Monthly Archives: October 2016

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Surgery, death and post op recovery

Category : Family , Stress

Ok, a number of people are waiting on an update from me regarding surgery……here it is.

Suffice to say that I made it through ok, even though I did experience a looming sensation that I would die in surgery.  I know that sounds melodramatic, but for the first time in a long time, I really did think that luck and good management were not with me.  Maybe it’s because I recently lost an aunt who was admitted to hospital and she never came out.  And she looked fine in the photo I saw of her the day before she passed away.  It took me a long time to come to terms with it and I would suggest that given my mental state in the lead up to my own surgery, I can see that I have not dealt with it well at all.

I even broached the subject with Mark as to which kids would get what special and significant pieces of jewellery.  This conversation did not go well.  Mark refuse to listen.  I also told him that under no circumstances whatever, he was to sell all my card making and scrapbooking supplies for what I told him I purchased them for!  Bernie Butler, this is probably a job for you and mum to do if the time ever comes.

But all this got me thinking.  Since having kids, Mark and I have not finalised our wills.  Sure we have the main stuff covered, like the farm, the assets and the land.  But we don’t have the most important things covered.  Our kids.  This is a hard one.  But after having the shit frightened out of me in regards to this whole episode (not just the surgery but the whole thing), it has me thinking that we better get this stitched up.

But it is not as easy at it seems.  When you have a gaggle of kids, it is difficult ask people to take on that amount of responsibility.  Either the people you trust live too far away for the kids to keep their normal lives, or they have moved into a different phase of their own family existence, or age might be a factor with them.

I know that solicitors and legal professionals tell you to “just make the decision, put it in a drawer and move on”.  Really the chances that both Mark and I will die prior to at least Tom reaching age of consent is pretty low.  But it could happen.  And this surgery and my unfounded fear has bought it all rushing back at me.  So this is back in the table as far as a discussion.  And quite possibly, the older kids might be able to have some input into it all as well.   However, seeing as the 6 of us cannot agree on what take-away to have at dinner, the chances are we are going to be pulling names out of a hat for guardianship!  So get ready……it’ll be like winning the lotto!

But back to the surgery.  Well, Monday morning loomed fast….very fast considering I didn’t sleep very well overnight.  But as I was first off the rank, my wait time was about 3 minutes to get into pre-op and then about 30 minutes to get into anaesthetic.    Mark and I had to part ways at this point and I was getting more and more worked up.  Greg Malham, my surgeon, came in to see me and after I told him not to stuff it up he reassured me that he does these all the time and everything would be fine.  He said it would be much like me not letting any of my swimming kids drown when I worked…..he would not let me become a quadriplegic.

The anaesthetist, Arthur Penberthy, was a champ.  Quiet, funny and once I started crying because I was as nervous as shit, he knocked me out!  LOL.

The surgery took around 2hrs and I woke up in pain, feeling like I had been hit be a tractor and disorientated.  I know people were talking to me, but I dunno what they were saying.  I had a drain tube in my neck to relieve bruising and soreness, and a catheter because I can’t pee on heavy narcs.  Over the next few hours, the pain from my neck was really only localised inside my throat where they pull all your innards around and out of the way, but the pain in my back was something else.  I couldn’t lift my arm very well and I had weakness down the left side of my body.  I was drugged up enough so that this did make not a scrap of difference to me (except the pain), but Greg and the team were not happy and quickly shot me down for another MRI to make sure that everything was still where it should have been after surgery.


Greg came and spoke to me yesterday about the extent of the injury.  It turns out it was bad.  Quite bad.  Worse than he saw on the MRI.  I was one good knock away from being a quadraplegic.  And because of where the spinal cord injury was, I would have also been on a respirator for the rest of my life as well.   Of course, I was upset because I wasn’t being flippant with my health for all this time.  I simply have not been in any pain and had no idea had bad it actually was.  But everything is stable now; the new cage is in place, the screw are holding and as an added benefit, the scar I will end up with will be minor because of the way they stitch everything back up.  I will be fine.  And so long as I am a good girl and allow myself to heal properly, I will have no trouble resuming my normal lifestyle in the future with no risk to any part of my spine.

