Friday, 4 September 2015

The Wheels of the Bus? go Round and Round ...

I had hoped to write this post last Saturday but lethargy and laziness got in the way. Determined to show off my writing skills in a font size smaller than that an Elephant's toenail, I was looking forward to seeing what I was writing once I had my new glasses. I do wonder if I have a saying on my forehead that says, "If anything can go wrong to this woman, it will", because my new glasses were not to be. The optician worked hard to make a prescription that would overcome the troubles with my eyesight but it was impossible. The big problem that was too difficult to work around was the fact that the cataract operation was a "bodgie job' (her words not mine) and the lens was "skew-whiff" (again, her words not mine). 

As you can imagine, I was a bit miffed. (A bit of an understatement.) However, all is not lost. The optician has referred me to the Lions Eye Institute because they have developed a new procedure that allows them to take out the faulty lens and replace it with a properly positioned one. With luck and a fair wind, they will be able to help me.

I am still debating with myself about whether to complain about the surgeon who supervised the intern who performed the operation. If I do this, I have to get legal advice; this may lead to a case of suing the surgeon, intern and other surgeons who examined my eye at subsequent appointments, for negligence. The thought of going down this road is giving me the heebie-jeebies. My stores of fortitude are very low and I'm loath to enter the strange world of the law via legal aid whilst taking on the public health system. Will ponder this problem some more.

OK, that's all I can manage with one working eye. If the post reads a bit cock-eyed, you now know why. (Sorry, I couldn't resist, he he.)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

So they all rolled over and one fell out , , ,!

This day was supposed to be when I wrote my next blog post, but one of the wheels fell off. The public health system, again, has got in the way of my plans. That is, the surgeon who placed a new, artificial lens into my right eye, in order to fix a cataract, has placed it quite a bit askew. As a result, I enjoy the vision of a mole! Everything looks as though someone has smeared my glasses over that eye with a thick layer of Vaseline. Added to that, my astigmatism is much worse, so bad that I am seeing double all the time. Trying to write is a nightmare.

However, the good news is my new glasses are ready to be picked up and my carer will take me to pick them up tomorrow. Yea! So, with luck and a fair wind, I will be able to write the real blog post at the weekend with no squinting, no finding the least fuzzy spot on my glasses, no holding my head at an oblique angle, no more hitting the wrong keys on the keyboard and definitely no more rubbing my eyes because of tiredness. I'm looking forward to seeing a brand new, clear world. Wish me luck.

As compensation for such a short post, here is a picture of Rosie, my little dog, who has taken the idea of the princess and the pea to new heights. Being a Chihuahua, she hates being cold so inserts herself in between the dog beds. My granddaughters and I call in the Rosie Sandwich. Enjoy!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

And The Beat Goes On, Tra La La La

What is the world coming to? These days you go to the doctor to get the results of a gastroscopy and come out two hour later with a diagnosis that you're heartless! Well, not exactly heartless, just that your heart is missing a beat or two and there is a lot of fraying in your aortic arch.

It seems my atrium have lost the ability to tic in rhythm with the toc. All they can manage is a kind of half-hearted quiver. This leaves the ventricles a bit bewitched, bothered, and bewildered and they don't know whether to pump, bump or grind. This causes the blood to pool and, as in any bemused crowd, stupid clots to form

My doc is a lovely, intelligent, clever diagnostician who likes to cover all eventualities so he gives me a whole tree's worth of prescriptions, a vaccine against pneumonia, an ECG, AND gets the nurse to syringe my ears! I tell him he needs to get out more. Like most doctors, he doesn't listen. He is on a mission to keep the Grim Reaper from my door and he doggedly pursues this with fervour. I, on the other hand, have made friends with my old pal Grim (we're already on a first name basis) and keep telling the doc that he doesn't have to work so hard to keep me alive. I tell him not to worry so much, death is just another phase of life and Grim and I are tight.

