My Shoulder Report

On the last day of school before I was to begin my summer holiday I went to the park with my kids. I was literally sitting on a park bench reading a book about a new type of computer I had just bought – a Pi-topCEED which is powered by a micro computer called a Raspberry Pi 3 – exciting stuff for a tech nerd like myself.

All of a sudden I felt a stabbing sort of pain in the back of my left shoulder. I reached over with my right hand and massaged the lump that had popped up in the back of my shoulder.

It was like a muscle knot that just appeared out of nowhere. So I massaged it trying to ease the discomfort that had just popped into my shoulder. I then stood up and did some arm movement exercises to try to loosen up my arm which was tightening up.

Nothing seemed to ease the discomfort.

When my girls were ready to go home, we got in the car and drove home. By that time my left arm was aching pretty much right down to the elbow. I complained a little bit about my sore arm to my wife and then told her I was going upstairs to go to bed to rest.

About an hour later, my wife came upstairs and said; “this is ridiculous. A sore her left arm is an indicator of a heart attack. You need to go to the hospital.”

So I drove myself down to our local hospital emergency ward.

The emergency room response was pretty impressive. Within a few minutes of being in the ER and explaining that I had a sore left arm, I was laying on a stretcher and they were performing an ECG on me. Although my blood pressure was very elevated, there was a little other evidence to show that I was actually having a heart attack. That was a bit of a relief.

But then the question was; what was causing my left arm to be so incredibly sore? The ER doctor had x-rays taken of my shoulder. The x-rays showed that there was a significant calcium deposit on the top of my arm bone under my rotator cuff. That gave the doc an easy explanation.

Doctor gave me a prescription for Tylenol 3s and advised me that I was likely to be going to be experiencing lots of pain over the next while and  to eat lots of fibre because the T3s will cause constipation.

And then just as I was about to leave the hospital the same thing happened to my right arm. Pain and the numbness just went cruising down my right arm until, just like my left arm, there was virtually no feeling in it.

The doctor explained that was probably because I was compensating by using my right arm to do everything that I would normally do with my left arm. And then he encouraged me to go home. So I went home.

And so began my journey into an exploration of pain.

I was pretty sure that the pain would go away on its own. However just to be sure, I booked an appointment to see my family doctor on the following Monday.

By late Friday afternoon it became obvious the pain was not going to go away on its own. Both of my shoulders were leaking in a way that I had never experienced before. 

Knowing a chiropractor who works late on Fridays, I phoned up and asked if I could come in and have a consultation. They made time to have a look at my shoulders. 

Their diagnosis was that it was quite likely that I had a pinched nerve in my left shoulder blade. Or in the area of my back around the top of my spine where the ribs join the spine.

The chiropractor did a couple of adjustments to my neck and my ribs which gave me very temporary relief. By the time I got downstairs to my car the pain was just as bad as it had been when I was going into the office.

Saturday morning the pain was what I would call excruciating. So I called up an acupuncture/acupressure practitioner that we know. “Sure come on in. Let’s have a look at this.”

Acupuncture acupressure person says it is likely that I have tendinitis in both my shoulders. So we proceed with acupuncture and cupping on my shoulders.

Saturday afternoon and into the evening the pain begins to increase. Overnight the pain is almost unbearable. There is no way for me to sit or lie down that is even remotely comfortable. Every four hours I’m taking T3s. The pain is like a life force of its own.

Somehow or another I make it through to Monday and I go to see my family doctor. He prescribes me a couple medications that help with nerve pain. Unfortunately those medications also make it difficult for me to walk or talk or do much of anything. He also introduces me to the idea of mindfulness and and he encourages me to get outside and stretch my arms and breathe deeply and try to enjoy life as much as I can.

I do that. I take his advice. I go outside with my kids we go for walks in the forest and I stretch my arms gently and I move them and I begin to feel a little bit better.

