Friday, April 27, 2012

The Ten Days Spent At Dr Brassard's 2011 (The End)

As promised, Diane and I arrived at the convalescence house extremely early on Monday morning. In fact we arrived at the Tim Horton's (great donuts, AWFUL coffee) down the the street before they were even open. I don't believe the employees were impressed as they hadn't even finished setting up for the morning rush.

The other patients, Diane & I spent a lot of time in the sun room drinking coffee, laughing and having some small talk to help Jen's nerves. But soon it was time to make the walk next door to the hospital. Jen had my room and my bed for her hospital stay. It was different sitting on the other side of the room, but it did me great to get over my "Montreal complex" and see things from a different prospective. I left her room only when Dr Brassard came to visit for his last consult. I think it confused him or at least made him think. As I had already been at Karyn & Diane's side for eight days and now here I was with my long lost sister, Jennifer.

I stayed with Jen to chat, make small talk, learning a lot about her in the process. I think it was great for the both of us. I kept Jen's mind occupied and away from being scared as much as humanly possible. And it absolutely made me feel good about helping a genuinely nice person who was sent to Montreal alone and without support or a hand to hold.

That night, I was sitting alone in the convalescence house living room watching a meaningless hockey game (to me). Slowly, patients started coming in to chat. When the time was right, Karyn's surgery sister, asked me if she could ask a very personal question. I assured her she could. Note, this was exactly one week after surgery and she had just recently had the stent removed. Shyly she asked "is the hole, you know, going to close or is it always going to be so open?" I assured her it would indeed close in short time. But I had to laugh and yet remember how fully freaked out I was when I first saw my new vagina and had the same damn fear.

When I left Montreal, I knew how much I appreciated Carrie, Gaily, Linda & Michelle coming up to Montreal for two days before my surgery. I also saw in my group of people those that came alone, which in my "Class of 2008" was quite a few. I had made a promise to myself and publicly that I would do what I could to prevent someone from having to go through surgery alone. Granted I have tried to help people from all over when ever the asked for help be it just answering questions or driving up in a blizzard to bring Anna home.

But this was truly different. I could not imagine anyone else I would give two weeks of myself and my vacation time other than Karyn & Diane. Being there for Jennifer was an absolute bonus.  She's without question the type of girl you're glad to be there for. I made me happy to help make her happy. It also gave her someone to hug before surgery and a smiling face to wake up to after surgery. I also called her family to the let them know than Jen did very well came came through like a champion.

I spent the next few days in and out of her hospital room, helping Jen and her surgery sister Vickie, as much as I could. Karyn was healing quite well and was getting homesick and wanted to head home a day earlier than scheduled which Dr Brassard granted. It gave us less time to spend with Jen, but like Karyn and I after surgery did very well back at the convalescence house. It's amazing how your nerves go away post op and just returning to the house is a major morale boost. It's a feeling I wish I could have bottled.

I was very thankful to have been honored to be a part of something very special for Karyn & Diane. To think I didn't know them three years prior and they feel like family now. I'm also very thankful that the timing brought Jennifer into our circles. We made a lifelong friend that we still see on a regular basis, but not often enough. Jen is" just a normal girl, trying to live life" Though I do believe we've corrupted the innocent young lady :)

I'm also thankful  for the other friends we've stayed in contact with from Karyn's "Class of 2011", a great group of people who made ten days a lot of fun. Though the days seemed long, looking back I must say the time flew by. It seems like years ago, not just last year.

I believe spending the ten days there also exercised a lot of my internal demons. To be there and see all of the employees that cared for me (excluding Francine) have moved on. To see the recovery days without the blur of pain medications and anesthesia, also put things into a new perspective in closing that chapter of my life. Being able to talk with all of the patients, the MtF's and the FtM's , was a pleasure. And of course "Paying It Forward" to Diane, Karyn & Jennifer was a two way gift and a gift that keeps on giving.

I'm very happy to say that in January 2012, the demons that haunted me every January 24 - January 28 since my surgery have indeed been exercised. Without question this trip is a major factor in this new outlook.

I'll close this chapter not with my words, but with the words of Jennifer. She wrote the below in her blog about a year after our meeting.

