Calendar Giveaway: How to Just Be!

Giveaway

Do you love the first page of a brand new calendar or diary? All that blank possibility?  I do. I’m a sucker for a good calendar.  For me, the images really matter, and lots of white space for jotting down info. Each year, we are lucky enough to be on Be Couper’s Christmas Calendar gift list.  She’s a photographer and is responsible for all the shots on this blog that look any good.  (The snapshots that don’t, are my inexpert phone shots!)  Be curates 12 of her favourite shots each year and compiles them into a calendar. This coming year’s calendar surpasses the last.  The photos are even more breathtaking.  I love seeing what she finds through her lense across each year…  if you like her photos, too, you will love her calendar!  If you haven’t seen them yet, use the search function there on the right.  Type in ‘just Be‘ and you’ll find them.

You can also find her stock photography for sale here.

This year, Be Couper has given me two calendars to give away here on the Chronic-ills of Rach!
Does one of them have your name on it?

Would you like to be in to win?

All you have to do to get in the draw is comment below.

Tell me one thing that helps you to just ‘BE’.
eg. ‘being with my family helps me to just ‘BE’.

I will put all the entries into a hat on Sunday the 4th January, draw a winner and notify by email.  Entries can be from anywhere in the world.  NZ Post and I will get it to you 😉  You don’t have to have Dysautonomia to enter either, you just have to love beauty and like a bit of a giveaway comp!  What’s not to love?!

Be Couper Yellow Skies

 

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And the winners are…
Leah Gullan and Emily Doddrell!

 

Medicine’s Missing Link

DoctorandtheDollI’m reading a fascinating book at the moment.  I’ll review it on here once I have finished it, but for now, I just want to write about an issues it has already raised for me about our medical system as it is presently.
The book is written by a doctor.  It’s about being a doctor in the States and the ways things have changed since he started being a doctor.  It’s a similar story to what I’ve heard from friends here, who are specialists and GPs, too.  Medicine isn’t what it was.

What ever happened to that old fashioned community stalwart:
‘your’ local doctor?

I used to have a GP, but then I moved far away from her rooms, had babies, moved on with life. I started going to the super clinic close to our house.  It was convenient to take the kids there, cheaper by far and had on-site x-ray and various clinics, as well as a pharmacy.  Every time we went, we’d see a different doctor.  Half of our allocated fifteen minutes would be spent with the GP trying to decipher what the last doctor had recorded in the notes.  So I would tell them why I was there, what we talked about the last time, where it was at, as I recalled it.  If the kids needed to be examined, or a script written, it would happen next.  But more often than not, the worries that had taken me in to the GP were met with “she/he seems happy, it’s probably nothing”.  I would leave, no less worried and even more annoyed for the time spent incubating germs in the waiting rooms.

As seems to be the story shared in mother’s groups across the country, sometimes, at the big clinics, things get missed.  My ‘happy’ daughter was actually suffering from severe ear infections.  Without treatment, scar tissue formed across her ear canal rendering her deaf on one side. I had frustratingly visited the clinic with her several times, enduring that patronising glance (some) doctors give mothers.  Each time, asking about her ears. Each time, they looked in her ears, smiled at her and said she was fine.  When her speech began to change, we sought alternative help. An ear nurse specialist took a look with a microscopic camera, tested her hearing and explained what was going on.  If the doctors had ‘known’ my girl, they would have recognised that a smile didn’t mean she was happy. It meant she was being polite to the grinning doctor.  If they had known me, they would have understood that I wasn’t being a neurotic mother.

We have since moved again.  Enter, a new GP, close to our home but not part of a clinic franchise.  She is getting to know us and learning our back story.  It’s a relief to have a relationship with a GP again, someone to take care of all the little bits and pieces that would otherwise be missed.  The niggles, the ‘normal’ wellness issues of a family.  It’s great to know that she is receiving all the correspondence from my specialists, that she is being copied in on test results, referrals, discharge summaries.   For the first time since I got sick, I am less worried about keeping track of all my own records, I know that she is onto it all, taking primary care of my health, in the old fashioned way.

When did it all change? It used to be this way!  Everyone had ‘their doctor’, who if necessary, would communicate with anyone who needed more information.  Their doctor would be the one to refer them to specialists or hospital if needed, the communication channels would be clear, simple, unclouded.  The only person deciphering their own notes was them. The only person other professionals needed to contact, was them.  When we super-sized community medicine into super clinics, we lost something so important.  To ‘know’ a patient is to be able to make better assessments of their situation. Perhaps, knowing a patient also helps doctors to care for their patients, to see them as more than another fifteen minute walking infection risk in a busy, busy day.

