Government Access to Encrypted Communications vs Privacy Rights

Encrypted Communication, Should Law Enforcement Agencies Have Access?


securityHi Folks,

A new paper from a group of fourteen of the world’s most pre-eminent cryptographers and computer scientists has concluded that the American and British governments cannot demand special access to encrypted communication without putting the world’s most confidential data and critical Infrastructure in danger.

With security breaches and awareness of nation-state surveillance at an all-time high, and data moving online at unprecedented speeds, encryption has emerged as a major issue in the debate over privacy rights. Major technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google have been moving to protect more of their corporate and customer data through encryption with the revelations that the National Security Agency was siphoning off digital communications and hacking into corporate data centers.  The government insists that the encryption technologies will prevent them from effectively doing their jobs

The new paper, the first published report from this group since 1997 emphasizes that the stakes involved in encryption are much higher now than in 1997.  Back then we were concerned with electronic mail and facsimile communication.  Now we are looking at the technology used to lock financial institutions and medical data, communications over mobile devices, and other critical systems like pipelines, nuclear facilities, and the power grid, which are moving rapidly online.

The debate rages on with security specialists insisting that giving government agencies the “Keys ” to exceptional access to encrypted communication requires an extraordinary degree of trust  to keep them safe from hackers and criminals.  The proposals they have put forward for exceptional access so far are wrong in principle and unworkable in practice, according to leading security experts.  Such access will open doors through which criminals and malicious nation-states can attack the very individuals that law enforcement seeks to defend.

In my book, The Lion’s Den, the CIA grapples with trying to break into a communications network thought to be operating between terrorist cells and the thought-to-have-been assassinated head of  al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.  As the plot thickens and time grows shorter to gain critical information on bin Laden’s whereabouts, the agency has to resort to kidnapping, terror and torture of a prisoner to get the information it needs, when it could so easily have been avoided had they had special access to encrypted communication.

In the second book in the series, Beyond the Firewall, I will be further exploring the challenges law enforcement faces in its limited access to information as CIA Operative Ryan Jamieson goes head to head with an evil aristocrat who would use his own daughter to protect his criminal enterprises.

To get your copy of The Lion’s Den, go to or download to your electronic reader through your favorite ebook store.  Wait for the release of Behind the Firewall in January of 2016.

norma projct

security 2
security 3



Has Anybody Finished The Lion’s Den?

I Haven’t Got Much Feedback on The Lion’s Den Yet

lion 12

Hey Folks, How are you doing?  I hope everybody is out there enjoying their summer, and are taking your copies of The Lion’s Den with you to the beach or poolside for your summer reading enjoyment.  I have been busy writing a short novel to be included in a Christmas collection of novellas by some of my favorite local romance writers.  My book, called “Christmas Wishes” deals with a middle aged lady, who, along with her husband, is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis, and deals with our reluctance to part with our youth.  It’s a big departure from The Lion’s Den which dealt with Middle Eastern politics and  the hunt for Osama bin Laden.  I have the second book in that series, The Jamieson Brother, in the works now, and anticipate it being published sometime after Christmas.  The amount of time and energy it takes to market and promote  books takes an enormous amount of time, and that’s time that I could be writing, which is frustrating!  I can see why writers still look to the traditional publishing houses to publish their work, because they have the resources to advertise and direct access to the right audience to direct your genre of work to.  It can take years, though, to get your work out there and you have to accept certain restrictions which limits your ability to get a decent return for your efforts.  I would certainly be open to negotiations, however should somebody approach me with an offer.  I haven’t made any inquiries to traditional publishing houses as of yet.  I’d like to get more feedback as to how the book is being received.

To that end, I encourage any of you who have read the book to comment here and tell me what you think of it.  I will accept all comments and welcome your criticism as well.  If you strongly like the book, I encourage you to leave a review on or .ca.  It is a good barometer of whether it’s worth my continuing to write, or if it is a waste of time.  I really appreciate the encouragement and support of people who follow my blog, or who have befriended me on Facebook.  Self-publishing can be a lonely world.


pink valentine norma

Top Guns

Ground Control, Top Guns ready for take-off


top gunOkay, so maybe I snore a little when I sleep at night.  I didn’t think it could be as bad as Paul made out, even when he bought that giant economy size bag of neon yellow ear plugs down at Princess Auto.  He’s just getting me back for when I used to tease him about his snoring before he went and got himself diagnosed with sleep apnea, I thought.  My God, could he raise the roof!  He used to sound like a squadron of Top Guns flying over the house, ALL BY HIMSELF!!!

