Category Archives: Wellbeing

It came to pass…

Well, what an eventful year thus far, and it is only early June. I enrolled in Uni this year to attain my Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) and so far I’m doing really well. I have been receiving mostly High Distinctions and Distinctions, as well as being awarded a scholarship, so I need to keep my GPA above 4.0. I was so proud to receive academic recognition so early in the journey, but I really love the subjects I am doing and have met some incredible like-minded individuals who want to study as hard as I do and achieve as high results as possible. The MOTH is finally on board with me being a professional student, and I have had some feedback from friends of him telling them how proud he is of me and is so glad to see me back on track after nearly 10 years of being in a funk. It was seven years since my back injury before I returned to TAFE for 18 months, earning my Diploma in Community Service Work – Case Management. I took a year off at MOTH’s request, and it was a horrible year for all involved!

The workload of full-time study has been a bit much, so I’ll still be doing full-time, but only three units next semester, and I can catch up my sub-major (crime and Criminal Justice) online over summer. I have a friend who intends on doing the same, so at least I will have someone to talk over theory with outside of ‘class’. I have found one way to be smarter is to hang around with smart people, so I’m trying to do that with regard to Uni. One young dude, only 18, is super-smart and is in most of my study sessions. I push myself to keep up and answer as quickly as he does (and sometimes beat him! yay me!). It helps me feel like I’m keeping up with everyone and that I’m on the right path.

Now for some sadder news. Poor ol’ Dad came down with pneumonia late April, and the nursing home did all they could to help him fight it. However, on Friday, 25 May 2018, the doctors called to say treatment wasn’t working and it was time to place him on palliative care. My brother, sister-in-law and I visited him the next day, and you could tell he was pretty bad, he was on oxygen and the only thing we could get him to eat was oranges, picked by Allan from a certain tree that Dad loves the oranges from. It made him so happy to just sit there in the sun and enjoy something he loved so much. Allan and I arranged to see him again Tuesday, 29 May, so we could bring him some more of his favourite oranges. He was on his deathbed, and was so happy to see us be there for him in the end. We fed him some oranges, gave him lots of hugs and kisses and told him how much we loved him. When his breathing became quite distressed and the nursing team came running in, we took our leave. We could still hear him as we left the building.

I was expecting the phone call that night, and had an awful night just thinking about how hard it was for Dad to breathe, and that I was hoping he would let go soon as he was in a fair amount of distress. The nursing staff were fantastic and managed his end of life care magnificently. He passed away at around 10:15 on Wednesday, May 30 2018. He looked so peaceful, more at rest than I had ever seen him, and he was off to join his beloved Maggie, whose loss he never recovered from 22 years ago. I like to think their souls have been reunited and they are together again at last. This thinking gives me comfort, as I know how much they loved each other, even if they drove each other bat-shit crazy!

The funeral was held on Tuesday, 5 June at Rookwood, the same place we had Mum’s service all those years ago. It was a lovely and sweet ceremony, and I delivered the eulogy – I found it very cathartic to write, and I found some kind of inner strength to deliver it to a chapel full of people who loved him. It started to rain at the end of the service so it was a mad scurry to the vehicles to head off to a life celebration for Dad at Dooley’s Catholic Club in Lidcombe. It was a great celebration of family and friends, and many stories of Dad were shared. Even one of his half-sisters started to ask me what I knew about that family history given the subtle references I made during the eulogy. I told her we all need to get together, in the near future, and have an honest and open discussion about what we all know. From that we may be able to piece together what has really happened within the family and unravel some family secrets that shouldn’t have been kept this long.

I must say, I am so glad I had Uni to keep me busy throughout this (not that uni hasn’t been without hiccups!). I think I would have broken down and don’t know when I would have stopped. I have shed a few tears, but I have spent the best part of two years waiting for this to happen. I found Dad unconscious in his unit back in August 2016, and after much too-ing and fro-ing, plus an escape from one nursing home, he went into full-time residential care in December 2016. He became very ill in January 2017, and we nearly lost him then, it was only that Allan and I agreed to a feeding tube and him being physically restrained that saved him. We agreed that we would not go that far again, as he never fully recovered from this episode. He apparently had more strokes during this time, and had no clue who we were for about 2 months. He slowly regained his strength, but he could never stand or walk alone, and was forever having falls. We did have some fun visits with him, taking ‘picnics’ for him to pick at, while he listened to us all have conversations about out lives. Every now and then he would try to contribute, but he was suffering from expressive aphasia, so couldn’t get his words out. Mostly when he did talk, it was telling us his cousins were his brothers and sisters – these are the family secrets we all need to talk about. He would sometimes be able to tell us he went out on the bus for a trip and ice cream at Macca’s, but that was about it. When we heard that familiar rattle in his chest, we alerted the staff who commenced treatment that day. Unfortunately, the pneumonia was to claim him this time, but he put up such a fight, right to the very end.

