Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The trip from Mount Helen to Mount Martha last Monday certainly added an element of interest to the week.  Usually it takes around two and a quarter hours. The sat nav pretty much always takes us over the Westgate Bridge. (The sat nav likes to take us over the Westgate Bridge whenever there is any possible reason to go that way, but when moving from Helen to Martha that is the most sensible way to go.)  On Monday, however, it abruptly changed the route - so abruptly that I was in the wrong lane and had to move over -  and took us off on the ring road, and then down the Calder Freeway. Not sure why.  It looked as though it was going to take us over the Bolte Bridge but then at the last minute took us on a detour through Docklands and along loads of roads, small roads, and what looked like ramps and back streets.  Jim tells me that the Bolte was absolutely chockablock.  At one point he asked if we should check to see where we were.  In fact I knew where we were all the time we were heading along this weird route. I just didn't know where we were going - if you see what I mean.  Eventually we ended up in the Burnley tunnel (also almost at a standstill) and back on the usual route.  It took us almost an hour longer than usual to get to Mount Martha.

I'm not sure I could duplicate that route, left to my own devices!!!

Stella has had an up and down week. She was quite bright on Monday and very much less so on Tuesday. She's picked up a bit since then. She's still very breathless but quite a bit more animated and a bit more mobile.  She is hoping to go into the rehab unit over the weekend.  Tony isn't too bad at the moment.  Unless he has a horrible coughing fit at meal times he is eating quite well. He positively demolished the (small) plate of chicken and mushroom stew, mashed potatoes and vegetables that I gave him last night.

I have managed to get to work as arranged this week.  I have discovered that driving up and down the Eastern Freeway is a doddle compared to the Monash.  The traffic flows fairly freely and it takes about an hour and a quarter, a bit longer heading back because you set off in Melbourne's peak hour traffic.  Jim and Tony have been holding the fort at Mount Martha. Jim has taken Tony to visit Stella at lunchtime, with lunchtime pies in the hospital cafe. Then when I get back we've all been to visit her in the evening.

So far, so good.  Although I must say that I wouldn't mind a week or two resting in hospital with pneumonia.  Except without the pneumonia bit.  And the hospital!!

In other news I have this very day put in an application for a partner visa for Jim.  The actual application is in and paid for (application fees go up on Saturday and I think the forms change as well and so do some of the immigration conditions).  I have yet to scan and upload all the supporting documentation but I do have it all ready to go. I'll try and get it done on Saturday.  In the meantime he now has a bridging visa which will allow him to remain lawfully Australia until a decision has been made. I suspect that it will be a long long time before a decision is made.  I should imagine a very, very large number of applications have been submitted this week. The upside of the bridging visa is that we don't have to keep leaving the country every three months.  The downside is that the bridging visa he has doesn't allow him to re-enter the country should he leave it.  No overseas holidays for him in the next little while!!

He's a very expensive hobby to maintain, though.  It cost a fortune to put that application in :-S

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Adding degrees of difficulty

It was generally felt that the original thoracic surgeon who Tony had seen hadn't been particularly helpful.  So Simon arranged an appointment with a colleague of his for Friday morning, quite early.

In the meantime, one of Stella and Tony's oldest friends died.  The funeral was for Thursday afternoon.

Lindsey arranged to head down and take them to the funeral, and then to take them to the flat, ready for their Friday morning appointment in Melbourne.

Matthew and Belinda arranged to visit them on Thursday for lunch.

Jim and I were detailed to pick them up from the flat on Friday afternoon and take them home.  We thought we might stay overnight and head back to Mount Helen on Saturday after lunch.

With me so far?

The plans then that Lindsey, Ian, Matthew, Belinda, Sage and William would head to Far North Queensland on Saturday afternoon.  Jim and I would stay in Mount Helen and look after the house and dog, with me going to Melbourne on Tuesday overnight and coming back on Wednesday.  We all felt that Stella and Tony would be OK on their own for a few days.

