Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chalk and Cheese

Haydn and I had put plans in place to do an exercise. Given that I am currently not driving and, at times, wonder if things will ever change, we decided to look at real estate elsewhere.

Haydn called the local real estate agent for an appraisal. Armed with the knowledge that the farm was worth $???? he had thought that maybe the farm could be sold if, in fact, he could purchase another property closer to a township offering us more services than we have here. The problem with living where we live is the isolation for me closely combined with lack of services.

6 kilometres to our north we have the village of Gresford which has a general store, post office and pub. We are blessed to have a coffee shop at the moment but, not sure how long it will last as it has opened and closed 3 times in the 2 years we have lived here. 6 kilometres to the south we have the village of Vacy with nothing more than a general store and pub.

Maybe we could stumble on a great property closer to services. We are 30 minutes from the regional centre of Maitland and just over 1 hour from medical services, including the Calvery Mater hospital at which I have my cancer treatments.

We set off yesterday to meet with real estate agent number 1 in the township of Clarencetown. He suggested we drive to the property and he quickly jumped into the back seat thereby saving his own fuel. We turned off the sealed road and, as we made our way along a winding dirt road with lots of water filled pot holes, Haydn asked if this was the property. He was rudely told 'No. Keep going!' Shortly Haydn asked again if we were on the land that was for sale as he could tell that it was not good farming country. I was then told that my husband was a hard marker...too severe. How could I then admit that I had absolutely no interest in going further as we were even more isolated than we are now. This rude man was persistent and so we kept going. When we were discussing the benefits of living in our north facing home we were told we should not be making comparisons. I ask 'How then do we make the decision about value for money?' Silly me! Cannot remember exactly what was said but I remember how I felt. Could not wait to get this man out of our vehicle as I felt him grate like chalk on a blackboard.

We then met with real estate agent number 2 in the township of Dungog. Haydn explained the situation and the reason for our enquiry. After discussion about the place we had sought information on, he suggested that it would be perfect for me but not suitable for Haydn the farmer.

As we walked to the front door I was surprised to find this delightful man put one arm around me, while taking my other hand in his. He expressed his delight at meeting me while encouraging me to take special care of myself. I could feel the shift in energy levels as he walked with us to the footpath. He continued to encourage me with his carefully chosen words. Before long he was shedding a tear. As we hugged, I asked him to talk to me about what was happening. It turned out that his Mother had passed 3 years previously. He walked with us to the Pajero all the while discussing the situation and the rise in the incidence of cancer.

I felt deeply touched by the experience and could not help drawing a comparison between the two agents. Definitely chalk and cheese!

Later in the afternoon I received an email in which he suggested that he had no idea what had happened as that was not his usual style. He had realised however, that he did need to spend more time with his Dad giving them both the opportunity to heal while learning to live without their much loved Wife, Mother and Grandmother.

In the meantime we are no closer to solving the dilemma of whether or not a move would work for us...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Day

Another day...another doctor's visit.

The discussion appears always to be about side effects of medication; and therefore changes to same. I was disappointed to find that my INR reading was under 2 and, not quite at optimum level to prevent blood clotting. An increase in Coumadin to 6mg should give me an INR reading of between 2 and 3 within 3 to 4 days.

Once again, Dr Sales mentioned the obvious drawbacks of living at Vacy. I can say, with absolute certainty, that the decision to retire to the farm was not a good one, given my current health problems. What a good idea it seemed when I was healthy, and capable of driving myself wherever I wanted to go. An hour to Newcastle was nothing.

Somehow it seems I have made my bed, as my late Mother would say. Haydn is a farmer; this is HIS life. As I face my own mortality I miss my friends and the many opportunities to visit the local shopping centre for a cup of coffee. Or, to watch the world go by.

As I ponder my current situation it would seem I have a way to go to make any type of life changing decision. Dr Sales assures me I am a long way from going into care, which I had thought was probably my EASY option. Oh well! Back to the drawing board.

