Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Years Organising Revolution

Some of my online friends have pinned/blogged etc about this link-party, and it looked interesting so I'm going to give it a go.  It's not a blog I currently read, so will add it to the collection. 



I've started sorting through some of the non-sentimental of Mr Trifectagirl's things (training calendars, manuals for long-gone electronic equipment and the like), so this will help with that process.  As I clear, I can re-organise the space.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Seasonal Run-Around

I've made it part-way through my first holiday season without Mr Trifectagirl. 

I'd hoped to be able to keep all the things Mr Trifectagirl and I did last year with J, but some I decided against on practical grounds.  And of course best laid plans and all that...

I'd hoped to go to our Zoo's member picnic held on the first Sunday in December, like we did last year, but just wasn't up to dealing with J on my own in that environment.  It is at least a two-adult event at the moment.  Instead we went to our church's annual street party which directly clashes with the picnic.   

On December 14th, which was the 6 month anniversary of Mr Trifectagirl's passing, I had hoped to take J to see a particular light display we went to last year - I'd really like it to become a tradition of that's what we do that day. But of course the stress of the anniversary had me sick with bronchitis and sinusitis.    My sister, her 10 week old son, J and I finally got there on the 21st.

The anniversary was hard - I was sick, over-tired because J was sick, and work circumstances lead to a massive amount of pressure.  So not so unexpectedly I had a melt-down and am now on a 3 week break (it was only going to be 10 days) to recharge. 

Also on December 14th our Elf arrived.  I must say, having to only come up with 10 hiding ideas makes this a good date to choose!  After a couple of days J got the concept and started looking each morning for where the elf had moved to. It was cute to watch him check the last couple of places before he found it.   The elf is still unnamed - we'll do that next year. 

One of my uni crowds had our usual pre-Christmas catch up on the weekend before Christmas.  J loves water so was happy as a clam once he figured out the slip-n-slide that was set up to deal with the 39C temps.  The next morning he also started copying one of the older children's bowling action.

Christmas Eve was spent catching up with friends and J performing in the church children's nativity.  Unfortunately for me during the rehearsals he discovered the organ niche, so kept making a bee-line for it. We usually sit up the back, so there are plenty of people to catch him if he makes a break for it one Sunday!

Christmas Day started with pancakes and gifts for J- he was rather spoilt, but I kept it relatively in check with the 4 gift rule of something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.  His stocking had a bit more stuff in it, and I won't go as overboard next year.  The Christmas morning church service was followed by a lovely long lunch - once my MIL's access cab showed up.

Boxing Day my sister and I brought forward our usual "get each other tickets to a musical" gift and went to see Les Mis.  Both loving the musical, we enjoyed it, but also had some critiques.

Last night I caught up with a bunch of girlfriends and another friend on his biannual trip home from London over dinner.  Good food, good company and a lovely night all up.  Topped off with J staying at the grandparents place, so I got to sleep in! 

I just have New Years Eve to get through now, which will be spent with friends.  Then I start the first calendar year without Mr Trifectagirl.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Family for Christmas

About 6 years ago the Adelaide Thinkers in Residence program had Rosanne Haggerty as a Thinker in Residence.

One of the results of her program was the establishment of Common Ground properties in South Australia, and later across Australia.  Common Ground provides access to a solid period of stable accommodation to homelss, as well as low-income access, giving them a stable base to then progress to study, employment and the private accomodation market, either as renters or home-owners.

Christmas Day I drove past one of the properties between Church and lunch.   As I drove past, I saw a man probably in his 30s or 40s walk out of the gate with some older people. From the distance it really looked like this was a family get-together for Christmas.

As I headed to my combined extended, step and in-law family lunch, it was heartwarming to think that I'd seen possibly the someone's first opportunity to host the family Christmas gathering.

I happen to work at Adelaide Thinkers in Residence, and although Rosannne's residency pre-dates my employment, it was fantastic to see on Christmas Day what the program I work for can lead to.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Power of Choice - My Outsider's Response to Sandy Hook

All the discussion and debate around gun control following the Sandy Hook massacre appears to be saying that the President and the Government must do something.  The opposite side is raising the second amendment and the right it enshrines to bare arms and opposing Government dictating their lives (as Aussies would say, the Nanny State). 

I'll hazard a guess there are a large number still remaining silent, or are conflicted.

One strategy I've not seen or heard to date in Australian media, and the limited US media I see is the use of personal power, corporate power and the power of the dollar in the choices that individuals and corporations make.

Gun buyers have the power of choice.

They can exercise their power through the choices of what and where to buy.  They can choose not to purchase firearms and associated ammunition such as were used in this shooting, and decline offers when sales assistants ask ('Do you want fries with that?'  NO).  They can make the choice 'I will not buy from a store that also sells X, Y and/or Z types of firearms'.  Another is 'I am willing to fore go a purchase until I find a store that fits this criteria'.  And I will tell stores WHY I am not buying from them.

Anyone who already owns these type of weapons have the choice to freely relinquish them to authorities.

Non-gun buyers have the power of choice.

They can exercise their power through their choice of who they spend their money with.  They can choose not to support corporations that have any role in the retail of, or manufacture of particular types of weapons.  Gun buyers can also exercise this power.

This power is no different than ethical shopping decisions some may make in terms of animal cruelty, environmental concerns or human rights/labour concerns.

There's one week till Christmas, probably with lots of shopping to be done. 

Dollars talk.

Corporations have the power of choice.

CEOs, Managing Directors, Boards can say 'effective immediately, we will no longer stock X, Y and/or Z weapons' and instruct stores to remove them from the shelves by the end of the day;  They can install a purchasing policy -  'we will favour suppliers across our range (firearms and non-firearms) who do not manufacture these types of weapons'.

On-shore manufacturers can choose to remove these types of weapons from supply to retailers, deciding to supply only to Government (military, police and so forth). 

Pawn shops, second hand retailers and so forth can choose to no longer accept or stock these types of weapons.

One blog I read called for mothers to march on Washington to demand change in legislation.  Change in government purchasing policy can also be lobbied for. Corporate headquarters can also be marched on to demand change to purchasing and stock policies. 

In incredibly simplistic terms, if no store in America stocks the weapons - either through choice not to stock, lack of supply, or it's no longer profitable to stock them- no one in America can legally buy them (subject to existing legislation on the direct second-hand market).

Change without a single piece of legislation in sight.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Crafting Before the Melbourne Test

After reading various craft blogs and spending a bit of time on Pinterest this year, I've done a few crafty things this Christmas. 

First cab off the rank was the interchangeable wreath by Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous.  This pin  lead me to following her blog and start aiming to get the study/craft room decluttered enough so I can actually get to my sewing machine.




Gift wise, I used J's toddler scribble to make MIL's gift for this year.




Then I've made memento Christmas Stockings for both J and his baby cousin M.  As J is older, I've been able to add a 'cruck' as this year's addition, since they're a minor obsession (major obsession is buses):


I love that these will grow with the boys and tell their story as they get older.  It was quite sentimental to use my grandmother's pinking shears to make something for the great-grandchildren she never knew (and probably though would never come).  Pity they're not that ergonomic - my hand was killing me by the end!

I've also made the 'write on a cheap ball with a sharpie' ornament, listing major events (Mr Trifectagirl's illness and passing is front and centre, since that's the dominant event of the year), how old we each turned, my hobbies and activities for the year, what J likes at the moment and where we went on holidays.
 
Sorry about photo quality on this one.  One of my plans for 2013 is to learn how to use Mr Trifectagirl's DSLR properly - and fix it when J changes the settings on me!!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Kitchen Renovation: Done!

After a long-ish lead up, finally, I have plenty of storage in my kitchen!! 

We started with a blank canvas - and crowded benchtop


Then my Dad help add some paint (Dulux Shimmer)


And a couple of weeks ago I got the cabinets installed:

 
 
 
Since these photos were taken, I've had the electrical work finished, got things put away and done a little decorating higher up.

And already the bench is cluttered again! 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Score

At home, J spends a lot of time inside.  Our yard just isn't as interesting as Grandpa's.

One thing I've been wanting to get him as an enticement to go outside is a basketball hoop - one of the adjustable plastic ones.  But I since I've already got his Christmas gifts, I haven't been able to justify the expense, even with his birthday not far behind Christmas.

Driving towards Grandpa and Anjeanie's house a coulple of weeks ago, a lady was putting a bunch of stuff out for hard rubbish collection.

