I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired

red-and-purple

My mother has always been one for a good adage. “Better an old man’s darling, than a young man’s fool” came forth when both my sister and I married men almost a decade older than we were; though neither groom probably considered themselves old. “Go to the doctor and you will get sick” is another one; not so much for the germs you might pick up in the doctor’s waiting room, but for the other ills they find along the way.

I experienced that first hand this week. Investigations for the root cause of blood pressure issues resulted in some incidental findings. Incidental was the doctor’s choice of adjective. I prefer mind numbing, or while not immediately catastrophic, certainly has me contemplating that my goal to live to 102 might be a wee bit optimistic.

Drama Queen that I am, I feel like a ticking time bomb! The doctor mustn’t think so however, as he has sent me off for more tests with instructions not to return to his office for eight weeks! So, I am trying to refrain from lurching through the day, clutching my chest moaning, my heart, my heart! Though it isn’t likely in the short term I have asked Minerva, my erstwhile Library aide, that should I clutch anything between chest and stomach before collapsing to the floor, to be so kind as to not ask the front desk to phone for an ambulance, but to dial triple zero directly. She has solemnly agreed, though I suspect there may be days when my behaviour may influence her to walk very slowly towards the phone to make that call!

Now I am on enough tablets to make me rattle like a child’s shaker toy. I have to take a half tablet of this or that, every day, then every second day, but at the same time take a half of something new, but only on the days I am not taking another tablet. I am sure there are instructions to stand on the west side of the hill, wait for the sun to be at a 30 percent angle to my right foot and to twirl twice before taking a quarter of some pill.

I am feeling old and very mortal. I have taken to wearing purple.

No, really I have. Purple is a colour I have not worn very much since the 1970s, when I was oh so glamourous, but a couple of weeks ago, I purchased a purple tunic. I wear it with black leggings, and every time I do I receive compliments. One gentleman colleague told me I was looking exceptionally lovely in my purple and I giggled like a sixteen-year-old. I didn’t think I was capable of such frippery. Didn’t matter that the colleague is gay, I was all a flutter.

Speaking of colour, the doctor’s office has fire engine red walls. This week’s visit was my second visit, accompanied by Mr FD. Mr FD sat in the office at least 90 minutes this week, reading on his ipad, while I was poked and prodded. Later, I said, that I thought red was a poor choice for a medical office (blood and phobias etc.). Mr FD looked very puzzled and said, “Red? There was a red wall?” More than one, actually.
red-wall

Obviously, the purple is lost on him.

clearing skies

country 1

The black mist is gradually leaving me after months of illness and exhaustion. It may have just been a series of winter viruses and work exhaustion, but it has left me depleted. Spring is trying to break through and I sense my mind and body are trying to lift as well.

Sunday morning, I was on the deck, trying to exercise on the bike for a few minutes, the first time for a few weeks, when Augie Dog came to sit in the sun nearby. A number of green lorikeets were feeding in the grevillea trees in our garden. The sound of their chirping and the energy of the community was just such a delightful form of much needed nourishment for me.

Thankful that we were guided to our tree change and we had the wisdom to follow our call to country.

germs, politics, buffoons and general disillusion

red

I’ve been absent, not only from my blog, but from my life for several weeks now. This winter my immune system has taken quite a hit, and I have suffered from a series of upper respiratory infections that have brought me low, physically and mentally. This last weekend I closed the door, dosed myself with everything in the medicine cabinet and slept as much as I could. Today, Monday, I feel a little closer to “me”.

A colleague commented that I have been walking around looking close to death for weeks (true) and that she wondered if she needed to put a heart defibrillator on me, to jump start things again! She also said that she knows when I am back to normal because “you get louder!” I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt on that last comment. I know I can be loud; I am loud when I am happy. I am a loud person. Vocally. Flamingo Loud Dancer. Just don’t say it to my face and expect to survive the experience.

I have one of those year 7 classes (28 students) that are dreadfully immature, and answer every question with “I would kill them,” or “I would punch him in the face,” or “Superman would stop them!” They also think they have the right to chatter all the way through class, even when I am speaking. So, I have been sending streams of students to the Responsible Thinking Classroom to reflect on their behaviour and to write plans for their re-entry to our classroom.

It’s a fine line, because many in the class have ADS and so find being quiet difficult, but at the same time, they can’t interfere with my teaching or the learning of others. It’s not just the ADS students going to RTC, it is a plethora of mainstream students too. I have to be firm to maintain control, but in the meantime I am perceived as a meanie. I don’t think they have got the message yet, and so the stream of exits will continue until they do.

