are an effective burnout prevention tool. Okay, it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough. Anyway, here are my Well-Being Days and what they entail!

Well-Being Days
Well-Being Days

Money Day:

Do you know how people in finance say that you should set aside some time every month for your finances? Well, this is the day I do the majority of my finances! If I can, I save all the heavy-duty stuff for this day. I am fortunate that Mum and I have worked out a mutually beneficial system. My Dad is still currently in California, but I feel like he’s grateful that Mum and I have this Money Day. I can’t wait to introduce this to him as well as our other Well-Being Days!

Deep-Cleaning Day:

This one has been a newer edition to our Well-Being Days. Here’s the story behind this one. Last October, Mum and I were planning to clean our place thoroughly before winter, but then she got sick. For a few months, we completely forgot about cleaning the apartment and just let things gather dust. I have heard stories from people I know who have taken care of parents and they completely forget about their living space. Sometimes, their house will literally crumble around them.

In March, we got the urge to clean one room at a time and we got through it! We decided to do a Deep-Cleaning Day every month while also making a point of staying on top of the little chores when it’s not Deep-Cleaning Day. The little chores make Deep-Cleaning Days easier because our place collects a LOT of dust!

Organizing Day:

There is some overlap between an Organizing Day and a Deep-Cleaning Day. At first, we did some deep-cleaning on an Organizing Day. Then we realized there are some things that need to be done separately from a Deep-Cleaning Day. The things that are prioritized for an Organizing Day are papers, emails and digital files, or anything else that needs some straightening up.

It’s amazing how much useless paper, emails and digital files accumulate in a month! When I first started the Organizing Days, getting rid of the useless crap was quite tedious! Now, it’s just a matter of cleaning out what accumulated in a month! Additionally, it helps to have a temporary filing system, so that when the Organizing Day comes around, the files can be moved to our permanent filing system with relative ease.

The best source I have ever encountered about filing systems is Randy Pauch’s video on Time Management. Mum and I agreed early on from sharing an apartment that, to quote Randy Pausch, “A filing system is absolutely essential”. The part on filing systems starts at 25:34

A filing system is absolutely essential! Starting at 25:34

No/Limited Tech Day:

This is one of my most important Well-Being Days! I have become increasingly aware of just how much technology stresses me out. It took a while after starting a No Tech Day to realize that I need boundaries on tech in general. I have also discovered differences between essential and optional tech use. The reason why I say it’s a No/Limited Tech Day is that sometimes things come up on that day that I absolutely need to take care of and it’s necessary to use tech to solve them.

One exception to the day is if there is something good to watch on CBC Gem. You have probably figured out by now that I’m obsessed with CBC Gem! It is an affirmation that tech can be genuinely fun!

Overall, having this day from the get-go has made me more mindful of tech. My life changed for the better when I gave up my personal social media accounts. I use IG and Twitter for this blog on my own terms.

Another thing I have noticed is that when someone sends me a message with a certain tone to it, I think to myself, “Were they just doomscrolling on (insert social media site here)?” Each social media site has its own flavour of doomscrolling and I can see it more now that I don’t have personal social media accounts. That’s not to say I don’t fall down a doomscrolling rabbit hole, but I do something that does not involve tech to cool off. Plus, when I get messages like that, I don’t answer immediately. I wait for that person to cool off. Of course, I cringe to think that I did the same thing. It’s not at all intuitive.

To the people who were also affected by my doomscrolling, I apologize!

Rest Day:

This is another Well-Being Day of great importance. Naps are non-negotiable. Plus, I tend to lie in bed and read A LOT! I think one reason why Rest Days are important to me is because of living so far north and the sunrise and sunset times really messing with my body clock, even with SAD lights. Time changes are the weirdest thing. If it’s not the sun rising at 8 am in the winter that’s messing with me, it’s the birds singing their dawn chorus happening between 5 and 6 am in the summer.

It’s amazing how in this day and age that you literally have to force yourself to SLOW. THE. FUCK. DOWN!!

