A Disease Diagnoses

I’m not sure what type of Throw Back Thursday post this is. Surely not uplifting or lighthearted. I’ve been hesitant to write about my husband’ disease. Perhaps because we live it everyday,  I have no energy to relive it in writing. Nevertheless this is what I remember of when we first learned my husband had Parkinson’s Disease.    I’m not even sure I’m remembering this all correctly. This will seem disjointed as I dig up small details from a time that already seems distant. A stiffness in one hand and arm. A slight limp. We attributed it all to sleeping in an awkward position and a fall on the ski-out at Sunshine in April of 2005. A chiropractor that finally admitted he couldn’t do anything to fix these problems, and suggests a visit to the GP. The doctor makes a referral to a local neurologist. July 2005 and My husband goes to the appointment alone. A mistake. The neurologist diagnoses Parkinsonisms.  I know what you have, he announces. He says it like my husband has just won a highly improbably lottery. My husband, at that first appointment hears only Parkinson’s. This is not news you should face alone.

If I could use one word to describe the weeks immediately following this news it would be blackness. 

I believe it was the second appointment when the neurologist prescribed medications. There is a chair for my husband and I  stand with my back to the wall in a corner of the office. I already dislike this doctor, who has made me feel like an inconvenient interloper. From where I stand, I read the computer screen. The diagnoses is actually Multiple Systems Atrophy. 

My husband takes two weeks off of work as he ramps up the medication. The medications however, quickly prove more troublesome than the symptoms they were  to alleviate. He is unable to drive, is paralyzingly fatigued and suffers from mental fog. He spends most of the day laying on lounge chair on the deck.

He still doesn’t know about the original diagnoses of MSA, a disease with a lifespan of less than ten years after diagnoses, and still doesn’t. And probably won’t unless he reads this blog. That’s okay.

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Bird Brain

No one needs an excuse to walk, but I find I’m more motivated to do so if I have a reason to go out. My little dog hasn’t been well, so he can’t walk very far anymore. It’s been wintery and I find it hard to make myself go out and trudge around in the snow. Sometimes I put on snowshoes and head into the field and nearby trails. Often I just march down the sidewalks and roadsides listening to podcasts. .

But now that the summer birds have started to return, I’ve been walking down to the ‘pond’ and counting bird. I use the eBird app to record how many species I see, and how many of each there are. I hadn’t really paid much attention to the pond before I realized that it attracted some interesting birds and wildlife. Although my personal life list is a bit larger, my life list on eBird currently contains forty-five species. About a dozen different species I’ve recorded from my backyard. Others as I’ve walked through the nearby fields and forest. But most I’ve sighted at the pond.

I hadn’t really paid much attention to the pond before I realized that it attracted some interesting birds and wildlife. Although my personal life list is a bit larger, my life list on eBird currently contains forty-five species. Some I’ve recorded from my backyard. Others as I’ve walked through the nearby fields and forest. But most I’ve sighted at the pond. Recently, there have been several varieties of swans sighted in my area.

We often hear Canada Geese flying over. But the Trumpeter Swans have a deeper voice. When I hear them, it’s a scramble for my shoes, phone, camera and binoculars. I’ve yet to get a really good photo. But, I did get a picture on my phone of three fuzzy white lumps out in the water. I know where to drive to get really up close to these birds. But, having them hanging out in the neighbourhood is more exciting.

I first started recording my bird sightings in eBird in March of 2015. I don’t drive or fly very far to see a bird like in the movie The Big Year. I find it gratifying to know these creatures share space with me near my home.  I’ve marked these with an *.  Here is my not-very-impressive list to date:

Canada Goose*
Trumpeter Swan*
Wood Duck*
Mallard*
Northern Pintail*
Bufflehead*
Hooded Merganser*
Common Merganser*
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant*
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron*
Turkey Vulture*
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer*
Greater Yellowlegs*
Bonaparte’s Gull
Little Gull
Ring-billed Gull*
Herring Gull*
Glaucous Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon*
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher*
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker*
Pileated Woodpecker*
Peregrine Falcon
Blue Jay*
American Crow*
Common Raven*
Black-capped Chickadee*
Red-breasted Nuthatch*
White-breasted Nuthatch*
American Robin*
Dark-eyed Junco*
Northern Cardinal*
Red-winged Blackbird*
Common Grackle*
American Goldfinch

Three swans, one of them an immature with grey-ish feathers. Dull day, bad camera, bird brain photographer.