In the book I am reading, Brendan Reilly, an Internal Medicine specialist, expands on the issue from the point of view of the ‘hospitalist’ doctor;
“We’re caught in the middle of an

It’s a frustration patients all over the world, feel.  Dysautonomia can affect all organ systems controlled by the Autonomic Nervous System.  We don’t fall neatly into any one sub-specialty.  Depending on the presentation of our autonomic dysfunction, we will have any combination of various specialists.  Neurologists, Opthalmologists, Cardiologists, Endocrinologists, Gastroenterologists, Urologists.  Coordinating all of these in the past, would have been your local doctor.  Your General Practitioner.  Here in New Zealand, depending on your district health board, (and it seems on your particular pathway into the health system) you might have been appointed a General Physician.  General Physicians are part of the Internal General Medicine team of the hospital.  They see long term patients who require care from more than one sub-speciality.  The are the problem solvers, the diagnosticians. They should trouble shoot your symptoms, find the cause of your ills, devise a plan for your care and coordinate with your specialists and GP.  If you are with a clinic, however, your letters may never get in front of the same person. Your care, as a result, may well be compromised.

I don’t know what the solution is.  Medicine is making big advances all the time, things are changing; the way that care is delivered is being re-designed all the time for better cost effectiveness, among other objectives.  But are these changes helping the increasing numbers of people with multiple co-morbidities, long term systemic chronic illnesses?   The reason I returned to the pricier option of a local GP, was because I needed to know that the communication channels were clear and straightforward for all involved in my care.  It was a good move.  It’s been, not so much back to the future, as forwards to the past. And while it is still possible to have a local doctor, in rooms one block from my house, I’ll be staying with her. She’ll be ‘knowing’ me and my family.

I found this quote when I was looking for the classic Norman Rockwell image I used for this post.  It comes from the Penn Medicine Newsletter:

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I’m curious:
Do you have a local GP?
  Why or why not?
Do you see the same one every time?
Are you happy with how that works out for your overall care?

Life Lessons from Lulu

It’s been a week since Lulu came into our family.  She is a horse.  She is the horse I said we would never own, the horse that was way out of our budget, the horse that was a dream only and very unlikely to ever come true.  Until the phone call came saying that she existed, she was available.  Our daughter’s riding coach, Alex urged us to just do it.

But I’m not well enough to help!   I thought.
“She’s a beautiful pony with an excellent background”, said Alex. “She’d be great for Bee”.  I figure when an experienced horsewoman tells you that, it is good to listen.

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We agonised for half a day.  Thinking about our budget, our girl, how hard she has been working towards her goals as a rider.  How hard she has been working in general.  When finally, the budget was worked out and a decision was made, I called Alex.  “YES!” I squealed, barely understanding the magnitude of that one small word.   She called back with what I felt sure would be confirmation that Lulu was ours.  But the news was far more devastating.

“She was sold half an hour before we called them back”, Alex groaned.  The bottom dropped out of the cloud of happiness I was perched on. I decided it mustn’t be the right thing.  Decided the timing must be wrong.  Decided it was a sign we should have said, no.  Who are we, anyway, to even think we could be part of the horsey world?  Our daughter, maybe, but us?  We’re clueless!  My insecurities herded all my hopes back up into a tight little knot and locked them away again.

Two weeks later, Alex texted.
“Lulu might still be ours, I’ll keep you posted”.  And then, all of a sudden, she was.  Her new owner sold her to us.  Alex had called and made a case; the new owners must have had a soft spot, because they agreed to let us have her. She was ours. The money changed hands.  The pony was on her way. The plans for the big surprise were underway.  Somewhere deep inside of me, my own little girl heart swelled up with joy.  Lulu was already wound tightly with my heartstrings.  My buried hopes began to creep out of their hiding place.

When my daughter met her pony for the first time, she was rendered speechless.  Not a sound came out.  She walked over to her, took hold of the lead rope and gazed up into that beautiful pony’s big brown eyes.  She didn’t even ask her name, just stood in quiet awe, looking at that big grey girl.  Her own horse. When she had gathered herself.  She croaked out ‘thank you’s, to Alex and to us.  It would be half an hour before she could tear herself away and wrap her arms around us.  Snuggled into her Dad’s chest, all she could breathe was “I have my own PONY”.  We let our tears gather across her warm blonde head.  Her dreams, our dreams; so closely entwined.