See, I’m a night owl. I hardly ever see the bed before at least 3 am.  That’s when I do some of my best writing! Getting Paul diagnosed and put on a C-PAP machine for sleep apnea was a Godsend.  Now he gets into a fine deep sleep, and I can creep into the bed without him even waking up!  Brilliant!!  No more “When are you going to shut off that Goddamn light and go to sleep?!!” Yay!!! I get to read for at least an hour before I drop my Kindle on the floor and wake him up!

I don’t know if it’s contagious or not, but I have fallen prey to the same damn disease.  I guess it’s Karma catching up with me.  I conceded to having a sleep study done, and went to my doctor yesterday to receive the report.  The doctor told me she usually gets a sentence or two on a patient. With my report she got a whole paragraph!  The news was not good.  I was experiencing on average, 86 episodes an hour, whereby my body would wake me up, starved and straining for oxygen.  My oxygen saturation level overnight was 87, where it should anywhere from 96-98!!  I was to present myself to the Respiratory Clinic forthwith to be fitted out with a C-PAP machine.

I was never going to live it down!  How often did I tell our friends that going to bed with Paul was like sleeping with Tom Cruise.  Here he was with the mask on, the hose sticking out from his face, and his two wrists encased in braces to combat the carpal tunnel effects from his years of repetitive stress injury from doing mechanical work.  At the beginning I secretly called him Snuffleupagus (from Sesame Street) and I called his C-PAP his “snuffy”, but on second thought that was a little demeaning, so I thought he might be happier with the superhero, Tom Cruise-Top Gun likening.  Sometimes I would wake up from an REM sleep, dreaming about space aliens, only to be confronted with one in my very own bed!  And he wondered why I woke up screaming!!!

Well, tonight will be our first night together both wearing our C-PAP masks.  If the apocalypse happens, someone please call us, because we will be in such a deep sleep, it will probably take the Luftwaffe dropping bombs on us to wake us up.  I’m going to think positive about this, and imagine us as Spock and Kirk going on a deep space odyssey, or me and Jaques Yves Cousteau exploring the Marianas Trench.  At the very least, I will play Goose to his Maverick.  As Dr. Seuss once said, “Oh the places you’ll go…

C-paclove, normac-pap 

Blackflies, the Blood sucking Pestilence

What Pestilence is Next?  Blackflies are ALMOST over.


black fliesOkay, so June in Newfoundland, far from being the first month of summer fun, is actually the month of the blood-sucking season of  pestilence known as Blackflies.

Most of us natives are used to the buggers, which are almost as small as sand flies, ( known to some of the locals as “no-see-ums,”) but are black in color as opposed to beige. Blackflies  have these dreadful bitey parts up around their mouths which they slice you open with and they create blood pools which they lap up like Kool Aid!  Considering one female can produce 100 eggs, I refuse to let them have ANY of my blood to breed, so when spending time out of doors during “Blackfly season” you will see me swiping the air around my head and smacking myself all over like a crazy woman!  I even have one of those “bug hats” which has mosquito netting   right down over the brim, and elastic which seals tightly around your neck.  You can actually get jackets and pants as well that fully protect you head to toe from the annoying dive bombers. I have recently seen in the Canadian Tire Catalogue, individual bug shelters that you can zip yourself into to thwart their attempts to swarm you!  Brilliant!!!

