Friday, June 29, 2012

End of Term!!!

Next week is school holidays!

Normally we would hibernate for the winter holidays but this year I feel like we have hibernated all term so instead we have decided we would like to be social.

So - locals - who wants to come over?

We are just going to hang out at home but we hope to have lots of visitors.  I promised Ashlea we'd get the jumping castle out so we need some people to come over and bounce it for her :)

Also if no one comes to visit we will end up just doing too much of this:



And then this when the batteries run out:





Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I can't do this

The last few weeks I have been feeling increasingly overwhelmed by everything going on in my life. Some days I just think I can't do this.  Acutally nearly everyday I think I can't do this.

It's too much for one person.  I really can't do it.

I read a blog post the other day that reminded me of a sermon I heard just before Ashlea's transplant - a sermon that touched on the verse in the bible that says  I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

All things apparently.  Even being effectively a single parent to 3 children - one with serious disabilities and medical issues - and being wife/carer to a husband with a brain injury.

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.  That means even this.  But how?  How will He give me strength so I can get through this?  I don't feel like He is giving me strength. Mind you that might be because I haven't actually asked for it.  I have taken up a bit of a silent protest with God since Murray's injury became apparent - so maybe asking God for help would be a good start :)

It's weird because I'm not 'big picture' angry about our situation.  I get that God is in control.  I get that there is suffering in this world and that that won't end until we are finally in heaven.  But 'little picture', day to day I am right royally pissed off.  I feel like once again I have been left to pick up the pieces.  Yes Murray has the brain injury but at the moment I seem to be feeling the consequences more than anyone else.

Please pray!  As like most things in life even though I feel like I can't do this I have no choice about actually doing it.  And maybe the fact that I am still actually doing it is the proof that God is giving me the strength to do it?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Work

Murray and I both have jobs that we have been absent from for the last 3 months.

Murray is currently on special sick leave.  He has been with the NSW Police for over 20 years (seriously) so he is entitled to 8 weeks of special sick leave once his accrued sick leave has run out.  He will continue to use up all his different types of leave until it runs out completely (roughly early August).  At that point he will apply for Sickness Allowance until he is able (if he is able) to return to work.

I have been on Long Service Leave  for the last 3 months.  My leave will run out shortly at which point I will be taking "Vice Chancellor's Extraordinary Leave".  I have an extraordinarily generous, family friendly, supportive, flexible employer - the Australian Catholic University.  Basically I will be on PAID leave (yes - paid leave) until the end of this year due to our extraordinary circumstances.  I am so fortunate and thankful to have such a supportive employer!  Even if I wasn't able to get paid leave I would be able to take unpaid leave and know that my job was safe.

So that is what we are doing about work - we both have jobs but neither of us will be at them for the next 6 months - and we are both very thankful to have such supportive employers.  It is such a relief to know that that is one thing we don't have to worry about.  It is also a huge relief to know that seeing as I will be getting paid we will at least have some income coming in to help pay the mortgage and feed the children!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Baby Duck Update



Today is the first Friday in 3 months that we haven't had to go to the hospital for bloods - so we celebrated with cake.  And a fabulous new hat!

It is now 3 months since Ashlea's transplant which must make it time for a kidney update. Ashlea's new kidney is going great guns.  This week her creatinine was a lovely 35 and all her other numbers were beautiful.  She has had a very smooth ride post-transplant so far.  We are now down to having blood tests only once a week - luxury!

Otherwise Ashlea is very well and happy and chirpy in herself.  She hasn't gone back to school since the gastro plague.  She will go back full time next term - just in time for cold and flu season - but what can you do?  Although I am taking her to school this Monday so she can be included in the class photos - we can't miss out on the kindy class photos!!

Overall she is doing fabulously well.

Happy 3 month kidney-versary Ashlea!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mummy Guilt

Mummy guilt #1
Small g Mummy guilt.  This is our recycling bin.




As you can see it is full.

Full of my children's school work sheets and precious artworks.

Until today I had kept pretty much every piece of paper they had ever brought home from school or preschool.  I had to do a cull - the paper was taking over.  I kept a few choice pieces - but as you can see the majority of it had to go!

Mummy Guilt #2
This one is a BIG G Mummy Guilt.  Last night I am pretty sure Emma and Audrey both had their first panic attack.  Specifically it was a fear-of-vomit related panic attack.  The reason this makes me feel guilty is that I have fear-of-vomit related panic attacks.  I thought I had tried hard not to pass my phobia on to the children but they seem to have picked it up anyway.

