Monday 28 June 2010

Bloggus Interruptus

The station apologises for the temporary loss of transmission.  Broadcasting will resume as soon our technicians rectify the full body blargh that is currently plaguing the network.

Friday 25 June 2010

Fabulous Friday: I Am Woman Hear Me Roar.

Politics as a Fabulous Friday topic? I know you all think I've finally lost the plot. First it was my need a slap, woe is me post, and now it's politics, clearly I am in need of help. I'm as shocked as you that I'm writing about politics on a Friday but it's happening.

The last two days have been a bit of a political roller coaster here in Oz.  And I am still regaining my feet.

I never thought that one little moment in politics could make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But at 12:30pm on the 24th June 2010 it actually happened, and I find it Fabulous.

Australia now has it's
first ever female Prime Minister, 
Julia Gillard.
Woo Hoo!

Now before anyone poo poos this.  I don't think she will make a better PM simply because she is female, only time will tell if she is any good in the roll or not. Nor do I ascribe to her politics. But as a woman, I feel a whole lot of girlie excitement.

Whilst it has been possible for a woman to take the top office, this is the first time the dream has ever been realised and for me that raises it to a tangible possibility as of yesterday.

It was the first time I have ever spent hours watching political TV. Watching her being sworn in I actually got a bit teary. I was totally surprised.

The first female Prime Minister being sworn in by the first female Governor General.

It was just one of those moments where you feel a little like you stepped through the looking glass. A bit bewildered, but very excited.

(PM Julia Gillard and Governor-General Quentin Bryce. photo from here)

I wont bore you with the political wrangling behind it all, there's plenty on the net if you are interested, because in many respects I think that is superfluous to what the event represented.

Growing up in the 80s I never could have foreseen this moment. Politics has always been the domain of middle-aged white males. There have been women involved (and I certainly wouldn't have envied them trying to break into and survive that boys club) but men still dominated. The women who made those pioneering inroads into politics should be applauded for their achievements. Click here for a quick history of women in Australian politics.

Julia Gillard has taken it that step further to take the top job as leader of our country.  She also represents a move from the traditional cookie cutter politician. Apart from the obvious female factor, she also:
  • Was born in Wales, emigrating to Australia with her family when she was 4. 
  • She is currently 48.
  • Is in a long term de facto relationship.
  • Has no kids, and
  • Was also our first female Deputy Prime Minister.
(*The Deputy Opposition Leader is also currently a woman, Julie Bishop).
    That pesky glass ceiling has been smashed in a very tangible way. I'm not naive enough to think that her achievement means that all the sexual inequalities that pervade our society are now magically gone. But for the moment I am going to bask in the idealistic glow of her appointment. This time next week I'm sure the light will probably be dimmed and we will be back to politics as usual. Plus, I love that Julia Gillard became the highest rating trending topic on Twitter. Take that Justin Beiber.

    Personally, I can't wait until gender is no longer a news worthy issue (I think its called the 'Watching Way Too Much Star Trek' effect) and it's all about who's best qualified for the job. But that's for another fabulous post in a future where poorly fitting lycra body suits are fashionable for both sexes.  Today I'm enjoying a bedazzling moment in our nations political history.

    The slightly misty eyed Michelle :)

    In honour of Julia's achievement I give you the arse kicking Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin.

    Wednesday 23 June 2010

    Turn Away Now. "Woe Is Me" Post Ahead.


    (Deep breath).

    That feels a wee bit better.

    & @&amp ;% $# $@ #! #^ $# $# (*&;^ %$@( !!!!

    Sorry it appears I still had some more frustration left. 

    I apologise in advance if this post is interrupted by random swearing or screams of anguish.

    It's one of 'those' weeks.  Usually I can find my happy place, but not today.  I've tried, I have.  I've done the deep breathing.  I've tried my yoga.  I've had my coffee and put on my soothing oils.  And still my bad attitude persists.

    Today is one of those days where I just want to sit in a corner and sob my heart out.

    Today is one of the days I want to slap myself for being a pathetic woman.

    "Oh my God, what has happened?", you ask.  And to be honest I don't know.  It's just crap.  Yes Bob is messing with me, but that's nothing new.  Really nothing extraordinary has happened, (well I guess there have been a few things but nothing that I really want to discuss on my blog, no offence peeps but some things need to stay off the WWW).  But in reality crappiness is something that happens periodically in life and most times I can suck it up, do what needs to be done and move on.  But this week......ugh.  This week it's beyond me.

    I think sometimes everything just builds up and up and up and one little innocuous thing is all it takes to send you over the emotional edge.

    I looked down in the shower today and saw that yet again, there was a wookie residing in my drain.  That was it.  Stupid I know.  I looked at that moist and manky pile of hair, soap suds and epithelial rejects covering the drain and my heart sank.  It's not the first time this has happened.  I lose so much hair each day I am surprised that I'm not bald.  Every time I shower it's the same story.  Every time I brush my hair I end up with my own personal shag pile rug at my feet.  But today I just looked at it and thought, "I am so over this.  Not even my hair is safe from the effects of Bob".

    I know it' stupid to be so upset over such a little thing.  I want to slap myself.  In fact I may just go do that.  I know there are many worse things going on in the world, but it was that finally straw.  Can't I have just one part of my body free of the effects of this stupid disorder.


    (Sorry told you it was likely to pop up again).

    It comes in the long line of stupid stuff you lose when you get sick.  Stuff that shouldn't matter but still does.  It matters because it's little and stupid and shouldn't ever be an issue.  It sits in there with all the other things that women my age don't normally have to deal with or consider.  It sits in there with all the other choices and independence that have been stripped away one by one.

    For example, I can't stand anything tight on my stomach.  I have become elastic granny girl.  A belt, normal waist band on a pair of jeans, stockings, all things that are now pretty much not an option any longer.  High heels really are out too.  I have balance problems one a flat floor in bare feet, so 4 inchs and tip toes are not really my friend.  In many respects my Dorothy Shoes were an "in your face" to Bob.  I am determined to wear them out at least once.  I also know it's probably stupid I'm just choosing to ignore that fact for the moment.  Add in that alcohol is a no no, standing in line is complex, that I am developing adult acne (I'm 30 freaking 7), that.........well I could go on and on and I'd want to slap myself again and the way I bruise I'll have a face like an aubergine and that's not a good look.  Today petty is winning.

    Sleep is eluding me this week.  Last night I think I managed a max of 2 hrs straight. There was half an hour here, and half an hour there, but that's about it.  Unfortunately, that can't sustain you physically or emotionally for long.  I know I'll crash at some point and do the whole coma sleep routine.  I only hope it is sooner rather than later.

    Last night my feet decided to balloon up.  Not unusual really, but this time they were up on the coffee table and still ballooning.  In fact they were heading towards blimp territory, so much so that Mr Grumpy said "Wow you're having a swelling day. I've never seen them like that".  And that's saying something as we are 4 years down the track now and little about my body should be surprising anyone.  Even the rug rats had to come over and have a look.  The youngest thought it'd be hilarious to write his name on my feet by pushing his finger.  Sexy yellow letters surrounded by lovely shades of lilac and crimson.  Even today they continue to tingle away and look puffy. 