Some people resort to insect repellants to keep the buggers at bay.  They say that those containing high concentrations of DEET are best, although some people say that it only attracts blackflies. Last weekend, we made the hike out over the TCH to our summer cabin in Port Blandford.  Knowing what to expect, I had armed myself with Deep Woods Off, Avon Skin-so-soft, a dozen buckets of citronella candles, and a  half dozen of these new Off fan gizmos which are supposed to form a zone of protection around you, so the flies wouldn’t even be interested.   I warily made my way out to the verandah, and offered some of my arsonal to my 91 year old mother-in-law, who was slung off in the rocking chair with her pants legs rolled up and her short sleeved top on, all set to take in a few rays and get rid of the winter pallor. “No,” she told me, when I aimed the Deep Woods Off at her, “The flies never bother me.”  “Okay”, says I, thinking like Elmer Fudd of Looneytunes, “But you’ll be sowwy!”

After about fifteen minutes of exposure, I had to come in out of it.  The worst part about blackflies is they have to run up and down your arm, or crawl across the back of your neck or under your pantleg and up your leg before they’ll bite you, and all you can feel is the creepy crawly feeling of hundreds of those little legs crawling all over you, in your hair and everywhere!  I’m sure they are particularly fond of diabetics as we have a higher concentration of sugar in our blood, and are a particular treat.  My husband can work in the outdoor for hours and hardly even gets a bite.  The first year we bought the cabin I got a multitude of bites, two of which on my leg got infected and took nearly a whole year to heal!  I’m not risking that anymore!!

So in the cabin I goes, where I know the mosquito screen on the windows and doors will keep me safe, leaving the mother-in-law to her fate. ” You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” I thought.

An hour or so later, I woke up from a very refreshing afternoon nap, and decided to once again brave the verandah to see what progress the hubby had made and to check on the mother-in-law.  What met my eyes had me believing that there was such a thing as polyjuice potion as J.K.Rollings wrote about in the Harry Potter books.  She was still sitting in the rocking chair, scratching herself all over, while her face looked like she was sporting some kind of crazy tattoo, with countless red marks from the stinging insects.  her eyes were swollen, and some of the bites must have been right on veins, because red marks had formed all over one side of her face, almost like a  bunch of birthmarks. To say she was a state is an understatement!  I ran for the afterbite, for the polysporin, and for the benadryl, but all she said was, “What are you fussing so much for, it’s only a few fly bites.”  Meanwhile I feared I would be pulled over at the overpass to St. John’s and charged for elder abuse!

Oh my, I guess the lesson to be learned was to not trust the mother in law when she says she doesn’t need insect repellent.  She learned her lesson because she didn’t venture outside the front door this weekend past.  Luckily, the swelling went down within a few days and the marks faded away.  Luckily she wasn’t allergic to the anti-coagulant serum the blackfly injects into his victim to keep the blood running freely into their little vampire bodies.

Now that it’s almost July, most of the blackflies have buggered off for this year.  Next we have to gird our loins for the Deer Flies (the locals call them Stouts) which are the most annoying of all the biting insect species in Newfoundland, anyway.  These guys are about the size of a house fly and will buzz around you until you want to spray them with raid, then will land somewhere where you can’t see them, like on your back, or the back of your thigh.  I swear the bastards will take a bite out of you, then fly up in a tree and eat it.  I have seen my father in his youth run down through the marsh next to our cabin in Makinsons and not stop till he hit the pond.  He’d then dive underwater and stay there, holding his breath, watching the damned stouts circling over the water until they gave up on him and flew on to their next victim!

Paul has put up a massive electric bug zapper on the verandah now.  It’s like the death star to all flying pestilence, glowing in all of it’s blue glory, luring all flying pestilence to meet their maker.  We have also put up bat houses and planted flowers to attract dragon flies, and any other creatures that feed on the bastardly pests.  Only for it would kill all my bird friends who keep hubby busy and entertained re-filling the feeders, I’d search out the formula on Google and mix up a batch of DDT in the shed!

I wonder why the good lord in all his wisdom had to think up FLIES! Some things we could do without!

bug spray mom



spraying bugsbug suit



Tomorrow is Book Launch Day

Do I have everything covered for Book launch?

