Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gratefulness Vs Discharge guilt

I've been having a rough time of late.

There. I said it.

Um, there was supposed to be a massive weight lifted off my shoulders when I admitted it, wasn't there? Yet here I am, struggling to stand upright under the pressure. The pressure of what, I'm not entirely sure. Motherhood? Life? My white, middle class privilege?

I can pinpoint exactly where it all started. It was in Princess Margaret Hospital with Bobbin and Tricky.

Hospital is never a nice place to be, particularly a childrens' hospital. While it makes the kids better, it seems to simultaneously suck the life out of the parents and school them in how to count your blessings.

We were there for two weeks, which in the scheme of things is such a short time. For an otherwise healthy kid, though, two weeks is forever to be requiring oxygen. Every day they'd come and check her and say "maybe tomorrow", and every day we moved further past our 'estimated date of discharge' written on Bobbin's name board.

It was only on the eleventh day that they decided to refer us to the respiratory team after I'd begged for days to let us go home with an oxygen tank, just so we could get out there. The respiratory doctor came in and took charge, she made a plan of action to start antibiotics for atypical pneumonia, a blood test to confirm, and had a back up plan of a chest CT and bronchioscope if the meds didn't start working (there was a thought that Bobbin had perhaps aspirated some food in to her lungs).


The improvement was noticeable that afternoon and within 24 hours she was able to come off oxygen for the first time in twelve days and we could go home after two weeks. The original medical team came in and APOLOGIZED for not referring us sooner. I couldn't believe it. But it's my child, so of course she was atypical. She even had an atypical presentation of atypical (mycoplasma) pneumonia. No wonder the med team missed it.

So off we went home, and that should have been that. Apart from a residual cough, everything was fine for Bobbin.

But it didn't stop there for me. I can't stop thinking of the other families; the other kids.

Like the gorgeous boy who made Bobbin light up every time he whizzed in to the room on his bright red wheelchair (which was a lot!), who had been in for six months. He was so fun. They played monster trucks together and when Tricky visited, the boys would go off to the play room together for a while. It was a bit confusing for him when Tricky was admitted, but he just saw it as an opportunity to spend more time with fellow car aficionados. Ejected from a car that was crashed by his drunken dad, he has years of rehab in front of him.

Or the sweet girl who was having hundreds of seizures a day thanks to a degenerative disorder. She had lovely get well soon cards from her class at school, flowers, balloons, you name it, to brighten her corner of the ward and make relearning to walk, talk and eat more bearable.

Or the eleven week old boy who was in the cot next to Bobbin with blunt force trauma to the head; two skull fractures; a massive bleed to the brain. The Child Protection Unit coming and going; the wee babe going for all sorts of tests; the parents contacting their lawyer; turning over furniture looking for listening devices.

You can hear absolutely everything going on in the next cot a metre away, those curtains aren't known for their sound deadening properties, after all. The parents talked loudly on the phone to make sure we all heard them, but at one point they whispered to each other. I could still hear them. He was telling her what to say when questioned, that the bleed was caused by his most recent vaccination, that the (new) skull fractures occurred during his birth.

We stayed in a room with them for three days before we were moved for our safety. Part of me wanted to stay in there, writing down everything they said so someone could stand up for this little guy, and another part of me wanted to run as far away as I could, hands over ears, la la la I'm not listening, this doesn't really happen to innocent babes.

But it does. It did. And though this whole experience has made me hold my munchkins tighter, love on them even more, and be eternally grateful for them and their health, it has also crushed a little part of my soul, too. And I'm having a lot of trouble moving past it. I'm hoping that by writing it down; getting it out of my head, that I'll be able to.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The hot lap that was meant to be

This is a S2 post as I got invited to an event.
There was no obligation to blog the event or the prize.
For full details please see my disclosure policy

It seems forever ago now, what with the whole me being hospitalized and then BOTH my kids being hospitalized, but I recently got the opportunity to go to a Meet the V8 Drivers event at Volvo Cannington.