We will miss Dad, he was a big part of our lives. We are going to scatter his cremains at the same place we scattered Mum, Cape Solander at Kurnell. It would be nice to have them available for 4 July, the day we scattered Mum, but we may need to wait until the following weekend for everyone to be available. A toast will be had, and we will again reminisce about the man we all loved.

I’ve got lots to do, just finishing a final essay for Crime and Criminal Justice on the Indigenous peoples relationship with the Criminal Justice System. It’s off being reviewed as we speak, then I’m off to the nursing home with Allan and Julie to say our final thank you’s, pick up anything we need (just a hat that he had, everything else we left for other residents) and then that’s the final part of that process. I’ve got study to do for Understanding Society, pick five questions out of 12 that I really like and write myself some answers. I have until Monday evening to get this done, but I will break this up with my other two subjects, The Individual in Society and Psychology – Human Behaviour.

Til next we meet

xoxoxo

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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.

Making Progress….

Did the big trek again on Wednesday to see Dad at Katoomba Hospital. He is getting so much better, something they were saying we might not see. He was in physiotherapy when I got there and he was doing really well. He’s still quite weak, and you can see he has a bit of a struggle when it comes to steps, but he’s actually walking now instead of shuffling, albeit slow. He also appears to be losing weight still, which is a good thing. He doesn’t have the huge appetite he used to have, so that is really good. It’s still hard to get him away from sugar, especially soft drinks, as he hates those “diet” soft drinks. He doesn’t drink enough water though, so they are giving him small bottles of diet lemonade with each meal to try to encourage him to drink a bit more.

The food in rehab looks and smells lovely, and he has been enjoying it. I think he also likes going to the dining room to eat, it’s a bit social even if it’s a bit degrading putting a huge bib on to eat. I suppose that’s better than being grubby, or having to change after each meal. The portions are quite generous, and everything is balanced to keep his sugar levels under control, which they seem to have done.

The wound on his neck is much better, finally healing. It looks a bit rough, but that’s not surprising given how much he picked at it from the start. They couldn’t tie his hands down forever, but now that he has more of his faculties, he seems to be leaving it alone. He’s been enjoying watching the Commonwealth Games over the past week, so that has been keeping him occupied, along with the books I have taken to him. I don’t know how much he’s reading, but talking to him about the story line he knows what is going on in what he has read, which is awesome.

My dear friend Lisa came and visited while I was there, and Dad got a little teary on seeing her. I think he was just feeling a little overwhelmed, but that soon passed. They had a good catch-up, and she will be popping into the hospital when she can to keep him company. I am so blessed to have a friend like her (as I am with my other friends), she has been awesome. I will be staying at her place in Katoomba next Wednesday, so I’ll get to see Dad twice. She has her own surgery to deal with next Thursday, but at the same hospital that Dad is in. I can’t thank her enough for all she is doing for us.

It’s a long trip to do in one day, so I will be grateful for the stop over next week. I can’t believe how exhausting 3 hours travel each way is. It totally wiped me out. I spent yesterday doing almost nothing, just had no energy or motivation to do anything, but did manage to cook a nice dinner for us so the day wasn’t completely wasted. I’m not happy about only going once a week, but I really can’t manage more than that. Dad is happy that I come each week, I just wish I could do more. Next week will be 2 visits, so that’ll be good. I’m also going to cut his hair for him next week, so I must remember to take the clippers with me.

An Epic Adventure…

It was such a huge day on Wednesday, it has taken me until Friday evening to write about it! It started with leaving the house at 8:25am to catch the bus to Lidcombe, jump on a train to Parramatta and change there for Katoomba. After a nice little walk, I got to the hospital at 11:40am to see Dad. They have moved him there for rehabilitation, as it goes at a slower pace and he may be able to handle it much better.

He was asleep when I got there, but soon woke up when I put the coffee on his table. He was kicking the mat away that the nurses told me was alarmed so he couldn’t sneak around of a night. He tried going out the other side of the bed so the nurses put that rail up to slow him down. We sat and talked for a bit, and the Occupational Therapist, Tara, introduced herself and asked us a series of questions about Dad’s living arrangements and what he did with himself before the stroke happened. I say “us”, as Dad couldn’t answer all the questions by himself so I had to answer quite a few for him. Dad was also more interested in the medication trolley as it made its way around the room with the lovely nurses, he has the attention span of a gnat.

