There but for the grace of god – an introspective

So, I’ve been ill for some time. From the beginning of December I felt off. Thought maybe I’d eaten too many Xmas cherries. Just wanted to get through the last two weeks of work before leave so slogged on, as we do.

My energy was so appalling that I resisted starting any significant projects in case I couldn’t think them through. Then it was annual leave time & off I went to Tassie. I didn’t have the kind of energy I wanted to have to spend with my family and my pain levels were severe. Still didn’t understand. Is this sounding familiar, women?

By the time I returned home, I knew something was very wrong & finally went to an emergency doctor as mine was not available. Without ordering any bloods or scans, he decided I had diverticulitis and gave me strong antibiotics. I dutifully took them. I did not get better.

The pain was so bad that I went to another GP I was familiar with (still couldn’t get hold of mine, there’ll be words about that) & told him what had happened. Even though I had had melena from before Xmas, he did not ask me their colour, order bloods or scans. His treatment made me far more ill.

I was so ill by mid January that I could barely stand without passing out, was so pasty it was shocking, nausea & throw up were my constant companions & still melena. Finally, I got hold of my GP. Finally, I was heard. He was extremely concerned and ordered bloods immediately. When he got the results he woke me the next morning telling me to call an ambulance.

I’d actually called one the day before when I found myself on the bathroom floor after my shower. (I got dressed before they came, of course.) They said if I didn’t feel right they’d take me to hospital. In my very ill state that sounded like I didn’t really need to go, so I didn’t.

The next ambos, the following morning, realised that I could barely walk, let alone step up into the ambulance & carted me away. By the time I got to hospital my haemoglobin was 54 (it can be between 121-137). I had so little haemoglobin that I had little oxygen & my poor heart was desperately struggling to feed my body what I didn’t have.

Four units of blood, multiple bags of solution, scans, bloods & two hospitals and one medical procedure later, they’d stopped the internal bleed that was losing the blood they were pouring into me & worked out a plan for healing the large ulcers caused by the anti-inflammatory medication I took for my severe arthritis. We all rolling our eyes now? Mine are.

Right now it appears to be solvable, thank god. I am so grateful to the four people whose blood I now call my own. I’m keeping it, thank you. When I am well I’m going to organise a blood drive. You never know until you really know, you know?

I’m so grateful to not have joined the angels’ chorus just yet (& yes, of course that’s where I’m going) & flummoxed at how close I came to doing so. I am also so grateful to my friends & family who sent light & love & offered help.

I’m really looking forward to feeling better. So many summer projects I haven’t got done & beaches I haven’t visited & dog walks I haven’t taken. Things to do, places to go, people to see.

A New Chair – an introspective

In a swelling ocean of blogs of health concerns and health history, I’m going under. At this point in this year, I cannot think of one more thing to do with my health. It consumes my everyday. I am what we are warned about, health wise, with all the conditions we are threatened with if we do not stick to regimes.

So, I got my recliner recovered. My big old electric recliner, that tips me back so gently, lifts my legs and allows the animals to pile on. My big old recliner that was a bit worse for wear after many naps and cats hauling themselves up. After much thinking, because that is what I do, I selected an upholstery service and decided to just do it. It was expensive but they took it apart and rebuilt it, better than before. I console myself that it is money well spent, will last for years and the colour and comfort is superb.

I’m doing it for my health, you know.

I did mean to go out…A Musing

Every morning when I sit at my desk in my living room, I plan to ensure I get out into the sun or whatever weather and stroll about. I plan to take my elderly pooches. I plan it and I’m determined. It’s not happening and it’s odd.

I’ve always enjoyed getting out. There are trees, trees and more trees here. Quite a bit of wind, variable skies and I like it. I also enjoy taking my elderly pooches for a ramble. So why aren’t I?

I am an introverted (mainly)/ extrovert (minorly) and do enjoy listening to people’s stories and talking. I love watching my waggers meet their friends and be all sociable. What I have found in listening to those I provide support to is that people seem to be closing down and not using services as much as previously. Others are reaching out. What is this enforced separation doing to our psyches? I know a lot of people have been thinking and wondering about that and writing about mental health.

I’m not sure though. I know in winter we tend to hibernate more, go out less, not be quite as social. It feels like that. Doesn’t help that it has been a particularly cold autumn and it is toasty inside. It feels quite a bit like winter hibernation. Perhaps it is just that.

However, come rain, hail or shine (okay, not rain or hail or bitterly cold wind), I WILL go out tomorrow!

A musing: Lockdown and retirement

I am 57. Three years until 60. Do I want to retire? Yes! I have so much to do. Retirement from daily paid work would be really freeing. Can I afford to. No! I cannot. At least I don’t think so. I really want to know if it is possible.

