Sunday, May 31, 2015

Day with my family


We all went to a playground this morning. It is a big all-access one, with facilities for disabled kids, only opened a few months ago. I hadn't been before.

Jasmine and her little cousin Emma:

Aiden digging in the sand: 

The playground is near the lake, we could hear the Carillon (bell tower) recital when we were walking back to our cars.

It looks sunny enough (it clouded over in the afternoon), but it was really windy down by the lake. Ping and I had planned to go for a walk while the husbands minded the children but it was too cold! We all huddled up at the playground where it was fairly sheltered so a bit warmer.

My brother-and-sister-in-law decided I shouldn't have to cook while I'm sad, so they took us out to lunch. And we shared some desserts from the chocolate shop next door to the restaurant.Then they left mid-afternoon to head back to Sydney. It was lovely to see them. My niece is really starting to talk a bit now, and seems to have passed the worst tantrum stage.

Tim put in his job application for Norfolk Island tonight. If they want someone to start on 1st July, hopefully the selection process will be quicker than the usual months for government jobs. Tim is qualified, but we have no idea how many people would apply for something so remote.

Another call from dad's girlfriend Wendy tonight, who wanted to know when Darren would be arriving for the funeral as he is staying at dad's house. I have no idea. The two biggest stresses in my life at the moment are those two people. Darren is basically uncontactable, and Wendy is the opposite. I asked my aunty Pat to organise dad's funeral and talked to her about what dad wanted but Wendy seems to have completely taken over and is doing the opposite - like burial instead of cremation and his ashes scattered. Which will also be a lot more expensive. It's too late now to change (I assume) and I'm not up to any kind of confrontation at the moment, and also I feel like I handed over my say in the matter when I asked someone else to do the work. But it's a bit annoying. I just continue to be polite and compliant and don't speak up about anything. And toss and turn in the early hours of the morning.

Saturday, May 30, 2015



I managed to get out for a walk today. I don't draw, but I took some photos. I looked up into an autumn tree:

And I walked past my neighbours house being renovated (this is the side/back).

We had the cleaners here this morning and the whole house is sparkling. I love having a clean oven and clean bathroom! I'll have to get them here regularly. And in the evening my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and niece arrived so we'll have them here tomorrow.

Good night all, have a great sleep.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Being more mindful


I woke in the early hours of this morning and tossed and turned, suddenly very frustrated with myself that I've been eating my emotions, not exercising at all, not even doing my physio all week. I said a couple of days ago that I didn't care about all that right now, and I didn't, but now I do! Time to forgive myself and move on. Right now I'm feeling a bit bewildered about having thought it was ok to neglect my health - how is that going to help anything? But I know it was quite a normal response to grief and stress especially for someone like myself who has a troubled relationship with food.

One thing that has helped me take a step forward is knowing when the funeral is, it means I can make plans and feel more in control. Also I finally got through to my brother and so I know he knows about dad's death and he knows when the funeral is too. Whether he gets there is up to him. That is two burdens lifted and I feel like I can breathe again.

Of course I am still sad and stressed but I feel like I can cope now.

I had a physio appointment this morning, she was very nice about my not doing my homework all week and gave me a gentle relaxing massage. My shoulder has actually been pretty good all week because I haven't been using it much. My physio was concerned that the exercises were making it ache a bit (when I was doing them) so I'm going back to the first set of exercises she gave me and we'll see how that goes. I know the long drives to Shepparton and back, and sleeping in a hotel bed, are going to be painful. I have a massage appointment lined up for as soon as I get back.

Very busy productive day. Whatever happened to all my free time? It's been swallowed up by getting this house fixed up and preparing for my dad's funeral.

I've still struggled with food today but I've been more mindful and aware of what I'm doing. It's a start.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

More productive


Yet another day! They go past so quickly.

Quite headachy today, which is annoying, but emotionally I'm doing ok. Talked to Wendy again about funeral arrangements, should be next Wednesday she thinks assuming the autopsy is finalised.

Those people who tried to scam me (and very nearly succeeded) some months ago called yet again today, that is twice in the past week. This time I said "How can you live with yourself? You are a thief and a liar," and she hung up. I hate being reminded so often that they nearly got me the first time, I was on the phone with them for a long time believing their story before I suddenly realised. I felt so stupid and gullible. It's something I really want to forget. I suppose I should be grateful that I caught on in time and now I'm more cautious. But I don't like having to assume the worst of strangers. I liked being naïve and assuming the best always.

I don't feel like I wasted the day today, I didn't have a lot of fun but I was a lot more productive.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015



Aiden was back to school today. I didn't have anything particular planned for the day and decided to stay home and not do much, and hope my brother would contact me. He often checks his email on Wednesdays. My uncle said he would go over today, but he is pretty annoyed about it. Darren has made himself almost completely uncontactable, and at such a time! And there was no guarantee that he would be home when my uncle went over there, or out of bed if he was home. He knew dad was very sick but hasn't contacted anyone for a week.

I didn't mention before, but of course we cancelled people coming over on Sunday night for Eurovision because I'd just found out my father died about an hour before they were due to arrive. I had mostly bought "real" food for snacks - a cheese platter with nuts and dried fruit, dips with vegetable crudités, chicken wings that I was going to prepare - but I did buy some chips and chocolate biscuits. The kids and I ate some of these that evening and I have broken down and eaten more chips since then. It's very bad for me to have this stuff in the house! I'm feeling particularly vulnerable at the moment with everything that is going on plus it is that time of the month, so I have strong feelings of being entitled to drown my emotions with food. 

I just have no interest in stuff like weight loss at the moment. I'm not doing my shoulder physio either. I know this is less than ideal, but I think I need to accept that a week or two isn't going to make a big difference in the long run and not feel guilty about it.

Staying at home all day was probably a mistake. I couldn't do much planning because of not knowing when we have to head back to Shepparton for the funeral. I got a few things done but mostly sat around and felt sad and ate. Now I feel like I really wasted today. I didn't do anything I enjoyed, I just felt stressed and anxious. Sitting at home didn't help. I should have gone out and done something.

By mid-afternoon I was starting to really wonder about my brother. With dad sick, and knowing he was hard to get in touch with, why hadn't he contacted anyone? I was starting to think something might have happened to him. But he finally emailed and then called late in the afternoon. Uncle Greg had gone around in the morning and broke the news, which he didn't know. At least that is done now. But he'll have to keep in contact if he wants the details of the funeral when we get them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015



Feeling pretty battered today. My family can't organise dad's funeral because the hospital is going to do an autopsy first, so it seems they don't know the exact cause of death. It means the funeral won't be until next week some time, don't know what day yet so can't make plans to travel down there.

Still haven't got through to my brother, no idea if he has seen my emails or voicemail or texts but I assume not or he would have replied unless he is too overwhelmed. Or dead. It seems to run in the family at the moment. I have asked my uncle who lives reasonably nearby to go around there this afternoon. Haven't heard back yet.

Aiden is still home sick, he has a nasty cough that was pretty horrible in the early hours of this morning but does seem better now, hopefully it's nearly over. We did pop out in the morning to buy some food, I tried to keep it very quick but it was freezing out there and either that or the moving around did start up his cough again for a while. Well, I can prepare meals for the next couple of days at least.

I had some things already booked in for today so I was kept busy. The curtain guy came to measure the relevant windows and show me fabric samples, so I got that finalised. New curtains for the living areas and Jasmine's bedroom in 3-6 weeks. The guy encouraged me to take down the old curtains myself, when the time came, which means unscrewing the brackets. He seemed very surprised when I said it was very much worth the money to me to pay someone else to do it. $10 per curtain (9 un-screws, and a heavy curtain rail falling on my head, and having to stand on a chair when I'm uncomfortable with heights) seemed like a bargain to me!

And the Salvation Army came to take some donations of furniture and books. And we got a delivery of a cabinet to stand the TV on (flat-packed), the TV had been sitting on our coffee table previously and I decided to finally get a proper stand for it, with spaces underneath for the Xbox and DVDs and everything. The Salvos didn't want our old TV cabinet even though it is a nice piece in great condition - no one (including us) has a TV that small any more! We sit our CD player in it now. But it is a huge piece of furniture that dominates the room so I had hoped to get rid of it. Maybe a recycling centre will want it for the wood and glass?

Jasmine went to a friend's house after school. Aiden and I (mostly I) spent at least two hours putting the TV unit together. I think it looks pretty good, considering I have no skills in that area. I'm amazed we had appropriate screwdrivers and a small hammer! One corner isn't tight so it's not perfect, but I'm quite proud of it.