Photographed by Beverley Couper

Lulu is cared for by Alex at her stables.  Bee heads out there three times a week to exercise, wash, groom and feed her.  I was so worried that my illness would make supporting Bee with her pony, impossible. But it isn’t. It’s just like anything else.  I have to pace, I have to prepare. And then, when we are there together, I have to push through. But the payback from that beautiful pony!  It’s worth every effort.  She is the relief of joy when it all seems too bleak.  She is a velvety muzzle and a kind eye. A warm reassuring flank.  A wise girl, teaching my girl, and I, lessons we will never forget.   She brings much more than she takes. We did the right thing. Here is what she taught me today, our first day out with her on our own.

Hold On
Lulu is a big pony. I am a big girl, and my girl Bee is all wiry muscle.  But the strength of one horse outflanks both of us easily.  In her paddock, Lulu was accompanied by four really big sporthorses. Tall, elegant horses with lots of muscle.  After Bee slipped the lead rope through the ring on Lulu’s collar, they came galloping up towards us in a show of frightening intimidation. They all converged on the gate, and Lulu, at once.  The horses began to circle and agitate, Lulu was feeling spooked as they pushed her into the corner.  My mother-vision saw trouble (you know, that fast forward reel of all the things that could go wrong? Those horrifying action shots all mothers watch in their mind’s eye?) ….  Bee let the lead rope out, but held it firm, taking quietly to Lulu.  The horses thought better of staying, turned and took off again.  Lulu remained. If Bee hadn’t held on, she’d have been running the length of that paddock playing chasey.  Hold on.  That’s what I learned from Lulu in that moment.  It might seem like the circumstances are stacked against you. It might seem like nothing is going to turn out right. Like the scary dangers, way bigger than your knowledge of things, might all come to fruition.  But hold on.  Hold on to your hopes for wellness, hold on to your hope for treatment, for answers, for more medical research.  Then, when the scary stuff abates, you’ll be hitched to your dream and ready to ride.

Photographed by Beverley Couper

Look where you want to go.
We were bringing Lulu up from a lush grassy paddock where she had been holidaying with her horse buddy Spiderwings.  She didn’t want to leave all that delicious grass behind, certainly not without any of the others.  I guess if I was a horse, I would have preferred to stay there with my buddy, too!  Leading a reluctant horse along a country path is impossible if her will is stronger than yours.  Bee and I, together, struggled to take her along the path. She turned five times, pushing us away so she could head back. Eventually, Bee took hold of her lead rope with steely determination. “This. Way.” she said firmly to Lulu.  Then she lifted her gaze to where  she wanted to take her, and began to lead. Lulu followed, just like that.  Whenever Bee’s gaze wandered, Lulu would try to go back. But when she kept her eyes on her destination, Lulu let her lead.  So it got me thinking.  I know my purpose, but I can’t fulfil my purpose if I don’t have my eye on my destination. Thanks Lulu, for showing me something about how to move forward.  I’ve been floundering a bit lately, wondering if I truly do have something useful to say here on my blog. I think I do.  But I’ve been looking down, sinking in my doubts.  The only way forward is that I must lead myself, eyes up, one step in front of another, heading to where I want to be.

Photographed by Beverley Couper

Work Hard
There is much that goes into a short horse ride. There’s retrieving the horse from the paddock. Easy peasy, (huh)! There’s actually getting her from there to the stables.  Then there is tacking up.  My nine year old heaved the saddle across to the arena fence with a grin on her face.  Saddle blanket, saddle, girth strap, stirrups, bridle, reins. Check, check again. Finally, satisfied that it was all on correctly, Bee climbed up onto the mounting block and swung her leg over Lulu.  They exercised in the dusty arena, in full sun, for an hour. I watched them with wonder from the cool comfort of the car. They are new to each other, but there is something good happening between them. There is trust.  Security.  They’re taking it slow, feeling each other out.  Getting it right. Bee holds herself with greater poise, she leans in more often to murmur lovely things to her girl, Lulu. Then, when it is all over and most kids would collapse into a chair and gulp down some water, asking for food; Bee takes Lulu to the wash bay.  Can you imagine what a big job it is for a kid to wash a pony?  She does it. I ask if she wants a hand, “No mum.  I’ll do it”.  After washing, there is spongeing, taking off the excess water, making up the feed, feeding, packing up, putting the summer blanket back on, and leading back to the paddock. She eventually climbs back into the car.  She’s tired.  But her face is glowing.  I ask her how she feels, “Satisfied,” she says, “I’ve seen my girl, I’ve had a ride, she’s all tucked up.  It’s feels good”.  And I see it.  Hard work feels good.  I think about how the type of work I do has changed.  I work at words now. I smile at the thought of how satisfying that is.  Lulu, you remind me.
If I want to feel better, I need to work hard, in whatever ways I can.