"It turned out I wasn't alone. I met the most amazing people there, a few who have become very dear friends. One in particular went out of her way to go with me, a near total stranger, to the hospital. She talked with me while I waited, she comforted me while I was scared, she hugged me before I went upstairs to the OR. She was there when I got back to my room. She'll never know how much that meant to me, because words can't truly express it"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Ten Days Spent At Dr Brassard's 2011 (Part 6)

Diane and I returned from picking up the pizzas and noticed a new face sitting at the dinner table. Of course, initially we heard the obvious joke that we came from (near) Boston to Montreal to order from Boston Pizza. Then Karyn said that we had to meet the new girl Jennifer and we'll never guess where she was from. Turns out Jennifer was from not very far from Boston either, about 40 minutes from where we live.

Jennifer flew in alone from Boston and like all new patients was very nervous. While Diane & I were gone, some of the patients made a bad (for Jen) situation even worse. They proceeded to tell an scared already person about how much the surgery hurts. Karyn was not happy. when I heard this, I was livid. Of course the ones who said that, tended to be the more needy patients during my stay. Karyn and a few others did try to convince her it wasn't as bad as the others made it sound and I made it my priority to calm Jen's nerves.

After dinner was completed and our 'pizza party' broke up, the sun room seemed become the center of attraction on this Saturday night. Jen had retreated to her comfort of her room. I knew instinctively that we had to get her down to join us. She couldn't be scared and on her own. One of the patients elected to run up to get her and Jen shyly joined us. We got her and the whole room laughing and telling stories. Karyn & Diane and I convinced her it wasn't as bad as the "babies" made it sound. I pointed out the obvious, Karyn just had her surgery on Tuesday, it's now Saturday, and Karyn is sitting here laughing and having fun, how torturous could the surgery have been? At a later date, Jen did confirm to us, that the conversation and my observation did help calm her nerves and kept her from heading back home. And she did agree that Karyn & I were correct, not the others, it wasn't as miserable as she was being told.

Sunday, the weather was good but very cold. I did have some stops I wanted to make in the downtown area of Montreal itself. So I brought Diane to the hospital early and later headed into Montreal for a short shopping trip. It only lasted about 90 minutes as it was so cold, I got what I needed and headed out. Montreal is on an island. When I was with the MCM girls, downtown in January 2008 it was cold but the cross streets would carry the wind and make it even colder. Same on my solo trip in late March 2011. Walking north/south was tolerable until you hit a cross street, then it became brutally cold. Walking against the wind on a cross street felt like it was 20 degrees colder. I was very happy to get back to the warm confines of the convalescence house.

As per usual, some new patients  were arriving for their early week surgeries and some patients were heading home. Including the now toque less Kay, who lost his toque on the way to montreal and it became a running joke in the house, along with some old Bob & Doug McKenzie lines.

I made plans to arrive extra early on Monday morning. Jennifer was heading over to the hospital in the morning for her surgery and since she was alone, I wanted to be there for her. No one should have to go through surgery alone. And I wasn't about to let her be without support.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Ten Days Spent At Dr Brassard's 2011 (Part 5)

As much as it was a honor to be there for Karyn & Diane (and Aubrey), the 15+ hour day Tuesday and 12 or so hour day Wednesday was more time that I've spent in one room, in one day, than i have since I was in the next room for my own surgery. The time at the hospital actually passed fairly quickly but yet kinda dragged too, if that's possible. Diane and I did sneak away for about an hour or so for a lunch/dinner, each day. And I'm certainly glad I was there for them.

But Thursday night I did sneak away for a few hours. My beloved Boston Bruins were playing the dreaded Montreal Canadiens, in Boston while I was in Montreal. So this was a scheduled night away for me. Plus the kids needed some time to themselves without me hanging around the hospital room or convalescence house all the time. I had planned on wearing my Bruins jersey to the Boston Pizza (in Laval, there's none in Boston!) but just a few weeks prior, the Bruins had a very nasty game and there was a lot of tension in Montreal about Boston. Seeing I would be alone and consuming adult beverages, I figured I'd best not call attention to myself, as hockey is religion in Montreal. But the Bruins spanked Montreal 7 - 0 and by the end of the first period, the Montreal fans went on to their dinner, drinks and conversations, knowing the game was out of reach. Thank gawd, but the more adult beverages I consumed, the harder it was to disguise my please with each mounting goal. :)

But Karyn had returned back to the convalescence home and things were back to how I remembered them from my stay, peaceful. The girl with Aspergers had left, setting the nerves of employees and patients alike, back at ease. Granted we never knew what awful disruption person "G" would cause. but that was much easier overlooked. it was then that I really got to talk more with the patients one on one. I really met a great group of folks. And I must add as much as I liked my graduating class,  I found I gained a lot more from the group. But then again, I was able to spend more time to socialize than in my room sleeping, dilating or chatting with friends back home.