The problem is in the night. At approximately 10 PM my arms and my shoulders and my back begin to ache in a way that I cannot begin to describe. The pain has a way of making me question everything in my life. The pain is insidious and so incredibly powerful.

One day during the week I go back to see the chiropractor again. She can see that I’m clearly in agony. She sends me over to another clinic where they do x-rays of my neck and shoulders from every different angle. After analyzing the x-rays she says that there is pretty clear evidence that there is what I would call, in layman’s terms, a pinched nerve in my shoulder.

She opens a discussion with me about trigger point therapy or prolotherapy. I leave her office with the intention to look into and consider these new types of therapy.

Somehow or another I make it through the week to Friday. I am unable to sleep for more than 45 minutes to an hour at a time. My nights are spent wondering around the house racked with pain. My body is in agony. I am exhausted.

Friday morning I called my doctors office again. I told the receptionist that I cannot continue with this kind of pain. I need to see the doctor as soon as possible. 

Something I said triggered a reaction from her and she told me to immediately go back to the local emergency ward. I do.

Once again I’m treated with respect and dignity by all the emergency room staff. When I do get in to see the doctor he asked me lots of questions about the pain and what I’ve been doing to manage the pain. He tells me that the reality is I’m relatively new on this path of pain and there is no quick and easy solution to deal with it.

He prescribes a very strong anti-inflammatory medication. Another medication.

Last night I took the nerve pain medications and the anti-inflammatory medications all before going to bed. Wow, what a trip that was. 

I did manage to sleep a little bit better. 

I am scheduled to see my family doctor on Monday. I’m interested to see what more he has to say about my journey through pain. I will also ask him his opinion of the prolotherapy.

Until then I will continue to move as best I can. I will continue to focus on the positives in my life. I will continue to enjoy my life. And I will continue to stay present in my life. I just hope the pain gives me at least a little bit of a break this weekend.

Joe Fafard; Retailles at the Burnaby Art Gallery

On the evening of Thursday June 23rd I had the pleasure of meeting the Canadian art iconic Joe Fafard, one of Canada’s most recognized and prolific artists

Joe Fafard
Joe Fafard

Joe Fafard is one of Canada’s leading professional visual artists and has exhibitions of a wide variety of work in galleries and museums across the country and around the world, including the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan.

He is widely recognized as being at the forefront of his art, and his outstanding contributions to the arts have significantly raised the profile of both Saskatchewan and Canada on the national stage.


His current exhibition at the Burnaby Art Gallery really is a thing of wonder.

Retailles offers an insight into Fafard’s exploration of the laser-cut process featuring laser-cut and welded metal sculptures along with embossed and woodcut prints.

Over the years he has collected the leftover pieces of metal from other art projects he has created and, like a good Saskatchewan farmer, he kept the metal scraps with the attitude of  “this just might be useful later”.

Laser Cut Steel Art
Laser Cut Steel Art

French for scraps or trimmings, “that which is cut away”, Retailles not only references the act of removing the negative from positive space to create form, but also refers to the act of recycling these “off-cuts” to create new works.

Night Thief
Night Thief

The art work is truly extraordinary. His technique makes the laser cut steel pieces of art work look and feel like they are about to come alive and start moving around the gallery.

To be honest, I am not an art critic and do not bring a “trained eye” to my visits to the Burnaby Art Gallery, however I do see that this is a very cool exhibition and worth a visit.

The Joe Fafard; Retailles Exhibition is at the Burnaby Art Gallery (6344 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby) until August 28th. Do yourself a favour and get down to the BAG and take in the Joe Fafard exhibition.

BC Superweek and the Giro di Burnaby

On Thursday, July 14th 2016 (that’s TOMORROW!!!) the Giro di Burnaby returns to the Burnaby Heights neighbourhood for its ninth year.

Professional cyclists from all over the globe will race on the fast and technical 1.3km closed loop course on Hastings Street competing for over $15,000 in prize money.

