The best laid plans…

Yes, I know. It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. I know that better than most. You never know when the bus is headed your way. When lightening will strike. Or the rogue cell has started replicating. I’m holding out for this being a mere bump in the road.

Here was my plan about three months back: I was enjoying a busy time at my seasonal job at the garden centre, in the glass house, spending sunny, warm days planting green things while a  bitterly cold and overlong winter raged out of doors. Evenings and days off, I was happily honing the sketches for the next children’s book – an alphabet of the West Coast – which fostered a daily mental stroll through the Pacific rainforest and along coastal beaches. Once the gardening season wound down, I  planned to ramp up to full-time studio hours to finish the illustrations, ending up just in time to jet out to Kelowna for a wedding and then off to Turkey for dig season. And then – who knew? – perhaps on to Europe this year? That was the plan.

Instead? The Zincirli dig season was cancelled due to the current Syrian situation. Disappointing, but that opened up an opportunity to join girlfriends for a week on Prince Edward Island in July. It also meant that I could stay longer in Kelowna once the book was done. I would be home to keep a vegetable garden for the first time in years and finally plant the new perennial bed that I had begun preparing two years ago, repaint the front of the house and stain the back deck…the revised plan kept expanding.

The latest plan, though, has me not going anywhere – not Turkey, not Kelowna, not Europe –  not for a while and that will be after a trip to hospital. I’m scheduled for neurosurgery.

Neurosurgery. I kind of like the sound of it, if not the reality. No, a surgeon is not going to root around in my skull a là Dr. McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy; he’s going to give my spinal cord a little more room. If you want all the technical details, it’s a posterior cervical decompression with instrumented fusion. Look it up! It’s quite an amazing procedure, really –  if it’s not your spine, that is.

How did all this come about? I started noticing some bothersome symptoms last spring – numbness and tingling in my fingers and a feeling that I might faint when I tipped my head back to look up or reach above my head. It wasn’t constant, so I mostly ignored it. I concluded that I probably needed physiotherapy, that it might be related to previous issues with carpal tunnel syndrome and so I shelved it until I had more time – which was never, of course. The tingling got worse, affecting my arms and, sometimes, legs. My daughter remarked that I was walking funny and truthfully, I was feeling unusually clumsy. So I stopped procrastinating and saw a doctor – who immediately sent me on to a neurologist who then sent me on to a neurosurgeon. Arthritic bone and herniated disks in my neck are pinching my spinal cord – due in part to aging, in part to genetics and in part to some mythical injury that both neurologists are convinced I must have experienced somewhere along the line. The surgery will relieve the pressure and reverse most of the symptoms; I may be left with a bit of numbness in my fingertips.

The current plan? I’ve left the garden centre, the book is on hold and I will have surgery next week and settle in for some recovery time. Kelowna was inside the recovery window, so I had to give that up. Prince Edward Island will be comfortably outside the projected recovery and still on the agenda. The garden hasn’t been planted. The perennials will have to wait and so will the front porch repainting. The back deck hasn’t been stained, but has been fitted up with new patio furniture to create a cosy recovery nest. I’ve loaded up my e-reader and there is still time to round up some interesting plant material to sketch while I laze in healing comfort. Perhaps those of you nearby will drop in during the month of June to laze with me? I may even manage a blog entry or two with all that time for rest and reflection.

That’s the plan.


12 thoughts on “The best laid plans…

  1. Anything you need, you know where to find us. Will definitely pop in to break up recovery boredom 🙂 Good luck and take care! Love you,
    Karen & Fred


  2. Oh dear. I wish I could come round and help make you a lovely garden to enjoy during your convalescence – you could recline Victorianly on a chaise and view the blooming begonias while somebody fanned you, deferentially. Downtonially. In any case, I’d like to send you a care package from England, but I can’t find your mailing address. Can you send it to me, on fb or email whatever?
    I’m sorry to hear that Zinj was cancelled – was it a bit hairy last year, or have things got worse?


    • There’s enough of a garden to enjoy, happily, if I ignore the blank spot, but it’s perfectly lovely to imagine you and Matthew enjoying my backyard. I don’t have begonias, but you’d be welcome to install some!
      Zincirli was to be a study year and scaled down, so I suppose it was a case of weighing risk over gain. There was caution last year concerning activity in the mountains behind us, but nothing overt, besides a growing refugee presence.


  3. Karen,

    Even with the news of your surgery, it is good to hear from you! You have a way of writing about a “woe-is-me” topic that is upbeat and keeps the reader captured. Will you keep updates coming as much as possible? Jim and I are having dinner later this month with David and Gunborg. Count on the fact that we will be talking about you…and it will all be good!

    This past Tuesday Sam successfully defended his dissertation. At last, graduation on June 14th! He and Kim have a baby due…actually overdue by a week. We wondered if the baby might decide to come on the date of Sam’s defense.

    Looking for updates that have you up and healing well! Judy


    • Lovely to hear from you as always, Julia. Congrats to Sam – and Kim – on both fronts. Keep me posted! And I will keep you up to date, too.

      I’ve learned that there is no point wasting time worrying about what might happen – there will be time enough once it has happened and better things to do if it never happens. A long-ago roommate paraphrased one of Jesus’ parables this way: you can’t make yourself taller by worrying! So, upbeat it is!


  4. Our loss Karen – but we are sure glad that you are getting this taken care of – we will miss
    seeing you in Kelowna but hope it means that you can come for an even longer fact finding mission next time!!


  5. My dear Karen,

    Thank you for sending us this post. I was indeed imagining you preparing for Turkey. Now I guess it’s this week that you’ll be having surgery. You didn’t mention where … do you have to go to Toronto?

    “I shelved it until I had more time – ” … I can just hear you saying that!

    Danna and I are indeed planning to come to Toronto and to Cambridge over the summer — for speed skating of course. I don’t know if we’ll catch you in July, but maybe in August.

    I will be thinking of you throughout the week. Will Kyra and Rylan be close by?



    • Yes, Kyra will be keeping vigil – Rylan is still there in Ottawa and looking for a corner to garden…I thought he might have approached you already.
      I’ll look forward to catching up with you later this summer, Sandra.


  6. Wow, your plans have sure altered. Thank goodness you can receive the surgery you need. My thoughts are there in a positive way. I wish you only the best outcome.
    From a client who loves your work.


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