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I, like many of us pre-social media journalers, bloggers, et. al., still prefer an open, relatively limitless box for writing down my thoughts for a select audience.

2013 started out with some uncertainty for me, career-wise. I had given up the idea of working for myself, contracting services out to third-party clients, with their protocols and expectations. This was largely due to the limited scope and age population of the available clientele, as well as the lack of hands-on occupational therapy I was able to provide. I also balked at the vocational rehabilitation role incorporated in that arena. In the States we OTs don't have much of a role in true vocational rehab unless we work for a private clinic such as the HealthSouth enterprise. I like my geriatric, dementia and orthopaedic clients. It's what I'm best at.

My personal life continued to be grand, which was the reason such career jolting was acceptable. My wife was supportive of me working casually for the Ministry in a home health role (about as similar as it gets up here in BC), to discover what actual health care is like for the people of this province. We continued to reclaim the farm in actuality and practise from the previously shared owner who was gone since September, 2011. It's a process indeed, especially when y have little time for yourselves, let alone another project.

I also discovered that I would be eligible for my Italian passport if I just did the legwork to prove it. I am still working on that thanks to some very unhelpful folks at the New Haven records office. They are sick of us Italians amending the heck out of their erroneous records for Mother Italy. 2014 is my year to work that out.

Right in the middle of my seeking to restart my proprietorship with a favoured client (full time work, plus), my mother in law began her rapid decline toward her end on this earth. We hastily decided that my wife would go to be with her and her family in Manitoba. I know firsthand that you never regain that time if you delay. Thank goodness she went. She got a few days with her mom before she passed.

I flew out there and back in one day, working the farm alone, and growing my client base. We had a neighbour who threw hay for us, allowing my trip. That was tiring, but something I would never have missed. I was there with my wife, saying goodbye to my beautiful mother in law. You never forget those moments. You do forget the struggles behind them.

After returning home, we regrouped over the summer. We had planted a vegetable garden in late spring, and it began to flourish. I really dig this farm living.

I received a small windfall from the mortgage settlement with Bank of America. I had been perfectly on time it's my payments back in 2009, and calculated a risk of moving back to Seattle for a much higher paying job when they wouldn't allow me to miss one month in order to set myself up. I had discovered the job was not as it seemed, and quickly found another that I loved, but had to lose out on time and pay checks. Bank of America had just purchased my FHA loan from a wonderful institution, one that worked with people when there were issues. Bank of America had told me that if is missed one payment, it was as good as defaulting. Ok, I said. Then take the house. It's yours. Done deal.

The settlement was a bit of a return on my troubles with that ex, and it was decided that I would finally visit Italy with it. I planned for a late winter trip to Venice and Naples for 2014.

My annual sojourn to Europe was beckoning, however, in September of this year. I had been having trouble with my lower back, straining to dress my feet, lessening my physical activities of 5k walks multiple times per week. In Europe, I had a huge suitcase, and a small set of yacht steps to access my cabin. I had significant trouble managing the thing, and wondered what was wrong with my body.

When my period started over the Baltic Sea, I thought my back issues would be gone. I visited Iceland, Sweden, and Poland, returning home in so much pain that I had to begin using equipment to get dressed.

Health care is universal here, if slow at times. I have a fantastic family doctor who was trained in South Africa. That is my personal favourite for medical clinicians. They are the best trained in my opinion. She collaborated with me, and we decided on X-rays. Nothing but normal degeneration going on there. Why, then, the sciatic pain? As it would happen, my ovarian and endometrial diseases had worsened, causing a severe spasm in my piriformis muscle. It was squeezing the life out of my right sciatic nerve. I ended up in the emergency department, on opiates, off of work, and scared to await surgery for up to 8 months in that state.

Upon a second and third opinion, it was decided that I needed to come off of the opiates (thank goodness), go on a nerve-specific medication, and a new surgeon put me back on a progesterone replacement to stop activity altogether until surgery his wait is 6 months.

At least I can work, and take my Italy trip, and work on this farm in some capacity until then. I was truly concerned about my health, my heart, and that level of doped-up sedentary lifestyle had I gone with Plan A.

And here we are, December.

I have added some work with a vendor, writing reports for wheelchair and equipment justifications to insurance companies on behalf of appropriate clients. This had been a dream. Mine to start in the US. I have so many skills that are just sitting there making money for other people, waiting on my own portion of the cut. I get every dollar with this work, I negotiate my own rate, and it is not physical work. I'm good at it as well. I still have my primary bread and butter contract with the big rehabilitation company, but I'm happy to have promoted myself independently of a contract.

We continue to love each other more every day. We celebrated our third wedding anniversary this year. I am so grateful for her. I hope I am half of the student and teacher to her that she is for me.

I am now 41. It's one of those weird ages. I am not much for the numbers, but 40 was a welcomed milestone for me. My sister never achieved it. I only hope that I continue to break those records. I'd like to not be gone from this place in 14 years like my mom.

To be continued...

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September 2014

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