It was spent in the presence of someone I’d rather never set eyes on again. It was spent in pursuit of justice. It was spent blinking back tears and swallowing my revulsion.
There is still anger burning within me that I cannot quench. My heart is heavy with the reopening of old wounds.
And I am powerless, unable to do anything but look on and observe.
I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t have the psychic power to set someone on fire from across the room. I could do so, quite willingly, if I were able.
It’s fair to say that if a certain person did happen to spontaneously combust, I would make good use of my bottle of water by drinking it.
I do not, as a rule, harbour such feelings toward other people. I am fully aware of my own sins and imperfections. But when people commit to the unconscionable and then defend it, any concept of “benefit of the doubt” or “we all make mistakes” is well and truly cast aside.
I can feel another horror story coming on, but it’s not ready to be written yet. The ideas need to percolate more. And so, I must bide my time.
My back has been giving me grief the past few days. Today, though, it has been plain nasty.
By the last lesson of the day, the spasms were so bad it was all I could do not to cry in front of my students. Then, as soon as most of the students had left the building, I started the slow, painful walk to my car.
Getting home was a relief. The process of lying down was no fun, and it still took some time for the spasms to ease.
So how did I get to be in such a bad way? I sat down at work for more than fifteen minutes. Sadly, that’s all it takes.
Since my spinal surgery last October, Sitting has been a huge issue for me. I can walk, I can even manage stairs, which I had really struggled with for a few years prior to that. But if I sit on a regular chair for any period of time, I am in pain. The more tired I am, the worse it is.
So, the only sitting I tend to do these days is in the car on the way to and from work. That, too, can be exhausting.
My current physiotherapist insists that it’s just my brain telling me my back might hurt.
I disagree. Those spasms are not the fruit of my subconscious spine having a panic attack. That level of pain is actually my back hurting– and way more than it should.
I’ve been doing the exercises and stretches, and there just doesn’t seem to be any improvement.
So, I’m going to listen to my body and not the physio. Well, not that one, anyway. I’m going back to my former physiotherapist and I’m going back to the doctor, because I can’t keep doing this.
It’s been seven months since my surgery, and I should be able to sit long enough to have dinner or do some work without suffering for it by now.
This weekend we’re attending a family reunion in Anglesea. Just before lunch was served, we sat in a room full of relatives and listened as one of our cousins shared a reflection on relationships among family.
He said, “Think about tthe friendships and relationships you have. Consider the negative, the strained, and the unhealthy…”
“Never mind about the unhealthy,” I muttered. The cousin sitting beside me laughed.
“Can you imagine if they all went Marie Kondo on me?” I continued.
“Does she bring me joy?”
“No, she brings sarcasm, snark, inappropriate humour and painful honesty.”
There is something extraordinary about seeing a book you have written hit the shelves on release day.
Months of work. Writing. Refining. Painstaking editing. Preparing a marketing plan and creating ads.
And then the day comes, and you wait for the clock to tick over. Because time is a contrary beast, it drags its heels and makes you wait.
The waiting, though, is as exciting as it is tiresome. It really is a lot like waiting for Christmas or a birthday,
There is another layer of joy in this anticipation for me. After several really challenging years, it feels as though 2019 is starting in a very positive way that closes the door on those painful chapters.
That’s because while there are still poems in this collection that explore the darkness and the shadows that can plague us, there is a greater focus on looking at experiences and challenges with the clarity of hindsight that enables us to see through the deceptions and illusions to which we so often fall prey.
I see in many of these poems a fulfilment of the desperation expressed in some of my darker work. There is, quite frankly, more light and more hope .
It is that positivity and hope that I intend to carry into the new year.
Today was the last day of term and the end of the school year.
The last two weeks since I returned to work after my surgery have been brutal and I feel like I have run a marathon, especially having had dad in hospital again at the same time, but I’m proud of myself for doing it, and looking forward to a very well-earned rest.
One of the things I really enjoy doing on this one particular day of the year is turning all my morning alarms off. It may take all of ten seconds, but it’s a ritual that restores my sense of “owning” my time again. I love being able to embrace my inner night owl once more, and take my daylight hours at a slower pace.
