Yet another chapter in my life

Good grief! Hard to believe that it’s been more than six months since I started this post. I also can’t figure out the date because on that day I was in the air somewhere returning from Merida, Mexico to Belleville, Ontario, Canada. My desktop computer was safely packed in my carry-on luggage so I couldn’t use it. 

At long last I arrived back in Canada on November 2nd, just after midnight. It was one of the worst trips I had ever had, rivalling the disastrous trip Elba and I had in 2018 when I came back to apply for my temporal visa. I’ve covered that horror elsewhere. 

As one of the airline clerks had commented, “you have the worst flights I’ve ever seen”. I left Merida, two hours late, and flew to Mexico City, where I had about a seven hour layover before flying on to Cancun. There was nowhere to sit or lay down at the airport so I wandered around until the Krispy Kreme donuts place finally opened at three in the morning. Gorging on coffee and chocolate donuts would come back on me later. Again I had a very long layover until flying on to Toronto. Throughout this very long trip I had not been taking my medications or my insulin. At one point I was sitting on one of the very hard benches trying to sleep when a very nice airline official asked me if I was okay. I wasn’t. The next thing I knew they had me in a wheelchair and were taking me to the medical clinic at the Cancun airport. A very nice doctor, who spoke perfect English, did some tests, told me that my sugars were “off the charts, and then gave me a shot of insulin and some meds. They wheeled me back to the waiting area where I dosed off about two hours before my flight. Next I heard my name being paged and an airline person came rushing up asking my name, then wheeled me to the boarding gate. The stuck me in row one behind the wall. Not a great spot for a long flight but at least I was on the right plane. 

I arrived at Pearson just after midnight. My bus to Belleville was not until six in the morning so I had a lot of time to kill. I did mange to find the Tim Hortons so I got to have my first Timmie’s coffee in two years. Delicious! Of course you can’t smoke in the airport so I had to go outside to smoke. That was the first time I realized that it was freezing and I only had my leather spring coat. I was not happy to leave the perfect weather in Mexico. When I first left two years ago I said goodbye to winter, figuring I would never see cold or snow again. Wrong!

The bus ride was only from the airport to the terminal in downtown Toronto, then I had to wait another two hours for my bus to Belleville. That didn’t start well when the bus driver initially refused my two pieces of luggage, telling me I was only allowed one. Eventually he agreed and threw my bags, including the one I just told him had my computer in it, under the bus. I didn’t know that another surprise was waiting for me in Belleville. Haven seen the Greyhound bus downtown at the main bus terminal before I assumed that was where I would get dropped off. Wrong! For some unknown reason the bus only stopped just off the 401 highway at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere, miles from downtown Belleville. It was a twenty dollar cab ride and I didn’t have twenty dollars on me. Luckily I had my friend, Doral’s number and she agreed to pick me up. She was planning to go to a dance at the Legion so I went along. Hard to believe that I actually managed to dance when I hadn’t slept in two days. 

At this point my memory is a little foggy about how I ended up at a motel in Trenton for the night. I had called the OW emergency number and they had sent a cab to take me there. I was beyond exhausted and had my first good night’s sleep and a wonderful shower in the morning. It was then that I learned that OW takes you to Trenton but does not bring you back. I was very lucky that the motel owner told me there were people in another unit that would take me to Belleville for ten dollars. That was the start of a couple of very strange days where I ended up going with them to the Comfort Inn in Napanee, then back on the reserve they wouldn’t let me stay with them again, so I was going to stay at their daughter’s place. That ended when the police came and told me that I was not allowed to stay there, but a very nice officer drove me all the way to the Comfort Inn in Belleville where OW put me up for another night. They also gave the officer twenty dollars for me to get something to eat.

The next day two people came from the CMHA in Belleville and took me to the office for an intake interview. I met with a guy I knew from before and they took me to the first house on Murney where I had stayed years earlier. Not long after they told me that I was moving to Dunbar, the seniors’ house because someone there couldn’t handle the stairs. What they didn’t tell me was that it was a shared room. The guy I shared the room with basically slept all day and night so I was always creeping around trying not to wake him. He moved to Markham shortly after and I had the room to myself for several months. I eventually moved to a larger shared room and then, over my strong objections, they moved me to my current “emergency” room at Forin, where I had lived twice before years ago.

I was forced to come back to Canada because I had lost my GIS pension which was about a third of my income. I was also running out of my critical medications including insulin and I would die without my meds. After my idiot landlord put my rent up forty percent, totally illegal, and demanded the money right away I had made a fatal mistake taking up an offer for a month’s free rent in Chelem, only to learn that the house was sold and I had to find another place to live. It was brutally hot there and I never wanted to stay there. It was all crashing in on me so I figured I had no other choice than to return to Canada, much as that broke my heart. 

I came back figuring that I would get my meds again. Wrong. I figured I would get my dental work. Wrong. I figured I would live in a decent room. Wrong. I figured I would schedule my shoulder surgery. Wrong. I figured I would find a decent place to live in Belleville. Wrong. I figured that I could get some financial help on getting new glasses. Wrong. I figured that I would restart my web design business and make some extra money. Wrong. I figured that my GIS pension would be reinstated as I had been told in writing. Wrong!