Pampering Day:

Sometimes, I’m not able to do everything I want to on my Rest Day, so this day is for things like footbaths, face masks, bubble baths, OR even MORE reading! I also like to treat myself and Mum to something special from our favourite patisserie. I could do a whole photo album of the pics I have taken of their food. Sometimes, I get us a treat on the other Well-Being Days too, like the Money Day or Cleanup Day or Organizing Day. After all, those days are more hardcore and it’s nice to have a treat at the end.

Fun Day:

My next Fun Day is Easter Monday! On that day, anything goes! Sometimes, I try something new. Sometimes, I devote myself to my other hobbies. My favourite thing to do is go outside. If I can go to a park, even better. This makes me think of the Big Bang Theory when they have Anything Can Happen Thursday.

One thing I have learned from this day is even when it’s not a Fun Day, it’s wonderful to be so close to nature. Sometimes, I need to go to the river and just discharge from something that’s stressing me out.

Creative/Arts Day:

I make a point of eliminating unnecessary tech use on this day! As Steve Jobs discovered, tech kills creativity. Have you ever wondered why he and Bill Gates and tech executives won’t let their kids use technology? Exactly. Creativity is best when your mind is quiet and clear, so I make sure mine is before this day happens.

I do like doing stuff for my blog on a Creative/Arts Day, so I make an exception for that. Otherwise, I like doing stencil drawings and listening to music a lot. Sometimes, I find new ways to be creative.

When Well-Being Days Don’t Work:

The one time Well-Being Days don’t work is when emergencies happen. There is too much going on that has to be dealt with on the spot, and there is a period of time afterwards dealing with the fallout. When Mum got sick last October, we didn’t get back to our Well-Being Days until the New Year. If we needed to rest or have a few hours of no technology, we did it. If we had to organize our stuff related to the emergency, we just got it over and done with! When you think you’re done with one thing, another thing comes up and you just have to zip it and then savour the serenity when it’s done!

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try to take care of yourself during an emergency, or for a while afterwards. It’s important to understand what is possible at times like that. When you can take a moment for yourself, be grateful! Remember, self-care is a necessity, not a privilege!

For the Future:

I had originally started doing a Dutch Immersion Day. Then some changes happened. We found another way that we can possibly stay in Canada. It could still fall through, but the plan is that we will move to the Netherlands if it does. Plus, we don’t feel like it’s a good time to move to Europe with the refugee crisis happening and the higher cost of living. Now, learning Dutch is more lowkey.

Will I add more Well-Being Days in the future? It’s hard to say. I don’t want too many, then I won’t have some good ones to look forward to. I can tell when I’m about to have one of my Well-Being Days because my body responds in such a way that it cries out for them.

Sometimes, things don’t last an entire day, or I’m not able to follow through for an entire day, but that’s okay. Even devoting a few hours to one of these days makes a difference. That affirms to me that these days are a necessity.

Happy Easter to you all. Have fun or rest, but enjoy whatever it is you are planning to do!

Dos and Don’ts At Hospitals During COVID-19

After my recent family emergency, I felt it was important to say some things about how hospital etiquette has changed during COVID-19. So, I decided to do a post about dos and don’ts for hospital patients and family members during this pandemic. I will also say some more things that I didn’t say in my previous post. Again, I will be talking about medical issues that people may find disturbing.

Additionally, if you want to share my post with credit, please do! It’s important information. Please note, my post is kind of location-centric though.

Dos:

Be Familiar with the Current Hospital Situation:

I can’t emphasize this enough. When we were in the Bay Area between March and October last year, we knew that some of the hospitals had COVID-19 under control and some didn’t. We kept an eye on whether or not that changed.

When we moved to Calgary, we learned that right before the pandemic, our newly elected Premier was starting to cut public health spending. Obviously, Alberta Health Services (AHS) knew that our Premier was hoping the pandemic would be the death of public healthcare. So, they clearly had to gird their loins! This scene from the Devil Wears Prada sums the situation up perfectly. Think of Anne Hathaway’s character as the provincial doctor who does whatever our Premier says.

