Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I at first was curious about Twitter, it didn’t seem to have a purpose outside my Facebook, but over the time I have been able to network especially with other bloggers, and there always seems to be someone on twitter especially at the late hours I am on it.
Through twitter I have been able to connect with people I would never have been able to connect, as being a recent (5 years now) arrival to Newcastle I have few Novacastrian contacts, my social base I left in Melbourne when we moved here. In a way it is an unobtrusive way of connecting with others in the local community.
One handy use for Twitter I found was very early in the peace I connected by following my local council and they eventually followed me. By them doing this I was able to advise them of an illegal rubbish dump site. Being someone who doesn’t like calling in things, I just used Twitpic by uploading a photo of the offending dump site. I then tagged @lakemac with the location.
Lakemac then responded very promptly by thanking me and gave me a reference number. That was on the Monday I posted the photo and by Friday the mess had been cleaned up. Needless to say I was supremely impressed. Was it the fact that my council was responding so promptly to my notification, to the fact they are connected and “up with the times”.
And to be truthful if it wasn’t for twitter I probably wouldn’t have notified the council, probably I wouldn’t usually make a fuss about something like that. Plus I might think to myself, “Oh someone else will tell them” or perhaps someone else from the council would have already notified them.
It was a legacy from a recent council cleanup where the kerbsides fill up with rubbish.
And just past the entrance to the country club.
A hole is born
The hole is patched
It rains again
Another hole is born
This hole is patched
It rains again
Another hole is Born then patched
It Rains yet again, a hole is born then patched
Repeat for 5 years, just patched, never resurfaced
No road left, just patch on patch on patch.
Speed limit reduced because of the state of the road.
Will it ever get fixed?
How bad does it have to get?
Does a serious accident need to occur to get something done to this road?
Too bad for your tyres or suspension,
Too bad state taxes increase to improve roads, where does the money go?
You know this road, it’s somewhere you’ve been, that’s’s if you travel through NSW
Inspired by driving near Halidays point and driving through hunter valley vineyards
Friday, April 9, 2010
Funerals, well I've been to too many.
Mum's was different, I find that in the past many celebrants and priests are distanced from their subject. Sometimes it feels like "insert name here". My aunty gelnda ran the sevice so she even teared up through the service for she had known mum since they were all young, they themselves had been through their own journey together, countless time my aunt had visited to see her, in someways as a bit of friendship, a bit or counselling as well as she was a practicing reiki master so she benefited from their visits in so many ways.
As far as funerals go mum's funeral was a real tribute to her effect on others though her nursing and geneology work. The place was packed out to the rafters and out the door, and I',m not talking a little place.
We had a laugh or too, there were many happy stories. I even managed to got up the courage to say a few words, i recited a story from a book that explained that like the lamplighter as he worked his way down the street in the dark, you couldn't see him any more but you could see where he had been, in a way mum was no longer around but you could see those people she had left a little light in their heart.
It was soon after the funeral, once i had picked up mums ashes i headed off north with my grandfather to Gladstone. The first purpose was to transport him to my aunts place as his eyesight was no longer safe for him to drive and then i was to head further nort to take mum to cairns where she had enjoyed a great time just after she found out she was ill.
So I headed north, not really knowing anything, or where to spread mums ashes. I made it to port douglas, it was nearing mum's birthday 23rd may. I arrived late so i just found a camping ground and set up camp.
In the morning i got up and was chatting to a group of backpackers (as you always seem to find). One of the local campers was a lady named betty, she was from melbourne too and spent her winters there, she told me she had cancer and was just living the best she could. She asked me if i'd seen the beach.. I said I hadn't so she said come and she grabbed me and we walked to see port douglas beach. You haven't seen a more beautiful beach, it sweeps into the distance, gorgeous. She thne asked me if i'd seen the Sheraton, I said no so she took me there but i think that's as far as i will go there. She did explain that people there pay hundreds of dollars to get to use the same beach i was using and it only cost from memory $20 for the site.
Anyhow I went as far north as the daintree and could not find a location that suited, it just didn't feel right, sure there are plenty of beaches, very nice ones, but not waht felt right.
I was desperate to find a suitable place, it was mums birthday and i wanted to do it then. Problme i woke up that morning and the weather had turned, the waves were choppy, dark grey clouds hung above. I packed up and headed south, as i was driving south i saw some beach signs.