The pile was dominated by one of the hoops, which was in pretty good nick.  So I took it!!  Along with a little art table/seat thing.  And promptly unloaded them both at Grandpa's house, which is where we were heading at the time.

Grandpa and Anjeanie hold a 'big bash' back yard party leading up to Christmas each year, which happened to be the day after.  They were concerned about not having anything for few kids who are coming to play with. 

Perfect timing.  A bit of a clean, and the hoop was good to go.

J's taken to it and loves trying to get his soccer ball up through the hoop from below. It will probably come here in January some time

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Lost & found

Thursday I lost my sun hat walking to my car after leaving the cricket for the day.

Friday I found it on a fence near my Dad's place, which is where the car was parked.  I was extremely grateful for that as I hate hat shopping.  I rarely find anything I like and comes any way near suiting me.  But being a cricket fan in Australia, a good sun hat is a necessity.

Then on Saturday morning cleaning out the bag/seat cushion I only take to the cricket I found my lost watch. 

The watch I lost some 5 years ago.  

I obviously need to clean it out more often!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Kitchen Rennovations Update

Two weeks and I'll have extra storage!!!

Getting quotes from other trade suppliers (sparky, plasterer and security system company) caused a bit of a delay in getting approved plans and deposit back to the cabinet makers.  I didn't want to book in the cabinetry without knowing the full cost of the project.  Especially since the sparky will cost a bit more than I was anticipating.

I have painting to get done still, but by the end of the month I'll be able to get an awful lot of stuff off my bench tops and have a neater looking kitchen.  Plus I'll have a reason to pull everything out of the existing cupboards and do a de-clutter.

And I'll have my practical power point, just in time to plug in my stand-mixer for the bulk of my Christmas baking!!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Here it is acceptable for Christmas decorating to start once Santa has arrived as part of the Christmas Pageant. 

Santa took up residence at the Magic Cave on Saturday, so it's decorating time!

Our new tree went up while watching the live broadcast, along with some other nick-knacks around the house.  I decided to treat myself to a new tree this year.  I've had an older 6 foot tree for years, but wanted something new.

I went with a 7 foot tree, with glitter on the end of the branches.  This was somewhat of a mistake as the glitter is going EVERYWHERE.  But I like the overall height and look.

I also bought a new decorating item I'd seen a couple of years ago on the internet - a Yuleahoop.*  It's worked really well for hanging the bead and my very fat tinsel on the tree.

Having gone from a six footer to a seven footer, it's a bit sparse for my liking.  But J is probably going to start bringing home decorations he makes himself, so I should probably leave room for them...
 

*I did not receive a yuleahoop to trial, and the opinions are my own.  I will say that the company gave me excellent customer service while we negotiated international shipping.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Providing for Family

In our three years together, Mr Trifectagirl struggled to find work.  Mostly because what he did in the UK requires an extra qualification here that he didn't have (but had started studing towards). 

So I worked to financially supported our family while he stayed home and looked after J.  As much as he loved being with J, the fact that he wasn't providing for his family in the traditional sense both frustrated and depressed him.

After various issues with his superannuation fund, including them loosing the file, I finally recieved the money he'd had put away for his retirement a couple of weeks ago.

On October 26, 2012 Mr Trifectagirl made the ultimate provision for his family - he's given us a secure roof over our head. 

I am now mortgage free, which is a very bitter-sweet place to be. I was teary for a while once the reality hit and generally pretty flat for the day.   I don't like why I could pay it out, but am so very grateful that he left enough so that I could.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Opportunity Grabbed

July 2013, when my job has finished, is looking a lot more comfortable now. Or at least having a sense of direction.

A few posts ago I wrote about deciding to apply for university entrance for post-graduate study.

Like many, I have my emails feeding to my smart phone, and was expecting to see an email offer on any given Wednesday, since post-grad offers are made on a weekly basis on Wednesdays.  Add that all other communications with the tertiary admissions centre have been via email, I do not think this was an unreasonable assumption.

But a wrong assumption.

I got an old-fashioned letter in the mail on Thursday.  How exciting it was to see that logo on the envelope - with a tinge of doubt that my past academic record wasn't strong enough to secure me an offer.

"I am pleased to inform you that you have been offered a place in the Master of Accounting at Flinders University commencing in Semester 1".

Yippee - I got in.  This is my 4th university offer (yes, I like collecting bits of paper, just not the debt that goes with it), and it's still as exciting as the first.

Semester 1 I'll probably do one or two subjects, depending on the time-table which is released in about 6 weeks.

And when my current role ends, I can either try and find further part-time work, or shift to full time study for a while.

And when I graduate in a few years time, I'll have a full set of parchments - at least one from each Australian university in our state.  I don't know why I like that idea, but I do.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Eat the Freezer Month

When I moved into my house, one of the first things I bought was a second hand upright freezer.  We managed to find the same model that my dad has (and must have had through a lot of my child hood), and they're both still going strong.

One blog I read, The Year of Less, does a 'month' as part of their move to a simple life.  Last month was 'eat your pantry' month.  This month the writer is reading a particular passage of scripture each day.  They also do daily activities tossing excess hand whisks, plastic storage containers and sorting through clothing - you know, those things with the inexplicable ability to multiply like rabbits in your cupboard when you're not looking.

My pantry is ok (mental note: check supplies for Christmas baking...),  but my two upright freezers really need to be emptied. 

Yesterday I defrosted the inside freezer.  The outside one is newer and thankfully doesn't need defrosting.

And once again I decided that I really, really need to knock down the contents.  I do this every time I defrost.

Some of the contents was tossed due to freezer burn, but I have a lot of ready made meals, or partially made meals in there. 

And broad beans I froze from the garden last year.  This year's crop is already close to picking.  Prombles*.

Since J and I ate the soup that defrosted yesterday as it was well and truly stuck with frost that I had no choice but to let it defrost along with the freezer, I figure an 'eat your freezer month' is in order.

Hopefully I can then consolidate to one freezer, and bring the newer non-frosting one inside and put the frosting one outside as the back-up.

So the plan is to use in a meal at least one thing from the freezer a day for October. 

*this spelling is intentional.  A long-standing joke from a friend's English teacher mum who had a student once write 'I have prombles with my spelling'.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

School Ties

Friday night I attended my 20 year Australian high school reunion.  Or as Mr Trifectagirl used to say 'Girls College'.

Thanks to facebook, many of us caught up a number of years ago, but this was a mile-stone reunion that far-flung classmates made the effort to travel back home to attend.   

Watching the interactions at the reunion and the noise level from the chatter that hasn't decreased with time (seriously, how did our teachers cope??!?!?), it felt like there hadn't been 20 odd years since we were all in a room together. Including those of us there that left the school before the end of high-school, or came in later years. 

It was really wonderful to see how successful we've all been in whatever we've gone on in life to do - professional careers, personal interests, personal lives and parenthood. 

Parents often consider how the school they select for their children can contribute to their child's future success - class sizes, facilities, choice of subjects, extra-curricular opportunities, final exam results, university acceptances, and so on.

Although this was and is a good school on many of those criteria, getting together got me thinking.

Maybe not only the reasons our parents sent us to this school contributed to our indivudial successes later in life, but the thing that is simply luck of the draw - the fortuitous mix of personalities, skills interests and talents that our class was.  

To the ladies of SDPC Class of '92 - congratulations on all we've achieved so far, and here's to every success for the next 20 years. 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Grabbing Opportunities

Along with dealing with Mr Trifectagirl passing away, while he was sick the program I work for was given 12 months notice of closure.

With all of this, the time feels right to make a bit of a career change, or at the very least build on the study and work experience I have.

So, after discussing options with a number of people, this morning I submitted my application to go back to Uni to study accounting commencing January or March (depending on which program I get accepted into).

Now to wait for the acceptance letter...

Saturday, 15 September 2012

3 & 6

Yesterday was three months since Mr Trifectagirl passed away.    The day itself was ok - if you count the aftermath of being up all night with a vomity toddler and changing cot sheets every 3 hours overnight as ok.

It was the day before that I struggled with.  We overslept.  The entire house.  Including the cat.   That should have been the first clue that it wasn't going to be a great day.  With the late start, I opted to take a 'me' day from work while J was at child care.  There were a few rough periods during the day, generally when I was alone with my thoughts while driving or making dinner, rather than trying to get other stuff done or chatting to people. 

Monday will be six months since his birthday.  Six months since he got sick. 