    Me and the Bearded Lady, Freak Show here I come.

    (photo from here)

    Today's game is nausea.  Unrelenting waves of heat and nausea.  Some days I wish I could just vomit and get it over and done with.  But no my body wont play that game today.  Mind you, the days I don't want to vomit are usually the days I'm bent over my porcelain lover all day long.  Even water is making me want to throw.  Add in the spinning head and it's fun fun fun.

    I know my bp is particularly low today (and yesterday) as is my heart rate.  This seems to mess with my ability to cope dramatically.  Bp below 90 systolic equals hair trigger for the water works.  I'm sure there is some physiological link for this because it happens every time.  Mind you sometimes a big sobbing cry is just what I need.  It's like a valve to release the pressure that build and builds.  Once it's over I feel lighter, tired too, but lighter.  I say this as someone who hates to cry.  For me it has always been equated with weakness thanks to a whole lot of family baggage that would take 5 therapists and a century or six on the couch to resolve.  I don't judge others, just myself.  I have this stupid idea that I should be able to cope no matter what.  I'm working on that, but it does add another layer of stress to deal with on days like this.  Maybe is a galaxy far far away I can get past that one.

    I know most of this is transitory.  Bob likes to spin the symptom wheel each day to see what he'll throw my way.  A moment of excitement each morning to see what he'll dish out.  One day nausea, the next day dizzy, the next day un-co, the next day............but today logic is beyond me.

    I feel like a whinger.  I am a whinger.  I want to get back to that false veneer of happiness I can usually present so well.   I'm sure if I say I'm okay with my lot in life I will eventually come to accept it.  My CBT training says it'll work if I stick to it.  And most days I do.  Just not today.

    Today I'm not going to fight it.  I'm just too tired.  Today I'm going to ride the wave.  As long as I find a way to tread water rather than drown I think I'll be okay.

    In the words of Scarlet O'Hara, "Tomorrow is another day".  Can I request that it hurries the hell up.

    Sorry for this woe is me moment.  We will resume normal programming next week.


    I'm not asking for pity by the way.  I'm just venting.  I'll probably regret posting this tomorrow, but that's the way it goes.  Today I'm going to expose my petty, whinger, pathetic side, to the world.  Tomorrow I'll shake and slap myself.  I'll break out the can of "harden up princess", and go back to ops normal. 

    Monday 21 June 2010

    Mr Sandman Bring Me A Dream: Insomnia (Part II): Sleep Hygiene

    Oh how I hated the hygiene seminars at work (Infection Control being the fancy schmancy name they gave it in the hospital).  Every year I sat through the same mind numbing Power Point presentation.  Rubbed the same goop on my hands.  Washed them.  Had the magical blue light waved over my hands.  And, shock horror, still had goop stuck in the cracks in my dry old lady corpse hands.   Mind you it was a lot less goop than the first timers who looked like they had simply waved their hands in the vicinity of the bathroom.  We IC veterans would sit back all cocky and laugh, "Ha Ha", at their poor hand washing skills (yes, yes, we had it all over Scrubs with our hospital humour).  The IC nurse would tutt tutt at us all, then give us a mini chocolate bar and send us on our way.

    Pink Avaguard bottles decorated the wards.  Essentially paint stripper, we bathed our hands in it pre and post-patient.  No wonder we had cracked hands, the damn stuff sucked the moisture from your skin until you were left with nothing but desiccated stumps where your fingers used to be.  Scrub, glove and gown, disposable this and disposable that.

    Mind you despite the IC crusades, our hospital still managed to have one of the worst gastro outbreaks in the states history.  The air was filled with a miasma of hospital grade bleach and foetid bodily excretions, that couldn't quite be covered by the nuclear powered air freshener that was pumped out almost continually for the length of the outbreak.  Staff fell one by one to the foul khaki beast.  No patients were admitted for three weeks.  The wards soon resembled a ghost town.  It was brilliant. I got paid to see no patients and pretty much drink coffee and catch up on my reading (see even back in the day I was silver lining girl).  Moral of the story though: Hygiene is important people, or the whole world (or a small Australian public hospital) literally goes to shit.

    (This does not constitute good hygiene practices)

    Similarly hygiene is important with regard to sleep.  Are you a dirty sleeper?  Do you fail to clean in all the right sleepy places?  Is soap anathema in your life?  Then you need Sleep Hygiene. 

    All sleep programs start with learning and implementing Sleep Hygiene practices.  It's like starting Bob treatments with increased salt and water.  It's not necessarily a cure all, but it will give you the best fighting chance to start fixing sleep issues.  And lets face it anything that doesn't involve taking yet another pill is always a good thing.  Basically Sleep Hygiene involves changing and managing the behaviours that revolve around sleep.  So break out that big bottle of behaviour bleach and get scrubbing, there's some learning to be had.

    • It Begins at the Beginning: It starts when you get up.  Shocking I know. Who'd of thunk that sleep hygiene starts first thing in the morning.  Our bodies like routine.  When you break that routine it can takes days or even weeks to get back into the normal swing of things.  It's why shift work can be so detrimental to sleep.  Essentially you need to get up and go to bed at the same time each day, day after day.  This sets your body into a routine where 9pm roles around and it already knows it's wind down time.

    • Good Morning Sunshine: As soon as you get up go to your window and pull open the curtains or step outside into the sunshine/light.   Light is powerful.  One of the treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is light therapy, in the form of a light box. The increased light triggers off chemicals in the brain and body which say "hey buddy wake up, NOW". Personally I think this gives you a good excuse to sit outside and have a cup of coffee and tune out the world, kids, husbands, dogs etc for 10 mins.   A little sunshine, a cup of coffee and some me time can simply lift my mood.

    • Frankie Says Relax: Relaxation techniques are great to get your body in the mood.  Now I'm not talking nookie mood, though a little exercise can help you sleep, I'm talking sleep mood.  Learning some simple techniques such as Focused Breathing or Progressive Muscle Relaxation can work wonders to get your body in the right state to fall asleep.  Yoga and meditation are also good techniques to help you relax.  Mind you I do my yoga whilst listening to AC/DC so I don't know if that really counts but I find it quite soothing (What? You don't find Big Balls relaxing? What about rather humorous? Okay just me then).
    • Gone in 30 Seconds (Make That 20 Minutes): if after lying in bed for 20 mins you are still wide awake it's time to get up.  Go into another room, sit quietly, put on a soft light and read a book or listen to some airy whale song music.  Don't go in the lounge and turn on your favourite Death Metal tunes or play Death Kill Destroy Bloodbath III on your X-box.  The idea is to change your scenery, breathe, relax, and then try again.  

