Bill drove up the back paddock, and parked his ute. The cancer was raging, and the Doc was barely keeping up. There wasn’t much of him, and the end was coming faster than a speeding locomotive. Now, it was only a question of when, and on whose terms.
Of course, Bill knew God wasn’t the only player involved. Those doctors could do a better job of extending his lot than the power of prayer – even if the priest disagreed.
However, just as Bill was about to cast his vote, the dog jumped up on his lap.
My response to this week’s prompt was fueled by various conversations I’ve had with people close to me about the end of life. One friend dreads having a stroke and ending up incapacitated, and vows he’s going to head into the bush and take matters into his own hands first. a couple of friends and relatives have had dashed his melanoma and other cancers where bits keep getting cut off to the point where they feel they’re barely being held together, or have anything left. Some people reach this point and will do anything to preserve life, while others pull the pin. They might not take drastic action. It might be as simple as refusing further treatment and issuing a “nil resus” order. I’ve had a few close calls and I resolved to do whatever it took to stay alive. My kids were young and needed two parents at least in an ideal world. Meatloaf’s epic song “Anything For Love” became my song. I would do anything for love, but I did wonder where my limits would be. I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that. Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out. I recovered and got back on my feet.
For those of you who know me, you’ll also appreciate that I had to add a dog to the picture. We have three dogs at home: Lady Border Collie x Cavalier, and Zac and Rosie who are brother and sister border collie x kelpies. You often see a working dog out there with a ute.
Anyway, I hope you’re all well and having a good week.
This week, you’re in luck because I stewed up two kilos of fresh apricots and last night produced a scrumptious Apricot Pie. Of course, I couldn’t find one of our three big rolling pins, and had to make do with a small kids one we still have floating around the kitchen. The other complication with producing the pie, was that I cut my finger chopping up pumpkin for dinner on Saturday night. I’d just managed to get the pastry to the stage where I had the diced butter sitting in the bowl with the sifted flour, and the roast in the oven with the potatoes parboiling in the microwave, when calamity struck. I managed to slice through the side of my finger and halfway through the nail. I called out for help and knew it would be a hospital run at least to get it checked out.
A hospital run is obviously not the way you want to be spending your Saturday night. However, with omicron on the rampage and not being allowed to take someone with you into hospital, it’s less than ideal especially as I’m immunosuppressed and have crappy lungs and I have other health and disability issues and shock which meant I could barely walk, speak or think straight. Geoff came with me to Emergency. I had my walking stick and we requested a wheelchair and I showed my disability Companion Card and Geoff was allowed to stay with me and we were also taken to a treatment Room to wait so I was kept isolated. Although we were told it was a relatively quiet day, the hospital was running very smoothly and none of the signs of catastrophic collapse we’d heard about. Anyway, the one good legacy of Donald Trump is that we now know all news is fake, and over the last two years that has truly come to pass.
Meanwhile the diversity that comes with parenthood continues. This week saw me sewing on Scout badges for our son after narrowing missing having my own finger sewn up, and also shopping for a new tutu for our daughter. This is a big step up or her in terms of tutus. Shopping for tutus is fun and rather glamorous but also a tad stressful because nothing knows perfect and no compromise like classical ballet. However, her teacher suggested a website and a description and I think I’ve succeeded. The Miss loves it. I love it. I’ve bought the measuring tape. Thunderbirds are almost go.
Perhaps, I should’ve kept my big mouth shut. After all, as the saying goes: “be careful what you wish for”. However, I was quite clear about what I wished for. That was “fun”. I’ve barely been out of lockdown since late June, and it’s wearing thin. However, when I said I needed more fun, I certainly didn’t mention anything about “drama”, or God forbid…”panic”. Moreover, I’m doubly sure I mentioned nothing about medical emergencies, or wanting to live out the show: “24 Hours in Emergency”. I’d also like to add, that Nurse Nancy is a Little Golden Book character, and should also stay well within its covers, and well away from the real world. While we’re at it, I’ll also clarify that I’m a taxi driver, not an “ambo”.
However, that all changed today.
I was sitting inside having a cup of tea when the phone rang. It took me a bit to grasp what was going on. There was just a “hello”, and I was trying to work out who it was and what was going on. Of course, you’d expect me to recognise my own husband’s voice on the phone. However, the voice sort of sounded underwater. However, in what seemed like an eternity, I managed to ascertain that Geoff had had an accident in the backyard, and had a nasty gash to his leg. He also asked me to call an ambulance, and bring out the medical kit. I also grabbed a cloth nappy. Although I never used them as nappies for the kids, I still have my stash and they come in handy.