Of course there is also the option of believing in the countless possibilities of the mind. Telling myself that this arm is capable of doing everything that it is required to do. If I can do that, as well as getting my medications to the stage that I do not suffer from fatigue, then I could be back behind the wheel and participating in life once more.

Today was an example of just how things go pear shaped while in my current situation. Left home at 8.30am. Saw my doctor at 10am. Finished at 11am. Picked up prescriptions from pharmacy, grabbed some lunch for a 1pm appointment for Bowen Therapy which works a treat on my arm. Remember, Haydn is the driver and he gets to sit in our vehicle for the wait. Not much fun for him and, although he does not complain, I am reasonably sensitive these days. It seems to me, I have lost my freedom. I struggle with the knowledge that I have lost my independence.

As I sat enjoying the company of Ellen [receptionist], I found myself getting agitated when 1pm passed and1.30pm came around. Daphne was still with another patient. I knew that by the time she had finished with me it would be 3pm and, therefore we would be late getting home; Haydn becomes quite tired sitting around all day. I decided to leave without treatment. This would never happen if I was on my own. Why do I feel so guilty?

I know my intuition will tell me when it is time to make changes.

In the meantime I am reminded of the saying 'Things work out best for people who make the best of the way things work out'

Thursday, June 17, 2010

As I Stand Now

Yesterday I had a consultation with Dr Richard Burstal from Hunter Integrated Pain Service. I found him to be compassionate and understanding. Having requested a referral through my General Practitioner, I was optimistic that I would be offered some pain relief other than my current list of medications.

It turned out to be a painful emotional experience. I awoke in the morning feeling unwell; not at all like me. When I arrived at the Mercy Hospice for the Outpatients Clinic I could not believe that my stomach was churning. Even my coffee from the brilliant barista did nothing to settle things down. I was able to recognise the reason for my dilemma. The last time I had been in that particular part of the hospital was 1993/94 when I accompanied my late husband Ray to meditation sessions held at the hospice. Bitter sweet memories.

Taking 80mg of Oxycontin [1 b.d.] is a concern as I have been led to believe that it is not terribly effective for nerve pain. There is also the fact that it is highly addictive. Dr Burstal reassured me that the Lyrica [Pregabalin] and Epilim [Valproate Sodium] were used for that purpose. In his opinion, the 80mg of Oxycontin night and morning was not a huge problem. Although my pain is reasonably well managed, I am well aware that there have been times in the past - and likely to be times in the future -that it will be different. It is important for me to feel that I am prepared for the future and I know exactly who to turn to should the need arise.

My current treatment is designed to give me quality of life and, unfortunately, the fear factor often rears its ugly head. Having had uncontrolled pain on numerous occasions, I do not wish to go there again.

Now that Dr Burstal has seen me while I am feeling well, I have been reassured that there are many options available, should the need arise. What a relief!

Today I attended the monthly meeting of the Oncology Support Group at the Calvery Mater Hospital. I felt it would be particularly interesting as I personally have always used some form of complimentary treatment.

Our topic for this month being Anti-oxidants and other Complementary Medicines. We were to have Jon Dickson as our guest presenter. Jon has 4yrs post graduate qualifications in herbal medicine along with his pharmacy qualifications. He has 35 yrs experience in community medicine and 14 yrs experience in Herbal Medicine.

Jon is keen to introduce complementary to orthodox medicines which have scientific evidence to back them up.

Unfortunately, he was unable to attend due to a sudden death. Seems it will be rescheduled. I look forward to that.

There was some discussion about the benefit of following the asparagus cancer treatment and it surprised me to learn that one member has been using it for about 6 months while another intends to commence shortly. I believe the jury is out on the success of the treatment and it is certainly not something I would commence midway through treatment without the approval of treating doctors.

I believe it is important to remain optimistic. I find myself reflecting on complimentary treatments which are often suggested. Undertake it only if I truly believe it will work for me.

