Feelin’ Groovy

I gotta say, a change in medication, although hard, can be for the best. It’s been almost two weeks since we put my dosage up slightly, and I’m just now starting to feel okay about it. Right from the get-go I felt really high and was having trouble sleeping, but that seems to have settled, and I don’t have so much of the racing thoughts. The first week was really hard and I was starting to regret agreeing to the adjustment, but it did help me get through some hectic times and now my brain is starting to feel “normal”. If you have ever used amphetamines or ice, you know that feeling when you’ve been awake for too long and you really need to shut down and sleep but it’s not gonna happen? That’s what it was like for the first seven to eight days. I feel like I’m getting good sleep now, and I have the energy to do things throughout the day and evening. I’ve even been sitting up with the moth watching television some nights, which I haven’t done in the longest of times.

Last Saturday (09/09) I worked as an election official for the local government elections at Bankstown Senior College. It was the first time I had worked at an election that didn’t have a sausage sizzle going on – wasn’t I disappointed! At least I got a good coffee at the hospital cafe for morning tea and the little takeaway out the front was open for lunch. We had some problems in the morning when we opened for polling, but I was just lucky that I chose the right seat to sit in and didn’t have any issues. We had 3 wards at our polling place, but nobody informed the Polling Place Manager, nor did they supply him with the correct ballot papers for the other 2 wards. So, for about 2 hours, there were some very cranky people. I can’t say that I blame them, but their anger was so misdirected. I felt sorry for the two officials who sat at those rolls. Once the problem was worked out and then sorted out, the day was mostly smooth. Counting votes after we shut was a piece of cake too. We only had one ballot paper per elector, and no massive senate/upper house tablecloths to sort. We only had to sort them into the 3 wards and that was easy as they were different colours. We finished at about 8pm, but had to stay until 9pm while the manager finalises and phones through the results. It was a labour victory all ’round, not to anyone’s surprise.

I was pretty stuffed after such a big day, so didn’t get up when the Moth asked me if I was going shopping with him. I got up before he left though, and just sat in front of the morning news with a hot tea, not doing much. I was aching in places that surprised me, but I managed to work out how I got the worst ones and have made a note to sit certain ways and be aware of things I do sub-consciously that will cause aches and pains later. I had a really hot bath and put three handfuls of rock salt in the tub while I was filling it. When I stepped into the water, my aching ankle throbbed really hard for about 30 seconds and then settled. i couldn’t believe how much better I felt after a good, long soak. There is a lot to be said for the healing properties of good ol’ salt.

Yes, Sunday night was when I started to get some good sleep again, and I was really grateful for that. When I saw the doctor on Thursday, I was able to tell him that even though it was pretty shitty for the first week, I had got a handle on it and was starting to feel better about everything. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend therapy this past week, but will be rescheduling on Monday for some time this coming week.

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And this week presents…

Well, great news, I’ve got work as an electoral officer at the upcoming state election on the 9th September. It’s a long day so I will get the full pay plus meal allowance and training allowance, so I’m pretty happy to have some spare cash coming in soon.

I also got my roster for HSC Supervision at International Grammar School at Ultimo. That starts on the 16th October and goes ’til about the 4th November and I have quite a few shifts, so that will all help in the lead up to christmas. I have expensive taste in skincare so I don’t expect the family to provide that for me!

This visit with Dad was painful this week, he seems to have lost continence again, the poor lovely, just when he was getting better with it. It seems his meds are working too, as he was very quite, didn’t try to contribute to conversations. He just seemed to enjoy the sun as we had purchased him a new jacket to keep him warm when it’s windy.

As far as my cancer goes, we are still waiting for cells to grow back to confirm the diagnosis so I only have to wait around 6 weeks now, then we can go have another test and come up with a plan of action. I’ve come to accept it now and have stopped freaking out about it, as this will probably make it worse. As I said before, at least I’m not pregnant this time and we can sort it out straight away.