Jason Kenney gets elected, then the Pandemic hits

At the end of September, when the hospital situation was dire, Mum and I promised each other we wouldn’t do anything stupid that would have us end up in the ER. Of course, my Mum’s emergency was different. You have no control over when your appendix decides to quit on you. Fortunately, it happened when things were starting to calm down just a little bit. That didn’t mean the defunding of healthcare stopped though.

Within this past week, it’s been found during this fourth wave that 15,000 elective surgeries have been cancelled in Alberta. There is no timeline for resuming the surgeries. The province only allows surgeries that must be done within a 3 day period (aka emergency surgeries). Even though I was super happy that this situation didn’t affect my Mum’s care, my heart goes out to those 15,000 people needing surgery in Alberta.

Talk to A Trusted Healthcare Provider:

If you want to make sure you need to go to the ER or need to take someone to the ER, talk to a healthcare provider that you trust. Get a recommendation from them on a hospital that has their COVID-19 situation under control. I said in my previous post that under normal circumstances if my Mum said she had abdominal pain, I wouldn’t have consulted the nurse at our family practice. I was glad I did talk to the nurse though because she told me that all the hospitals in Calgary have a super strict triage protocol. She had been to the ER right when the pandemic started and she assured me the hospitals aren’t letting COVID-19 run amok in their wards. All I had heard was how the hospitals have been stretched to breaking point. I hadn’t heard much about which ones had it under control.

A week later, when my Mum wasn’t getting better, she had further questions. We called our practice nurse again and our doctor called us back. There are 24-hour health lines in Alberta that you can call and speak to a nurse, but you might have to wait a while. The lines are busier because of people calling in with COVID-19 symptoms. We did call one of those health lines when we had a question about what was going on, but we did it too soon. Plus, sometimes there is a certain inaccuracy calling a nurse that doesn’t know your case. That’s why we prefer to speak to the nurse at our family practice. She and our doctor were very helpful and told us to call if we have any further questions or updates. I could tell when we visited the office for Mum’s follow-up that they were sincere.

Find out about Hospital COVID-19 Policy:

Some things you find out as you go. For instance, I couldn’t be with my Mum when she was in the ER, or right before she had surgery. Mum noticed in the ER, they automatically separated COVID-19 patients from regular patients. Our hospital kept the COVID-19 patients in an entirely separate building. Mum said the only reminder that there were COVID-19 patients was that sometimes the PA system would call nurses to the COVID-19 building. I’m glad the hospital did its best to limit the reminders of the pandemic. No patient or their families want to be constantly bombarded with that.

The second time my Mum was in the hospital, she was allowed two visitors, maximum, and they had to be on a pre-approved list. I was only allowed to see her for an hour a day. I never enquired about this, but I noticed none of the patients had flowers. That might have been banned because of COVID-19. I did something better for my Mum though. I brought her some essential oils and rubbed them on her before my time was up.

Find out about Hospital Practices during COVID-19:

I’m pretty sure that hospitals are improvising when it comes to regular patients needing intensive care. After my Mum had emergency hernia surgery, two nurses worked all night to keep her stable, but she was on the ward. She was not moved to an ICU. No one explicitly said that she required intensive care, but I pieced it together. After all, no one just has emergency surgery for the fun of it, and you don’t just end up on 100% oxygen all night. The ICUs really are all occupied with COVID-19 patients, but there was nothing to worry about. They did some good improvisations in that regard.

There was another thing the hospital did that was different because of COVID-19. If patients exhibit any symptoms that are the same as COVID-19, they are put in isolation. Further COVID-19 symptoms mean being moved to the COVID-19 ward. A common symptom of appendicitis is vomiting. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has the same symptom. Mum was in isolation until her diagnosis of appendicitis was confirmed. She said that someone said to her, “We know why you threw up, but we’re making sure it’s not COVID-19.” Strangely enough, when she went back to the ER because of the complication, they didn’t put her in isolation, even though she had thrown up a few times. I guess they knew for sure that she was exhibiting classic signs of a blockage in her bowel.