When I first started going to support groups in NH, years prior, I would have thought I would have bonded better with the male-to-females, but quite honestly I became truly fascinated in an intellectual way with the female-to-males, and this continued during my stay in Montreal. There were two patients in various stages of their transition, Jungle & Kay, and the post op employee Alexis. Though Jungle was the most reclusive of the three he was great to talk with and Kay and Alexis were in a league of their own. just so much fun and so great to talk with and learn about.

But with the house back to normalcy, this group of patients, friends and employees really seemed to bond in way my group never did. There was a lot of non-stop laughter, no matter how much it hurt the post op patients. Even the employees verbally admitted that this group was unusual and that this is the way things should be.

Though another girl kind of stood out. A small, very cute, quiet girl from the Philippines (now a Canadian resident) that spoke very little English. But she was always smiling and very quick to give hugs to the patients and their hanger-ons, like myself. But the stand out part was she not only had bottom surgery but breast implants as well. At the dinner table she would be quiet and people would look at her and she would just be staring down at her new chest with the absolutely biggest smile that turned to an instant blush once she realized she was caught staring at her new bosom again. It was so cute and absolutely priceless. It also happened every day, every meal.

But Karyn wanted to have dinner with Diane and I, so we made plans to bring in pizza Saturday night from Boston Pizza. The food is very good at the residence, but we even had other patients chip in for pizza, so we had a pizza party in the sun room. Late Saturday afternoon Diane headed over to a very crowded Boston Pizza and waited for our order. While we were gone a new patient arrived that was due for her surgery on Monday. Little did we know then, the effect we would have on her life or her on ours in the future.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Ten Days Spent At Dr Brassard's 2011 (Part 4)

When I had spent my time in Montreal for my surgery, I had met a lot of great people, from all over the world. That includes the patients as well as their families and friends. In two weeks, and countless amounts of people, only one person rubbed me the wrong way. This person though nice, seemed to have more, ok a lot more underlying issues then gender identity. Granted I'm far from a psychologist, but I don't believe gender identity was this person's issue at all. Thankfully, without me saying a word,  my surgery date sister confided her exact same feelings about this girl to me. I was relieved that it wasn't just my feelings. The person in question is from a major city in western Canada. I fear one day she is going to wake up and say "What have I done?"

The person that Karyn and I had concerns with on the arrival day, person "G" was from the very same city in western Canada., as the girl mentioned above. I believe the girl creating the commotion that first night was also from the same locale. I swear there is psychologist in that town that is simply going through the motions and signing the letters as a cash machine, because these are not the only people from that exact locale that I have heard about with the same issues or readiness or should I dare improper diagnosis. Always remember, there are good doctors and there are some that are bad. same goes for psychologists too. some are in it for the patient. Some are in it for the paycheck. I sincerely hope these people don't end up victims of a letter writing machine.

The one childlike girl that was creating a major fracas that first night and taking all the ice, I was told. was a major handful before our arrival. I can't imagine it being worse. Very immature, not doing as instructed or following any of the doctors instructions. But one day I was sitting the sun room while the patients ate their lunch. Somehow the subject of computers came up. Suddenly this childlike girl was taking about main framing and other in depth operating system talk, that far exceeded the average computer user. This girl was a computer genius. I was shocked. But I immediately knew that there was two sides to her and what her problem was. Aspergers. She wound up leaving many days early, it turns out she wasn't doing her dilations and her new surgery was healing itself up and not in a good way. I have since learned from talking with people in the medical field in the U.S., that as long as she was granted her two letters for surgery, Dr Brassard or any doctor could not deny surgery or would be open to a lawsuit.

Now the above isn't a commentary on Canadian health or anyone in particular, but I believe I'm just amazed that no one from here family or caretaker was with this person throughout this process. I hope all turns out well, but I have severe doubts.

