Farewell, young Prince


Once upon a time, an effervescent soul joined the theatre in her native England. Oh, what fun was had in the halcyon, carefree days of her youth, treading the boards. She eventually emigrated to Australia, and joined a local company, befriending a gent with a twinkle in his eye and wicked sense of humour. Life provided the pair with many twists and turns, including marriages to other people, but somehow they found each other again. The lady was in demand as a singing teacher and also as a performer. She smiled a lot and her love of sequins befitted her seemingly extroverted self. Yet, I recall bumping into her at the supermarket, one bitterly-cold evening. We exchanged pleasantries, and then I saw the look. The look that betrays the dimples and smile, and  speaks of pain that the eyes can’t hide, no matter how trained in the theatre one is. She was lonely, so lonely, and needed everything in her contracted world to expand. She ultimately needed to see the fellow from long ago. He had since divorced as had she. She attempted to explain who he was and what he could possibly become in her future, but there weren’t enough superlatives on earth. Complex, bitingly funny, sensitive and much more. I truly couldn’t wait to meet him.

A medical professional, biker, guitarist and intriguingly also a plumber, he greeted me warmly. My friend had come back to life with his presence and they married. He had an horrendous, abusive upbringing which had scarred him in ways only she knew how to soothe. Over the next few years, they built a life together. He was spiritual, more than religious, as he had witnessed his share of hypocrisy and one thing he couldn’t abide was cruelty, nor fools. He had already endured several agonizing illnesses, and numerous surgeries. Trying to keep life and soul together was proving too much.

A sandy-haired medico/biker, with an impish grin and wicked humour made the choice to not continue. I will think of you, my friend, whenever I open a decent bottle of plonk, hear the engine revving on a motorbike, listen to proper music and look into your beloved’s eyes. Those eyes which once contained an Olympic pool filled with tears, are now twinkling. You conjured hope into being, and so it remains.

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Removed from Society by NBN Cable (Digital Detox)


I thought I may have finally got the balance right regarding social media and the internet. Refraining from oversharing, and pulling back from the dreaded Fear of Missing Out and understanding the truth behind a cultivated snap and status. Seeing who the fearsome Wizard really was behind the curtain in Oz. A house move saw me taken off the internet for the term of my natural life (okay, it was a month)! A fibre optic cable below my house was damaged and needed replacing. It was a month filled with highs and lows.

The Lows:

  1. My daughter is enrolled in some excellent classes, which can only be accessed online. This presented a problem.
  2. No Netflix, Stan or Apple TV!
  3. This led to no The Handmaid’s Tale for four weeks!
  4. I couldn’t complete research for my upcoming book.
  5. I couldn’t write on my blog.
  6. Our many groups sent out invitations and vital information, via Facebook, which we couldn’t access.
  7. We missed hearing loved one’s news, and knowing what was going on in their lives.
  8. A strange feeling of isolation, of being on an isle by ourselves, took place.
  9. Paying bills and keeping informed about payments was a hassle.
  10. We missed opportunities only presented online.
  11. We certainly missed the feeling of connectedness.
  12. We craved the immediacy of being able to put a query into a search engine.

The Highs:

  1. When we woke, the first thing we did was not look at social media. We chatted over breakfast instead.
  2. My daughter rediscovered workbooks and the joy of reading novels.
  3. We played board games after dinner.
  4.  We found ourselves having early nights and waking refreshed.
  5. We were so busy setting up house (and our lives), that we rarely thought of social media.
  6. We found out who we were and where the internet left off in its cultivation of us.
  7. We rode out the listlessness and found a contentment with being without our devises.
  8. There was time to potter, to read, play and rest.
  9. We found that if we took a photo and couldn’t upload it to Instagram, it would still exist and bring joy.
  10. We brought out our old DVDs to delight in.
  11. I lost a large chunk of anxiety, being offline. I sometimes felt as though social media were a beast that demanded to be fed and acknowledged. Once you were on Facebook, for example, it would feel rude to answer one or two messages, and not the rest. The same feeling applied to going to one or two groups and not the others. So many invitations and details to remember!
  12. We needed this month to reflect and replenish, and we did just that without the sensory overload.