I feel I'm really making progress in getting the house fixed up a bit, and it is a good distraction. That, and thinking about the possible loveliness of Norfolk Island, are helping me get through the days. Otherwise I'd be sitting being miserable all the time instead of half the time.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sad day


Aiden is home sick today with a nasty cough. My physiotherapist cancelled as she is sick too. Time for a quiet day at home. We spent most of the day watching TV. I sorted some more stuff and talked to family by phone and email. Sat around feeling sad.

I slept very poorly last night, thinking about dad and also all the things to do attached to his death. Still trying to get in touch with my brother. Need to write a eulogy. My aunty Pat is arranging the funeral since she lives there, so that is a burden lifted, but I'm still being consulted in everything. Obviously we'll be making another trip down there in a few days.

My physical response to grief has been very strong. Firstly that I feel cold all the time. It is nearly winter here, but even with warm clothes inside with the heating on I am very cold. And also I'm not exactly hungry but I feel very hollow and a bit nauseous, and filling that space with food does seem to help for a little while. I couldn't shop today, with Aiden home sick, we had instant noodles for lunch and ordered pizza for dinner. I ate a lot of pizza very quickly. Then put leftovers from my favourite (pepperoni) into the freezer so I couldn't eat any more. I'm not really thinking about my weight right now, but that is no reason to make myself sick with overeating.

Sunday, May 24, 2015



My father died around 6 this evening.

The hospital called me at 4:15 to say he was pretty bad and in Intensive Care. Then Wendy called to say he had passed away.

I don't know specifically why he died, but he was in ICU because his blood pressure had plummeted, possibly caused his chest infection. They tried to revive him but ultimately failed.

I haven't been able to get through to my brother. He's been having problems with his phone and no one has been able to contact him for a couple of weeks, although he calls me sometimes. He also doesn't have email at home, but checks a couple of times a week. So I've left a voicemail and an email and tried to call my uncle to go over there but couldn't through to him either.

What a horrible year.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Junk room


I feel much better today. I guess I just have these down days sometimes, understandable under the circumstances I think.

We spent the day working on clearing out the "studio", our junk room. I think it was the original garage for the house, it is big and full of boxes and old furniture. We haven't thrown a lot out over the years, it seems! We did have one clear out a few years ago but there is still plenty. A lot of the boxes were contributed by both sets of parents when they got sick of having our stuff cluttering up their houses, like notes from University and children's books. Some of which we want to keep, so we needed to go through it. We put in a solid four hours work, with quite a bit of help from Jasmine and none from Aiden who spent the whole time riding up and down the driveway on his bicycle. My body is now aching with fatigue, I am just not used to that kind of physical labour for hours, but we have three big piles of stuff; for charity, for throwing away, and to keep. Now I need to arrange for the first two of those to be taken away. When that is done I'm going to have new flooring put in the junk room and the ceiling repaired from years-old storm damage -- the roof was fixed at the time but not the interior plaster. Then it won't be a junk room any more; either we or future owners will be able to actually use the room! The people before us had exercise equipment out there, or it would be a great children's/teenagers' retreat.

I have to go and make a healthy dinner now. I would much rather order pizza and relax but Tim has refused. Since he started this dietbet with me not a morsel of junk food has passed his lips. And he's doing lots of extra exercise too. He doesn't have much weight to lose though, so it's not coming off very easily. At the moment I don't really care abut weight loss. Other things seem more important. I do care about my health though. My weight has remained stable. I'll definitely achieve my water goal today, and I think I've done some great exercise!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Long day


Today I feel stressed and sick and overwhelmed. My dad, my shoulder, fixing up the house, maybe moving, and a party we're hosting this weekend.

The party is just a few people coming over to watch the Eurovision final together. They are mainly my husband's friends although I have met them all, not a large group. But I'm not really feeling like hosting any kind of party at the moment. And also our TV is having some serious problems so I'm not even confident that we will have a working television on Sunday night! I'm getting it sent to a repairer next week but it was too late to get it done for the weekend.

My husband and I are very well suited but there is one way in which we clash. I am very much a organiser who plans well in advance, he is an inveterate procrastinator who does things at the last minute. This covers all aspects of life; from driving, where I will change lanes as soon as I know there is a turn coming up even if it is 5 km away whereas he will get in the correct lane at the last possible moment; to paying bills which I would pay as soon as we get them but he pays on the due date so we get interest on our own money as long as possible; to things like this potential move to Norfolk Island where I am already preparing the house for tenants and washing old furniture to give to charities but I know Tim won't even apply for the job until 2 minutes to midnight on the final day. And it is giving me a stomach ulcer. I find it incredibly stressful. I hate his procrastinating, I assume he hates my nagging. He'll get it done before the deadline, so what is the problem?

Anyway, he called them today and found out a little bit about the job but the other guy was off to a meeting and will talk to him again next week, so we don't know anything new really.

So much in my life I have no control over. I need to learn to manage stress better.

I got a knock at the door this morning and it was a couple of glaziers (windows) which was confusing and I thought at first they must be at the wrong house, I certainly wasn't expecting them. But it turns out the handyman sent them to look at something. I'm not actually sure they were the right people for the job, the glass isn't actually broken. They were going to go back and talk to their boss about what needs to be done and if they can do it.

I got a call from the hospital but it was from home help people which was kind of weird since the guy seemed to agree that dad wasn't going home any time soon. But he was asking me questions about whether there were any stairs in dad's house, whether Wendy was able to look after him at home etc. Questions about the level of care needed were very difficult to answer because I don't know how well he would have to be before they send him home. He said he had talked to dad first but dad seemed a bit confused. It's worrying if he was unable to answer questions about his house; but maybe, like me, he just didn't know the answers to some of it. But everyone who speaks to him now mentions his confused state of mind.

At least the day ended well. Got home cold after my daughter's dance lesson to a lovely casserole keeping warm in the oven, and then an evening of watching the first Eurovision semifinal. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Wendy called again tonight, dad is doing worse. His blood sugars fluctuated today between 22 which is very high and then right down to 3 which is horribly low. I think 5.5 to 7.8 is normal. They've moved him into a different ward. They don't seem to be able to keep his blood sugar levels under control, even under constant supervision in hospital, so how could he possibly go home. No chance of that happening any time soon. Very worrying.

Being assertive


Another day of talking to tradesmen, doing housework, and cleaning up furniture and sorting stuff to give to charity or throw away (whether or not we got to Norfolk). It's a good incentive to get some of this stuff done but it is keeping me very busy!

I'm still feeling very churned up inside from an incident this afternoon. I am so bad with confrontation, and I'm amazed I didn't run away from it! We were at the hairdresser getting Aiden's hair cut, and there was a display of make up in the reception area. Jasmine looked at a "tester" of eye-shadow or something, opened the lid to look at the colour, then closed it again. A staff member, an older lady, came over and told her not to open the cases because the make up would get contaminated and repeated several times not to do it again. I thought she was quite rude and unnecessarily lengthy and pointed about it and I confronted her by mentioning it was a tester. She explained to me (aggressively) that I wouldn't want contaminated make up on my face and she wouldn't be able to sell it once it had been opened so I shouldn't let my daughter meddle with it. I (outwardly calmly) said that it was labelled as a tester so it wasn't for sale and also that she wouldn't have spoken like she spoke to my daughter if it was to an adult (I was totally wrong there as she was talking to me that way as well!). She acted like I was being completely unreasonable and ruining her display and walked away. And I said "piss off" quietly but not caring if she heard. I suppose what I really meant was "bitch". And I considered leaving because I was so worked up but decided not to because I like the rest of the hairdressers there. It just make me so mad that she spoke to my extremely well behaved and polite (and shy) daughter like that. And then I spent the next half an hour feeling totally nauseated from stress! But I'm kind of proud of myself that I politely defended my daughter who had done nothing wrong, even though that was really hard for me.

For some reason I'm doing really badly with my water intake. I don't think I've got to 8 glasses for a week. My plants on the Plant Nanny app keep dying. I'll work harder on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Damn drawer handles


Bit of a busy day today. We had someone coming to quote for cleaning the house this morning - a proper deep clean or as much as they could do considering all our stuff was still all over the place. So of course I had to spend some time tidying first! The guy came wandered around and worked out how much it will cost and he is coming back next week to do the actual work, over two days. The plan is to get a cleaner house for now, but if we end up renting out the house we'll have another clean done once our stuff is packed away. I used to have a regular cleaner when Jasmine was a baby (and I had post natal depression) but then I decided I could do it myself. It's just housework, right? But I can always find something better/more fun to do, so I am going to start outsourcing again.