Launch day table card








OMG, I’m sure it’s just as easy to organize a wedding as it is to launch a book!  Here’s my checklist:

Book a venu- check

Recruit an MC – check

Order books – check

Design posters – check

Send out “Save the Date notification on Facebook, Twitter – check

Write blog entry to notify folks book is available for sale  – check

Have posters printed – check

Have business cards printed – check

Plan decorations – shop for decorating stuff – check

Plan refreshments – recruit family members/close friends to help – check

Plan refreshment table, shop for plates/serviettes/cutlery, table cloths, etc. – check

Buy wine – DO NOT SAMPLE!!! – check

Buy door prize stuff – check

Assemble gift baskets – check

Shop for cookies – check

Post invitation on Facebook – check

Send out individual emails to people on email list – check

Print entry ballots for special email doorprize draw – check

Find double numbered tickets for other door prize draws – check

Gather stationary supplies, pens, tape – check

Check wardrobe for suitable attire – check

Check with MC to be sure all is good to go – check

Make sandwiches – To do tomorrow

Pick up key for the hall – To do tomorrow

I think that’s it!

No WAIT!!!  Write a Launch Day talk to be presented spontaneously – To Do NOW!!!  Arggghhhh!!!

No, I’m not at all nervous………..



Book Launch Par-tay!

Wish you could all come to my Book Launch Party!


Lions-Den-Cover1-221x300It’s been over a year since I started writing The Lion’s Den, six months since the manuscript was finished and the publication work was done and about a month since the finished book arrived at my door. It’s still hard to believe it’s my name on the cover!  It’s definitely time to celebrate!

I am hosting my very first book launch a week from today.  I wish all of you folks who have become loyal followers of my blog could come and celebrate with me.  I have shared snippets of the book here with you, and given you a taste of some of the topics the book tries to address.  Your feedback  encourages me to think that I have shone a spotlight on at least some of the issues facing the people of the Middle East.

I hope you will give the book a read.  It’s now available for download to all of the popular e-readers, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, just to name a few, and, of course, there are apps available now to download the digital copy to your smart phone or tablet,  Isn’t it marvellous how accessible literature has become!  And for all of you who still prefer to hold a good book in your hands, the paperback version is available at and soon at cover is a work of art!

I absolutely welcome your comments, and look forward to learning more about the issues of the region.  So far I have been getting great reviews from readers, surprisingly many of  whom are men! I see now why my editor was so reluctant to categorize it under the Romance genre as there is so much more to the story than boy meets girl.



Another Norma         norma

(not me!)

Love the Character!

Bad Luck with Appliances

Warranty’s up on the Appliances!



Okay, so you know you’re taking your chances with the home appliances when the warranty period is up!

We bought a lovely self cleaning range when we built our new house three years ago.  I used the self clean feature rarely, but I figured a couple of weeks before Christmas would be good time to give ‘er a good cleanout.  So, I take the racks out, set the self clean for the minimum clean cycle, four hours, punch the start, and the door locks up like Fort Knox, and the temperature starts to climb on the digital display.

Great! I say, and I pull on my coat and grab my purse.  I will put these four hours that I don’t have to spend oven cleaning to good use, that’s right, Christmas shopping!  I tell Paul I’m leaving and he mumbles a reply between snores, and I head out the door to the local Walmart. ” Isn’t this marvellous” I think to myself.  Oh the wonder of modern technology and labour saving devices!

Back at the old hacienda, Paul is  shocked to consciousness by the shrieking of the fire alarm.  He blunders awake, rubbing his eyes, only to realize that he can’t see across the kitchen for smoke.  He jumps up, then skids to a stop in front of the oven, which is throwing off heat like the boiler on the smokeroom of the HMS Kyle!  He sees through the soot on the glass oven door a small flame.  Damn that Monday night lasagne!  The sauce had been splutting like a field of miniature volcanoes and the spillover was now forming a blackened lava flow as it irrevocably burnt itself onto the bottom of the oven.

A thumping at the front door drew Paul away from the scene of the disaster as he greeted the local fire crew who were staging their giant pumper out by the front door. The neighbours were all out on their stoops in their pj’s and housecoats, wondering what all the commotion was about.  Despite Paul’s assurances that all was well and that it was only a false alarm, the fire captain, dressed in full bunker gear, asked if he could inspect the house.  Paul took him to the kitchen and had to physically restrain the man from smashing open the oven door with his fire axe.  “Look, it’s nearly gone out.” he insisted grabbing the man by the arm and stopping him from having his way with the oven door.