One lesson I kept them outside the classroom for 20 minutes as we went through checking that everyone had their laptop, pencils and paper, and then for everyone to calm down and wait quietly to enter the classroom. We had to wait so long that one student uttered, “But Miss, we want to learn our RE (religion).” No one wants to learn RE. which is most of the problem! So, finally I allowed them through the door, but a couple of boys misbehaved on their walk to a desk, so I pulled the entire class out and started the process again. I explained it to Mr FD as akin to breaking in a horse – you have to whisper to them to bend the spirit a little to maintain control. I don’t yell, scream, nag. I just stand patiently, explaining what behaviour is required until they listen. It’s going to be a very long term with this class.

Peppercorn and her parents are flying to Spain for a month, shortly. I wish they weren’t, due to all the turmoil in Europe right now. I know, we can’t live our lives in fear, but when I think of Peppercorn, who will only be eight months, well, it just makes me terrified. I know also that most of the terrorist attacks have been in France and Germany, as well as Turkey, but that doesn’t mean it will remain so. I want them to have a great time, even though Peppercorn will remember none of the adventure, but at the same time, I want them to remain safe. I just hope the time they are away passes very, very quickly. I shall have to keep busy in their absence. I shall just pretend that they are home in Perth and not across the other side of the world. We are not a very nice world at the moment.

Speaking of which – Donald Trump? Really, America, Donald Trump? He is the best you have right now? He’s a dangerous buffoon at the very least. I wouldn’t put it beyond him to get bored half way through a Presidency, if God forbid he should win, and just walk away from it all; or try to hire consultants to run things in his absence.

We have a dangerous buffoon in Australia. Her name is Pauline Hanson. She preaches hate, racism, bigotry, and all that is evil and she has just been elected to our Senate. For the next 6 years she has a platform to spread hatred. My reasoning is that the Liberal National Coalition (equal to the Republican Party in USA) have tried to control people by spreading fear. They have been so successful in creating fear in the electorate that now we fear anyone and anything that is different. Also, that there has been so much technological change that many people are finding it difficult to cope and this compounded with their general feelings of fear, have caused them to turn to these false “I will fix everything! prophets” Yes, we can all list things that are wrong, but how often do they come up with a sensible, workable solution? Rarely, if ever.

Pauline Hanson makes me ashamed to be Australian. Our previous Prime Minister, Tony Abbott did also. Not that his replacement is much better. This is not the Australia I want my grandchildren to grow up in. I don’t want them growing up in a world where there is a President Trump either, so I will light a candle and hope for Hillary. Social justice is what the world needs now, for the common good. Solidarity people, please.

 

a new cycle

The view from our deck by day

The view from our deck by day

This weekend we got an exercise bike. It’s not new; in fact it is second hand, unwanted when its owner went overseas. We have placed it outside on our deck, for the moment. I did circle it for an hour or two, as I am not an exerciser – as I joke, my idea of exercise is moving from one end of the couch to the other!

I was out trying out the cycle this evening. The weather is unseasonably warm, and the evening was just lovely, not too cold, no insects. Our house is on the side of a hill and overlooks the Village and the entire valley, to the ranges in the distance. It was evening and the street lights were twinkling like stars and it was just magical.

Augie Dog was outside with me, standing at the far end of the deck. Son came out and was of the opinion that Augie was watching a wallaby somewhere in our garden that we could see. He was certainly standing very quiet and still the entire time I cycled.

It was just perfection, and I felt so happy, cycling and enjoying the moment. It was a very, very nice end to my weekend.

I just hope I can walk in the morning!

Bored by that view? Then try this one!

Bored by that view? Then try this one!

pish pash another day

rake

A cold has befuddled me the last couple of days. What is it about colds that we feel this primal urge to identify just where the virus might have originated from to infect us? Mr FD almost always picks up cold when he takes plane trips, and I was on a plane three days prior to the sore throat starting. My money is on the inbred who stood in line ahead of Mr FD and I at the voting booth and made sure she turned around and couched directly at us every time she had a throat tickle.

Mr FD and I would, almost in unison, take a step backwards every time she coughed, but there was only so much distance that that we could keep between us and the diseased one (ever heard of putting your hand over your mouth, you silly cow!) and still maintain the progression of the waiting line.

And the damn election has resulted in no clear winner, and maybe a minority government. We always seem to live in electoral areas that are totally opposite to the way we vote, so it is merely an exercise in democracy for us when we vote; as we have no expectation that our candidate will win. Ever hopeful.

