Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back at 2010

It just seems appropriate to be retrospective today, the last day of 2010. This year was filled at it's onset like all others with great promise that somehow became derailed. For the first time in my life, I experienced a time of poor health. And, of course, I picked an illness in Guillain Barre Syndrome that I had never heard of and couldn't even pronounce properly. I now feel I have a certain expertise in the affliction - and I wouldn't wish it on anybody.

When 2010 started, I posted that I had five genealogy related resolutions: to cite sources for all the facts in my genealogy database; to organize my hard copy family history records; to maintain and deepen my family connections with cousins around the world; to continue collaborating with other family historians/genealogists; and, to get more involved in the local genealogy community. Not much progress was made with resolutions two and five but I did okay with the others. I have put some real effort into citing my sources though at times I wonder if the task will ever be complete. I continue to enjoy relationships with an ever growing number of cousins around the world with whom collaborating on our family's history is a great joy.

On January 24th, I shared the recollections of Sara (Caskey) Breithaupt, the wife of Ellen's cousin Louis Orville Breithaupt, regarding their attendance at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. To date, this post remains the most popular of all my blog posts. On February 19th, I had the opportunity to introduce you to Shape Collage, a free software product that is used to generate photo collages in a variety of shapes. The software is still available so I recommend you give it a try.

2010 was filled with conversation about the NBC television show "Who Do You Think You Are?" that shone a spotlight on genealogy by showing celebrities as they discovered their family history. On a personal note, 2010 saw a very successful Ontario Genealogical Society annual conference. I shared a conference lunch with Lisa Louise Cooke and Dave Obee - and my post reporting on the conference got me a mention in Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings blog - pretty 'heady' stuff from my perspective.

The big event however for 2010 was the wedding of my son, John to Maryann (Grubisic), pictured above. The wedding was a true celebration of the happy couple: a time filled with laughter, dance, story-telling and, more than a few tears. The wedding also produced a rare occasion where a photo was taken of my father and his three 'kids.' Pictured below, from left to right, Ian Hadden, Lou-Anne Hadden Doody, Lewis Hadden, and Bob Hadden.

Finally, 2010 saw our cousin, Pamela Gaull become a published author through her first novel, "The Darkness of Dreams." We're all quite proud of our wee cousin for such a significant achievement!

I don't know what 2011 has in store for me but I'm resolved to not develop GBS again. I am equally resolved to return to the family fonds holding about 125 linear feet of records for Ellen's family at the University of Waterloo and, in addition, to finding and documenting the lost graves of some ancestors. It should be a busy time.

May the New Year bring health and prosperity to all of you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

To all who regularly - and occasionally - stop by my blog,

Thanks for your emails, comments, and most of all your support.

May you have a very Merry Christmas!

We hope that Santa is good to you!

Ian and Ellen Hadden

Thursday, December 23, 2010

So, What Did I Miss?

Developing pneumonia and subsequently a paralyzing case of Guillain Barre Syndrome in early October resulted in my having a 'Rumplestiltskin'-like experience of 'waking' up after two months in the hospital and not knowing what I had missed in my life as an devoted genealogist. The hospital in which I was confined had no Wi-Fi or Internet connectivity for me to use so in addition to wanting to be home with my wife, I wanted to get my hands on my computer to see what I had been missing. It turns out that a lot was going on!

I received about 1,400 emails during the months of October and November, some from distant and new-to-me cousins. The emails also included my daily fixes of Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings blog and Dick Eastman's "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter." I missed several new postings of my favourite blogs like Sheri Fenley's "The Educated Genealogist" and Amy Coffin's "The We Tree Genealogy Blog." I missed two updates to my RootsMagic genealogy database software (which has now been installed successfully).

I missed several new databases that were either introduced or updated by Ancestry, including the Canadian Expeditionary Force World War One Burial Registers that contained the following record for my great granduncle James Gammie, "Died of Wounds. Took part with his Company in an attack on the morning of September 28, 1918, and was wounded in the back by shrapnel. He received attention and was evacuated to No. 22 Casualty Clearing Station where he succumbed later in the day." I have always felt a closeness to 'Jimmy' Gammie as his death resulted in my family immigrating from Scotland to Canada.

Most importantly to me, I missed during my two month absence a whole lot of new episodes from my favourite podcasts! I have shared previously my strong views on the tremendous value of podcasts. During October and November, I missed four episodes of the Genealogy Gems podcast, produced and hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke, including her special 100th episode. Being stuck in hospital I was unable to offer my congratulations to Lisa so - better late than never - Way to go Lisa, for a great job, incredibly well done and always creative, interesting and inspiring! When I finally had a chance to listen to episode 100, which was filled with highlights from past episodes, I was amazed at the number of times I said, "Oh yeah, I remember that gem." I also missed three of Lisa's premium Genealogy Gems podcasts and before I left hospital, my annual premium membership expired. Not to worry Lisa, I'm absolutely renewing! And because Lisa isn't busy enough with Genealogy Gems, I missed three new episodes of the Family Tree Magazine podcast that Lisa also hosts.