Map Guy and I are big V8 fans. He more so than me; he can tell you all the drivers' names and stats, and which bits of the engine does what, but my knowledge is not quite as robust. I love fast cars that make a lot of noise and can tell you where the steering wheel is. I pick a team based on the colour or car number.

We were so excited to attend, and a little nervous if I'm honest - I was the only parent blogger there, the others were fashion bloggers and they were all looking fabulous and fancy, while I'm there in my Coles jeans. MG assured me I wasn't under dressed

On the invite it mentioned that a V8 hotlap around Barbagallo Raceway would be drawn as a prize on the night, so first thing we did was put our entries in. I drew a little Volvo symbol on mine just in case whoever drew it saw it and went "OH LOOK, EXTRA EFFORT! Ima choose this one" (they didn't). I told my friend I was going to win it because it's the #33yearofme.

The Volvo drivers, Scott McLaughlin and David Wall, were there so MG waltzed up and schmoozed them.  They seemed happy to talk to someone who knew cars and the Barbagallo track. MG was in heaven. I discovered that Scott McLaughlin drove car 33 and told him it was my favourite number so he was now "my driver". Which I'm sure did not freak him out at all.

Toward the end of the night (after I'd been told I'd get a loan of a Volvo soon - OMG! It's this week!) they interviewed the guys - they said Perth drivers suck at merging and they were not wrong - and then it was on to the draw. Third prize, second prize, and now, the first prize. The emcee swished her hand around and randomly pulled out an entry... IT HAD A VOLVO LOGO DRAWN ON IT!


I got talking again to the drivers and mentioned that I'd done a hot lap before and felt really sick from the smell of petrol and the G forces. Quick as a flash, David pipes up "Well, lucky your favourite number is 33, because you can ride with Scott!". Scott did really well to hide his distress. Ha!

"I'll try not to vomit in your car" I said. He smiled. Poor guy.

On the day, I felt like crap. I was having so much trouble breathing and I'd go on to end up in hospital the next day, but there was no way I was missing this. I went with my Dad and watched as the other people took their laps.

I got chatting to the woman next to me and managed to make a bit of ass of myself:

"Such an awesome prize. I had a feeling I'd win this, how cool that we all get to go in a real race car!
"I didn't win mine. I paid $100,000"

Cue awkward moment.

"Oh, do you sponsor the team?"
"No, I bought a high end Volvo."

Then it was my go.

I suited up. Being on pit lane, this close to the cars and feeling that rumble, I was really grateful that the suits were dark just in case I crapped my pants.

The "oh shit" smile began around here
I turned myself in to a pretzel to get in to car 33 with Scott. A real V8 Supercar with a real racing driver. Duuuuuude.

"You're not going to spew in my car, are you?" he said.

Smiling so big in a helmet gave me chipmunk cheeks
I couldn't believe he remembered me. We figured out a signal to stop if I was going to be sick, but told him the faster the better. Some people were doing single laps and some were doing double, based on how well they were handling it. As we were rounding the last corner he asked if I was good to go again and we roared down the straight at over 300km/h. I was shoved so far back in to the seat that I could feel my face flatten out. It was AMAZING!!!!

Thumbs up for not spewing!
I smiled the whole time. A weird mouth open, holy shit I can't move my body but this is awesome smile. I also did a thumbs up sign most of the way around for some reason - I'd done it early on to say I was OK and I think I was paralyzed in awe and just couldn't move.

It was so much fun and Scott was so lovely. The whole thing was recorded and I had no idea... good thing I didn't chunder all over the place!

Car 33 in the #33yearofme. It was meant to be.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Letter to Tricky - five years old

Hey Trickster,

Happy birthday, buddy. 

Five years old, hey? Five seems like such a big boy number. It's a WHOLE hand!!! 

You continue to be a pretty awesome kid. You love scooting around the skate park, riding your bike to school (without trainer wheels, I might add!), climbing up the outside of playgrounds, jumping on the trampoline, gardening in the veggie patch, playing drums, building LEGO monuments, getting dirty, anything crafty, reading books, writing, and playing cars.

