Friday, August 26, 2011

Saying goodbye to Froggy

Last Saturday morning I was lying in bed enjoying the fact that I had recovered from my bout of “man ‘flu”, we had no footy commitments that morning & I could catch up on some reading before channelling my inner domestic goddess and tackling the somewhat neglected household chores.
Then the phone rang. My friend Woolly was in tears; his wife and my friend of twenty years was in hospital and the prognosis was bleak. It was the phone call I knew would come one day but never really expected. In my mind that imagined call was always a good ten or fifteen years away. Not on a beautiful sunny morning in August 2011.
I met Froggy at the 1991 Head of the River in Geelong. She was there with her great friend Angie (a sister of a school friend of mine). It was through that chance meeting with Froggy and Angie that I ended up with a job at Bullawah Station between Hay and Conargo. We became friends and attended many B&S balls together and countless Friday nights at various district pubs (Conargo, Booroorban, Hay, Jerilderie and Deniliquin).
The years went by, we met good men, married and had children. Then one day twelve years ago Froggy phoned. She was expecting their second baby and a doctor had just informed her she had multiple sclerosis (MS). I have no idea how I would come to terms with a diagnosis like that if it had been me but Froggy faced it with calm determination. She walked into hospital to have her beautiful baby girl Charlotte and came out in a wheelchair.
Froggy is a great listener and many times over the years I have been grateful for her wise counsel and girly advice in all manner of subjects from being a wife, being a parent, the sudden and unexpected departure of my husband to my latest internet dating escapades.
It was confronting and bewildering for me to arrive at Terang hospital on Saturday afternoon and find Froggy who I’d been chatting with only two short weeks ago now struggling for breath, unable to speak, eat or drink. What do you say to a friend at this time? I talked about the things we’d done together, the funny stories, great times, the five awesome children that we’d made and I told Froggy that I loved her and how grateful I was that she was in my life but mostly I just sat with her, held her hand and stroked her face.
That night Woolly and I stayed at the hospital. Woolly on the couch and I was in my swag on the floor. It was like being back in those days of early motherhood when you’d wake at the slightest noise your baby would make. It was a wrench to leave on Sunday afternoon to come home. Saying goodbye to Woolly, their daughters Isabella and Charlotte and most of all, my friend Froggy who I won’t see again. A humbling experience that shifts my perspective and reminds me what is important in this life. Safe travels Froggy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Man 'flu and having faith in our own body

Why is it so hard to get a doctor’s appointment and are we too dependent on Western Medicine? Rather ironically I thought up this topic last week, when I was the picture of good health. Today my head is pounding, I have a roaring temperature, runny nose and hacking cough and have had to reschedule my clients. I seem to have somehow contracted the female equivalent of “man ‘flu” (only much much worse). I sincerely hope my obituary doesn’t appear in this issue of The Bridge as well.
Meanwhile back to my topic for the week. Being blessed with relatively good health, I only visit my doctor occasionally for an annual check up, which I usually get around to every two or three years. I am always amazed at just how busy my doctor is. Typically I will phone for an appointment to be told by the very helpful receptionist, that there is a six week wait. Unless it’s urgent and then they will do their level best to squeeze me in. SIX WEEKS! (note: my doctor isn’t in Barham).
In our world of mobile phones, text messaging, the internet, fast cars, fast food; we are so expectant on instant results, that no one has any patience (except for doctors… and that’s an entirely different word). We want to be better NOW (God knows, I do), we want to rush off to the doctor and get a pill or potion as soon as possible. I wonder though, is this helping our bodies? Have we lost faith in our body’s own incredible power to heal itself. Are we clogging up doctor’s appointment books with unnecessary appointments? Would it not be better to perhaps pause, spend a day in bed or relaxing in the sunshine, get extra sleep, live on homemade chicken soup and give our bodies a chance to heal themselves? Obviously I’m referring to relatively trivial, run of the mill illnesses here. For serious medical concerns get to your local GP or hospital quick smart.
About ten years ago I was struck down with my first ever bout of sinusitis; it was agony. Off to the doctor I went and was quickly prescribed some antibiotics, they worked like magic. Or so I thought until the next bout of sinusitis followed a month or so later and so began a cycle of sinusitis, doctor’s appointment, antibiotics, sinusitis, doctor’s appointment, antibiotics. That went on for the best part of 18 months until I discovered an ancient Chinese remedy: sniffing warm salt water up my nose. Simple yet effective in solving sinusitis.
There is a lot to be said for good food, fresh air, regular exercise and plenty of sleep (some days this is easier to achieve than others). My regular early morning walk with my friend Ilka is as much about mental health as it is about physical health. The physical exercise gets the endorphins bouncing at the start of the day and we take turns in discussing whatever is on our minds (some fascinating topics I tell you!). Right about now I could mention the benefits of regular massage therapy…. but that may be viewed as advertising…. so I won’t.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How I became a columnist