My doctor here in Belleville before had been charged with some narcotics offence and his office closed. I was told that it would take at least a year to find a new doctor. I applied at the local health centre but when I followed up a couple of months later was told the same thing. As a diabetic my medications are critical. I met with the pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart but they would only give me insulin and a couple of the more critical meds until I manged to find a doctor. I was on Metformin for years but Dr. Savic had switched me to Janumet when Metformin stopped working. Despite getting Janumet for years from Shoppers they wouldn’t renew it. I went to a walk in clinic but they would only give me a prescription for a month of Metformin. Eventually I met with a nurse at the Diabetic Education Centre at the hospital and got an appointment with the diabetic doctor a month out. Thanks to the virus that was cancelled and the appointment was by phone instead. The doctor would only renew my diabetic meds and not the other ones that I am on. The only hoe for those is the telemedicine offered by Shoppers, but it is apparently almost impossible to get in touch with.

Although dental work is ten times the price it was in Mexico, the Ontario government had launched a new dental program for seniors. I applied and was accepted. I asked about my broken tooth and, more importantly, the bridge that was falling out any day now. Both were approved and I was given an appointment at the Quinte Health Centre for March 19th. It was not easy to get there so I walked most of the way, only to get there and learn that the centre was closed because of the virus. They had left a message but I didn’t get it. No clue now if and when they will re-open but no doubt it will take months to clear the backlog. 

Prior to coming back to Canada the President of the charity who ran the home I was in before leaving for Mexico told me that they would have a place for me. The day I was leaving I got an email saying that he no longer had a place for me. My flights were booked so I had no choice but to come back despite having nowhere to live. After being shunted around by OW on the emergency list I ended up back at Murney where I had first been years ago. It was not a great room with nowhere to hang my clothes. I was only there a few days when they moved me Dunbar into a shared room. I had so many issues with what was then the CMHA, at one point being threatened with immediate eviction to the street. It was nothing but outright lies, failed promises and abuse. Just one of the outright lies was that they would not move me to the “emergency” room at Forin unless I had more permanent housing arranged, which I didn’t have because they failed to pay London Middlesex Housing as they promised in December. On a Monday the Housing Manager said that she knew that I was happy sharing a room at Dunbar and I would not be moving. On Tuesday I got an email telling me that I was moving to Forin the next day. I knew how bad the room was here. I had had issues with the “facilitator” here before because he was power tripping and I knew we would have problems again, and we have. This room is also hotter than hell in the summer and I will never be able to sleep. My only hope is that now that I am finally on the emergency housing list I will find permanent housing. I have been in touch with a lady at Aldersgate who have wonderful seniors’ apartments. When a unit becomes available they contact Hastings Housing and get three names. Hopefully one of them is mine and I am approved. 

Just before I went to Mexico Dr. Savic had given me a referral to a surgeon who I met with. He gave me a shot of cortisone for my should er but it didn’t work so we were going to schedule surgery. The wait was about six months and I was leaving for Mexico in two, so that didn’t work. When I came back to Belleville I went to his office but I was told that I needed a new referral from a doctor, which, of course, I don’t have and won’t have for months if not years. Looks like I’m stuck with my aching shoulder for now. 

My glasses are now about eight years old. When I got them I had the coating added to protect my eyes. What I didn’t know was that this coating is only good for a year. Maybe it was the strength of the sun in Progreso but I noticed that the coating started breaking up, leaving steaks of it making it very difficult to see. As a senior I hoped to get some assistance getting new glasses when I came back but there is nothing. Even what was a free examination is now eighty dollars. My glasses will cost about eight hundred dollars which, of course, I don’t have. Beyond the streaks my vision has also changed. I need a magnifying glass to read anything small now and my eyes are very strained working on the computer all day.

I’ve been designing websites for decades now, sometimes more successfully than others. That was the case in Mexico where I spent the better part of two years building what I thought was the best site I had ever done, It had everything, from free classifieds and forums, to the most affordable advertising available. Before I went to Mexico I knew that I was going to lose the GIS pension once I was out of the country for six months so I had to replace this income. Several colleagues in Ajijic told me this would be a breeze. It wasn’t. I never made a dime so losing a third of my income became even more critical. 

After going through a horrible time when the government suspended my pensions, in error, leaving me thirty-three cents in the bank, I knew that my GIS pension would be restored as of the date I returned to Canada. The government was claiming that I had been overpaid the GIS so I needed to know EXACTLY what was going to happen with my GIS. I had been dealing with a very helpful lady at Service Canada, Melanie Shumilak. She sent me an email saying that the GIS would be restored as of the date of my return, then there would be a negotiation about the claimed over-payment, but it would never be more than thirty percent of the GIS. That was a major reason that I returned to Canada. 

Based o my return November 2nd I submitted all the documents Melanie told me to submit. I faxed them and mailed them as confirmation. She told me that I had been put on an emergency list and should hear within five days. I didn’t. Instead I went through three months of unbelievable grief with people in the CPP Integrity Office, the same ones who had suspended my pensions in total in error before. Finally a Nicole at Service Canada phoned to give me the “good news”. My GIS had been restored; however, they were taking one hundred percent for November, December and January, leaving me NOTHING! That’s good news? It’s now been over six months that I’ve been fighting with everyone, from the Prime Minister on down, to do what I was told in writing. I learned that Melanie had been wrong about the percentage of my income that they could take. It was twenty-five percent, not thirty. So then tell me how they could take one hundred percent. Taking twenty-five percent as of the date I returned would mean they owe me thirteen hundred and fifty dollars! That would sure help me right now! 

As I’ve repeated many times. John Lennon got it right when he said, “life is what happens while you are making other plans”. I am living, breathing proof of that.                            

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