Hello to my beach family...
I know it's been some time since I have had the opportunity to share much about what is happening in my world "down under". Most of the Aussie girls have been dealing with issues of one kind or another and while we don't spend a lot of time on the message boards (we DO read all the posts, most of us just can't sit at the computer long enough to reply too) or on msn chatting with everyone & catching up. You see while you are sitting at your computers in the evenings chatting to each other it is the middle of the day for us on the opposite side of the world and so we all have daily lists of things to do, housework, work, children, pets, gardening, shopping, bills to pay etc etc... I KNOW that all of you understand what I'm saying.
Anyway things have been upside down here with the declining health of my father & mother; we have had to make the hard decision to place Dad into a nursing home & as I'm typing this Shane is with Dad looking at one of them across town. This one is more like a hospital with four beds to a room; we are hoping that IF he is placed there it will only be temporary - just long enough to allow us to find a place with just two beds to a room or ideally a single room. Dad has degenerative arthritis in his spine, cardio vascular disease & diabetes just to name a few of his health conditions. Like us he is a chronic pain sufferer and lives on very large doses of slow release morphine and has a morphine tablet for breakthrough pain.
Mum collapsed the day we placed Dad into convalescent care and we have since discovered that she has a non-malignant meningioma which is a tumour on the meninges which is one of the linings of the brain. She also has scar tissue from her stroke in 2005 and now suffers both types of epilepsy because of it. She had a total of four seizures over a 48 hour period and I witnessed all of them; it was very distressing & admittedly I thought she was having a stroke each time & thought she was dying, especially with the last two. She spent time in ICU and a total of three weeks in the step down & medical units. Now she is at home with intensive support from community nursing, meals on wheels, cleaning, community transport etc which has relieved some of the pressure from Shane & me. We have spent every day since this happened going back & forth between two hospitals - naturally at opposite ends of town! It has been physically, mentally & spiritually exhausting & frightening. I was coping thanks to adrenalin until the last few days before Mum's release; but eventually I crashed and the pain and shock of everything tumbled down around me. I've spent the last three days in bed recovering and also studying and taking an online open book exam for Uni! I just passed; which was a bit disappointing after getting 100% in my first exam; however I am grateful for the pass it could have been a fail and that would have been worse! I have a LOT of catching up to do and the next week is going to be very intense with my nose in books for most of that time and then I have two major essays to write!!!
I could NOT have coped or possibly helped my parents without Shane; once again my Knight in Shining Armour came to my rescue! I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful man as my partner in life. He has been so kind & compassionate with my mother and so VERY patient with my father! He has been a wonderful patient advocate (he's had plenty of practice after all ), has been brilliant at organising Power of Attorney, organising banks AND dealing with a break-in to my parents house after Mum was taken to hospital in the ambulance! The creeps stole her purse which contained all her ID, her bank cards, medibank card, pension card etc... all important things that we are now in the process of replacing. To add salt to the wound; my purse was also stolen from OUR kitchen! We always keep our back door locked because our house is so long & such an odd shape it's easy not to hear or know what is going on in one end or another of the house. This particular day our foster daughter was at home, sitting at the computer in the NEXT room and they must have just opened the door taken a few steps inside, grabbed the purse and ran! So now I have to replace my driver's licence, Medicare card, pension card, Uni ID and my credit & bank cards arggghhhhh.
We also managed to become Foster Parents during this hectic time too! One of Jessica's school friends' (who was a boarder) ran away from the boarding house and called Jess for help. Jess talked to her on the phone & convinced her to go to DOCS the next morning to sort out the problem. I then got a phone call from the school principal that afternoon asking if we would be willing to take Em (yes another EM!!!!) for a week "respite care" with the intention of her going back to the boarding house the following Monday. Within a short period of time she asked (through Jess) if she could stay with us & so we began the process.... we went through the interviews with DOCS to make sure we were fit & proper people to look after a teenage girl. They were pretty happy considering we have four daughters already with three attending university and Jess planning to attend uni when she finishes high school, she wants to be a Primary School Teacher; Katie is studying to be a High School English/History teacher, Courtney is doing Theatre Production and Emma is doing Advertising. They did the Police Check to make sure we didn't have any kind of record and we had lots of conversations with Em's case manager over the phone. We did this in between visiting prospective nursing homes, visiting Mum & Dad, keeping ALL the family updated on what was happening, conferences, meetings, phone calls etc with doctors, social workers & support groups for Mum when she was discharged from hospital.