Connect
Over the years, I’ve met lots of horses.  Since Bee first dragged me into the world of pony obsession, we’ve watched her infatuation with many, and I have harboured a few pony-love-flames of my own. I’ve spent time snuggling with all manner of horse personalities.  Nick, Star, Jonte, Candy, Dougall, Scooter, Mellow, EightBall, Billie, Pretty, Brio, Ace, Beau and now, Lulu. Each one of them has given me gifts when I connect with them. Solace, empathy, compassion, peace, inspiration, kindness, warmth, love.  Horses are so generous with the clueless parents of their riders.  I have been greeted with such grace and always I come away with wonder. Today, as I quietly freaked out at wilful Lulu on the country path, it occurred to me that I hadn’t even said hello to her before we wrenched her from her buddies to follow us. I hadn’t taken the time to connect.  Bee had, though. And it was Bee she followed.  Half my size and twice as compelling. I took this lesson from that moment: Take the time to connect with the people (and animals!) in your world.  You will be surprised by the gifts their presence will bring, and the things you may learn from them in the connecting.

Photographed by Beverley Couper

What a day.  What beautiful lessons to be learned.
Thanks Lulu, thanks Bee for letting me learn from your pony.

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Have you been feeling overwhelmed and afraid about the circumstances you face?
Hold on.
Have you been feeling like you will never make it to where you want to be?
Look in the direction you are going.  And lead.
Have you been floundering about how to achieve your dreams?
Work hard.
Have you been missing the beauty life holds, right there, just out of reach?
Connect.

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All the photographs in this piece, except for the first, were taken by our friend Be Couper.  You can find her work, on a range of subjects, here.

Getting Grown-Up

Happy New Year

Every New Years my hubster and I sit out on our balcony after the kids have gone to sleep.  We eat fancy cheeses, oat crackers, pepitoes and plump olives… and my favourite; grilled artichoke hearts.  We toast another year. We talk about how it has been and stubbornly focus on the achievements, congratulating ourselves for what we have managed.  Then we plan the next year together. As the years pass and my body presents more challenges, we’ve been surprised by how much we can still do.  Together.  2014 has been a good year for us as a couple. It’s been good for us as a family.

It’s taken all year, but our minor renovation downstairs is complete. Happy sigh! A good year for finishing things, tying up loose ends.  Getting more organised.  We are starting to feel like grown ups. I turned forty this year; next year, he’ll turn fifty.  Takes a while, getting to this grown-up feeling!  Once upon a time, we used to go to New Year’s Eve parties.  That’s just not feasible anymore, and you know what?  We don’t even miss the sparkle and excitement, the social stress, the late night, the hangover.  Last year we rang in the New Year at 10pm and tucked ourselves up in bed.  It was perfect.

We have a decoration on our tree, it is a hanging, lidded gift box, crammed with tiny notes.  This year, when we were decorating the tree, my son asked me what all the folded pieces of paper inside were. He had never noticed them before.  They are all our plans for all the New Years. Written in tiny script, hopes and goals and aspirations, folded into the smallest possible wad and added to the years before.  I showed him and his interest skipped off elsewhere, the way it does when you are seven and Mum shows you something less magical than you expected. We, however, always look at previous years nostalgically when we add a new one! It’s amazing how many of them have come true.  Is that because we wrote them down? Planned for them?  Is it really that simple?

What are you planning for in 2015?

Next year holds so many unknowns for me.  I am supposed to start IVIG treatment.  That will run for six months. I’ve been accepted into a leadership programme, for people who show promise as a voice for social change.  For me, that means really working on using my voice to promote understanding of invisibile illness and invisible disability in New Zealand, building leadership skills, increasing my network.  It’s an incredibly cool opportunity, but I don’t know yet if the first will preclude me from the latter, I’m waiting for some dates to know for sure. I feel like I am suspending my excitement in case it doesn’t all fall into place.  But, OH!  What if it does?!