Then I went to the local hardware store to buy a new door handle for the bathroom and some new drawer handles for various items of furniture. Got my first phone-call-while-driving for the day (I waited until I pulled over then called back, of course), the handyman who will come tomorrow to look at my list of things to do and give me a quote. Went to physio, it hurt a bit more today maybe after the weekend of motel bed and long hours in the car. Came home for lunch, and found that the screws that came with the drawer handles were all much too long.

So back to Bunnings Warehouse where they cut down all the screws for me (I worked out beforehand how long each should be), got my second phone-call-while-driving, my brother who is worried about dad. He spoke to dad yesterday on the phone and was worried about the seeming vagueness and confusion. I had thought dad seemed better on the weekend so I'm not sure how much was just miscommunication. For instance I had told my brother that dad was in Goulburn Valley hospital in Shepparton, but Darren thought he was in the town of Goulburn and was worried by dad saying he was in Shepparton. One bad thing was that when I was there I noticed dad had a strange wristband on but he couldn't seem to tell me what it was (didn't know or maybe just didn't want to?). Darren says when he spoke to a nurse she mentioned that dad was wandering around the hospital getting lost so they put a tracker on him! I'm not sure if he was lost or had some idea of escape, he was "joking" about escaping and going home when I was there. I told him that if he couldn't get into bed without help, I didn't like his chances of getting to the exit.

After that sunny little chat I went to my doctor's appointment to follow up about the x-ray and ultrasound of my shoulder. The upshot of which is I am keeping up with physio to see if that will help enough, and also I have a med cert to give to the gym if I want to suspend my membership for a couple of months but I'm not sure I want to use it. Then if I want to go, I can't. But will I want to go in the next couple of months? It's going to expire in a few weeks anyway.

My third phone-call-while-driving (yet again waiting until I was safely pulled over, but I'm never sure these days if it will be something important to I always call back as soon as I can) was the curtain people, so I've got a home visit from them arranged as well. Gradually getting it all done.

When I got home I put all the drawer handles on, only to find the coffee table ones were still too long! I didn't allow for the shape of the thingy that I'm not going to bother to explain because I don't know the names. After two trips to the hardware store I still couldn't get it right. And then realised that it was Wednesday which is the day we get home late after dance class so I make a casserole but I forgot and there wasn't long enough now for it to cook properly. Feeling a bit exhausted, really, with all the running around today. We got Indian food on the way home. And another call from Wendy during dinner, she said she had some positive news but I'm not sure what exactly because nothing she said seemed particularly positive to me. I suppose "He promises he will take his pills now" could be taken as positive but I didn't know he wasn't! And the fact dad had his MRI today and we'll get the results on Friday, well not really fabulous news. Oh well, I guess she is trying to see the bright side. Better than the alternative! I'd hate if she called me every day and moaned and wailed and predicted the worst! So I should be grateful.

Have a good night everyone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015



My focus today has been that job my husband is going to apply for on Norfolk Island. He (and anyone else) still have a couple of weeks to apply, but then the job starts on 01 July. Which is 6 weeks from now and 4 weeks from the date applications close so less than 4 weeks between getting a "yes", if that happens, to having to move! There are some things I need to do now just in case.

Like getting the house ready to rent out for the year we would be away. Meaning getting all those little jobs done. Doors that stick, a dripping tap, some tiles peeling off in the bathroom, some water damage from when a roof tile was broken in a storm. Tim doesn't have the time and I don't have the skill so I'm getting a handyman to come in. Also someone coming to quote for new curtains and blinds. And a cleaner to help me with some of the hard bits like the skylight in the bathroom. And a quote for new flooring out in the studio. What I like to call the studio is a room attached to the house but with no internal access, it might have been the original garage and it is now our junk room. Our plan would be to clear out the junk and store our stuff out there while we rent out the rest of the house. That is a huge job - there are a lot of boxes and old furniture out there. And a treadmill that weighs 112 kg. I'm hoping the Salvation Army will want a lot of it. I looked into self-storage nearby but was shocked to find it's $333 per month for a garage-sized room, so it's handy that we have this space separate from the house. Or we could possibly rent our house fully furnished - but do we want other people using our lovely dining table? Or our beds? That is just weird. I'll get real estate agents' advice on what to offer to leave, if anything.

If this seems a bit pre-emptive, well we need all this stuff done whether we go to Norfolk Island or not. Whether we stay or rent or sell, it would be good to have a bathroom door that closes! I've just let all this stuff go for too long because a lot of it seems like things we could do ourselves, but we never do.

My aunty Patricia, who we saw on the weekend, has been to Norfolk Island (in 1988) and said it was lovely, and my friend Caroline has a friend who lived there a long time ago and who said it was nice. It's not much, but it's all positive.

Aside from all those phone calls and research, I did the grocery shopping in the morning and had tea with Caroline in the afternoon. My shoulder is so much better today after last night in my own bed, and also not being stuck in a car all day. Doing my physio like a good girl.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Visiting dad and rescuing a dog

Sunday and Monday:

Our little country motel offered toast and cereal and the like for breakfast, but we decided to drive the few blocks into the centre on town for breakfast on Sunday morning. We parked and started to wander up and down streets and through the mall. Nothing was open. Siri found us one coffee shop but it wasn't the sort that sold breakfast, just coffee and a few cakes. After a cold and hungry fruitless search, we drove to the outskirts of town and went to McDonalds. I guess we're just city folk, used to everything being open all the time. Who doesn't have brunch on Sundays after a night out?

The good thing about this trip to McDonalds was that we found a beautiful park on the way. It was new since I spent my childhood summers in the area, a created lake and wetlands with a lovely walk around the outside and two children's playgrounds. So after breakfast we went for a stroll. There were lots of ducks and some pelicans in the water

and then we saw this little guy.
He was swimming around and diving, presumably for food. The tail was wrong for a platypus, we don't have otters in Australia as far as I know, and he was too big for a rat although he looked like one. In the end we decided he was a native Australian water rat of some kind.

Then we got caught up in the Million Paws Walk. This is a charity dog-walking event. There must have been 50 or more dogs of all shapes and sizes with their owners, walking along the path beside the lake. They ended up congregated at one end of the park where they held some competitions. Best trick, best costume;

And I thought there should have been a prize for the dog and owner who looked most alike;

After this pleasant interlude we went to the hospital to see dad again. The relief that he wasn't as bad as I'd thought had worn off a bit. He is very sick, and we still don't really have any details. We asked a nurse but she didn't know much. His blood sugar levels are still way too high and they are giving him insulin injections. (I decided against giving him chocolates!) I'm hoping if they can stabilise that then he'll feel better and can start eating more and maybe go home.

At lunchtime we went back to the lovely park. We had lunch at a café next to the lake, the food wasn't great but the view was.

We walked around (I didn't have my fitbit on because I didn't think to take my charger, but I'm sure I did 10,000 steps again) and the kids played while I sat in the lovely sunshine and Tim jogged around the lake.

Then we drove out to dad's house, some 15 or 20 mins out of town to pick up dad's partner Wendy. She doesn't drive so she's been dependant on other people taking her to the hospital and shopping. She must be very isolated and lonely out there without dad. My aunty Pat has been driving her in most days. We went and spent more time with dad. Tim took the kids outside for a while and they chased wild rabbits around the lawns outside the hospital. They both now want a pet bunny. We took Wendy to the shops to get groceries then drove her back home.

We got back into town ready for dinner. Only to find the same problem as we had in the morning. Everything closed (or non-existent) on a Sunday night. Siri directed us to places that had either shut down or were so closed and dark that we couldn't find them. We ended up going to a Thai restaurant even though that is what we'd had the night before. It was that or take-away pizza eaten on our motel beds. Luckily we all like Thai food.

Tim and I both slept very poorly our second night there. My shoulder was aching quite a lot. In the morning we blearily managed to find a café that was actually open, being Monday, then we hit the road early for the long drive home.

Seeing dad sick was sad, and the driving was tedious and hard on my shoulder, but some parts of the weekend were really nice. I hadn't seen dad for a few months so it was good to talk to him, and I saw my aunty Pat (some other family members who live down there were away, and I didn't feel up to seeking out the others) and the park was really nice. The kids would have happily spent all day there. Very glad we went, but it's nice to be home.