I miss him and this plain sucks.

Monday, 10 September 2012

I'll need to tell...

On Friday I took J to our Royal Show for the first time (screaming disaster and a whole 'nother post) and happened to bump into Mr Trifectagirl's friends R and his wife A.

The Show is an agricultural event with horse competitions, animal competitions (beef and dairy cattle, sheep, pigs, dogs, cats, birds - the whole kit and kaboodle), baking, arts and crafts competitions, farm machinery (for sale. Who in the city has need for a combine harvester??), various small-scale food producers, a barn-yard nursery for the youngsters and then side-show alley for the screaming teenagers. Since schools rotate on having a day off for 'show day',  I figured it was the show day for one of the schools their children go to, so they'd come along to the Show.   

Turns out the family was there as the two children were competing for the first time in the harness pony competitions. So we wander back to meet up with his wife and the rest of 'Team Tink'.

As we watch and down coffee to warm up, the kids come 4th in their first classification.  

Mr Trifectagirl would have been so thrilled for them, and more so with their follow-up success with coming first in the next classification they competed in, and their daughter taking out the title for best junior baker! 

It's taken nearly 3 months, but this was the first really strong sensation of 'I need to tell Mr Trifectagirl when I get home, he'll be upset he missed it'.  

The hard part was remembering he's not here to tell. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Father's Day Gift Box

Yesterday evening, Father's Day, I started clearing out the boxes I finally retrieved from the storage lock-up.  The plan is to chip away at it by doing a couple of boxes a week.

Of course the first one I open contained Mr Trifectagirl's day-planners, which also operated as a very sporadic journal. 

Since they go back to the early 1980s (including some school diaries!!) they're something I can't ditch.  At least not yet.  There's too much of him in there that will be useful for J to know his dad.

I also have a project idea brewing, but it will be a time-intensive one.  And is simply added to the end of the queue of project ideas I wish to undertake.

So much for the plan of going through and getting rid off stuff. At least box #2 was more successful on that side - I didn' keep anywhere near as much of that.

I like that I made this discovery on what would have been Mr Trifectagirl's 2nd Father's Day.  It wasn't really a sad moment, but a heartwarming one. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Felt like a change

So I've played around with the blog look.

Simple as that.

All Locked Up

Mr Trifectagirl had a storage lock-up.  Updating details at the storage facility was one of the many things that we just never thought of. The lock-up pre-dates our relationship, and was initially filled with both his and his mother's stuff. Since he moved in with me we've done some juggling and now a fair proportion of the contents is my gear, and we've been regularly stowing grown-out-of baby gear in there too. 

Mr Trifectagirl got sick with the access codes to the lock-up facility in his Brain (not the one in his head, but his palm pilot that he called his Brain, which of course I don't know the access code to). So I never got the the access code. I have the key to the unit, but not the codes to the facility.

My sister has her baby due in about 5 weeks, so I figured it was high time to get out the infant stuff I've been promising her so she can get prepared. This required accessing the unit.

So I called the company late last week and explained that my husband passed unexpectedly and I need access to the unit. 

And I was told they were not going to give me access.  They've apparently gotten in trouble before for giving spouses access to storage units..  Ummm, I KNOW THE LOCK UP EXISTS, it's not like he was hiding it from me!!!  Makes you wonder who's hiding what from whom out there.

First they said that Mr Trifectagirl's friend M (who was groomsman at our wedding) was on the access list. So he could have access. But I couldn't.

So I asked what I needed to do to get access myself.  Apart from having M go there, get the codes and give them to me.

They asked if I could produce:

  • the Death Certificate - yep, got one of those, and marriage certificate for good measure.  And thanks to a minor obsession by said sister as a child, I keep wanting to type 'Death Star', not Death Certificate.  
  • a Copy of the Will - no, he died intestate.
  • anything granting me executor status on his estate - nope, he died with so little, probate was not needed. And as spouse everything goes to me under the relevant Act, anyway.
After much to-ing and fro-ing, they said if I produced the death certificate and a copy of the death notice from the paper, I could get access.  I don't carry a copy of the death notice with me.  And some people may not actually wish to place a death notice in the paper.

At this point I tell them they are the ONLY organisation that's given me any trouble following the unexpected death of my husband.

They finally acquiesced to death certificate, marriage certificate and ID. 

I arrive at the facility to get the codes and show all the ID.  I don't think the lady was expecting me to enter with a toddler in tow.  She enquired during the process of checking the documents if I'd only need access the once.  Ah, it's full of my stuff, so no, I'll need ongoing access.  When would we be vacating?  We're paid up until April 2013.  I'll probably take the last of it about then - I ain't dealing with it all right now.

During the course of the conversation, the lady says 'I called R', and I figure she's referring to the head honcho she said she had to check things with over our numerous telephone calls.

Nope. Turns out the R she's referring to is the Best Man from our wedding, who was listed as an alternative to hunt down if the account wasn't being paid and they weren't hearing from Mr Trifectagirl.  She apparently called him to check my story that my husband had died.

So basically the storage facility would give access to the best man and groomsman, but not the wife!!  

And apparently a death certificate isn't evidence enough of someones death.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Art Imitating Life

I'm currently reading the first series of novels by Charlaine Harris (author of the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series) that I picked up from the library.   I've been quite enjoying it, when I get a chance to read. 

I use the bus trip to and from work to read for the most part. 

I worked an extra day yesterday therefore loosing my down-time from being "a widowed mother of a toddler working to keep a roof over our head and food on the table whilst trying to remain sane" for the week and being stressed out to the max with budgets and trying to get things done on deadline (and not really succeeding).  I was feeling pretty low on resilience on what the world was throwing at me, and so I escaped into my book on my way home.

And lo and behold, a recurring character becomes a widow with a couple of books to go.

Crap.  Now I'm really on the verge of tears and loosing it.

Not what I need sitting on the bus next to some teenage boy who was already shitty as I'd made him put his bag on the floor under his feet so my arse could park on the seat.

I got home and distracted myself doing the grocery shop and continued my day.

On the up side, at least I can identify with the character in the final books, right?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Smell of an Oily Rag

Budgets.  Ughhhhh.

Work is a bit crazy at the moment.  We're trying to fulfil our contracted obligations AND prepare for the wind-down of our program in June 2013.

With some staffing changes, I've come back to work being in charge of monitoring the dollars. 

Thankfully the full responsibility of keeping to budget lies with the boss. 

Especially since it's been decided on high we don't need as much as we usually do... 

By quite a bit... 

Which came to light this week.

Ummmm - we still have a full year of work!!

At least I've found in the last week or so my brain seems to be back on-line after the fuzziness of Mr Trifectagirl's illness and passing.  I'm able to see links, opportunities and risks better than I have been since the start of the year.  I some how feel this is going to be useful.

I'm going to be very friendly with excel this year, I think.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

5 Months, 2 Months, 18 Months

Today is two calendar months since Mr Trifectagirl passed.

I still feel like I'm running on a few time-lines.  How long since he got sick (closing in on 5 months) and how long since he passed.   His passing I still count in both weeks (it's 8) and months. 

But the weeks are getting fuzzier to remember.  I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.  Or as he always said, 'It is what it is' (which drove me batty, by the way).

And how am I marking the day?

J went swimming, then off for his 18 month checks and immunisations. 

We also reached that milestone a couple of days ago. 

In amongst all the crazies, somehow I got an 18 month old.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Grief's Journey

I've spent quite a bit of time on-line looking for "widow", particularly "young widow with child(ren)" resources and groups, and I've found some great communities out there.

I also happened to find a local group who meet face to face, and attended my first event last week.  It was dinner, and obviously there was a lot heavy conversation - most start with 'how did you loose your spouse?', but quite a lot of laughs, too.

Of the 10 there, five of us were there for the first time mostly within the first year since loosing our partners, however one lady is 4 years into her journey and is now feeling up to getting out and about more.  Most of us were after a group of people who 'get it' and can provide support, encouragement as we move along our journeys and tips for managing our kids and helping them through this crappy situation. 

I'm glad I've found this group - I think it's going to be a great collection of people to be involved with.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Cracking Up

While Mr Trifectagirl was sick, I was clenching my teeth with all the stress.  Understandably.

After not getting to the dentist in over a year, I finally got off my butt and went in yesterday.

Turns out I've managed to crack an old filling to the point that if it wasn't where it is, it would have fallen out.