What is certain for me about next year is that I will be wife-ing, mothering, writing, and getting involved with life in as many ways as I can.

I’ll be spending a bit of time (as much as I can manage) out in the countryside, where my daughter rides; drinking in the goodness of green paddocks and the sweet smell of horse feed.  I’ll be stroking the warm neck of her wise and good pony and watching my girl follow her bliss, hair flying out behind, grin on her face.  It’s the best soul food on the planet, watching your children do the things they love.

I’ll be wrapping my arms around my little guy as often as I can. I feel that he is moving on up into a new stage and the little boy sweetness of his cuddles is making way for boundless, urgent energy. He’s a big kid now, a purple belt in karate, a story-writing, poison-ball-tramp-champ-justice-leaguer. He’s growing up and I am treasuring the last vestiges of my baby boy.

I’ll be working on some more pro-active health measures.  I want to improve my gut motility somehow, so I am going to work on what I feed it, I’ll be giving my intestines a rest in the very early New Year by starting a liquid diet.  I had a gastrograffin study which showed, when compared with my recent gastric emptying study, that liquid transits through my intestines with much more ease than solid food. So goodbye cake! I’ll be souping it up instead (know any great soup recipes?). I also want to do all that I can for my general mobility and my fitness, so I am going to the rehab centre to work on my exercise program. I’m excited and hopeful about what that might do.

I’ll be here, blogging about my life with dysautonomia, and all the other things besides.  I’ll be connecting with you over on my Chronic-ills of Rach facebook page. I’ll be emailing, advocating, writing and doing the work I have been given to do.  There is so much more of it.   Hang around with me, I’ve just got this feeling that 2015 is going to be a good one!

How do you celebrate New Years?  Can you?  Do you have little rituals too?

Togethery

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My cousin just shared this and I thought.  Pooh.  I love you.
wishing you all a togethery, remembery Christmas, full of love!
-Rach

Petits ‘fours’

I’m joining in a blog post idea suggested by my blogging friends Clare and Nettie. It’s a series of questions with answers of four. I’d love to hear your petits-fours too!  Just copy and paste the questions into the comments field, I’d like to get to know you better and this is a fun and easy way!  In-four-mation makes the world go round.  Bahaha!

Four names that people call me, other than my real name.

Rachiepoo
Ragey
Fat Foo
Mumma

Four jobs I have had (not counting current jobs)

Cut Price Deli chick
IT help desk
Telephone marketer
(yep.  be kind to those poor souls, they’d rather not be calling you, either)
A blue body-painted extra in a promotional event.

Four movies I have watched more than once

Toy Story
The Piano
Whale Rider
We bought a Zoo

Four books I’d recommend

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
North of Normal by Cea Person
Purple Hibiscus (or any of Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie’s books)
The Good Women of China by Xinran

Four places I’ve lived

Christchurch; enduring memories are icy puddles on winter mornings and frost on my woollen school socks.  I had a pink school uniform, a tree hut in the willow tree. And I met two lasting friends, Rachel.G and Dana.

Papua New Guinea; land of Islands and Mountains, sunshine and breeze. This country is a big part of who I am today. All the memories fill my heart and mind and have shaped my personality.

Melbourne; in a boarding house, far far from home.  It was in a huge city, yet my world there was very small.

Sydney; my first ‘grown up’ home, a little flat with gingham kitchen curtains.  I loved keeping house and making everything just so. But arranging cushions does not a marriage make!  Thankfully, happy endings have been had by all who lived in that little Hornsby nest.

Four places I have been

China (loved the alleyway markets in Tian Jin)
USA (Colorado is my favourite state so far)
Germany (au-pair to a family in Munich)
England (where I met rellies who made me appreciate the marvel of genes)

Four places I would rather be right now

There’s no where I would rather be, but if I HAD to be somewhere else… and there were no limitations hefted on me by reality…

I’d be at Vista Verde in Colorado, having another magical white Christmas.  But only if everyone I love could be there too (yes, that includes you Nettie, and all the Pipsters, my dear friends, my girls from the Dysautonomia community and my lovely readers)!  We’d book out the whole ranch and build gingerbread houses and sing carols with the cowboys and take sleigh rides, or ride horses through the snow and drink mulled wine! There would be hot spas looking out over the snow covered Lodge, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, Cholly’s homebaked cookies, cedar scented cabins, snow tubing and twinkling trees lighting the snow-ploughed path home each night! Ohhhh!  Lucky lucky people that are doing just that right now.