They boys are good, they have been loving me and supporting me through this (and many other things!). I couldn’t have asked for a better support crew. Love my boys very much xoxoxo

Phone Calls in the Night

So I had just gone to bed last night and took my phone with me as I needed the alarm for the morning (I don’t like taking my phone to the bedroom, and my alarm clock is stuffed so no choice). I get a phone call from a number I recognise but couldn’t place, so I answered. It was the nursing home calling to say that Dad is crying and wants to come home. I just said to her to ring my brother and hung up. My dear brother then had the awkward call with Dad.

The nursing home shouldn’t be calling me for a start, they have instructions to call my brother for anything and everything. And secondly, they shouldn’t be calling us to deal with him when they are there to do a job. They told me they were going to medicate him for this, so medicate him and deal with it. Neither my brother or I are in a position to do anything about his situation. He got himself into this mess because he refused to take better care of himself, and I don’t think he understands that he can’t look after himself. I think we are going to have that horrible conversation with him where he’s going to be “I want to go home!” and we have to say to him that where he is, is his home, he doesn’t have anywhere else to go and can’t take care of himself anyway.

This all might sound harsh, but I am really exhausted with him. At least he can’t “escape” from where he is like he did when he was in respite last year. He was in respite after a stint in hospital and wasn’t able to go home and take care of himself. I was trying to get care in place for him and he just packed up and left, trying to make his way to my place! I can’t take care of him here, and he can’t be left alone as he is unable to take his medication properly, even though they are in Webster Packs. He also can’t control his eating, so he will end up with diabetes again, and because he doesn’t take the medication properly, he will be back in hospital within a week.

He is in the nursing home for his own safety and care. I know he would be hard for them to manage, but they are supposed to be medicating him to help him get through this. We will have a good talk to them when my brother and I go on Saturday morning, and I think I will take my phone number out of his file.

What’s been happening?

Well, there is so much to say as it has been quite a long time since I’ve been here. I’ve often thought to myself that “I should do a blog update”, and of course, that is all it has been, a thought. Just had a lot happening this year and not had the “energy” to do this. Now is the time to turn that around.

I’ll start with Dad. He’s in the nursing home at Padstow, and has made improvements from where we were in January/February. He’s walking again, with the assistance of a walking frame, which he also needs to get up and down. You can have a chat with him, but you might not always understand what he is trying to say to you. He’s also recovered enough to want to “fight” with other residents, so this is not necessarily a great thing. Those who know him know how combative he can be, but in a dementia ward, other residents don’t know what’s going on with him and he can get aggressive. Hopefully this doesn’t get any worse, or the staff will really have problems with him.

He lost a lot of weight back at the start of the year when he was really sick and unable to eat. He has, however, put a fair bit of it back on now that he is eating again. His diabetes went away, but I am starting to become concerned that he will have it again soon if he keeps eating the way he does. They must be letting him have too many biscuits and cakes throughout the day, because he will eat as many as he can get away with, when he shouldn’t really be having any.

We’ve also discovered that Dad is having low iron issues. He’s not eating the meat that they serve (I’ve seen it and don’t think I’d be too keen on some of it!), which doesn’t help. They do believe that he may have some issue with his bowel, such as a polyp that is bleeding, but we have decided not to put him through further testing as it will be too rough on him. We’ve decided to treat the low iron and we’ll deal with anything else if and when it arises.

Now for my health….. I recently had my annual Pap smear and blood test and got the results today. Cholesterol and blood sugar are really good, thyroid is good, but unfortunately, my liver functions are still elevated and not coming down even though I have lost weight. I was a little surprised by that, and the doctor has decided to investigate this further to be sure it’s no more than fatty liver. Not great, but if that’s it, it will get better the more weight I lose. I’ve lost around 16Kg so far, another 9 to go.

Unfortunately, the Pap results weren’t great either. It looks like the cervical cancer that I have been clear of for 20 years is making it’s comeback. I have to wait for the cells to grow back so I can have another Pap smear in October and see what the results show. I’m not too concerned at this stage, as it is very early days and we’ve detected it early, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue to get rid of it again. I’ll take every treatment they offer to get rid of this and it will all be good again.

Anyway, the MOTH and the boy have been great about this, and they are going along well. The three of us make such an amazing unit, and we all love and support each other with whatever we have to deal with. We face everything as a family, and we’ll get through all this together.