We can now wash your hair without tears! The whole water phobia appears to be a thing of the past now! You can now have showers and let the water slightly splash your face - this is a huge achievement, dude! You've been swimming a few times now, and your confidence is building so much. The first time you went swimming I was so proud I cried... and took three million photos. 

You are still my sweet, sensitive guy; you need me next to you to fall asleep and you wake up to come in to our bed twice a night. Sometimes I get cranky about it, but then I realize that you won't want me around for much longer, so I tend to snuggle in to you, kiss your cheeks and let you stay for a while before scooting you out and sending you back. I'm a sucker, I know. 

The other day you said I was your best good friend, at the top of your friends list. Not gonna lie, it was lovely to hear. Especially since sometimes I think you'd prefer to live with your Perth grandparents - because they give you treats and let you play iPad. I was surprised that Bobbin wasn't up the top, you and she play together really well about half the time. The other half of the time you're telling her to leave you alone and not move your cars.

You love to teach her. You have taught her to count (somewhat) and you are so encouraging whenever she tries things. When you say "Good job, sweetheart" my heart melts. Actually, you're quick to praise everyone when they try. It's always "Well done, Mum", and "Great try, Dad". So sweet.

School is still brilliantly exciting to you, which I love. You have made some lovely little friends that don't mind that you still take a little bit to warm up, and your teachers are helping you gain confidence.Your teacher says you have the neatest handwriting in class and you like to be the only one to draw a particular picture - so if the others are all doing rabbits for the letter R, you'll do rocket and the like. Because you're a nerd. We love nerds in this family, so power to you, Tricks. 

I'm looking forward to another brilliant year, kiddo. It could be even better if you could try listening when I talk at least some of the time... just an idea. 

Love your guts.

Mama xxx

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bed goes up, bed goes down: Adventures in hospital

I’m in the hospital. I’ve decided to use this time productively, which is code for: I’m going to put a hospital selfie on Facebook and soak up some attention for a few days. Thanks for the well wishes, guys, it made me feel so loved. So the story behind it? Well here goes.

I’d been feeling a bit short of breath since the start of the weekend and by Sunday afternoon I was exhausted to the point where I had to send MapGuy in my place to a five year old’s birthday party that I wanted to go to. No, really, it was one of our mother’s group kids, and now that they’re all at school, birthday parties are almost solely about our catch ups with the added bonus of cake.

Instead of going, I slept all afternoon. Then I coughed all night. I was sucking down Ventolin but it just wasn’t really doing anything. On Monday I headed out to do my Volvo Hot Laps (AMAZING!!! More on that later) and when I came home I fell asleep until school pick up while my parents looked after Bobbin. Then they and my sister, Aunty Penny, let me sleep and took care of the kids. They were fed and bathed and ready to go to bed when I woke up.

At night I consulted Dr Google, which is never the smartest thing to do. Dr Google said I had blot clot in my lung. Way to freak me out, Internet.

By Tuesday morning I was really short of breath and needed a day to rest. I cancelled a blog meeting and my parents took Bobbin again, then picked up Tricks. I stayed in bed and subscribed to Netflix. Because if I was being forced to sit on my butt all day, may as well be entertained, yes?

I complained to my dad that this didn’t feel like normal asthma, that my lungs felt pretty clear but the centre felt strange and I just couldn’t get in enough air, so in the afternoon I headed to my GP to see what he said. He listened to my lungs and said there was no wheeze, no limited air entry or whatever it is. He asked if I had calf pain.

Yes. Oh shit, he’s going the same way Dr Google went.

He made some calls, made some appointments and sent me around the road for an ultrasound with strict instructions to go straight to hospital if my breathing was getting worse. Way to freak me out, doc.

