Sore losers

This blog has been in my drafts for a wee while, sorry folks.

One thing I’ve enjoyed about watching the Olympics has been the coverage on Channel 7. I’ve seriously been impressed with the entire way they’ve shared the event with us; the Opening Ceremony was a delight, the commentators explained the ethos behind the changes, letting the performers, dancers and singers show the story without waffling on about what was going on. I am not going to lie, I was a mess, it was much more emotional than I can remember before – the segment reminding us all that the rain forest in Brazil is dwindling finished me off completely.

What has been less than impressive has been some of the print coverage of the fiesta, particularly the vitriol thrown towards the Australian team (as an example, should have been bookmarking them as I read them). From an English bird, on the cusp of becoming an Australian citizen, it’s not shown the Aussies in the best light. Some commentators have appeared to have taken it personally that performances have been down. This morning (nearly a month ago), Hubs and I heard on the radio a debate about whether more money should be invested in sport; $340m apparently isn’t enough.

From cricket to rugby, from cycling to swimming, sport in Australia is sacrosanct. We often have sport headlining the news news, and then the sporting news too. AFL has been completely dominated by TV schedules, just like the football (soccer) did in the UK. Every AFL game is now staggered across the weekend, so you can watch all of them back to back, from Thursday thru Monday night, should you wish to. No club, except a few interstate clubs and Geelong, have truly home grounds; most games are played at just a few stadiums in the Melbourne CBD. (We’ve even got a purpose built rectangular stadium, yet as it doesn’t hold enough people for money-grabbing promoters, a lot of soccer and rugby games are also played at either the MCG or Etihad stadiums).

I love sport, I really do. But hearing one commentator call Usain Bolt a ‘Genius’ really rankled. Usain Bolt is one of the best athletes this world has ever seen. He lights up the stadiums he competes in with his warmth and generous spirit towards everyone he meets; his performances are electrifying (pun intended), but genius? With the use of a different simile, I wouldn’t be experiencing such sour grapes. It’s like soccer players being described as ‘Heroic’, *combusts with fury*

In our lunchroom at work, the Managers agreed to install a TV for the duration of the Olympics. People have been laughing, joking, cheering (mostly quietly) competitors on our tea and lunch breaks – camaraderie is through the roof. We’re talking to colleagues we see once in a blue moon due to the disparate nature of our roles. The Olympics was an amateur sporting event, now to compete at top-flight status, that has been blown out the window. But at work, we’re loving watching the heats where competitors who are just awed to be there and are setting PBs, and jumping with glee at their results, excited to be there at all.

Hubs and I are trying to teach our son that sport is about taking part, showing up and doing your best on the day. Faster, higher, stronger. When he sees news coverage of a disappointing Australian Team, despite being in the top ten of the medal table, how do I explain that?

When our son hears coverage of the rugby or cricket and commentators calling for heads to roll because the Australian team have lost, how do I explain that the other team were just better? That they beat us, that not everyone can win all the time?

Being good at sport is one thing, being gracious losers is another. You do not need to spend millions of dollars on an enquiry into what went wrong. You need to consistently work at getting better, but on the day, it’s down to the race or event itself. Unless Usain Bolt is in your field – then you’re just along for the ride, but you’ll know you’ll have a great time.

And isn’t that the point of it all, really? To have fun, take part, push yourself. Not carry the weight of an entire outraged commentary team on your shoulders?

The Air That I Breathe

(Don’t worry, there aren’t that many songs with breathing associations left!)

Today I took myself back to the hospital, again on the train, again brought a coffee and a book and settled in for a long wait. Longer than it should have been as I misread the letter, and arrived for a 10am appointment that was actually booked in for 11am. Never mind, I nearly finished Cloud Atlas; as an aside, I’d like to get hold of the film to see how they managed to film it.

I spent over an hour with the consultant, she was amazing. Another incredible lady like the cardiologist, she knew her stuff. Short answer, we still don’t know what’s going on. I maybe on the cusp of something, which as it (whatever it is) is early, doesn’t show on tests yet. Or it may still be pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure inside my heart, but only triggered on exertion. Or it may be an auto-immune issue. Lupus has been mentioned a few times too.

I had more blood tests done, I’m booked back in for an exercise test and a repeat of some of the respiratory tests to see if there is any change. And I may have to have another visit to theatre to get my heart looked at again, as although I told her I’d had a right heart check, there are no notes on it in the system. Whoops.

