Sunday, April 15, 2018

Grey Day

It's a grey day
an almost winter day
wind and rain
but insufficient
for awe or excitement
 It's a grey day
there's some colour
in sodden autumn flowers
candlestick and sweet bird but
It's a grey day
thoughts of deaths
lie sodden in my heart

It's a grey day
the cat is unimpressed

Still it's a grey day.......

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Day of Reflection

Today was a day of reflection. A day of sadness. A day of memories. A day of past and present.

Since having a stroke in mid-December, I have done a lot of reflecting about life and death, and my thoughts were brought sharply into focus today, at a friend's memorial gathering. He became ill around the same time as me, but while I am recovering well, he did not. No rhyme or reason to it.

Having children changes your life in so many ways - mostly good. Being a homeschooling parent is wonderful in so many ways. But there's one way in which it is.... weird. It affected my friendships. There were people who I didn't get to be friends with because our kids, who were always with us, didn't get on. There were people who I had to be 'friends' with who really weren't my sort of people, but our kids were friends. Weirdly, one of those 'not my sort' remains a close friend long after our kids grew up and left home, while other friendships with people I had more in common with, did not survive the end of our children's friendship. Still another developed after our kids were grown.

Today I reminisced with one of those latter, and she expressed regret that we had not been able to remain friends, given that we have so much in common. Maybe we will resume communication, maybe not. But as we remembered our mutual friend, we both regretted not spending more time with him, and other friends. 

I had already arrived at a gut understanding of the need to live in the present: today it became urgent reality.

I need to remember the past, but let it go.

I need to hope and plan for the future, but not become attached to my hopes and plans..

Most of all, I need to live as fully as possible in the present and not put anything off for 'someday'.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


It's cooler this morning
and grey.
The deep blue-black
mountain sulks.

But from the east
a shard of gold
paints a slice
of brightest green
across a hill
in the west.

Motorcycling Vision

Rose-tinted spectacles are one thing:
looking at the world through
dark prescription lenses
and a perspex motorcycle visor
is quite another.

Wherever the summer sun
falls on leaves and
the breeze moves them,
they shine with iridescent
paua greens blues purples pinks,
and even the tops
of black plastic water tanks
and the backs of Friesian cows
shine like polished pounamu

Saturday, January 13, 2018

One Month On

Apparently, if you have a stroke, the most likely time for you to have another is in the month following. I've made it through that month alive. I am fighting the 'I'm tired', and the fear of what might happen every moment - but I am also very aware that 'there is only now'. I might have another stroke and die before I finish writing this or I might live for another 18 years without having another, before dying of something totally unrelated, like my father did. 

I've discovered how amazing ours bodies are, and especially the brain. There is so much that the brain does without us noticing. On Thursday I visited our local physiotherapist for some help with exercises to rehabilitate my weak and lacking in proper control arm and leg. On Friday I did some (just some) of the exercises and wiped myself out. Such simple exercises but they overwhelmed me. The arm exercises were meant to be done with 1kg dumbbells but I only had 1.5kg one: not a good idea. I nearly passed out. On Saturday we went to Otorohanga to Greg and Maggie's place to help re-clad their garage: well, Mac helped and I stayed inside and rested. Except it wasn't restful. I thought sitting and writing up a bunch of stuff that has been neglected would be restful but also good exercise as writing is one of the things that I've been having to re-learn. Seems that learning is hard work too, and uses up a lot of energy. Suddenly I was feeling faint and dizzy and then, fearing another stroke, moved in to an anxiety attack. Turns out all that sitting around writing had been such hard work my blood sugar was too low! A large glass of cold water, a couple of crackers and cheese, and I was out to it for an hour, sleeping the sleep of the innocent. Who would have thought it?

As well as my WOTY (word of the year), 'fearlessness', I have adopted a mantra: plan as if I'll live forever, but live each day as if it's my last. But living is hard work! I am trying to find small pleasures. I made a little no-sew, no-glue book and am writing in it the things I want to do 'fearlessly', but it's more a matter of facing up to, and conquering, fears. Just making the book was scary as I wasn't sure I still had the cognitive and fine motor skills to do it - in some ways it's easier to just not try things and just pretend that I'm fine, that I'm just choosing not to do things. But that doesn't really work, does it? Anyway, I made the book, with a few folds not folded as well as they could be, but it works. As I said, I'm writing in things I want to do, then adding dated tags of things I actually DO. Small things so far, but it's a way of reminding myself that I am making progress, to try to ward off too many poor-me times.

Part of my 'plan as if you'll live forever' policy means I am putting as much effort as I can manage into looking after my health (which means learning a whole new heap of stuff about bodies and the brains that run them,) learning more interesting stuff (like how to make a no-sew, no-glue book, politics, new thinking in feminism....,) and, something I've never done before, starting a bucket list, even though many things on it are pretty small.

