Day Three

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We felt well enough to go to our box class last night. Neither of us are feeling any vaccine reactions at this stage although we fully understand to be mindful of the symptoms of the very rare condition called thrombosis (6 out of one million) as we move into the post vaccine stage and await our second jab in August.

It is another reminder to be thankful to those who make science their work – where or where would we all be without our clever scientists? Our son is a medical scientist covering two Melbourne hospitals. They are beyond stretched with COVID-19 and the usual hematology, immunology, microbiology and cytology work does not ease back due to the existence of a pandemic. These labs run 24/7 and are staffed by those who make all manner of lifestyle adjustments to do their work. Their families also take on the burden of rosters that do not have the luxury of accommodating without compromise, the ebb and flow of everyday events which make up a life.

Blue scrubs, white coats and swipe lanyards that enable the sailing through security and emergence into unknown rooms may look ultra glamorous on television shows but the known reality is vastly different. The shifts are long and the pace is fast. Absences must be covered. Accuracy is essential. Machines break and IT fails. Our scientists are highly qualified, most with post-graduate specialities in subject matter that many of us have trouble pronouncing! They are not particularly well paid especially with the move towards private contractors with share holders to feed.

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It is only on shows such as The Bold and The Beautiful that a handsome young doctor knocks on the lab door, enters with a brilliant smile to ask sweetly if the results for patient x are ready – oh no, that is not how it happens!

At the moment of vaccine, I paused to thank the female doctor for the work that she was doing and added that I was sure that she would much prefer to be with her own family late on a Saturday afternoon. Sadly, it was evident that this acknowledgment was unexpected but warmly welcomed.

My family and I know that we are so deeply blessed to be Australian.

We are thankful to be living through the pandemic in this country.

It feels impossible to express enough gratitude to the medical staff, scientists, aid workers and all those working globally to help us all through these days.

Our thoughts do – and in our family we do actually stop and remember that this pandemic has taken so many around the world, our prayers are always with those who have lost loved ones, those who are sick and those who will not be so fortunate to escape the impact of COVID19.

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Forty-Eight Hours On

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We are two days on from the first does of the vaccine. Shane is at work and feeling better although he still has a smidge of a headache. I went to an early light PT session and then took our delightful collie to the dog park. Afterwards, Pendles and I strolled on the passage with my sister and her dog Poppy to our favorite beachside cafe. My Sis is a day behind us in vaccination land and experiencing a slight headache also. Today all of my previous symptoms have passed except for a slight heaviness to the eyes and a very faint sensitivity to light.

Our appetite was down last night but we had a good serve of vegetables (to counter the meat pie indulgence) and in the afternoon we both ending up napping. I could not even make it through a paragraph of the philosophy book I am attempting to read. There is nothing unusual about me dropping off to sleep when I am trying to read, especially late in the afternoon but I did sleep deeply for two hours – now that is not the norm.

Despite napping like kittens, we both slept soundly last night.

So here we are still tracking well and lucky enough to have very little exciting news to report on our second full day after having the vaccine.

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Later That Day

As we are feeling ok, for some silly reason it seems a good time to wash a few of the windows! May as well keep our thoughts off thinking about whether or not we are going to get crook (unwell). As the day progresses Shane still has a mild headache and we both describe the way we feel as a touch seedy – like the next day after one glass of wine too many. Gets a job done though!

We decide that a little fresh air and exercise will do us both good and with our young border collie needing at least his daily outing – a beach walk fits in nicely with the end of the window washing. To be clear, we did not do the whole house but made a fair start! It is a perfect winter beach day in Queensland – if one could call it winter.

Strolling at low tide is wonderful and we are lucky to see schools of tiny fish close to shore. The fresh air and warmth of the sun is soothing. I am feeling a hint of numbness around my left eye and a few tingles on the left side – very light and fleeting. We are heading home and do plan to give over the afternoon to resting with a book for me and perhaps some football viewing for Shane.