Gonna love you and leave you there. Other things have gone on, and I’m sure much more will, but I won’t leave it so long ’til next time

About Dad

I know it’s been a while since I last did this as I have been busy studying, but with all the developments regarding Dad over the last 6 months I felt that I must take the time and give you all an update.

In early August 2016 on a Sunday morning when we went to drop his paper off, we found him unconscious on the bedroom floor of his flat (MOTH was with me). We called an ambulance straight away and they arrived quickly. Initial assessment showed that he had a fever and a blood sugar level so high that their tester couldn’t read his levels. They took him to emergency at Bankstown Hospital, where he was admitted with pneumonia and delirium. They couldn’t determine if the high sugar triggered the pneumonia or the other way around. Either way, he was quite sick and was kept in hospital for about a week. He was discharged with antibiotics and insulin injections, which I had to give him each night as he wasn’t quite ready to learn to do it for himself at that point.

He was home for about a week and a half when we went there on the Sunday morning again with his paper. I noticed that he had all his clothes on backwards and he had a good chuckle when I pointed it out. He also said that the equal that he was using in his tea and coffee was terrible and made the cuppa’s milky. I looked in the cupboard and saw that he had been using cornflour instead of the equal, so I showed him the equal was in the sachets and he said he would be okay using them now – he just forgot they were in sachets. I had to leave and I asked if he would be alright until I got back that night around 8 to give him his insulin. He said he would be so I left and came home with all the shopping and stuff. He was on my mind all day, but I was going back that night so he wouldn’t be alone for too long.

When I got back to his place that night, the outside light wasn’t on so that was unusual, and as I got to the door, I noticed a note that his neighbour had left. She apparently found him wandering the street in the early afternoon and he was dazed and confused. She called an ambulance for him and he was taken to Bankstown emergency. We got down there and saw him, he knew who we were, but not much else and he wasn’t making much sense. As his blood test showed infection they tried to do a spinal tap to rule out meningitis and the like. They couldn’t get him into a good enough position to get the fluid. They tried again the next day but again couldn’t manipulate him into a suitable position for the procedure. They suspected sepsis, but this couldn’t be confirmed. They treated him for it anyway, better safe than sorry. He spent the next week in hospital and was having hallucinations – seeing a black snake under the bed, large flies flying around the room, etc.. He wasn’t well enough to go home on his own, so I arranged for him to go into respite at Yagoona Nursing Home until such times as we could arrange for home care services for him.

He continued to improve while in respite, and just as I was making appointments for  ACAT assessments for him, he absconded from the nursing home and was wondering around Bankstown looking for his way to our place. When I finally got hold of him on the phone, I sent him back to the nursing home, who called an ambulance for him and had him taken to the locked psych ward at Bankstown Hospital. He was there for about a week while they assessed his needs and made arrangements for home services. They had to be sure that he could take his medication properly and could complete basic tasks at home.

He went home and had the services coming around a few times a week to check on him and take him shopping. He started catching a cab to where we shopped every Sunday morning so he could “bump into” us and get us to give him a lift home. He also sent his laptop over to get “fixed” by our son, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, he was struggling to remember how to use it.

This went on for a couple of weeks, until a Monday late in October when I got a phone call from the Diabetes Clinic at the hospital, saying that Dad was more confused that usual and that he couldn’t remember how to use his BSL tester. She took him to emergency and he was admitted from there with confusion and high blood sugar. They did an MRI and could see the evidence from his old strokes, but other than that all was okay. They did another MRI five days later when his confusion worsened and found that he had had an “embolic shower”, showing that he had many clots throughout his brain. This showed that the clots are forming elsewhere (heart) and travelling to the brain. There was no other option but to put him into full time care once he stabilised.

He moved to Casa Mia Aged Care late November and has been in the locked dementia ward. He has been unable to communicate with us or staff, but has been co-operative. Unfortunately though, he has started to sleep all day and roam the halls at night. One night he fell asleep sitting in one of the chairs and then fell forward out of the chair. There was no apparent damage apart from a swollen nose and a small graze to the head. They changed his sleeping medication in the hopes that it would change his patterns, but he is still drowsy all day and awake all night.

