I am going to try unplugging from my digital nervous system for seven days.  Semi return to the 17th century: pen and paper for writing, printed paper books for reading.

In part this is simply change for variety. It is also a response to a nearly fatal omen. Something happened at dialysis this week that could have been ugly. For dialysis treatment we sit usually for four hours, These treatment chairs have foot rests and can tilt back.  The foot rest is a hardish cushion or pad. On both sides of the arm rests are two small flat flaps.  The nurses use these to hold stuff to get us going for dialysis.  And for taking us off at the end of the treatment.  In between, we patients can use them for our stuff: drink cup, snack, headphones, pen and notebook, etc.

I had my Macbook Pro with me this week.  It often lives on my lap, but if I nap I like to put it for safety to the arm flap.  It could slip off my lap if I shift while half asleep in my nap.  These flaps are held in their upright position by two flap pins.  When dropped they narrow the width of the chair.  This helps when moving the chairs around for cleaning the floors or if they are pulled out of use and rolled to the back room for repair.

I had set the Macbook on the left flap. It was fine for half an hour. Near the end of the treatment, I set a pillow on top of it.  Down it went. The Macbook Pro landed on the floor.  Deep breath. A nurse came over and lifted it up to me.  With a prayer on my lips I checked it out. Started fine.  DVD drive was ok, as well.  One cat life used up.

The reason I bring it to dialysis is to watch DVDs.  For Christmas I received the entire collection of The Man from UNCLE.

We have a small TV to watch during treatments.  Trouble is they are analog.  Digital cable supplier has cut and continues to drop analog channels. We are down to just a handful of channels.  I have given up on this free TV service.  For me the las straw when Sportsnet (Rogers sports channel) disappeared.  Fortunately the Shopping Channel is still available.

So do I risk the laptop on these notoriously tricky chair flaps?  These hard wearing chairs are almost comfortable and an integral part of treatment.

Part of unplugging is part of winter fatigue.  So with a drum roll, 1, 2, 3, UNPLUG.


We are in a deep freeze pair of days. Wind chills as low as -42C. Time to stay indoors. I do hope my car will start on Monday morning at 615am. I have to drive to dialysis.

I wonder how the local feral cats will make out. One neighbour leaves their garage door open, perhaps that will help. We park on our driveway. No garage.

This winter has had generally low temperatures here in central Ontario. Most winters we get cold snaps. But the thermometer goes back up to -1 or-3 Celsius, which is not harrowing. This winter we seem almost always to hold on just below -10C.

Trying to eat light and drink light probably makes the cold hit me harder. One more perk of kidney failure. There is a chance I may receive a kidney transplant later this year. So next year I can stay in bed and not start the frozen car so early.

Lessening the Suffering of Chronic Kidney Failure Patients Through Engagement

a realistic assessment of how renal patients struggle and feel

Engaging The Patient

Guest Contributor: Robert Bear

Patients with serious chronic diseases should not have to suffer needlessly, but many patients with advanced chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease do. They suffer, in part, because of the co-morbidities and clinical consequences of their disease. But mostly they suffer for other reasons: lacking sufficient knowledge about their disease and its history, they are afraid; finding it difficult to communicate meaningfully with their care providers, they feel alone; having to make difficult decisions they are unprepared for – including possibly choosing conservative care only – they feel anxious and bewildered; facing extraordinary lifestyle adjustments – sometimes including loss of employment and financial security – they feel vulnerable. Often, their life expectations have been upended. Many say they have lost dignity, feel a sense of hopelessness and wish for death.

Robert Bear Robert Bear

Care providers in, and leaders of, chronic kidney failure programs want to prevent…

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Winter wonder this morning

For no special reason I headed out in the Camry and not far from home managed to find a snowbank, flat light and fresh snow, road and snowbank indistinguishable visually, then found my front tires soft. Had some help from a kind neighbour. No luck getting unstuck. I ended up calling CAA, they came in 20 minutes. He pulled me free and put air in the tires Still a warning light from VSC system, traction control, so the Camry gets dropped at Toyota in Midland first thing Monday morning. That will be on the way to dialysis before 7 am. The rear tires may just be frozen up with winter gunk. We park it outside. May turn out that Toyota just lets it sit in the heated garage and melt clean.

Wondering if I should have gone for 4WD instead of the used Camry.

I don’t feel too bad about snowbanking the car.  Someone crossed all the way to the left and ended up in the snow filled ditch on the forest side of our road just up from our driveway.  The undifferentiated whiteness did him in, too.

A Winter View

Lately it seems that my view of winter has changed.  I see the snow and feel the cold and see it as a risky challenge to locomotion of the vehicular and pedestrian kind.  When I was a kid in Toronto I used to spend hours on my skates up at the park at the end of our street playing shinny on the natural ice rink.  I would blast the puck against the plywood boards.  When my shot went high I would walk off the ice and see if I could find it in the snow.  Come the Spring thaw, one could harvest lost pucks from the park.

Winter is the obvious metaphor for old age. Although it is the sleepy time of the year, as I have aged my sleep has escaped from me.  Many nights I am awake at all hours after midnight.  I read a little.  I talk to the cats who stare at me reprovingly for disturbing their sleep.  I listen to the northwest wind humming at the windows.  I look out at the inky void outside and see nothing.  Unless the sky is clear and the moon is shining its magic blue light.