wings and things


To my niece still in hospital:

Your name means wisdom.

As you wait, flat on your back, for healing, for the spinal brace to be fitted, for whatever comes next,
I have stopped eating garlic because I want to breathe out to you without stinking, even though we are 200 kilometres apart.

You have my freckles but you wear them like jewels. At your age, my freckles looked more like I forgot to wash my face after mud-wrestling. They’ve faded now but I hope yours never fade.

On your 14th birthday, the other day, when that grumpy woman wheeled your bed into the party room of the hospital, and told us off for lighting candles on your doughnut cake, I wanted to punch her in the face.

You told me to stop inboxing you so I did once I realised I had sent you 27 messages. Sorry about that, but I can’t seem to stop!

A celebrity kissed you on the cheek, your mother is a rock, your father is a mountaineer and you are, like your birthstone, a pure, shining opal.

Your nickname for me is AJ because I hate being called Auntie Julie. I love you for that.

I haven’t prayed for years but now I do – praying you will be okay, praying you will get the patience you need for the next months, praying for another private giggle, praying for every single tomorrow to be better than every single today.

Keep on opalescing, keep on being strong, keep on being you. You.



Hellishly hot

This is our sixth day of 40C degree heat and incredibly high humidity and I have somehow contracted the flu. Ming (on L plates) took me in to the doctor who has put me on antibiotics and cortisone so I am ecstatic to have something to fight the kind of flu that usually leads to asthma and hospital. Then we went to see Ants but I stayed at a slight distance because I don’t want him to get it. I sat on his bed and held his hand in an outstretched way, trying to breathe my germs in the other direction and we only stayed a short time. Ants kept telling me to go home and get well, and that I was beautiful; he said both of these things a few times!

Oh it’s too hot to write any more! The photo is of Ants with some of my family at our Christmas dinner the other evening.



After Anthony’s hospital adventure yesterday, the hospital doctor rang me and said that the CT scan didn’t show anything and that she surmises he is having TIAs (mini-strokes) and this makes a lot of sense to me because I have seen him have these strange ‘turns’ a lot over the last few years. When I did a bit of research, all descriptions of TIAs were an exact match so, even though a TIA can’t be picked up on a scan, this does seem to explain these episodes. The trouble is – like yesterday – he just looks as if he is asleep and it’s only when I try to rouse him that it becomes obvious that something is wrong.

The nursing lodge staff want to watch him carefully for a week and I’ve been advised not to take him out, so that’s fine. I mean, I haven’t been taking him out lately anyway, because it is so difficult to lift him and all that. I rang and spoke to him and he said, “Maybe I should just step in front of a truck!” and I reprimanded him but of course who can blame him for feeling like this.


An eventful day

Today’s plan was to bring Anthony home for lunch but I got a phonecall at the crack of dawn from the nursing lodge to report that he’d had a bad fall and they would be getting an ambulance to take him to hospital. He’d been found on the floor next to his bed with his head bleeding and seemingly concussed. The nurse who rang me reassured me that he wasn’t anxious or in pain and, knowing how fond she is of Anthony, I took her word for it and decided not to freak out.

So I calmly got dressed and ready to go into the hospital, but waited for Ming to get home from milking the cows first. I rang the Emergency department and was able to speak to Anthony and the first thing he said was, “I’m such an idiot!” We had a bit of a chuckle and I said I’d be in soon.

Unbelievably, by the time I got to the hospital,  and waited at reception (rather a long time), I was told that Anthony had just been ambulanced back to the nursing lodge. So I calmly left and headed to the nursing lodge to find him looking fine but with a wound to his right temple (the opposite side from where he had the skin cancer taken out last week). He was surprisingly nimble, so using his walker, we walked out into the patio and sat at a table. I teased him in my usual way and he held my hand in his usual way and then he went to sleep in his chair so I grabbed a magazine and read the latest celebrity gossip, then went down to the nursing lodge kitchen and asked if I could order lunch to have with him. No problem.