There are things worse than death and I fear those things far more. I have no fear of dying either. Why would I? I live in a society that will house, feed, medicate and look after me with as much care as possible. I won't be dumped on the street where I have to beg for a morsel of food or left to languish in some run down old people's home. The incidence of elder abuse is minimal compared to other western countries and the training for home care or residential care staff is of a high order. My children are kind and will make sure I am taken care of properly. As long as they don't decide they want to look after me themselves, things should be hunky-dory.

My kids and I have had many conversations about who will take care of me in my dotage. Having physical and psychological disabilities has meant that my health and well-being has always been part of family conversations. The idea of living with either of my children is not appealing. I love them to bits but I definitely don't want to have them as full-time carers, as much for their sake as mine. I am not a 'good' patient and would run either of them ragged, so to save their sanity they have been brainwashed from an early age to "put me in a home" when I can no longer look after myself. With luck and a fair wind, they will do as they're told with no guilt or regrets. As I keep telling them, I have lived my life, it's their turn now.

But I digress. The heart of this story is to tell you why it has taken me so long between sips at the trough of the blogging world. After oodles of medical tests and several visits to the emergency department, the medicos finally decided that I needed a stent in my aorta. Placing a stent in the aortic arch is not a common procedure so I had a few days in the ICU - ostensibly for my benefit, but I suspect it was to allow the surgeons to get up to speed by watching YouTube versions of the operation.  

All went well except they forgot to tell me the long-term side effects, which included constant pain, depression and circulation problems. The physical issues exacerbated the depression, which, as you can imagine, delighted Igor (name I gave my depression) in a lugubrious mealworm kind of way. He settled in for a long stay with the attendant problems of phone, noise and webby phobias. Hence the inability to write except for the occasional short comment on other blogs I read. 

It's been a hellish 18 months or so and whilst Igor is still around he is about the size of a pea, a pea that is about to be crushed between my thumb and finger. There are plans afoot that my best girl (daughter), my doc and I are organising that will reduce the pain and take the pressure off the pump in my chest. I'll tell you all about these plans in another blog post. For now, know that I am hale and hearty in my imagination and a super hero in my own lunch box (is that still a thing?). 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Dogs, Dogs, and More Dogs

A hush descended. The tension in the room was increasing but nothing was happening. The two combatants were still as statues, sending almost invisible signals to each other. The signals proclaimed loudly for all who could interpret them that the winner would take all. Every now and then one of them would look away from the other whilst altering, ever so slightly, a part of their stance; a barely moved lip, a flick of an ear. The other would respond in kind but remain staring at the opponent. 

Watching them was nearly unbearable and there was a longing to break the pressure, relieving the anxiety of knowing this altercation could erupt into a fully-fledged fight. If a fight ensued, blood would flow. The grumble had been bubbling up in the background for weeks and now was the time for it to come to a head. Much more was at stake than the prize that lay between them. Who would be the victor? Who the loser?  Loving them both, it was horrible to watch.

After fifteen minutes the muscles on the back of the younger one began to tremble, and then relax. Simultaneously he lowered his head and eyes in a canine bow of supplication, jumped off the sofa and left the victorious top dog. She watched him for a few seconds before delicately picking up the prize of the raw hide chewy and devouring it noisily. 

Phew! It was over. I let out a huge sigh of relief knowing all was now right in the world of my long time companion, Rosie, a Chihuahua and recently adopted Dougal, an Australian Silky Terrier. 


Yep, I'm the pack leader for a new dog. We are now a family of three. Did I ever mention that I was dog dotty? Well, I am and have always had rescue dogs in my life. My first rescue was Spot, an unwanted puppy about to be thrown down a pit shaft. I was eight years old and persuaded the man doing the throwing to let me have the pup. Even though I was forever arriving home with a dog I had kidnapped or enticed out of its garden telling my mum, "It followed me home, mum. Honest", this time I had corroborating evidence. My brother was a witness to the man's means of getting rid of unwanted pups and, to my delight, my mum let me keep him.
Mum and Spot, 1953

Many dogs have come and gone in my life since then, providing me with love, comfort and friendship. Every one of them has taught me something about dogs and, more often, about me. I only hope I made them as happy as they made me.