Last night, I must have overdosed on Berocca because I experienced one of those moments when I felt overwhelming anticipation of good health on the morrow and made plans to match. You know when you have sooked around for a couple days feeling ill, and then have a kumbaya moment of promising The Big Whatever that you will clean up your act and get healthy, really healthy.

So, lying in bed, I made plans to knead bread and leave to rise on the window sill and  to run a 10 kilometre marathon at dawn, before returning home to forage for nuts and berries in the bush land for a healthy natural breakfast with the bread I baked. Then I was going to garden, clean out my closets and knit a tent before morning tea.

Of course the first weak link in my plan was that I stayed awake until after 1am catching up on programs I had missed while away last week. The weather was windy and the wind chill factor made it quite uncomfortable so that nixed the marathon. I didn’t even walk to the mailbox to check the mail, it can wait until tomorrow.

I did clean the ash from around the fireplace, always a thrill. Speaking of thrills, a new washing machine was delivered last week. Just before we made our tree change 3 and on half years ago, Daughter2 and I selected a new washing machine that turned out to have a major production fault. The make has been bursting into flames and burning homes down all over the country. We were offered a fix early on, which we accepted, but a couple weeks ago the manufacturer rang to offer a new machine. Mr FD had the sense to accept on the spot. So, my holiday thrill has been working out the different aspect of using the washing machine. Oh it’s all fun at the Flamingo Dancer Manor!

For the next four days I will be entrusted with the care of Petite Fille, while her parents move their goods and chattels back to their city home. Petite Fille has recently started ballet lessons, so we shall no doubt pas de deux about the kitchen until I hurt some random body part.

I refuse to think about work next week, except I obviously am. Sigh.

not being able to see the trees for the trees

garden wise

When my blood pressure sank to 90 over 60, I sat on the kitchen floor and waited to black out, but I didn’t and eventually made it to my bed. I have struggled with high blood pressure for years and in recent weeks    I have been prescribed a new medication regime. Obviously, it worked too well!

I am going through one of those health episodes where lots of niggling issues come together to make life less jolly and more uncomfortable. A shoulder issue means if I raise or stretch my arm too much I experience crushing pain; blood pressure out of control. Sigh.

The last few days of the working week witnessed me absent from the workplace and journeying back and forth to my doctor. I am not sure how much rest I am getting, with a three year old in the house, and tree loppers working in the yard to remove a number of trees.

tree loppers

The tree men, are back today, removing a number of ugly palm trees that are too much work with their habit of dropping fronds continually. Palm fronds are too fibrous to mulch and so have to be carted away, more money. Disappointing also, because when we lopped the native trees we were able to keep the wood for our fire and mulch everything else to put back into the garden. I try to salve my decision to remover the trees with the knowledge that we will be planting more suitable native trees, smaller trees, in their wake.  Any garden requires regular maintenance and renewal.

We are also trying to remove issues that will become problems as we age, so that we can stay here as long as possible. We learnt from our parents lives that it is vitally important to plan ahead, and to prepare our home for when we are old, if we want to stay independent as long as possible.  Eventually, we will need to move back to the city, to a unit or townhouse, closer to our children, but not for a long, long time, we hope. Though a number of our adult children are resident with us, so that is a bit of a reverse issue right now!

Lately, I seem to be writing a lot about age and age related issues, but that is the cycle of life and smart people accept it, work with it, and I hope I am wise enough to remember that.

On the other hand, I am going out to select wood cuts from the trees already felled, to create fairy houses for my two precious granddaughters. I am sure, I will not be tempted to play fairies at all..never ever.

what a pain

girl star blue

On a scale of one to ten, I would say my massage was about seven, maybe seven point five. She lost points because she talked the entire time, whereas I like to just be still and silent. I did think she could have used a little more pressure from time to time, but considering I was already in pain, I can understand her going gently.

The thing that really lowered my satisfaction rating was when she leaned close and said, “I have to say something now that you may not like to hear.”

I grunted, not sure where this was all going. It was too soon to declare undying love for me.

“The right shoulder is the masculine shoulder and to have pain in that area means you have anger at a male, or males.”

“Like my husband?”

“Well, the first name to mind is usually the right one.”

If the pain had been in my left shoulder, it would have meant I was angry at a female.

Nothing to do with the fact that I am right handed, and felt searing pain when I lifted my arm above my head to open windows? Nothing to do with the fact that I spend hours on end at a computer keyboard, and use a mouse? Oh no, I have to hate my husband. If it was true, it would be more males that make me angry than just Mr FD!