And........ never, never, never give up HOPE

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dinner Tonight

With my heightened interest in blogging once again it is good to be here. In the past I gained a great deal of insight in responding to your comments. Unfortunately I have a tendency to be a little long winded which is just not possible as I struggle with my low-level typing skills. I value your input, and look forward to the day that I am, once again, able to respond. In the meantime, please be patient and accept my heartfelt thanks. Blogging would not be too much fun without readers.

As you can imagine, food preparation is rather difficult when I am unable to hold a knife. Therefore we are always on the lookout for simple, good tasting recipes.

On a recent visit to the Mater Hospital, Haydn grabbed a recipe that looked tasty and entailed very little food preparation. Here it is; tonight we put it to the test.

Chinese-Style Curried Prawns
1 onion, thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
400g packet, raw peeled prawns, defrosted
4 cups mixed frozen stir-fry style vegetables
1 tablespoon cornflour, blended with 1 and one quarter cups chicken stock
Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Add onions, garlic and curry powder, cook for 2 minutes. Add prawns and cook for 1 minute. Add vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes.
Stir in stock mixture. Stir until sauce boils and thickens. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
In theory the recipe looks great. In practise, my choice of curry powder was apparently not mild. Although I used only 1 tablespoon it was far too hot to really enjoy however, it was obvious that it had the makings of an easy, nutritious meal.
To add to our dilemma, the rice was cooked in the microwave and it turned out like a solid rock in the bottom of the container. Where, oh where did I go wrong?
In spite of the outcome, and the leftovers still in the refrigerator, I will be doing it again in a week or so. It certainly has potential.
Maybe the hot curry was just what Haydn needed to kill of those cold germs which were probably picked up when he stood in the rain with Sonya, waiting for the courtesy coach last Friday night.

Monday, June 7, 2010


It feels important that I take the time to do regular entries and accept that, at times, they may be short and to the point. With the deterioration in my right arm/hand there may well come a time that I am dependent on voice activated technology to allow me to get my message across. In the meantime I will do my best as a one finger typist.

Feeling very chuffed today as we have been away the past two weekends and I have somehow survived.

The last weekend of May we travelled to Dubbo to visit my beautiful, and much loved, Aunty Pat who is Mum's youngest, and only surviving sister. The weather was horrendous and Saturday night saw Haydn and Uncle Bruce at the trots. The stands offered very little protection from the elements and, like a true punter, Bruce had no intention of leaving before the final race was run.

Fortunately, we were rewarded with good Chinese food that they picked up on the way home.

Haydn bought a new Mitsubishi Pajero back in November; the first new vehicle in many years. It was ironic to find that we had a rock hit our windscreen on the way home. After years of driving second hand vehicles, who would have thought that we would do a windscreen driving through Dunedoo. Oh well! That's life.

This past weekend we joined my very special friend Sonya, and her husband Trevor, in the celebration of his 70th birthday. Sonya had vouchers for a weekend at Australis Resort at Diamond Beach on the North Coast of NSW and we were invited to join them.

Once again, we were faced with horrendous weather conditions, particularly on the Friday night. On arrival at the Resort, Sonya had phoned to organise collection by the courtesy bus to take us to and from the restaurant for dinner. It was booked for 6.15pm. As we stood waiting in the pouring rain tempers were wearing a little thin when it got to be 6.40pm and there was still no sign of Ron in his, 'not so trusty' coach.

We did eventually get to have dinner and were delivered safely back to our accommodation with absolutely no let up in the rain. I think we have had about 4 inches, or 100mls, of rain over the past week.

Saturday we had an enjoyable day and even managed to fit in a movie. Our choice was Robin Hood, starring a couple of favourite Aussie stars, namely Russell Crowe and Kate Blanchett. Dinner at the local Tavern was excellent.

Cannot believe that both weekends have passed and I have taken not a single photograph. Knowing that I want so badly to have these experiences recorded, I will have to do better in future.