    • Your Bed is not the Location for a Small Imaginary Agricultural Enterprise:  Bed's should be used for one of two things.  Sleep or Sex.  Unfortunately most us, myself included, use the old tempurpedic as a laundry, home office, pet bed, library and general store all.  Personally I blame my lap top.  It's a foul temptress, drawing me to use it in bed with it's seductive mobility and perfect lap fittedness (okay so I don't know if that last one is a word, but it's my blog damn it, and I'll make up words and you can't do anything about it, so niki niki na na).  The problem with this is that your bed is no longer associated with blissful sleep or earth shattering, hanging from the chandelier sex that leaves you so blissfully exhausted you can't help but fall asleep.  You need to make you bed and bedroom into a blissful sleep haven, not be tending your imaginary corn field or taking a quiz to work out which Smallville character you are most like.

    • Siestas are the invention of Al Qeida:  If you sleep or nap during the day you might as well resign yourself to partying on down with 3am.  A short powernap for 20 mins can be great if you are struggling, but once you go over that you start to put your body clock out of whack again.  This is a hard one, especially when you have fatigue issues.  Sometimes despite my best efforts my body wins the fight and I simply nod off only to wake up two hours later with a sexy line of drool joining the corner of my mouth and my t-shirt.  I know then that the night ahead will not be filled with sweet dreams. 

    • Lets Get Physical: Exercise helps you sleep, but not if you are doing it at 10pm.  We should all exercise on a regular basis but no exercise within four hours of when you intend to go to sleep.  Mornings (HA! yeah right I can barely coordinate my body enough to brush my hair in the mornings) or afternoons are fine and shouldn't interfere with sleep.  So try your best to get a little exercise each day.

    • Rituals Aren't Just for The Obsessive Compulsive:  Rituals gets a bad rap.  But they aren't all satanic kitten sacrifices or checking your locks 1,000 times to prevent the destruction of the world, sometimes they are good things.  Part of the whole sleep hygiene process is teaching your body to identify sleep cues by developing a sleep ritual that you can do every night to get your body in the mood.  Have a warm bath, put on some soothing music, lower the lights, put some soothing oils in your oil burner, read a book, meditate, what ever takes your fancy.  Doing this every night, your body learns to recognise the signs for bed time. Think Pavlovs dogs, you're ringing the bell to make yourself salivate for sleep.

    • Margaritas Do Not Equal Sleep:  Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are all bad for sleep and shouldn't be consumed within 4-6 hours of going to bed.  It's disappointing I know.  How can margaritas ever be anything but good.  They taste so yummy, come in flavours like strawberry or kiwi, presented in a cute salt rimmed glass, sometimes with an umbrella; it just feels wrong to say anything bad about them.   But the truth is if you partake of a few margaritas, beers, wine or any form of alcohol you're sleep pattern is going to take a hit.  You may initially go to sleep/pass out but your sleep will be fragmented.  Add to that some caffeine or nicotine and you might as well get used to sitting up all night watching infommercials and purchasing more ShamWows than you could ever use in six lifetimes.

    • Milk Moustaches Are Sexy:  if you have an empty stomach when you go to bed you'll wake up.  A little snack like a glass of milk will help you feel fuller, and contains the magical ingredient tryptophan, which is known to help you sleep.  Other tryptophan filled foods are turkey and lettuce.  So you could have a glass of milk and a turkey and lettuce sandwich, yummo.  
    • Feeling Hot Hot Hot:  temperature is also important in getting a good nights sleep.  Having a warm bath is relaxing but the drop in temperature when you get out is the actual signal for your body to get sleepy.  Dropping the temperature in your bedroom can help with dropping off to sleep.  It's hard to pick a good temperature as everyone is slightly different as to what is comfortable (eg my internal thermostat is set at Sahara Desert, so cool to me is about 4C).  In general 18 to 22C (65-72F) is about the right range for optimal sleep.  
    • Pimp My Bedroom: bedroom design is important.  Cluttered rooms make for poor sleeping environments.  Now whilst we can't all afford (or be bothered) to have a bedroom that looks like something from some boutique hotel and spa retreat, we can do some things to make the environment a bit more conducive to sleep.  Darkness is key.  Invest in some blackout curtains or a sexy sleeping mask.  Quiet is also a prerequisite.  If you live in a noisy area use some ear plugs or use a white noise machine.  If all else fails you can always invest in one of these.

    Now, I'm not saying these tips will work for everyone (and I've probably missed a few vitally important ones).  Or that they are easy to implement in our busy days.  And just like Pantene, it wont happen over night, but it will happen.   Sometimes it can take as long as 6wks to get your body into the groove.  But it's a great starting point.  It's free.  And, if like me you are already the human maraca, it's a pill free option and that's always good.  Even if you require medication or take herbal remedies to sleep you should still add these tips into your sleep routine. 

    Here's wishing all my nocturnal readers a good nights sleep.

    (Image from here)

    The Sort Of Sleeping Beauty Michelle :)

    Whilst I find whale songs and new age music in general like nails on a chalk board, I do have a late night music selection which I crank out to relax.  One of my favs is by Australian band George, featuring the incredible vocals of Katie Noonan, Breathe in Now (2002).

    From LYRICSMODE.COM lyrics archive

      Friday 18 June 2010

      Fabulous Friday: Monkey Magic

      Friday of Fabulosity is here once more and this week I am in a bit of a quandary.  Last weeks ode to the Dorothy Shoe's turns out to have been my biggest post ever.  It was like glitter appreciation went viral, and women world wide lost their glitter-deprived minds.  Thanks to all for the inundation of comments, messages and emails.  Glad my little pair of heels could brighten all your days.  If you took the challenge and broke out the wine and glitter I'd love to see pictures.

      But how do I top that?  Frankly I doubt I ever can, so I'm just going to tap away on the keyboard and embrace my 'meh'.

      Today I thought I'd celebrate one of my favourite childhood TV shows.  I don't know if it was ever a hit any where other than Australia, but it was TV gold and the world needs to know and appreciate the brilliance that was, MONKEY! (you have to shout it in a bad Asian accent or it's just not right).

      (From left to right: Sandy, Monkey, Tripitaka, & Pigsy, photo from here)

      (Monkey Opening Theme)

      Now if you are Australian, and you grew up in the 80s, you know Monkey.  It was part of the after school line up on the ABC, along with other classics like, Dr Who (Tom Baker will always be my the Dr to me), De Grassi Junior High, The Goodies, You Can't Do That on TV, and various cartoons like Danger Mouse, Roger Ramjet, and Banana Man.

      Monkey was an integral part of my childhood, and my after-school ritual.

      Step 1: make up a plate full of dry Weet-bix, slathered in margarine and strawberry jam.
      Step 2: make large glass of milk with chocolate Quik.
      Step 3: sit in my parents bedroom and turn on their tiny portable black & white TV.
      Step 4: sit on the edge of the bed and watch show after show until tea time. Or plead with mum to let me eat my meat and 3 veg in front of the TV.