I had just finished the above at 5pm then Tim called me outside. There was a dog roaming around trailing his lead, and I am good with animals (and babies). I went out and called him and he ran over to me. I caught him easily and set to work calming him down.
 He looked like maybe a Rhodesian ridgeback cross, medium size but very strong. He was obviously very scared and worried. Once I had his lead he sat and leaned against my legs. He was agitated by someone walking down the path on the other side of the road and by a lady with a pram. My hand is still hurting from holding him! He barked and even growled a bit so I tried to keep the kids at a distance for a while but he wasn't actually aggressive, just scared (which is still dangerous with dogs). After a while he seemed comfortable with them.

We stood outside for a while in case an owner turned up looking for him, and gave him a drink which he seemed very grateful for, then after a while called the appropriate authorities. They said they could either pick him up at lunchtime tomorrow (!!) or else we could take him to a vet who could check his microchip to find his owners. He didn't have a tag. I didn't want to put him in the car, not knowing how he would react, and not having any appropriate restraint, so we walked him the 2 km or so to the nearest vet.
Tim had the lead, I just wasn't strong enough. He wasn't very obedient, pulling ahead hard or else stopping to sniff and urinate. But he seemed like a nice dog. At the vet, they said he had a microchip and his name was AJ (I had guessed Max), and said he lived in Evatt which is a couple of suburbs away over several main roads in peak hour! No wonder he was scared. They couldn't get through to the owner right away but took him out the back to hold him until they could, and we walked home. I felt like we did a good deed for the day. And got our exercise too!

I was very late starting dinner, Wendy called while I was cooking with some good news. They'd managed to speak to a doctor who thinks dad is improving a bit. He ate today (food Wendy took in, not hospital food) and although the hospital doesn't expect to release him until the end of the week, still it is good news.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Not as bad as I feared


We drove all day and went to see dad in hospital. I'm glad my aunt and dad's girlfriend both warned me how terrible he looked, because in comparison to my imagination he didn't look so bad! It was quite a relief instead of a shock. They did say he was looking a bit better and less pale today. Of course he did look sick and older than I last saw him, but not the skeleton I was expecting. The doctors have got him on insulin and are still trying to stabilise his blood sugar.

I planned ahead for the trip and brought along snacks and a picnic lunch. We drove up a steep track behind a little town and ate our lunch at a lookout on top of a mountain. It was quite lovely.

We walked to the hospital from our hotel a few blocks away, and obviously back again, so I made my 10,000 steps today. So overall a pretty healthy day.

Our hotel room is very cold so I'm glad there are electric blankets on the beds. Good night.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Norfolk Island


I just had to write this down because I'll all excited. And you get to see me happy for a change! It's not about dad, unfortunately, no news there yet. But last night when Tim got home he mentioned that there was a job going that he could apply for. It's not in a location we'd considered, and it's only for a year so we'd still end up in the same position in 12 months, and of course there's no guarantee he'll get the job anyway. But I so want to go!

It's on Norfolk Island. Norfolk is a teeny tiny island off the coast of Australia. A long way off the coast. 1,400 kilometres off the coast, way out in the Pacific Ocean. And it is small. 35 square km. Population - 2,302. It is a crazy insane wonderful idea.

Talk about getting away from it all! It has internet access, if a bit slow, two flights to Sydney a week, it's got shops and restaurants for the tourists, cows have right of way on roads, there is only one school right up to yr12, sub-tropical weather, and it's beautiful.

I lay awake for a long time last night thinking about it. Would we sell our house or rent it out? How much stuff could we take with us? What about a car? There is accommodation offered with the job, would that be ok or a hovel? These were not the worried stressed thoughts usually keeping me awake, but happy excited thoughts.

I know it could very well not work out for one reason or another. But so what? At least I've had the pleasure of planning.



Well, I had a difficult day. First there was last night. After a phone call with my aunt - dad's sister - who was trying to prepare me for dad's altered appearance after months of eating very little, and an earlier dispute with my son that left us both in tears (very rare, obviously my resilience and tolerance were way down), I was feeling pretty wrung out. Then we had a power blackout. The night was clear so I don't know why, but certainly the whole block was out. We read by the light of our iPhones (how medieval) but it started getting cold without the heater so we went to bed a bit early.

Obviously I couldn't use my CPAP without power. The electricity did come on later (then we found out which lights had been left on) but I had already settled in for a guilt-free "night off" my CPAP. I know that might not make a lot of sense when it helps me to sleep more soundly, but I still don't much like having that thing strapped to my face every night. I wanted the freedom of being able to turn over with a big tube dragging from my nose!

In terms of restlessness and quality of sleep, it seemed about the same as one of my bad nights with the CPAP that I still have every third night or so, so that wasn't a dramatic change. The main difference was that I accidently spent some time sleeping on my stomach, something the CPAP prevents with its bulk. It used to be my favourite sleeping position but now it makes both shoulders hurt. So I woke in a bit of pain after that and took quite a while to get back to sleep. Also, I had a sore throat when I first woke which makes me think I was snoring, common with sleep apnoea, although Tim slept through it if I was. Anyway, it was one night and I know I sleep better with my CPAP, back to using it tonight.

So we come to today. I dropped off the car at the mechanic and walked the couple of blocks to my physio appointment. I was running a little late and had to hurry, and I stepped in a pothole crossing the road and hurt my ankle (it's fine now). But I ended up only a few minutes late. Only to find I was actually three hours early! I had put 12:40 on my iPhone calendar, the clinic had sent me a reminder yesterday that said it was at 12:40, yet somehow I had got it into my head it was at 9:40. Did I mention my brain doesn't work too well when I'm stressed?

It wouldn't matter too much except that I didn't have my car. I was envisioning walking home, then back in again to my appointment, then later doing the trip again to pick up my car. I suppose it would have been good for me, but it seemed a bit much. So the receptionist managed to move my appointment up to 11:00 and told me to go and have a coffee or something for an hour.

I walked the couple of blocks to the big shopping centre and started to look for something to take to dad in hospital. It was tricky, because he hates greeting cards (someone else's sentiments on a ridiculously overpriced piece of cardboard), has no interest in flowers, doesn't read except the newspaper, wasn't eating much because he was too sick... His interests are sport and alcohol - not necessarily in that order. And I wasn't taking him a bottle of wine to wash down his morphine, although he'd probably appreciate it.

I had this bright idea of making him a pretend bouquet of "flowers" made of rolled up sporting pictures, like his favourite football or cricket stars. I thought it could look cute. So I went to the newsagent but although there were a million magazines for golf, cycling and fishing; apparently the kind of people who watch dad's favourite sports are not big readers. What little they had didn't have enough full-page pictures for my idea to work. I bought a general sport magazine and one with football stats anyway, I thought if he has the energy he might like to flick through them. And also a box of his favourite chocolates, maybe they will spark his appetite. It's likely they'll all just sit on his side table, but it was the best I could think of.

I still had some time so I went to a chocolate café which has been there for at least a couple of years but I had never been in. I ordered their basic small-size hot chocolate. The first half I decided it was the best (and at $5.90, most expensive) hot chocolate I had ever had, but after that it just seemed much too sweet and I left the rest. I went from "yum" to "I'm starting to feel sick" after a few mouthfuls. I was feeling pretty sad and stressed, too, so I didn't really enjoy the indulgence.

Back to physio, which went well. My therapist was gentle again with the massage so it was only moderately painful, and she gave me some more exercises to add. Someone across the hall was obviously having a very painful manipulation - lots of sounds of someone in extreme pain!

I called the mechanic before I set off for my walk home to see if I could save myself a trip. They still couldn't get the car to make the worrying sound - it hadn't for me this morning either - but they said the belt (?) was possibly a little loose so they tightened it. Otherwise they couldn't find anything. I went and picked it up and got to drive home. I was glad not to have to do more walking, I'd done a fair bit of trotting around already and I just wanted to get home.

I found out that dad's current Will was written before he got divorced from his second wife, so the executor has asked me to make sure he makes a new one. I didn't want to do it over the phone so I'll wait until I get there but I did prepare a couple of options for him based on his previous version, if he's happy with one of those he can just sign and be done with it. Great conversation to have with your maybe-dying father who you haven't seen for three months. Maybe I should open with that. "Hi dad, great to see you, by the way just in case you die tomorrow..." Sorry, I'm a bit tired.