Then on Thursday Matthew and Belinda arrived and found that Stella had not just the cold that she had told me about on Wednesday but what seemed to be bronchitis.  Lindsey arrived, took one look at Stella and called an ambulance.  She went in the ambulance with her. Then there was a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing between the Emergency Department, the hospital Stella eventually ended up in and the house in Mount Martha, before Matthew and Belinda finally managed to head home and Lindsey took Tony to the flat in readiness for his appointment on Friday morning.

Stella remembers nothing of any of this!

Jim and I went as planned to collect Tony and off we went to visit Stella, who has pneumonia, a chest infection and fluid on the lungs.  I must say that when we saw her early on Friday afternoon I thought I was probably shortly going to be writing an RIP post for her.  When we went to visit her again in the evening she was looking quite bit better, although definitely not actually well.  She was sitting up in a chair when we went on Saturday morning, although I'm told she wasn't as well last evening.

Wendy appeared on Saturday afternoon so we could come back to Mount Helen.  We hadn't taken spare clothes with us and someone had to look after the dog and the house.

This, however, has added a huge level of complexity to the coming week.  Wendy has just had a week off so can't take more time off this coming week.  I need to go into work on Tuesday and Wednesday, plus I need to go and talk to the Immigration Department before Friday to apply for a residency visa for Jim.  Tony can't drive at the moment so wouldn't be able to visit Stella and in any case probably would struggle entirely on his own for a more than a day or two. Simon can't abandon his operating lists at no notice.  And Lindsey, Ian, Matt and Belinda are, of course, in FNQ.

Jim and I decided that on the whole it would be much easier if he and I just head down to Mount Martha tomorrow morning and stay put for the week.  We are beginning to find it very confusing and quite tiring moving around all over the place. I can get to work from there as easily as from here, leaving Jim to take Tony to visit Stella.  And I can probably get myself organised to go to the Immigration Department on Wednesday morning if I push myself a bit.  And Ross has agreed to come and look after Sam and the house.

And to add just a tiny, tiny extra level of difficulty - my right ear has become very blocked and I can't hear through it.  This is making it quite difficult for Tony and me to communicate.  He is deaf in both ears and speaks quite softly.  He can't hear me.  I can't hear him.  We may have to resort to text messages!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

We started the shortened working week on Tuesday, with celebrations for Tabitha's 40th birthday.  Seems odd that my eldest child should have turned 40!  I think she will probably be perpetually 35 in my head.

I went to work on Tuesday and Wednesday (the scanning box isn't really getting much emptier but nor is it filling up any more) then Jim and I hitched a ride with Ian back up to Ballarat, where we pottered around on Thursday until making our way back down to Mount Martha late in the afternoon. We got there just after the security gates had shut.  Luckily, Ant and Jess were down there. Ant was about to take Tony to the shops (Tony has escaped from the hospital for now) so they were able to buzz us in as they went past.

On Friday I took Tony and Stella to their appointment with the specialist, while Jim stayed in the house to keep the cleaner company.  The news from the specialist wasn't particularly good news, but also wasn't surprising. Results from earlier tests and scans had suggested that all was not as it might be.  He has to have a few more tests and then decisions will be made about any treatment.  He's looking quite a bit better than he was before he went into hospital, and eating more than he was. He's also going to have regular physio sessions to keep him active.

Jim and I headed back to Melbourne after lunch on Saturday.  We had intended to go back to Ballarat but I had arranged to go in to work this morning for a couple of hours of gentle scanning and it seemed ridiculous to head all the way to Ballarat on Saturday afternoon just to turn round early on Sunday morning and head back again. So we are staying in the flat for the next few days.  Lindsey brought some clothes down for us (she was also working this morning) and I think we'll stay here now until Wednesday afternoon. Then things get complicated again what with various people heading to America, Canada, Far North Queensland and various other places.  All things are, of course, subject to change without notice but for now most of the week ahead looks reasonably calm and orderly.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Long Weekend

Last Monday was the Queen's Birthday holiday  in most of Australia.  It seems slightly unfair to me that we get a day off to celebrate but the poor queen does not!  However, it doesn't seem so unfair that I would turn the day off work down - although I don't usually work on Mondays anyway so I don't suppose it really made much difference to me.

