I have been sick this week. After the boys both had gastro for a week followed by another couple of weeks with asthma, croup, runny noses and the rest, their germs were shared with me in great enough numbers for me to go downhill as well. So the greater part of the last week has been spent in or around the bed, I’ve been confined to base this week- until yesterday and I was feeling pretty miserable for a while before I had to give up some things and stay home.
However life goes on and I’ve found the best way to get some sorely needed organising done is in very small chunks. I had joined in with the Organising Junkie’s 52 weeks of Organising at the beginning of 2011 and I’ve totally fallen off the wagon with that but these small sessions are going to get our house back on track. My biggest challenges right now are the sheer volume of things in our house that need to be more organised so that we can all function with less stress. Even though I’m getting around quite happily now on my previously dodgy ankles I still don’t have the stamina to do huge amounts of organising/tidying/cleaning at once. We are using the timer and doing 10-15 minute sessions with me organising something, the boys clearing out something to help me organise (The bottom of my wardrobe) or the boys problem-solving for one of our big issues.
SHOES. There. That is one of the biggest issues we face. I’ve said it. When it is time to leave for school or go to the park or go anywhere there is always someone who can’t find shoes. They could be in any room of the house, often in the living room, in the backyard beside the trampoline, in my car or A’s car and very occasionally in the plastic crate we had designated for shoes in their bedroom. It clearly wasn’t working and it was causing great angst for everyone, especially when we were rushed.
So, with the help of Eric, I organised a Shoe Docking Station on the back veranda. I thought it was just going to be a place where the shoes were all kept together but being boys, we had to have a docking station and I’m pretty pleased with it.
It isn’t fancy. I’ve just used home made laminated computer labels and stuck them down on an old TV stand we had and there are now designated “parking spots for the important sets of shoes. So school shoes, sports shoes, sandals and thongs have their own spaces with one changeable parking spot to be used for tags for hockey in Winter and runners for Little Athletics in summer.
A has raised the issue of spiders so we are going to practice precautionary shoe thumping. What I really like already is that I can pop outside and know straight away what is missing so they can hunt for exactly what they need. I’ve put some photos in but be warned. It isn’t “pretty” but the boys like it and it is functional and that’s what counts for my family right now.
Or as normal as it ever gets! I’ve officially been cleared to work again, I’m no longer wearing splints and walking longer and longer distances until i start limping again and need to stop. I did alarm the physio with a very swollen left ankle (the fractured tibia one) on Friday night so I am taped up for the duration of the long weekend but flesh coloured tape is much less conspicuous than big black lace up splints.
There are so many things you take for granted until you have your mobility taken away from you. I’m really enjoying things like:
having a shower standing up
carrying things around from one place to another
walking around places
being able to get up off chairs
getting my own cup of coffee and indeed getting cuppas for other people
walking along hand in hand with my little boy
DRIVING – even though I have to use Anthony’s car for the time being.
I’m in the process of transitioning from convalescence to supply teaching again and I feel as if I am launching myself onto the world as a whole new person. A wise person told me that all these thigns happen for a reason and I found that statement hard to take as I hobbled around on crutches. But now, as I find myself on the way out of it all I believe she may have known what she was talking about after all.
I’ve been bored and lonely today. So bored I rang dh and asked if he could come home early. Yes I was that desperate! He is going to bring the boys home from OSHC earlier than he would normally but left me with several long hours stretching out ahead of me. There was the prospect of the tuna sandwich and prunes for lunch. Yes, I’m eating prunes to er- keep everything moving and that is enough on that subject!
So I ordered a pizza and between Vera and I half of said pizza was consumed. It was very extravagant and not very healthy but it did a bit for my mental health which needs looking after too!
It was chicken and feta and it was good!
The camera worked for long enough this afternoon to get a shot of my very unattractive ankles in socks and splints. They look a bit powdery because I need to put on prickly heat powder before the socks so I don’t get driven mad with itching and it certainly makes me glad not to be in plaster.