      Monkey at 6pm was always the highlight.  How can you pass up a show about a magical monkey king who flies around on a cloud? 

      For those of you who have never experienced Monkey (and I do feel sad for you) I'll give you a quick synopsis.

      Monkey was an English dubbed, Japanese TV program, based on a classic 630AD Chinese story.  It was only produced for two seasons (1978-1980), but thanks to repeats I swear I saw every episode about 20 times (which may explain why I can quote large sections).  Looking at it now I wonder how they ever got it on TV, but it was a product of its time and as a child you were simply mesmerised by the exotic fantasy of the whole production.  On a television dominated by British, Canadian and American content, Monkey stood out, and grabbed the imagination of a whole generation of children.

      It had the perfect over the top Asian accents.  What Australian child didn't go around the school yard saying "Ahhhh Tripitaka" or "Oi....Pigsy"?  Or know how to summon their magical flying cloud or fighting staff?  The acting was as over the top as the accents and I loved it.

      The whole show is about Monkey and his friends heading from China to India in search of holy scriptures.  Tripitaka, the virtuous priest (played by a woman for some reason) is the only pure one, or "Holy Fool" as he/she was frequently called, in the group.  The others Sandy (water monster and ex-cannibal), Pigsy (pig monster consumed with lust and gluttony) and of course Monkey had all been expelled from heaven for various reasons and part of their journey is to find redemption, whilst kicking lots of demon arse along the way.  They were later joined by Horse (an ex-dragon), but I was never a huge fan.

      This site gives a better round up of the whole story than I could, so if you want to know about Jade Princesses, Heavenly Naval Forces, and the like head there for a wrap up.  The story took almost every fable and fairy story from the Chinese culture and packed them into an action packed, hilarious series.  Mind you as a child I was not really aware of the complexities of the story and they really aren't necessary to ensure enjoyment. 

      Thinking about it now, Monkey was our 80s version of Buffy.  There were monsters and demons in all shapes and sizes.  Great fight scenes.  Evil was vanquished.  The Princes was saved.  Redemption was sort and found.  What more could you possibly need.  No wonder it has become a cult classic.  Even now, as a 37-year-old woman, I continue to love Monkey.  I may or may not, have wasted the better part of an afternoon watching episodes on YouTube, all in the name of research.  I may or may not, go back and watch some more episodes after I press the post button.  I almost think I can hear the chocolate milk and Wheet-bix calling me back to 1985:

      "Born from an egg on a mountain top
      The punkiest monkey that ever popped
      He knew every magic trick under the sun
      To tease the Gods
      And everyone and have some fun
      Monkey magic, Monkey magic........." 

      I leave you with a fantastic compilation of all that made Monkey great. Enjoy.

      The Monkey Loving Michelle :)

      *Two great fan sites for Monkey are:

      Monkey Heaven

      Monkey: Great Sage Equal of Heaven

      Wednesday 16 June 2010

      Mr Sandman Bring Me A Dream: Insomnia (Part I)

      Average night in the Rusty Household: 

      Feel exhausted go to bed. Close eyes and think happy thoughts (ie, spin hot guy wheel.  What will it be tonight? Shirtless Johnny Depp, shirtless Christian Bale (Batman Begins only), shirtless Jensen Ackles, shirtless Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn version only, he really needs to be grotty and dirty or it's a no go), shirtless Dave Grohl (don't ask me why, but the man has that weird musician hot thing going on, besides have you heard the acoustic version of Everlong? mmmmm), shirtless....well you get the picture).

      Still wide awake.  Spin hot guy wheel again, "why yes Batman I would like a back rub".

      Still wide awake.  Realise I need to go to loo.  Try to ignore need to go to loo.  Know that now I realise I need to go to the loo I will never go to sleep until I go to the loo.  Swear.  Get up and go to the loo.

      Fall asleep. 

      Wake up.  Toss up whether to look at clock.  Know I will be disappointed if I look at the clock so decide not to look at clock. Close eyes determined not to look at clock.  Not looking.  Not Looking.  Not Looking.

      Need to look at clock overwhelming.  Look at clock.  Swear.  Turn away from clock.  Close eyes.  Try to relax and find hot guy wheel once more.  Fail and lie there fuming.

      Still wide awake.  Go to loo yet again.  Launch myself at bed in attempt to wake up Mr Grumpy so he can suffer with me.  Fail.  He continues to snore.  Bastard rubbing his premier sleeping ability in my face.  Contemplate smothering him with my pillow.

      Still awake.  Listen to possums making sweet, sweet, love on my corrugated iron roof.  For those of you outside of Australia, it is not pleasant to listen to rooting possums on your tin roof.  There is screeching and thumping, punctuated with hissing and weird clucking sounds.  It is LOUD.

      Still awake.  Go to loo yet again.  Listen to possums continuing to get freaky on roof.  Laugh as one falls off roof, THUMP!  Silence.  Take that nymphomaniac possums.  Rustle, rustle. Damn they are like cockroaches even a two-story fall wont kill them.

      Finally drift off.

      Wake up again.  Look at clock.  Contemplate throwing alarm clock across room (or at loud rooting possums, or blissfully snoring husband), but apathy wins out.  Go to loo again.  Go back to bed and try to work out the big issues.  Is Beaker or Animal my favourite Muppet?  If Miss Piggy and Kermit had kids would they be Progs or Figs? Is Wile E. Coyote really that dumb, or does he suffer from severe amnesia resulting from repeated roadrunner-induced, coup and counter-coup brain injuries?

      Still awake.  Go to loo yet again.  Put a hex on my accursed acorn-sized bladder of stupidity.  Unable to even locate hot guy wheel in my head.  Lie there staring at the ceiling.  Begin to have thoughts of tasaring Jeff from The Wiggles.  You'd wake up then Jeff, you smug, purple-skivvied sleeper!

      Still awake.  Get up go out to kitchen and get a glass of water.  If I have to pee myself stupid(er) I might as well pee out water rather than precious bodily fluids.  Stare out at stars and curse Time itself.  Drag self back to bed.  Accidentally (wink wink nod nod) slam bedroom door.  Let loose a stream of profanity as Mr Grumpy continues to sleep peacefully.  Sadistic bastard continues to rub his sleeping abilities in my face.

      Fall asleep.

      Wake up.  OMG!  Two hours sleep in a row.  Woo Hoo.  Loo yet again.  Pee like a horse.  Where the hell does all this liquid come from?  Is someone forcing water down my throat with a funnel whilst I am zoned out in some sleep-deprived dissociative state?

      Pray I fall asleep again before kids get up at 7am (or worse Volleyball practice mornings with a 6am start, damn them and their desire to do before and after school activities.  Why can't they be like normal kids and waste their life in front of the TV or Computer screen)

      Drag pathetic exhausted body from bed.  Scull strong coffee from bucket-sized mug.  Throw tablets at face.  Hope some get in mouth.  Fail to notice tablet stuck in left nostril.  Pee like horse yet again.