The weakness has also improved everyday.  When the drainage tube came out of my neck yesterday, the pain in my back disappeared.  So it must have been referred pain.  I am in pain of course still from surgery, but we are getting on top of it  They have these pain management teams that come around every day to see you.  They have change my meds around quite a bit and I think we have got it right with a new regime for me to go home with.

So with the catheter out, the drainage tube out, the IV out and the oxygen off, I think I am good to go home and face the mob…ahem, I mean the kids.  And sort out once and for all who will be the guardians of my galaxy if I wind up in a life threatening situation again.

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I am the Master

Category : Family

Have you ever done anything for your kids and they immediately think that you are the absolute BOMB at it?  No really, do they think that in their eyes, you are just fantastic at doing that particular thing?  Do they have that inbuilt knowledge that you have been practicing that particular task for years, perfecting it, just so you could trot it out to them?

Well, my 11yo son thinks all this and more of me when it comes to making……..wait for it………..PROFITEROLES!

Jesus Christ.

I am SO NOT THE BOMB in making these.  Have you ever tried making these bloody things?  They would have to be the most time consuming, fiddly, multiple stepped item of food that I have made.  Whoever came up with the concept of these bloody things can go stuff themselves full of the custard that fills them.  I detest you.

But because I don’t want to tarnish the iconic status that I have now achieved in my pre teen son’s eyes, I have to continue the sham that I actually like making them.  And what makes this even more laughable, is that I have made them – before yesterday – exactly once.  That’s right.  ONCE.  And I made something like 8.  Which were all gobbled up and barely touched the sides, so God know’s how any of them could say how they bloody tasted.

But Tom comes home a couple of weeks ago and tells me that for this year’s Mission Day (this year raising money for poor communities in Cambodia), that he and his mates are going to run a Baker Cat Stall (for the purposes of this story, Baker Cat is nothing).  It is essentially a bake stall.  And he has reliably told his friends that he – not me – will provide profiteroles.  Until of course he came home and told me that he needed 40 something profiteroles.  FORTY!!!!!  Oh FFS.

So here I am last night, whipping up the spongey outside casings and preparing the custard to go inside.  I ended up with 41 which I was mighty happy with until I discovered that I had undercooked half of them by 10 minutes so had to whack them back in the oven and pray that they did their magic and puffed up.  They mostly did.

But it didn’t stop there.  We were also to make Anzac bikkies, muffins and homemade lemonade [I should pop in a disclaimer here and say that I do have a thermomix, so making all this is not all that hard….except the bloody profiteroles that require multiple steps].  So this morning dawns with a perfect weather day and I have the Anzac bikkies, the muffins and the profiterole casing and custard all ready.  All I needed to do was fill the bloody casings smear them with chocolate and make the lemonade.  I would drop everything off at school at 11.30 ready for the 12pm Mission Day stalls.  It would be a breeze.

Except it wasn’t.

Dropping Henry at daycare this morning, I discovered I left his Epipens at home and had to drive all the way back to get them so I could deposit him out of my way.  The custard was so cold out of the fridge that it didn’t want to pipe into the casings.  I dropped some on the ground, which on it’s own was ok, but there was water on ground and they got wet.  Soggy profiteroles are no-one’s friend and certainly would not live up to the Michelin Star standard my son believes them to be.  So six bit the dust and the pigs will enjoy those.  Then I nearly ran out of chocolate.

An research interview which was to run 45mins from 10.30am, ran until 11.50am leaving me with 10 minutes to make the lemonade (which included getting the lemons off the tree….why do they never come off when you need them to?), shove everything into the car and zoom to the school.