Later that night.

I arrived back at the house at quarter to twelve, and smugly unloaded the packages and parcels from the back of the family car.  I opened the front door and could smell the acrid odor of smoke.  “Oh, yeah.  The oven must have finished its cycle,” was all I thought as I packed away my treasures and headed to bed.

It wasn’t till the next morning when my next door neighbour, Wanda Nicholson called to make sure that we were all alright, that I realised that something unusual had occurred in my absense the night before.  I noticed the instruction for the self clean oven was open on the kitchen counter to the warranty information page. Two years unlimited warranty.  I wondered what Paul was looking  that up for.  Just then the phone rang, and picking up the receiver I recognized the voice of my long suffering husband, who suggested that I try the oven to see if it would heat up.

“What’s up with that?”  I asked, not really wanting to hear his reply.

“Well, the firefighters who came to put out the fire in the oven last night said that sometimes the elements get overheated with a fire and the whole thing crumbles.  But it might be covered under the warranty.”

“Wha? Fire?” my muddled brain was having trouble processing the new information.

“Yeah, and the next time you decide to turn on the self clean, check the oven for spillovers and stay home and watch it!” he advised.  “You might get more than you bargained for for Christmas dinner.”

And so began the trials of the household appliances we were plagued with that year.



fire shirtoven on fire

Launch of The Lion’s Den (Finally)!

Launch The Lion’s Den

Lions Den Cover

I can’t tell you how excited I am to announce (finally) that my first novel, The Lion’s Den is  ready to launch!  It has been uploaded to Amazon and all of the major e-book stores and has been formatted for all of the popular e-readers.  The only site we were having trouble uploading to was for the paperback edition, but that should be up on Monday as well.  It is already available on

So thanks for your patience!

I am hosting a book launch here in my hometown of St, John’s, Newfoundland on June the 24th.  More detail will be following on that. The book will be available for sale, you can have it signed, and we will have some readings, some wine, and refreshments.  I’m hoping that as many of my friends, family, and supporters will come help me celebrate!

For anyone who has read the book, and  is willing write a review on Amazon, I will send you Della and Brad’s wedding day story as a thank-you!  It won’t be published anywhere until Behind the Firewall comes out, so you will be the first to read it!

I am super excited to see what you guys think of it.  I am still only a third of the way into writing Behind the Firewall, the second book in this series  as  I have been so busy in getting The Lion’s Den out.  I will soon be able to dedicate more time into getting further into this work.

There’s talk going around that I might be contributing to a ten novella boxed set of romance novels for Christmas  as well.  If that doesn’t pan out, I might publish it on my own.  the possibilities are endless!

Thanks for giving The Lion’s Den a read!

pink valentine norma



Discharged from hospital, but not from life!

Hi friends,

dischargeWell, the Gods must have been monitoring my previous posts regarding my mother-in-law’s latest experience with our health care system and the frigging snot sucking flu she succumbed to there last month.  Although we finally got her squared away and on the mend, it turns out that we hadn’t seen the last of Eastern Health.

Last Sunday, having spent all night in a recliner in the Family room rather than lying down in bed and coughing my guts out all night, I admitted defeat and asked Paul to drive me to the Health Sciences Center.  He dropped me off at Emergency and went on a quest to find a parking spot.  By the time I got to the lineup for triage, I must have been looking pretty bad because before I knew it, I was loaded aboard a wheelchair and whisked away to see a Dr. They stuck a blood oxygen monitor on me and I registered  81 (95-98 is normal).  I was gasping for air like a Codfish out of water  Before I knew it I was in an ER suite, hooked up to oxygen, being EKG’d, blood pressure monitored and chest x-rayed.  I was amazed by the swiftness with which all of these diagnostics took place.  Quality assurance would be proud!  Then we set in to wait for a medical consult.  Luckily it was the May 24th holiday weekend and the ER wasn’t too busy, so I didn’t get out-ted to the corridor, I got to stay where I was.  Finally a Dr. showed up and the decision was made to admit me.  Talk about having the tables turned on you! I had been hoping to get some antibiotics, some puffers, and be sent home with orders to “get some rest.”

