Tuesday 25 January 2011

The View From My Couch: Unexpected Notes.

Sometimes the smallest things can make your day.  This is a note I received from one of my nieces, Lara.  It's so sweet that a 6-year-old would even notice I am sick, let alone take the time to make me a card.  I love it. 

Michelle :) 

Thursday 13 January 2011

The Queensland Floods. (Updated Victorian Floods)

The past week in Australia has been a tough one.  For those of you who don't know, the state of Queensland is experiencing shocking floods.  75% of the state has been declared a disaster zone.  An area the size of France and Germany combined is under water and the floods are no where near over.  Town after town inundated.  An inland tsunami, an 8m wall of water, bore down on a valley with no warning and the death toll is climbing.  The state capital, and third largest city in the country, Brisbane, is being consumed by the unrelenting waters.  Pictures and stories out of the area are heartbreaking.  Families swept away.  The young 13 year old boy who told rescuers to take his younger brother first and lost his life in the process.  So many people still missing.  I'm lucky I can turn off the TV or flick over to something fluffy.  The people in those areas can't and will be living the nightmare for months to come.

Australia is a large country but we have a small population.  Most people have family or friends affected by this disaster.  We are lucky.  We have family in both Brisbane and country QLD, but they are safe.  My in laws are cut off.  Their town can only be reached by air and basic supplies are running out.  Mind you my FILs wine order came through on a plane.  There may be no bread, or milk, or petrol, but at least he has the essentials.  Sometimes you have to focus on the little absurdities and laugh, or the whole situation becomes overwhelming.

Ironically, on the other side of the country in Western Australia, they are battling bush fires.  Here in the far south of the country we are having unusual tropical humidity (the coating on my tablets actually melted off with the moisture in the air).  We are a country of extremes. 

If you can help in any way there are relief funds set up.  If you are unable to donate cash, say a little prayer for those who have lost loved ones and homes, and the emergency personal and volunteers who risked their lives at the height of the crisis and will continue to help others as the floods spread.  It's important to realise that after weeks of flooding, there are still towns bracing for the floods to hit.  In those areas where the waters are finally receding and the clean up begins, water born and mosquito born diseases are a real risk.

The official fund for donations can be found here:
Premiers Flood Relief Appeal

If you want to donate to help out the animals affected by the crisis you can donate to the QLD RSPCA here:

Etsy Appeal

The flash flood that swept through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley.

Here's a link to some pictures of Brisbane's flood.  And a link to Grantham, one of the worst hit areas by the flash flood.

(Update:  Queenslanders are slowly cleaning up but many towns are still under threat.  Unfortunately, the flood situation is not confined to Queensland, with my home state of Victoria now 1/3 under water.  In fact, five states have experienced floods in the past week.

In the past week my family here is Victoria have bee affected by flood waters.  Whilst I am safe, many friends and family in the area I grew up in are still under threat.  Some areas are experiencing one in 200yr flood events.  Overall, this has been the country's worst natural disaster and is far from over.  Many thanks to everyone for thier thoughts and prayers over the past week).

My thoughts are with all those affected by the floods.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

The View From My Couch: Heels of Happiness

At first glance this picture doesn't scream happiness or beauty.  My legs and feet could easily play the part of Jane Doe No.1 on CSI, with their sexy shades of deathly, bloated purple.  But for me it's beautiful. For me it is a reminder that every now and then I can be normal(ish).  Every now and then, I can give Bob the middle finger, and live life on my terms, if only for a few hours.

I recently went to a family wedding.  Those who read my ramblings on Facebook will be aware of my determination to wear heels to the wedding.  It's been four long years since I have been able to wear heels.  When you have Bob standing is not your friend.  Your balance is non-existent.  Even the tiniest heels are akin to walking on stilts. So really, on reflection, deciding to wear heels may not have been the sharpest choice I have made in life.

I practiced for days around my house.  Heels with my pjs.  Heels with my shorts.  Heels when I was sitting down or lying on the floor.  I watched my bloated purple feet squeeze out through the holes in the shoes as I did the elegant zombie shuffle whilst furniture surfing around the house.  I decided that regardless of the risk of snapping an ankle or flashing the bridal party with my undies when I inevitably went arse up, I was wearing heels.  (Thank you to all, including the bride to be, who suggested I wear my best undies, just in case.  Rest assured I grabbed out my 'special occasion' undies just for the day).  Over the next few days I improved from 'unco zombie' to 'drunken celebrity It girl walking down imaginary steps'.   I was proud.

Despite a pulse pressure that dropped down to single digits, days in bed, and visitors, I managed to gussy myself up and put on those heels and head to the wedding.  I managed to find enough chairs and luckily have a husband for whom holding me up is second nature, so I didn't flash my undies to anyone.   I walked/shuffled around the event, with no one else any the wiser to my weirdness.  I may have paid for it big time for the following few days and may not wear heels again for another four years, but I was normal for a few hours and that is precious.  Those mottled, bloated and aching legs and feet, squished into that sexy pair of heels are beautiful to me. 

Michelle :)

Saturday 1 January 2011

New Year Thankfulness: Friends From The Ether.

I've never been big on the whole idea of New Year Resolutions, or New Year celebrations for that matter.  Why wait for one day in the year to set about making changes in your life?  Are the other 364 days in the year somehow resolution-challenged?  Why go to the effort to make resolutions that you know you simply wont keep?  Resolutions are about small egocentric goals.  "I will lose 10 kg", "I will join a gym", "I will give up smoking".  Move forward two weeks and you've gained another 2kg, you've already skipped your last three gym sessions and you've decided having only one cigarette with a coffee is enough of a step this year.  What is the point?