A lovely fellow came over and fixed our NBN connection, once and for all. Sure, it was a relief to be back online, but there was also a feeling of wistfulness. You know the feeling when your phone has been off and when you switch it back on it lights up and buzzes with numerous notifications? Whilst we enjoy being back online, with all that it entails, we are also wary of getting sucked back onto the digital highway. You know how one moment you are answering a Facebook message, and the next you are looking at Meerkats on YouTube? You don’t know how you got there, nor are you adult enough to switch off. Before you know it, its 2am and you have to be up in four hours. The IPad and laptops may be fired up again, but we have kept the board games and novels out, as a pertinent reminder that we are more than an avatar, and we need to regularly switch off.

 

Women and Heart Health


I had an operation at seventeen to save my heart and lungs from being crushed, after my initial bone grafts crumbled and weren’t able to keep my spine straight. It remains incredible to me, that my chest was opened- floating ribs removed- and someone massaged my heart for many hours during the mighty surgery. I guess I became cavalier about my heart as a result. After all, the amount of times I thought this heart was incapable of any further psychic injury, and yet it still kept beating, is incalculable.

Four years ago, I lost my dear friend, Serena, and my attitude toward my heart changed. She had a family history of cardiomyopathy, with both her father and aunt dying young. She went to her GP, complaining of exhaustion and a nagging cough, and it was put down to a virus. She ended up collapsing at home, and was taken by ambulance to hospital, where it was discovered she was in heart failure. She was put on the transplant list and transferred to St Vincents. She died that evening, leaving us shocked. Women are more likely to die from heart disease than any other cause, and yet we are reluctant to seek help as a matter of urgency. One reason for this is that the signs of heart disease are often vastly different than for men.

A few months ago, I went to see a new doctor, as mine was on holidays. I told him that my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest and that I felt like I had indigestion each night, with a weight in my chest. I was also breathless, nauseous, dizzy, with a tight neck and was exhausted all the time. My symptoms were worse when laying in bed. He took one look at me, 48 kilograms, a vegetarian with low blood pressure, and reached for the obvious. I had gone into premature menopause in my early thirties, and it seemed that my symptoms were caused by the lack of hormones. He suggested I go back onto the patches, but something didn’t feel right. In the meantime, I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia and TMJ problems, so I put a lot of the symptoms down to these conditions, and the stress of dealing with such.

Meanwhile, I felt ever weaker, and had to grip onto furniture to stop me falling over. I was in bed early each evening, completely spent, and my heart felt as though it was going to jump out of my body. I ended up losing consciousness a few weeks ago, and an ambulance was called. When I came to, I felt silly causing all this fuss, and apologized to the two women taking my vitals as I lay on my bed. After doing an EKG, they said that they were worried about my heart, and took me to hospital. Another EKG was taken, and it was alarming. My heart was beating way too fast, signalling a problem. Another EKG was taken by my regular doctor, which showed the same. At this juncture, I took the advice to rest as much as I could.

My doctor organized an emergency appointment for me with a cardiologist, and it was found that I wasn’t breathing from the base of my lungs, and that I had chronic pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the sac that envelops the heart. Shortness of breath, fatigue and coughing are common symptoms. It feels as though I am being stabbed through the heart continuously. I was put on three medications, which will hopefully ease the symptoms, and told to rest. No exercise. I have to be careful to avoid the flu, as I can’t have a flu shot when my immune system is weak. I am going for review in a week’s time and undergoing more tests.

I am telling you all this, because I was cavalier. I drink my three litres of water each day, live on a plant-based diet and exercise daily. It still didn’t protect me. Issues with the heart can have so many causes, including genetics and stress. I have had enough stress for a few lifetimes, though I had thought I was managing it. If you are experiencing any of the above, please, go seek medical advice. The longer a potential problem exists, the more damage can be done to your heart.

I was strangely calm after these recent experiences. I had to stop and reflect; I didn’t have the energy for much else. This numinous child of mine took precedence in my thoughts, as did my determination to see her flourish as an adult. Having no time to waste has also taken priority. I have often said that you know when something is right to do because it takes nothing from you. Rather than feel drained, you feel replenished afterward. I had begun spinning out of control, like a crazed sprinkler, flinging my attention every which way. It is time to get back to basics; to have fun and do what doesn’t create such exhaustive spillage. This was my warning to do what I can, and then rest from the day’s efforts. We are only given the one precious heart, and boy, does it go through some trauma over a lifetime! Somebody once massaged my beating heart. It is my responsibility to take as good of care of it as I possibly can.