Today I saw my neurosurgeon for my six week post-surgery check up.
The short story is that he is extremely pleased with how I have healed and the way in which I have managed my recovery.
He showed me the MRI scan that prompted him to have me sent to Melbourne for surgery. Holy Toledo, I had no idea a disc would make such a mess when it ruptured. There is a very good reason they used the word “debris” to describe it.
He said the pain I still have is normal for the healing I still need to do, especially given that I am also dealing with fibromyalgia which can add to the inflammation of absolutely anything in the body at a moment’s notice. I still have to rest and pace myself, but any pain from the surgery should be gone within three months, which is good to know.
There are, however, some things he has advised me not to do, in the interests of maintaining my other lower lumbar discs as they are a little degraded. No gardening/digging, no vacuuming or cleaning the loo, minimal bending to the floor and no heavy lifting. If something causes discomfort, it is to be avoided so that I preserve the other discs.
All in all, the outcomes are very positive because a. I can walk, work, drive, and be independent, and b. I don’t actually like doing any of the things the surgeon told me not to do.
So, this is most likely going to be my last “update” on my adventures with Explodo-Disc. It’s nice to be able to say that it should be all onward and upward from now on. I’m looking forward to that.
It’s just over four weeks today since my spinal surgery, and I am really happy to be able to say that things are going very well.
My efforts toward moving better, walking further, regaining my strength and working toward a return to work before the end of the year have been yielding good results.
I am able to stand longer, sit longer, walk further and manage my pain better than I was even just a week ago. I have driven on my own, for ten minutes each way, and then twenty, to build up my ability to drive to Warrnambool for work.
On Friday night my husband drove me to Warrnambool – a 45 minute drive – so that I could attend to the graduation dinner for my senior high students who have now finished their formal school education. I didn’t last the whole night, but I did get to wish my past students well. I was really pleased to be able to do that because I wanted to show them that they mean a lot to me and that I am enormously proud of each one of them.
This was a huge achievement for me – it was my first “big outing” post-surgery, and I am proud of myself not just for getting there, but also for recognising my limits and leaving when I needed to. As soon as I was home i cracked out the really big pain meds, and went to bed.
On Saturday, I went back to Warrnambool with my cousin Angela, who just happens to be my partner in crime when it comes to Charlie Bear collecting. We both have a penchant for those particular bears, so an invitation to celebrate Charlie Bears birthday and witness the unveiling of the annual birthday bear was one we were both keen to accept.
I didn’t adopt the anniversary bear reserved for me: she is beautiful, but too pink for my taste. Anyone who knows me knows that the only time I like Pink is in my music collection, so that bear went home with Angela instead. I adopted a little black bear named Teddy and a little panda named Bobble instead. They will both be featured soon in my #abearandabook posts on Instagram.
I came home having coped really well with my second trip to Warrnambool in two days. It was a deliberate decision to do back-to back trips, because that’s what I am going to have to do when I return to work.
Today I drove to Camperdown again with a different purpose in mind. I will tell you more about that tomorrow when the details of my mission can be made public, but I can tell you that today’s significant achievement was walking down a set of steps – and back up again later – without pain. I can’t remember when that last happened, but it was at least a decade ago.
I am very optimistic about returning to work on Tuesday. I know I have to take it easy and not overdo things, but I am keen to do what I can to pick up the pieces of my life and see what I can do with them. We”ll see how it goes!
Just for context, the world was still in the grip of the Great Depression, Hitler had not yet risen to power in Germany, Thomas Edison had just passed away, and Al Capone had just been sent to prison for tax evasion. Don Bradman was playing cricket for Australia and Phar Lap had won
My father grew up in Rotterdam in The Netherlands before moving to Australia with his parents and sisters. Life was certainly different after WWII, and even more different on the other side of the world where the seasons were back to front, everyone spoke English, and water swirled down the drain in the opposite direction.
If someone had told Dad in 1951 that those were not the biggest changes he would encounter in his life, he probably wouldn’t have believed them. There was, however, so much more to come, such as:
Marriage. Dad and Mum married in 1953 and enjoyed almost 58 years together.
Four amazing and incredibly talented kids.