Heading out to the backyard, I found Geoff sitting on the step of the garage. On the phone to the ambulance, I handed him the nappy to wrap around his leg, while wrestling with the medical kit one-handed trying to get it open. Geoff also ended up having to open that up himself. Meanwhile, the operator was asking me a lot of questions about how Geoff cut himself, and the wound itself. However, by now Geoff is unresponsive, and I can’t get a word out of him. I’m feeling like Johnny come-lately. I know nothing about what happened. He’s also sweating profusely. Yet, while it should be panic stations, I was relatively calm. After all, I was talking to emergency and any minute those sirens will be blaring and everything would be okay. Like miraculous, heaven-sent angels, they’d soon be here to save the day.
Now, they’re asking me if he hit an artery. With no blood in sight, it doesn’t look like it. I should be relieved, but he’s still unresponsive, and he’s clearly not okay. While he’s not bleeding to death, I don’t want him to plummet down their triage list just yet, although I know he has. I’m well aware our hospital system and ambulance network is seriously overstretched responding to covid. However, fortunately Geoff perked up, and was probably more in shock. Despite being asked not to move him, it’s hot and muggy outside and we get him inside and into the air-conditioning – me too. My breathing isn’t good, and with my bad lungs, stress and humidity, I might be needing the ambulance myself.
A paramedic calls me back to touch base. We weren’t forgotten. With an extended delay ahead and Geoff doing much better, he explains it would be better for us to drive Geoff into hospital ourselves to get him seen faster. There is a risk of infection, and after six hours he’ll be needing intravenous antibiotics. Obviously, that’s best avoided, and someone else has been already been waiting for 12 hours in the queue. I ask the paramedic if he minded if I talked it through with him. I’m not quite sure I can do it yet. As you may be aware, I have disability and health issues. So, it wasn’t a straightforward consideration. To make matters worse, I wrote the car off in the hospital carpark a few years ago when I was taking our son to Emergency. However, I’ve come a long way since then and started believing more in myself. That I could do it.
Of course, I knew we could ring a friend, and ask them to drive us. However, I was feeling okay. Besides, we had help…our number one son. He turns 18 in a couple of months and now has a man’s strength. Indeed, he is actually quite strong. “Of course, he’s strong,” I hear you say. However, I’m his Mum. While I haven’t thought about him being “my baby” for a very long time, he might still be “my boy”. All these years, we have been his strength, even through the very worst of my debilitating muscle weakness. Now, in the blink of an eye, he’s grown up. Strong as a rock, he would be there to help get his dad into the wheelchair and into the hospital. That sounds so ordinary, yet it was incredibly profound. At least, it was to me. I hope it meant something to him too, and he was encouraged.
We arrived at the hospital. To my macabre sense of humour (which is always more heightened in medical emergencies), I felt like we were on the set of The Godfather. Instead of driving the red Alfa, I’m pulling up in a black, mafia mobile with really dark tinted windows, and we’re turfing him out on the pavement outside the hospital with a bullet hole in him somewhere, instead of this cut to his leg.
This is what happens to your loved ones these days thanks to covid. We’re not allowed to go in with him, and in all honesty, I can’t go in anyway. Covid is literally everywhere, and I’m very vulnerable. I do not want to go anywhere near the hospital. So instead of sitting lovingly by his side, our son fetches a wheelchair and someone to push it, and he disappears behind closed doors.
By now, it’s 6.30pm, and time for dinner. Geoff doesn’t eat seafood, so we head off to the local Chinese restaurant to order Honey Prawns. However, being Monday night, they were shut, and I had to settle with our son’s choice of KFC.
Meanwhile, after packing Geoff an overnight bag with PJs, a couple of clean shirts, undies, toothbrush, and phone charger, we’d barely got through dinner, when the phone rang. He was all patched up and ready for pick up. I’m not good with keeping track of time, but he might’ve been there for an hour. Apparently, the wound wasn’t as deep as he thought. However, it still warranted 18 stitches. So, to translate that into the Australian vernacular, it was an impressive “scratch”.
A scratch? We went through all of that for a scratch?