Tara finished with us, and Dad had some panadol, then it was time for lunch. He didn’t want the food the hospital was serving, so I made sure he was allowed to go and took him to the kiosk for lunch. We both had plain hamburgers, and they were quite yummy. Dad was happy to have a bite of real food – something to sink his teeth into. He’d been complaining of no bread, so I’m sure the bun helped. I know Allan and Julie have taken him some lovely food, but I don’t know if it’s been the minced food he’s been having in the hospital diet, or something he can chew on. I got him a Pepsi Max too, and encouraged him to drink up, as he needs the fluids and he’s not drinking water. They do threaten him with the drip though, so he’ll take a sip of water while they are watching. That’s no-where near enough

While we were having lunch, he wanted the newspaper so I got that for him. He’s been keeping up with current affairs and all the happenings in the world. I take that as a good sign. He’s able to discuss what is going on and give his point of view. When he discusses past events, however, he tends to get them somewhat confused. In both instances, he still struggles for words, but you can get the gist of what he is saying and help him with the blanks.

He has tape on his wound, as they told me it had become infected in a small part of the cut. I’m not surprised, the amount he has worried at it. He’s constantly picked at it, ever since they removed his restraints in intensive care. He opened it back up when I went for coffee for him during one of my visits to Nepean. I’m sure it will eventually heal, and now that he is in rehab, he may be more occupied by external factors and not pick at himself.

I didn’t want to leave him, as I felt I hadn’t been there very long, but it was nearly two hours, and I wanted to make sure I got back to Katoomba station for the train home. They only depart hourly, so I didn’t want miss it. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the walk back, and it’s not too far anyway, about 15 minutes. I had to change trains at Parramatta, and again at Lidcombe to get back to Bankstown for the bus back to Condell Park. MOTH came and met me at the bus stop, as he needed to get supplies for the household and thought he would pick me up whilst at the shops.

I was so relieved to finally be home though, and that was at about 4:50pm. I was totally exhaustipated…. and I had to cook dinner! It was a simple steak and chips, and everyone was happy with that – lucky for them, as there was going to be nothing else. It took me a long time and a valium to wind down, but I eventually fell asleep in my chair in front of the television. I can’t even remember what was on. All in all though, it was a really good day, as I really relaxed on the trains and read my book and I found this preferable to driving there and feeling stressed. It takes an hour each way longer, but for me, I think it’s worth it.

Another visit…

Went out to see Dad again today, and it was lovely to take the boy with me finally. It seemed to take forever to get there as there was an accident on the M4 just past Wallgrove Road. Traffic crawled for about 3kms then we all took off, couldn’t see any evidence of the smash, hopefully it wasn’t too bad.

Dad didn’t know who we were when we got there, which was a bit sad as he remembered me last time. I was expecting him not to know who the boy was, but was really hopeful he would remember me. When the nurse told him I was his daughter, he just laughed, I think at himself for not knowing. I told him the boy was his grandson, and he laughed again, kind of surprised. I think as he doesn’t remember us, it must be a shock to him each time he is told who a relative is. His speech is still a bit slurry, and he rambles off about strange things so I have no idea what he’s talking about, but I do try to talk to him about me and my family and how we are all connected and different things we have shared together in the past. He seems happy enough when we do talk, but he really doesn’t remember much.

I fed him his lunch today (haven’t done that for 19 years!) and it was good to see him eat it all, even the yoghurt, which I thought he didn’t like. I thought when I saw him on Wednesday that he needed help with feeding, but then he was determined to try to do it for himself. When I walked in the nurse asked me if I would be feeding him. I jumped straight in there, even did the “open up for the Red Baron…” It made him have a good chuckle, so he seems to still have some sense of humour. All of his food is pureed, and he has nectar instead of juice, as he is having difficulty swallowing and not chewing well so he’s at risk of choking. The last time I fed him was when he had his heart bypasses. He’s good about it, but I suppose he has no choice. He looked exhausted after that, so we just hung for a little while and then left so that he might have a sleep. Sleeping through this might just be the best possible thing for him. Our bodies do all their recovery work while we are asleep, so I’m sure it will help with his brain injury.

