Sunday, November 30, 2014



This morning I went for a walk after I got the kids off to school. It is the first day of summer here in Australia and the cicadas were out in force. In some places (near big trees) they literally nearly drowned out my music. They are incredibly loud insects. The cicadas spend some of their life cycle underground, then in summer they dig themselves out and crawl up trees (or, as I saw today, tall agapanthus stems) and then split their backs open and wriggle out, leaving behind an empty shell. Some trees had dozens on. As kids we sometimes wore these as bizarre broaches on our school uniforms!

Where I grew up in Sydney the most common kind was the "Green Grocer" with only the occasional black or yellow. Today I saw three actual cicadas, all "Black Princes", so maybe that is the common kind in Canberra. This one seemed to have only one good wing, the other deformed, so it was buzzing around on the footpath in circles, unable to fly.

I haven't been getting up early to walk as getting up early seemed to cause me to wake even earlier! I am still sleeping very badly, with or without my CPAP. I haven't been posting to my blog because the posts would all be the same "Boo hoo poor me I'm tired and cranky and not coping with my easy stress-free privileged lifestyle" and no one wants to read that every day.

I then spent a long time struggling with my menu planning, unable to think of dinners that were healthy and delicious and varied and provided leftovers but didn't use the oven because it's too hot for that. I don't think I did particularly well.

I talked to mum on the phone. She is not doing well at all. It's about a year since she found out she has breast cancer that has spread to her bones, including her skull and spine. She responded really well to the various therapies and has had a pretty healthy year, considering. But just these past few weeks she has been feeling very unwell, she sleeps nearly all the time and is having trouble eating, and she is retaining so much water that her stomach has swelled up so she looks pregnant. She has had some tests done and is seeing her oncologist tomorrow, hopefully to try some different medication. It is all very worrying. She has gone from cheerfully planning a move to a retirement home where she can get more help, to wondering if she will outlive her own father who is 96 now and fading fast.

Living four hours away, there is not much practical help I can offer right now. She says she doesn't need me to go and stay there, she is sleeping all day and my brother drives her to the doctor and does the shopping, what little she needs considering she is hardly eating. I've offered to do her Christmas shopping for her (it would be mainly for my kids, anyway) or anything else she needs, and we are visiting this weekend. She rarely replies to my emails any more as she's too tired to bother, and I don't like to call too often because it wakes her up. She was trying to find the energy to have a shower today, which is such a change from a month ago. I guess we'll see what the doctor says and make decisions from there.

I just realised that if she does die at home (soon or some time in the future) it will almost certainly be my brother who finds her. What will he do? What would I do? I have no idea what happens. What authorities do you call? It's not something I've ever had to think about. How horrible and morbid. But much as I hate to think about it, it is something I should research so if I do get that call from my brother I will no what to do and what advice to give him.

So after that phone call I went and did the grocery shopping. That went as usual except for being verbally abused by a woman with mental issues who seems to spend at lot of time at the shopping centre. I suppose it is as nice as place as any, out of the weather and lots of people and things to see. She walks up and down the aisles of the supermarket without apparently buying anything. Last week she made a pleasant-sounding comment to me, although I didn't quite understand what she said, but this week she told me to get my trolley and my fat ass out of her way, that I was blocking the whole aisle (I wasn't ) etc. I was pretty shocked, and a man nearby said "hey!" to her retreating back in tones of strong disapproval. I know it was a very minor incident, but am not used to being insulted like that and it ruffled me. People are usually so polite.

When I got home I needed a nap, and took one. Not the most cheering day. But at least I managed a walk.

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