To be perfectly honest, we didn’t go through all of that for a scratch. It was for love, and as cheesy as it sounds, because we’re a family. Family isn’t confined to your genetics. It can also be a choice….a special connection, a bond. However, having someone to ring when you’re in trouble and who will be there for you in that special way, is life changing and it stops people falling through the ground when the chips are down. Of course, we also have our faith and know God is always with us. However, his ways aren’t always our ways and our time here is finite. That’s not something which stares me in the face every day, but it is something I factor into my expectations.
So, while I was looking for fun today, I found drama, but also a renewed appreciation of our family, and so much gratitude for the growth in our son.
I’d like to share a poem I wrote about him when he was five not long after he’d started school. I was helping out a lot in his classroom and helping to teach the kids how to write and hat all important thing of leaving a finger space in between the words, which for them wasn’t something they could just eyeball and get it right. It was quite a slow, conscious, and very physical process of actually putting their finger on the page and writing around it and they had to concentrate so much. It was hard work. I flashed forward from that moment to when he walked out of that gate and he’d become a man. He still has a way to go and he’s really been up against it with covid, but he’s getting there. Today, as they say, was proof of the pudding.
This post has covered quite a bit of ground, but I’d love you to respond with stories of your own.
PS I’d just like to add that the road hasn’t been easy for our family, and we have really toughed it out. I don’t know whether I’d describe us as particularly happy, but we’re not miserable either and that says a lot. There’s gratitude, but also envy, disappointment and being human. Whatever else we are and however we might feel in the moment, we are a family…us and our dogs.
In January my husband and I had to rush my Dad to emergency. We had to take a strange route to avoid traffic. We also had to keep him calm. He was ironically excited in his delirium from level 10 pain. We thought he would need to stay a few days but in reality the […]
Last night, my daughter and I went on a beauty shop crawl snaffling up supplies for her sleepover and pamper party and by some miracle of miracles I managed to check out our favourite PJ shop, Peter Alexander’s without buying anything. I can’t say the same for my daughter. I think she bought some bed socks.
Pyjamas are such a personal thing. Some people wear them, others present their birthday suit or just the basics. While the track suit has its place in terms of keeping warm, I do have a bit of a thing for a fancy pair of PJs and have PJ days where I wonder round the house in my PJs with no apologies. There’s something so relaxing, indulgent and revitalizing for me spending a day in a beautiful pair of PJs.
I’m not going to post any photos of me in my PJs simply, because I don’t know where they are. However, my favourites have included a silky pair with zebra stripes and I’ve had several pairs of cloudy PJs with white clouds on a sky blue background. Perfect fpr a creative and writer who lives in the clouds.
However, we’re not visiting Peter Alexander for their PJs, but rather to check out their front door. I don’t recall seeing too many pink doors on Thursday Doors, but this one is absolutely luscious. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice that the door handle is a dachshund, which is their corporate mascot. This is Peter Alexander’s own dog, Penny. She’s gorgeous!!
There are also other architectural touches throughout their stores, which are a beautiful fantasyland with candelabras, plush chairs and everything to make you feel like an absolute pampered princess. Indeed, I wanted to move in!! Not that I’m the princess type and I’m certainly not pretentious. However, I love the rich designs of his PJs and there’s a lot of humour as well. I bought my son a pair of Monopoly PJ shorts. They were so much fun but are probably too small for him now.
The other aspect to my love of pyjamas, is that I do have chronic health and disability issues and so I do spend more time at home than I would and I do have a bit of a siesta to get me through the day. I haven’t been to hospital in a long time. However, I think a stint in hospital almost demands new PJs to lift your mood and help you feel a million dollars instead of sick, sorry for yourself. Sure, they can’t take away the pain, but they can go a long way towards lifting a horrible black rain cloud.
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to Peter Alexanders. I think I might dig out my PJs now and have a nap. Have some beautiful dreams.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to our place. This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.
This week’s Featured Door is attached to the Respiratory Investigation Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney.
When you think about having a Merry Christmas, the last place you want to end up, aside from the local morgue is in hospital. That also applies to the weeks leading up to Christmas where it seems like the rest of the world is floating in bubbly and doing the Christmas party circuit, while you’re shuffling from appointment to appointment. That’s not all bad if it’s all routine, good news and you can wipe all that off your radar.