Needless to say, the kitchen was a shambles of chocolate, globs of custard, spilt lemonade due to syphoning it into bottles, stickiness everywhere and lemon pulp over the bench.  And I looked like shit.  The upside was, the place smelled wonderfully of citrus!

But I rocked up to that stall with those 35 profiteroles, the Anzac bikkies, the muffins and the homemade lemonade and Tom thought I was the Master.  He proudly announced to his cohort that the profiteroles had arrived and now they could really raise some money.  And together with the popcorn machine (one we also supplied!), the chocolate fountain, the mint slices, the truffle balls, the honey joys and the slushy machine, those boys did raise money.  $35+ in fact.  Which is not too bad an effort considering they were selling things for 10 and 20 cents each!

Yes, I am a Master. And I hope to pass on the knowledge of multitasking to my young grasshopper.  But for now, I am thankful that he was thankful.  And that was enough for me today.

(oh and Baker Cat……check it out on YouTube where you get the music)bakercat

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Oh, can it get any worse?

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Category : Family , Stress

Ok, so 2016 has not been a great year.  In fact, it has been a bloody terrible year.  A number of my friends are also saying the same thing.  What happened?  What bad thing did we all do to deserve all this bad ju-ju?

In a nutshell, personally, we have been hit with the milk price to end all milk prices, rain that just won’t bloody stop,  have suffered a number of health related issues including a knee operation for Mark, gastro for the kids, food poisoning for me, and a resistant staph infection for Mark.

Many of you know that I recently had an extremely painful event that was caused by some nerves in my neck.  I had an emergency CT scan done and a follow up MRI which all pointed to some dodgy disc in my neck that seemed to be the cause.  Yesterday I had an appointment with a neurosurgeon in Melbourne who frankly and bluntly told me the truth.  And it is not pretty.  At all.

He told me that I have a disc that has moved out of it’s place and is now trying to crush the life out of my spinal cord.  For those that know anything about vertebrae, it is my c5/6 disc.  Unfortunately, it is already causing some spinal cord issues (nerves and reflexes) and – here is the whopper – if it is not operated on immediately, it is only a matter of time before I become a quadriplegic.

Are you freaking kidding me???!!

Things got very serious very quickly with him going into see the lady that books the surgeries and asking when various other attendants would be available.  He assumed that I had only had the symptoms for 2 or 3 weeks, not the 7 or 8 months (or more!) that I admitted to.  He told me that there was no way that he would allow a 46yo mum of four to become a quadriplegic.  My body is in some sort of hyper state.  It thinks it is in constant pain even though I don’t notice it all that much.  Maybe I’ve put up with the constant pain for so long, I just see it as a norm.

But it’s not, and there might be a fix!  That’s a bit exciting!

So because this is all such a rushed thing now, I will be operated on Monday 17th October.  Yes, just a week and a half from now.  I will be in hospital for 4 days and then pretty much doing nothing for 4 weeks after that, including no driving.  Following that, 4 more weeks of only light movements building up to moderate in the following 4 weeks after that.  In 12 weeks, I should be back to normal.  So long as nothing goes wrong.

And here is the not so exciting bit.  The operation carries it’s own risks over and above normal surgery.  Somewhere between 2 and 3% have complications.  Wait a sec….that’s 2 or 3 people in every 100.  God I hope that he’s operated on 99 people so far this year and already had his 2 or 3 people.  I’m gold in that case!  The complications can range from affecting my vocal cords – which Mark is a little too excited about for my liking – to actually paralysing me or causing quadriplegia which is the very thing we are trying to avoid!  Yikes.  From the sounds of it, it is a little complicated as they go in through the front of my neck and have to traverse my innards (important shit like my vocal cords, carotid artery and spinal cord!) to get to this little piece of gristle that is causing all the problems.  He will take out my disc, give me a new one (hey, I like the sound of that!) and also give me a cage thingy that will keep it in place.  It’s sleek, black and I’ll sort of be like a terminator.  Made up of space age parts.