He stopped eating his food last Thursday (12/01/17) and got more and more drowsy, not even responding when Allan and Julie went to visit and tried calling him and waking him. They expressed their concern to staff and staff were looking into it. On Monday 15/01 the nursing home called and said that he hadn’t eaten for 2 days and that they are concerned as he is more drowsy. They told us they had called the doctor for him and asked us if it was okay for him to be transferred to hospital. At about 11:30 Monday night, I got a call from the Registrar at Bankstown emergency letting me know that Dad was there and was being admitted and treated for pneumonia. MOTH and I went to see him Tuesday morning and he sounded quite chesty and we couldn’t rouse him at all. The staff told me he only had a pain response. When Allan and Julie saw him that afternoon, he was semi-conscious and moaning, still unresponsive to voice.

Today (Fri 20/01) we had a family conference with his treating doctor and registrar. They say they have changed his antibiotics and hope that this gets the infection under control as it has worsened slightly. He is also showing inflammation but this is probably gout as he seemed to be sore in the usual gout sites. They were putting in a Naso-gastric tube today to start giving him some nutrition as it has now been about a week since he has eaten and they feel that he might have a better chance at recovery with some nutrition. We’ll just have to see how that goes, but we did warn them about how he pulls tubes and every thing out when he has the chance so they are going to put him in special mittens in the hope that this prevents him pulling out the feeding tube.

It’s all wait and see at this stage. We just need to see if the nutrition aides in his recovery and helps him fight this infection. It’s not looking great at the moment, but we have said to them to take all necessary interventions to make him comfortable, but if things take a turn for the worse to not resuscitate him. They have said that if they did need to resuscitate him that he would be much worse off and we feel that this would be unfair to him. Fingers are crossed that things get better. I’ll keep you posted.

Bankstown Bites

The Bankstown social event of the year, especially if you’re a foodie, Bankstown Bites was amazing. I’m glad we did as much walking as we did, we ate so much food, but I must say, I enjoyed every morsel, even if Dad didn’t. It was nice to spend the day out with Dad where we weren’t doing the shopping or other chores that we need to do, we could just relax and enjoy hanging out. Allan and Julie were there too, as well as some of their friends that live locally so it was a good day out for all.

Dad and I started on the Black Tour, which saw us go to the Star Buffet at Bankstown RSL where we had a simple antipasto platter, pumpkin, feta and couscous salad, pasta salad and some sushi. The main was a buffet of Mongolian Beef, fried rice, tempura vegetables, deep-fried fish, steamed pork bun, and seafood dumplings. I really enjoyed the beef, but the rice wasn’t great. And I’ve never had tempura pumpkin before! We had a lovely blueberry cheesecake for dessert, as well as a selection of little squares of Mud Cake, Passionfruit cheesecake, rosewater sponge and this strange green one that neither of us liked.

From there we went to Bankstown Cellars, a nice little bottle shop that I have been to on a few occasions, especially when looking for something out of the ordinary. We had a Greek liquor, one called Gold and one called Rose, and a nice smooth Bourbon. I should have written the names of these down properly, but after four shots at about 11:30am, I thought to myself “I’ll remember these…” They were all nice, but I had to laugh that Dad and I were the only ones “throwing them down”. We didn’t hang around there too long, as I wanted to get us booked into a tour at 12:30, so we had to head back to the starting point. We had walked from one side of Bankstown Plaza to the other, so we had to go back over the station and down to “Chinatown”.

Next, we went on the Pink Tour, which started at Izvor Deli in the old Compass Centre, so we had to go back up and over the station again. Dad was beginning to grumble about the incline, but I told him to think himself lucky that he is able to do all of this this year. At the Deli, we had their specialty, homemade Macedonian Sausage. It was smoky and gently spiced pork and I quite liked it. She served it lightly pan fried so I thought it would be nice chopped through tomato and onion on toast, or maybe with some mushrooms on toast. We also had some soy cheese, which was really good and showed not all soy products suck. I’ve had this before so I was happy to nibble a few cubes again. The other tasty morsel was a capsicum and eggplant relish on Italian bread. I was a little skeptical as I’m not the hugest fan of eggplant, but this was lovely so I went back for seconds and thirds.