Where are the "I will endeavour to make the world a better place for all, one small step at a time" goals?  They seem non-existent these days.  Maybe it's just that I'm getting old and jaded.  Maybe it's my severe case of bah humbug that prevailed over most of December this past year.  Maybe I just need to find my elusive happy place. I think it's a little like Narnia.  Except my wardrobe is shaped a little more like this.

If I am to make a resolution this year (and I can feel every fibre in my body rebelling as I type) it is to make a conscious effort to be thankful. 

Give me an hour of your time and I can list off the load of shiteness that has come my way over the last few years, until you too will wish to weep into your Corn Flakes.

Oh how hath thee crapped on me oh universe, let me count the ways

That's easy.  Finding reasons to be thankful is not.

So today I am starting by saying thank you to all those people who have come into my life over the past four years via this computer screen, most of whom I have never met in the flesh (and could in fact be a greasy middle-aged guy who lives in his mother's basement, collects action figures and can recite the entire works of Shakespeare in Klingon, or Vulcan, depending on his mood) yet make my little world a better place.

Friends from the Lands of Blog.

Blogging has been an unexpected pleasure.  Before I became a blogger myself I thought people who talked about their "internet friends" were sad little people who needed to get a life.  Now I realise how wrong I was.  Friendship comes in many forms and blogging can provide an honesty and openness that you would never find in the real world.  It truly is a community.  You can put yourself out there, warts and all, and find that you are not a complete freak (well, I guess that depends on your definition of 'freak'.  I'm sure there are many who have read my blog who are convinced that I am a complete freak.  But that's okay, and I'm pretty happy to embrace my freakdom at this point).  The world can seem like a lonely place at times, whether you are ill or not.  Blogging is like a life line that wipes away that loneliness and connects you with a whole world full of people and possibilities.

I am always surprised by who reads my ravings.  I can be a little out there at times.  I tell inappropriate and frequently unfunny jokes.  I am yet to have an epiphany or see the light.  My grammar and spelling are consistently appaulling.  Whilst I truly appreciate the love, I have to wonder, why are you reading people?

I can understand why someone else who has Bob, or another illness, may read what I write simply to be reminded that we all go through the same emotions, symptoms, or issues.  Being ill is a lonely business, and often a scary one.  Those who aren't ill can provide much appreciated support, but there is a certain level of understanding that can only be found with someone who is, or has been, in a similar position.  When you are silly enough to pick an obscure disorder, it is even more fantastic to find others who are in the same boat.  Though I do wish we could have picked the boat that sails around the Caribbean, rather the one that floats in the porcelain drain.

But there are also a large number of people who read my blog who don't have Bob or anything even remotely similar.  People whose lives are completely removed from my own small sphere of existence.  People who are truly lovely and provide support or laughs as needed.  People whose own blogs fill me with delight and much needed distraction.  People whose writing fills me with awe, or have me snorting my coffee onto my keyboard.  People who take the time to connect.  People who are genuinely interested. 

There are a small group of bloggers that I would truly class as friends.  Who make me laugh, and cry. Who give support in the good and bad times.  Who simply seem to get it.  That fall into that category of people I'd love to have a margarita with one day, or coffee, or margarita and coffee, really I'm not that picky.  They are not necessarily people you talk to every day or every week, but when you do it's as if you only saw them yesterday and have known them a lifetime.  There are many others that I would love to get to know better.  Most are from completely different backgrounds and countries to myself, but somehow something clicks.  Somehow you make a connection.  There are people out there who are truly lovely.  People who I would never have met if it weren't for the blogosphere, and for that I am thankful.

Friends from the Book of Faces.

When you have a weirdo disorder it's damn hard to find anyone else who has it.  When I was first diagnosed I hadn't even heard of Bob.  Here in Australia there was no support or information.  Then along came Facebook.  I was convinced by a friend (who is no longer in the picture) to get onto FB.  I thought she was nuts, but decided to take the plunge.  Now I can't imagine not being on. FB gets a bad rap at times, much of it deserved.  But when you are bed or couch bound, it can become your link to the outside world.  It has allowed me to meet people from all over the world who have the joy of Bob in their lives.  It has provided resources and a sharing of information that I otherwise would never have found.

When I read through my list of FB friends and their information, on the surface it would seem we would have little in common except for being ill.  We are all from different countries, different religious backgrounds, different careers, family situations etc.  Many who like Twilight (that's just for you Cyndi) or even (shudder) Justin Beiber.  Yet there is an underlying similarity that transcends the differences.  A view of the world and an ability to laugh in the face of unrelenting crap that is more of a bond than any of the other stuff.  A group of people for who there is no sense of TMI.  Where you can comfortably discuss the less glamorous side of illness that would make other people blush, or gag, as the case may be.  Where you can make totally inappropriate jokes about your health  that would have others wondering whether it was time to call the men in white coats, and it's okay.  Some of these wonderful people I have known from the start, some are newer friends, but all make this journey a little bit more bearable and I am thankful that I have found them.

When your body is out of commission and your mind is about all you have left (insert joke about my diminishing brain capacity), the internet provides an outlet and a way of interacting in the world that would otherwise be denied us.  I for one, am grateful for the friendships I have made and the laughs and support I have been given.

Big Love People.  Big Love.

(Next week I get to meet some fellow Bobettes here in fair old Melbourne as we head out for lunch.   Very excited to finally meet face to face).  

The Very Thankful Michelle :)

Groove Armada,My Friend (2001)