This same lunch time, as I'm sitting in the sun room playing on my laptop, person "G" leaves the dining room and heads up the stairway to her room. Note this is less than 72 hours after her surgery. Much to my dismay, she was wearing tights and an even shorter skirt than she arrived in. Without trying, AT ALL, everything was exposed on her backside. The skirt wasn't even low enough to cover her butt. Nothing was left to the imagination. Nothing. Plus the thought of tight clothes on that area so soon? What was she thinking? Obviously she wasn't.

But it didn't seem to concern person "G" as over the next few days her meal time topics of conversation were far from proper. She stood bend over the dinner table in her short-short skirt, hence exposing herself, not using any table manners, opening her tights at the dinner table and stuffing her ice pack in her tights, you name it. Tact, dignity, ladylike and class were not in this person's vocabulary. This was one time for certain that our first impressions were dead on the mark.

But it was also in the Karyn's post op days that the attitude would change. All for the positive. For what was a scary, anxiety filled start was now completed. The mood lightened and it really became a lot of fun being at the convalescence house. Between the staff and the patients, a true bond was formed. As much as I got along with the people during my stay, this group of people male-to-female and female-to-male were a great group of people. In fact, I'm in better contact with them today then I was with my own "Class of January 2008"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Ten Days Spent At Dr Brassard's 2011 (Part 3)

As promised, we picked up Karyn early and headed to a place that had be recommended to me a year earlier, called Eggspectations. It was awesome. In fact it has become a mandatory stop every time I'm in Montreal now. But as we sat and tried to let Karyn make a decision, was she going home or was she going through with surgery. Of the two of us, Karyn is usually the stronger one, this is the first it was opposite.

As we sat, the snow started flying with strong winds. The turmoil outside was nearly as bad as it was inside. We knew we had to be back at the convalescence home by 2:00 for Karyn's consult with Dr Brassard. we went to the one shopping mall I knew to kill time. It was strenuous on the kids but it worked out good for me. As we sat killing the last hour or so in the mall, I found a great clothing store that I've become addicted to Addition Elle. Another must stop every time I'm in Montreal now too.

Karyn's phone rang early, she was needed back at the house ASAP. We drove through the snow and got Karyn back in time. Due to the weather Alexis (employee) walked us in the underground room that connects the home to Dr Brassard's office. The last place that I hadn't seen  in the complex. Their meeting went well and I believe Karyn's nerves came back to a normal level. Again I'm skimming Karyn's story as it's hers to tell, not mine.

At night we brought Karyn over to the hospital with her room mate and surgery sister Aubrey, whom we had just met. Aubrey was from the Cleveland area and had come alone. I made sure to get contact numbers for Aubrey;'s family so I could contact them to let them know that Aubrey had done fine during surgery. I think our constant joking helped Aubrey's nerves as well. A real nice girl that I felt really bad for her having to come to Montreal. But we gladly took her into our group. No one should go through surgery alone.

But it was Alexis that brought us to the hospital (next door) and he did his best to calm the surgery girls nerves. He assured them they were in great hands "I was a patient here too" turns out Alexis used to be a girl. Alexis also became a friend whom we must visit every time we are in Montreal. I must say over the time I spent up there on this trip, Alexis was not only one of hardest working people I've ever seen in my life, but was also one of the happiest while doing it.

Diane and I arrived early the next morning for Karyn's surgery though Aubrey was going first. Karyn became alarmed when she found that instead of general anesthesia like I had, they now do a spinal. I'm honestly not sure why that alarmed her so much, BUT knowing what I was like after surgery and for days later, the spinal was without question the way to go. I slept, slept and slept. Karyn was fairly alert the entire time after surgery and was doing great. In hindsight, I wish I had the spinal option.

But I called Aubrey's family with the good news and the next few days keeping all company and trying to help Aubrey when I could, reading, playing on Facebook, going for lunch/dinner or just talking with everyone.

One nurse at the hospital I recognized instantly, she said she recognized me too. Though she seemed pleasant on this trip, I knew her from my stay at the hospital. The afternoon after my surgery, it was time for my pain medication. I was offered a pill or a shot, but be forewarned I was only allowed one more pain shot. having not slept well the night before, I wanted to sleep good that night, so I opted for the pill saving the shot for the evening. When the evening meds came around, I asked for my last shot. This nurse gave me a distinct "No". Oh yes I remembered her all too well. Even three years later.