Wanna see?

What the new disc will look like

What the new disc will look like.  It is actually a cage with either bone fragments in it, or artificial bone.  I think I’m getting artificial bone.  I understand that my own body will deposit bone on this over time and fuse the space together.

The "cage" that will stop the new disc from coming out.

The plate that will stop the new disc (cage) from coming out.

The "cage"

The plate.   Those are some tough looking screws!!!

So, in the meantime, I am trying to organise how the 4 kids will be ferried around for the time I’m out, how the house will run, trying to get it looking like some sort of liveable habitat in case I get home care, how to manage my little swimmers, how I will manage my Stampin’ Up! business, and how we will manage silage with a farm worker down (and me supposed to be filling in).

I know it will all work out, but right now….it just seems a bit overwhelming.  Bear with me if I fall behind in stuff.

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Hell, fighting and school holidays

I take my hat off to those parents who home school.  God knows I couldn’t do it.  I have spent the better part of the 2 weeks of school holidays screaming – most likely to myself – about the state of the house, about why my kids cannot amuse themselves, about why they simply CANNOT exist in the same room as each other without an epic battle on a World War scale breaking out, about why technology is not the only form of entertainment, about why they cannot possibly be hungry every 30 seconds, and about why that even though it is holidays, they cannot stay up till all hours instead of going to bed.

School holidays are how I know that Heaven actually exists.  Because it’s been a little slice of Hell right here for the past 2 weeks.  Hell is real.  Hell is my house when school holidays are on and it is wet outside.






{more crying}

……and me trying to ignore it all.  Because even though THEY might be on holidays, I’m not.  I’m trying to get the calf registrations for 2015 and 16 all up to date. It was a ridiculous task to attempt with the kids.  But by the grace of God, the power of my mental stability, my talent for being able to tune out whinging, and the ability of myself to self medicate with wine, I was able to achieve it.  Yay me!  When I finally finished, I felt like I should win some award or something.  At the very least, I should have had a ceremony held in my name.  Or maybe a dinner cooked for me.

I’m left wondering what I did wrong.  Where did I go off the rails?  Why is it that my kids seem singularly intent on killing each other rather than banding together and seeing the benefit of having built in playmates.  I am an only child and I would have done anything to have siblings.  It completely alludes me as to why my kids cannot enjoy each other.  Or maybe this is just what families with multiple kids are like.  I dunno.

Anyway, the 2 weeks of  forced family fun are coming to an end and I cannot be happier.  There are mums out there that I hear saying “oh I love spending time with my kids”, or “I so enjoy having the kids home on holidays and I am so going to miss them when they go back”.  Really?  I think I’m missing some mum gene.

I think it was all made worse because the kids were looking forward to going away for a couple of nights.  We were set to go to Melbourne to visit relatives and go to the museum and Healesville Sanctuary, but Mark ended up with some nasty staph infection and required some pretty hefty drugs to get on top of it.  So much so, he needed to have a drip line thingy put in his arm and he had to go into A&E every 12hrs to have IV antibiotics.  I wish we could have racked up some frequent flyer miles or the like on those visits.  So because he was tied to the hospital at 9am and 9pm every day, we could only manage one day trip to Melbourne which was fun, but short lived in the minds of kids.

But the light is at the end of the tunnel.  And by that, I mean daylight savings start on Sunday.  Whoo hoo.  I am a summer girl and I love the hot weather.  My kids are hot weather kids too.  I look forward to the increased daylight, the increased warmth and the increased ability for the kids to get outside and amongst it.  It’s safe to say we are a much happier family for the months of October – April.

In retrospect, maybe I could do the home school thing……but only if the daylight hours were 15hrs a day and the outside temperature was a minimum of 25 degrees.

Monday morning will be here very soon and with it the routine of making lunches, washing uniforms, doing after school activities and cajoling kids to do their homework.  And I will be wishing that the holidays would hurry up and get here!