Today hasn’t been a good day. I’ve been down, teary and tired all day. It was a combination of things. I was still pathetically exhausted after my trip to hydrotherapy yesterday, today was bit of an anti-climax because I wasn’t going anywhere and I’m not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Hydrotherapy will only continue once it is approved by Work Cover as I already had had the five automatically allowed physio sessions while in hospital. It is really my only prospect of getting out of the house because we will be reimbursed for the cab fare. I’m not able to drive yet and I don’t know how long it will be before I get behind the wheel. If I was to get taken somewhere like a shopping centre I would have to hire a wheelchair and then have someone to push it. The potential “someones” are either a bit old to be pushing me in a wheel chair or they have small children to deal with. We can’t afford to spend any money on cabs that will not be reimbursed as my work prospects are going to be limited once again and for who knows how long.
Dh is working full time 5 days a week and may be doing overtime on Saturday and of course the boys are at school. They will be off on holidays at the end of next week but we will still be housebound because it is too far from here to get to any public transport and we cannot afford cabs. The book club girls took me out last night for coffee and book discussion but I came away from that realizing that everyone is still really busy and the fact that I am out of action doesn’t change that. So while plenty of people have asked, “What can I do to help?”, I’ve really only been able to ask for people to bring the boys home from school and even that was quite difficult to organise. Life goes on as normal for everyone else which means they don’t have time to stop for visits or cups of tea. Everyone balances multiple roles and has a busy schedule including me when I’m not on crutches. So I can hardly ask someone to pick me up and cart me around in a wheelchair and no one really has spare time to spend here with me. I think all of that hit home for me this afternoon and I felt really black.
The flood of phone calls and text messages that happened while I was in hospital has dried up to almost nothing. I’m lucky if I get two texts in a day and no one has time for phone calls these days. There isn’t really much to say either because I don’t know when things will improve with my ankles and there is nothing happening here at home.
I also realised that I wouldn’t be able to get to Weight Watchers tomorrow night as I had planned because the boys have hockey training. I cannot ask them to miss it as they missed out already last week while I was in hospital and it is on every Thursday so with great sadness I changed my Weight Watchers subscription to “on-line only” even though I need it and the meetings especially now more than I ever have before. My weight has made this whole injury thing even more complicated and I really can’t see things improving while I am so sedentary and while I am relying on everyone else to supply me with food.
Dh really is doing all he can. In fact he has been quite legendary since I’ve been home. He sets up the lounge room each night ready for me the next day with the TV left on stand-by, the remotes all put where I can reach them and most importantly, makes sure that the floors throughout the house are almost completely free of clutter. We are both terrified of what could happen if a crutch slipped on something that shouldn’t be there and went out from under me. He gets the bathroom ready for me to take a shower each night with the transfer bench half in and half out of the bath and everything where I can reach it. Then he puts on my socks and splints for me afterwards in the lounge. I get a coffee made for me in the morning before they leave and yesterday he left a ham and cheese sandwich in the fridge and the sandwich toaster out on the bench. I was so glad to find that when I got home from hydro!
As for the boys, the novelty has well and truly worn off. They are usually very put out when I ask them for anything or to do something for them because it takes them away from their all important computer games. And of course, their projects and activities must always come first. Eric was very impatient for me to get to the computer and help him fix a flyer he was making this evening and kept coming out to ask me when I’d be there despite the fact that I didn’t have my splints back on. The flyer was about him offering his services as a cross country coach for the the other kids at school but that’s another story!
My parents came to help out today but even that is a mixed blessing. While I truly love that our bathroom got cleaned and the sheets on my bed were changed I didn’t need to be told that I must not apply for any job until I am off crutches, that knitting is waste of money (again!) and that I really must do something about my weight. (If I didn’t already know the last one it was brought home to me when I had to crawl up our back stairs on the night of my fall!). I know they mean well and they are really the only ones that are in a position to offer us any help but some moral support and encouragement would be nice once in a while.
That is the end of my whining for now. There are some good things happening. Unlimited time to knit, stitch, read and watch TV. Time to read lots of stories to Daniel. I get to sleep in because there is nothing to get up for and I would be in the way during morning rush hour anyway. I have a couple of projects to tackle – writing and researching some pieces for the school magazine and doing the “end of season” achievement cards and certificates for Little Athletics. The latter is an enormous but tedious job but I certainly don’t have the excuse of not enough time to do it.