I really don't know what to do.  I don't know whether to take them straight to a child psychologist or wait and see if it happens again.  Obviously ignoring their anxiety is not going to make it go away, but I also don't want to exacerbate things by making it into a bigger deal than it necessarily is.  Maybe it was exaggerated by the fact that we have all just had gastro and so the memory of that is fresh in their minds??

I don't know - this parenting caper is tricky sometimes - the weight of responsibility is too much! Does anyone have experience with anxiety in children?  What have you tried?  What has worked for your child(ren)?


Monday, June 18, 2012

Emma's turn to shine

Today Emma received a Star Student award at school.



This is her first one ever.  You may remember she was a little put out when Audrey got one in her first month of school.  We had to have the discussion about different personality types and how bouncy, talky people aren't worse than quiet, compliant people but at school they are less likely to get awards.

Emma has been trying very hard since then to be on her best behaviour because she really wanted a Star Student  badge.  She has been ably helped along by the boys in her class being particularly naughty over the last few weeks.  I am a little suspicious that it might be partly an encouragement award for us parents - for managing to get her to school - and even do homework - throughout this entire ordeal!  Who cares what the reason - she is very proud to have a Star Student badge and we are very proud of her!

Congratulations Emma!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What's it like to have a brain injury?

And what is it like to live with someone who has a brain injury??

I am a born sticky beak so have been very curious to know what it is like for Murray to have a brain injury.  I know what it's like to live with someone with a brain injury - but what is it like to have one?  The thing about brain injuries though is that it can make it hard to put into words what it is like!

So far the main word Murray would use to describe it is FRUSTRATING.

He says it is frustrating not knowing things that you know you would normally know.  Not knowing what is happening from day to day, not knowing where we are going, what we are doing, how to get to where we are going.  Also not remembering people's names or things that people have told him.

It is interesting that that was his response - because I can tell you that that is the word I would use to describe what it is like to live with someone with a brain injury.  It can be incredibly frustrating!!  The day to day forgetfulness doesn't bother me so much - I'm pretty good at laughing some of that stuff off (example - yes you DID ring your mother for her birthday and NO I'm not just saying that to shut you up).  There are many behavioural problems that can result from a brain injury - Murray seems to have escaped most of them thankfully - except for difficulty with initiating tasks.  He really doesn't initiate anything on his own and is reliant on me to prompt him for most activities.  Seriously that one is driving me bonkers and I am really struggling to be patient and supportive.  Especially as he doesn't seem to be aware that this is a problem!

I didn't know whether to put any of this on the blog - I'm not writing any of this to criticise Murray in anyway - he can't help it but I guess I want to be truthful about what is going on. I get a lot of support from the blogosphere - you're like a little cheer squad in my computer!  I don't want to pretend that everything is fine when it's not - I need you all to cheer me on as this is not easy!  It would be easy for people to think "Oh yay, Murray is home.  Everything is going to be OK now" whereas the truth is very different.  Yes we are very glad to have him home, but it is also now that we have to face the reality of a long, slow recovery process.  We would really appreciate your prayers!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Found!!!



I found it!!!

I knew it was in the house somewhere!!!

Turns out it was sitting on Carolin's desk in the exact same spot she put it when she brought it home - still wrapped in a piece of hospital paper towel - just buried under 2 months worth of papers.

Phew.

I'll post a final update when it's repaired and back on Murray's finger.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Murray

Today is Murray's birthday.  We celebrated with cake.  My gift to him (along with Diablo 3 as requested) was to release him from any Ikea related cleaning frenzy that may have been taking place at our house.  I think he appreciated that :)



The only other activity going on around here this rainy long weekend has been related to the aforementioned Ikea tidying frenzy.  Super Neighbour Kate's husband Greg (Super Greg?  Super Neighbour Husband Greg??) very kindly put together my two expedits yesterday - after building Kate's two - that requires real patience! Thanks Greg!!!

Look how good all Ashlea's stuff looks after it has been expedit-ed:



I think now that I have the kids toys under control I am going to tackle the kitchen cupboards...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's the little things...


This may look like an ordinary sausage sanga to you, but to me it is a luxury! 