I pulled into one but it didn't feel right, i pulled into another one and i really had a strange feeling about it. i got out of the car and walked over to the beach and, i know you think i'm crazy when i say this, I asked mum if it was the right place, Now I am serious when i say this the clouds broke slightly ans a stream of light came down over the sea. Now i'm not one to believe all this but it happenend. i have to say i was emotional at that moment. I lost it, i went back to the car and got mums ashes out and walked down to the beach.
I wanted to do it a bit further down as i didn't want everyone walking through her ashes. To my suprise I found a little creek flowing into the sea further up the beach.
As per mums instructions i spread mums ashes where the creek and the sea meet. It was an emotional event for me, I was alone, the rest of my family would do the same at Inverloch in Victoria. I kept some ashes for myself and gave some to grandma when i returned as she wanted to keep her Merry (middle name joy) as she always called her close by.
So it's 11 years and I just wanted to honour mum by explaining the story of the last week of mum's life. She touched everyone. I'm sure you own mum has touched others as well. i don't wish to turn her into a saint, that was not her. She was just someone who cared for others unconditionally. Not a day goes by when i don't think of her.
Thankyou for reading this story.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
As in part 1 the phone rang and we were awoken to hear mum had passed. It's strange the feeling, in a sense there was a tinge of sadness for the feeling of loss but followed by a sense of relief and dare i say happiness that she was no longer in pain.
The next thing was we drove to my grandmothers house and woke her up to the news. Mum wouldn't have let her be alone when she found out. Not that this was a suprise, we had all accepted the fact we would lose mum. She was given 12 months and we got 3 years. Mum had outlasted all expectations.
One thing that struck me was how beautiful the morning was, the air had that hint of chill that tickles you nose, the trees were beginning to change colour and the sun had just risen, it was going to be a nice sunny autumn day. Perhaps over the events of the last week i hadn't noticed the weather, in fact i don't think i had noticed much those past weeks,
We then as a family proceded to the hospital to see mum's body, it's a weird sensation. Mum's body was there but that was all.
I don't think i really wanted to be there. She was gone, i was numb.
When we got home, after that visit things were strange, my eldest sister decided to go through mums wardrobe.
Now it was time to plane mums funeral which my aunty glenda came over to help plan the funeral.
Continued from Part 4
I arrived again as usual, said hello to the doorman john and headed to visit mum in her room.
Mum was deteriorating further, she was there but not there. Her breathing was more sporatic, deep. For pretty much most of the day she would breath deeply, then a pause. You though "ok i this it," then she's start again.
For everyone else in the room we wanted to give mum the chance to fade away peacefully, unfortunately there was a visitor on the final day who talked continuosly. This i believe didn't allow mum to just fade away. It must have been her way of dealing with mum passing, like always i try and keep the peace so i didn't say anything. Also I didn't want a fight in the room.
It was hard because you don't want to prolong the suffering but the visitor never left that night, talking away, mum still hanging on. She was fading, the pauses in her breathing growing long.
Another friend of the family(another aunty) who is also a celebrant came to help us with a few little ceremonies to let mum go (more for us than mum i think but it felt good). We did leave that night with the visitor still there. We said our final goodbyes and went home.
Contineud in Part 6
I arrived in the morning and mum had had a rough night. She had felt comfortable that night sleeping in her recliner in her room, but overnight she'd become more uncomfortable, her pain was growing. They had to get her in bed and as she was bed bound they had to put in a catheter.
Mum said to me to get the rest of the family, mum wanted to say goodbye to everyone. I got in the car and ran up to my grandmothers home, but she wasn't there, she was at church. I went to the neightbours house, another adopted aunty (Alice) and waited for her to return.
When Nana got home we called around and then made our way to the hospital, there were so many people there to see mum. It was a very pleasing sight to see all those close to mum gathering for a bedside get together. Not being a strongly religious I know mum had struggled with faith but i think she felt omfort in my nanas priest coming and he issued her last rights.
It was a very draining day, it had taken it's toll on her, as being a nurse she had seen many people pass away, and her experience was it was those moments when they were alone that htey drifted away. Mum had had her goodbyes and wanted to drift away, it was just us kids and dad in the room. She asked to be left alone for a while.
