Friday, January 23, 2015

Reflecting on Life

The year that was 2014, has brought with it many challenges both emotionally and physically. I once again went under the surgeon's knife twice, just as I did in 2013. I am currently over 8 weeks into recovery & rehab. Due to living with an autoimmune disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), this greatly affects "normal" healing and recovery times.

I have also been given the prognosis, from a number of my specialists, with regard to my nerve injuries and the resultant daily chronic neuropathic pain:
"There is nothing more we can do but to try to keep you comfortable."
That is very difficult to hear after 5 years of searching for answers and trialing many new treatments! I have lost a lot of my independence, as I am unable to drive more than 15 minutes a couple of days a week without extreme nerve & joint pain in my neck, right hip and leg. This hasn't changed over the last 5 years!
This week, I was diagnosed with a condition called Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in my foot, which I was made aware could be a side affect of my recent surgery.

Not a week goes by that I do not have 2+ medical appointments; weekly visits to my physio for rehab and also to my Musculoskeltal doctor who gives me the vital injections of dextrose into trigger points as well as areas of severe nerve pain. This treatment has been of huge value to my quality of life over the last 3.5 years. Some weeks I attend far more appointments than the usual two.

As I reflect on the year, I am saddened to discover that my current inability to work has resulted in being judged by some. Even sadder is that some of those people are family. These people don't see how my chronic pain affects me on a daily basis, nor do they see or realise the incredible frustration and feeling of uselessness that it leaves me with.

I'm not a lazy person. I worked very hard (often 2 jobs at a time) over the many years that I raised my children alone, in order to keep them in private schools, buy a home and pay a mortgage after being left with nothing when my ex-husband left us. During this time, I worked through the often chronic pain associated with flare ups of my Ankylosing Spondylitis, when at times it was severely painful to walk due to issues with my feet, hip and back. I continued to work for 4 months after my car accident in November 2009, in spite of the chronic pain, until my specialists told me that it would be advisable to stop working.

More recently, I have considered going against the advice of my specialists and attempting to find work again. I tried to study part time at University in 2013, but had to stop as the travel and sitting/studying for hours a few days a week was impossible. It was at my specialist's advice that I give it away as it was "making my condition worse".

Some days, reflection is all that's on my mind. I've given up reflecting on the "what ifs" as it serves no purpose to wonder what life would be like without the accident. Now I wonder more how I can contribute to the family income, what I can do to be accepted, how I can feel better about myself...

I am grateful that I have the wonderful support of my husband of 5 years, who has been by my side throughout all this, for those in my family who have seen my struggles first hand and have been there to support me through them. I am also grateful to my wonderful medical team; my GP, Musculoskeletal doctor, physio, and the long list of other specialists and surgeons I see regularly.

I don't want pity or sympathy... I only want understanding and acceptance from my loved ones. I don't think that is a big ask.

May we all show more love, gratitude, understanding & acceptance to others. :)  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sunset at Mothers Beach

This particular evening, I was virtually the only person on the entire beach. The water was almost like glass; it was so serene.

"Peace is watching a sunset and knowing who to thank." - Unknown

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Smoky Currumbin Sunset

With lack of clouds and smoke from bush fires, I was unsure what kind of sunset we would get, if any this particular evening. This happens a lot when we drive down to the Gold Coast! The sky usually looks very promising, but by the afternoon the clouds have often disappeared. When you drive an hour for a beach sunset, you have to just enjoy the moment and capture what you can.

Here's what I captured...

I'm glad I've got LOADS of unposted images to edit & share during my recovery and rehab from surgery, otherwise I'd be even more bored than I already am!

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday Bella!!

Yesterday I had the joy of celebrating one of my grandchildren's birthdays. Those who have been my blogging friends since I started this blog back in 2011 will know how wonderful and meaningful this is!!

The last month has involved a miraculous reconciliation with my beautiful daughter-in-law, Angie, and getting to know my 3 gorgeous grandchildren.

Yesterday was Annabelle's (affectionately known as "Bella") 3rd birthday. We celebrated in a local park with my daughter-in-law Angie, my son Daniel (Dad to my grandchildren), my youngest son Ben, youngest daughter Bec and, of course, Bella's brother Matty and baby sister Sophia. My oldest daughter Sarah was unfortunately at work.

Here's a few shots I took yesterday. I'm not the best at portrait photography... that is something I need to change!

Birthday girl, Bella (3)

Sophia (13 months) with mummy

Matty (4) with Auntie Bec

Matty: "We have to sing Happy Birthday to Bella!"

Birthday cake made by my talented daughter-in-law


Bella with Uncle Ben

Sophia... cute as a button, even with a muddy face!!

Matty & Bella... best of friends

To those wondering about the progress of my knee and foot surgery; I am now 3.5 weeks post op, I had a few complications and an over night stay in hospital became a 5 day stay. I have been light weight bearing on my right leg with crutches over the last week, still unable to walk, but hopefully by mid January that will change. I can't drive yet, of course, so I haven't been out capturing landscapes (or wildlife) which, as you know, is my passion. I'm hoping to hobble to a local beach on our trip to the Mornington Peninsula & Melb from Dec 26.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Let Hope Rise

"Let hope rise and darkness tremble...."

This week, terror has personally touched Australians with the Sydney seige, and the loss of innocent lives as a result. It was extremely worrying as I had friends and family who were in very close proximity to the situation, but thankfully safe.

And then yesterday, I heard the tragic news of the "massacre of the innocents" in Pakistan. These are worrying times, with so much hatred and unnecessary loss in the world.

I am so grateful that in such difficult times, we have faith and hope in God. I feel incredibly blessed to have all my children, their partners and my 3 grandchildren safe and well (although one of my children need your prayers if you are the praying kind).

Remember to keep your family close, spend time with them, remind them how much they are loved... you never know which day will be your last!

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by these tragic events. This post is dedicated to those people and their families. May they know peace at this time.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Autumn at The Briars, Mount Martha, VIC

The following images were taken while I was staying on the Mornington Peninsula for my Mum's 80th birthday, back in May.  This beautiful rural property, only a short walk from my parents house, is steeped in local history, flora and fauna.

The Briars, a beautiful old homestead, is situated at Mount Martha on the Mornington Peninsula on 230 hectares.There are many things to see and do at The Briars including the 1800’s historic homestead & gardens, historic farm buildings, wildlife sanctuary and wetlands.

Last time I was at The Briars (Dec 2011), it was a stormy Summer day and the grass was brown & dry. Since then I have had visions of photographing this historical old tractor on a gorgeous Winter blue sky day when the grass was green & lush. This time I got what I was after.

An old timber cart in the picnic area.

The Briars Homestead was constructed from 1848 to 1851 and was used by Alexander Balcombe until 1876 as he farmed the land surrounding it and tended to 100 acres of vineyards. The homestead houses a world renowned collection of Napoleonic memorabilia, established by Dame Mabel Brooke.

Grape vines.

I'm looking forward to going back "home" to see my family on Boxing Day (Dec 26) for 2 weeks. I may not get many photography opportunities as I probably won't be walking very well by then. I am going into hospital today for knee and foot surgery. I am hoping and praying the outcome of the foot surgery is really positive as I have been in extreme pain walking for the last 3 years.

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