Yeahhhh - a Drill em' Fill em' and Bill em' session in a couple of weeks to fix the damage.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Renovations

One thing that has been driving me nuts pretty much since Mr Trifectagirl moved in to my house is the lack of storage in the kitchen. Particularly since we both suffer from serious cases of 'ohhh new kitchen gadget'.  His was worse than mine. 

Since late last year, we've been working on getting quotes to get some cabinetry retro-fitted into the kitchen to add more hidden storage and get the microwave off the bench top.  That's the bare minimum we've (well I'VE) wanted done.  I'm getting a second option quoted, too.  But I'm suspecting that will be way out of reach financially.

We hadn't had much success getting anyone to actually give us figures.  We had a few people measure, but they never got quotes to us. 

Thankfully the company that manufactured and installed the original cabinets had left a sticker inside one of the drawers, and they came out to quote today.  With any luck, I'll actually have a quote in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Pamper

Stress has always caused my hands and nails to go to crap.  So they're in really great shape right now (heavy hint of sarcasm).

I've noticed in recent lunch time shopping expeditions that Revlon now has a 'nail bar' in Myer, and the prices seemed pretty reasonable to me.  I figure a bit of pampering and me time is fair at the moment, so I treated myself to the Deluxe manicure yesterday, done by the lovely Laura.

I'm really not used to having polish on my nails and it's taking some getting used to.  I used to wear it a lot and even went through a goth stage with black nails in my late teens, but it's been years since I last wore any!

I initially chose a blue shade called Midnight which I really liked - I thought it would work well with jeans for the weekend.  Sadly it just looked odd on my very short nails - I'm hoping it's just an 'I'm not used to it' thing.    So I went with a beige shade called Bare Bones.  Even that's taken getting used to, but it's growing on me.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Dangerous and unsentimental

Mr Trifectagirl with his cardiac issues was on a plethora of drugs.  Since he passed, one thing I've been wanting to do is get them out of the house - they're pretty dangerous.  Particularly with a curious monkey of a 17 month old running (ummm climbing) all over the place.

They were stored in a kid-proof medicine box, but I knew I'd be far more comfortable with them completely out of the house.   

I finally felt up to that task last week.  I also cleared out my out of date meds such as uncompleted courses of antibiotics and even some drugs left over from the pregnancy.

I took the safest method of disposal - took them to the pharmacy for them to dispose of.  Much safer than dumping them down the loo.

My niece (step-mum's granddaughter) has started a bridging course to get into university this week, so I've also handed over some of the stationary stockpile Mr Trifectagirl had accumulated.  It's unsentimental stuff, and he'd be thrilled to be helping her in her studies in a small way.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas...

Mother-In-Law is wheelchair bound and relies on access cabs for transportation.  This means that Christmas has to be organised way,way in advance so we actually get a cab booking for reasonable times.  So I've already been turning my thoughts to our first Christmas without Mr Trifectagirl.

Christmas time will be around the 6 month mark since Mr Trifectagirl passed,  so I'm expecting it to be doubly rough - first Christmas and six months in one hit.

Fortunately we did a few things last year as a family that I have photographs of.  The Zoo's member family BBQ, Elf on the Shelf (which Mr Trifectagirl hated), going to the Brewery Garden light display, Christmas Eve and Christmas morning services.   I can keep these as family traditions for J, along with my baking traditions.  I can also talk to Mother in Law and see if there were any traditions from Mr Trifectagirl's childhood I could add back in.

I'm thinking of going to the lights on the 14th, being the date of the month we lost Mr Trifectagirl.

The day itself, I have no idea on what will happen apart from going to Christmas morning service.  Hopefully Sister and her baby (who will be 2-3 months old, depending on when it decides to arrive) will decide to come too.

Gift wise, I'm glad I found the 'something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read' guideline - I could be spending so much money on J if I don't keep to this.  I will add something from Santa and something to make/do which can be used to while away the post-Christmas lunch slump in the afternoon.  While we play that age-old sport - watching to see if Grandpa falls off his chair when he falls asleep.

And I can't forget the really bad Christmas Tree costume Mr Trifectagirl bought for J in the sales last year.  It should be delightful!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Ashes - What to do with His Ashes

Last week I collected Mr Trifectagirl's ashes.  On picking up the box, my first thought was 'he's not lost much weight'.  I'd forgotten how heavy they are. 

I've been through the process of collecting ashes before - my Mum and Step-Dad both passed in 2008.

Sister and I were quite amused when we collected them because they came in their own Cemeteries Authority heavy paper shopping bag - like you get from high-end clothing stores.  They would have cracked up also.  At least we held our giggles until we got in the car.

We had instructions on what to do with Mum and Step-Dad - half into the wall at cemetery where they lived, half to be mixed together and buried with the dog on their property.  Instructions were duly followed.  We even used Mum's stock-pot to mix the remaining ashes together - Dad was horrified. 

Back to Mr Trifectagirl.  I had no instructions.  I could only assume cremation was his preferred option and have part of him, at least, with his dad.  I could inter, scatter or do whatever comes up with the remainder. 

So I have a few options. 

I will probably hold an amount to scatter in Ireland along with his dad (who's ashes are still under my bed).  The plan was for Mr Trifectagirl to scatter them there, so I'm happy to follow that wish in years to come.

Some of the personal memorial options, like compressing the ashes to a diamond, have never appealed, but I have found this which I'm considering:  http://www.memoryglass.com/.  I like the idea of the swirl design with our wedding colours. Mr Trifectagirl had an appreciation for sculpture, so it's fitting and doesn't seem wrong for him.

The remainder I'll probably inter at our church - hopefully in the renovated gardens that are planned.  As Mother In Law is also a member of the congregation, I can also inter his dad there, and mother when she passes.

And I need remember to save space for part of me with Mr Trifectagirl when the time comes, too. 

But for the moment, he's on my dressing table, holding my jewelry. 

Friday, 29 June 2012

Saying goodbye

We had the funeral earlier this week.  It was about as perfect as it could be.

Rev. J (yes, our minister and son nearly have the same name) did a brilliant job, especially since he struggled saying goodbye to a friend.  Having someone who knew Mr Trifectagirl well, and loved and cared for him, really made a big difference in the whole feel of the service.

The photo montage I put together was perfect.  The friends that agreed to deliver the eulogy did a brilliant job - as did all of us who collectively wrote it.

Saying the final goodbye was excrutiatingly painful.  It was the first time I have really sobbed since Mr Trifectagirl passed away. 

I've been ok - since the funeral I have been having bad moments rather than bad days.  But I'm not sure the reality has really, really sunk in yet.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Preparations

Tomorrow will be Mr Trifectagirl's Funeral and today I did something I never thought I'd be able to do - see my dead husband's body, lying in his coffin.  I couldn't look enough to do a formal ID, his mother did that duty.  But I am glad I saw him.  I couldn't ID my mother or my step-father.  I never saw any of my grandparents.  I have bad memories of looking at my mother in the hospital after she passed, so I didn't think I could see Mr Trifectagirl at all.

He looked so unlike him - a grim-set mouth, rather than the beaming smile that lit up a room, especially if J was in it.  I really could only stand at the edge of the room and look at the top of his head.  For some reason, that still looked like him. 

I've spent much of the last week preparing the memorial slide show for him.  I was lucky that he happened to have a collection of his baby photos stashed in a trunk in our house, rather than burried in the storage locker where so many of his belongings still are.  I even found his birth notice.

But with all these distractions closing, the reality of the situation is starting to sink in.  I felt like, and let myself jump up and down stamping my feet at the injustice of it all outside the church today after checking that my hard work on the slide-show would actually work on the system.  Apart from a few crying sessions, it's the first time I've let it out physically.  And if felt right.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Good Days and Bad

A week and a half later, and I'm coping. 

I have good days and bad. The bad are mostly when I realise I won't see Mr Trifectagirl again, and he is not coming back.   Thursday was really hard, being the one week mark and when I did a lot of the funeral planning, but I've been ok since then.  I've found an online group and a local meet-up for young widows/widowers with young children that I'll be tapping into.

Working on the funeral has been hard at times, but heartwarming at others.  I've learned new skills this week working on the funeral - I can do basic stuff in Windows Movie Maker and Audacity. 

Today will be a harder day as a number of Mr Trifectagirl's friends are coming to help finalise funeral plans, but it will be really nice to be with his life-long friends and to hear stories.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

It's Over

Mr Trifectagirl passed away peacefully in his sleep two days ago. 