Wear A Mask:

This is the point where I am going to whip a few dead horses and this is one of them. If you are a family member visiting the hospital PLEASE KEEP YOUR MASK ON! If you happen to be a patient if you can keep your mask on, do so! The first time my Mum was in the hospital, she kept her mask on all the time, except when she was in surgery and post-op. The second time she was in the hospital, she couldn’t wear a mask because she needed a nasogastric tube. I was a little worried, but then I saw that the nurses on the ward were careful, and some of the patients were able to wear masks, so that was okay.

One thing I hope to see after the pandemic ends is visitors continuing to wear masks while in the hospital. I was in the hospital before the pandemic, and as happy as I was for visitors, I did feel a little concerned about germs. I think it’s a sign of respect to wear a mask in a hospital, even if there isn’t a pandemic. My hope is that it continues, even when the pandemic ends.

Show A Little Respect:

I can’t believe I have to whip this horse. Manners cost you nothing! Even when she was feeling her worst, my Mum made a point of being respectful to her healthcare providers, so being sick is not an excuse for being a jerk! Mum could barely talk with the nasogastric tube in, but when the nurses did simple things like their health checks, she always said, “Thank you”. Whenever she felt a little better, she would interact with the nurses and doctors more, and continue to praise them and thank them for being the heroes that they are! She also wasn’t openly obnoxious to other patients. She has always been like that. I followed her lead when I was hospitalized too. People don’t call me my mother’s daughter for nothing!

Additionally, the nurses were happy to answer whatever questions I had about Mum’s care. They and the surgical team were supremely grateful when I brought some quality goodies to thank them. I know it’s their job to save lives, but a little appreciation makes their day!

Mum knows as well as I do that if we have to say that we are US citizens here that people might be suspicious of us (thanks Trump!). She had to reveal her nationality at one point, but she talked about the five countries we have lived in and compared their healthcare systems. That, combined with the respect we all showed to the staff assured them that we aren’t “like that”. Her nationality didn’t affect her care in any way though, for which I am very thankful. I am aware not a lot of people are as lucky though. Watch John Oliver’s show on bias in medicine if you don’t believe me.

If You See Something, Say Something:

Yep, whipping another dead horse. This point is especially true these days with Covidiots around, and also applies more if you are visiting a patient. If you’re a patient and too sick to deal with it, this doesn’t apply to you.

If you see people behaving badly, whether it’s yelling, physical violence, or another type of violence, report it! Remember how I said in my previous post how my Dad noticed an empty room on the ward where someone had defaced a patient whiteboard with Covidiot slogans? If my Dad had told me he had seen that while we were at the hospital, I would have asked at the nurse’s station if they knew about it and gone from there. Seriously though, I hope they caught the person!

Hearing stories about healthcare workers experiencing violence from Covidiots made me a little warier about visiting a hospital. Seeing peace officers at the hospital affirmed with me that the Covidiot situation is serious! Mum did tell me a story from the ER that affirmed with me that even though the nurses are kind and caring, they don’t take any crap.

Don’ts:

Shame Anyone Who Needs Emergency Care:

For the people who need emergency care during this pandemic, don’t shame yourself either! It’s not the people who need non-COVID-19 related emergency care that are tying up the hospitals. The Covidiots are the real problem. It’s completely normal to feel guilty for adding to an already stressed healthcare system though. Mum and I initially felt guilty too. This is why we called the nurse at our family practice. I knew I had to take my Mum to the ER for abdominal pain, but it was great to get confirmation and reassurance.

Thousands of people are waiting for non-urgent surgery and procedures. It can potentially cause resentment and concern among those people while non-COVID-19 emergency patients get priority. In this case, mutual empathy is critical. Whenever someone tells me they are waiting, I let them know I am really sorry to hear that and that I hope they don’t end up needing emergency care because of delayed surgery. Thankfully, those people have extended the same courtesy to my family by saying they are happy that my Mum could still get the emergency care she needed. That’s the way to do it! I know empathy probably won’t take away resentment or concern, but I hope it helps a little.

