Help!

I find it really hard to ask for things. Sometimes I don’t even know what I want to eat. It freaks me out when people ask me what I want for my birthday or Christmas. What say I appear too greedy? Or when Andrew had his accident and people said to let them know what they could do.

It would be easier if they just said I am going to do this then. End of story. For Christmas I want to buy you this. In blue. Size 10. Thanks. Here. Lunch. Eat!

One of the reasons I gave up Personal Training was I spent my entire working week motivating, encouraging, uplifting people to achieve their goals. Yet there seemed to be no-one to pick me up.

Since I have come out about my mental health issues I have found it easier to talk to people about my problems, and in return receive an emotional boost.

I am going through some angst at the moment. But being more aware in regards to my mental health I have asked for help even before I need it. After almost a year I am going back to counselling. I have the most wonderful man I visit and he is keen to see me again. I am sure he is so intrigued by the serial drama of my life.

Last night I went out with my girlfriends. They were wonderful. Reminding me that we are the A team and if I wasn’t worthy of being an A team member I wouldn’t be sitting in The Monday Room on a Wednesday night drinking $5 sav. They then listed all the people who weren’t in the A team. Thanks guys. Best. Friends. Ever.

As well as all this emotional upheaval I am running ridiculous distances each week. Most of the mileage could be termed as challenging as I tackle hills and trails. I am training for the High 50 Challenge, a nationwide event where one man plans to run 50 mountain marathons in 50 days all in aid of raising money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ. I plan to support him on two days next February. Meanwhile I need to do a spot of fund-raising. As much as I hate asking for things I feel I am constantly asking for people to support me by donating to my page.

Please help me out and allow me to focus on running and sorting my life out. Just pull your credit card out now, click here and donate. If 20 people donate $20 each I am pretty much there. One less thing to keep me awake at night.

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Sick of being sick

Day 25 of feeling unwell. Almost a month. Of snot. And phlegm. And coughing. And spluttering. Of a husky voice, and for six days no voice.

Three and a half weeks of feeling just off. Tired. Blah. Headachy.

And I am sick of it.

Most years I escape the general bugs and flus which go around. I am unlucky if I get more than one cold, and I usually throw it off without too much trouble. This year though it lingers. Each day I wake and it is just the same.

I had earmarked today as being the day I would feel better, the day I would begin my build-up back to full fitness. I would go back to the gym for my weight sessions, go back to yoga. Next week I would get back into the pool.

But I woke up feeling tired, coughing, and really unmotivated.

The day is dawning and it looks grey. Dull and grey. A lot like I feel.

At least I am still able to run. I did take a full seven days off and have not done any speedwork in all of August. But I did race on Saturday and it went well. It was not a PB but it was no slouch of a time either. I had had that event in mind all year for a crack at going under 20 minutes for 5k. I didn’t even try for it, just happy to run ahead of the competition to take out Canterbury Road Champion (50 years plus) for Canterbury.

Back to today. I will concentrate on home based jobs. Hopefully the sun will come out. I am meeting my running buddy just after lunch for two hours on the hills. It will be conversational pace.

Like I said, at least I can still run!

“It is not how old you are but how you are old”

On Friday I will celebrate my father reaching his 88th birthday.

He is old. At 80 he still skied and played tennis, lived on his own and was active and alive.

Eight years on and he no longer participates in the skiing and tennis which he loves. He occasionally wander around a few holes on the golf course. And he no longer lives alone. He has a younger woman. She turns 88 in September!

Dad stoops now, his once tall six foot height a youthful memory. His hearing, always questionable, is appalling. Which means he misses out on a lot of life around him. But he still gardens, drives himself, attends U3A meetings, sings in the Cathedral choir, serves on the odd committee, and goes to concerts.

At 88 he is old, but still living.

Three months ago my 86 year old mother-in-law was old but still living. She too drove herself to the Cathedral where she also volunteered once a week. She pottered around in her garden and cooked all her own meals. She attended book group meetings and a music appreciation group, as well as being keen to keep up with her family and friends.

In May she had a heart attack. It was decided she needed an operation to insert a new valve into her heart via an artery. While waiting for the surgery the family cared for her at home. Someone slept over every night, made her dinner and then breakfast in the morning. We did her shopping and laundry. A cleaner was provided.