Later I took Jasmine to her ballet lesson. We got home just in time for a phone call from dad's girlfriend for another conversation about how we don't really know anything new, but that the doctors want to talk to family and when would I be there so she could arrange to be there too (she's had some problems I think because she's lived with him less than a year and isn't an official de facto partner). I was still negotiating that when I noticed the ants. We've been having a problem lately with these tiny little black ants, a few times a week there will be some in the kitchen or laundry or bathroom. Maybe swarming inside an unwashed cup that had juice in it. Or my (I thought washed and clean) sugar bowl. There have been a couple of bigger incursions. Tonight's was a doozy. I alerted the kids and we followed the thick busy trail. They came in under the back door, through the laundry, right around the outside of the kitchen and dining area, avoiding the carpet and staying on the linoleum and tiles, occasionally behind cupboards, finally disappearing behind the dishwasher right back near where they came in. All in the hour and a half we were away.

I mopped them all up with a strong eucalyptus solution, it seems to both kill those it touches and cover up the scent trails so no more come in, for a few days at least. I've won this battle, but not the war. Not sure what to do about it. I'm not keen on chemical sprays. I suppose there is a nest outside nearby, but I've never noticed it. The dishwasher is screwed in so I can't easily pull it out and see what is going on back there. The weird thing was they didn't go to any of the possible food sources like the full rubbish bin under the sink or the crumbs under the kitchen table. Maybe they were looking for a new home rather than food? Or water?

Tim is out tonight at farewell drinks for a colleague so I've got to get the kids to bed. I'm looking forward to sinking into my armchair after that and letting the day be over. It's been a tough one. I don't expect the weekend to be any easier.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day #16,387


Today is my 16,387th day alive, or at least out of the womb. New record for me! Go Natalie! Keep it up!

I really struggle when I have a lot of stress happening. Not just with sticking to my weight-loss plan, but with everything. It's like worry takes up all the available space in my brain and there just isn't any room for anything else. I have lots to do, but there is this wall blocking me; I can't do X because I'm too busy worrying. But I'm pushing on, and trying not to make it an excuse. Not very successfully, perhaps. My food hasn't been great. Nor anything else, really. Hard days.

A couple of weeks ago our car made weird noises a few times. I put it in for a service and they couldn't find what was wrong or replicate the noise. But yesterday it made the very loud worrying whirring noise nearly every time I started the car - it stopped when I switched the engine off then on again - and I think there is a slight burning smell as well. Very worrying, especially with the travelling we have to do. I'm taking it back to the mechanic tomorrow. I took my phone out to the car this morning and it made the noise one time out of three starts, but the mechanic couldn't really hear it well. He said he'll just try starting it frequently throughout the day tomorrow until it does it. I really need my car in working order right now!

Australia is about the same size as North America but less than a tenth the population. There are huge empty stretches of land between all the cities and towns. And we are heading out to the real "sticks" (country), dad's town has I think a population of 120 people (we're staying in a bigger town nearby - both the little and the big towns have streets with my maiden name because my family has lived around there for a while). Not a good place to break down. If they can't fix the car tomorrow we might have to think about hiring one for the weekend.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Crit group


Dad called this morning early, before I was out of bed (although Tim was up and answered the phone) which is so unusual for him. Generally he keeps "gentlemen's hours" as he calls them. You don't bother people before 11:00am! But he asked what day it was so he probably didn't know the time either. It scared me right away that he was doing something so out of character.

He was obviously weak and tired and a bit confused. He couldn't remember if it was his kidneys or his liver that were the main problem, but probably "everything". He said something about his head blowing up, meaning he couldn't think straight but I wasn't sure what he was talking about at first.

I spoke to the nurse a bit later on, she thought there was no immediate urgency to rush down before the weekend. We discussed the confusion which seemed to be a new symptom and she will mention it to his doctor. She said the reason they kept him in hospital yesterday was because of his uncontrolled blood sugar levels - he has become a diabetic in recent years. Maybe that is affecting his thinking? Anyway, overall she was quite reassuring that he was settled there and doing as well as can be expected. No new test results.

During dinner I talked to Wendy again. I think she is worried we aren't coming down earlier. It's all very stressful.

I got out for a walk in the chilly sunshine this morning. I didn't have a lot of time. My children were both receiving merit awards in today's school assembly and Jasmine was also playing in the band so I picked up Tim from work, we watched the assembly, then I drove Tim back to work. On the way home I went to the library. Near the library I heard this great conversation (I assume they were teenagers but I didn't turn around):

Her: You have to tell her how you feel.
Him: Well I did, but it's not that easy.
Her: You're not going to be great at sex straight away, it takes practice.
Him: I know, I'm still learning.
Her: Oh! I meant her, not you.
Him: The only reason I got my tongue pierced is for her, but she doesn't like it.
Her: Really? Maybe she finds it uncomfortable.

Ah, the kids of today.

I had a very late lunch, and then Jasmine's dance lesson I had a very short time for dinner, which was also interrupted by my conversation with dad's partner. Then I rushed out the door for this month's critique group. So cold outside! But the meeting went well. I was really nervous, I don't like criticising someone's book to their face! So much easier via email. But I had a few pertinent things to say and I got them out, then was able to sit back and listen to other people's input. Honestly, for a shy person like me it was easier to hear other people criticise my book than to point out flaws in someone else's!

Came home to a lovely warm house, a bit more dinner reheated, and some favourite TV the family taped for me. Luxury.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015



Today was my 13 year wedding anniversary.

We went out to lunch at a restaurant called Courgette which is French for zucchini. The butter for the tiny bread rolls was bacon flavoured. Last year I think it was anchovy flavour and I didn't like it, smoky bacon was much nicer! The cutlery there was crazy long. That is not a trick perspective photo!

I took some surreptitious pictures when I was pretty sure no one was looking. Here is my entrée, "seared scallops with smoked cauliflower puree, fennel crunch and fermented black garlic".

I didn't take a picture of my main, but it was "mushroom tortellini, charred leeks, kale chips, free range egg yolk, onion jus". It was my least favourite of the three courses, but still nice. Fairly ordinary taste but plated up well.

My dessert was "Windsor strawberries and cream, meringue, custard, mint cloud, freeze dried mandarin". Delicious.

It was a very nice lunch with my lovely husband, and I left the restaurant full but not overstuffed. I have no idea how to estimate calories though, I haven't been tracking for a few days so I think I'll start tomorrow! My goal is to lose 3.3 kilograms this month.

In the afternoon I went for a walk out in the cold and felt super sleepy afterwards. Last night I pulled off the CPAP after only four hours, for the first time in weeks, because I turned onto my back and water ran down into my nose! Only a little bit but it felt horrible when I was mostly asleep at the time. It was probably condensation because the room was cold but the air in the CPAP is warmed and humidified. After that I didn't sleep well.


If it seems like I tack on things like news about my dad at the end of my posts it's not because I don't find them important, it's because I often write most of my post earlier in the day but don't finish it until the evening if something else happens I want to write about. My dad's partner Wendy called tonight, he went in for more tests today, no results yet, and he was so unwell they have kept him in hospital again. Wendy says he looks like a walking skeleton. He is not a compliant patient and just wants to go home, very grumpy. I have booked a hotel for the weekend - it seemed easier for them than staying at his house, and if he is in hospital the hotel would be a lot closer - but I am getting very worried that this weekend could be too late. I am going to call the hospital in the morning and see if they have any advice, then decide.

Monday, May 11, 2015



I had my first really good night's sleep in a while and I could tell the difference this morning, I was bustling around in the kitchen instead of zombie-walking doing the minimum to get my children off to school. I used the dustpan and brush to sweep up something then decided the dustpan was filthy so I cleaned it! And the sink. And tackled the ant incursion, they always come in when it rains. All before my morning cup of tea.

I haven't done any exercise aside from the occasional walk for a couple of weeks now, and my troublesome shoulder has settled right down and is hardly bothering me at all. It's great that it feels better, but bad that it took stopping exercise.

I had my physiotherapy appointment this afternoon. We went through my history, looked at my shoulder movements and she did some massage. It wasn't too painful and she always eased back when something hurt. She said she didn't see value in doing something that hurt the patient. I wish she'd told that to all my other physiotherapists over the years! In the past I was usually trying to slide off the other side of the massage table to get away! And after she'd finished we did the shoulder movements again and I could do a lot more with less pain than at the start of the session so that was great.

Then we went into their little gym and she showed me what moves she wanted me to practice before she saw me again on Friday. I have to stay away from other shoulder movements in the meantime because my muscles and other tendons have got into bad habits to compensate for the broken tendon. I need to retrain them to move in the right way before strengthening them. Working on form! The way my shoulder moves at the moment the bones pinch other things.

Aside from the shoulder exercises I can walk, including on the treadmill at the gym in this nasty weather. Or she said I can use the elliptical if I'm careful to let that arm go along for the ride rather than doing the work. It's good that I have some guidelines now.