      Throw on jumper over pajamas, find keys and drive kids to bus stop (though the other morning I started driving them down the hill in the opposite direction, luckily it clicked and I was able to turn around and get them to the bus stop on time and no one was any the wiser).  Start day in normal exhausted state.

      Repeat night ad nauseum.


      Ugh! I hate, no I loathe insomnia.  I've never been a good sleeper but since Bob came into the picture it has become much, much worse.  Now there are times where I sleep.  In fact I sleep like the dead, but this is usually after weeks of no or little sleep and lasts only a day or two.  Basically, it's either coma or wide awake and absolutely nothing in between.

      I wouldn't care so much if I could do something when I was wide awake at 3am.  But noooo, that aint happening.  I am even more moronic during those hours.  I tried writing once.  But when I got up in the morning it was a complete jumble of misspelt gobbledegoop, that looked like it had been written by a meth-addled, sight-impaired tapir.

      Ask anyone with Bob and they'll tell you the same story.  Insomnia is just part of the package.  What I wouldn't do for a good nights sleep.  (Well I wouldn't do that, you sicko.  Get your mind out of the gutter).  I know back from my PB (Pre-Bob) days that poor sleep screws with your immune system, increases your chances of heart disease, makes you gain weight and does all sorts of nasty things to your body.  Watch The Machinist, bad things can happen with insomnia (hence my Christian Bale fantasy involves his Batman days, not this ickiness).

      I can find a silver lining for most symptoms

      eg, Nausea = Eat Less = Lose Weight = Fit in old Jeans = YAY,

      but not insomnia.  Can't fall asleep, can't stay asleep, can't function when awake = crap! 

      I used to teach patients Sleep Hygiene, so this is yet another bitch slap from the Irony Fairy, she is such a cow.

      Who knew that narcoleptic cheese-grater man would become my hero.  How I envy that rotund, naked bastard.  Well technically he wasn't naked.  He wore a hospital gown, but combine his enormous girth with his tendency to pull the gown up to his hips to "air" his bits, well he was pretty much naked where it counts (shudder).  Before you get worried, it was not even remotely sexual, especially not for me and not even for him (the man itched with a cheese grater he wasn't exactly familiar with the real world).  It took me a week to complete an interview with this man thanks to the frequency of his narcoleptic attacks.  What I wouldn't give for a week of that (minus the cheese-grater though).

      I have tried using Sleep Hygiene techniques and that does help a bit.  I take some herbal tabs with Zizyphus which seem to get me to about 3hrs in a row, which makes life a little more bearable.  But not much is working.  I am tossing up about a sleep study or some sleeping tabs (not that I want another prescription) but thanks to the mechanisms of Bob their isn't a huge amount to do until you get your Autonomic Nervous System sorted out.  And well, that's really going to plan, Right?

      (I think Counting Sheep doesn't work for me because I count killer Zombie Sheep)

      So there is my woe is me wingefest about my lack of sleep.  I know it's not just my fellow Bobettes who deal with this, so I send a big "I feel you" to all my readers who spend their nights contemplating Muppet offspring and desiring to zap beloved children's performers, rather than enjoying the insides of their eyelids.  Insomnia sucks my friends.  It sucks.

      In Part II, I'll actually do some helpful sleep tips which are the basis of Sleep Hygiene.   See I can be helpful sometimes.

      The Nocturnal Michelle :)

      Friday 11 June 2010

      Fabulous Friday: Glitter Dreams & Dorothy Shoes

      What would a Fabulous Friday be without some glitz and glam?  I refuse to believe that just because I'm over 30, that I am somehow beyond my sparkly years.  If I want to break out the glitter and make myself some killer, sparkly, red heels I'm going to do it.

      You better brace yourself because today I am going to get all crafty on your arse.

      A few weeks back the lovely, and all-around Australian fashion goddess, Phoebe Montague from Lady Melbourne made her very own pair of Dorothy heels, following some muse-like inspiration courtesy of an Alison Goldfrapp album.  I developed a very unhealthy need to possess those shoes at the first glance.  I mean they are red and they are glittery, what more could any girl want.

      I have taken Lady M's basic idea and added a few steps to ensure maximum adhesion and minimal dispersal of glitter.  Whilst it's cute to leave a trail of your own pixie dust in the form of glitter, I imagine there are many shop and restaurant owners who would be less than impressed with a trail of red glitter throughout their establishments.  Besides, no one wants a pair of heels that look like they have developed the mange.  And really a pair of heels missing large chunks of glitter is just sad.

      Now there is no huge trick to these shoes of fabulosity.  Even I could manage it, and considering Eunice has been on long service leave, that means they are uber easy to make. They are a 3-day project, thanks to drying times.

      Preparation is everything.  So here are the basic preparation steps.

      • Buy or recycle a pair of battered, and or super cheap heels (though I can't see why you couldn't do some ballet flats or go all outside the box, and bedazzle your ugg boots).  I got my heels of tackiness, from the sale rack at Target.  Mr Grumpy always says that a sale sign is really a "come in Michelle sign" and frankly, he's right (but don't tell him I said that.  Can't go around letting your man know he is right about such things).  I did a little dance of joy at my $10 price tag.  I would have used an old pair of my own heels, but I love them all too much, and it would have been like bedazzling one of my children.

      • Grab a bottle of PVA glue.  PVA is cheap as chips, and you can get it anywhere.  Luckily I have about 8 bottles at home in various cupboards.  It's one of those items that I see on a shelf in a store and think "that'll come in handy", so buy yet another bottle.  It's a sickness really.
      • Grab some red glitter.  You could go any colour glitter really.  Hell, you could go all unicorn farty and get rainbow coloured glitter (What you didn't know unicorns farted rainbows? Sheesh keep up people). Though why you would want a pair of shoes that looked like a unicorn had farted on them I don't know.  But I won't judge.  Now, where was I.  Oh yes glitter?  You don't need much, so don't be like me and buy the biggest jar of red glitter they had, and end up using about a bees dick worth.  One of those little tubes could just about do it.
      • Grab a piece of sandpaper.  Any old sandpaper will do.  I only used a small piece that I had lying around.  A mid-level grade of sandpaper does the trick.
      • A spray can of high gloss enamel.  Again you can purchase a can for minimal dollars, but I shelled out a few more dollars and brought some of the better stuff to avoid yellowing.  Because let's face it, no one wants a pair of heels that look like someone has peed on them.
      • Old paint brush.  Luckily I delude myself into thinking I'm an artist so I have a few old brushes hanging around.  One that's about 1cm across works well.
      • Old Newspaper.  This is one messy project.  Glitter is worse than sand and ends up everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.
      • 2 old plastic shopping bags
      • Wine.  Now I'm a sauvignon blanc or pinot gris girl, but you can pick whatever you like.  I think this is almost compulsory given that you are making sparkly party shoes, but if you have to abstain you can always just bust out the non-alcoholic cider or a nice juice and add a cocktail umbrella.
      • Music.  Again these are party shoes.  To impart the magic into them you need to play music.  For me, I did disco tunes, Donna Summer, Bee Gees and the like.  I did also put my Goldfrapp album on the playlist in homage to Lady M.
      Now to get crafting.