Many of you know that I have Meniere's Disease which means I have to stick to a very strict No Salt diet in order not to end up wildly dizzy.  Sadly this no salt diet has meant no sausage sangas.

Until today. 

Today we had friends over for lunch.  Friends who happen to live near the only butcher in Sydney who makes special no added salt sausages.  In honour of the sausages I made special NAS white bread (because a sausage sanga has to be on WHITE bread) and scoured several shopping centres until I found a bottle of NAS tomato sauce. 

I was very excited and the sausage sanga did not disappoint.  Can you believe it has been nearly 15 years since I have had one of these???

So yes, sometimes it is the little things that just make your day - a simple (NAS) sausage sanga with friends. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

We Got There!



Super Neighbour Kate and I made it to IKEA today!  We purchased our Expedits and even splurged on getting our (30) purchases home delivered.  I am considering splurging further and paying for assembly as well - seeing as Murray has already had to endure gastro since his return home - I don't want to push him completely over the edge by subjecting him to furniture assembly!

Baby Duck was less than enthusiastic about our shopping trip but coped OK.


Prepare yourselves for before and after photos :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Therapy

After the last 9 1/2 weeks I am seriously in need of some therapy.

The therapy I feel that I need to indulge in at the moment is IKEA THERAPY.  I don't feel the need to talk to a psychologist or pastor or even a good friend.  I feel the need to go to IKEA.  I need storage solutions.  I need to try to create order out of some of the chaos.  Don't get me wrong - I am happy to talk to my friends - just so long as it is while they accompany me to Ikea.

If only I  had more storage (specifically more Expedits) in my house things would be so much more manageable.  My brain is so cluttered at the moment after everything that has happened that the physical clutter in my house is pushing me over the edge.  I'm convinced that if I can deal with the physical clutter it might help with the mental clutter.

Anyone else believe in Ikea therapy?  It is possibly to have too many Expedit storage systems?? Who is free to come to Ikea with me???

Monday, June 4, 2012

An Ashlea-ism


Yesterday we had to go through the ED to get bloods done (due to us being contagious pariahs and all).  While we were waiting there I think Ashlea got lulled into a false sense of security - it wasn't our usual place or our usual people - so when the nurse came in and started to take her blood she was most put out.

Her comment?

"This is bery disappoint-me-ment for Baby Duck"

Then she says:

"I've had enough of this"

Finally the blood test was over and the nurse asked her how she was.

"It doesn't look good" 
was her assessment.

At least she makes hospital visits entertaining!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

HOW is this possible???

Murray has been home for 24 hours and we have given him the bug.

Seriously - HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE???

And how am I still standing?  Clearly I am the conduit for the bug - infecting people left, right and centre (we even infected the nurse from the ED last weekend). 

How much longer until I succumb?  Anyone want to take a guess?  12 hours?  24?  36 tops I'd reckon.

Do you think it would be bad to wash my hands in bleach?  Do you think it would help???

I am so screwed.  And SO ready for this bug to leave our household.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Success!

9 weeks after 'the incident' Murray is finally home!


Thanks to photographer Audrey for taking this pic :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Plague Report

The gastro plague seems to be passing.  Emma and Audrey are back at school and Carolin is back at work.  Ashlea is still struggling a bit but I have been able to manage her at home.  I am somehow still standing (I really shouldn't say that out loud should I?  I'll let you know if that comes back to bite me).  Unfortunately we managed to take out Super Neighbour Kate with our germs :(

One of the outcomes of Ashlea being in hospital is that we have been able to determine which bug has caused the gastro - as I suspected it is a NOROVIRUS.  They are SO contagious. I have had to inform the school and also the public health office so that they can advise the school on how to deal with it.  It is one of those bugs that is very hard to control.  It's so contagious that Ashlea and I are not welcome in the Renal Treatment Centre or the Renal ward at the hospital - we have to have all our monitoring done through the Emergency Department at the moment as they can't risk the bug taking hold among the other patients on the ward!  We are pariahs!!!

On a better note now that we are on the mend Murray is allowed to come home - tomorrow hopefully - unless I get struck down at the last minute (you know its going to happen don't you???).  The doctors are very happy with the progress he has made - although I think they probably measure progress a little differently to me.  I thought the fact that Murray rang me the other day to tell me he wanted Diablo 3 for his upcoming birthday was a great sign of progress!

Hopefully I'll be able to update tomorrow with news that he is home - although I'm not getting my hopes up after what happened last week!