The uncertainty about where we want to live continues. Just when we'd more or less decided we didn't want to go to Sydney after all, it seems there is a possibility of work there for Tim (same high stress level as now). We really need to do some thinking. My favourite option is a sea change if Tim could find a lower stress job in a small town on the coast, but it occurred to me on the weekend that that makes future tertiary education for the kids more difficult. I'm assuming one or both will go to University. There is some accommodation at campuses for country students, and of course some teenagers move out of home into share housing which means finding a part-time job, but most kids here live at home throughout their University years. Much easier if you live in a city, and both Sydney and Canberra have great Universities. Do we just stay where we are, maybe renovate? I just don't know yet.

Because of time zone differences Tim and I will weigh in tomorrow morning for our dietbet. It is also our 13 year anniversary tomorrow and we are going out to lunch at our favourite super-fancy restaurant that we only go to once a year. Very elegant and refined. We'll have three courses but it's one of those places where each course is one pea (actually organic tea-smoked sous-vide of peas crushed by virgins and reformed into a pea shape) placed delicately on a micro-thin shaving of Venezuelan beaver cheese made from milk sourced from the prize-winning beaver "Royal Velveteen". Not too fattening.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers' Day


Happy Mothers' Day to all mothers out there!

It was my first Mothers' Day since my mother's death, and I'm also worried about my dad, so that was a bit sad. But mostly I had a lovely day. Tim cooked breakfast and dinner (and dessert) and we went out to lunch. I got presents and cuddles from my lovely children.

We also went out to see some live modern dance at the theatre, it was actually a birthday present I bought for my husband. Unfortunately it wasn't very good. Instead of being in the big theatre, we were directed to a small dingy room around the side. The choreographer introduced every piece, and it was obviously her trying to relive her glory days when her art was edgy and controversial - literally 50 years ago. It was all to 60s music that only the oldest people in the audience recognised, or else to weird spoken word "music" or erratic drumbeats etc. She told us proudly that some of the costumes were the originals from the first production - you could tell, they were a bit threadbare and didn't fit properly.

Maybe it wasn't quite as bad as all that. Not quite. There were a few decent moments. Anyway, we got our enjoyment after the show making fun of it after we were safely away and out of earshot of the performers.

It was a freezing cold day with a bit of icy rain so it was nice to get home to have dinner and relax in front of the TV.

I hope everyone, mothers or not, had a lovely day.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Worried about dad


I've signed up for the four week dietbet starting on Monday. And Tim is going to do it with me! We discussed it back when I joined the six month one, but decided he didn't have 10% to lose. But 4% is perfect for him, just a few kilograms. He already exercises a lot as he rides his bike to and from work every day in nearly every weather, so he'll have to cut down on the food just a little. He's a bit of a carb addict and quite often turns to toast in the evenings. It will be nice to do it together.

I've decided to stick with carb cycling, but go the "classic" option instead of the "turbo" I was doing. I'll be alternating high and low carb days, I was struggling a bit with two low carb in a row. And I've also decided on the option of a small treat or treat meal on each high carb day rather than one big blowout on the weekend because I've deprived myself all week. By small treat I mean a couple of squares of dark chocolate as my afternoon snack, or real pasta instead of zoodles sometimes. Actually I like zoodles, but that sort of thing. A bit of extra leeway without letting calories get out of hand. And it allows for a treat meal that includes both carbs and fat - otherwise not allowed together - which gives me more flexibility with meal choices. I'll see how it goes.

The goal is to lose weight while still feeling good both physically and mentally. No injuries, no misery from depriving myself.

I'm worried about my dad tonight. He's been sick for eight weeks now and getting worse all the time. He's spent much of this week in hospital. He coughs all the time and can barely talk and has no appetite and his kidneys are failing. He's having more tests on Tuesday so hopefully we'll know something then, but either way I think we'd better make the drive down there next weekend. I am bracing myself for more bad news. Dad's partner Wendy is there looking after him and when I talked to her tonight she basically compared it to caring for her late husband in his last illness. This is just a sucky year so far.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Getting on with life


I had my pity party yesterday and I'm ok now. I've booked in physiotherapy for Monday and I'll see how that goes, with the possibility of looking into surgery later.

I never had a particular incident that caused the tear, that I am aware of, just gradually increasing pain over a period of several months. That coincided with my push to go to the gym regularly and starting BodyPump. My best guess, given my history with the other shoulder, is that I have a predisposition to problems in that area and might be best to stay away from excessive exercise of that joint. Tendon tears are very common, but I am young for getting an gradual tear like this. The recent recurrence of it really bothering me (although it never stopped troubling me) seems to coincide with me doing that Fantasia game that is all arms. Until/unless I find out different, I am going to be super careful and the only exercise my shoulders get will be physiotherapist-sanctioned. I copied the below info more for myself, please feel free to skip it if you are sick of hearing about my shoulder.

The Rotator Cuff is a group of muscles and tendons around the shoulder. These muscles are important for the shoulder to function normally. They help balance the ball of the upper arm on the shoulder blade socket. A tear in one or more of these tendons can unbalance the shoulder and cause pain and weakness. It is common for these tendons to tear as people get older. Greater than 50% of people over 70 years of age have a full thickness tear at autopsy.The rotator cuff tears do not spontaneously heal. Despite the lack of healing there is greater than a 90% chance that a patient will have no pain and a return of most shoulder strength after 6-12 months.
Tendon firmly attached to boneFull thickness tear of tendon from bone
a. Tendon firmly attached to boneb. Full thickness tear of tendon from bone
The non-operative treatment of a painful rotator cuff tear includes activity modification, pain management and physiotherapy.
  • Activities should be modified to decrease the demands and stress on the effected shoulder during the painful phase
  • Pain management includes simple analgesics, anti-inflammatories and steroid injections
  • Physiotherapy helps restore shoulder range of motion and strength
Surgery is generally reserved for those who despite 6-12 months of non-operative therapy have ongoing pain and disability that is interfering with their quality of life. If a patient is considering surgery an MRI scan is organised to better define the abnormalities and ensure surgery is worthwhile.

Following rotator cuff repair, the risk of infection and nerve injury is less than 1%. The risk of stiffness is around 10% but normally resolves spontaneously by 10 months after surgery. Stiffness is more common in diabetic patients. The healing rate is not 100% following surgery, and surgery is most successful for smaller tears, in younger patients and in non-smokers.

The rehabilitation for rotator cuff repairs is longer than most patients would prefer. Tendon to bone healing takes 3 months. As a result, most patients spend 6 weeks in a sling during which driving a vehicle is not allowed. Surgeons will vary in their approach to resumption of active movement, strengthening and return to work or recreation. Patients will continue to improve for up to 2 years following surgery.

On a lighter note, a funny thing happened yesterday. I had just got in my car and was pulling out of a car park. A couple of car spaces away from where mine had been was ... my car. I stared at it. Same model and colour, but that is not so unusual. But same number plate?? In a sudden panic, I checked my surroundings. Was I in the right car? Had my key somehow worked in someone else's car and here I was driving it away? No, this was definitely my car with my junk in it. But there was my car out there. After several confused seconds I realised that the number plate was not exactly mine. Mine finishes with 67. This car's number plate finished with 76. Otherwise identical letters and numbers. Maybe the odds of that happening aren't so long, maybe there is a whole series of gold Mazda 323 with number plates counting up from 60 to 80 or something. And it's not a big city, I was going to park next to one of them eventually. But it was kind of exciting at the time to be in a weird car-warp.

I weighed-out yesterday for month three of my six-month dietbet. I didn't make the cumulative 8%, of course, or even my goal of 4%, but I had lost some weight and at the time I felt ok with that. After getting my shoulder results I wasn't really ok with anything! Today I'm back on an even keel and ready to analyse my 16 day experiment with carb cycling.

I did eat some things off-plan but I mostly stuck to it. I wasn't perfect but then I never am so that needs to be taken into account.

If I'd only weighed at the beginning and the end the small amount of weight lost might seem ok for two weeks. But I weigh every day so I know that what really happened was that I lost that weight in the first three days and then have stayed the same for most of the two weeks. On one hand, you could say I just lost water weight and the diet did nothing. On the other hand, I'd been hovering around the higher weight for weeks and now I'm consistently (for two weeks) bobbing around the lower weight and that is better than nothing.

I am considering starting a 4 week dietbet, hosted by the people who wrote the carb cycling book I'm using, starting on Monday. Being so far behind in my long-term dietbet is a bit discouraging and I think having a short term goal would be better for me to focus on. If I decide to stay with carb cycling this would be a good one to do. I love the dietbet activity board, everyone is so supportive and it is a great social network to be part of. I log on there at least twice a day so I still like being part of that community. I haven't made any decisions yet.