A change of career from industrial chemistry to bookstore owner.
Digital books and music.
Dad has taken it all in his stride. He hasn’t let new things scare him off or make him feel obsolete. Time after time, he has shown his willingness and aptitude to give something new a red hot shot.
He hasn’t always found new technology easy, but once he’s got the hang of it, he’s proven that he can send a text or an email, make a call, and waste time on Facebook and Instagram as effectively as anyone can. He has been studying Biblical Hebrew online. He has the Kindle app on his iPad, on which he reads the books his daughter has written, which he has purchased online from Amazon. He also uses the iPad to listen to his son’s sermons and keep in touch with his relatives around the world. His grandchildren send him pictures of their kids via instant message, and he saves them on his phone to look at them again later.
I’m proud of my dad. Things aren’t always easy for him now, especially health-wise, but he’s still going and he’s still doing his best to enjoy all those things that make his life interesting and entertaining.
At the age of 87, he is not only the father of four but also grandfather of seven and great-grandfather to six.
He’s had a quiet day today, but he has been spoilt with a few special treats and received some phone calls from friends and family that he has really enjoyed. We’ve enjoyed some time together, too, and I treasure the moments where we can still just hang out and enjoy each other’s company.
I know it won’t last forever. Nothing does.
But my dad is still on the wicket with a score of 87, not out. Howzat?
I love a good family story or tradition, especially one that gets etched into the conversation patterns and banter for years to come. A moment of humour or a funny experience becomes part of who we are, both individually and collectively.
One of those stories half belongs to our great friend, Lindsay. He is a super nice person, and we’ve been friends for at least twenty years.
On one particular occasion maybe fifteen years ago, maybe more, he and I were outside doing some work on the farm that my husband and I were living on, and where Lindsay was a regular and most welcome visitor. I can’t remember what were talking about, but I remember this part of the conversation vividly.
We laughed. We told my husband the story. And it stuck. We still “do the routine” at least once a week. It honestly never gets old.
Monday was one of those days. After the lines were said and the laughter was had, I thought for a while, as I have often done before, about how clever a comeback it was.
I also thought about exactly what I am full of. It wasn’t much of a surprise to me when those thoughts began to turn into a poem. That’s what my thoughts do.
Now that I am making more progress in my recovery from my spinal surgery and I am moving a little more freely, I’ve decided to be more deliberate and purposeful about starting to retrain my muscles and building up some stamina for both my body and my mind.
Today I got out some pencils and a book, and started colouring, which is always something that makes me happy and peaceful. It’s also something I can do standing at the kitchen bench. I don’t have to do it all at once – it’s something I can do, and leave, and go back to through the day.
It may not seem like much, but getting this much done is a big achievement for me. I have been largely horizontal and only walking fairly short distances -although frequently – since the surgery on my spine on October 19.
Since my last update on my recovery, the first lot of bruising has faded to a dull shadow and the deeper bruising has begun to come to the surface now, so I am still all the colours of the rainbow, but the pain is less intense and more manageable now. I’ve ventured out of the house and walked around the yard, and begun to do light things around the house like folding laundry and doing dishes. Things that exhausted me at first are easier now, which is really encouraging. I have, however, learned the hard way that I am not ready for cutting pumpkin (it was just a little bit of butternut) or bending to get things out of low places. You don’t know until you try, right? Suffice to say that dinner on Monday was delicious, but I paid for it on Monday night and yesterday. The aggravation has settled now, though, much to my relief.
Sitting for any length of time is still an issue: I’m currently managing about ten minutes at a time before I have had enough. That means I will have to be ready to stand up most of the day when I go back to work in a couple of weeks. I will have exams to mark and papers to grade, so this seems like a good way to begin to prepare for that sort of thing. I can gradually build up to standing for longer periods of time without feeling any pressure to “perform”.
I also plan to start walking a bit further than I have been, especially now that I am a bit more confident and steady on my feet.
I fully understand that healing and recovery can’t be rushed, but I think that small progress in these ways will only help me to get stronger. And when I have had enough each time, my bed or my recliner will still be here waiting for me.
Today I am feeling positive and encouraged, which is also helpful to my healing and easier to live with all round.