Anyway. Lindsey, Jim and I left Ballarat fairly early on the Sunday and moseyed down to the Mornington Peninsula.  We dropped by Beleura hospital and kidnapped Tony and took him home for lunch.  We certainly had a magnificent feast.  Lindsey had laid in steak, potatoes, salads and veg.  Our niece Susie came down as well and brought pulled pork and the makings of a pie.  Tony celebrated his (temporary) escape from the hospital by having a doze in his favourite chair, a glass off quality red wine and eating very much more that we had expected him to. It was good to have a chance to chat with Susie.  We usually see her at big family gatherings when there isn't much chance to talk to anyone much.  Tony went back to the hospital.  Susie went home.  Stella, Lindsey, Jim and I settled in for the night.

On the Monday holiday we took Stella to visit Tony and then we went to The Rocks for lunch.  Not The Rocks in Sydney but a rather nice seafood restaurant in Mornington.  We were quite lucky to get a table as we hadn't booked and it was very busy. Lots of families there with parents, grandparents and mostly remarkably well behaved children.  We all had plates of fish and chips.  We were getting ready to leave when suddenly Stella and I were unexpectedly covered in water and a glass bounced down by our feet.  It seems that the children on the next table had been amusing themselves by seeing if they could actually tip over the supposedly untippable glass that they had.  I don't think they did succeed in tipping it over but they did manage to bounce it off the table, and jump it in the direction of our table.  We were surprised to find ourselves being splashed with water. We were even more surprised that the glass didn't break.!

So we took Stella home again and the three of us went back to East Melbourne ready to start a shortened working week.  Various people will go to visit Tony and to take Stella to various places. And Jim and I will go back down on Thursday, ready to take Tony and Stella to their appointment with the specialist on Friday morning.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

So our belongings finally arrived last Friday, a mere ten months after being packed away in boxes.  In the end, they arrived about an hour earlier than expected. I was still down in Mount Martha, but Jim was here and everything was successfully loaded into Lindsey and Ian's garage, apart from two boxes which had clothes and coats in them which were brought into the house.

We can't unpack most of the boxes - we don't have anywhere to put the contents. But on Thursday, when I happened to be in Mount Helen, we unpacked those two boxes, plus one marked Hats and another marked Books.  It was quite exciting to see what was inside them.  I had forgotten that I had packed some tea towels and have been buying them here against the day that we have a Kitchen of Our Own.  We are not going to be short of tea towels!  The box of clothes was mostly (very welcome) winter jumpers, but with a few other things included (such as the tea towels!)  The box of books included some of my Japanese study books and some cook books.  We have put back into the boxes things that we aren't going to use until we have a place of our own.

It was slightly puzzling that we had packed a big box of glasses wipes. Seemed like a very odd thing that we felt the need to transport them to the other side of the world. But then we remembered that we had asked the removal men to pack everything that was in the dining room except for the freezer, and the box of glasses wipes lived on the window sill in the dining room.  I wouldn't have selected them as being amongst my best treasures, but they will surely come in handy :-)  And in the event that we ever move again with removalists packing everything for us - I'll pack the clothes myself.  The coats were very scrunched up.  Jim's winter coat was so crumbled and squished that we had to iron it gently to render it wearable. He didn't like my idea that we should squish him into it and send him out into a torrential downpour to see if that would help :-D

It will be Very Exciting Indeed when we get to unpack all the other boxes.  Who knows what treasures we will find!

I stayed down at Mount Martha until Tuesday of this week.  Matthew and Belinda came for lunch on the Friday of last week. Wendy came for lunch on the Saturday.  Simon and his (adult) children came for afternoon tea on the Saturday.  Lindsey came on the Sunday and stayed over night.  Then on Monday Tony had loads of tests done at the hospital and was admitted after that.  Stella, Lindsey and I had lunch in the pub! Tony is now in the rehab unit, building up his strength. Stella is at home. Lindsey and I headed back to work on Tuesday and Wednesday.  My scanning box was delighted to see me.  It was very, very full.  It's still very very full despite me having spent something like 16 hours at it this week.  I'll have to try harder this coming week!