At the start of last week I received an email from the editor of The Bridge, suggesting that seeing as I appeared to enjoy sharing my thoughts with the world on a regular basis, then perhaps I would like to pen a weekly column. No pressure, I could write about anything I liked just so long as I “…don’t slander anyone, no name calling, no swearing and no constant advertising of your massage parlour – plus try to keep it truthful. Regards Pete” I agreed and ignored his faux pas regarding my remedial massage therapy clinic.
My tendency towards megalomania surfaced and soon I was envisaging a syndicated column on a global scale combined with an excellent passive income stream. By 5.30am the following morning however, I was frozen with anxiety and wondering how on earth I was going to write anything, let alone a weekly column? I had writer’s block and I hadn’t even begun my new literary career.
Since then I have pretty much swung between delusions of grandeur and a crisis of confidence of epic proportions. These wild swings of emotion may be due to astrology and the fact that my star sign is Libra. I once read that a Libran’s idea of a balanced diet was to pig out one day and starve the next. Moderation is not my thing.
Hopefully some weeks this column with make you think, laugh or think and laugh (even better), other weeks it might make you despair at the trivia that comes from the deep (and not so deep) recesses of my mind…. bear with me if you can.
In the interest of research I have spent a considerable amount of my spare time this week Googling “how to write”, “how to be a columnist” and “how to stop procrastinating”, borrowed the film “Marley & Me” from Peelies Video Store, cried watching the film “Marley & Me”, wondered if my column would improve if I got a dog and ordered a couple of books on how to be a writer.
To quote my good friend Jane, “Anyway, enough about me; what do you think about me?”

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why Barham isn't Venice

Another week, another issue effecting our town (and no, I have not forgotten about our white line fiasco ...when is that community painting day?).
I wish to draw people's attention to another very real issue effecting our local economy: the SES flood warnings for the Murray River at Barham. (Note: I am not referring at all to the people of surrounding areas of Benjeroop, Murrabit and Kerang districts who were affected by flood waters in a catastrophic & devastating way)
Many of us in town, I am sure, received numerous phone calls over summer from concerned friends outside of our district, worried about our welfare and if indeed we were submerged under flood waters in the township of Barham. While causing some of us amusement that people actually thought this may have been the case, it also caused an extremely detrimental effect to our local economy in the form of a sharp downturn in visitors to our town and district.
This is happening once again with the recent SES flood warnings for the Murray River at Barham.
Barham's economy is greatly enhanced by and partially dependent on the tourists and travellers that come and visit. Unfortunately when the SES issues a flood warning for the township of Barham (albeit minor rural flooding), people are prone to misinterpret that warning and visualise our town in a Venetian like setting, ie: our streets as canals and the inhabitants getting around in Australian gondolas (tinnies). Whilst amusing (now I am visualising it myself), this is not a good thing. People then tend to avoid coming to visit as they mistakenly believe we are cut off by floodwaters.
What is the solution? I am sure it cannot be that hard to rectify. Perhaps more specific flood warnings? Are minor rural flood warnings really necessary? As I have stated in a previous letter, the SES & their volunteers do a brilliant job under difficult circumstances ...however the issue of flood warnings needs to be addressed and a solution found.