Lunch is surprising. We have a collection of delicious and healthy food yet our appetite is down and none of it appeals. Shane decides on a pie – yes a pie, an Australian go to for next day recovery after a big night out. I decide it’s not such a bad idea. It feels like a hangover without the party!

With tomato sauce of course!

Next Day

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So, the covid vaccine is not a miracle cure for snoring. I know this because minutes after falling asleep, his majesty beside me was expelling air with sound effects. Given that we could be in for a rough night he was left nudge free of my hands and feet. Well, I say nudge, he’ll say smash – but he is absolutely being over dramatic!

We did not experience any extra or unusual tiredness last night. As planned we watched a movie, took a second round of panadol and kept up the hydration. We both felt a slight heaviness at the injection sight but no pain. For a while my ‘heaviness’ extended to my arm pit but that passed after a few hours. I built a pillow wall between us last night as I was a leftie for the jab and claim the right side of our bed!

Shane has woken with what he describes as a very slight headache and sore throat. He feels a little unwell. I am still on the proactive panadol regime (two every four hours for 24 hours – although I did not wake to do so through the night). Perhaps I am feeling a teeny bit seedy – it’s really hard to know as being so hypersensitive to possible reactions, I also wonder if I am ‘finding’ reactions.

For now we are both completely fine. There are no work or other obligations today. We always aim for a beach or passage walk so plan to do so later. Our kids thanked us – bit of a life flip flop, when our adult kids are grateful that we are taking care of our health. Mind you they were quick to add that we were not to go dropping off the perch with removals that we need to turn up for, future and free babysitting at some point down the track and for sure help with home renovations, oh and boat stuff!

First Night

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So dose one done! The process was seamless. After a swift administration with one of the reception staff we were sent to area two. There was no waiting – Shane was called in by his Doctor before he sat down and I was called in as I was sitting down. After the checklist of questions, it was needle time. Shane did not feel his actual injection at site but was aware of the flow of chemicals after. I was surprised that the injection hurt just a tiny bit and usually I don’t find a jab painful at all.

We are home and in our pajamas. We have homemade soup, crusty rye bread and gourmet ice-cream (a little adult treat for getting the jab). An early night with a movie or our netflix series is our plan with more panadol before sleeping.

Jab Time

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It could not be a more beautiful early winters day here in Australia. In our northern state it’s hardly winter, the sky is clear and blue and one can happily garden in a tee shirt. It will be cool tonight though! Last night by the fire-pit we had our uggs on (sheep skin lined boots) and a soft fleece. With a little shared cooking with neighbors and a few wines we made the most of the night before the jab.

As more friends, family and acquaintances experience the vaccine for COVID19 the reactions are relatively similar. Some lucky ones have had no reaction at all or at most, a tender arm. Feeling generally unwell, tired and a little ‘under the weather’ seems to be common. Experiencing a headache, one that does not particularly respond to medication is an other response one family member reported. I did hear a fellow claim that he had a nap not long after his jab, another one in the afternoon and the first full nights sleep he had experienced in some time – not even having to get up for a pee! One friend had a day three reaction similar to a bout of the actual flu – that flu one gets and they realize for the first time that up until now, they have actually not had the real flu.

We feel privileged to live in a country where the provision of a vaccine is free and available. Today we will both attend the medical centre and receive our first dose of the AstraZeneca jab. I am going to blog on our experience for the next few days – for legacy. My mother had polio and when I hear all the hype, conspiracy theories and uniformed opinions about the vaccines for this pandemic – I am simply reminded that we would not have made such outstanding progress with polio had there not been a take up of the vaccine regime.

We’ve had a few tips and the only preparation we have done is to ensure the food shop is up to date and I’ve made a grande size pot of a favorite and healthy soup. The second season of our current Netflix series had cooperated by just landing! A sweet lady, a nurse of forty years encourages me to take Panadol on the way and every four hours for a full day after. Quote – “It won’t harm you and it will take the edge off it.”