The stress and hell of the last 3 months is now over.

I had been to see him the night before, and was able to tell him I loved him, thank him for being my husband and for our son.  And to tell him is was ok to leave us if he needed to.

We are now in the process of planning the funeral.

At this stage I am  operating on auto-pilot, but am ok. I have good moments and bad moments, but I'm focused on a 16 month old little boy who needs his mummy.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Sleep Routines

While Mr Trifectagirl's health issues are continuing, J and I have been staying with my father (Grandpa) and step-mother (Anjeanie).  It takes some of the load off (no need to go shopping, do laundry, cook etc), we have support around us and they live closer to the hospital if I need to get in there quickly.

While here, to help J settle for sleep we started to wind up Anjeanie's dolly that plays Fur Elise.  J now associates this dolly with Sleep.



During one time at the hospital we all happened to be there, Anjeanie mentioned this to J's Nanna (Mr Trifectagirl's Mother) and that we're on the look-out for something similar to have at home when we get back.  She says she has something.

It's a hideous souvenir Koala that plays Waltzing Matilda.  The wind-up mechanism in the tummy is a bit of a design flaw.  I don't blame her for wanting to pass it on!!  Mr Trifectagirl is declining, was pretty tired and not responding much when she gave it to me in his room.  Even he grimiced at the sight of it.



We were worried that it would scare J, so introduced it to him this morning.

And J LOVES it - Koala got big cuddles.



No accounting for taste.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Round and round the hospital...

I've not been blogging the last couple of weeks as Mr Trifectagirl wound up back in ICU a few days after my last post.  

The stent had resulted in a slow leak type bleed, and he managed to bring up quite a bit of blood - in front of me.

The docs went in to see the source of the bleed, and decided that the stent needed to come out, but wouldn't as scar tissue had started to grow around it.  So he was taken to ICU again while they came up with a plan. 

They decided to put down a second stent with the hope that it would push said scar tissue out the way and free up stent #1 for removal.

Then we had some infection issues crop up, which he recovered from pretty quickly once they got meds into him.

He was meant to be in surgery today to remove both stents, but late yesterday they decided that it was just too dangerous to try.  Stent #1 is so embedded in his oesophagus, they risk too much damage that would be fatal if they tried to take it out.

So both stents are staying, with the hope that they eventually get enough scar tissue to seal the site and stop this bleeding.    If they continue to dribble as they have been, he'll simply get blood transfusions to top him back up - as long as there's blood available.   There is still a risk of a catastrophic failure/bleed, but taking the risk of that gives Mr Trifectagirl the best chance of getting as good a recovery from the stroke as is possible. And J and I to have a husband and father around as long as possible.

So basically his status at the moment is he's a stroke patient, with a medical glitch to manage. 

On a side note: J loves 'round and round the garden, like a teddy bear', and walking to the ICU after he'd been shifted back 'round and round the hospital, like Mr Trifectagirl' popped into my head.  Mr Trifectagirl didn't like the joke at all. Most other people, including the doctors in the ICU, thought it was clever.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Accepted

Earlier this week, Mr Trifectagirl was assessed for a brain injury rehabilitation unit.

On the pro side of the assessment - he has excellent sitting balance which will allow him to participate in the activities, and he's young.

On the con side - he has chronic back pain (which they're working on alleviating) and seemed not to understand instructions or questions, nor copy actions.  For example he answered 'yes' to 'are you in a hotel?', and couldn't poke his tongue out.  He did however also identify he was in a hospital.

The doctor acknowledged it was a relatively quick assessment, and the conclusion is he's been accepted into the unit to have a shot at rehab. 

So yet again, we're waiting on a bed, and then phase 3 of recovery begins.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

You can see what he's like....

This was the 'most helpful' (heavy on the sarcasm) comment on Mr Trifectagirl's neurological state of one of the interns on the stroke ward during the week after I asked how he was going.  I had to actually hunt a doctor down and ask because no-one has really been telling me anything on how he's going.  Over the course of this week he's stopped trying to speak as much, using 'thumbs up' to communicate, and isn't moving around the bed as much.

It's time for a move. He seems to be plateauing, which is understandable since his is in an acute care ward, not a rehab facility. At at least the the overall team think there is enough there to consider rehab, rather than just place him in a residential care facility for the next 30-40 years.

So, thankfully he is being assessed for transfer to a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (BIRU) this week.  He just needs to behave, not play jokes and cooperate with the doctor while the assessment is on!! As my sister said, this is not the time to tick the 'I'm a vegetable' box.   And he wasn't happy when I told him I'll be there while the assessment will be occurring.

The next day I had a call from the liaison nurse at the BIRU - just as well I'd asked what was going on, otherwise I'd have been somewhat surprised by this call.  She was gobsmacked at the Doctor's comment, too!  The conversation was to find out some background on Mr Trifectagirl.  How independent was he prior to the stroke? Very. Did he drive?  Yes. Was he working? No, he was a full-time stay at home dad, plus doing some study. So he helped with housework?  No.  Mutual laughing.   What was he studying?  OH&S and Training.   Basically - he was a man in his mid-40's, going about his business, and then had this major brain injury event. 

So, yes I can see what he's like, but it seems I and the other professions on the team are seeing more than you do.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Golden Retreivers

We had great progress show itself when I visited today!  Mr Trifectagirl has started trying to speak.

It's in-comprehensible, not quite the 'golden retreiver' sound described by Jill Bolte Taylor in her TED talk, but in the realm.

Five or so days ago he was trying 'sssss' or 'zzzzzz', but that was it.  Today it was attempts at full words and sentences.  He is frustrated, but I get the feeling he knows he's progressing. 

We had one funny exchange.  I told him I miss him.  His attempt at a response sounded like 'why'?  "Why!?!?  Why?!?!?  because I love you!!!".   He cracked up.  He at least is laughing quite freely!

One side affect that has started to become apparent is his sense of taste may have been scrambled.  This is a man who loves his food, particularly flavour.  He is on the 'fat is flavour' side of the fence.  He had his birthday lunch booked 12 months in advance after loving the meal last year - this is the birthday lunch that this illness hit. 

I bought him some fast food on the weekend and he looked so excited to receive it.  He tried a few pieces, and then declined any further.  It was like the experience didn't live up the the reality, and you could see the disappointment on his face.  I hope that his sense of taste works it way back. 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A Picky Eater - and it's not the toddler!

I had a call this afternoon from the Dietitian working with Mr Trifectagirl. They’re concerned that he’s not eating and he has yet again pulled out the feeding tube. They want to try him without the tube for a while to see if not having the liquid feed encourages him to eat more.


The non-eating could be any number of reasons which he can’t express yet. He’s often complained about the quality of the food at this particular hospital, or it could be the stroke has impacted his experience of taste and texture.

They’re trying to go high calorie/ high protein to ensure he doesn’t start to loose muscle mass and therefore impact his recovery. The dietitian told me he’s down to 102kg/224lb from 116kg/255lb when he was admitted.

As she went through the list of what they’re trying it dawned on me that what they’re giving him is all stuff on his cardiologists no go/limit list for the diet he was supposed to be following prior to this happening (but wasn't) – eggs, full cream milk, cheeses, red meats.

I had the thought one reason he may not eating is that he’s thinking he should now follow the diet since he’s had the wake-up call – not that he can tell us. It’s possible he needs the cardiologist to give permission to actually eat what they’re giving him! He does seem to eat deserts, but that could be going back to texture or sweetness.

Other than that, the physio said they’re pleased with his progress this week. He's still not talking however.


I'm hoping to spend a bit of time with him tomorrow since I am not working and J will be in child care.  I'll take in some of my cooking and see if that is eaten - it may tell us a bit more about what's going on.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A Wet-Weather Play Space

Following on from a successful clean out in February, I had a clear car-port to do something with.

J loves being outside, however with winter coming, we needed somewhere where he could play, but not get wet.  AND have a solutions so he wouldn't run and play in the rain, since the child is obsessed with showers.


What I am hoping to avoid throughout winter...


Grandpa very kindly bought some foam interlocking mats to go on the floor of the car-port -- which J promptly tried to play his swimming game of 'jelly on a plate' .  Doesn't work as well on concrete as it does in a pool.


After I got those down, I brought around his swing/slide set and popped that into the space.  We need some more mats, but over-all, the space seems to work.  And will be better once I get the saleable stuff on the move.