      Day 1:
      • Take a sip of wine and press play on your stereo.
      • Give the heels a light sand.  Rubbing all over the surface creates a better surface for the glue/glitter to adhere to.  Wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove all traces of dust.
      • Take another gulp sip of wine.
      • Paint on a decent layer of glue.  Using the paintbrush you can get into little joins and be more precise in your glittering areas.
      • Shake glitter all over the glued surface.  Shake off the excess. Luckily PVC is bright white when wet so you can see anywhere you missed.
      • Leave shoes to dry for a day.
      • Note glitter in your eye HURTS.  Make sure you wash your hands, thoroughly.
      • Finish off the glass of wine and bust out some disco moves.
      Day 2:
      • Start as in day 1, wine and music.
      • Give shoes a tap to remove loose glitter.
      • Sip wine.
      • Take shoes into a well-lit room or into the sunshine to find spots you missed.
      • Re-do glue layer and re-glitter.
      • This gives good glitter coverage and requires further celebration because they are now so pretty.
      • Finish off the glass of wine and bust out disco moves.
      Day 3:
      • Start as in Days 1 and 2, wine and music.
      • Stuff shoes with crunched up shopping bags to stop spray going inside shoes.
      • Give can of spray varnish a good shake.
      • Make sure nozzle is pointing at shoes and not at your face.  I add this step for you dear reader, as I did not do this check, and varnished my face.  Extra tip have turpentine close by to remove varnish from face and glasses. 
      • Have an extra glass of wine to wash away the taste of spray varnish.  It tastes very, very, bad (shudder).
      • Give shoes a good coating of varnish.  Leave to dry overnight.
      • Have another glass of wine to celebrate finishing shoes.  Dance with wild abandon.
      Day 4:
      • Beautiful Dorothy shoes! So exciting. Time to party on down.  Break out the bubbly to celebrate.
      Wearing Dorothy Shoes may cause you to break into random moments of Blue Steele)

      (Watch out Heidi, Vogue here I come)

       (Note clever use of bright red heels to distract the eye from my colourful cankles).

      (Even better black & white hides a multitude of sins)

      *Big thanks to my eldest and his ability to not laugh when taking photos of his mother, and for his judicious use of photoshop.
        So there you go, dear readers.  Now you can make your own magical Dorothy shoes.  In reality, it doesn't matter if you wear them or not (although I fully intend to) they are art.  Simply having them on display to look at, is bound to bring a little magic into your day.

        The New Dorothy :)

        Happiness, Goldfrapp (2008)

        Wednesday 9 June 2010

        Lies, Damn Lies, And Statistics.

        To stat or not to stat.  That is the question.  When I started blogging in July last year I never for a second believed that anyone would read my ramblings, especially not by choice.  I thought there would be at least a couple of pity reads from friends and family, but after week one they'd probably drop off and I'd be posting into the vacuum of space, and no one can hear you scream.

        Blogging is kinda like standing naked in the middle of a crowded room.  You bare a part of you that you normally keep hidden.  That special internal dialogue is completely normal to you, but you realise that if it were to be exposed, the wider public may be inclined to call in the men with white suits and oversized butterfly nets to take me away.  There are really only 3 possible reactions to your decision to go all Lady Godiva, and get naked in the blogosphere.

        One: people will admire your stunning naked body and lust after you.
        Two: people will laugh at your marshmallow thighs and pancake boobs that slap your knees.
        Three: people will shake their heads and turn away from the naked freak in the middle of the room.

        Personally I always thought three and I would be having our own private lovefest.  Now nearly a year on I have found that people not related to me by blood and therefore not obligated to pity read, are in fact reading my blog and even more bizarrely coming back for more.  As the little icons have grown on the side of the page I have come to the realisation that I should take this writing business a little bit more seriously. Not too seriously mind, that would require work, and I am inherently adverse to any form of effort.  More a kind of token level of seriousness.

        One way of pretending to take my blogging more seriously was to enter the world of Google Analytics (GA)GA is totally addictive, rather like a mathematical equivalent of meth, for amateur statisticians.   Going down the blog stats road was a bit of a toss up for me.  I've always primarily written for my own pleasure.  Basically, blogging is a means of purging the crap swirling around in my noggin.  I've found that tapping away on a keyboard and pushing that post button is quite cathartic.  Once it's out there I can let it go, and move on to contemplating the big issues in life like, "is Miss Jay more feminine than Tyra" and "do people put plastic wrap down before letting Lindsay Lohan sit on their furniture"?  Deciding to add a stats program therefore seemed like I actually believed that my blog was somewhat professional, and that's really a bit of a stretch.  But I did.  I added GA and now I find myself constantly chasing the homoscedasticitical dragon.

        Adding GA raised all sorts of questions.  What to focus on?  There are multiple options relating to goal setting, trends and the like.  To much work if you ask me.  My goals tend to involve things like, finding a local cafĂ© that does great coffee and cake, or finding a shop that delivers Green & Blacks to your door.  So whilst I have the stats program on there I don't think I'm using it in the way the designers intended. So for anyone thinking about going the stats route I thought I'd give you an insight into how I use my Analytics.  Here are the 3 sections I concentrate on.