The Ten Days Spent At Dr Brassard's 2011 (Part 2)

Despite traveling by myself to Montreal in 2008 for my surgery, this time was quieter and I had two people traveling with me.  Our first stop over the border was to check in at the convalescence house. I was curious to see which of the nurses I had would be on duty. None. I knew Anne, the former head nurse had moved to western Canada but as I would find over the next ten days, all were gone excluding Francine.

Karyn was shown to her room, which was my old room, 206. I had her specifically ask for that room because I knew it was a private room. When Anna had been there in 2010, she had to share a room and it was far from a pleasant experience. Karyn was glad to have a private room, but not much longer after was mad at me because it was the smallest room.

Like me, I believe she got overwhelmed with emotions once she placed her items in the room. Unfortunately, this quiet time would be a very short lived . Very short lived. Another patient had been dropped off in the short time we were upstairs.

This is where I must make a disclaimer. As a post-op trans I do not consider myself better than anyone. I'm also the first to put myself down be it for looks, passing, style etc. I'm nothing special. If you don't know me, please don't take these next few words wrongly. Please.

Who entered the house was the trans person's nightmare. For future reference I shall refer to her as person "G" . We try hard to pass and blend into society without commotion. This person presented in every stereotype we hate when trying to convince people we are normal.

I'm guessing late 20's, overweight, dressed in an outfit fit for a twelve year old, straight out pigtails, a short,short black skirt, black tights, boots, a heavy metal t-shirt, very loud, verbally and a full days beard growth. "She" had a goatee I couldn't have grown on my old best days. I realize my description isn't doing justice, but I assure you, those of us trying to blend into society who not socialize with her in a social setting simply because of the negative attention she was just asking for.

Karyn  whom was nervous about being at the house alone and has always made conscious strides to make sure she was not setting herself to be outted or read, as it is, just had her nerves put on complete edge. Plus there was another patient causing quite a bit of noise and commanding the attention of the house staff . All of this after I spent years telling Karyn how quiet the house is....

We left the house and Karyn was getting cold feet. We informed the nurses that Karyn wouldn't be there for dinner and headed to the hotel where Diane and I would be staying for the ten days. Karyn wanted to stay with us, at least for that Sunday night.

There are two great places to stay that are semi-close to Dr Brassard's residence a bed and breakfast and a hotel

Neither of which is walking distance, but I've stayed at both and both a recommended. I prefer the hotel simply because I don't like the atmosphere of a B & B as I feel I'm interrupting some one's home and I tend to keep unusual hours, plus it has better parking. Neither place is walking distance from grocery stores or restaurants either.

We relaxed at the hotel for a bit trying to get Karyn's anxiety back to normal. We headed for a nice dinner at Elixor and just after dark went back to the convalescence home.

The three of us spent the time in room 206 and the deja-vu I was getting from three years prior was overwhelming. The bed, clock, sink, tv, chair windows, everything was liking being back in that room, three years prior. The quiet house I knew was non-existent on this night.

Karyn & Diane were trying to relax, I was trying to keep up on the NCAA March Madness scores via my phone. But the nurses were running around like crazy. VERY unusual. The one patient who was already there and post op. was very loud, childlike and kept the nurses running. The other patients were complaining that the ice machine that had the ice for ice packs was always empty. It turns out that this childlike patient kept taking all of the ice. What she did with all of the ice, I have no clue. But in the days ahead I would get a better understanding of this person, which I'll explain in a later post.

Finally well after curfew, Diane and I had to leave. It was hard for those kids as in twenty years of marriage they've hardly been apart, and the nice quiet house I had loved in 2008 was anything but on this night. And I'm just posting brief details here.

But we promised we'd pick up Karyn early for breakfast in the morning and made our way 'home'. Diane and Karyn chatted via their iPads, while thankfully I brought a bottle of Jameson, downed a couple of quick shots to knock me out. I knew Diane was upset and I just wanted to make myself crash ASAP so as to not bother her.

Monday would prove to be another interesting day albeit much improved as the day went on.

Walking In New Shoes Excerpt

Just before we left for Montreal, Karyn in her blog, wanted to thank the three people who helped her get to the completion of her journey, her wife Diane, her friend Annah Moore and much to my surprise, myself.