However, it doesn’t always work out that way. Six years ago, after my auto-immune disease flared up again and was resisting conventional treatment, I found out that they were bringing out the big guns and I was having chemo for Christmas. Yet, while this might seem like the worse Christmas present EVER, we actually viewed it as a blessing, a heaven-sent answer to prayer, and not a curse. They could do something.
I wasn’t intending to revisit this journey today for Thursday Doors. Although I had lung function tests followed by an appointment with my lung specialist, I was intending to focus on my apres-appointment trip into the city (Sydney) where I photographed oodles of intriguing, eye-catching and even historic doors.
However, before I sorted them out, I wanted to acknowledge the efforts hospital staff have made to brighten up the place, trying to lift your spirits through what are often very traumatic, bleak and desperate times. News you don’t want at any time of year, but especially not at Christmas. Bad things aren’t allowed to happen over Christmas. That should be written into the fine print. Moreover, you wouldn’t be the first person to try to sue God either. Do you remember Billy Connolly in The Man Who Sued God?
Anyway, when I turned up for my lung function tests today, they’d decorated the doors for Christmas and clearly I had to take a photo for Thursday Doors.
I still remember when I walk out of those doors when I was first diagnosed with the fibrosis, and was absolutely distraught. My kids were only seven and five at the time and obviously needed their Mum. I felt bad if I was even five or ten minutes late to pick them up from school, and it was incomprehensible that I wouldn’t be there to pick them up at all. I left the lab with a single tissue and ended up in the hospital chapel sobbing my heart out, and there wasn’t a single tissue in the place. As hard as that tissue tried to cope with the deluge, it was overwrought. I ended up having to sneak back into the hospital toilets, get myself together and buy some tissues. I distinctly remember saying I had hay fever. What a duffer. A year or so later, when things deteriorated, I burst into tears in the hospital shop and the pink ladies rallied around me with such love. They were beautiful.
Christmas Decorations in the Northern Cancer Centre. I think they’re Santa Kangaroos.
Anyway, as I mentioned, my specialists decided to treat the flare up using a chemotherapy drug called cyclophosphamide, which then introduced me to the Northern Cancer Centre on level 1 for my treatments. While I was there, I found out they had a resource centre and I came across a series of work booklets put out by the Cancer Council. These were really helpful for dealing with those really hard questions around death and dying, especially for families with kids. I was mentioning these booklets to a friend recently and that’s what brought me back to lvl 1 today.
Christmas Raffle at the Northern Cancer Centre downstairs.
Having photographed the doors upstairs, I asked the staff if I could photograph their Christmas decorations. I felt like a bit of an idiot, but I wanted to back up the doors upstairs with a another example of how the hospital was getting into the Christmas spirit. Anyway, much to my delight, they upped the anti and asked me if I wanted to have my photo taken in their elf frame. Being an irrepressible extrovert, of course, I jumped at the chance. It was a lot of fun.
Before I head off and while we’re talking about the hospital’s Christmas celebrations, when I was there on Tuesday, a jazz band was playing the foyer and it’s something they’re doing during December. I couldn’t thank them enough. I’d actually just been to see a friend and it was an emotional time. So, it was really therapeutic to listen to the beautiful music and feel soothed. It was so thoughtful!
Well, I realize that talking death, dying and hospitals is a rather gloomy subject at this time of year, when I reflect that I’m still here six years later and in reasonable health, it actually becomes a celebration. A good news story which might touch somebody else’s troubled heart with a touch of hope. After all, as much as we might not want to be in hospital, the alternative is far worse and rather permanent. So, I’d better close off this Thursday Doors with a huge shout out to all the doctors, nurses, physios, OT’s and support staff who help get us back on out feet and out the door.
This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.
My apologies for posting on a Friday. However, I had an appointment down at Royal North Shore Hospital and planned to take the camera along and thought I’d share some fresh doors with you.
Royal North Shore Hospital is one of Sydney’s best teaching hospitals and for me it’s become a one-stop shop for all the weird and wonderful complications of my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis. The hospital is located across from St Leonards Station on the North Shore and up a hill so steep that it’s likely to induce a coronary in even a fit person.
What’s going on behind these closed windows?
Anyway, I was heading up the hill, when I spotted this weird fabric veneer over one of the hospital’s heritage buildings…Building 30. I’m not sure if you’ve seen anything like this yourself, but they’ve seemingly printing heritage architectural features onto a piece of fabric, which is camouflaging the building works going on “behind closed doors”.