I went back to the patio and Anthony was still drowsing so I sat there calmly thinking oh this is so boring, then the lunch arrived – a beautiful roast dinner. At this point, I punched Anthony in the shoulder (lightly) to wake him up, but he didn’t respond, then I shook him and said loudly, “C’mon Ants – lunch is here!” No response. So I calmly went and got a nurse.

Well, there was a fair bit of panic when nobody could rouse him  so once again the ambulance was called and a troop of nurses used the hoist to lift Anthony from his chair to a trolley to take him to his bed. They wheeled him off but I didn’t follow immediately because I was very calmly bursting into tears. One of the nurses came outside and asked if I wanted a hug but I said no thank you, not now, maybe later.

Once I got my stupid eyes to stop leaking, I went into Anthony’s room where the same nurse was taking his blood pressure and looking worried. He’d come to a bit but looked very dazed. I tried to jolly him up by mimicking what he’d done outside but he had no recollection of course and was a bit nonplussed at all the fuss.

The ambulance arrived and I met them at the hospital and, after several more tests including a catscan, he is once again going back to the nursing lodge, and I’ve just got home.


Love story 118 – Sunbaking

Anthony’s skin cancer operation has suddenly been fast-tracked to tomorrow (Monday) – yikes, I only got the phonecall Friday. Okay, for those who don’t know this, Anthony has a very nasty skin cancer right next to his left eye and it is painful, so it has to be cut out. This has to be done in hospital so he needs to be there by 9am and I still haven’t decided whether to get the wheelchair taxi and meet him there or take him myself. His mobility at this time of the morning isn’t good.

Over the years, Anthony has had multiple skin cancers either burned off (with that nitrogen spray stuff) or surgically removed. Many of them have been squamous cell carcinomas, not melanomas, which is good. He was born into an era where hats were worn haphazardly and sunscreen probably hadn’t been invented and, when I met him, he was in the habit of sunbaking after lunch to get a tan. Inna (his mother) would often ask me where he was and I would tell her he was lying out near the fig trees and she would tut-tut and say that was fine as long as I wasn’t sunbaking with him – ha! At the time, that would have been a dream come true for me but I am glad I didn’t as he has now had over 50 skin cancers burned off and several requiring surgical removal.

So tomorrow will be an adventure of sorts because of how his PD, and now PDD, is likely to affect the ordeal. The surgeon is not going to do the procedure with a general anaesthetic (too risky) so Ants will be given a local anaesthetic and sedation. The operation will take about an hour or so. I have to admit that I am absolutely dreading this because of what happened last time.

Last time, the skin cancer was on top of his skull so the pain he suffered afterwards was excruciating and his medications for PD were temporarily lost and he missed a dose or two: result, he went totally loopy and had to be on 24/7 watch. It was a nightmare just after the operation so I raced home to get his spare meds., raced back and sneaked him some and he was okayish for awhile but (this was a few years ago when he was more mobile) he kept trying to wander out of the hospital – argh!

Tomorrow I will have to arm myself with secret drugs – ha – and a double dose of patience with both Ants and the system. It is only going to be a day procedure this time and I’m not sure if this is a good idea or a bad idea – maybe he should stay one night in the hospital? I wish I knew. I have decided to take my box of paperwork in as I will be there for hours.

This is probably my overactive imagination but sometimes I can feel Inna’s smile of approval, almost as if she is kind of watching over her son, and me, and Ming. This is a good feeling.



I decided to edit out the following sentence from my ‘rage’ post of yesterday: “Of course none of those professionals really care, do they.”

That was a dreadful overgeneralization for which I apologize.  The focus of my rage was on the doctor who did not return my calls for three weeks and who took just as long to even refer Anthony to the surgeon.

Now Anthony is on the urgent list for cancellations. It’s a public holiday today so tomorrow I will ring the surgeon’s office and ask if there are any cancellations and then I will just keep ringing until it happens.

I  will not panic. It is not an emergency so the hospital idea is out.

Most of the professionals who have looked after Anthony, and continue to look after him, are wonderful, caring people.