Here is an excerpt from her blog that concerns me. I was clearly touched by her words and I highly recommend her blog to be on anyone going through transition's reading list.

The third woman I admire and adore is Cynthia Tebbetts. My counselor told me about a story that was about to appear in our local paper. Obviously I looked forward to that because it was about exactly what I had been dealing with. In that story was a lady named Cynthia Tebbetts. 

Let me start by saying I don't normally search out people in the paper but again, I believe Cynthia was put in my path for a reason. While profile hopping on myspace. I came across Cynthia's profile. What caught my eye was that in her list of heroes that she hoped to meet one day was my friend Annah. Cynthia saw Annah on dsc and had read Annah's book. Because of that one connection I decided to email her tell her who I was and thank her for her story in the paper. We have been good friends ever since. 

Cynthia is playfully referred to as mom by some. It took me a while to see why. What I realized early about her is that she has a a depth for caring for people and animals that surpasses most people. She is another woman that walked the same path that I am and has never hesitated to be my shoulder or my strength in tough days. 

Cyn is such a caring person that she volunteered to accompany Dee and I to Montreal for the 10 days just so Diane wouldn't have to be alone. She is such a giving caring person that I could never repay her but I am so proud to be able to call her my friend. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't email each other. In fact there isn't a day that I don't speak to each one of these women. 

So in closing I wanted to thank each one publicly and show the people who read this blog that there are good people who care out there. There are people who can see through to your core and they can show enough love to change your path. My life will never be the same due to these three, but it will never be the same in a great way. Because of these three I have become a rich woman. They have given me a gift that I am thankful for everyday of my life now ... 

Her blog can be found here

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Ten Days Spent At Dr Brassard's 2011 (Part 1)

As I had mentioned in passing, I did spend ten days at Dr Brassard's in late March 2011. This time I was there for my friends Karyn & Diane while Karyn had her surgery. The actual surgery story is Karyn's to tell and I won't tell her story, but I will share my observations and changes that I had noticed from my surgery time in 2008.

It had started out that I was just going to come up to visit for a few days. When I had my surgery, spouses of the patients were allowed to stay at the convalescence home, at a cost and providing there was enough room. This was that plan for Karyn (patient) and her wife Diane. But Dr Brassard had been so busy that the practice of allowing the spouses to stay was discontinued at the end of 2011.

If you have a slight idea of where you are going, Montreal driving can be ok. If you don't, it can be brutal. I've driven in almost every major city on the Atlantic coast and only two frustrate me, Claremont, NH and Montreal QUE. Plus I didn't want Diane to be stuck in the hotel and having to dine alone.

I insisted I would go for all ten days. Karyn though very appreciative, didn't want me to use up two weeks of vacation time for her. She was insistent that I only come for the few days as planned. I had my four angels come up for me when I had my surgery (Carrie, Gaily, Linda & Michelle) and I knew how much it meant to me. Granted, this was the best way for me to 'pay it forward', and it was also the best way for me to get over the "Montreal haunting" and depression I had around my surgery dates. It worked, thankfully. Unbeknown to me, my friend Michelle even wrote to Karyn, asking Karyn to take up my kind offer. Michelle wisely knew how much it meant to me to help someone just like me.

Now granted I had been up to bring my friend Anna home from her surgery in 2010, but that was literally a 24 hour trip. But the key in this is, Diane & Karyn had become so important to me, that I could not face them being alone in a strange place. It was an extreme honor for me to be there for them. For the time we left my drive way to the time I dropped them back off in my driveway, ten days later, it was my pleasure. I would gladly do a 24-48 hour trip to help friends. But for these two important, giving up two weeks of vacation time was a bargain. And to think, exactly three years prior, I did not even know them, I just saw Karyn's name replying to rude comments about transgender folks in the Nashua Telegraph series about me and other NH trans folks.

One of Karyn's friend's that I had never met, even e-mailed me out of the blue for going up with them so they would not have to be alone. I assured her that Karyn & Diane were in good hands and that in all honesty, it was my pleasure.

Hi Cynthia,

I'm a good friend of Karyn's (my husband Mike grew up with Kevin since 1st grade) and I was talking to her last night on the phone and she mentioned to me how you were going to Montreal with them in March. I was so HAPPY to hear this. I was worrying about the two of them out there alone and was really thinking of going but with work and two kids in high school it was going to be tough. To have her tell me that you were going was a blessing! What a true friend you are!! Karyn has mentioned your name alot, (all good stuff!) and how blessed they are to have you in their lives!!