Naturally, I was rather suspicious. Clearly, they’re trying to hide something and that something more than a messy building site? What is going on?
What’s more, being on the look out for interesting doors today, I was most concerned that this vogue-style veneer didn’t have any doors. There were only windows. This was a serious oversight. An act of discrimination.
Hey, I found a door!
However, behind all those windows, I actually did manage to find a door and I’m sure you’ll agree that it was probably best left covered up. After all, it doesn’t really encourage you to trust this place with your life or your loved ones, does it?
This door hardly instills you with confidence, does it?!!
When I arrived home tonight, I mentioned this building site veneer to my husband and he said he’s seen it on building sites around Macquarie University. Apparently, it helps reduce graffiti and bill posting, although it still seems like a massive cover-up to me. What do you think?
Front View, Building 30.
This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
― Aldous Huxley
So often, language is hopelessly inadequate. Last night, I found myself profoundly moved and yet despite all my years as a wordsmith and a thinker, I was left stammering unable to communicate.I guess that’s what happens when your doors of perception suddenly swing open, and you have a eureka moment.
I’d been watching a past episode of Ahn’s Brush With Fame where he’d painted and interviewed Professor Fiona Wood, Australian plastic surgeon and burns specialist. Professor Wood and scientist Marie Stoner developed a revolutionary spray-on skin to help burns survivors. This technology was a world-first and has been used on more than 1000 patients around the world. In 2005 they won the Clunies Ross Award (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering) for their contribution to medical science in Australia. In 2005, Professor Wood was named Australian of the Year.
So, let me bring you into the studio now where Fiona is sitting on Ahn’s distinctive yellow chair. While Ahn’s secretly painting away behind the canvas, Ahn and Fiona’s conversation criss-crossed through her professional and private lives, and there were so many pearls of wisdom. Fiona is such an amazing thinker, and Ahn has a way of drawing people out, although I also understand that painting someone’s portrait tends to do that. Ahn is also deep and profound himself.
“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”
Leonardo Da Vinci.
However, as much as I was touched by much of the interview, there was a particular part of their conversation which stopped me dead in my tracks. Indeed, today I’ve paused and rewound this section many, many times trying to capture the exact wording. With these two kindred’s swept away into their own little skin paradise, pinning down their words wasn’t easy.
The conversation began when Fiona was admiring the other portraits in the studio, particularly their eyes, and it flowed on from there and they started discussing skin, almost as an entity in its own right:
“When I’m trying to teach surgery, it’s like teaching shades of white (Yes) and some people just get white. That it’s a 3D or 2D surface. It’s layered isn’t it? It’s the layers of the system.(Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s not just skin colour) It’s not skin colour. What colour is it? Skin Colour? I mean give me a break.
(As a kid, you get a packet of coloured pencils and there’s one skin colour.) Like nuh (It never works. No. That’s not how people look.)
“Round face, skin colour…Hmm probably not going to fly really.”
(Ahn’s comments are in brackets here. Please forgive my dodgy transcribing.)
As you could imagine, as a burns specialist, Dr Fiona Wood has an exceptionally intimate knowledge and understanding of skin, which flies right over the heads of us mere mortals, including myself. However, her appreciation was not lost on Ahn who has appreciated similar complexities of tone through the lens of an artist…a painter of portraits.
“All our knowledge has its origin in our preceptions.”
Leonardo Da Vinci.
Unfortunately, as much as I love the written word, these black and white words on the screen fail to convey the animated intensity of their conversation. That sense of not only seeing eye-to-eye but soul-to-soul. That rare synergy where you become lovers of the soul and that fusion is just as intense. As Dr Fiona Wood said at the conclusion of the show:
“My highlight today was actually talking about how images go from 2D to 3D and how the light reflects off the skin and how amazing skin is and talking to someone who gets that. Cause skin is amazing.”