We thought we were on the home stretch when she suddenly decided she wanted to go home to her family, a cousin who lived quite a distance from where we are & her older sister. DOCS wanted her to stay but she insisted that she would go regardless of what they said & so we packed her up last weekend, gave her a surprise going away party & put her on the plane to her cousins last Sunday afternoon. I miss her terribly & I pray every night that she now feels as though she has the family she has always longed for. Shane, Jess & I are now considering whether or not to invite another little soul into our home. Jess would like someone a little younger; someone she can be a real "big sister" to. It is something Shane & I had been considering & Em certainly showed us how rewarding it can be... we are disappointed that she didn't stay BUT we totally understand her desire to be with her own family. Being here & seeing how we all interacted with each other possibly made it even clearer to her what she was missing. So pray for us please and pray for Em that she has a happy, safe and fulfilling life, surrounded by loving & supportive family.
So now we have inherited a kitten from Mum & Dad; Mum had bought the cat for Dad as a surprise when he got home from hospital after having his knee replacement surgery. I'm told it's one of the REALLY painful things you can have done! Anyway; because mum hasn't been coping with looking after herself & dad she felt she couldn't be responsible for the kitten and besides he needed to be looked after while she was in hospital anyway! It didn't take long before my family became smitten with the kitten (hehehehe couldn't resist that one sorry!) Right now I have the kitten (Harry Houdini because he LOVES to do disappearing acts) is stretched out along my right hip/leg sound asleep (has been for well over an hour now) while Fergus (our Scottish terrier cross) is asleep at the foot of the bed in his usual place. So far they play chase & Harry has gotten the better of big sooky Fergus a few times with some well placed swipes across the nose with his claws! We are trying to educate Harry about the use of these lethal weapons! We are all sporting little scratches here & there.
As for me; well I'm doing pretty good health wise (sshhhh don't tell my body I said that, I'm also touching wood while I type this ) I'm walking a little further every week and I can even manage a decent walk from time to time without my cane! I don't use the wheel chair very much at all now; although I could have used it several times in the last few weeks because of exhaustion taking a toll on me. The chair has been lent to my sister-in-laws mother, she badly broke her leg and can't use crutches for some reason. I hope to get it back soon because while I'm normally doing well as I said, right now I'm a bit rough around the edges. Sleeping is tough, we all know how bad the pain gets at night and how hard it is to ignore or control it. When I DO get a full night of sleep you can guarantee that it's because of exhaustion.
I'm so grateful that I was well enough to help my parents during this latest crisis & I am VERY grateful as I have already said that I have Shane by my side to support, encourage and also to DO so much of the legwork for me! So while I sit here on our bed with the cat & dog for company & Nancy & Crystal keeping me company on MSN, Shane is out with Dad - doing the rounds of the nursing homes, helping him to decide which one he will move into permanently. I just got a call to say he has signed into one for the time being and now the real hunt is on. That takes the pressure off Mum now... she can take care of herself properly without worrying about Dad, he needs a LOT of support now, showering & dressing, medication and he can't stand long enough to make a sandwich or cook a meal. He shakes so badly now he has a sippy cup so he doesn't spill coffee all over himself any more, he spends a LOT of time in bed in pain. Mum has looked after him (with his disabilities & chronic pain getting progressively worse) for almost 25yrs now. That is a LONG time, now she can go to the movies, travel to Sydney & visit with my brother or her sister & brothers without having to worry about Dad. At last she will get a little time to herself & I pray that the tumour stays dormant for a LONG time & allows her to live a little herself.
Sorry it's such a long post and IF you managed to read it to the very end THANK YOU... I use the board like a journal, its part of my therapy and it helps to know that I have good friends who will consider my parents, pray for them & think about them and that I know will give them the strength to carry on.
Catch you all soon on msn or in the chat room...
Love & LOADS of hugs,