But, some of my symptoms are easing. I can now walk a bit quicker, than I have been. Walking and talking don’t get me so out of puff too. I also did the vacuuming yesterday and I wasn’t blowing out my arse (technical term) at the end of it. However the fatigue is not letting up. I’m constantly tired, constantly pushing through just to get to the end of the day. If I sit down and I’m not doing something, I will nod off. I’m also cold, yes it is winter, and hoofing it down with rain as I type (I realised the cat was still outside. Whizzed down to let him in – to say he was not amused would be an understatement!), but I go to bed with PJs, socks, under a duvet and a blanket and most nights with a hot water bottle. But I also sweat a lot too, at the slightest exertion, e.g. cleaning my teeth, getting dressed, I have to sit down between tasks in the morning otherwise I’m trying to put make-up on ‘glowing’ skin.

Hubs said that I need to appear on House, then we’d get it figured out in an hour.

I’ve also been given the all-clear to exercise, to do what I can. Not sure what that’ll be, but I’ll head out for a walk tomorrow lunchtime. It’s a start.

 

 

It’s been pre-disastered!

garp

When Hubs came home and discovered we’d been burgled he called me first. Practically shrieking at him to get off the phone from me and to call the police, I then whizzed home to tell him about knowing the doors were locked (in case the police came straight away, I wanted him to know what had happened in the morning) before I went to get Peanut.

Me shrieking down the phone is not a pleasant experience. I’m loud enough at the middle of my voice, let alone the top of it.

As I straightened the house, including my undies – The World According to Garp was all I was thinking about. ‘It’s been pre-disastered!’ Yes it was annoying, but it was just stuff, we’re also renting, so it’s not our house. I thought I was doing fine.

We’ve been amazed at the insurers, they approved our claim in less than a week and we’ve begun replacing items thanks to the wonders of electronic transactions and gift cards. What is amazing is this cloud technology, I log in and my stuff appears, out of – well, a cloud, I guess. I heartily recommend it if you get things stolen.

Music was more of a problem, insofar that I’d imported lots of CDs into iTunes, which does not get moved over to the cloud unless you ask it to, (I will be now!) Never fear, there is an app for that: Sharepod. I spent 30 seconds googling, $20 to purchase the full version, and the morning with my iPod plugged in. Over 3,000 songs and audiobooks have been restored, not all of it, but most of it and TBH most of us just listen to maybe four albums anyway.

Hubs has taken Peanut out for the morning, I continue to potter around the house. I’ve had a two week black dog fog descend over me, so while yes it was ‘just stuff’, my mind closed down more than I recognised at the time. I still struggled to get out of bed, get washed, get dressed, eat sensibly. I keep alcohol in the house to a minimum now, because if it’s there – I drink it. If not, I don’t.

Until Thursday where I had a clear day and started to wade through the back-log of Personal Development lists, and watched a TED talk that broke me open. It’s thirty minutes, so longer than a normal one, but really a must-see for us seratonin challenged people.

Today I should have run 10km in RunMelbourne; as you know, I can barely walk. My mind is truly suffering because of not being able to pull on the lycra, lace up my shoes and just get out there. Having found a way to keep Rufus at bay, my trousers fitting and my skin clear, I feel more robbed of this headspace than some possessions that have gone. And it’s my body that is broken – I spent so bluddy long getting running, I am mighty pissed off I now can’t do it. I have the follow-up appointment at the Respiratory clinic tomorrow, I might get some answers then. Fingers crossed.

This is a bit of a mish-mash, but I also realised that writing this sh!t out was helping too, so expect more waffle. Now, don’t be bashful, I can tell you’re thrilled.

Photo credit.

Every Breath You Take

Today I parked at my local station, hopped on the train with my book (Cloud Atlas) and went back to outpatients at our local hospital. Eventually, as I had to ask for directions. I had to go up to level 3, walk along the connecting corridor between two buildings, then head down to level 1. Eventually ending up below daylight, to get to the “nuclear testing” area.

Sounds more scary than it was, I promise. I was called in early, the benefits of allowing enough time to get lost, just as well too! I was talked through what would happen, confirmed I was who I said I was then had a cannula put in.

The machine today wasn’t an x-ray machine, nor a CT machine, but a mix of the two. Very technical here, sorry. I lay down was given a gas to breathe in, two and a half breaths worth, the machine then rotated round me as I lay there to take images of my lungs. After twenty minutes, I was then injected with another reagent, these images were quicker, only 8 minutes long.

I lay on my back with my arms above my head each time, trying to concentrate on my breath, the irony was not lost on me. I thought I could get at least a meditation session in while I was there.

Guess what? I’m normal. Well, my lungs are. Yay, no blood clots. Boo, no idea WTF is going on.

I headed to the café to get some lunch and bumped into the girl who was in the room next to me on the spinal ward. She recognised me, asked how I was going and we had a good chat. She looked really well, she’s trying out a new chair at the moment, so busy working on her core muscles as she has to sit more upright in it. But she said she’s also getting much better with a brace they’ve set up to help her control the chair.