In June she had her surgery and it went remarkably well. She was discharged and sent home. Nurses were provided to shower her but the family committed to up to six weeks of convalescent care.

Except things did not go according to plan. The valve operation was a brilliant success and her new valve allows her heart to pump the right amount if oxygenated blood around her body.

However being 86 years old and having been brought up not to discuss such issues my mother in law failed to mention that she was not pooping. At all.

Severe constipation impacted on her whole well-being. The compacted bowel put pressure on the spine which gave her intense back pain. She began to need more drugs. Morphine which slows the bowel down more. Her bowel movements were discussed far and wide. She had to drink laxatives, eat kiwifruit and prunes. She didn’t like it.

Her nursing care was increased with the family staying over each night and visiting each afternoon to make sure medication was taken. We organised Meals on Wheels. Nurse called three or four times a day.

Pam got grumpier. Always a Pollyanna sort of person now she complained about everything.

“I am sick of blancmange for dessert.”

“I can’t/won’t get up for breakfast.”

“I don’t want to go outside and sit in the sun.”

The family were getting tired. It was three months and Pam’s health was deteriorating. Then she fell. Another visit to hospital.

More pain, this time in her groin. Doctors diagnosed sciatica. It was eventually discovered she had cracked her pubis bone and finally admitted to hospital for 10 days of bed rest.

“I have nothing to look at.”

Once a day she was taken to the physio gym and made to “work out”.

“The physios are mean to me.”

Today she is being discharged back to home. Back to nurses visiting and family picking up the slack.

Yesterday I was with her as the occupational therapist went around her house advising us what to do to minimise fall risk. I was chosen as being “the nice daughter in law”. Move unnecessary furniture to allow more room for the walker frame. Taking away piles of magazines or boxes of apples and potatoes. Making room in her bedroom for a commode for night time use. Installing extra grab handles. Taking away floor mats and rugs.

Pam was unhappy. She sat on her kitchen chair, slumped.

“I don’t want to sleep in a different room/take away the pot plants at the front door. I need the chair in my bedroom/mats at the back door.”

I was reminded of another girl in my family. My daughter. Sulking because as a toddler she wasn’t getting her own way. Stubbornly refusing something even though she must have known she was wrong. Hating change.

We used to have almighty rows with her. My mother-in-law thought we were soft – until she had to care for Juliet for a week while her younger brother was ill in hospital one Christmas. Then she said, “Sometimes that girl just wants the bottom brick off the chimney.”

So yesterday I said to Pam, “You want to live at home so you need to compromise on a few things to make it happen. It sounds as though you are wanting the bottom brick off the chimney.”

I think I just lost my status as the nice daughter in law.

The circle of life

Today as the world mourns the loss of Robin Williams, my family welcomes the next generation. Baby Boy Sewell was born today, a big cuddly 4.2kgs following an arduous three days. Last I heard he was still not officially named. I imagine his parents are still a bit overwhelmed. It was definitely labour!

He is my great-nephew. His proud great-grandmother rang us from a different hospital just after 9pm with the news. Her life is also waning. At 86 years of age things are beginning to fail at an alarming rate. And each malfunction triggers another event. At present she is in hospital on almost total bedrest to heal a fracture in her pubis bone.

The circle of life.

There is a lot of death in the world today. And much of it seems to be the result of people’s actions The Israel-Gaza conflict, Syria, planes being shot out of the sky.

And then then are people who decide to end their lives by their own actions. Like Robin Williams. Everyone is talking about Robin. About his depression. His addictions. And so I won’t.

I am going to hope Baby Boy Sewell gets the chance to grow old. I hope he never feels the need to take another person’s life. I hope he never feels the need to take his own. For all those jihadists, terroists, Isis-ists were once newborn babies filled with hope and promise. Robin Williams was once a newborn baby whose only worry or fear concerned food.

The circle of life. Let nature take its course.

To sleep or not to sleep, that is the question.

Insomnia must be one of the loneliest conditions known to mankind. I should know. I have spent many a dark cold hour awake while the rest of my world sleeps.

Lately I have been better at staying in bed all night. Sometimes even staying asleep for most of it. But for the past month my mate Mr Sandman has been MIA.

Tonight I slept spasmodically from about 9:30pm until 3am. I tossed and turned for about 30 minutes and then I took action.