I went out for a walk at lunchtime, after to treating myself to a nice lunch next to the small lake near us. It was quite pleasantly warm as long as I stayed in the sun. I was annoyed at my fitbit though. I had charged it in the morning but didn't realise it didn't connect properly. So it ran out of power and didn't record my steps.

And here is a duck.

I saw my friend Annabelle with her kids in the park so had a brief chat. It was very nice to get out of the house.

Yesterday after school I took my children to the dentist, a new place we hadn't been before, for a clean and check-up. It was nice there, I was happy with it. But afterwards they gave both children a "bravery award" which was sponsored by McDonalds and had a voucher attached. This seemed an odd choice for a health practitioner! And junk food aside, I think suggesting that kids need to be brave to go to the dentist is sending the wrong message. It reinforces the idea that dentists are scary. I try not to show my own fear and hang-ups about dentists in front of them. I want them to be calm about it, sure it can be noisy and stuff they put on your teeth can taste yucky, but nothing to be scared of. Nothing you need a bravery award to get through!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bad news on the shoulder


I had my x-ray and ultrasound this morning on my left shoulder. I don't have the official results yet, but I talked to the woman doing the ultrasound quite a bit. She said I had no bursitis (inflammation) and therefore didn't need a cortisone injection. In fact she couldn't see anything unusual going on. Just the tear that I did more than four years ago that we already knew about.

I got some clarification on that. And it turns out that tears don't heal. Once your tendon tears off your bone, it does not repair itself.

If I was ever told that before, I forgot or blocked it out. I even went back and read my blog posts around that time and couldn't find any indication that I knew it, although it is not explicit either way. But I'm sure I was always expecting it to heal eventually.

So it was a bit of a blow.

The advice of the ultrasound lady (and my doctor on Tuesday) is that I go to physiotherapy and do regular mobility exercises, as I did when I first had the tear, because I need to encourage the muscles around my shoulder to take over the jobs the tendon was doing. It will give me more mobility, although not help with pain (I think).

It is certainly much better than when I originally injured it, I was in a lot of pain then and could hardly lift my arm. A year and a half after that, 14 June 2012, my blog mentions satisfaction that I could now get my arm far enough behind my back that I could just touch the small of my back with my thumb. That is where I still am now. So it healed a bit or the muscles took over or whatever, and I had an injection in Feb 2011 to deal with inflammation and pain, but then it got to that point and no further.

I am finding it difficult news to cope with. I've had so much pain and stiffness and therapy in both my shoulders now (the right shoulder was occupational overuse, I had to leave work because of it and still can't do full-time work 15 years later). Maybe I have some basic weakness in that part of my body.

I did turn to food for comfort. I know that is a very bad habit of mine.

Our power was turned off in the afternoon for some planned maintenance. No heat, no computer or TV, no kettle for tea! As I was feeling pretty miserable, I snuggled down in bed for a hour for a "woe is me" session.

I'll be ok. Just sad today.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015



I saw my doctor this morning about continuing pain and stiffness in my left shoulder, more than four years since the original tendon tear. She gave me a referral to x-ray (for arthritis) and ultrasound (for bursitis) with possible steroid injection, some mobility exercises and a suggestion to see a physio. Since I was able to book in the tests for the day after tomorrow, I'll wait for results before finding a physio. That sounds like things are moving forward, but actually my doctor basically said that as I am over 40 I've got to expect this kind of thing. Tears and stiffness and pain are normal for me now and I'll probably just have to put up with it and manage things with regular mobility exercises and anti inflammatory/pain killing medication as needed. Surgery probably wouldn't help. I am not yet prepared to give up on getting back to real health. I'll see what these tests say as a first step so I know what is actually going on, but I am not just going to accept that I'm stuck with this. I put up with it for four and a half years assuming it would eventually get better on its own, it seems that isn't going to happen so I need to be more proactive about it. It really does affect my life too much.

I did the grocery shopping and went home, then got a text that my glasses were ready to be picked up. I also had a library book that needed to be returned today (or else 25 cents per day fine!). I decided to walk the 5 km round trip to do my two errands. I just had time before school finished, and was pretty tired by the end. I had to walk briskly, especially after I had to wait ages at the optometrist. I like my new glasses and everyone noticed them. Oh, except my husband. (He did eventually). They are quite differ from the old ones, which were pale pink. These are purple. Yes, yes, I am overdoing the purple a bit. It's a good colour for winter though.

After school we went to a friend's house, I took grapes and she put out some yummy savoury crackers and chocolate biscuits. At first I ate nothing, just had my tea, but I got really hungry so I had some grapes. It was a low carb day today but I am fine with my choice. I had to sit and watch my friend and our four kids and their dog all stuffing themselves! Sticking to grapes was commendable, I think! Bending with the winds of circumstance, not breaking. (I was in a real rush after my walk and didn't have time to organise some kind of protein + fat snack for myself that would be enough to share with everyone.)

Fish and salad for dinner. I had a very clean eating day today. My renewed diet vigour is partly because the 48 hour weigh-out window for month three of my six month dietbet has started. I have my timestamp word SPINACH on a flashcard in front of me here. You weigh yourself with the word in the photo so they know it was taken on the right day. The cumulative weight loss needed for this weigh-out is 8% -- there is no way I'll make that. I lost weight in the first month but regained it all in the second, so losing all that plus more was near impossible. My personal goal for this month is 4% of my starting weight, which will get me back on the right track towards catching up by the end of the six months for the final weigh-out. It is still a big ask but I am hopeful. I ate well and exercised today and will do again tomorrow, who knows what Thursday morning's scale will bring?

Report card:
Diet: Great.
Exercise: Great. Over 12,000 steps.
Water: Excellent.
Sleep: Good.
Mental health: Good.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Clean carpet


We had our carpets cleaned first thing this morning, so we got up early to move all the smaller furniture off the carpet. Our house is all carpet! Everything was squeezed into the kitchen and bathrooms, leaving narrow corridors to essential locations. Got the kids off to school a little early and I sat in the kitchen putting up with the smell from the detergent warring with the freezing air from the open window. I'm hoping the carpet will clean up well enough that we don't have to replace it, it depends if the stains resurface after a couple of days. Last time we had a professional clean was shortly before we said goodbye to Thor. He was mostly housetrained by then, but not 100%. The carpet always looks beautiful after a clean, but sometimes stains mysteriously reappear.

I really need to get on with organising some minor repairs, either for selling the house or just for us to live here more comfortably. We are not at all handy people, more academic nerdy types. Still, I'm sure we can learn how to replace a tap washer or a door handle. Everything is online these days. We need to replace most of the blinds and curtains too. The only major thing that needs doing is some work on the ensuite bathroom. Unless we renovate instead of moving, then who knows the extent of the changes?

I've been watching various shows about renovating and selling homes, and apart from cleaning and repairing the house the main thing they recommend before trying to sell is to make the house very generic. Nothing that shows your personality. Furnish with a minimum of furniture, no clutter or knick knacks or feature walls or family photos. It seems a little boring and soulless to me, I like a house with personality, but apparently it can make it hard for other people to imagine themselves there. You want a showroom look, not a home.

Seeing my house almost empty of furniture except the beds and big items, I can understand their point. It looks pretty appealing. And much bigger!

I remember I loved this house the moment I walked in, and it has been a great house for us, but I think one thing that influenced me was it was a really hot day when I first viewed it and the lovely air conditioning was on! It has its faults, like all houses, and it's become a bit small for us with two active children, I am ready for a move if we can just work out where.

After the carpet cleaning guy was finished I went out for a walk. Really nice late-autumn day.

I spent the afternoon clearing out my desk drawers and filing cabinet and also going through some paperwork I brought from mum's house, and typing up her Eulogy. That was a bit exhausting, both emotionally and physically - my back was aching from lots of bending. And my brother called and we talked about dad being sick and how worrying that was. The kids didn't get home until 5:30 after French lesson and playing at a friend's house, so I was home alone until then. Long story short, I was feeling tired and sad by the end of the day and couldn't handle the idea of cooking dinner. I ordered pizza. I can't defend that choice. It certainly wasn't on the plan today, or anywhere close.

Report card:
Diet: Poor.
Exercise: Ok. A half hour walk.
Water: Poor. (When I let some of my rules go, I guess they all go.)
Sleep: Good.
Mental health: Poor.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


[I've been meaning to type this out for a while, it is the eulogy I gave at my mother's funeral. I was cleaning out my desk drawers and some of mum's stuff I'd brought over from her house and found this:
 I had a hard time not crying over it. It will make sense when you read on.]