It’s awful to say this but I am dreading today (I’m writing this after midnight which shows how ell my sleeping pattern is going). I’m going to miss a couple of my regular Thursday activities, my ankles will still hurt and I will still have the long day on my own. But I guess I just have to take a deep breath and think “this too shall pass”.
Unfortunately we did have to mention it to someone who could help us out of our current financial crisis when we asked for help last week and unfortunately we got completely dragged over the coals, interrogated and thoroughly criticised for nearly all our life choices including but not limited to – choice of jobs, choice of hobbies, child care arrangements, activities in which our children are involved, the things we eat and the list goes on. I’m the first to admit I am not perfect by any means. My house is messy, we’re eating too much take-away and sometimes I sit down and play on the computer or knit something when perhaps I should be doing housework but is was just awful to have just about everything we do turned into a negative.
Suffice it to say, we didn’t chose to get into a financial mess and we’re sure as heck going to make sure we never do again. This time has just been an unfortunate melding of council rates, car registration, massive tax bill, power bill and a range of medical expenses occurring all at once along with the normal end of year things like school book orders, piano lessons, chess lessons and the list goes on. I’m ona much reduced salary compared to teaching and it just hasn’t worked for us. It isn’t like we are going out every night or having caviar on our crackers. We spend very little on clothes and entertainment of any description. Now I sound like Im trying to justify our spending which I shouldn’t have to do. We make choices – some are right and some are wrong but ultimately they are our choices.
I never want to go down the path of needing to ask for help again from the source we used last week. Never, ever. So I’m taking baby steps to regain some control of the situation. I’m going to to ring and try to organise some sort of payment plan for the hideous tax bill. I’m selling my wedding dress. I’ve started the process of frogging a garment I knitted a while back but decided that I would never wear. The yarn is too good to wastes so I’m re-claiming it all and knitting coffee cup cosies to sell on e-bay or etsy. I’m also looking into what I can make rather than buy for Christmas presents.
I’ve also got huge amounts of stuff that can all eventually go on e-bay – clothes, toys, baby things, furniture etc etc etc. It will take a long time but I will do it and I’m sure I will feel better to having a less cluttered home.
We’ve been enjoying a TV show tonight about the Sydney Olympics which were held in 2000. While remembering the Olympics we’ve also been remembering our own big challenge of the time. On August 28, 2000 week 24 of my pregnancy with Eric I started bleeding and cramping. I drove myself into Wickham Tce to see our dr where dh joined me to hear that “work was finished”. I knew what he meant straight away but it took the dr two more tries to get through to dh. No, I wasn’t going back to work next week. No I wasn’t going back to work after the holidays. I wasn’t going back to work. Instead it was straight to the Mater Mothers Private for bedrest and medications to keep me from delivering Eric before he was meant to be here. By the time the Olympics started on September 15 I was installed in my little room, allowed out of bed to use the bathroom and take a shower and only allowed to leave the room in a wheelchair. The midwives counted the days with me as we all worked on keeping this very precious child exactly where he was for as long as possible. Dh laughed at my constant trembling due to the liquid ventolin. I laughed as I tried to choose paint colours for the baby’s room while not actually being in the house. I saw the opening ceremony from the hospital but a few days later I was allowed out for “good behaviour”. Unfortunately the Men’s 4 x 100 Freestyle a few nights later put an end to that. In my defense, I was watching from the sofa bed in the living room but the excitement was too much and I ended up heading back to the hospital with more contractions.
And there I stayed for ten long weeks in all, having contractions every 2-3 days due to an irritable uterus. Thinking back now, I think we were a bit protected from the enormity of what we were facing because we were first time parents. Our baby did not arrive at 24 weeks. He hung in there till 34 weeks and was born at a quite respectable 5lb 3oz. After 4 weeks in the Special Care Nursery gaining the energy to feed we brought our little man home on December 12 and despite all that could have been he has never had a major health problem in the ten years that have followed. The day after I arrived in hospital we were both taken on a tour of the Special Care Nursery and Intensive Care Nursery. Sure we were in awe of what we saw there and knew we didn’t want to have our baby fighting for his life like these little scraps but if I went through those nurseries now I would probably be fighting back the tears knowing exactly what those parents were going through.