Here we go…

Let’s Have A Good Friday

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When I was growing up, every non essential work place was closed on Good Friday. Back then coffee, booze and take away food were not considered paramount to survival. The four days of the Christian celebration of Easter offered less options than ‘lockdown’, a concept that we are now familiar with and accepting of, although globally and locally we are now demonstrating less compliance and greater frustration with the strategy.

Of course even then, medical and ancillary staff at hospitals and nursing homes were still doing their shifts just as I am sure were police, ambulance and other actual essential workers of the times. My mother Gerry, was a domestic at the local nursing home less than twenty houses from where we lived. Interestingly she had no desire to take on the nursing training offered by Matron and much preferred the reassurance of physical, well known labor. The strength required for the heavy floor polishers of the day meant that my Mum had ‘guns’ decades before it became sexy for women to have strong and defined muscular arms.

The domestic staff were a tight group and had more fun than the nurses who had to deal with dirty bums and dreadful pans. Mum wanted none of that! The cleaners were ethnically diverse, managed language hurdles with humor and grace and worked incredibly hard and took pride in their job. Once a young male university student started doing some shifts and acted superior and condescending to the other domestics. Not surprisingly he did not stay long, but not before some of the cleaning ladies pin pricked his rubber gloves a good few times!

An enduring memory of Good Friday were the holy movies. My Mum loved these roman films which would be the only viewing on all three channels on Good Friday. If my Mum was not rostered on to work or when she got home I would watch a ‘Jesus Movie’ with her – looking back they were of course, very gory and violent!

My father Alex, never ate meat on Friday. Regardless of when the Catholic church relaxed the ruling on Friday meat consumption – Dad continued to observe this one practice. Growing up meant Friday night meals of egg and chips, fish fingers or sweet rice but never meat. Sometime in the home years, hot cross buns became a Good Friday morning event, toasted under the grill and served hot with butter. It seemed an incredible treat to have such an exotic breakfast which easily trumped the usual cornflakes or porridge.

It is Good Friday, 2021. Here today on our little lake, it will be a quiet day. Music is playing – the old albums (vinyls) as we have recently purchased a record player (turn table). There are a few preparations to be done for the ‘kids’ coming home, one on Sunday, and two more on Monday. There will be baked fish today and no meat. We are back to masks and immunization schedules feel way too slow.

If I turn the telly on today there won’t be a holy film showing but for sure I could scroll through Foxtel or Netflix and find many choices – although somehow that just wouldn’t feel the same.

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And Now I Know How The Three Bears Felt

We headed off to spend two days in the gorgeous hinterlands which rise in the mountains behind our beloved coastline. We did not make it to the first exit off the highway before the phone indicated that Goldilocks disguised as our youngest daughter was in our driveway and wanted in – to work from home, our home!

Papa Bear was delighted! It gave him the chance to justify the extra dollars spent to have a wifi remote garage door. Likewise, the alarm was disabled via remote and the fancy new garage door slid open as smooth as a hand over satin.

So now Mama bear, who had gone to great lengths leaving all things clean, tidy and locked was already visualizing Goldilock’s dog, a husky of course – and one that sheds great masses of golden fur just passing by furniture, oh yes Mama Bear could see her lazing happily on her dark blue Hamptons rug after wet blonde paws had crossed the white tile floor. Oh and Mama bear already knew that many locked and closed windows and doors would be opened and most likely forgotten! Papa Bear still puffed up from his big show – was no comfort at all!

Fortunately this modern day Goldilocks in disguise and Bear family were on good terms and could communicate via texts and messenger. The bears took it in turns to remind the young miss to do this and that and not to forget to do certain things. They thought it would feel like less of a barrage of instructions if they did it this way and that the expected wrath, might be avoided.

