Open Water

The South Saskatchewan River – now knows as Diefenbaker lake – that flows by Sask Landing Provincial Park is OPEN. The ice went out easily this year, melting slowly over several weeks. When it reached the consistency of a Slushie we had a couple of warm days. Last week we drove to Saskatoon in the morning, following along the edge of the ice covered lake, and returned late afternoon to discover two-thirds of the water open. Heavy with silt, brown and choppy, it contrasted with the silver grey of the last of the ice. Interwoven water and ice formed fascinating patters along the ninety kilometres of the lake.

Today it is all open, silver grey stretching beneath the slate grey of low lying clouds. Often its surface is dimpled by rain drops, as spring showers urge out the green along its banks.

I’m raring to get the kayaks out of storage, dust them off, load them up and get out on the water. With temperatures running from -3 degrees Celsius to +10 degrees Celsius any attempt would be premature and result in a burrrrry cold trip.

The other deterrent to launching is the fifty feet of mud between me and the water. The river is low, as they have let out a lot of water at the damn over the winter to make room for that coming down from the mountains mid to late June. In the last years the levels  have been so high through the summer, much precious river bank has been lost in its raging depths. There are two marinas in the Park which offer the possibility of launching off a cement pad and I will make do with them until the water rises.

This year I am determined to finish another leg, if not the whole, of my odyssey from Sask Landing to Elbow at the end of the lake. I just have to get the weather and my body to cooperate. Wish me luck! Paddles raised.





The Chronic Challenge – Foreward by Dr. F. G. Inglis


This remarkable book provides a compassionate, knowledgeable and well-researched source to guide persons with Chronic Disease (PCD). They daily have to summon the will to survive the challenge the disease brings to their lives and well-being. It will further help them to get on with “having a life”.

Madelon suffered a massive colonic hemorrhage at their summer cabin, and her husband, Dennis flew the life-saving flight that brought her to Saskatoon and into my life. Later that August day, following resuscitation, she was taken to the operating room where we performed a bowel resection: and so she embarked on her new life.

I will put this into some perspective. The majority of patients with Crohns Disease will require surgery at some phase of the disease. Of these, about half will require one operation. The others may require two or multiple procedures to deal with the complications of fistulae, bowel obstruction or bleeding associated with this idiopathic recurrent disease. Madelon is one of the latter.

I experienced her anger, frustration, despair and loss of self-esteem, directed at the Ileostomy the disease and me. All of this is clearly described in the book. We worked through this somehow and went on together over the years to deal with the problems of this recalcitrant disease. The bad days were common enough, but Madelon gained inner strength and the day I made rounds and saw her smile with a sparkle in her eyes, I knew she would make it. How she gained this resilience is described in the book.

This is not a book about Crohns disease alone, but rather it is dedicated to those people who have “invisible” chronic disease; many of which she has interviewed. These interviews were collated to illustrate the “Chronic Ripple” effect of persistent illness. I watched these ripples touch Madelon’s husband, children, family, friends, work place, medical staff and other care-givers.

The synthesis of the interviews provides specific guidelines in each chapter for the management of many problems. The readers of this book will experience an understanding of the complexities of their illness, or that of someone close to them, and be stimulated to cope, make positive adjustments and continue on as productive people.

Frederic G. Inglis,  MD FRCSC FACS Professor Emeritus of Surgery University of Saskatchewan Belleville, ON April 12, 2002


Introducing The Chronic Challenge: Living Well With a Chronic Disease

My intention in the weeks ahead, is to present to you my book on chronic disease, Chronic Challenge: Living Well With A Chronic Disease, chapter by chapter. In order to write this comprehensive book on coping with what are termed the “invisible diseases”, I interviewed men and women across Canada suffering with chronic conditions. I covered Crohns Disease, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Diabetes, heart condition, SAD, and Multiple Sclerosis. Most often, particularly in the early stages of their illness, it is not obvious they are sick. Yet, each day they fight through a variety of symptoms to go to work, raise their children and live as normally as possible. The people around them are not aware of their suffering, and often make harsh judgements, labelling them malingerers, lazy, poor time managers, irresponsible.

If you are one of those living with a chronic disease, you know the cost of keeping it to yourself and being labelled, and the effect of sharing your condition in hopes of a fairer approach from family members, care workers and the public. You probably feel you can’t win either way. And you still have the disease to cope with.

The wonderful people I interviewed had all lived with their condition for over fifteen years. They were undergoing remissions and relapses, living fully or fighting another bout. All of them had much to offer in the way of physical, mental and spiritual coping mechanisms. Their stories are uplifting and helpful. Whatever the disease, they had much in common. And whether you are diagnosed with a disease, or trying to understand it for someone you care about, their comments, advice, philosophies and strength will help you. I hope you will follow my entries over this next three months and find in these chapters a figurative hand out-held and waiting to offer support.

One cannot look at the patient, without looking at the people around the person with the disease. They too have much to cope with, whether family, friends or co-workers the disease causes change in their lives. In Chronic Ripple I offer up the comments and conclusions of these people whose lives are also affected by chronic disease. I hope you will gain comfort and good advice from my interviews with them.


I spent from January fourth to April 25 waiting to hear if High Ground will be accepted by my publisher. After a nudge, well, gentle shove – okay push – I finally received a response from her. It’s not the one I wanted. She is asking for changes before she offers a contract. Now, I’ve been here before, and as I started having misgivings and imagining a better way to write several parts of the book while I was waiting for her response, I believe her request has teeth. I just wish they weren’t biting into my ass…pirations!

I’m used to making changes for editors. I welcome their constructive criticism, because I know they help me make my book better. So I’m good with re-working these areas. I’m not good with submitting a less than “my best” book. So here in lies the lesson. I knew in my gut High Ground didn’t feel quite right. I worried about not introducing the female protagonist till page eight, and said several times the fact that the suspense is based on computer programming slows the pace. So why did I submit?

Like a trapeze artist in full swing, I was caught up in the success of Climbing High and responding to my readers request for the next story in the series. I wanted to somersault High Ground safely into the hands of my editor. I kept the trapeze swinging, my momentum going and made the leap between blank page and finished product in haste. My decision did not turn out well. Instead of a beautifully executed double twist to my catcher, I missed the reaching hands and fell clumsily into the net.

If you’re expecting me to be still lying staring at the top of the tent, you’ve guessed wrong. After only a brief moment to reorient, I bounced up, flipped myself over the edge of the net to solid ground and I’m heading fast for the ladder. I’ll clasp my trapeze with determined hands and start swinging again, because I know High Ground will be a great book, if I focus on the details, listen to my gut, and only re-submit when I know I will wow the crowd with an attention grabbing fete.