Giro di Burnaby Schedule:

  • 3:00pm – Girolino (Kids Zone) – Corner of Willingdon & Albert
  • 5:30pm – Giro Expo Opens – Hastings & Madison
  • 5:30pm – Boffo Breve Youth Race
  • 6:00pm – Women’s Race
  • 7:20pm – Men’s Race

As part of the BC Superweek series, the “Giro” is one of nine premiere pro-cycling events taking place between July 8th – July 16th in Metro Vancouver.

The day after the Giro di Burnaby (that’s Friday, July 15th) is the PoCo Grand Prix, the youngest member of the BC Superweek series. This race is located in the heart of Port Coquitlam and is a criterium-style race featuring a mass start and a 1.3-kilometre circuit that cyclists will navigate for 40-65 laps.

The Steve Nash Fitness World Tour de White Rock  is one of the longest standing races in North America. It consists of the Choices Markets Criterium in the heart of White Rock and the historic Peace Arch News Road Race, ending the weekend Tour with one of the most challenging road races in the Pacific North West.

The Tour de White Rock is a grueling 130 km test of endurance and strength as cyclists tackle the steep seaside hills of the City of White Rock.


Is the Problem Excessive Speed or Distracted Driving?

In the relatively short time that my family has lived in Coquitlam there have been serious motor vehicle collisions at the corner of Como Lake Ave and Gatensbury that have resulted in cars or trucks landing in the front yard of homes on each of the four corners of the intersection.

Como Lake and Gatensbury
Como Lake and Gatensbury

The most recent collision happened this weekend just gone. As you can see in the photo above, the white SUV landed upside down and almost cut in half by the fence that the vehicle landed upon.

First Responders on Scene
First Responders on Scene

The collision – and I purposefully use the word “collision” because these collisions are NOT accidents. These collisions are caused by the choices that people make – they do not happen by accident.

Anyways, I digress, the most recent collision caused Como Lake Ave to be closed from Porter Ave east to Shoolhouse Ave from 6:45pm until nearly midnight. At midnight they were finally able to remove the SUV from the front yard of the home on the corner.

For hours after the collision there were at least ten police cruisers, five ambulances, and at least four fire/rescue vehicles on the scene. Later in the evening three or more tow trucks arrived to remove the vehicles involved in the collision.

Northwest Corner
Northwest Corner

In the picture above you can see how there is a very well established hedge and then the new, little trees. That is a result of a violent collision that sent cars hurtling through this family’s hedge to land in the yard only a few metres from their living room.

On all corners of Como Lake and Gatensbury there are similar scenes. Vehicles collided so violently one time that one of the vehicles was pushed east on Como Lake Ave until it ran into the side of the nearby apartment building.

Half an hour before the most recent collision took place I was standing with daughters at the exact spot where the SUV landed. If we had played at the new Como Lake playground for thirty minutes more I would have been standing at that exact spot with my daughters.

What makes these spectacular collisions all the more curious is the fact that the speed limit, not the recommended speed, but the actual legal, posted speed limit on Gatensbury for many blocks in either direction of Como Lake Ave is 30kmh.

Of course the speed limit on Como Lake Ave is 50 kmh. A speed limit that is rarely, if ever enforced.

The question is, how is that when two vehicles collide on a corner where the speed limit is 50kmh on one street and 30kmh on the cross street, how is it that one of the vehicles can become airborne and land in the front yard of a nearby home?

Of course that is completely disregarding the question of how did two or more vehicles traveling in opposite directions enter the intersection at the same time.

Southeast Corner
Southeast Corner

To get to the bottomline, I understand that distracted driving is a serious problem. But do we really need police officers standing at the corner of Como Lake Ave and Clarke watching for people who look down at their phones while they are stopped at the red light while they disregard the drivers who routinely ignore the red light?

What is the point of having speed limits if they are not enforced and obviously not followed?

At what point do we say enough is enough?