Finally in the podcast realm, I missed three new episodes of the Genealogy Guys podcast, always fun and educational, George and Drew should not be missed. If you have an interest in history and perhaps a United Kingdom based ancestry, you might be interested as I am in the UK National Archives podcasts. I missed nine new episodes of their podcast in just two months.

Last but not least on my immediate family 'front,' I missed the death of 'Oliver', one of our two cats. Oliver (pictured above) was found crying in a culvert by our youngest son, Joe, on a cold, rainy day. He was brought into our home for safekeeping just until a good family could be found for him. He was named Oliver as he was the lost boy. Although he wasn't very old, it appears that he suffered a heart attack on the night of December 4th and was found the next morning by my wife, Ellen. I wish I had been here to help Ellen through the loss of a pet that she was very close to.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Becoming a Biped - Again!

There is no evidence in my ancestral tree that would suggest I might have been afflicted by a neurological disorder like Guillain Barre Syndrome. Prior to October 8th, 2010, I had never heard of the disorder, let alone know how to pronounce it properly and know what it's affects might be. Lots of time in the Intensive Care Unit and Rehab Unit at the hospital was ample to reflect on the meaning of paralysis! And lots of time to try to figure out how to stand and walk - again.

Despite the more than a half century age difference, I found myself in a competition with my eighteen-month old grandson, Marcus, striving for the goal of 'first to be bipedal.' Should be an easy win for me, I thought, as I had many, many years of walking and as scary as it might be to imagine, running under my belt. My brain told my muscles what to do and due to the fried out status of my nerves, nothing happened. My legs didn't work; my arms didn't work; and, the strength needed to stand and walk seemed to have stood and walked away from me.

My defiant proclamation to the unit's head nurse that I would recover in a short term and not the long term I had been assessed as requiring seemed for a time to be just bluster and bravado.

Then on October 25th, physiotherapist Dawn and occupational therapist Cathy entered my world and began applying forms of physical torture that to that point in life, I had been unaccustomed. (Pictured with me are to my left, occupational therapist Cathy and to my right, physiotherapist Dawn). Their tag-team regime of upper body stretches and exercises quickly lead to my re-naming them 'Cruella and her evil twin sister, Cruella.' The place of their work was renamed the 'Torture Chamber' from the Therapy Room. Fortunately, they weren't willing to let me skip therapy any more than I was willing to give in to the pain.

Learning to stand was the most difficult of challenges, one that I wasn't certain I would ever again master. It was after watching my daughter, Lisa, stand up that I finally figured out the mechanics and began standing on my own. With standing 'conquered,' walking became a natural progression. The walk distance increased from 5 to 100 yards in a week. I'm now able to walk about half a mile and I'm stretching that distance almost daily. Unfortunately, I think my grandson, Marcus has me beat in the running category but I hope to catch up soon.

Thanks to all who have left comments or extended well wishes and support for me on Facebook. It is very much appreciated.

Next time - So What Did I Miss While I Was 'Gone'

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tales From The Nearly Departed

To consider myself 'nearly departed' sounds a bit melodramatic but on Sunday, October 10, 2010, it was true - but I'm back!

The tale begins on Sunday, October 3rd when I woke up with 'pins and needles' in both my feet and lower legs. By Tuesday, the 'pins and needles' were in my hands and forearms. On Wednesday, October 6th, I went to the emergency department of my local hospital, the Ajax-Pickering General Hospital, and literally fell out of the car on arrival. Doctors initially thought that I had had a stroke affecting the brain stem but when an MRI was negative for stroke, they quickly turned to a diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome, or GBS for short. GBS is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the body's nervous system, typically leading to a life threatening paralysis. I was, effectively, a quadriplegic within 48 hours of admission to the hospital.

At 5:30 AM on Sunday, October 10th, my wife Ellen was advised that she should get to the hospital as they were uncertain if I would 'make it.' Coinciding with her arrival at the hospital, I went into complete respiratory arrest. I don't remember much of that Sunday, something Ellen tells me is a good thing but I do remember waking up to see RN Julie looking back at me and my thinking "Darn [or whatever expletive you wish to substitute], I've died!" I also remember the respirator, an incredibly Machiavellian form of torture that I fortunately endured for only five days.

I spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit where I got to meet and came to know the doctors and nurses who had saved my life and gave me a second chance! The other good news aspect of all of this was that my attending specialist commenced the treatment for GBS even before he was able to confirm the diagnosis through a neurological assessment. His decision vaulted my recovery into the fast lane!

Next post - Becoming a Biped Again!