There was some computer work I needed to do. And so I did it. Downstairs in the office which is mostly used by our 16 year old son to play complex online games with his mates. Downstairs in the office where everything which doesn’t have a home gets dumped. Downstairs in the office where empty coffee cups, dirty plates, and chocolate wrappers litter the floor and desk surface. Phones go flat in here. Important papers become buried. Pens, scissors and sellotape are never where they should be.

I sat amongst the chaos and in the middle of the dark and lonely night I put to right a spreadsheet. And it felt good to send that off via Google drive. One less worry to weigh me down.

I have a number of worries which churn around my head at night. My mother-in-law is having heart surgery on Tuesday. Meanwhile we have been taking turns at sleeping over at her place in case she needs help in the night. It is not arduous. It is just a disruption to routine.

We also need to keep her clear of bugs. It is winter. Damp, cold, dreary winter. Bugs are thriving and picking on my boys who perhaps are not poster boys for a clean healthy lifestyle. All three men in my family have sore throats and queasy tummies. I don’t want either.

There are a few other things which have been putting pressure on me lately. Nothing major but the accumulation of little sticks soon becomes an unmanageable bundle.

On Friday I threw my toys out of the cot. Just enough to let it be known to the world that i had too much on. It felt good.

And funny enough, other people stepped up and took responsibility.

So wow. Wow for being big enough to say, “hey, I cannot handle all this.” Wow, for having people around me who understand that sometimes life does get too much and sharing the load is easier all round. Wow, for saying no and not feeling guilty.

And now I hope to snuggle down and have a little more sleep.

Ow not wow!

Two days ago I met a wasp. It flew into my left arm as I was running around Lake Rotoiti, an area renowned for wasps, and large sandflies.

The wasp stung me, just the once. At first it was just an angry red mark with a small white hard swelling, about the size of a small coin, a NZ 10 cents. It did not hurt. It did not itch. It was just annoying. I could finish my run, though I was wary of it.

I was running to the head of the lake where I was to meet Andrew and the boys who were boating up. Although I carry emergency supplies and a first aid kit, I didn’t have antihistamine. Or the kitchen sink. I had everything else. Note to self – buy some antihistamine cream for kit. Don’t bother with the kitchen sink!

It was about an hour later that I could spray some Stingose and then my afternoon was filled with packing up and cleaning the bach we had rented for the week. We had given up on the crappy weather and chosen to head home a day early.

My arm was swelling. It was now noticeably bigger than the right arm. And radiating heat. But not enough to illicit any sympathy from any of my boys!!

When we arrived home in Christchurch I put some antihistamine cream onto it.

That night I could not sleep. It was nice to be back in my own bed. The bed at the bach had been playing havoc with my back. But it was a hot sticky night. Aaaah, summer, how I had missed you.

My arm itched. It throbbed. I got up twice in the night to take Panadol and one of Juliet’s hayfever pills. I wrapped a cold flannel around it. More cream.

By the time morning came, my forearm was huge, red, swollen, hard, throbbing, sore, and itchy.

I measured around it. It was 26cm in comparison to my right arm at 22cm. My wrist was unaffected and measured 14cm. My left bicep is only 24cm. Yes, I have chicken arms!

I took more drugs. Used more cream. And put up with mocking derision from three teenagers. “Oh, your biceps are so big. Oh, wait that is just your wasp sting.” “You look just like Popeye!”

I took a nap and slept for two hours. Possibly the drugs. Possibly the restless night. When I woke my arm felt better. I mowed the lawn, with a push mower and tackled two weeks of weed growth. It was lovely to be in the sun, but it did not help my arm.

It grew even bigger. 27cm around the widest part, and the wrist swelled too, into the hand. My wrist was now 16cm.

More cream. More Stingose. I tried arnica too. And wrapped it in ice. Living with a dancer we always have ice packs on the go.

Now almost 48hours later it is still swollen. 26.5 cm and 16.5cm around the wrist. Still itchy but not as much.

It is now annoying me as I have things to do which I cannot.

Oh well, it could be worse. It is, after all, only a wasp sting. And while it has affected me, it is not life and death. Just a normal reaction to a nasty insect. And it will go away. I just need to be a patient patient.

the Department of Conservation’s wasp eradication plan

Dealing with wasps at Lake Rotoiti