I was wheeled off to some room deep in the bowels of the Emergency department, that resembled a storage closet, with boxes of medical supplies stacked everywhere.  Three other patients were already ensconced there, all male and all elderly. One old guy was mentally challenged and kept bawling out to someone to “GE’ ‘OW” Some caregiver sat with him and kept making soothing noises, which, thankfully kept him in his bed.  I don’t know how long I was there, but they changed the oxygen cylinder on me twice before they got me a room upstairs. By now it was 3:30 am.

So that’s where I have been for the last three days.  My fellow inmates are all over eighty and all suffering from a variety of respiratory illnesses. As I listened to the conversation swirling around and overheard the histories being recorded by members of the medical team, It became glaringly apparent,  the contributing factors that found us all here under the same circumstances.  What the years of smoking and abuses to the body had brought to these people  was more eye-opening to me than a thousand public service announcements could get across.

Vowing to make changes in my life, I stoically endured the course of treatment prescribed to me.  I would not complain about getting woke up at 5:38 in the morning to have blood pressure, blood oxygen readings taken or a thermometer stuck under my tongue.  I never made a murmur about being jabbed for blood sugar readings or being fed food that had less taste than sawdust.  I inhaled that much ventolin mist that anyone passing by would write “the Grand Banks” on the door.  I never let a drop of soft drink, junk food, or candy pass my lips.  I consumed enough tablets and capsules to keep me from getting hungry anyway.

Thankfully I am home now, but as I waved goodbye to my roommates and wished them all a speedy recovery, I wondered if any of them would be able to enjoy any quality of life.  I was lucky to have been given the opportunity to see firsthand what the outcome of living an unhealthy lifestyle would bring.  Here I am, at least twenty years their junior, bringing old aged problems onto myself years before I should have to be even thinking about them.  The decision is mine to make. I can stop the self-abuse that comes from over-eating and eating the wrong foods. let go of the sugary drinks, even the so-called “diet” kind that is no more healthier than those loaded with glucose-fructose or cane sugar.  Replace the empty calorie junk foods with fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables, and get creative with meal preparation and control portions better.  Thankfully, I had never taken up smoking, but for anyone trying to quit now, there are so many aids that will help you, it’s definitely time to try.

So, I have some work to do before I can discharge myself from living a healthier life.  Maybe I’ll get to like the new way better and I won’t miss my chocolate binges and sour ju-jube Sundays.  I might be tempted to get off the couch when I’m better from the pneumonia and do a little exercise.  You can’t do this kind of thing just because someone else wants you to.  Thank you, universe, for showing me through my own eyes, where the path I have started down leads.  At least I have a chance to correct things before it is too late.

pink valentine norma



healthy eating hospital

Frigging Snot-Sucking Cold

“The Cold” – The Sequel

flu microbeOh how I regret not getting the flu shot this year!  I was so busy all fall, I just didn’t take the time to go to the Dr. and take care of it.  Then I heard that the six strains of influenza that the flu gurus chose this year to protect us all against, weren’t the ones that were entering our airspace!  Great.  So I figured it probably wouldn’t have been worth my while, anyway.

We were doing very well until that lousy month of March descended upon us.  Our daughter was the first to succumb to the green eyed cold microbe.  Thankfully we had a puffer in the medicine cabinet that wasn’t expired from last year’s flu season, so within ten days along with dosing herself with Vitamins C and D, chugging lemon juice and honey and enough oranges to keep the Florida citrus farmer in business, she managed to fight it off.

Somewhere along the way, the hubby caught the bug, and while our daughter is very pro-active about taking control of her treatment, all hubby could do was sit in front of the TV in his recliner, moaning,  swaddled in a fleecy blanket, exploding at regular intervals in fits of coughing that had me checking to see if he brought up a lung.  As we are all aware, the man cold is a pitiful condition and all one can hope for is for it too, to pass.  I was not to escape unscathed, however.