I went to the local ultrasound place as an urgent case and got the death stare from half the packed waiting room as I got called ahead in front of them. Sorry, guys! There was no sign of a clot in my leg that had been sore so I relaxed a little, but alas, relaxing did not improve my breathing.

I settled in to bed again when I got home and commenced binge watching old House episodes because they always make me feel better about hospitals and I was starting to think that that is exactly where I was heading. I was starting to worry that I had an embolism, would fall asleep, it would shift, and I'd never wake up. Because that’s how my brain works sometimes.

By mid evening Tuesday I was struggling so hard to breathe that Aunty Penny took me to the emergency department, meaning MG could stay at home with the kids. We waited for hours on hard, plastic chairs with my fellow patients. Master Dog Bite, Mrs Drunken Fall, Mr Hernia Repair, and the man who vomited everywhere over and over again, Mr Gastro. Bored as anything and desperate to get some help to breath, and yet I was still “take Mr Gastro first, please”.

Fast forward a few hours and I’ve got a bed in the ED and had a chest xray that shows ‘something’ but nothing special (which I refute, because, well, it is showing me) and the lovely doctor with the British accent (let’s call her Dr Brit) is saying that despite my symptoms, it’s still really unlikely I’d have a clot because of my age so instead of doing a CT, they’ll do a blood test that has “clot markers” and when that’s negative we can all relax. Maybe even go home and just keep sucking on Ventolin, hoping it gets better. She sticks a needle in my left arm, draws some blood, and off she goes, letting us know the results take two hours.

Aunty Penny has been making me giggle the whole time. Which is HORRIBLE because it makes me cough, yet I still keep responding and we fire off each other. When she notices the security guy’s shirt has “SECURTIY” on it, we crack up laughing while trying to take a photo. Because such spelling fails need to be Instagrammed.

Dr Brit walks back in my little fabric cubicle and says the blood results have come back positive for signs of a clot. Well, fuck. Way to freak me out, other doc.

It’s now four in the morning so I send Aunty Penny home to get some sleep, but not before saying fuck a lot. I’m hooked up to an ECG machine because my heart has been playing silly buggers since I got here. My little pattern lights up the screen and I can see just how erratic it’s being. Nothing too bad, though.

Dr Brit sticks a needle in my right arm with a cannula for the contrast dye for the CT and I head off to the big machines. It was daunting, and I had to give myself a little pep talk, especially when I heard that the dye makes your body flush hot and feel like you’ve peed your pants. “You’ve peed your pants before, Glow, you’ve got this.” Day-um, I give the best pep talks.

I spend the next few hours hooked up to oxygen because my saturation levels are going down rapidly. Without the oxygen my levels are as low as 79 and respirations at 45 but with it, I’m up around 95 with respirations near 25. It hurts to inhale deeply, so I’m just breathing shallow as I listen to the woman in the next bed tell her doctor how Satan puts bad thoughts in her head. The ED is a horrible place, really. So sad.

Fast forward again and the results are back. No clot is visible. YAY. But that might mean it’s small and “hiding” BOO, so Dr Brit gives a tentative diagnosis of pneumatises. Which is not fun to say at 5:30am when you haven’t slept and can’t breathe. It is recommended that I am admitted and she will have to do a blood gas to complete the chart before sending it. That’s a blood test from your wrist. They hurt. A LOT. Know what hurts more? When they dig around in one wrist and fail, then have to do the digging in the second wrist. Faaaaark.

I’m passed over to the specialist who is trying to find me a bed in the assessment unit before I can go up to the ward. After hours of waiting, they get frustrated enough to come down and do the assessment in the ED.

It’s like being in House. The awesome specialist (let’s call her Dr Lung) and two students, doctors already, so whatever that word is. They take my history and at the end of it, maybe three minutes of talking, I am completely breathless and my stats have bottomed out again. It looks like I’d come to the ED at the right time, because I’ve been steadily getting worse the whole night.