        • Mass psychosis:  I don't get a bazillion comments.  Most times probably between 5-10 comments, but not always.  I look at someone like The Bloggess and think OMG!, 400+ comments on a post.  Now that's impressive and way way way out of my league.  I'll admit I love comments, and frankly anyone who says they don't is lying.  For me it's one of the highlights of writing in this medium.  The ability to interact with your readers, to form relationships is something I love.  The immediacy of the feedback is not something you could get in traditional print mediums.  Often the quality of the comments far outweigh the quality of my writing.  There are some damn funny and gorgeous people out there.  Whilst I get comments now, for months I was lucky to get 1 or 2 comments and often had a big fat zero, post after disheartening post.  That can make the whole experience feel rather lonely.  The reality is that not many people comment, but with a stats program you can see how many people read your ramblings, and how long they spend on your site.  I was shocked how many people actually read my blog (there are obviously some seriously messed up people out there, but I love every last one of you). Even excluding the people who pop in for 2 secs look at your blog and think you're a loser and leave (bite me, you are the loser dude) I get almost 2,000 substantial views a month.  Whoa.  That does good things for this weird little Aussie bloggers heart. 
        • Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?: I love looking at where my readers come from.  Why would someone from Columbia or Poland want to read my blog?  Even more puzzling is why would they come back for more?  I love it.  The internet and social media get slammed for all their evil ways, but there is also a lot of good out there.  It makes the world a much smaller place and connects people who would never have met otherwise.  It is also a great geography lesson and I have even had to look up some of the countries (sad to admit I know, but I blame countries that keep changing their names quicker than I can keep up).  Why some guy in a little provence in Russia, would find something in my blog he can connect to, I'll never know, but it's that kind of thing that gives me a toasty warm feeling inside.  Big cyber hugs to all my international readers.
        • One + One = Purple Monkey Dishwasher:  perhaps my favourite statistic is the list of keyword searches that have led people to my blog.  I can waste a lot of hours going through this list, often peeing myself laughing.  I don't know if it's the fact that a search for "Arab ladies big boobs" lead someone to my blog, or the fact that someone thought that was a great search topic, that makes me laugh more.  There are a lot of freaks out there people, but they are all very very dear to my heart.  In the last month there have people searching for "blogspot arse hairy", "don johnson sniffing cat urine",  and "plague trolls public quest where is tainted food crates" who all ended up on my blog.  What are you smoking people?  And more importantly, can I get some?
        Now I imagine that this is not what Google Analytics had in mind when they created their stats program, but for me this is how I use it.  I like the stats that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, or give you a good laugh.  Life's too short to care if your stats have increased by a certain percentage or to identify popular topics to drone on about again and again and......  If you decide to go with a stats program find what works for you.  If you see blogging as a business more power to you.  Go out and use your stats program with mature abandon.  But, if like me you find maturity over-rated, and your fun, fuzzy and outright freaky stats to be the most worthwhile , then grab a glass of mummies little helper, and rejoice in the fact that there are people in the world who spend their days looking up information about "hairy gnome balls".

        In the words of the fabulous Talking Heads all I can say is:

        "Qu'est-ce que c'est?
        fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa better
        Run run run run run run run away
        OH OH OH "

        Michelle :)

        For all my fabulous if rather freaky, readers I give you one of my all time favourites, Psycho Killer, Talking Heads (1977)

        Monday 7 June 2010

        Two Birds, One Stone: Day of Visibility & Happy Birthday TDC.

        Just a quick post to let you know about two exciting (especially for we of the dodgy body brigade) events this week.

        As most of you will know I have a disorder that although very disabling, leaves me looking as fresh as the morning dew (the water on the grass, not the sugar syrup disguised as soft drink), well except for the days when I am rocking a whiter shade of pale.  Now, whilst I enjoy looking like Heidi Klum's identical twin this causes many problems, foremost being that many fail to believe you are ill and can at times be rude bastards about it.  If only they could see me with "stroke face" as my delightful eldest calls it.  But alas on those days I generally don't leave the house for fear of hearing fearful crowds screaming "avert thine eyes".

        I'm not alone in this and there are many disorders which are classed as 'Invisible Illnesses".  In light of this the Day of Visibility was created.  Time to step out of the shadows and into the light and bring some awareness to the situation.

        One of the support groups of which I am lucky to be a part, is also celebrating.  The Dysautonomia Connection turns, 3.  Happy birthday TDC.  This is an organisation run for and by patients, to provide support and education for patients, their families and friends and the wider community. Help us celebrate!

        Now this whole Invisible Illness thingie has been on my mind a bit over the past 4 years.  Here are a few of my older posts addressing these issues.

        How To Spot A Sick Chicken

        Dysautonomia: Invisible Illness My Arse

        My Life as Heidi Klum's Double

        Remember sickness doesn't have a 'look'.  Just because I look like a super model on the outside doesn't mean I don't look like the bastard offspring of the Elephant Man and the Bearded Lady on the inside. 

        The Invisible Woman aka Michelle :)

        I'm To Sexy, Right Said Fred (1991) for all the super model sickies.

        Friday 4 June 2010

        Fabulous Friday: Soylent Green Anyone?, World Environment Day June 5th

        After last weeks Friday faux pas, I have pulled out all the stops to make sure I do my Fabulous Friday on time.  This week I'm bedazzling my world in shades of green in honour of World Environment Day which is happening on June 5th.

        I've always been a bit of a Greenie at heart.  It was inevitable really.  Green is my favourite colour, I'm a Taurean which is apparently and earthy sign, and I always had a thing for Kermit the Frog, the Hulk and the Green Lantern.

        My first act of social activism was to join Greenpeace in my teens.  This was a great disappointment to my super conservative parents, who equated my membership to my joining a cult that sacrificed small furry animals in worship of Beelzebub.  I progressed to joining the World Wildlife Fund, spouting lectures at the dinner table about the environmental apocalypse that would occur if they damned the Franklin River in Tasmania, and dropping super cool environmental slogans like "You can't hug your kids with nuclear arms" at every opportunity.  Man, I was obnoxious.

        I listened to Sting's, Dream of the Blue Turtles on loop (well I'd play it, flip the cassette, fast forward, flip again, and press play once more.  I loved my pirated copy with it's grey lead song titles and little picture of whales drawn on the lable).  I even have a battered cassette recording of me belting out Russians, backing song tapped from the radio (Casey Kasem, American Top 40, of course).  I had pictures of Brazilian rainforests tapped up next to my pictures of Johnny Depp and Don Johnson (yes I know that last one is now exceedingly sad, but I loved Miami Vice back in the day and I don't care what anyone thinks.  He had a pet alligator on his boat and drove a Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4, you didn't get cooler than that in the 80s).  I read everything I could get my hands on about the nuclear arms race, animal friendly beauty products, endangered wildlife and organic vegetables.  I still have my over-sized, "Reuse, Recycle, Refill" t-shirt from the Body Shop all those years ago.

        I'm pretty sure my parents considered some sort of intervention during my teenage years.  Luckily their fear of public shaming, should anyone in our small town find out that they had birthed a lefty, pot-smoking (not that I ever did they just decided I was ganja girl), non-shaving, hemp-wearing, patchouli-smelling, incense-burning, flower-child, outweighed their desire to 'fix' me.  Though I do think there was some discussion about sealing me up in the attic, like the mad aunt that nobody ever talks about.  But that would have involved some sort of DIY, and luckily my Dad wouldn't know a hammer from a chain saw.  Instead we did the  dance of denial, of which my family are the current World Champions.  I was allowed to wear my hippie skirts and listen to Midnight Oil (sadly Peter Garrett sold his soul, and is now yet another ineffectual politician) and good old Sting, as long as I did these things at my friends' houses, and kept my mouth shut around their friends.

        Now I'm older and my permanent state of 'meh' prevents me from any huge demonstrations of environmental activism.  I still have a desire to save the earth but I would prefer to do it from the comfort of my couch and preferably with a glass of vino in hand.  Now it's World Environment Day and I feel like I should pull my finger out, and do my bit for the planet.  As I've mentioned previously I do the "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down" water saving tip, recycled loo paper, environmentally friendly cleaning products, buy local, compost, drink tap water, and recycle and reuse, as much as I can.