Think Post-Op Instructions are the Gospel:

I have had appendicitis myself and I found Mum’s post-op instructions confusing! We called a 24-hour nursing line because we didn’t know if Mum had to go back to the ER. People’s bodies don’t work according to post-op instructions, and the added pressure to the question, “Do you go back to the ER?” doesn’t help. In this case, it is good to speak to a nurse about any grey areas you find between the instructions and what’s actually happening. Although, we realized later we called the 24-hour line too soon for any definitive answers. We ended up talking to the nurse at our family practice again. Because Mum ended up with a rare complication, it felt more difficult for me to pin down what was happening. I needed help from a medical professional with that.

Hide Information from COVID-19 Screening:

Poor horses, but it has to be done. I was in a bit of a situation though. My Dad arrived from California two days before I brought Mum home from the hospital. I did want to have the option of bringing Dad to the hospital to visit. Plus, I didn’t know if I needed his help collecting Mum when she was released. It worked, so here’s what I did.

I told the ward Dad was flying in from California to help me take care of Mum. They asked me questions about his vaccination status and told me he would have to bring his documents. I also mentioned that he was flying in from the Bay Area and said that in terms of COVID-19, things were pretty good. We kind of had a laugh about, “at least he’s not flying in from Texas or Florida!” Additionally, I assured them that we have lived in a few other countries, so we know to respect the laws of our host country. After all that, they put him on Mum’s visitor list! They also told me to double-check with the screening area at the entrance.

The screening area reiterated what the ward said. The day after my Dad arrived, the COVID-19 screening went smoothly and he was able to see Mum! I think the ward and screening were happy that I checked with them before Dad arrived if it was possible for him to visit. What they don’t like is people acting shady and pulling a fast one on them. Be transparent, and have the necessary documentation. Plus, I could see that they were nervous initially when I said we were US citizens, but they relaxed over the fact I was honest with them.

Be Racist, Sexist, Rude or Immature:

The horses don’t like me now, but this is the last dead one I’m whipping. I promise. Besides, I live in Alberta. I don’t want to get on the wrong side of our ranchers.

We all have biases, but PLEASE don’t act entitled! If you do, you’re not only hurting whoever it’s directed at, but you disturb other patients who are too sick to deal with your crap. Even if other patients don’t call you on your crap, it doesn’t mean you aren’t bothering them. On the other hand, patients may cry out because they’re in pain, or frightened, or something. As long as they aren’t being jerks, don’t shame them for it. I have cried while in the hospital because I wanted to go home, but I didn’t say anything inappropriate.

I will be sharing personal stories on this subject, but I wanted to say this first. A while ago, I learned that it’s normal when you need hospital care, that you’re frightened and your biases surface. Regardless, I didn’t try to hurt anyone and I learned a valuable lesson. The point is to recognize them and don’t lash out because of them. I felt guilty about my biases, but I know now that shame isn’t the point unless I had caused harm.

My Own Personal Stories on This Point:

I wanted to share two different personal stories I have had in the hospital. The first one was when I was in London and had my lower wisdom teeth out. That meant day surgery in the hospital over there.

I was put on the day surgery recovery ward with several other people. There was this woman who was talking too loudly and being generally disruptive. At one point, I was coughing and she called the nurse to help me (even though I didn’t need it). She said, “Sorry, I thought you was going to throw up!” Yes, she said was. Even though I still needed to cough, I held it in. She was also yelling on her cellphone at her deadbeat boyfriend to come and get her. No one called her on her crap, not even the nurses. Later on, I realized no one would put up with that crap in the USA. It speaks a lot about cultural differences.

The next story has to do with realizing my own unconscious bias. I was in the emergency room for a ruptured appendix back when I was in California. I was terrified, had 8/10 pain, and the infection was advanced. Because of all that, I kept thinking that the men were doctors and the women were nurses. I slipped a few times before I realized my mistake and apologized. Once I had more presence of mind, I told myself to look at their uniform. I joked about it later, like, “Damn! That was one nasty infection!” I haven’t slipped up since.