Now, the proper hierarchy of our new pack is established - me as pack leader, second-in-command is Rosie and Dougal is the newbie. The two dogs are happy knowing their place in the pack and peace will reign until Rosie gets too old and is challenged by the underdog. No blood was spilled in establishing the natural order of our canine world and all the tension has disappeared. 

Now we are a proper pack. Yea! Let the fun begin.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Broadcast of SUICIDE AND ME

I wanted to share this video made by young Australian film-makers. I'm so proud that there are young people in the world who want to change things for the better. These young film-makers give me hope that mental health issues will be better funded and understood in the future.

Please watch and share the video. The information could save your own or someone else's life. Don't be embarrassed, mental health issues are everyone's business. Those of us who suffer from MNBP (malfunctioning neural brain pathways) don't want to die and leave the ones we love. We just want the pain to stop.

I'm OK and safe today. Are you OK and safe? If you are I hope you remain so. If you aren't please ask for help because I want you to stay with us and get well.

If the above link doesn't work try this:

Thursday, 28 November 2013

How I Met My Mother

November 17th was the anniversary of my mother's death. I spent the afternoon with my daughter, son, and four grandlings having afternoon tea and cake belatedly celebrating my 68th birthday. My mother died when she was 68 years old, three days after my 30th birthday.

My mother was a formidable woman. In today's lingo she would be described as awesome. She didn't suffer fools gladly and brooked no nonsense from her four children. Smart without being a know-it-all and accomplished in many skills: knitting, crochet, sewing, gardening (vegetables and flowers), baking, cooking and reading. Oh, how she loved to read. I have inherited her need to read and, like her, voraciously devour all things written. Someone at uni once called me an epistemophiliac and I, thinking it was a put-down, rushed to the library to find a dictionary. I thought of my mother and laughed out loud when I discovered the meaning. It means a lover of knowledge. We need to know and need to know now.

I’ll give you an example of just how formidable my mother was. I was thirteen and, with two friends, had taken to a life of crime. The three of us would go into the city after school about once a week for a shoplifting spree. Inevitably we were caught and handed over to the police who charged us with theft then ran us home in police cars. I’ll never forget the look of mortification on my mother’s face after I had been marched up to the door with two cops on either side of me (I wonder if they thought I was going to try and escape). Never missing a beat my mother invited the cops in, offered them a cup of tea and listened carefully to their tale about her miscreant daughter. She never looked at me or spoke to me and I just remained standing behind the sofa feeling as though I would die.

After the cops had gone I expected her to give me such a terrible a tongue lashing but she ignored me completely. I was in a state of terror and remained so until we had to go to the juvenile court. In all that time my mother never spoke to me, acknowledged or looked at me. She did a thorough job of ‘sending me to Coventry’. My brothers were sympathetic but would not dare to bring mother’s wrath down on their heads when we ate together or did anything as a family. My sister was away so missed the quiet but deathly drama.

It was when she and I went to court that I began to see her as a woman instead of just my mother. We had arrived early as instructed but were still waiting at noon. The other girls and their parents were sitting with us but my mother never spoke to them or me. At exactly 12pm my mother rose from her seat, approached the court usher and told him to give a message to the magistrate. She explained that, as she had done nothing wrong and had arrived at court at the correct time, she did not see why she should be punished by having to sit on a hard bench outside the court. So, she informed him in a loud and proud voice, she was going home. At this point she turned on her heel and, with a great deal of dignity, walked out.

I was beside myself, believing I would be sent to Borstal (a juvenile prison) and that I would never see my mother again because she was so ashamed of me. The other girl’s parents just sat looking at the exit with their mouths open and the usher was dashing here and there trying to decide what to do. He eventually disappeared into the court room.

I learnt later that the usher had informed the magistrate of my mother’s leave-taking upon which the magistrate had sent a police car to pick her up and bring her back to court. I was bewildered when she arrived back just before we were ushered into the court room. Feeling absolutely certain that the magistrate would definitely send me to Borstal after such a show of defiance from my mother, I didn’t know whether to be glad or sorry she had returned, especially as she still refused to acknowledge my existence.