Professor Fiona Wood
As a writer or creative person, I’m naturally interested in how other people see and perceive the world, particularly when they re-frame something ordinary and present it through a different lens. I’ve tried with all my might to try and walk in someone else’s shoes. Moreover, I’ve left my own shoes out, hoping someone else would try them on and gain more than just an inkling of the inner me. So, seeing how two people could get so animated and excited about skin and perceive it as more of a complex and detailed landscape than a continuous monotone, intrigued me. I also found it unusual to hear two people discussing skin tone, because it can be a real taboo.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird
Not unsurprisingly, I’d never stopped and appreciated what an artist and plastic surgeon might have in common… a shared fascination with the human body and in this instance skin. Indeed, I’ve never even thought of skin in this way. That’s also interesting to me on a personal level as one of my uncles is a plastic surgeon and another is a dermatologist and this would be familiar territory for them. I also have my own take on skin because my autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis, also affects my skin. However, I’ve never had to think about reconstructing a severely burned body and all that entails. Moreover, when it comes to paint, abstract is my friend. Indeed, I’ve never even considered what goes through the mind of a surgeon who is wanting to reconstruct a severely burned or injured body and trying to get it as close as possible to its “before”. It’s a form of art and yet so much more because the patient’s life and contentment are in their hands. The more you can reduce the scarring, the better the outcome for the patient and Fiona has clearly devoted herself to that end.
So, now I’d like to encourage you to watch this episode for yourself. Even if their discussion on skin doesn’t appeal to you, the are plenty of other pearls to treasure.
Only a few days ago, I was jubilantly chirping about finding my happy feet. Well, I should’ve held onto that thought. Stuck it onto my forehead with superglue, although it would need to be written backwards so I could read it in the mirror. “Life is Great”. However, please don’t ask me to actually write that backwards at the moment, as I’m not thinking clearly. I was simply being dramatic.
For those of you who’ve been following my trials and tribulations, you might recall that I was fighting off Fergus the Omnipresent Operatic Cough for about 6 months and it was getting me down. He was so darn persistent that he could’ve taught Calvin Cooledge a thing or two about persistence.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Well, I managed to have a good couple of weeks, but then Fergus decided to get sneaky. Or, perhaps like me, he has no sense of direction and he was actually heading back down to my lungs, but ended up in my sinuses by mistake. I don’t know. Either way, the results are the same. I’ve been in excruciating pain and my entire head felt like it was being compressed in a vice and the evil Fergus was turning the handle and laughing, of course and his evil eyes glowing like Christmas lights.
Actually, that shouldn’t be written in the past tense. That’s because Fergus is still at it and flaunting his malevolence. Nothing makes Fergus happier than a bit of torture.
Anyway, I’d been having these intense headaches for a few days, and wondering why my eyes were aching and was getting a bit concerned. Other than having Fergus is my sinuses, I have hydrocephalus and a shunt in my head and these were all the kind of symptoms associated with a block shunt and a trip back to the brain surgeon. With my daughter’s birthday tomorrow, slumber party and associated comings and goings, brain surgery wasn’t exactly on my list.
So, I was starting to get concerned. Just a little concerned. Nothing approaching a major, full-on panic attack with all the bells and whistles. However, then I blew my nose, and I swear a real, living breathing alien jumped out. It was freaky, weird and almost terrifying. I’m not going to thrill you with a graphic description or photographic evidence, but let’s just say this thing was a cross between a Killer python and a jelly rat. The sort of thing that has the infection control Police out in their lab coats, masks, rubber gloves and buckets of Domestos. It’s Quarantine.
Fortunately, I was booked in for an appointment with my rheumatologist at Royal North Shore Hospital. This is one of Australia’s top public and research hospital and home to weird and wonderful conditions like my dermatomyositis. My husband, offering whatever encouragement he could to his embattled soldier, said I was going to the right place for the day. True! Why would I want to go to a tropical island when I could be at the hospital? Well, when you’re feeling that crook and concerned your brain’s being devoured by infection, the deserted island can wait. I was looking forward to going back to my familiar stomping ground where there’s enough expertise from rheumatology, lungs, brain, exploding sinuses to handle whatever Fergus was going to dish up this time.
Well, much to my relief, they let me go and I left with a script for more industrial strength antibiotics, and I actually managed to have an extended coffee with my best friend from school at a cafe near the station.(I perk up well).
I should also mention that I was reading Markus Zusak’s: The Book Thief on the train and in the waiting room. It’s a funny book to be reading when you’re feeling really crook and wondering if your number’s about to come up, but it’s beautifully written. I loved the film and started reading the book and got distracted, but wanted to have another go.