We filed out, saying our goodbye's on our way. I was the last to say goodbye, as i came closer i asked mum if she wanted me to removed her oxygen which she was hooked up to. She said yes. It was the next thing which i think effected me the most, she said to me, "what do I do now?" How is a son supposed to advise his mum to let go, I don't know. but i couldn't say that, mum was asking me what to do. When you are a kid, your parents are larger than life, immortal in a way. i think you assume they will be around forever. i was dealing with my own faith, i had no experience in advising the dying.
I think i said "we love you, let go and Your dad and grandmother will be ther waiting for you". You hear stories of people seeing family members at the end of their bed, hearing voices, all that. Mum didn't have that, perhaps she was expecting some of that. Unfortunately birth and death we do alone.
I left her and sat outside with the rest of the family for about 15 minutes. We then came back in and mum was much less alert, fading. I put her oxygen back in but then we decided to leave as it was going to take another day at least.
It had sunk in..mum was going to die, and soon. Rest assured she was not in pain, she was comfortable. Mum was slowly going downhill, not that she ever complained, she never once complained about her struggle. She was still eating and drinking although not lots.
I think i pretty much stayed with mum all day, being a nurse meant she had a steady flow of friends and coworkers.
I remember one conversation about where mum's ashes were going. Mum had a plot in the wall at Templestowe cemetary however from our experience there are usually more ashes then will fit. So mum said all she wanted was for her ashes to be spead somewhere peaceful, perhaps where a creek meets the sea.
I really had no idea, but it was my intention to go to queensland to see if i could get some work in my field of study.
Mum and i, i think had a special bond, it's hard to quantify, not sayng she loved any other of my siblings less, but there was something. perhaps it was the journey we had travelled of the past years through her treatment.
I know mum lived a few days more but it was this night i said goodbye to her. I think it was we were alone, we'd chatted all day. I had to say goodbye to go home and get some sleep. I kissed her and gave her a cuddle(it was one thing she always great cuddles). As I left her room i turned around. She was waving goodbye with a smile on her kind face. It is this image in my head that i remember.
I waved back, holding back the tears until i got into the lift where i lost it, thankfully i was alone. i went home and slept.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Mum had been in hospital since Monday, life was relatively normal, well as normal as things were with a mum who was in hospital. Mum had had her regular blood transfusions on the Monday but as it was Thursday it was her regular time for her topup for the weekend to get her through to the next Monday.
I arrived at the hospital for my regular visit, i visited her every day. we would just sit and chat, I would rub her feet(this is one of the reasons i would eventually get into massage). I found through many visits that most visitors sit at the end of the bed with little human touch. I was determined that I would hold her hand, touch her feet or from time to time sit on the bed.
We had been through so many ups and downs in this fight against cancer that what was to come next came as no suprise, mum had given such a good fight.
Mum had had enough...yes she decided to refuse further treatment in the way of blood transfusions. In a way it was a very empowering thing, there aren't many who can do this, to choose your own end. Mum must have toyed with the idea for a while but what happened on the Monday must have crystalised her thinking. When she broke the news she was resolute, I told her i supported what she was doing.
In a way we knew it was coming, it just finalised things, we knew it would take less than a week for the inevitable to happen. It wasn't an easy thing to go through i can tell you though. Saying goodbye to your mum for good is hard, but you can't be selfish and hang on when she was in such pain, her quality of life was still not dire.
We all must accept that death is a part of life. I have always been an advocate of choosing your own end if you are severely ill and there is no quality of life left.
I can't remember if it was a family meeting, i can't remember who was in the room when mum told me. Mum was calm, probably with a bit of a relief on her face but also a bit of concern about how her decision would effect us all. It is a sort of no turning back, a point of no return.
I do remember mum speaking to the doctor and signing the DNR (Do not resuscitate order). The doctor had to sit down and explain what that meant even though with she knew full well what it meant.
I can't remember what i did that night when i got home. The events do tend to blur with it being almost 11 years ago.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
The phone rang, it was my friend who had called for me. In most circumstances mum would have called for me as the phone was set up in her room. This time though she got disorientated and got up out of bed and came into the kitchen where i was with my grandmother who had come to visit for the day.