Then heading back to the lifts to head home, I bumped into a girlfriend selling her handmade clothes. I’d been hanging out to see her, this was officially a great day! We had lunch, a coffee and a chat. I read some more of my book on my way home, headed into the office and got heaps of work done this afternoon.

Finally, one last piece of good news – the insurance claim has been processed too. Huzzah!

 

 

Take my breath away

Sorry, not sorry, for the ear-worm.

Two weeks ago, I walked into the local emergency department short of breath, the subsequent tests they ran on me were done as an In Patient. [Insert hospital food joke here]. However, I’m returning to Out Patients tomorrow after a few weeks off medical testing for good behaviour. I’m going to play with nuclear medicine this time, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow when it’s done.

During my two day stay at one of Melbourne’s finest hospitals I had: two ECGs, a CT scan, four lots of blood tests (that’s nearly an armful), an ultrasound on my heart (ouch for boobies), two walking tests (walk as quick as you can before falling over, hint – wasn’t very far), four different respiratory function tests, an angioplasty and a right heart check (this does the blood pressure inside the heart).

The last two are done in theatre; you’ve probably seen them on TV, they insert a probe into an artery and a vein in your groin and run it up into your chest, inject dye and take lots of pictures.

I was going to be sent home after a few hours in A&E as the doctor there said ‘You look too well to be in here!’ Also, none of my markers indicated there was anything badly wrong, but then cardiology got wind of a 41 year old lady (ha!) who was struggling to breathe and came down to investigate. First test he did was the ultrasound; I got puffed getting undressed, it was then and there he decided to admit me. I was then moved round to the serious side of A&E, where I got trotted round the department at high speed until I nearly collapsed, from there I was moved up to the cardiology ward where I got told to rest up.

I do not recommend ‘resting’ in a cardiology ward. Particularly when your bed is right by the nurses station. In the morning, I was given breakfast and had my obs done early as we knew I was getting the angioplasty done at some point during the day. I also got visited first thing by the consultant; just after I’d dozed back off again, who stood at the end of my bed with her arms folding saying ‘I like a challenge!’

I was walked again briskly down to the end of the ward and back, the consultant chatting to me to gauge my breathlessness all the way. I then got popped back into bed, and read / dozed for most of the morning. We got a fifteen minute call to get me to theatre, my position on the ward was also being changed as I wasn’t being monitored, so I went from bed 15, to theatre, to bed 32.

I was given a mixture of tranquiliser and narcotic. I was so nervous I was chattering away as I lay on the bed; the surgeon peered round the screen at me and said ‘She needs some more’ I was given more of the G&T mix, of which I can highly recommend, and wafted quite happily after that. My heart looked great, no signs of thickening anywhere, heart disease or anything, which for someone in their 40s is unusual. I was taken round to recovery, everything was pulled out my groin (not a euphemism) and then I was lent on to stop the bleeding. For ten, long, solid minutes at a pressure that was so uncomfortable I could not talk. Didn’t stop her from opening the conversation with ‘So, what brings you here?’ I may have given a Paddington Bear stare. May. Two weeks later, I’m still bruised and swollen in my groin, when I bump into anything at that level (sink, worktop, small child) it hurts. Lots.

I went back to bed 32, I had a window view that I wasted as I was asleep for most of the afternoon, yay for drugs. Later in the evening, I was moved downstairs to the Spinal Ward. I was no longer classified as a cardiology patient, they’d had an emergency come in to the hospital and were playing musical beds to fit everyone in.

In the spinal ward, I had my own room. I’d had a shower before I came downstairs (more in a minute), so was able to get my obs done and head back off to sleep. I was woken at 2am for more obs, and panadol as I had a sore throat, more sleeping, then breakfast was delivered. I was allowed out of bed to get a coffee (frabjous joy) so I pottered downstairs, came back up and had another shower.

The showers at the hospital have to be used to be believed. They’re so powerful, the pressure is so great you can’t stand underneath them as they sting your skin. But the shower heads are not industrial enough to cope with this, so they’ve cracked and swing around in the holder thingy on the wall. After I’d finished my first shower and looked round the bathroom, the entire room was wet. The two other showers I had there, I was now aware of what was likely to happen, but despite my best efforts, both bathrooms again got wet.

Three showers, three bathrooms, three towels each time to mop up the water. Which as I was supposed to be on bed rest I got told off for doing. Friday morning I had to introduce myself to my next door neighbour after I’d showered, we shared a bathroom and I’d soaked his washing stuff on the hand basin. I said, ‘Try not to electrocute yourself when you shave,’ his razor was only wiped off, as I didn’t want to touch his stuff too much.  He laughed and said don’t worry.