When I first visited mum in hospital, a few days before Christmas, I took in some mail and opened it for her. One of the items was this (held up):
It was the third time she'd done tertiary studies. She was determined to finish her degree before she died and she studied, one subject at a time, all through her illness. She graduated just two weeks before she died. [Several of the people she worked with came up to me after the funeral and told me how glad they were to hear she had finished.]

From my point of view, as her child, mum's life revolved around teaching, learning, and children.

After High School she went to Teachers' College and then taught Kindergarten. Then she got married and had her own children. Craig, Darren, Natalie and Michelle. It was a great tragedy of her life that two of those children died. My twin Michelle was unwell from birth and died at four months. Craig was ten when he was playing on railroad tracks and hit by a train and killed. Many years later, mum did a Creative Writing course specifically so that she could express herself better, so that she could write about Craig's death and let out some of that pain.

Through divorce and the deaths of Michelle and Craig; teaching, learning and children stayed central to her life. She became very involved in the Nursing Mothers' Association of Australia, now called the Australian Breastfeeding Association. At that time, in the 1960s, mothers had lost a lot of knowledge and power in regard to feeding their own children. Babies were generally kept in a different room in the hospital right from birth and fed on a rigid schedule, or else just given a bottle. Often never seeing anyone else breastfeed, a generation of women weren't sure how to do what should have come naturally.

The Nursing Mothers' Association was founded in Melbourne, where mum was living, in 1964 and she joined when it was still in its infancy - probably in 1965 when Craig was born. She moved to Sydney a few years later and helped expand the organisation into NSW. She gave advice to hundreds of mothers as a phone counsellor, trained innumerable other counsellors, ran meetings and organised conferences, and was eventually NSW Branch President. I spent a lot of my childhood folding newsletters and putting them in envelopes, and watching mum try to cook dinner while giving advice over the phone. She helped so many new mothers gain confidence in how, when and why to breastfeed their babies.

Mum read to us from an early age: I remember 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' and lots of Enid Blyton. When I was old enough I would read ahead by myself, but then still snuggle down with her in the big bed to hear it again. She instilled in me a love of reading that I think is one of the best gifts you can give anyone.

She was always reading to herself as well, on a wide range of subjects; historical, crime fiction, fantasy, textbooks, newspapers. Anything that interested her, and a lot of things did.

Mum loved Trivial Pursuit, cryptic crosswords, and took up Sudoku when it came to Australia. Whatever challenged her mind. She went on the TV show 'Sale of the Century'. She was too slow at pressing the buzzer to win, but she got two out of the three 'who am I' questions when she had enough time and it wasn't all about fast reflexes. I was in the live audience and I remember that every ad-break the make-up people would hurry over and put more shiny red lipstick on her, and as soon as they had gone she would blot it off.

When I was a teenager, mum went to Uni to do some media studies, as far as I am aware it was just for fun because learning is enjoyable and all knowledge is worth having. One of her projects involved interviewing Allan Pease who was a communication and body language expert whose books mum was interested in. She also did one year of Linguistics, the technical study of how language works. She didn't continue with that subject, but she made it sound so interesting that I took it when I went to Uni, setting me on the path of my eventual career as an editor.

Mum returned to full time work teaching adults how to work in Childcare. Yet again she devoted years to improving the lives of children by showing others how to look after them. And while doing so, she studied for her Bachelor of Education - which she didn't need to do - to keep her own knowledge and skills up to date so that she could be the best teacher possible, and because she loved learning for its own sake. She got excellent marks, too, even in her final year.

Mum was good at most subjects, but she told me she failed one unit back in Teachers' College. As a Kindergarten teacher, she had to be able to play simple tunes on the piano and lead the children in singing. Playing the piano was fine, but unfortunately mum was tone deaf and couldn't carry a tune. They failed her rendition of 'Happy Birthday'.

She was also terrible with technology. She went through a lot of mobile phones; lost or broken or so out of power that they could not be revived - but I think mainly she would give up on ever learning how to use the current one and go and buy whatever the salesman convinced her was the easiest and most basic model.

In her early years teaching TAFE, the students would do skits taking off the teachers' mannerisms. Mum told me about one they did of her trying to get the Video Player to work. Getting flustered, dropping papers, trying to work out why the video wasn't going yet, eventually getting a student to help her. Mum loved it. It was funny, true, and affectionate. [hence the 'where's the remote' award]

Nearly eleven years ago, mum got her first grandchild and she suddenly started visiting us a lot more often! It was a shame the my husband's work kept us in Canberra, but we visited back and forth frequently. Mum babysat Jasmine and later Aiden, read to them, did craft with them that always seemed to involve lots of flowers and leaves from the garden, took a million photos of them when she could get a camera working, and gave them endless cuddles. My husband's mother has also passed away and it is sad to know that from now on my children will miss all the benefits of having a loving grandmother.

I think my brother Darren will miss her most of all as he spent the most time with her throughout his life. She looked after him, and then he looked after her. With me so far away, he did everything and I thank him for that.

I had a wonderful mother and I was lucky to have her. But there are also hundreds or thousands of people out there who were lucky to have had her as a teacher: when they were in Kindergarten, maybe their first time away from their own mothers; when they were a new mother themselves and struggling with something they thought would be so easy; or as a young adult learning a new career and hoping to be as good at it as she was. We are all lucky to have known her.



I need to share something I just read in New Scientist magazine because it blew my mind (and it's kind of a tiny bit weight related, sort of). Firstly, remember back to high school chemistry, everything in the world including us is made out of atoms which are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. More recently they have discovered that these are in turn made up of even smaller particles called quarks. So:

"although you are made of molecules that are made of protons and neutrons, those protons and neutrons are made of quarks. Quarks, as it happens, are so light that they make up only about 1 to 2 per cent of your body mass. The rest comes from the incredible energies with which these quarks interact." ( New Scientist 25 April 2015, No. 3018, p35)

To translate, only 1 or 2% of what your scale says is actual weight, the solid bits of you. The rest is energy! Isn't that amazing! So I really only weigh about 1 kg, the rest of me is all the energy from quarks buzzing around. Not sure how that works, the article got a bit technical.

Of course weight is a measurement of your mass affected by gravity, so on the moon I would only weigh 13 kg, whereas on Jupiter I would weigh 194 kg! And on the sun 2220 kg!! Just shows how little the scale really means.

Another thing I read was about a 19,000 year old body recently examined by archeologists, whose teeth show a lot about the real paleo diet. Apparently about 80% meat from hoofed animals like bison, most of the rest was fish. A small amount of seeds and other fruit and vegetables. But the woman died at 35 so they make no claims about the health benefits of the diet.

Yesterday was a rest day and a feast day. I do feel kind of refreshed by it, but I had too much. I'm still wavering about whether to just restrict that one day a week to one meal plus one snack instead of all day, or to split it so I can have something in the middle of the week and something on the weekend. Either way, I want to concentrate more on my favourite foods. Sure I like dessert, especially the first couple of bites, but what I LOVE is salty crunchy chips. They are my trigger food that I can't keep in the house so I'll have to go out of the house to get my treat. Why am I wasting calories on something that is merely quite nice? Just because I am not allowed to have it the rest of the week?! So aside from maybe some dark chocolate, I'll mostly spend my treat calories on savouries. Chips! Cheese and crackers! Cheezles! Maybe pasta or pizza.

I'm also eating more fruit, having it at breakfast as my carb instead of toast, instead of only having fruit on high carb days. I'm enjoying my oranges and pears.

I did an hour of Just Dance this morning (modifying movements for the left shoulder). I'm sure I have more energy today after extra calories yesterday, I think the low carb days are slowing me down. I'm considering changing from Turbo Cycle (two low days for every high day) to Classic Cycle (alternating low and high), I think it would help my energy levels for exercise and stop the carb cravings I have on the second day of low.

We are having all our carpets cleaned tomorrow so this afternoon we did a lot of tidying up to get stuff off the floor. The place looks better without Lego and textas all over the floor. Tim and the kids also went out to shop for Mothers' Day next week. We are going out to a live show that day (kids too), it was my birthday present to Tim but it falls on Mothers' Day so we'll go out to lunch and make a day of it.

Report card:
Diet: Good. I didn't have any leftover cheesecake (everyone else did).
Exercise: Good. A sweaty hour of dance.
Water: Good.
Sleep: Good.
Mental health: Good.