I have books to write, pictures to draw, singing to do, gardening, veggies to grow, clay to sculpt, knitting to improve, needle felting critters to create, books to read, games to play, friends to see, conversations to have, dogs to walk, cats to admire, nurseries to walk around, walks to take, meditation to do, moon circles to enjoy, endless cup of teas and chats, ideas to share, groups to be involved in, swimming, kayaking, and I want time for all of it. Then there are the new things to learn, macramé, crochet (again), sewing (again), remaking with fabrics, drawing classes, pottery, making paper, garden sculptures, more about writing and publishing, painting classes, printing classes (as in art), and goodness knows what I don’t even know about yet.

Time at home during this pandemic has shown me how little money I can spend and how much money I can spend. I have collected more craft and made more things, saving money on not buying those things. (hahaha!) I have bought far too many plants. I intended to and the time has allowed me to make the garden happen. I’ve purchased home furnishings, finally finding the curtains I want for my bedroom. Found the most delightful hooks for my bathroom. Found a chair for my tiny front porch and bench seats for my garden. Finished my front garden and planted 300 bulbs (yes, paid in pain for that but, worth it). I bought more but it will become embarrassing if I list it all.

Have I saved anything? Well yes, actually I have. Not a lot but more than I usually manage. Now the flurry of online purchasing has calmed, I can see myself saving a lot more. Certainly there have been substantial savings with the car. I’ve not gone far at all. It’s also shown me that I don’t need to go far. It’s been really nice staying at home. In fact, I’ve caught myself mid-pout when I’ve had to put on my shoes to go out.

Everything gets delivered. Food, household items, garden supplies, plants, honey, food, chocolate, art supplies, food. I am happy on days I don’t have to venture out. Then on days I do, I am happy I have. Work is zoomed, webinars are zoomed, conversations are skyped or zoomed, yoga is zoomed, meditation is zoomed, and choir is zoomed. I’m just zooming.

Every morning I’m up and dressed and ready for work by 9am, sometimes earlier. The dogs sit very close in case I want to pat them. (I have to mind their tails under my wheelie chair, they are a few less hairs.) I work, remember lunch, back to work, walk the dogs, back to work. Eventually stop and shut up shop. I am lucky that I can do my work online and maintain contact with everyone. I am very grateful. I am glad I have work to get up for every morning, even when it is exceptionally hard to get out of bed.

That worries me about retirement. I will need something to get up for every morning. Still I know I will only loll in bed until I’m finished. I will eventually have had enough and get up to do. I know that lolling in bed endlessly is not good for well-being. I wouldn’t mind a little lolling in bed, though. How much lolling in bed would I do, or sitting in my comfy chair pinned down by animals, before enough was enough and I got going again? Work has been my saving grace in that way. Work and cups of tea and my bladder. Things to get up for.

Retirement from paid work sounds more to me as graduation into life. I need to know more about it. It may be some years before I can retire but I am keen.

Time for a change – A musing

It’s been awhile since I have written here. Since my Little Doggy Hero died, in fact. It wasn’t because of that, I had not been writing much for the past few years. It was because life was turned upside down by rampaging young people and my focus was there.

I was a foster carer for over ten years, by myself. Can I tell you that I would not recommend it unless you are a super woman and / or have a large supportive family? I am not a super woman, nor do I have an extended family. I continued to support my ex foster children as they left my care and became young adults. Everyone has their own journey and sometimes, I have discovered, that journey no longer includes me. I am living with that.

Now I am living with my two cats and two dogs, who are lovely company, in an over 55s village. I am the youngest here. That causes me amusement. I never imagined myself living in a unit or side by side with others. I always needed an expansive garden and room for a studio. My health has meant downsizing and re-visioning my space. I could not longer maintain my garden or my house and it was so ready for a new family. That all happened over the last two years, along with the rampagers.

As a woman in her Maga years, I find I am reinventing myself. At the moment I am not-mother, not-artist, not-writer, not…? What I am is discovering the joys of singing together, crafting together, writing together, drawing together, creating together. In this period of contagious disease when we must be isolated for each other’s protection, I am finding new ways to share a cuppa, sing with friends, tell stories and create. It will be interesting to see what we are when we all come out of this period. I hope for changes that honour our world and don’t see everyone go back to the way it was. Like you, I hope I get to see it. (In the meantime, I have refreshed my will, I am always a sensible woman.)

Let’s see who we become. I am interested to see how I fare myself. I’m very interested in you.


Little Doggy Hero


My little mate, Wally, died. 36 hours ago. In his sleep, his little giant loving heart gave out. He is my forever hero.

Heart failure, lungs full of fluid, enlarged liver, failing kidneys, tumour on his adrenal glands, going blind, gone deaf, tiny legs chunky with arthritis, my little hero squeezed every ounce of joy from his life, never giving up. He is the most chipper person I have ever met.

Just last week I watched him drag his little body determinately up into the garden bed to bury a chicken drumstick for later. His nose still worked, if nothing else did. He stumbled, fell back, got up, pulled himself up into the bed and buried that sucker. Satisfied, he came back in through the dog door, that was just the littlest bit too high for his lowering undercarriage and trotted off to his favourite position on the carpet under my bed.