Back to Friday morning on the spinal ward. For the rest of my life I will wish I had this on camera, but it’s firmly imprinted in my brain, so that will have to do. I’m standing by my bed towelling my hair with towel number four as I’d used the two I’d been given to mop up the bathroom, got back into my PJs, (damp), and grabbed another two towels to dry me off with. Two junior doctors on their rounds walk past the door, see me standing up and do a perfect, classic double-take. It was glorious.

I get dressed, get put into a wheelchair and am taken to the nurses station to get my notes, ready to head downstairs for some respiratory tests. Opposite the nurses station is a man, on a ventilator, visibly poorly, I’m doing my thing looking round and chatting to everyone, so I raise my hand in greeting and wave at him too. He nods at me. The nurse beside me behind the desk whispered ‘Thank you, so many people just stare at him’.

I’m on vacation!

Best said in Billy Crystal’s voice.

Last Sunday my brother and sister in law, with our five children, flew from Melbourne’s new(ish) Terminal 4 to Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast in QLD. We settled in to our apartments, a stone’s throw from the beach, unpacked, had a family dinner, a glass of chilled white wine and slept like logs. The next morning, we got up, hit the beach with all the rugrats, played in the surf and built sandcastles. In the afternoon, we went to the pool.

Then we did it again, and again, and again.

I’ve read a book and a half, Middlesex and All The Light We Cannot See, if you were wondering. Not watched much TV, we’ve been too busy outside. I’ve been walking around on the beach with my hair mussed up, in a bikini, not giving a flying foo-wee about what other people think of me. It’s not so much that I’ve suddenly become body-confident; more that this is a holiday I’ve desperately needed, so I truly CBA to worry about what other people think of me. Their expectations of a bikini-body, are just that, theirs.

I’ve unwound completely.

Yes, you did read that right. Me. I’ve relaxed. I’ve been too busy with sandcastles and watching the children in the waves or the pool to worry about my to-do list, my in-tray, or any other put upon me pressures. It’s been lovely. Considering five children of varying ages, we’ve had no major breakdowns or confusion, we’ve been in and out of each other’s apartments, giving each other a break when needed. We’ve only had one trip to emergency too, for a bad sprain.

Hubs flew up on Wednesday, he went fishing with his brother on Friday, there was a party for Pa for his 70th on Saturday, on Sunday I ran / walked 4km (it was 21c and 70% humid *puff*) with my girls. 

It is now Monday, we’re heading towards the end of our break now, with a trip to Australia Zoo on our last day. But I’ve given myself the headspace I needed, I can start breaking out my notebook and pens now.

Would you look at that?

Firstly, apologies for not blogging properly for a while.

I went to my GP two weeks ago who listened to my symptoms, he asked me what was going on and after ruling out asthma worsening (amongst other things) put me on fluid retention tablets. My ankles were puffing up, at 10am. I was really out of breath doing the most basic of things, like walking into the office and to my desk. And you know women are supposed to ‘glow’; after a walk at lunchtime three weeks ago, I looked such a state and took so long to get my breath back, one Manager thought they’d need the crash trolley. Not reassuring.

R (GP) is great, he ordered blood tests (still sporting  bruise), an ECG (totally normal) and prescribed these tablets. I have to take one in the morning, as basically it forces my kidneys to work a bit harder (she said diplomatically). R said if I got light-headed, as they can affect your blood pressure, to let him know, they didn’t but did affect my digestive system (she said even more diplomatically). I felt awful the first day of taking them; so bad I had to go back to bed. The second day I wasn’t great, but pushed on through, getting better as the day wore on. By midday on the third day, Wednesday, I felt back to normal.

By the first weekend: I was sleeping through the night; I had more energy; I wasn’t a puddle when I exercised; my mind was clearer; my ankles weren’t swelling up and now two full weeks in, I feel literally like a new person.

Bolte

This was me yesterday, in the middle of a 16km run. I’m on top of the Bolte Bridge in Melbourne. Three weeks ago, I wouldn’t have had the energy to complete the run. I don’t care that it took me 2hours, 24minutes to get round. I don’t care that I walked most of the last 10km, as I know K and I ran probably 8km in total. I started off and ran over 2km without having to stop, normally I’m blowing out my butt (technical term) by 1km and have to stop to catch my breath. The only reason I had to slow down yesterday was because we were running in the Domain Tunnel, I was dressed as Wonder Woman and the cape was so hot over my shoulders – I was melting. Once repined around my waist, off we trotted again.

Inside the tunnel, the single best thing happened on the run, even better than me completing the run if I’m honest as it gave me goose bumps. Somebody shouted ‘Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!’ the whole tunnel shouted back ‘Oi! Oi! Oi’ – it was magical. Continue reading “Would you look at that?”