Monday, January 4, 2010

Where have the last 6 months gone

I can't believe where the last 6 months have gone. Here is my 2009 Christmas letter. The blurry photo of my dog Bridge is a reflection of how I view the last 6 months.

Merry Christmas 2009

Life is relatively simple here in paradise. I wake before dawn to the cacophonous bird life that inhabits this coastal area and a dog which won’t be deterred by my need for more sleep. She thinks the birds are up and so I should be. This happens at about 4 am every morning. It’s not hard to get used to an early start to the day because it’s at its coolest then. Mooloolaba used to be a quiet sleepy seaside town but now the tourist trade is in full swing and because of the beautiful weather all year round (mostly) it’s always holiday time, busy and noisy.

As I sit here thinking about the year about to end I can hear the waves crashing on the shore and it’s only at this time early in the morning that I can hear the waves because traffic noises soon drown out this glorious mood setter.

Late January Dad went into hospital with a possible bladder infection but it turned out to be a blockage in his urethra. Then he developed blood clots and a skin tear inflicted by a careless nurse which required surgery. He would have been better off to have stayed at home. Nearly 6 weeks later he finally came home. Before we knew it was March and Dad’s 90th birthday. I fixed him some of his favourite food and a banana cake. We have only recently taken down his birthday cards to make room for Christmas ones. We thought that at 90 and surviving hospital he deserved to have them displayed for nearly the entire year. When Dad came home we had weekly visits by nurses, personal care assistants, speech pathologists and dieticians to help attend to Dad’s needs which took the pressure of Mom and me. Dad also came home with a supra pubic catheter which required me to learn how to take care of it. Dad comes up with some pretty interesting euphemisms for his indwelling device, if I can call them that. When it bothers him it is a telephone pole or fire hose or some other equally descriptive word. He also refers to his bladder as the duck pond as in, “My duck pond gave me trouble last night or my duck pond is not draining.” Dad’s Frost sense of humour always shines through although this year it has taken a bit of a battering. He’s doing okay now despite the memory developing a bit of rust, constant duck pond algae build up and a waxing/waning appetite.

Mom has weathered this last year with her usual sense of humour and positive perspective. She’s only had one trip to the emergency department of our local hospital this year and came home the same day. She sees these hiccups in her health as opportunities to sell her book; she is forever the entertainer and perennial people collector. She is writing her 4th or 5th book now and that is what drives her to

keep going but she gets waylaid by mountains of emails. She insists on sorting through them meticulously so she doesn’t miss a personal message and then grumbles that these forwarded emails have taken up all her writing time despite enjoying most of them.

May, I had a holiday. I went to Melbourne to hear my son Ty sing in the Gay and Lesbian Choir and thoroughly enjoyed it. He also had a solo which made me tear up with pride. I caught up with friends and also met Ty’s flat mates. I was only away a week and while I was gone Mom and Dad had a respite worker call in each day for two hours.

June, July and August were fairly unremarkable except for the constant trips back and forward to emergency with Dad and his blocked fire hose and backed up duck pond.

September was the highlight of the year with Jeri and Diane’s visit but boy they didn’t know what they were in for when they arrived. A visit to the emergency ward the day after they arrived with Mom, who was having mini blackouts, was the start. The next day it was a duck pond emergency with it filling up to overflowing with nowhere to go. The weekend was quiet and we caught up with Jeri and Diane. Monday was a different kettle of fish which began with me dropping the sisters off at the shopping centre and me taking Mom and Dad to the doctor to check on their recent health issues when I was taken by surprise by a visit from a kidney stone right there in the doctor’s office. I knew then it had come time for my trip to emergency but I couldn’t drive. We went to the shopping centre and for a very painful hour I searched the shops for my dear shopaholic sisters. Found them, threw Jeri the keys to the car and said drive. By this time writhing doesn’t come close to describing the level of pain. Mom, Dad, Diane and a slightly pale Jeri (driving on the left hand side of the road shouldn’t be thrust upon someone suddenly especially when they don’t know where they were going either) left me to writhe in solitude until the morphine kicked in. I spent the night in hospital while Jeri and Diane were left to cope with the routine at home. I came home but the stone and pain came with me so it was back to hospital for another two days and stent placed in the ureter to stop the pain. The difference between renal colic and labour pain is that one is forgotten and the other haunts you forever with nothing to show for your extreme discomfort.

In comparison Oct was mundane, thank goodness. In November I took two weeks holiday down in Victoria. I started with a visit with Ty and we both went to see the Psychic John Edward who was visiting from the States which very entertaining and poignant for so many. I then took a train to Hamilton and spent the rest of my holiday visiting friends which I love doing. Mom and Dad were in care because they can no longer cope with being alone. Mom was her usual entertaining self, sold lots of books and Dad spent his time wondering where she was and looking for her.

Other highlights of the year were weekly seminars in Resilience for Carers and monthly seminars from a Life Coach. Trust me I need all the help I can get. Mom’s uncanny knack of ‘what she hears is not what I said’ always has me in fits. While driving one day she asked me a question about these seminars I go to and in the middle of it she says, “So most of the participants are from South America”. It is really hard to comprehend how she starts at point A only to arrive somewhere Over the Rainbow. There doesn’t seem to be a logical transition to the next point in our conversations. I answer, “WHAT? No they are all Australian.”

“But you said they were Brazilians”.

Through tears of complete hysterics while driving I managed to say, “NO Mom, the name of the seminars is Resilience.”

I really thought a trip to the audiologist would sort this problem out but apparently there is no problem with her hearing and Mom’s conclusion is I need elocution lessons.

Suddenly December is here and Christmas is only 4 days away. Where did the year go? I am so glad I can look back on the year and smile.

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