She continued with a long story about how she takes on her clients’ negative energies and after each massage has to go out and release the anger; or she becomes very aggro by the end of the day. I think she is inhaling too much of her lavender scent.

In a whispered voice she warned me that I may become testy, or impatient with people (yeah, what’s new there?) because of the release of lactic acid and old blood and I should warn those around me when I got home. The husband I supposedly hate, too, perhaps?

Later, I went to my doctor. His opinion is that I have either strained or torn the rotator cuff and is sending me to have a scan. I wonder if the man anger will show up?

I did tell Mr FD that he was causing my pain, and that I probably had medical grounds for getting off murder if I decided to do him in. “Same old, same old” was his only reply.

I punched him in the left shoulder. I’ll give him a female to be angry with…

 

my own worst enemy; or it’s not me, it’s me.

stress 1

My doctor has made the decision to change my medications. The pharmacist sent me home with a several pages of information about the new medication. It appears to have a long list of possible side effects which cover everything short of turning into a cow. However, in some extreme cases turning into a cow is a distinct possibility.

Flu like symptoms are listed and since Saturday I have had a throbbing head and a sore throat. However, Petite Fille has a cold and so it is more likely that I have caught her virus.  Am I having a side effect or sharing germs? Either way, time will tell I expect.

I have to take my own blood pressure first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. These times are suppose to be when I will be less stressed and anxious. Doctor obviously doesn’t know that the moment I wake my brain kicks into action and takes on a life of its own.

I am one of those people that having my blood pressure taken makes it rise. I have to take it at home, in the hope I will be less anxious about it. I think this would only work if I was unconscious.

The only time my blood pressure has been within normal range, even with medication, was during the three weeks I spend with Peppercorn. Days on end sitting on the couch being Peppercorn’s Nanny upon which she likes to nanny nap is great relaxation therapy. I wonder if I could claim air flights to Perth on my medical insurance? Perhaps under natural therapy?

 

it’s a little bit like this…

face time

The to do list has been filled with “me” items. Not the enjoyable kind like going to lunch or a spa date, but rather going to the dentist, going to the doctor and having some waxing done.

The waxing was so I could go to the dentist. There was no way I was going to lie under those bright lights without having the eyebrows and chin tamed! My hairdresser said that she never would have thought of doing that before going to the dentist, but as she is only twenty something it was obvious that she wouldn’t have too. Sadly, her teeth are also rather crooked, so I don’t think a dentist has ever been high on her list.

So much maintenance and it only gets worse as we age.

I have also been suffering with an itchy allergy rash. I spent a morning sneezing and blowing my nose, thinking I was coming down with a  cold, and blaming the filthy air on planes for transmitting germs, but next day I had no sneezing and a clear nose. However, a red, itchy rash has been moving across my body ever since. Maybe, it was the shock resulting from my actions to clear the clutter from our bedroom, or maintaining the decluttered kitchen!  None the less, I have been walking around in an antihistamine fog for the past two days.

It means not much has been achieved. Mr FD and I did spend time with my sister, who is a much nicer person than I, and his sister, who is a much more confused person than he (yes, it is possible). News from Perth is that Peppercorn slept from 10pm to 6am last night, but is very clingy and whingy during the day. A good little baby, really.

Tomorrow, there are no maintenance appointments scheduled. It may be  pyjama day, or not. I am off to visit Petite Fille for a couple of days on Thursday – I promised I would play special games with her and read her stories, so Granny needs to rest up to keep pace with a very energetic three year old!

In the doctor’s surgery, I heard a mother being asked “How long until school starts?” and she replied, “Not soon enough.” I wanted to interrupt with my reply of, “Too soon”, but managed to keep the inside words inside. We go back to work on January 20th (student free days) with a bizarre two day conference that we all have to attend. It requires an overnight stay away form home. All I can think of is how all our budget requests will be denied this year as each school has to cover their own costs. Wonder if the students’ parents know?

honestly, there is just no title to describe this; or maybe the tale of how evolution let us down.

Hyde Park, London, England, 1937Henri Cartier-Bresson Magnum

We had just enjoyed a glass from a bottle of Lindemann’s Bin 65; the cheese and wurst plates were about to be released from the fridge, when the phone rang. My sister.

No, not with more suggestions for elephant placement. Our mother was being transferred by ambulance to the public hospital in a nearby regional centre. It seemed amazing as we had both been with her only hours before and she appeared as well as could be expected.