So, here are my hospital dos and don’ts during COVID-19. What do you think? Anything you would add?

Sixth Month Theme: Slow Spring and Time for Health. Plus, asking for Travel Recommendations

After I published my last post, I found out my stay in Canada got extended! Here was the surprising thing: I didn’t even need to apply to extend it. Apparently, because of COVID-19, the IRCC has been automatically granting extensions. At least they have my updated information though. Feel free to congratulate me on being in Canada for six months! My Mum and I are going to get some nice food to celebrate!

My next step is to get the entrepreneur’s visa. They aren’t being issued right now, but I am staying on top of updates.

Spring has Sprung!

Okay, it hasn’t been that fast. It’s quite pleasant to see spring creeping up on you. My Mum and I call it a slow spring. In California, it’s hot by mid-March. There’s a part of me that says, “Okay, too fast!” when that happens.

Last month, I saw these traces of grass. Now there is more grass! This past week, I saw a hyacinth outside my window! The deciduous trees are still bare, but I see buds there and on the bushes.

Another thing I did lately: I went outside with spring clothes and only a sweater as backup! I could tell by the fact I got two compliments on my shirt in one day that other people are happy the weather is warmer. Okay, we still get some snow and/or rainstorms, but it’s not too bad and they clear up fast enough.

A couple days ago, I sat in the warm sun at a war memorial behind a library

Now, I’m actually writing this when we’re getting a snowfall. That’s April Showers for you! Although, it is good that it’s the only one to happen so far.

I have been incredibly surprised and impressed about how sunny Calgary is! Yes, you get storms, but it’s amazing how fast the weather clears and stays that way for a while. When I moved back to the US, one update from the UK I could absolutely rely on was when it was sunny. I’m serious. ALL my friends in the UK posted on social media about sunny days! I was surprised, “It’s sunny in the UK!” wasn’t a trending topic on Facebook. Okay, I have posted about it being sunny in London too. Guilty as charged. Just goes to show how unusual sunny days are there.

Health is Wealth:

One reason why I haven’t posted as often is I am focusing on my health right now. I am getting gum graft surgery at the end of April. Plus, my Mum and I are doing our own personal lockdown (again)!

Eventually, you get to the point where you start to realize whether certain restrictions are enough. Restrictions tightened in Alberta over a week ago but it’s definitely not enough. I have been warning everyone I know about the B117 variant because I also know about how it affected the UK. The good thing is I think the new restrictions have been a wake-up call. Shops were busy when the restrictions were announced, but now it’s quieter. I live near a main road and the traffic is a lot less lately.

I was talking to my periodontist’s receptionist lately about the restrictions. She talked about how if she had her way, it would be a six-week lockdown. Plus, I told her how I learned to be extremely careful in COVID-19 prevention after living in the US.

Asking for Travel Recommendations:

Let me explain. There is word on the grapevine that our world-famous Calgary Stampede is going to be happening in July. If it does, it sounds like the city will have a major superspreader event. Alberta is planning to have every adult vaccinated by June 30. How realistic is that? I don’t know. Under normal circumstances, I would love to see the Stampede. It tickles a TCK nerve for me. However, I don’t want to sacrifice my health. So, we invited my Dad to visit and go on a road trip together.

I wonder how many Calgarians will have the same idea as me?

What I am Looking for in Travel Recommendations:

  • Either within Alberta or some interprovincial travel, as long as the regulations for that work in our favour.
    • Note: We already have Yellowknife in mind. Going north is definitely on the table.
  • A mix of touristy and non-touristy places. I figure if the Stampede happens, the tourist places might be busy. Jasper, Banff and Edmonton sound nice, but I wonder if people will bring COVID-19 there around Stampede time.
  • We don’t want to go to Ontario or Quebec at this time, for obvious reasons. That means we can’t go to the Atlantic provinces either.Β 

Looking forward to hearing your recommendations!