Within days of Paul’s  getting infected, I started to feel the malaise creeping over me, the scratchy throat, the hurty eyes, the low grade fever.  How could I avoid it when the wash from the explosive coughing and hacking was constantly enveloping me?  I would have had to bathe in hand sanitizer and lysol to escape the contamination!  Or, at least wear a gas mask.

Meanwhile, the elder one sat in her granny flat, sucking in the oxygen and saying she felt fine.  Maybe, with the cannula tubes sticking up her nose, she had a better chance on avoiding it, and we had made sure the Dr. had administered the flu shot on his fall visit.  Of course, these circumstances were to change rapidly when her home care worker fell victim to the flu bug and it quickly turned to double pneumonia!

It wasn’t long before the elder one started showing signs of infection. I thanked my lucky stars that we weren’t living in an area of the world that is stricken with Ebola!  We wouldn’t last jig time!  After a couple of days with the cough progressing, the refusal to eat  and the weakness setting in, it was over to the Health Sciences Hospital we went.

I had to laugh at the hospital’s policy on protection of patient’s privacy, as I sat in the triage office with my mother-in-law, in full view of the patient intake records that were stacked on the counter.  We were ushered into an ER suite where an EKG was done, vitals recorded, and vials of blood drawn.  An IV was inserted and bags of saline and antibiotics were hung, and within minutes the elder one was whisked off for chest x-rays.  Soon a nurse came by to say they needed the room, so all of the elder one’s few possessions were packed aboard her transport and she was parked out in the ER corridor. Apparently we were waiting for a medical consult, or so I assumed from reading the white board which changed from minute to minute as patients entered and left the department.

Directly across from where I was sitting, a white board, announcing the handle time stats that the hospital had been able to achieve through the various departments, had been posted.  The statistics presented broke down the handle time of patient care from when the patient had entered the department, whether it be ER, hospital admittance, day surgery, etc. from the Dr.’s initial assessment, to discharge.  It reminded me of when I worked at Convergys and the all-important call handle time. they were unrealistically hoping to achieve.  They had the average length of stay worked out to the minute, and I wondered if the Dr.s who kept within their prescribed parameters got a bonus, or at least a treat.  It was no wonder that the nurses and Dr.s were running around like blue arsed flies and had no time to stop to fill a small request. like a paper cup of ice water for a person who was parched from the effects of pneumonia and the dry air of the hospital.

After several hours waiting in the corridor, during which time a Dr. and a couple of residents examined my mother-in-law, who was dressed only in a “Johnny coat” and endured the indignity of being on full display to the many folks who wandered in and out of the ER, either looking for their loved ones, or seeking treatment themselves.  This was also the circumstance that we found ourselves subjected to as the Dr. brought up the question of my mother-in-law’s wishes in the event that her heart should stop!  That’s not the place you would want to be presented with that decision to make, and someone standing over you, holding out a pen, and forcing you to make a decision right on the spot!

The Dr. decided that he would admit my mother-in-law and the clock started ticking on her admittance handle time.  we were further informed then that the hospital was on “Diversion” because of the busy day they were having, there was no bed available to put my mother in, so they were going to transport her across town in an ambulance to St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital.  Not the ideal situation for a ninety year old with one lung half filled with fluid! But what choice did we have, so we settled in to wait for the ambulance crew.

Three hours later, we were still waiting for the EMT’s to show up.  Even though at least seven crews rolled through, none had been asked to pick up the mother-in-law.  Finally I hailed the passing ER admin nurse and asked if there might not have been a bed open up in the three hours that we had been awaiting a transfer.  She was highly offended that I would presume to question their authority, so I expressed my views on the strain on my mother-in-law’s condition to put her through further bother in transferring her to another hospital..  She finally agreed to call the ambulance service to get an ETA on when we could expect them to show up.

At this point I was starving, and as a diabetic, knew that I should try and grab some food.  I was afraid to leave my monther-in-law’s side, however, as she was not lucid enough to answer questions about her condition, And I wouldn’t be sure of where they were going to take her.  Neither she nor I were sorry to hear the next EMT crew calling for Mrs. Cook.