Monday, 23 April 2012

Shouldas, Couldas & Wouldas

There are many dull, boring, somewhat uncomfortable to think about, yet practical and important things I know Mr Trifectagirl and I should have put in place.  Or discussed.  A long time ago.  Just in case something that 'won't happen to me' actually 'does happen to me'. 

Like it did.

Things like having Power of Attorney in place so money issues can be dealt with.  Even though I'm his wife, I can't access his bank account nor change the bank account that social security payments go into.  I can't access that money at all - or stop some automatic payments that will slowly deplete his account.  Not that it's much, but being able to manage these things would be helpful.

Writting and/or updating our wills AND knowing where they are kept.

Knowing our wishes when it comes to organ donation and funerals.  I have no idea what I want for my funeral, let alone what Mr Trifectagirl wants. 

As J is an IVF child and we have additional embryos in storage, making sure posthumous use has been dealt with, or permissions to use in case of being declared not competent to make a decision.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Playing Funny Buggers

I received a call on Friday from the speech pathologist looking after Mr Trifectagirl. 

He's now onto solid food, but what they call a 'soft' diet, so it's the options that are easily chewable and crusts are cut of sandwiches.  Once he's eating enough, the nasal-gastric tube can be removed.

However he's turning his nose up at much of the food.  The hot meal in particular.   Not that I blame him - his long beans tonight looked a bit grey and soggy.

His mum is in a nursing home and also complains about the food.  I told Mr Trifectagirl he was turning into his mother.  THAT went down well.  Horrible wife, I am.

So I go in to the hospital and have a chat with the speech pathologist to talk about what Mr Trifectagirl likes to eat.   Not much different from what they're serving, but it's probably better when cooked at home.  Also after tonight, I should let them know what he doesn't like, such as pumpkin. 

This chat is occuring in his room, with Mr Trifectagirl listening in.  While chatting with her, I mentioned the concensus amongst friends that Mr Trifectagirl might be playing games with not cooperating with some instructions, rather than it always being a cognitive issue. 

Mr Trifectagirl responded by smiling and turning away.   Yep.  He's been playing funny buggers with the staff. 

At least they know now to tell him off!!

Friday, 20 April 2012

(Attempting) Small Steps Forward

Closing in on the end of the first week in the Stroke Ward and Mr Trifectagirl is doing pretty well. 

When he smiles, his smile is gradually becoming more even on the left and right sides. 

He's now eating baby mush!  Considering with the esophageal stent he may have faced nasal-gastric feeding for life, baby mush is a great step forward.  Even if that's as far as we get, when it comes to food he's thankfully more flavour oriented than texture oriented. 

He sits up in a chair for a while each day, but they have to put a safety belt around him as he keeps trying to get up and walk away.  I think he tries this more when I'm with him than anyone else, so I need to seek information from the staff on that one.

Only problem is, he can undo the belt. 12 months of training with the myriad of baby products with clips and clasps probably comes into play here.  Going by the scowl I got, I was very unpopular for telling the nurses he'd done this, as they promptly put him back into his bed.

There is some concern that cognitive function has been impacted and he doesn't completely understand all the time what is happening/is asked of him.  For example, the doctor asks him to touch his elbow, and he touches his nose.

However, many a person who knows him that gets told this seems to respond with 'is he just being a prick?  It would be within character'.  I need to let the doctor know this as I did have to tell him to behave and cooperate while in the ICU - and he started to.

As stroke rehab is a long, slow process, I'm finding it easier to visit every two days or so, rather than daily.  It lets me see progress and I need that at this stage.  As the hospital staff have always said, he is being looked after, I don't have to worry about that.  What I do have to worry about is looking after myself, so do what I need to do.  It's easier to skip days for me to be able to see progress as I know there are a bunch of friends visiting now and breaking up the monotony for him.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

With Routines

'With routines' is my stock answer to the question of 'how are you coping?'

Mr Trifectagirl has always teased me about my systems and routines - he affectionately calls me Sheldon. 

But they're keeping the household running, cleaning done and healthy food on the table.  Just as they did when Mum was in the ICU.  Plus I'm still working part time and knocking off a few of those pesky 'to dos' as well.  It's just the ironing that's missing out (I HATE ironing!).

The systems need tweaking and refining, but they're keeping us moving forward and we'll find things that work for us now as time progresses.

Besides, what else am I going to do?  I can't loose the plot - it's no good for J, Mr Trifectagirl or myself.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Moving on up

Literally.  Mr Trifectagirl is going to be moved to the stroke ward, which is on the 7th floor, from the ICU on the 5th.

We're just on bed-block at the moment - waiting for a bed to open up on the stroke ward for him.

The cardiologist has asked the stroke consultant what the recovery chances are.  There's no guarantee, but since he's young, there could be a good chance of regaining lost mobility/movement with rehab. 

But it's going to be a long, long haul.

Been here, done this

Mr Trifectagirl's time in the ICU is my second experience of having a close family member in ICU.

On April 2, 2008 my mother suffered a massive brain aneurysm which put her in the ICU for just over a week. 

Sadly, the damage was too great, and it was agreed to shift her to a ward for care - she didn't need around the clock monitoring. She never regained consciousness and passed away three weeks later.

As such, I think I put just a little bit of pressure on the ICU staff to send me home with a live one this time round.

It looks like we've managed that.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Up to speed & and no visiting

The series of posts about how our life journey changed pretty much brings us up to speed.  We're still in the ICU, infection under control, weaning off the ventilator.

Mr Trifectagirl has been progressing really well - so the nurses tell me.  I've got the dreaded lurgy, so have opted not to go in and see him for a couple of days.  Although it's probably well after I was infectious, but ICU staff agree that it's better I stay away for a couple of days. 

He's been off the ventilator for extended periods, including over night and they're beginning to work with the the tracheotomy to be able to block that off and work on speech. 

Hopefully we'll be out of ICU and onto a ward soon!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Big steps forward

Mr Trifectagirl has made big steps forward in the last 48 hours or so.

He's been moved to a room with a window, so hopefully some natural light will help his mood and get him back into a day/night rhythm.

A chest CT is showing that the mediastinitus appears cleared up/under control.

He's spending longer and longer off the ventilator, and they were going to attempt having him off over night (no update as at the time of writing).

His right foot, that seemed to have dropped off on movement, has started moving again.

An old high school friend is a kidney specialist and happens to have a couple of patients in ICU at the moment, so he always drops by and says hi whenever he's in the unit.  And basically pulling no punches, telling Mr Trifectagirl he's got a long hard road ahead for re-hab.

Two of his closer friends have started to visit, as has our Minister and some of Mr Trifectagirl's friends from church.

It's been a good Easter!

How our life journey changed - part three

Mr Trifectagirl was now stable after the insertion of the stent, and spent two weeks listed as 'critical but stable'.  Now he had to battle major infection - sepsis and something called mediastinitus - an infection around the lungs/heart area in his chest cavity.

The doctors told me that since he's relatively fit and healthy he had a good chance of beating the infections. I must have looked rather surprised at the 'fit and healthy' comment since he weighed in at 116kg, and had a history of heart problems.  Apparently mediastinitus is common in esophageal cancer patients, so comparatively, yes he is fit and healthy!

He was pumped full of antibiotics and an anti-fungal thrown in for good measure, and kept under sedation for close to two weeks.  He was on a ventilation for breathing support. It wasn't doing all the work, just taking some of the load so he didn't get too tired.

This period was hard.  Doctors couldn't tell me what would happen - they didn't know as they were flying blind on his treatment, operating on best guess on what to do. The first week the ICU consultant just crossed his figures every time he saw me - it's all they could do.  The 2IC kept me updated constantly.  Consulting internationally they were being told that they were doing all they could do in terms of treatment.

I figured that he wouldn't want his friends to see him, and if the worst happened remember him, looking like this, so we kept them away.  He wasn't responding due to the sedation, and looked terrible with lines, the ventilator and all sorts of stuff going everywhere.

Over the course of that two weeks, he fought really hard and it appears he's beaten both infections. I figured we were moving forward when the ICU consult didn't cross his fingers every time he saw me, and the 2IC didn't make a bee-line for me the moment I arrived to update me.  I asked the 2IC about it, and he responded with 'you noticed that?' - Ummm, Yep.  It was a combination of both moving forward and they didn't know what else to tell me.

As we got past the one week mark, Mr Trifectagirl was getting agitated with a breathing tube in whenever they tried to lift the sedation, so I consented to have a tracheostomy done on day 10 to make him more comfortable.