I was suprised as this was the first time mum had seriously got out of bed in months, she had been bed bound for quite a while. Little did I know that this was the straw that broke the camels back. I followed mum back to bed and made sure she got back safe.
The phone call was something trivial as most things are in th ewhole scheme of things. I was looking forward to a visit out to see Craig cahrles at the Melbourne comedy festival. I was also my dad's birthday so the day was already set to be a busyt one.
Problem was mum had overexerted herself and she started to shake uncontrollably so we called her GP who luckioly did house visits.
It was mum's GP's advice that she should go into hospital and that she was too frail so it was best to be transported by ambulance into the hospital...for someone as strong and proud as mum it was rather humiliating to be carted out infront of all the neighbours and loaded up into the ambulance.
In hospital mum would receive her regular blood transfusions to sustain her.
That night was a bit of a fizzer as far as celebrting dad's birthday, I went and saw Craig Charles which was great fun but my mind was on mum prety much all the time.
To be Continued
Saturday, April 3, 2010
It's Ok, we were expecting the call, I often thank that there was such a lead up, time to say our goodbyes, say everything we might have to say...well I have to say there has much happened in my life since then that i would have given everything to get my mums advice or her ear.
Truth is i miss her Dearly and pretty much not a day passes that i don't think about her.
Mum was born Marilyn Joy Coffin in Coburg, a suburb north of melbourne, daughter to Milton and June and younger sister to Margaret. When she left school she became a trainee nurse at Box Hill hospital. It was a chance encounter that she met my dad, John Mapstone who was visiting my uncle (adopted) Bill Snoek who had had a severe motorbike accident.
My understanding is things moved quickly and before you know it they were married and moved in to a reasonably new outer eastern suburb call ed Bayswater (nowhere near the bay or water, only the Dandenong creek). They had three children with me the middle child so i have the complex.
Many years ensued, mum worked night shift, dad worked days but we coped and got to see both parents. As we got older and better able to look after ourselves mum studied and later became a midwife, one thing she was very proud of. For what i understand she was a good at her job and loved it with a passion.
She was 41 when she found a lump in her right breast, she had a mammogram but nothing came conclusive. Mum persevered and they found a malignant lump through biopsy. Mum did'nt want it known so she went to a different hospital to have her breast removed and then she had treatment(she had accrued 6 months of sick leave). I really don't remember much of her symptoms then apart from the obvious hair loss, i ws in the grips of my VCE.
We almost made it to 5 years, mum was not well, just a bit unwell when she was turning a bed down at work when she collpased. This time it was serious, the cancer had spread to her bone marrow especially inher lower spine....innoperable and terminal. I remeber the day mum sat us down and told us. I have never felt so numb, I mean life is finite, but when the doctors say you have 12 months and that's it.
The drugs used to treat mums cancer meant one major thing, to stop the bone marrow working her body stopped making blood so twice a week we went into the hospital for blood transfusions. Most weeks it was 7 units to keep her alive. She frequently got ill because her immune system was vulnerable. And whenever she ended up in hospital she would catch something else to keep her there longer.
New and improved drugs meant mum's live was extended, she overtook her 12 month deadline and she even managed to get 12 months of success. Her symptoms even diminished and it almost seems like she was back in remission.
I was with her that day though when her oncologist broke the news that the fanstastic drug that had extended her life was no longer working. It was another hard day on the cancer emotional rollercoaster.
Another hard day was when i came in to her in the morning and she was in the foetal position, in excruiating pain, the tumor was pressing on her spine, sending pain throughout her body. I have never felt so completely helpless (only except for whne seeing my wife going through labour I suppose). I managed to get her to the hospital where i got her straight into the oncology ward (as a patient you do have some privelages) but then waiting for the registrar to come up and prescribe what the nuses knew what she needed..morphine. You see until this point mum had only goine as strong as panadeine forte. She would only ever take panadol for most things.
Anyway from that incident she started taking a small dose of morphine in a solution but it wasn't very powerful, but it worked.
Over the full term of mums treatment she undertook 7 treatments, some proper treatments, some were trials. She saw the benefit to the medical community of taking part in trials. Her last one was however one of the worst. She had to taked a number of horse pills and one side effect was they made her hands and feet rd raw. When this happened she made the decision to end the trial.
To Be Continued