She quizzes the students about tests and risk and lots of stuff, and I’ve watched so much House in the last day that I follow almost the whole conversation. I tell them this is like TV and they all laugh – I secretly think the students think it too, though. I’m told I’m an interesting case and can more students come in the morning please? Sure, bring ‘em all. Because then OMG IT WILL BE EVEN MORE LIKE TV.

I’m given a final diagnosis of pneumonia by Dr Lung. She hears things through the stethoscope that others couldn’t and points out the noises to her students. It’s quite fascinating and I’m so impressed by her, and not just because she reminds me of Edna from The Incredibles. Plus she thinks my jokes are funny (I make jokes whenever I’m nervous so I’ve been saying a shedload of inappropriate shit since I got here). She is not entirely convinced that there are no blood clots, so on top of the hard core antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, I’m to be given a prophylactic DVT treatment.

Now I’m up in the ward, in an isolation suite with a negative pressure door. Anyone coming in has to wear a mask, though the staff don’t seem too strict on that, half of them happy to just sneak in and grab something quickly. It’s a precaution because though you can’t actually catch pneumonia, you can catch the bug that caused it… but we don’t know if it was a nasty bug or just a run of the mill bug that everyone carries. Hopefully because there was no runny nose or fever, chills and the like, that it isn’t a nasty bugger. But for now, my visitors have masks that make them look like ducks. Quack.

Yeah... so the mask didn't really float with Bobbin. But we figured she'd been sharing a bed with me the whole weekend, so she'd have got anything off me by now.

I’ve been so overwhelmed with the love and support we’ve gotten from everyone, but especially our families who have all pitched in because it’s really hard for MG to take time off work right now. It is times like these that you see just how many have your back.

I'm allowed home pretty much when I can have a conversation without becoming breathless - fingers crossed it is tomorrow because I'll be so bummed to miss Tricky's mother's day concert at school! Whatever happens, I'll laze around here, in my Wonder Woman jimjams, binge watching Orange Is The New Black until I get out.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

DIY Succulent Bowl for Mother's Day

I was flipping through the three hundred catalogues that ended up in my letter box this week thanks to Mother's Day. I was mentally picking out what slippers I'd like until I realized I was now old enough to find slippers an appropriate gift and proceeded to slap myself silly.

I moved on to the homewares section, because being a fan of decor isn't quite as embarrassing as eyeing off the fluffy fox slippers, and saw a gorgeous bowl filled with succulents for a lot of money I don't have.

Because I'm a tight ass (let's say frugal, it sounds better), I thought I could totally make it myself for nowhere near that price, mostly using stuff I had at home.

I walked to the local swapmeet where about half the vendors are selling plants, and bought some little succulents that were seven for $5. I could have got more established plants for more, but this was all on a spare of the moment whim, so I didn't want to over commit!

Running total: $5

At home I grabbed a big, wide bowl that was holding a bunch of pinecones as a centrepiece on our outdoor table. The bowl was, like so much at my house, from the side of the road. Day-um I love me a road side bulk rubbish pickup!

Running total: still $5

Armed with my plants and my free bowl, I grabbed my shovel and dug up some dirt from the back of the garden. At this point I noticed a bigger succulent that had been sitting in a pot in my garden for a good six months or so, and figured it needed a new home, too. The price of the bigger one? Free. The lady, at the same markets I got the new lovelies from, had thrown it in when I bought some herbs.

I had a little helper
Running total: yep, still $5

I popped them all in, not in any particular order as I figure they'll grow and smoosh together eventually. All I really wanted was for the big guy to not be in the centre.

I'm so happy with the result and particularly the price!

Final total: $5 WOOHOO!

Because this bowl doesn't have a drainage hole, and because I kinda couldn't be bothered drilling one in it, this has to be kept in an area where it won't get too wet from sprinklers or rain. Seeing as it's a table centrepiece, it's not an issue. A few drops of water for each plant once a week is usually all these dudes need. Just keep an eye on it and adjust accordingly. You could also cover the soil with rocks to make it look pretty if you wanted to.

So happy Mother's Day to me! 


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