After that, they were able to start pulling back on the sedation and we could start to assess the damage of the stroke.

Monday, 9 April 2012

How Our Life Journey Changed - part 2

After Mr Trifectagirl took his turn for the worse, I was asked to wait in a a short-term waiting area.  And I received a call from his cardiologist, who was at a training weekend interstate.

And the news was bad.  Very bad.  What they suspected he had has a very, very low survival rate.  And the only chance was major chest surgery.

I spent pretty much the whole day filled with dread of being a widow with a 1 year old by the end of the day.   Mr Trifectagirl had fantastic nurses day one, and I will be forever grateful to them for their support.

I called friends and they arrived to support me for the afternoon.  And what was going to happen chopped and changed so frequently over the day.  Surgery.  No Surgery.  Past surgeries a problem.  Past surgeries probably will help in survival. 

At one point they sent me home to rest for a little while. I then received a call to come into the hospital, which my step-mother joined me.  We were ushered into one of the family rooms (which the fantastic volunteers in the unit apologised for the state of - a family member of another patient had punched through the walls the week prior and they hadn't had a chance to repair the damage), and I commented 'if one person comes through the door, it's not good'.  In came the nurse.  But she said she wanted to be there with me, and that she was being followed by a whole hoard of heads of departments!  One was the cardiologist, who had rushed back from the training.   He got the job of explaining to me what had happened.

A hole had formed between the oesophagus and the heart - it had taken soo long to figure out what had happened as it didn't look like they were expecting on scans - it was much smaller and was more like a valve than an actual hole (red herring #2).  Due to the hole, there was a bad infection and an air-bubble had gotten into the blood stream.  That air-bubble has resulted in a stroke.

The first priority was to fix that hole.  Except that no-one would go in to do it.  All of his past surgeries made it too risky to do the normal fix of more surgery.  But the hole needed to be fixed or he would die. Apparently the heads of about 5 different departments had been collaborating and researching to come up with a solution.  And they did.  A solution with no guarantees. A solution with only one  survivor from a sample of patients numbering less than 10 world wide. But a solution none the less.  A stent needed to be inserted in his oesophagus to cover the hole and give it a chance to heal, which is normally done by pumping air in and giving it a bit more room for an gastro-enterology doc to manoeuvre. But that could result in another stroke.

So in comes some funky radiology doctor, who performs procedures under imaging - he told me 'we get everything that no one else wants to touch'.   So he attempted an insertion without any air using only imaging to guide him (and the consent form I signed said 'attempted').  They didn't know if he would survive this at all.

That was a very, very hard hour and I am so grateful that the Minister who married us came and sat with us through-out.  He arrived in time to say a prayer and give Mr Trifectagirl a blessing prior, too.  The Minister said 'I don't have an 'oh crap' feeling.  I've been through hairy medical situations with families a lot, and I don't have an 'oh crap' feeling.'

We got back to ICU, and the nurse greeted me with the biggest smile - Mr Trifectagirl made it through the procedure. He now had a fighting chance of survival.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

How our life journey changed - part 1

A large group of friends headed out for lunch on March 17 for Mr Trifectagirl's birthday.  A celebration that had been a year in the planning.

Half way through, he appeared to be coming down with a fever, but we continued on.  He eventually asked to be taken to hospital, an hour or so away.  So we quickly got packed up and I took him to the main hospital.  I made it to the hospital in 40 minutes.  I won't be surprised if speeding fines appear at some point.

On arival at the emergency department, Mr Trifectagirl went weak just inside the doors, and I couldn't hold him and J, so down he went.  On his face.  Breaking his nose.  I feel bad that my first thought after he was stableised was 'Doesn't matter if his glasses are broken, he ordered new ones Wednesday'.

Family came and got J for me, and I stayed with Mr Trifectagirl for about two hours before I headed home to feed J and rest.  We're used to emergency with his ongoing heart issues, and it didn't seem too bad at that time.  So home I went.   I called and checked in at about 9:30, and he had dehydrated, and they thought he'd go to the high dependancy unit.

At 3am I got a call from the hospital saying Mr Trifectagirl was in the Intensive Care Unit  - NOT where I was expecting him to go.   

Of course, a phone call to my dad, who thankfully lives between our home and the hospital, to look after J, and I was in there about 4am.  I stayed until 6 as they were taking him for scans.  At that point they thought it was an infected gall bladder that required getting an infection under control and surgery to remove it once he's stable - red herring #1.

I returned at about 10am.  and not long after he took a very dramatic turn for the worse.  And that's when everything turned up-side down.

Friday, 6 April 2012

ICU - Week 3

Mr Trifectagirl has progressed really well this week. 

He is being gradually weaned off the ventilator, and his time off is getting longer every few days or so.  He has been taken off IV feeding, and is now fully fed by nasal-gastric feeding, which is another really big step.  

Depression, however appears to be a problem.  An understandable problem, but there.  Being unable to communicate is probably impacting on this.  I have no way of knowing if I'm right at this stage, but I have my suspicions.

So after the suggestions and advice of on-line friends, and speaking to the doctor on duty today, I have made up a communication chart with about 30 words on it, mostly to do with comfort/pain and location; yes/no and please/thank you (because courtesy/politeness is important to Mr Trifectagirl -he'd hate not having that option!!), and entertainment/mental stimulation (TV, Radio, book, on, off, volume, up, down etc).    He'll get a radio tomorrow, and the point chart.  Hopefully that makes life stuck in a bed with restricted movement and unable to speak a bit more bearable for him.

He is in what must be the worst room in the unit - the poor man is stuck in a box.  The section phone where reception volunteers call to see if patients can have visitors or various scans and tests outside the unit are arranged, is outside his room, ringing day and night.  Most beds have either a window, or a view out the window in the room across the hall.  He's in an internal box with no natural light.  Thankfully this is on the radar of the senior doctors in the unit and a move to a window room has been discussed at team meetings, but an ICU is a busy place with a fast turn-over, and shifting rooms isn't easy.  Add Easter and the unfortunate road accidents that happen, and it may be into the next week before a  move could even be possible. 

I've been hesitant to have people other than family visit up till now, just as I've been pretty certain that he would not have wanted friends to remember him (if the worst happened) as a unconscious person on a bed with tubes and wires everywhere.  Plus he is still very weak, and I worry about him getting too tired. 

But he's now conscious and interacting pretty well, so we've started bringing in J to see him each day.  J doesn't cope too well - he can't get down and run around!!!  But he interacts with Daddy, starting 'round and round the garden, like a teddy bear' which daddy always played with him. 

Today the Minister who married us visited, as did a friend for the first time.  Unfortunately he seemed confused when I asked if the friend had visited (we'd discussed the intention to visit this morning), but I'm not sure if that's a communication issue.  Maybe the point chart will help.    If he's coping generally, I'll slowly start letting more friends see him.  It will be good to have the load lifted a bit and for him to get different stimulation.

Something to look forward to is once he's off the ventilator for longer periods they may be able to take him to a courtyard for some fresh air and sun-shine (not that the forecast allows for it in the near future!!).  I'll be asking them to let me know when they're taking him out so I can bring J in and Mr Trifectagirl can watch him run around.   

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Thankfully Not a Widow

Mr Trifectagirl celebrated his 46th birthday on St Patricks Day, March 17.  Unfortunately he also suffered the most significant/dangerous complication of a heart procedure that he had had about 4 weeks prior. 

Then he had a stroke as a complication to the complication.

The primary complication damn near killed him and I fully expected to be a widow at the close of March 18.  Thankfully he survived an only option, experimental procedure that saved his life.

Three weeks down the track and we are still in Intensive Care and progressing very, very slowly.  We'll be there for a number of weeks still.

Now that I'm more settled, I plan to blog my ICU experience, and our recovery/rehab experience and finding myself very suddenly, effectively a single mum to an energetic one year old boy. 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Things that go bump

Yesterday morning on our way into church I tripped over on a raised slab of concrete out the front. 

The worst was I was carrying J at the time, and we both went down.  We both have some scrapes and bruises, and I'm a bit sore, but we're otherwise fine.  J bounced back by climbing over furniture in the afternoon, so he's pretty resilient at the moment!

The church has some landscaping plans which thankfully include the repair of this problem.

Although I was carrying J, we will both bounce back.  I'm awfully glad it wasn't one of our elderly members of the congregation who could have had a much worse result.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Pinteresting Weekend

I got a few bits and pieces done over the weekend, and bought some items to work on projects over the next while.