The Coquitlam Munch

In the past I have blogged about growing food close to home and I will say it again, I believe in growing food close to home! I also like the idea of urban gardening where food plants rather than decorative plants are grown on city lands. You can imagine how pleased I was to see that the city of Coquitlam is also embracing the idea of growing food close to where we live.

Bush Beans
Bush Beans

The “Coquitlam Munch” is a partnership with the Austin Heights Business Improvement Association (AHBIA) which will enable the public to taste and share food grown on public land.

Forty planters along Ridgeway and Austin Avenues were planted by AHBIA members and other community partners at a launch event held May 26.

Adjacent businesses will keep the planters watered and weeded, and the public will be invited to tour the planters from June to October to taste the crops and learn about small-scale sustainable gardening.

I will be visiting the garden boxes in the coming days to see how the gardens are progressing. Stay tuned!!


Enforcement of Distracted Driving Laws

Earlier this week I had lunch at Raw Cuts, my favourite little sandwich shop on the Burnaby-New West border. While sitting in the shop and enjoying my lunch I watched the RCMP on the Burnaby side of 10th Ave pulling in drivers who dared to look at their mobile devices while they sat stopped at the red light.

Random picture for you to look at
Random picture for you to look at

I couldn’t help but notice that while the police were very busy enforcing the distracted driving laws, they paid no attention to the people who ran the red light or made illegal left turns at the corner. As a side note, the fine for distracted driving is now $500.

However, it was also interesting to see that each time the light turned red, at least two cars would sail through the light. I’m not talking about a late yellow light – I’m talking about people in cars, trucks and motorcycles entering the intersection as the light turns red. The police paid no attention to the cars and trucks running the red lights.

However, if you were one of the drivers stopped at the light and you looked down at your mobile phone, you could expect a police officer to pull you into the parking lot and give you a fine for distracted driving.

A really ridiculous thing though, once the drivers crossed the intersection and were moving away from the watchful eyes of the police, the drivers would once again pick up their phones and continue driving while making calls or texting or checking my blog.

It appears that the distracted driving enforcement only focuses on people who are stopped, but not actually driving in their cars.

I’m not sure what the answer is but since I have started carpooling more often, I get to watch people in other cars more closely and I’m just going to say it, people are not getting the message about distracted driving. Many, many people continue to use their phones while driving. The current method of enforcement is clearly not working.

Joe Fafard Exhibition; Retailles 

Internationally renowned, Joe Fafard is one of Canada’s most recognized and prolific artists.

Joe Fafard; Retailles
Joe Fafard; Retailles

Mr. Fafard is one of Canada’s leading professional visual artists and has exhibitions of a wide variety of work in galleries and museums across the country and around the world, including the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan.

He is widely recognized as being at the forefront of his art, and his outstanding contributions to the arts have significantly raised the profile of both Saskatchewan and Canada on the national stage

In the early 1970’s, much of his sculpture used clay as a medium.

In 1985, he shifted to bronze as his chief sculptural medium, successfully establishing a foundry in Pense.

His insight and humour characterize his portraits of neighbours, farm animals, wildlife, and famous artists that he came to respect as he learned his craft.

His work in bronze is displayed across Canada and his cows have become one of his trademarks. Some say that Joe Fafard adds a sense of humour to his depiction of the everyday through his artwork; Joe says that he never really took it out…

Fafard’s current exhibition titled Retailles offers an insight into his exploration of the laser-cut process featuring laser-cut and welded metal sculptures along with embossed and woodcut prints.

Fafard’s current exhibition at the Burnaby Art Gallery opens  on Thursday, June 23. There will be an opening reception at the BAG from 7-9pm for Joe Fafard: Retailles.

The Burnaby Art Gallery is located at 6344 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby.

Coquitlam’s Tree Watering Bags

For the second year in a row, Coquitlam has installed watering bags to help out young trees and is inviting neighbouring residents to help keep the trees healthy by adding water to the bags during drier spells.