Monday, January 8, 2018

When You Sit Alone

When you sit alone
facing death, or worse,
you are blessed
if you have people
to call on
to sit with you
and wait.
You are blessed
if you have people
who love you.
But ultimately,
you sit alone.

When you sit alone
facing death, or worse,
you are blessed,
by those who
love you,
but more so by
feeling love
and giving love,
to others and yourself
Because ultimately,
you sit alone.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Monday, 11 December, was a good day: a yoga class, coffee with the other yoga women, followed by an afternoon of hot, vigorous gardening - cleaning out my one ornamental garden. It was completely overgrown with weeds and out of control plants. I pulled out everything except some variegated flax, and a couple of others that will require the extractigator or possibly the tractor. Then I'll add a few wheelbarrows full of fresh topsoil and replant with something different.

However things changed after I finished at 5pm. In the morning I had had a couple of momentary incidents when my leg felt it might buckle, but it really was momentary. But 10 minutes after I came in from gardening the feeling returned but didn't go away. I rang my sister-in-law, Pat, and asked her to come and sit with me. Then I rang the NZ Health Line 0800 611 116, who said I needed to go to hospital, and rang for an ambulance. Apparently, my symptoms weren't bad enough to make me a priority: after 40 minutes the ambulance service rang to say they didn't have an ambulance free yet, and after another 50 minutes they rang with the same story just as Mac got home. So Mac told them he'd take me in. So much for all those decades of paying every year for St John membership!

At the hospital they talked of TIA:

 "A ministroke is also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). It occurs when part of the brain experiences a temporary lack of blood flow. This causes stroke-like symptoms that resolve within 24 hours. Unlike a stroke, a TIA doesn’t kill brain tissue or cause permanent disabilities. Since symptoms of a TIA and a stroke are nearly identical, you should seek immediate emergency attention if you experience any symptoms.

Knowing the signs of a TIA or ministroke can help you get the treatment you need as early as possible. Because 1 in 3 people who experience a TIA later experience a stroke, early treatment is essential."

However they were a little confused, and in a couple of cases, skeptical, because my only symptom was self-reported weakness in my right leg, and a little in my right arm. When they got me to push, pull and squeeze they couldn't feel any difference between my left and right sides. I kept saying that it was a sensation of giving way and lack of control, and I have since recognized it as the same sort of sensation as when a doctor tests your reflexes and you just can't stop than leg from jerking. But I could talk fine, and even walk fine, if somewhat slowly and nervously.

On Tuesday a CT scan showed nothing. An MIR scan on Wednesday morning was not as scary as I expected, but having to wait until Thursday lunchtime was nerve-wracking. And the result? Brain damage from a stroke. Akkk! The somewhat dismissive young male doctor looked very surprised. He  was also obviously pissed off at my questions about treatment. Mate, I question everything! Especially when you have already made an incorrect statement about T2 diabetes! Then it was home. With a shower stool, and a handrail for Mac to install in the shower and a stop to have a cuppa with Steve, who had flown up and is staying with Rob, just a couple of minutes walk from the hospital. Then more stops for a walking stick from Life Unlimited (yeah, right) and to fill prescriptions.

Friday, lots of rest, while still putting in a determined effort to do as much for myself as I could: I put on and hung out washing, did dishes, walked on treadmill twice for 5 mins and got up to 3kph and 3.5kph. I showered myself, fed the cat, made kefir, made yogurt, made breakfast. It's amazingly hard work when you have to concentrate and make every move consciously intentional. Who would have dreamed that such ordinary achievements would bring such satisfaction?

Saturday - as much rest as I could. The doctor said I could go see Paul McCartney as planned. I wonder if he actually knew who Paul McCartney was and that at the concert at Mt Smart Stadium I would be one wobbly old woman in a crowd of 30,000 people. But I went, with Mac helping me and supporting me every step of the way. Steven drove us right to the gates, and picked us up afterwards and we got home just before 3am. There were lots of steps. It was very hard work. It was worth it. Every single dollar, every single step. 53 years after my mother said I was too young at 13 to go see the Beatles (she was right) and that I could go next time they came (she was wrong), I got to see Paul, who back at age 13 was my favourite Beatle.

I cried a lot. (I seem to be very emotionally fragile since this stroke.) But I had a lot of time when I forgot my woes. I sang along, forgetting that I might be singing out of tune as a side effect of the stroke (though Mac said this morning that I was totally in tune.) This is not my normal preferred music any more - I prefer small intimate venues and jazz - but Paul's music has been part of my life since before I was in my teens. I realised once again that I must not live my life in fear. Every one of us could die or have some awful, disabling thing happen tomorrow: it's just that I am aware of what my awful thing is likely to be. I must continue to live my life to the fullest I can, must live in the present moment.

Quite a few people I know choose a word for the year, not something I have ever done. But this year - or for a while anyway - I think I will adopt the word