The Omicron effect

In two days, it is Christmas and I was in a hospital bed from Nov. 16 to Dec. 16 while the medical team here is trying to find out why I have dermatomyositis (DM), a very bad autoimmune disease. I am not complaining – I am getting great care. It is almost Christmas today and I am finally home from the hospital and recuperating from cancer surgery. I’m also still dealing with DM and I am unable to eat or drink due to swallowing issues. No Christmas dinner for me. I’m being fed through a feeding line directly into my stomach. The following describes our family Christmas plans for this year.

Unless cancelled.

My very active mind is very busy. Today, my mind is on our families. Christmas, to me, is a family time. Because I am not too mobile, my wife and I rent a suite at a hotel just north of the GTA, which is somewhat central to the homes of both my family and my wife’s family. We host our families there for Christmas and Boxing Day.

Hotel cancelled due to Omicron variant.

My Bloodline Family: We start off on Christmas Eve with a Christmas open house and dinner hosted by my first cousin (a Murray) and his daughter in their home on the east side of the GTA. It is great because there are now four generations of family getting together again, plus many old, old friends. I’m lucky because I have my father’s family tree and I intend to update it with all the new family. Little kids everywhere! My cousin’s son and my son are the last two Murrays in the printing industry but they cannot be there because they live too far away – Ottawa and Calgary. This evening is dependent on weather and COVID-19 restrictions. A bummer if it is called off.

This was our plan but the Omicron has become so strong that it is called off. A bummer!

My Wife’s Bloodline Family: On Christmas Day my wife’s family join us at our hotel for an afternoon of gifting and a Christmas dinner. So, my wife, her daughter, husband, two granddaughters, plus one boyfriend and my wife’s brother and wife and me gather for Christmas. My wife has a brother and family that live in Calgary so we all talk to them through Zoom or FaceTime. Thank goodness for the new technology – if we can’t visit in person we can over the internet. Not the same but better than nothing.

Not at a hotel but, even better, they are coming to our home for Christmas Day – we hope.

My Bloodline Family: This year, my family’s Christmas Day is on Boxing Day at the hotel. Coming to the hotel on Boxing Day is my daughter, her mother (my first wife) my wife and me. We were also together on Thanksgiving and I was a little nervous getting together with my first and third wives – it worked out really well. My son and his two daughters (my granddaughters) live in Calgary so we will talk via Zoom or FaceTime on Boxing Day.

Another cancellation due to this Omicron variant. We will have a Christmas in July.

Adopted Common Family: My wife and I have distinct bloodline families and we also have an adopted family – the people who live in our Bridges of Seaforth senior retirement community. It is a great group and we, together, have a 18,000 square foot recreation centre with pool, hot tub, sauna, billiards, great hall, card room, library, and more. The 73 homes are located in the middle of a great family owned and operated country golf course. Our house prices are going up but we are not moving. I wonder why? If you can’t guess come on down and see us. You will be most welcome.

Medical Family: Right now, as I write this column on Dec. 18, I am with my medical family at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) hospital, one hour from home. I got there through my family doctor in Seaforth, and via a rheumatologist near London. My wife has health issues through her family doctor and a haematologist in Kitchener and a surgeon in Stratford. Even though we are in the rurals, our medical family works together. Our medical system can be frustrating; but when we really need it they are there. The team supporting me at the LHSC is unbelievable – a teaching hospital with many specialists – great.

I can’t talk for others, but Seaforth is where I want to spend my final years. Not only is Seaforth great, but living in a rural community is very peaceful. It is a community that cares. We are only an hour away from London and Kitchener and their urban lifestyles. We do not have four-lane highways, towering condos, or large industry. Our businesses are based on our agriculture, our land, our crops and our animals. It is heaven, except when they are applying fertilizer – smelly.

While I am lying in my hospital bed, thinking over my life, I am so thankful and lucky that we ended up in such wonderful place as Southwestern Ontario and Seaforth. There sure is much to be thankful for this Christmas, despite the Omicron variant.

I expect to be back to my previous life, before hospitalization, and “My Voyage with Dementia” in the new year. My new voyage, an autoimmune disease, just keeps life interesting.

Stay tuned.

The Alzheimer’s Society of Huron County (ASHC) has created a blog of all my column. It chronicles my life every two weeks, as dementia becomes part of my life over a four-year period. And, the ASHC deserve much of the credit for my continuing good life.

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Bob Murray is retired from the graphic communication (printing) industry and has been living in Seaforth since 2015. Murray was diagnosed with Dementia in 2013 and works hard to stop the progress of the disease to AD. He shares his experiences in his column entitled “My Voyage with Dementia.” Follow him on his blog entitled Voyage with Dementia –


Bob Murray