From the time we brought her in at 10:45 am to the time she went into the ambulance at 8:10 pm, ten and a quarter hours had passed. I don’t know what that did to their patient handle time stats!

The elder one has since recovered marginally and has been deemed well enough to come home.The first time she was discharged was the Friday after her Monday’s admittance.  By Friday, she was still weak as a kitten, was barking like a dog, and had by now had developed a condition called thrush, which is a fungal infection of the mouth, causing pain in the tongue and tissues inside the mouth, making it difficult to eat, drink, or swallow.  The elder one, who was not a fan of hospital food at the best of times was now not eating anything, and drinking very little either.  We could literally see her shrinking away in the bed, and while she would have been happier and us more comfortable with her being home, we knew that there was danger to herself, being that she would be in her own apartment, alone at night, and with the sore mouth and complications with the pneumonia, even though she might meet the criterion for being declared “clinically stable” she was far from being well enough to come home in these circumstances.

Paul made the suggestion that he would like to have a social worker’s input on what should be done about Mrs. Cook’s care and it wasn’t long before another nurse showed up to take another set of vitals.  After a short time, the nurse announced that Mrs. Cook could stay overnight and they wold re-assess in the morning.  It looked like the Dr. wasn’t willing to take on the social worker, who does wield more power on whether a patient should be discharged or not.  Being that we would be into the weekend, with a decreased staff and very few Dr.s around, we figured she wouldn’t be going anywhere until Monday.

On monday, by three thirty we hadn’t heard anything from the hospital on whether or not they were discharging Mrs. Cook, so over we goes to the hospital to check on her status.  Her nurse said she had been trying to locate her Dr. to see if he would release her, but he wasn’t readily available.  Finally she said she would page him again, and we got her dressed and ready to go, in case we had to make a break for it.  Although she wasn’t what you would call well, and still isn’t, half a week from when she came home, as the Dr. put it, “she’s probably better off at home because at least she wouldn’t be exposed to further infection.”  What? are the health care facilities so rotten dirty that one risks infection lying in a bed receiving treatment for pneumonia?  I guess the thrush incident was proof that this was true.  Either this, or the nurses were not being vigilant in their patient’s care by cutting corners by not having them rinse their mouths after mask treatments.  God help us all if they were dealing with Ebola, Leprosy, or some either horrible communicable disease!  That’s one way to cut down on the patient handle time, if they all die!

The other night I just-for-fun googled Hospital Statistics and how they arrive at their goals for patient handle time.  I came across a study for handling patients presenting with pneumonia.  You should have seen the formulas and the variables they use to come up with an acceptable average  “goal” time for patient care.  Three days seemed to be what the computer squeezed out for a ninety one year old with a history of COPD, on home oxygen.  I remembered when the attending physician had, upon learning Mrs. Cook’s age, patted her on the hand and said, “My, you’ve lived a fine long life haven’t you?”  as much to say,” Well what do you expect, we’re not going to waste our time trying to prolong your life when their are lots of younger people out there  requiring our care.”

For a person who owned her own business for thirty eight years and diligently paid her taxes quarterly until we had to take control of her affairs, this attitude on the part of health care so-called “professionals” towards seniors is not warranted.  I would be very surprised if any of them would allow their elderly parents to be treated with the lack of respect and dignity that many of these poor old souls have to endure.  It’s time that Dr.s and nurses are allowed to take the time to make sure patients receive quality care in an environment conducive to healing.

Some say that the health care system here in Canada is the envy of the world, but the care you get is not always enviable.  Under our system, everyone is entitled to free health care, and that is a wonderful thing.  I just hope the bean counters don’t shave off so many minutes of patient handling time that people don’t have time to fully recover from their illnesses.  Remember that old nemesis in the call center called “One call resolution?”  maybe the statisticians should add another  variable called “re-admittance” to that God-awful long equation, before they are satisfied that they are making the best decisions on our health care.

norma in yellow circle                                                   elderly-hospital-bed


Social Media Icons Powered by Acurax Wordpress Development Company
Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Pinterest