From there we went to Valley View Continental Groceries, which was just awesome. The smell of the place as you walk in took me to a faraway market place, with the large open barrels of dried herbs and spices. We had some corn on the cob, served on a skewer, some leb bread and homemade hommus, and these really tasty marinated chicken wings. They served chai tea after the food sampling and it was the best chai I’ve ever had. I bought some of this (and some for Dad), and I also got a small bag of Italian Herbs that were a lot cheaper than the supermarket and they were a nicer blend. Definitely be going back here, best way to get herbs and spices.

After Valley View, it was on to Hai Yen Noodle House, where we had two types of barbecue pork, barbecue chicken and garlic fried rice. I was expecting noodles! Again, wasn’t too impressed with the rice, but I did like the red pork. Wasn’t overly happy with the other pork, as the bone was left in and there were little shards of bone and I didn’t like this at all. The chicken kind of made up for it, would have liked more of it instead of the bony pork.

To finish the day, we went on the Blue Tour, so again we walked up and over the station, where we stopped on our way up the hill at Nam Fong Hot Bread, to have pork rolls, barbecue pork rolls, barbecue chicken rolls, spring rolls, and the Vietnamese equivalent of a sausage roll (I couldn’t hear what they were called over all the noise on the street). I really enjoyed the chicken roll. I normally wouldn’t have a roll from “one of those places”, but it was really good and very different from every other chicken roll I have ever had. Would definitely like to go back for the same again.

Over the hill and around the corner found us at Bankstown Hotel, Oscars. They are launching a new menu and we got to sample it all. We enjoyed chicken quesadillas, pork ribs with salad and lamb souvlaki. All of it was good, and I think their new menu will be a hit with the locals. I like finger-type-food at a pub, and it was a nice, clean pub. Would have liked to have been served matching drinks but wasn’t to be. We did get soft drink and water though, which was good because no one else really served drinks. I’m certainly glad I took my water bottle.

Last stop was Nhu Y Juice Bar, back down in the chinatown section of the plaza. They were offering a fruit smoothie, which was mainly melons, an avocado smoothie or a sweet juice. The sweet juice was a wonderful colourful concoction with jellies, beans and all sorts of things in there. I wasn’t brave enough for one of these, so I settled on an Avocado smoothie, which had sugarcane juice in it. It was really nice, but I couldn’t finish it as I was so stuffed from all the food we’d eaten today.

All in all, it was an awesome day and I look forward to going along again next year. Not sure if Dad will go, he’s a bit fussier about where he eats than I am. I’ll try and get into tours with Allan and Julie as they are definitely more adventurous in the culinary department. They got to see the Adam Liaw cooking demonstration, and Julie did the “fan thing” and had a photo taken with him. They said it was really good, and they got some good advice and tips from the MasterChef winner.

And now for something completely different

Wow, I’ve been so busy over this last week. I have gone back to TAFE… Certificate 3 in Community Services Work. It has been awesome. I have a great class, and there is a really good mix of cultures and interests. I think we will learn a lot from each other. We have had some good talks in small groups when we have done group activities; we are getting to know each other and that is really good. I have become close to a few people, which I like, but next week I am going to make a greater effort to sit with others in the class. I seem to have sat with the same people a few times over the three days, so I would like to make the effort of sitting with some of the others.

Gonna see if I can sit back and let others answer more. I feel like I am taking over some times, and while I feel I have a lot to offer, maybe others aren’t getting the chance for as much input. I’m looking forward to week two next week. I’m also looking forward to the boy getting the computer running properly for me again. I can’t open any of the files I’ve been emailed from my classes over the last week as the computer doesn’t have the software to support them. Anyhoo, I’m sure he’s going to fix it for me tomorrow.

And tomorrow is a huge day unto itself. Doing the Bankstown Bites Food Tour with Dad, the brother and sister-in-law. Hanging out for that, eating our way around town. Dad and I get to have drinks on our tours, as we are doing the RSL in the morning, and Oscars in the afternoon. Not sure what we are going to do for our lunch one at 12:30pm. I have two picked out, so I’ll just see what Dad seems to want to do. I’m just looking forward to trying new food; I know there is some Vietnamese and Lebanese, so yummy. Will give an update when I get a chance after we’ve stuffed ourselves!