We need more people like you in the world!!


 It took awhile, but Karyn did finally admit that it helped calm her nerves some what that Diane would not be alone in the hotel.

One noticeable change about this trip is, when I had my surgery, I was at Dr Brassard's for 14 days, arrival on Thursday, surgery on Monday, departure exactly two weeks from the arrival day. Now the patients arrive on Sunday for surgery on Tuesday and leaving nine days after surgery.

The start of the trip on an unusually cold March weekend, was at a farewell/new birthday/good luck type dinner in Lawrence, MA and continued on at Diane's parent's home. We left much later than I had planned considering we had an early departure in the morning. But it really was a very nice night and I met some very nice folks.

We departed early on yet another very cold Sunday morning and it was a really quiet trip up. I understood. Completely.

In hindsight, a very good thing because the next twenty four hours wouldn't be as peaceful.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Finally A New Post

My ‘Old Racing Photos’ post is the last of my old blogs. I don’t believe there was every any intention of stopping them, other then it the nice weather arrived and MySpace officially died out for me. I just simply stopped posting. I will do blogs to update though things my not fall into chronological order.

Despite living so close to Montreal, I had never been to Montreal until I went up for my surgery in January 2008. Since then, I’ve been up there twice a year per year. Sometimes for pure social reasons (seeing Paul McCartney) or for seeing Dr Brassard for issues for my surgery, even spending ten days up there with my friend Karyn and her wife Diane, during Karyn’s stay for surgery. But it doesn’t matter why I’m going to Montreal, I still jump at the chance to go up there, every time to opportunity arises.

Yes, Montreal can be expensive for rooms, food, gas, shopping and taxes. Just like any other big city, other than the taxes seem to be higher than any place I’ve encountered in the States, including New York City. But the more I go, I have found ways to avoid the tourist traps and find better food and lodging at a more economical price. Despite the amount of times I’ve been or reasons for going, I still get goose bumps on the trip up Route 89 which only increase the closer I get to the Canadian border. The closer I get to Montreal, I still get the knots in my stomach I had in January 2008. I don’t suspect that’ll ever leave.

I did make a trip in February 2010 in the middle of a blizzard, to pick up a friend Anna, from her surgery, with her niece Renee. It was a white knuckle trip the entire way. But overnight a warm front came in and the trip home was on bare ground but with incredibly heavy winds. In fact, that evening we arrived home the winds knocked out power all over New England and Anna had to endure her recovery with no electricity for weeks. Not fun in February. I had dinner with Anna after she regained power, but strangely, Anna has become a complete stranger and has virtually cut off all communications since her surgery. To each their own. I’m not losing sleep over it.

Thankfully, after spending ten days with Karyn and Diane (to be covered more in depth in the near future), my overwhelming passion for Montreal and Dr Brassard’s convalescence home has dissipated. Yes, I still love the place, but it seems as though the pre and post surgery demons have finally left. I can move on to the future and stop dwelling on the past.

I think a big help is that the overwhelming majority of nurses at the convalescence home have moved on to other adventures. Nurse Francine is still there. She was the ‘new’ nurse that was in training when I had my surgery. She was the lady I was trying to help improve with her English. I do always make a stop at the home and try to spend time talking with, encouraging, being a shoulder, or just alleviating any fears of the current patients.

I haven’t done much in the way of activism in the past two years. I do usually take over a Human Sexuality class at Southern New Hampshire University in the late spring/early summer which I really enjoy doing. Granted, I try to make my ‘speeches’ more of a question and answer session. I find it better to answer questions that the students want to know than just spew facts for two hours. Plus I interject my off-the-wall humor into it to keep things interesting. But one of the main parts of my talk is trying to dispel the myths, rumors and stereotypes created by the media, Hollywood and the uneducated masses.

Every time I have spoken at the class, I always get comments from the students that night or even via e-mail within the next week from the classes teacher, telling me the comments made by the students. All of which are positive and always say that I have changed their opinions, opened their eyes or gave them an entire new understanding. For each student that walks away with a positive education and if they can educate a friend or two, we all gain in the future.

My next visit to Southern New Hampshire University will be June 6