As Mr FD and I live only a couple of streets from Mum’s care facility we elected to find out the details. The Lindemann’s returned to the fridge. By the time we arrived, Mum was already in the back of the ambulance. I climbed in the back to speak with the medical assistant.

Earlier this year Mum had undergone surgery to have an orange sized gall stone from her bowel. It was thought that she was experiencing similar symptoms and so they had called am ambulance.

We followed the ambulance to the hospital, only to find Mum was “ramped” for the almost an hour. “Ramping” is when the patient is kept in the ambulance outside the hospital until a bed opens up in emergency. Not deemed an emergency Mum was ramped. They ramped my mother!

Mr FD and I had the thrill of sitting in the emergency waiting room watching the great unwashed pass by and fearing for our lives. Mr FD, who takes most things in his stride, turned to me and whispered “Don’t breathe in too deeply!” I wasn’t sure if he meant not to breathe in deeply, thus giving our noses are chance to filter the germs, or don’t breathe in too deeply so as to avoid the body odour. He had no solution to the damage done to our eyes by some of the sights we were forced to witness. Saturday night in emergency, a whole lot of family fun!

Every ten minutes I crawled my way to the reception window to ask if Mum had made it into the building. Eventually, they pulled some strings, and Mum was moved to a hall way and I, but not Mr FD, was allowed to stand beside her trolley. I left Mr FD sitting in the waiting room with the expression of an abandoned puppy.

Mum and I were in the hallway for another hour. The ambulance officer sat near by, like one of those scenes in a police show where the guard sits outside the door but challenges no one going into the room to murder the witness. They could not return to their station until Mum had been officially handed over in emergency.

I explained to Mum that she was in a hospital and for a moment I thought she was going to cry, but it was fleeting, and she returned to her confusion.

Finally in a cubicle, a nurse abetted me in getting Mr FD through the doors, and we settled in for a long wait. It was eight thirty when Mum arrived and she didn’t actually see a doctor until 12.30am!

Nurses had checked her, taken bloods and an ECG, but she was allowed no water, except for a little water from a medicine cup and plastic syringe. I felt sorry for the staff, because diagnosing a dementia patient is like diagnosing  a baby – a game of guesses. Mum could offer no assistance and whenever asked how she was, replied “Fine, never anything wrong with me!”

We went though many versions of me explaining to Mum that she was in a hospital.

Now to add to the situation, as though it wasn’t fraught enough, my mother is a racist. I am sorry, but she is, as is most of her generation who lived through the Japanese attacks on Australia during World War 2. We pretended Australia was terra nullus, nobody’s land,  until recent years. Australia also had a “white Australia policy” until the mid 1970s; so the world my mother grew up in denied the existence of any skin colour other than white. Even if you were white and spoke with an accent, you were considered “less”. Despite our best efforts over the years, we were able to move her world view only a minuscule amount. She once asked one of my daughter’s friends what “breed” she was – Lebanese/Irish Australian!

So, confronted with am emergency department primarily staffed by Asian, Indian and African staff, I just waited for the disaster. Thankfully, it was in a quiet voice that she declared her male nurse was “very Chinesesy looking”. A slightly louder voice declared that “they are all very short”. In my nervousness I answered, “Oh they only look short because of the angle from which you are seeing them Mum.” I was tired, and overwrought, not at my most original or creative…

Her funniest comments of the evening was her declaration from time to time that “I am still not dead!”

After four hours of memorable moments such as watching the young drunk/drugged man opposite urinate on himself, the nurse and the floor, it was probably not the best moment to ask that nurse if my mother was “ever going to see a doctor?” In his opinion, she was… Mr FD and I begged to differ.

Another half hour and a young resident did appear. He said he needed to talk to his boss. Another half hour passed by during which we discussed the lamp above Mum’s head for the 95th time that evening, “It’s a light Mum”, before resident and boss arrived. Both appeared younger than our children, but to be honest they treated Mum with utter respect and dignity, and appeared to give her the treatment she needed.

So, at 1.30 am Mum was taken to x-ray and to stay in the short term ward until morning. Mr FD, without painkillers for hours, and I, were beyond exhaustion so we drove the 45 minutes home.

My sister was taking the morning shift, but by 9.30 am Mum was declared as having nothing wrong with her and shunted back to the care facility. She was very dehydrated and had been given none of her medication while in the hospital. She has slept most of the day since, as have we!

None the wiser, the guessing game is now that maybe it is an injury connected to her fall. So, tomorrow, we hope to have that investigated further, but Mum appears fairly comfortable, so I don’t think it is anything dramatic.

God, getting old sucks. Evolution really missed on that one.