(here’s some photos from when we did it for real)

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I’d be in Darwin: so I could see the precious bump that is going to be my little nephew next year, and hug his much-missed parents this Christmas; see their new house and get a fix for what their world looks like.  I’ve only seen it in my imagination and I want to know what it feels like in that part of the world.

I’d be in Sydney: so I could wish my bro and his beautiful wife and kids a Merry Christmas in person, which would involve my arms around all of them, lots of loud and enthusiastic singing and lots of floating in the pool, ‘cause Sydney, like Darwin, is too HOT!

I’d be in Gisborne: so I could marvel anew at how giant my nephews are becoming, meet the new puppy, chat and reminisce about my Mum with my sister. Dose up on those sisterly cups of tea, and wish them all a beautiful Christmas too.

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Four things I don’t eat

offal
strange parts of animals
kimchi
pork buns (after an experience once on a ship that I cannot shake from my amygdyla)

Four of my favourite foods

(I had to put these into categories, because I couldn’t stop at four!)

Pavlova, Chocolate, Cake, Cinnamon Rolls
Fresh garden veggies; asparagus, snow peas, capsicum, grilled artichokes
Venison, lamb, crayfish and salmon
Fresh still-warm white bread (I know.  Evil.  Yet delicious!)

Four TV shows that I watch

Game of Thrones
Downton Abbey
Graham Norton
Anything on the Living Channel

Four things I am looking forward to this year (and into 2015)

Finally trialling treatment and hopefully having favourable results
Hearing back about a study opportunity… and hopefully, DOING it!
Spending heavenly horse time with my daughter’s new pony (shhh!  still a secret from her!)
Writing more…

 

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Four things I am always saying

“WHO was the last person in the toilet?!”
“Try again, using calm words…”
“…it’s a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, the part of our bodies that controls all the automatic functions”
“FFS” (it’s swearing, so I won’t translate)

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Come on!  Tell me your fours…

(copy and paste this into your comment)
Four namesFour jobs
Four movies
Four books
Four places lived
Four places been
Four places I’d rather be
Four foods I don’t eat
Four foods I love
Four TV shows
Four things I’m looking forward to this year
Four things I say

Hope Floats

_...just give hope a chance to float up.

There’s always something happening.  Something threatening to pull us under.

Sometimes it is big enough or politically scary enough to warrant getting onto our news service. Where we can watch it through our shiny big screens and then turn away, horrified.  Soundbytes of a few seconds aimed at providing the juiciest details, so that even children can grasp it all. But we can carry on breathing air, scented with the pine Christmas tree; we get up and move into another room.  Guiltily move our thumbs across to the ‘off’ button.  Get on with our pre-Christmas to do lists.

It’s overwhelming to think of the things that are always going on, somewhere in our world. When I contemplate the number of human beings that are being tortured, raped, imprisoned, separated forever from their loved ones, killed. I don’t want to stay with those thoughts.  I don’t want to consider the reality of all that bad news.  My mother heart feels it personally.  Knows, that for the people inside those news stories, it won’t finish in time for the next headline. Their stories will go on to affect them and their families for generations. It’s a big and painful reality. Small wonder we choose not to watch.  How fortunate we are that we get to choose not to, to postpone considering these harsh realities… until later, when we don’t have the small ones beside us, asking questions from those beautiful, wide-eyed faces.  Not yet.  I don’t want to explain all that to them yet.

In my own little world, I cling to the presence of a strange hope that is always there, tugging me upward.  It is such a buoyant human trait. It is an odd thing, when we are all mortal, that we have developed this protection mechanism from the brutal truth.  We are all subject to tragedy, suffering, loss.  At some point in our lives, our exemption cards will run out and we will be visited by human heartache.  It’s a guarantee. It might not reach the news. It might not be considered newsworthy. But that moment might carry the worth of our entire human experience, or those of our loved ones. In that moment when suffering comes to visit, the worthiness of our own story will be carried by us, or by our loved ones.  In the fragility of our fragment of mortality.

