Ear Doctors, Braised Meats, Walterdale

We finally heard back from the hearing specialist (awkward wording, no pun intended!) via my surgeon’s office, Dr. Williams. I will be calling in for clarification, but the message that Dianne left basically said that the specialist doesn’t think that he needs to see me, that the results of the hearing test are enough to make a diagnosis, and the diagnosis is that I should get hearing aids. WHAT?!!! Uh, I would really like to sit in a small, closed room and have a conversation with the specialist who is looking at the test results produced by a pay-as-you-go clinic that sustains itself on the sales of hearing aids and have him look me in the eye, and say slowly, clearly, distinctly that I need some assistance with my hearing, and what he believes that the hearing aids will achieve. I want the academic lecture about perception of sounds and how losing the ability to hear a particular frequency range affects your brain’s ability to interpret speech. I want him to tell me if I should expect to have further deterioration, and to talk me through some sort of timeline for what I should expect as a bi-product of the chemo, and what is natural aging, and whether the introduction of hearing aids into my environment will slow down any further deterioration. I want him to tell me that there are other mitigation strategies, or not, as the case may be. I want him to lay out the programming standards for the hearing aids, and to tell me which type of aid performing which assists are recommended for my particular situation. And I want him to write a prescription which I can shop around to different hearing aid providers until I find pricing, styles, brands and services that suit me!

Geez… and speaking of hearing issues, I got an earful of abuse this morning from a friend who says that I’m not putting enough of the juicy details into this blog… Now what he was really referring to was the dinner that he prepared for us over the Labour Day weekend that I had absolutely no problem eating. What he prepared for us was a couple of different braised meats… the emphasis is on the ‘braised’ part. And I do have to admit that not only was it very tasty (just about everything he cooks is!) but the braising made it very easy for me, dry-mouth-sufferer-and-difficulty-swallowing-challenged-guy to really enjoy the meat for the first time in a long time. I had been restricting my diet to fish and certain types of seafood until Labour Day. I don’t want to give him too much credit, but after that dinner, I’ve been a bit more aggressive about finding meat dishes that are easier to chew and swallow.

What the heck is ‘braising’? Here’s part of the Wikipedia statement on the subject:

Braising (from the Frenchbraiser”) is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavour.

Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down tough connective tissue and collagens in meat; making it an ideal way to cook tougher cuts. Many classic braised dishes such as Coq au Vin are highly-evolved methods of cooking tough and unpalatable foods. Swissing, stewing and pot-roasting are all braising types. Pressure cooking and slow cooking (e.g., crockpots) are forms of braising.”

What Gord did was really quite wonderful… a bit of lamb and a bit of beef. And it wasn’t just ‘stewed’, either… it was carefully, thoughtfully done, with a lovely sauce, complimentary veggies and garlic smashed potatoes. Its kinda too bad that we don’t live on the coast near these folks. We miss the Sunday dinners with them… and I probably wouldn’t be as challenged trying to put on weight! Gord is a bit of a gourmet cook… and I really think he misses have ‘regulars’ to cook for…

Last night we went to the Walterdale Theatre Associates 50th Anniversary. I don’t know the real stats on this, but they seem to be one of the best organized, best funded, continuously performing and longest surviving community (used to be called ‘little’) theatres in the country, if not on the continent. Volunteerism is alive and well in Edmonton! We shared a table with city councillor Ben Henderson, and Alberta MLA Laurie Blakeman, professional actress Patricia (Bell) Casey, Lou, the volunteer barkeeper for Walterdale and Ruby, their volunteer Social Convener. Okay, the part about Ben and Laurie sounds pretty ostentatious, but it is a bit of a cheat… we’ve been friends for a long, long time, and because they know that we don’t have any ‘agendas’ it is comfortable to share a table (and a bottle) with us… which is very cool ’cause we get to talk about their dogs, their cabin north of Athabasca and Ben’s newly discovered fascination with red shoes. We don’t spend enough time with them to waste what time we do get with them on politics…

At the dinner gala we met up with a lot of old friends and acquaintances… it was really quite lovely, and sometimes a bit embarrassing. I’m not sure that I really know how to accept people’s well wishes gracefully… Laurie said that I was handling it quite well, but I still feel pretty awkward about it all. But they came from all over to be there last night. Gaye Lepage came in from Port Moody… Sheila Dodd came down from White Horse, or Yellowknife or someplace up there… Gerry and Vivian Streader came in from the Island… Frank and Mary Glenfield were there… and seemed quite surprised by how good I looked. I had seen them both at a small birthday celebration for Laurie Blakeman some months ago, and they admitted last night that they thought I looked quite dreadful then…. One of the local ‘event’ writers for the Edmonton Journal, Nick Lees, was even in attendance. I did notice a dearth of professional actors, directors and designers who got to practice their craft at Walterdale; where were they all? There isn’t that much going on right now… And Chris Allen was his usual erudite self, starting the evening off with a presentation of Elizabethan era instructions on how to behave at dinner and then closing the performance with Puck’s final lines from ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’. Chris had sent me some really wonderfully funny emails during my treatments. He writes so well! When we found him amongst the crowd earlier in the evening, before dinner, he gave me a hug! And I mean a rib-cage-crushing-hug-that-leaves-imprints-of-the-buttons-of-your-shirt-on-your-chest kinda hug after having looked me straight in the eyes and declaring, embarrassingly loud “You’re my hero!”

Oh, its so nice to be getting out in the world again.

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