What happened next was simply unbelievable. The magistrate heard the evidence from the shop detective and the police, accepted our guilty pleas and assurances that we would never break the law again. Then he said he wanted to address my mother before telling us our fate. At that point I knew I was in serious trouble and hung my head. He looked directly at my mother and asked her to accept the apologies of the court for keeping her waiting! He then said a whole lot more about the court system and how they tried to keep the waiting to a minimum but it wasn’t always possible. My mother graciously accepted the court’s apology and our sentences were given.

I was stunned when he fined me, the ringleader of our lawless gang, 10 shillings but fined the other two girls 10 pounds. Their parents were not amused and threw dark glances at my mother as though she had cast a spell on the magistrate into doing such an unfair thing. I and the magistrate, on the other hand, were in total awe of my mother’s grace, dignity and self assurance. I kept sneaking looks at her because she seemed to be a totally different person; not only had she stood up for herself but had also saved me from being sent to juvenile prison at worst and got me a fine of only 10 shillings at best. I was so proud of her.

My mother eventually forgave me, explaining her abhorrence of police, courts and jails as a result of my father’s experience with the law (another story, for another time). We became friends afterwards as two women as well as mother and daughter. I came to know a lot more about her, discovering qualities that had been hidden from me by my child’s eyes and I will be forever grateful for an experience, however painful for us both that allowed me to know, understand and love my mother in much deeper ways.

I also learnt things about myself too. For instance, I vowed I would never treat my children the way my mother treated me and I never did. The agony of being shunned ignored and humiliated every day bordered on extreme harshness and left me in a state of terror that was very traumatic. I understand perfectly why my mother did it and don’t blame her. She did the best thing she knew how at a time when children were treated far worse than she had treated me (one of the girls from our little gang had been beaten very badly by her father). On balance, I gained far more from the experience than I lost and for that I will always be grateful to a wonderful, strong, and redoubtable woman who I was lucky to have as a mother.

RIP mum, you were the best.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Ten Pearls of Wisdom

There is an unwritten rule that says now I'm in my 'advanced' years I can share pearls of wisdom with others. The rule doesn't make clear whether others listen. However, it is of no consequence to me if they do or don't. In other words, I don't give a shit! All I know is that the following things, in no particular order of importance, are certain and true.

Pearl 1: Cosmetics will not make anyone beautiful, overnight or otherwise and, when we all come to our senses, the cosmetic industry will be put on trial for crimes against humanity and nature (and false advertising). 

Pearl 2: You will get laid regardless of what you look like because sex has nothing to do with looks, everything to do with your brain. Good sex starts in the brain and is intelligent. Good sex is fucking fantastic!

Pearl 3: You can never have enough teaspoons and tea towels.  Believe me.

Pearl 4: Reality TV is the same as the freak shows that used to be attached to a circus and just as obscenely horrible.

Pearl 5: The only way to know if you are a successful parent is if your offspring don't grow up to be axe-murderers, drug dealers, obscenely wealthy, human traffickers or recidivists. These people and people like them are NOT, repeat NOT, fully functioning, authentic human beings.

Pearl 6: Nobody cares what colour your hair is, whether it is long, short, or middling or what style you adopt. Honest, no one gives a rat’s arse.

Pearl 7: The sky will not fall in if you wear the same clothes twice in the same week. Honest! Most people won't even notice and those that do notice are the fashion police and they are to be ignored at all costs. 

Pearl 8: The only real best friend you will EVER have is a dog!

Pearl 9:  Shaving your legs, or any other part of your body, is a complete and utter waste of time.  

Pearl 10: 60% of what you learn will be of no use to you in everyday life. But, learning stuff is such kick-arse fun!

There you have it, just some of the things I've learnt in almost three score years and ten. Now, go live your life in the way you want. Wisdom is highly overrated.