I've been meaning to hang my mother and step-father's walking sticks, plus Mr Trifectagirl's father's hunting horn (apparently a gift).  I finally got them up this weekend.


Plus I bought bits to keep working on a quiet book for J, and to do one of the many menu planning boards all over pinterest. 

I made the rainbow cookies I pinned a few days ago.  According to Mr Trifectagirl, they look better than they taste. 

Thanks.

Things I've Been Meaning to Do - March

Here we go for March...

1 - Following on from February,
  • sell the sellable stuff in the car port - even if I only get one item gone!
  • back-up those photos
  • work in the vegie patch
2 - Keep working on the quiet book I'm making for J.

3 - Get the study into a state that Mr Trifectagirl can use it rather than using the kitchen table.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

TIBMTD: February Wrap-up

1 - get rid of a whole heap of crap (for lack of a better term) in the carport. Done, there's a lot more space out there now!!
2 - Sort our my photo files. Baby J turns one this week (eeek - when did that happen!?!). I need to get them both sorted and backed up. ASAP!!  Sorted: yes; backed up: no.
3 - Once the crap is gone from the carport, sell what is sellable (even if not for very much!!).  Not done - just need to get organised to do this.
4 - prep the veggie garden for winter plantings.   Partially done, maybe some more time on this project this afternoon.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Single Parenthood- short term

Mr Trifectagirl has spent the last 4 nights in hospital following a scheduled procedure. 

Working full time and being a single parent is crazy busy!  Especially if you throw in additional runs to the hospital because Mr Klutz spilt his coffee all over his pyjamas!

On the down side - J missed his daddy and kept looking around the house for him. 

On the up side - even with looking after a very mobile 1 year old, I have managed to get sooooo much house work done.  I was able to slip back into my old routine that worked really well for me pre-Mr Trifectagirl days.

There will be a bit of a talk happening once he's home - which will hopefully be later today!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Plague House

I spent Sunday curled up with Rotavirus. 

Horrid - plain and simple. 

Thankfully it passed really quickly, but I've decided not to risk infecting the office and have stayed home today.  I don't think passing it on would make me very popular!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Productive Day

It feels really good when you have a productive day.

  • Study/sewing room tidied and some mending done.
  • Floors cleaned.
  • Garden tidied.
  • Bathroom cleaned.
  • Laundry done.

Pitty it's back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I'm a Big Boy!!!

Yesterday was a big day in the Trifectagirl house-hold.  I turned 1!!

It was a special day si I woke up at 5:30am (a taste of Christmases to come, maybe??).  And crashed about 9am in a massive melt-down.

At least this nap enabled Mummy to finish making all the cakes and sandwiches and fruit skewers for my party and we headed off to the park.

Personally, I found mixing the ice with the dirt was the best bit of the party (and the picture is wonky)!


My Aunty Jenny made me a ladybug cake.  I LOOOVE the ladybug on Minuscule.


Mummy made me this tee-shirt, too.


Mummy made me a smash cake.  We don't have smash cakes in Australia, but Daddy doesn't like it when my hands are dirty.  I wanted a plate.


It was a fun party and I really, really needed to cuddle Big Teddy and sleep afterwards.



Happy Birthday to me!!

xxJ

I am 1, I am NOT a baby

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Things I've Been Meaning to Do..February

Another month is well underway, so here's what I'm hoping to achieve this month.

1 - get rid of a whole heap of crap (for lack of a better term) in the carport.  This has been on the plan for a while, and thankfully Mr Trifectagirl booked a hard rubbish collection from the council.  We just need to pull everything together ready to go out tomorrow night.  That will be done this weekend with pick-up Tuesday!

2 - Sort our my photo files.  Baby J turns one this week (eeek - when did that happen!?!).  I need to get them both sorted and backed up.  ASAP!!

3 - Once the crap is gone from the carport, sell what is sellable (even if not for very much!!).

4 - prep the veggie garden for winter plantings.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Today I'm Grateful For...

Today I am greatful for...

keeping a pair flats at the office - I did that much running around, I needed them!!

Mr Trifectagirl who cleaned the house today.

That it's the last day of my work-week, and I get to spend time with Baby J tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

First Steps

About 7pm on January 19, 3 weeks shy of his first birthday, Baby J took his first steps (that mummy and daddy saw). 

And basically hasn't stopped!!  He often decides that crawling is quicker, but will toddle quite a distance first.

Someone is very pleased with themselves!
 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Little boys and animals

We have a deal with my father and step-mum - for Christmas they pay for a family zoo membership which gets us into the Adelaide and Monarto Zoos all year.  Bonus for us is it's a non-cluttering gift - the membership cards sit in Mr Trifectagirl and I's wallets.

Bonus for the givers is the renewal comes due in August, so it technically spreads out their Christmas expenditure.

Baby J and I went in for an hour this afternoon.  He enjoyed being out and about in his trike much more than actually being at the zoo, so it was a pretty quick visit.  The advantage of membership - we can go as often as we like!!  He's really not gotten the whole concept of animals yet, so he didn't get too excited about the whole experience.  Except the giraffs (he could see them from his trike - they're much taller than the fence!)  and some monkeys - he likes monkeys since he won a spider-monkey toy at the Zoo Christmas Picnic last year (who Mum has named Cuddles as Baby J always give him cuddles).

We need to get into going in far more frequently - it's an easy way of killing a couple of hours, give him some fun and get some excersise for ourselves!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

TIBMTD - December Wrap

I did ok this month, and am really glad I did the number one item!!

1 - De-clutter my bathroom cupboards. There's a whole heap of stuff that can just plain go in there. I also need to do the medicine cupboards and clear out all the out of date stuff.  Once I got the cupboard cleared, I found a leak that's done some damage to the cupboard.  On the list to be repaired.  I also got the master bedroom cleared, and part of the kitchen/dining area - all in all, very productive!


2 - Work on my budget for 2012. This seriously slipped this year, so I want to gain control back.  I didn't get to a budget, but I've bought a copy of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, which should arrive soon.   DH's on board, we just need to get our heads around a system.  We're working on cash as much as possible.

3 - Sort out freezer, and maybe try a few crock-pot freezer meals from pinterest.   One of our two freezers had a problem with keeping it's door closed, so we lost soooo much meat, plus the two remaining layers of our wedding cake.  Very miffede about this.  So the freezer sort-out is now a dump (we've been doing it gradually).  The crock-meals will progress to January.

Ok, probably not so much of a good month - but tasks got done one way or another!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Plan of Attack

A whole new year - a new set of short to mid-term goals.  I find goal setting far more achievable than resolutions - I've had a perennial resolution of drinking more water, and have failed year after year.  But when I set goals and write a plan (and keep reviewing said plan) I get there - often ahead of the target date. 

So here we go for goals for 2012.

House:  After making sure most of the house was clean and tidy - especially the kitchen table - for January 1 Mr Trifectagirl agreed that it was really nice to get up to a tidy space.  As such, Mr Trifectagirl and I have agreed we need to get some systems and routines in place.  For a few years I used Flylady, which worked really well for me, but fell over when various people moved in and out of my place and I struggled to keep it going.    I plan to educate Mr Trifectagirl on that particular system and put it back in place.  The advantage of this system is it's set up to be gradually implemented, rather than an all in.   Our biggest issue is a lack of space, and Mr Trifectagirl using our kitchen table as a desk - and boy does he have a paper monster.  That is one thing we want to tame this year.

Work: I know I'll need to find a new job early in the year - there are a few up in my old field at the moment I have to get applications written for, so hopefully by the end of the week I'll have applied for about 5 roles, plus I should hear during the week how I went on an initial phone interview for a role just before Christmas.

Mr Trifectagirl has a few assignments to finish on his qualifications, and hopefully he'll find something quickly once he has the bits of paper to support his experience.

Money:  We also need to review finances, budgeting and financial goals.  I've been investigating Dave Ramsey's system in a bit more detail, having used some of the techniques successfully in the past to deal with utility bill blow-outs, so we may look at implementing that in more detail. 

We'd really love to move and do up an older property, so we'll work towards that too.  I also need to really push the guy looking after my step-father's estate to get the last of my sister and I's inheritance issued and put a very crappy 2008 finally behind us - the delay is quite frankly ridiculous - and that's taking into account the unique circumstances of this estate!  That will give us a good deposit for a new home.

So, here's to a fantastic and successful 2012.