It does sadden me to see Dad like this, but I’m trying really hard not to dwell on it. I’ve been keeping myself busy as much as I can, doing lots of housework and yard work, reading whenever I’m sitting for a while. I just find that if I don’t keep occupied, I start worrying about things like “what if he doesn’t get any better?” and all the rest. Of course, this doesn’t do anyone any good, but we all know how the brain gets. Being the person that I am, my mind can get pretty dark sometimes, and can stay there for a long time if I don’t keep it all in check. I do have a good psychologist, and I will go back and see him if I feel I need a brain tune-up to cope with all of this. So far, I’ve been travelling okay. I nearly had a good cry about a week and a half ago, but I snapped myself out of it, because I just kept telling myself he’s just sick, he’s not gone so there is no need to cry over it. I know I probably will at some point, I would just like to be in private when it does happen. MOTH is amazing support, but some tears need to be shed alone.

On the mend

Went and saw Dad today, and he is finally out of ICU! He looks much better, but he’s still terribly confused. He told me he was waiting for the wardsmen to come and take him somewhere, but when he asked the nurse when are they coming, the nurse told him he’d already been for his ultrasound this morning. They did an ultrasound on his kidneys as he has apparently lost some kidney function so they just want to see where that is at. His catheter bag didn’t look too good in ICU, but I thought maybe that was because of what he had just been through. Maybe, because he hasn’t taken care of his diabetes well (type 2), he may be having kidney issues from that. As Allan said, it’s wait-and-see again (he usually takes the tablets for his diabetes, but today they gave him an insulin injection to get his sugar back down).

He recognised me, but didn’t know my name. I’m quite happy with that, at least he knows I’m his daughter, and that he has a grandson. Couldn’t take the boy with me today, he woke up with a rash from head to toe. Probably just allergies from this cold that he has been suffering. I gave him two phenergan and sent him back to bed. He was asleep until after I got home at about 3.30 this afternoon. That’s very unlike him to sleep like that, but he really needed it as he is having trouble shaking off this cold. He’s still a bit chesty too, so it was good that he didn’t come today. I’ll give him another two phenergan tonight, and he should breathe easier in his sleep and be totally rash free by the morning.

They won’t let Dad get out of bed yet, he’s too weak. He really wanted to get up and go to the bathroom, but they got the pan for him – oh the indignity of it all! He’s talking quite well, but I don’t know what he’s talking about most of the time. He has no clue of the date, even though I had told him before the neurologist came in and asked him. He read the date on “Ellen”, but that was March 2012. He’s got his television back on, so at least he can watch State of Origin tonight. He knows he goes for the Blues, so that should make him happy. He can lay back and yell at the referees!

I’m really glad he is getting better, but it’s going to be a long road ahead. Again, I don’t know if he’ll make a full recovery, but he’s so much better than when he went in for surgery. At least he can talk now (slightly slurred) and manage to feed himself. He’s not eating much, but that’s okay as he still does have some weight to lose. It’s good to see him not hooked up to the machines anymore. He’s plenty battered and bruised though, and he’s not tied down anymore as he has no tubes to pull out. I’m sure he’s been difficult for some of the staff (not intentionally), but they have been completely patient and supportive throughout this whole process. I made a point of thanking all the staff on his ward today, telling them that they are doing a wonderful job. They were so appreciative, as most family contact is abuse for them. Everyone who has had anything to do with Dad has been amazing.

The continuing story….

I haven’t gone to see Dad today, but did speak to my brother, who was there earlier today. Not much has changed, he is still unable to communicate and apparently he became quite agitated and it took 4 nursing staff to hold him down and settle him. He must be so frightened by what is happening to him and around him. Before yesterday’s episode, he was packed and ready to come home, not that that was happening. Now, he is unable to feed himself or toilet himself, so things are quite rough for him. I only hope they can get him into surgery quickly before any more damage is done. I’m hoping that he’ll make a full recovery after surgery, but I really think that is unlikely. He’ll be turning 69 in December, and I would like to see him be able to enjoy it.

I really feel so useless, as there is nothing I can do to help him. I know he appreciates the visits and such, but seeing him as an empty shell is hard to take. He’s always been really loud and vibrant, someone you couldn’t miss. Now, he just looks at us with a blank stare. He sometimes tries to smile when he seems to see you, but you can see that is really hard for him. I can only imagine how he is feeling. There is no dignity is what he is going through and I plan on taking measures now so that I’m not in this position in another 25 years. I walk everyday, but I really need to watch my diet. I’m going to have a blood test soon to check cholesterol and the like, so I can see where I’m at.

The good that has come of this is that my floors are scrubbed and sparkling, and different jobs I’ve put off around the house are finally getting done. I’ve got to do something so that I don’t dwell on what is happening around me!