On Sunday I took them all to Cockatoo off-leash dog park to get the sniffs and see their friends. Since we moved, the early dark after work and weather have conspired against our visits. They were all pleased to get there. He sniffed, got pats, saw old friends, made new ones and ‘played’ with the new pups. ‘Play’ consisted of tiny jumps in place and arfing at them. In his mind, it was a grand romp. The pups just looked interested and confused.

Wally was my fluffiest floozy. Pepe is actually fluffier, but Wally made no secret of his demands to be petted by all and sundry. If you didn’t notice him noticing you, he’d sit on your foot, if that didn’t work, he’d roll over to display his belly for appreciation. Occasionally I have had to prompt people that he was communicating with them. Don’t know how they resisted him, I never could.

I met Wally 9 years ago, a year and two months after my previous elderly gentleman dog, Mr. Rupert Scruffaluffagus, died. I had waited a year as I wanted to be sure I was looking for another dog person, not a replacement. It took Youngest Daughter and I two months to find him. One Friday night as I fell asleep I heard, go to the RSPCA. That’s a long way, I thought sleepily, but okay. I woke up at 7 on a Saturday morning, bright and ready. I woke the kids and off we went. I caught myself smiling on the drive and reminded myself sternly that we may not find our dog. We got there before they opened. It was adopt a senior free day. I had no idea but it was a senior I wanted. I had younger dogs and needed one near their age, not too old, not too young. I saw him straight away. He was similar in colouring to Scruf but so sad. I was intrigued immediately. While the kids went to find a staff person to let him out to meet us, I stood in front of his cage and blocked other visitors’ view, redirecting their attention to dogs further along. Finally we got to meet him. He was just the right size, just the right everything. i was besotted. We raced home to get the other dogs so they could all meet. It wasn’t love at first sight. It was friendliness all around. He didn’t play ball but he enjoyed sniffing. We loaded him up and home we went.

The best bit was when we got home. He peed inside. That wasn’t it. We went outside. My dogs rang down to the very back of the yard to bark at the dog there. It was their funnest game. Wally’s little ears and curly tail perked up and he scampered after them, as fast as his ten centimetre length legs could take him. I began the traditional voice over, “What are we doing? Oh, we are barking at this dog? Okay. Arf Arf Arf Huff huff that was fun. What are we doing now? Oh we are running over here and barking at this dog? okay Arf Arf Arf Huff huff. Who’s this coming through the little door in the fence? Oh the neighbour dogs? I can go through to their place? Alright! oh, more people, more pats! Hurrah!”

And so began his time with us. He had been the good boy of two elderly men in succession. They’d both been unable to continue to care for him. He’d been returned to the RSPCA twice. He’d never got to dog. With us he was talked to, talked for, played with, chewed bones, arfed, went for walks, got yummy food, got pats, brushed, loved, carried, petted and adored. And he made friends.

I love that my dogs have their own friends, both dog and human. Wally made even more. He had a penchant for older men still, liked but avoided children and definitely had his favourites wherever we went. There were some people he ran to meet. I was his absolute favourite, I’m glad to say. He is/ was my favourite Wally in the whole wide world. I liked to have him with me as much as possible. He had to stop sleeping in my room though.

I once dreamt that the house was full of dog poo and woke myself up to find it. After racing about the house in the middle of night and finding nothing, I realised that Wally was sleeping under my bed, farting. His farts were memorable and sometimes, to his horror, came with contents. The more ill he became, the more his bodily functions featured. On occasion he would look so shocked and guilty that I never had the heart to tell him off. I knew he would have gone outside if he could have made it. He was still a good boy.

I’ve moved twice recently. This elderly gentleman handled it with aplomb (and a bit of inside peeing). Daisy Dog showed him how to get through the new dog door and fetched him when he was too long outside or had wandered too far away on a walk. Pepe Pup kept Wally’s eyes and ears clean, whether Wally wanted it or not. I made sure he was brushed, groomed, petted, fussed over, fed, got his good boy treats morning and night with all his medications, had time with his friends, carried him to bed so I could cuddle him and just loved him to bits.

We’ve only been here two months and he already made firm friends with neighbours who walk my dogs. His preference was still for older men and he bonded quickly with the husband. They are so sad that he is gone.

Fifteen years old, Wally lived five years after his diagnosis with heart disease, then all the other ailments piling on. He was so determined to squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of his life. He was so determined to keep going no matter what. He was always ready to greet everyone happily no matter how much he hurt. He was always keen for an adventure and a treat. His teeth were awful but he hoed into his chicken drumstick every night. He thoroughly enjoyed a cat poo snack if I wasn’t quick enough. His nose was what allowed him to find his way around our new place and choose his spot. He was/ is an inspiration.

Wally is my hero. Boy, I miss him.