Tree Water Bag
Tree Water Bag

The City of Coquitlam is committed to supporting a healthy urban forest that includes 2,800 young trees. To that end, once again this year, the City’s Parks crews have installed watering bags to help trees grow strong and healthy during the drier summer months.

The watering bags, which will be filled by City staff once every two weeks, are a more efficient – and effective – way to deliver water to street and park trees.

Similar to last year, residents neighbouring these trees are requested to supplement the City waterings, especially during extended periods without rain. Instructional letters have been mailed to affected residents asking for their assistance. While not required, this added boost helps the trees to be more vigorous and more pest resistant.

In 2015, the newly introduced watering bags lead to an increase in the establishment and survival of young and newly planted trees, with the City losing very few trees despite a record drought and many severe weather events.

The tree watering program runs from late May until late September and the bags will be removed in the fall so they can be reused in future years.

Residents with questions or concerns about the tree watering program may contact Parks at 604-927-6300.

Canada Day in Coquitlam

While the neighbouring community of Burnaby is hosting their annual Canada Day celebration at Swangard Stadium, this year will be Coquitlam’s eighth Canada Day celebration and more than 60,000 people will gather in Town Centre Park on July 1st for ‘Coquitlam Celebrates Canada Day’.


The Canada Day celebration in Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park is a free community festival featuring live music and entertainment, food, beverages, family activities and fireworks.

As part of the Coquitlam 125 anniversary celebrations, the 2016 event will recognize the City’s past, present and future with a new site configuration and special activities.

Photo opportunities abound at this colourful event, from the red and white face paint and clothing, to the live performances on three stages, to the spectacular fireworks display over Lafarge Lake.

The free Canada Day Celebration is an all day event culminating with fireworks at 10 p.m.

Limited parking is available on site and event-goers are encouraged to walk, bike, carpool or use transit or the free shuttle. A free shuttle bus will run from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. between the site and Gleneagle Secondary (1195 Lansdowne Dr.) and a free bicycle valet service will be available.

Buses that stop within a block or two of the site include the 97 B-Line, 179, C27 and C28.

Come on down to Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park to celebrate Canada Day!

Coquitlam 125 Partnership; Keeping Waste Out of Landfills

As thousands of people prepare to attend the Coquitlam 125 anniversary celebrations this year, the City’s special events staff are devising a plan to keep more than a tonne of discarded food, packaging and other recyclables out of the landfill.

A single large event such as Coquitlam’s Canada Day celebration can produce almost 900 kilograms of food, recycling and refundable items, plus another 130 kilograms of garbage.

Diverting as much as possible from the landfill is a key goal for Coquitlam 125 events of all size. Big events such as the Kaleidoscope arts and culture festival July 23-24, the Heritage Picnic Sept. 27 and Lights at Lafarge Nov. 26 will attract thousands of people and together will generate more than a tonne of waste.

The City will be working closely with Westcoast Plastic Recycling at these three signature Coquitlam 125 events to make sure waste is sorted correctly on site and disposed of properly afterwards. As part of its role as the official Coquitlam 125 Recycling Partner, Westcoast will be helping manage all forms of waste during the three events.

For example, Westcoast staff will be on hand to help event-goers sort their waste into bins for organics, mixed recycling, refundable recycling and garbage at stations located throughout the grounds.

At the end of the day, organics and garbage will be removed by the City while Westcoast will haul away all recyclables. Back at their facility in Richmond, the company will further sort the recyclables and prepare them for remanufacturing.

The partnership with Westcoast is saving the City approximately $9,000 in disposal costs while providing high-quality recycling services at the events, helping the environment and conserving valuable non-renewal resources.

According to Westcoast, plastics generally take 1,000 years to decompose and are one of the biggest forms of pollution at landfills because they take so long to break down.

For more information about upcoming Coquitlam 125 events, visit