        Even my garden is a wildlife wonderland of overgrown bushes and un-mown lawns, fertilised generously and naturally, by two large dogs and numerous randy possums.   My dog also eats the cat poo, so technically she is recycling too (though when she is trying to give me a puppy kiss with a face covered in kitty litter I am not thinking environmentally friendly thoughts, well except for calculating how many of my plants I could fertilize with her gross poo-eating body).  I often wonder what more I can do for good old Mother Earth, and more importantly what more can I/we do with the least amount of effort?

        So yesterday I spent an exhausting 5 mins on Google Search, researching exciting, cutting-edge environmental solutions.  And what did I find.  Poo.  Yep, that's right poo, nards, turds, what ever you want to call it (did you know someone has actually complied a poop thesaurus?), is the solution.

        Basically, we all need to give a shit about the environment.

        Here are a few of the great articles I found:

        Scientists discovered that the bugs that eat poo create rocket fuel as a by-product.  Go bugs.

        In Rwanda, an entire prison is powered by the gas given off from human waste. Now whilst this is a big YAY on the cutting back of wood consumption, and no poo going in the rivers, I really don't know if I'd fancy having my food cooked on a stove powered by farts.  Maybe, I could stomach my own farts, but I don't know about other people's farts, ick.  But still YAY Rwandan prison officials, making a shitty situation, well....shittier.

        Even NASA has spent millions researching poo and come up with a solution.  They have estimated that a six man crew would create at least six tons of human waste products on a two-year trip to Mars.  Now there's a job to aspire to, poo mathematician. Their solution to a space poo problem, recycled drinking water, fertilizer and poo-generated electricity production.  Tang, velcro and a poo-powered battery.  Go NASA.

        Poo.  Saving the environment one odifourous nard at a time.

        Alternatively we could go with the Soylent Green (1973) solution.  Reading the synopsis, it just seems so appropriate:

        "a dystopian future suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans and a hot climate due to the greenhouse effect".

        Not only does it deal with the problem of over population, but also food shortages.  Perfect.  And I can think of a few people I'd like to mince, though not necessarily eat. 

        (Oh Charleton, Moses, guns and cannibalism, you did it all.)

        On that note, dear readers, I am off to grab my green sequins and ablute for Mother Earth.  What will you do for World Environment Day?

        Michelle :)

        Beds are Burning, Midnight Oil (1987). We all need to dance like Peter Garrett at least once a day.

        Wednesday 2 June 2010

        Michelle VS The Brain Fog

        It's one of those weeks where Eunice has taken leave and left me with zero brain cells, so I'm cheating and posting a post I wrote for DARE.  Appropriately it's about brain fog. 

        I’ve been sitting here off and on for the past few hours trying to think of a topic to write about. Actually if I’m honest I have been sitting here trying to get my brain to form a single cohesive thought. Never mind making that thought into a sentence. Never mind getting my fingers to move in some sort of coordinated effort on the keyboard to form the words into something tangible. Never mind forgetting how to spell simple words like ‘and’, or even that ‘and’ is a word, or how to use it in a sentence. Brain fog strikes again, and I am lost for words once more.

        For me this is perhaps the most annoying and disabling symptom that Dysautonomia has thrown my way. Once upon a time I had a brain, I know I did. I have proof on my study wall. Now I’m starting to think that my brain has made a run for it. I’m pretty sure that it is now sunning itself on a beach in Majorca and drinking margaritas, whilst I sit here lobotomized, pondering the fluff in my navel.

        Frustrating doesn’t really begin to explain how this makes me feel. My brain has always been the one thing I had going for me. I could juggle complex information with ease. Be it work, academia or a round of Trivial Pursuit, I had it going on. My career choice, neuropsychology, involves the study of the brain, in particular cognitive abilities. Lordy, that makes me giggle now. Suddenly I have strains of Alanis Morissette’s Ironic*, running through my mind. (Brain fog had me calling her Alyssa Marionette for the past ½ hour without even tweaking, sigh).

        I specialised in working with the elderly. I wrote protocols for managing delirium. I wrote rehabilitation and management plans for various cognitive deficits. I was the go to girl for the most complex and confusing cases. If someone was violent, or had issues with personal hygiene or body fluids, I was the girl who worked out how to manage the behaviour (hmmm on second thoughts maybe I don’t miss work so much). Now on my bad days I can make some of my ex-patients look like Einstein, and that includes the guy who thought using a metal cheese grater to itch his leg was the logical choice (if nothing else my job was never dull).

        I know now that I couldn’t go back to the work I was doing. In many respects I don’t know if I would trust myself enough to get it right. The responsibility and consequences involved mean you have to be permanently on your A game and at this point I’d struggle to be the orange girl. I have to accept that particular part of my life is over and I’m onto a new chapter. If I do sit and think about it I have come to terms with not working (and I was truly devastated when I gave up work), and when I think logically about the long hours, stress and politics I don’t know if I would want to go back there.

        Even no longer working brain fog and I are in a very unhealthy relationship. Hence I find milk in the cupboard and empty saucepans on the lit gas hob. I forget to wash school clothes or fill in excursion forms. I go to the shops and forget my list. Forget I even had a list and come home with yet another packet of toilet paper to add to the 46 I’ve already brought, but minus the bread for sandwiches that I initially went out for.

        I frequently can’t find the words I want to use, so talk a lot about ‘thingies’. Conversely I will say the wrong word and not even realise. On bad days I slur like I’ve just knocked back a bottle of tequila, including the worm. If only. Even reading is often hard as I find it hard to maintain my concentration. I look back at things I wrote before becoming ill and I am amazed that I was so eloquent. I look back at my doctoral thesis and I can’t even follow half of what I wrote, yet I know it makes sense, just not to my befuddled brain. It’s like wading through quicksand and I’m sinking fast. It’s exhausting.

        Logically, I know why it’s happening. I know that I have the pesky problem of having trouble getting the blood to flow above my shoulders. I know that the physical fatigue I feel impairs my cognitive abilities to no end. But this doesn’t make it better. For me I could put up with the physical symptoms if I still had a brain that allowed me to escape reality. Imagination is limitless and you can live a thousand lives in a thousand universes if you have your brain.

        Mind you I do have the insider knowledge for when it comes to managing cognitive deficits. Slowly I am applying these techniques to my life. It’s strange that I never felt any less of my patients for having to use them, yet I have a little voice in the back of my head telling me that using them myself is admitting defeat. I’m working on that one. It’s a combination of my new mantra, ‘physician heal thyself’, and a big mental slap that says stop being so stupid woman and use your dosette box. So far the combination seems to be working.

        My lack of brain does explain my love of America’s Next Top Model and Judge Judy (oh I can’t believe I just admitted that. I must learn to think before I write). That big echoing cavern between my ears has a lot to answer for.

        I miss my brain.

        Maybe I’ll drop him a letter. Maybe we can kiss and make up and he’ll come back home. Alternatively, I’m happy to move to Majorca and share a jug of margaritas together. I’ll even bring the sunscreen. Call me brain. Call Me.

        Michelle :)