Train trips are always a good way for me to really get stuck into a book as it takes about 90 minutes to get to the hospital. Moreover, it’s uninterrupted time and not that jerky stop start reading you have when you’re going off to sleep. Have you read The Book Thief? It’s just brilliant and the language is so poetic and beautiful. It’s also very philosophical, which I love as well. So, after a day of train trips and waiting rooms, I’m now up to page 164 and I take my time to absorb the prose as well. It hasn’t been an express read. I like to let the words and the magic settle like Autumn leaves in the snow (not that we have either here).
Anyway, I woke up at midday today after my husband handled the morning run. I can’t begin to describe the throbbing pain. However, even walking a metre or so to the bathroom was a huge agononizing effort and I had a glass of water hoping that would help. It was a separate trip to get some Panadol out of my husband’s drawer. I have never experienced pain like this. I had to let those process before I could even ring my husband to tell him how sick I was. That was very humbling, scary. Nobody wants to be that vulnerable. So stuck in a dreadful situation and unable to respond.
Fortunately, for me it was temporary. I rang my husband which perked me up a bit and the Panadol and water were starting to work. With a huge blow on my nose, there was also more relief. I’ll be heading off to pick the kids up from school soon and I’ll be back on my feet in my usual style. Rowena is fine.
I’m glad I’m feeling better and finding ways to keep going, get back on my feet and not let chronic health control my life. Yet, on the other hand, I could use some TLC and my own private nurse to take care of me. Peel me grapes. I know I need to rest.
Do you live with anything ongoing, which is challenges you? Please share in the comments and upload your inner Fergus.
Today, our son’s much loved soft toy lion, “Rah”, ended up in the operating theatre with Dr Curtin on duty. Unfortunately for Rah, he got the wrong Dr Curtin. So, while he’s all stitched up and you can’t see the stitches through the fur, he’s not what he was. Not that he was what he was before I got to him. Indeed, when our son was three, he gave Rah a haircut and took off much of his mane. So, you could say, that Rah had lost his magic powers long ago. On the other hand, after being with us all this time, he’s gained a very different power… the power of love.
Sadly, when you’re an über-loved, scraggly soft toy, you don’t get your choice of surgeons when your stuffing pops out. Rather, “You get who you get and you don’t get upset.” Worse still, you’re told to be grateful. Unlike so many of your peers, you’re being stitched up. You’re not being thrown out. As for anaethesetic or fancy equipment, all you get is a needle and thread…nothing high tech. And, as for the surgeon, that’s a no brainer. It’s Mum. Mum who failed cross stitch class and could never turn her needlework over. Yes, Mum of “hack stitch” fame is sewing you up. Yet, all you can do is: “Keep calm and carry on”. Face your challenge like a lion. Be brave!!
So, there I was finally sewing Rah up. This wasn’t going to be easy. His front leg was split open with stuffing missing. There was a hole under his chin and another gaping wound on his hind leg. Many would’ve written him off, unceremoniously binning him while the child was at school.
However, I am not most people. I believe in history, stories, memories, friendship. So, when I was asked: “Can you fix it?” Of course, I answered: “Yes, I can!!”
There’s no way we’d ever throw Rah out. Indeed, I still have my childhood teddy which is probably little more than moth fodder by now, but I still remember my mother trying to patch her up as well. There was never a question of throwing her out either. That’s because we need the old as well as the new. That, while time causes wear and tear, it also produces shared experiences, which ultimately develop into memories. Story stacked upon story, building fanciful tales.
By the way, the other thing I really like about my son’s attachment to Rah all these years, is that Rah was his choice. Our son chose Rah as his favourite toy and Rah is unique. He’s not a teddy, but a lion and I’m pretty sure he came from the op shop and wasn’t new. Our son also obviously named him “Rah”, making the roar himself for the lion which couldn’t make a sound.
Now, I’ll be interested to hear what the kids have to say about Rah’s surgery when they get home from school. While he’s now in one piece after having 4-5 holes stiched up, including a leg reconstruction, he’s obviously not in proportion. The stuffing had fallen out of his right leg and in order to give it added strength, I over-compensated and it now looks like it’s on steroids and his front legs are quite different. This could be considered “character”, but I have a feeling my daughter will struggle with the two legs looking quite different. However, it’s not her lion and unless she’s willing to fix it, she’ll have to let it be. As for our son, I think he’ll just smile at the latest Mummyism. After all, I do have my own unique way of doing things.
What are your views about fixing toys? Are they “trash” or “treasure”? I’d love to hear from you!