I am always staggered by how hope renews itself, in the face of terrible odds. I remember, that movie with Harry Connick Junior and Sandra Bullock …not the storyline, but the title… ‘Hope Floats’, it has always stayed with me, that title.  How true it is.  We can be sinking in the quagmire, far from the light, drowning in despair.  We can be pulled under by the terrible things that have been hitting the headlines.  The realities of life with a progressive illness. The sadnesses and tragedies experienced by friends in our close circles this year, and the wider circles in our community, our country, our world.  We can think about all those difficult things, and when we feel ourselves going under, we can grab hold of our flotation device and float back up to the surface.  Our lungs fill with fresh air, our faces turning to the sunlight. We can believe that it is possible, all over again.

It’s not perfect.  But sometimes I reckon hope might just be the best mechanism our human race has as we hurtle through time on this little blue planet. Hope is bigger than love, because it comes in when we love is lost to us. Hope is bigger than peace, because it makes it possible for wars to end.  Hope is bigger than understanding, because we can’t always understand why people hurt people. Why people get sick.  Why suffering happens. Hope keeps us afloat when our own humanity pulls us down into the depths. Peace, love and understanding are the tenets for a brighter future. But we will never reach them if we don’t allow ourselves to be buoyed up with hope.

Hang on to hope.  Give it a chance. Let it pull you up from the depths.

Radioactive Pancake

On Friday, I was introduced to a new friend.

It was all part of my Gastric Emptying Study. The radiology department laced a pancake with radioactive isotopes and gave it to me to eat. They wanted to watch how well my body made short shift of my new friend. Considering what it was made of, it didn’t taste too bad, but I wouldn’t exactly have said that I wanted to hang around with it all day.  But regardless of my feelings on the matter,  my new friend decided that we had a special connection.   We were destined to be together, and four days later, here we still are.

Like the visitor who settles in for the duration, Radioactive Pancake wanted to stay close.  It liked me. It certainly liked my stomach. I managed to get it down my throat (without any maple syrup!  just dry old radioactive pancake).  Food, when you are fasting, is food. Hungry Rach is not fussy Rach.  So I swallowed that pancake down like a good girl. I sent it on its way.  But instead of moving on through, waving good bye at my epiglotis and seeing me ’round (sometime later in the bathroom) my new friend settled in for the morning.   It lay back there in my stomach, put it’s feet up and asked for a cuppa. Or five.

The idea of the test is that you swallow the pancake and they take pictures of you while you lie in a tube. Actually, you are not even in the pictures, the machine only captures the radioactive isotopes.  It measures where the pancake is in a series of shots. If your gastric system is working efficiently, after 2 hours, 90% of the pancake should have passed through your stomach.  If it isn’t, you have to stay for longer to get more photos taken.  Time lapse digestion. Or, more accurately, time lapse non-digestion.

I can only conclude that my tummy is a lovely spot to hang if you are a pancake.  That thing did not want to move. After a few hot drink inducements, and a few more hours, it eventually was persuaded to transit into the small intestines.  I finally got to leave the time-lapse-tube and go home.  It had taken a whole day.

Dear Radioactive pancake.  I know you are still in there.  I would like to suggest that perhaps you move to Russia where I believe there are all sorts of radioactive substances, somewhere in the vicinity of Chernobyl, who would happily befriend a pancake like you.  It’s been a ride, getting to know you, but I’ve got other stuff to be getting on with now.  ‘kay?

See ya later radioactive pancake-inator.  Don’t forget the toilet paper.

 

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Peas Please

In our house we have an adventurous eater, and a fussy eater. Thankfully, both love peas!  Especially fresh peas, straight from the pod.  They always clamour to do the shelling so they can sneak those green orbs into their mouth while I am not looking.
(He he heh!  Little do they know what a nutritional hit they are getting while I pretend not to notice!)
Thought I would share some pictures with you of our latest pea shelling episode.  How pretty are peas?

We love them straight out of the pod, sprinkled over salads or steamed with a blob of butter.
Mmmmmmm-mm!

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Jolly Holiday

FROM rach

 

School’s out. The holidays are here.  My usual writing time has been hit by the double sabotage of kid-time and christmas-time.  On top of those more lovely distractions, I’ve had a few hospital appointments to get through, a temporary change in my med regime and I’ve been feeling less chipper than usual.  So if I am a bit slow on the blog for a while, bear with me, I’ll be back.  Just taking some sensible measures to get through the next two weeks.  Merry Christmas beautiful people.  Your presence here with me keeps me going, keeps me thinking, keeps me hoping.  Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting and being there with me.
I wish you all a wonderful festive season full of the things that make your heart sing.