When we went down for a scan once a week every week for ten weeks and told the technician we didn’t want to know the sex of the baby just that it was still healthy, we didn’t know the things that could be discovered in such scans. When he was delivered by c-section at 34 weeks I will always remember asking, “What is it? What is it?’
and the dr saying, “It’s a baby!” before lifting tiny Eric over the curtain, revealing him in all his “boyhood” and plonking him down on my face.
When the cabin fever got too much dh would hijack a wheelchair from somewhere in the hospital and take me out for “coffee”. I don’t think the midwives knew that meant a trip right through the other adults hospital and across an entire car park then down in a lift to the Mater Private Coffee Shop. We’d drink a cappuccino and try to pretend for a while that everything was normal.
In the almost ten years that have passed I’ve met a few children born in the same year that were not as fortunate as our boy. One of my best friend’s went through the ordeal of delivering at 23 weeks. A little boy in one of the families at school was about the same age as Eric but fell ill at a very early age and became severely disabled. Whenever I see these kids I think, “that could have been us.” and I remind myself just how blessed we have been with our two bundles.
We laugh about the wheelchair hijackings, the daily Metamucil and the night that a very tiny Eric was so tired in the Special Care Nursery that he slept right through his Thursday night bath. I laugh and dh grimaces when we recall the famous incident of the “projectile poo” – an evening when dh lifted up the little backside to slide under a fresh nappy and the crib, sheets, his shirt and a fair portion of the nursery floor were, um, splattered with the loudest bowel movement I’ve heard from someone so tiny. A lady who was across from us actually ran to get out of the way. But I will always remember how lucky we are to be able to laugh about it all 10 years on.
I’ve had some very exciting developments this week. Life has taken a different direction and it is one that no one could have predicted. After a big application, interview with assessment task two weeks ago and another follow up meeting this week I’ve been offered a job at one of our favourite places in the world. Here
After years of thinking I would never do anything other than teach in a classroom, I saw the ad for this position – Learning, Activities and Events Officer – a few months ago and immediately my heart leapt. I could do that. I wanted to do that. There could be a place for me beyond the classroom, a place where I could still use my skills as an educator and work with a wide variety of people. I love trains and railways and history. When the boys were into Thomas the Tank Engine I reveled in the language and the images of that magical world. We’ve been regular visitors to The Workshops over the years and held annual passes for four years running.
There will be many other changes apart from me driving west instead of east each day. As a public servant of sorts I will be working longer hours officially but less hours unofficially. I’ll have some measure of control over when I work, being able to accrue flexi-time etc. I will be working on most school holidays because those are the busiest times for the museum – especially Boxing Day through to the end of January when Thomas comes to visit. If I work on a weekend or public holiday I might be paid overtime (huge concept for a teacher!). I won’t be having holidays for quite some time and when I do they will be during school time. We think the boys will cope with a few weeks out of school here and there for holidays down the track – I can certainly “home school” them if necessary! I wont have my own class but I will also be doing without playground duty, report writing and parent teacher interviews. There are lots of things I’ll miss and lots of things I won’t miss. There are lots of things about this position that I don’t even know yet and that is both exciting and a little bit scary but I am so ready.
I’m ready to belong somewhere again, to be doing something worthwhile and working hard. I’m ready to know where I am going each day and where I’ll be going each week. I’m ready to be challenged, to use my creativity and problem solving skills and I’m so excited!
After initially being skeptical about me working for the government (he never thought he’d see the day) Anthony is delighted. The boys, after some confusion on Daniel’s part, are just about delirious. When I told the boys that they might sometimes be used as “guinea pigs”, Dan didn’t relish the prospect of living in a box and eating grass. But when it was all explained he was delighted of course. With their new found independence they are getting used to traveling to and from school in a number of different ways and are relishing the slightly increased responsibility. The extended family are already booking themselves up for holiday care.
I worked my final days as a relief teacher this week in three different schools and then today we celebrated – Eric’s first communion and confirmation. Now I have two weeks to get everything in order ready to start my next big adventure. I don’t know all of what the future holds but I’ll certainly be putting my sunglasses when I drive in the other direction!