Even Papa Bear was tested trying to help Goldilocks in disguise work out the correct silver key on a chunky standard set of house keys and opted for an on camera rummage in the ‘everything goes there’ drawer to extract the spare garage remote. Papa Bear was glum. Papa Bear was not over joyed to share his brand new fancy spare remote garage door opener which also worked on wifi with Goldilocks in disguise – particularly with Goldilocks in disguise. She does not have a good track record with Papa Bears things.

Up in the woods, Mama Bear and Papa Bear decided not to worry and to have a good time. Besides, Mama Bear had a back up plan and let the neighbour know that a collie, a husky, Goldilocks in disguise and a reliable carpenter would be at the house for a day and a night. Now the neighbour was a wise woman and did not need to know any further details to understand that the house on the lake would need a good royal look over once the ‘visitors’ had left.

Mama Bear and Papa Bear had a very nice time up in the woods. By the time they came back from the mountains (just 48 hours later) much of the state had gone into lockdown (Covid) and a big, old, bad bear had caused quite an awful amount of damage in America.

When the Bears came home they noticed that yes indeed someone had been at the house.

Someone’s been watching Netflix on my side of the bed – said Papa bear, as his perfect half was now disheveled but Mama’s side was still neat and tidy.

Someone’s been wearing my fleece – said Mama Bear as she picked it up, discarded on the blue hamptons style rug, sniffing it for evidence of a husky.

And someone’s been using my shower – called the Papa Bear and they’ve left their clothes all over the floor.

By then Mama Bear felt like a snack and said – Someone’s been eating my ice cream and they’ve eaten in all up!

The collie looked wet and messy but happy that the husky was gone. She tends to eat his food.

Mama Bear and Papa Bear made sure that Goldilocks in disguise had got home safely so they could all live happily ever after, separately.

Papa Bear still has the sooks because Goldilocks in disguise has not yet returned his fancy new garage door remote with wifi!

Women, Wine and Words

Yesterday I sat at a round table with eight women. A fresh breeze from the passage eventually soothed away the humidity. A few nights earlier I had sat on a yoga hall floor with a different group of women, once again in the circular formation for the sharing of wine and food. It’s no surprise that when women gather they share more than food and drink. In every culture, women give to each other their words, knowledge and wisdom. As a writer I am fascinated by the stories of women, humbled by their open and generous sharing and privileged when I am granted the gift of writing them.

At the lunch table diversity was present in age, country of birth, where we lived and worked, our interests and most importantly our families. Salads, fish and calamari were served, the standard single wine of mindful drivers was enjoyed and the talk was relaxed, funny and good natured. I had the pleasure of being consciously present and was awed at the beauty of sparkling eyes in soft, rounder faces. I saw hands that bore the years of holding children, working hands that had spent time in the doing of life. Pretty dresses and happy mouths – a seat at this table felt like a gift for no reason at all.

A beautiful thing happened at this table yesterday. I leaned a little further back in my chair as I became aware of the excruciating nature of the narrative. It felt important and respectful to add a tiny private distance as I observed the four women who had walked and would forever be living through the loss of a husband – experiencing a welcome but unwanted connection.

They did not reach across the table and hold each other’s hands. They did not wrap knowing arms around each other and lean in with shared understanding. While they did not openly do these physical gestures, as I heard their words and witnessed this exquisite emotional connection reaching across and through these four women – I deeply felt invisible healing hands and helping arms folding them together, if only for a sweet moment.

At vastly different places on the journey of life that bluntly arrives whether wanted or not after such great loss, I watched in awe as they smiled, laughed, ate, drank, talked, exchanged, personified strength and elegance and to steal a quote – were up for rising to the occasion and “getting their grip.”

Look Who The Kids Brought Home

As we near the close of the year 2020 there is so much to be very thankful for, especially for those of us lucky enough to live in Australia. Being an island, a big brute of an island with a small population, we are further blessed to be doing a pretty good job of managing the COVID pandemic with some lumps and bumps along the way. Which ever side of politics you find your fit – overall we’ve certainly faired better than most other countries.

Aussies for the most part have sucked up the inconveniences and got on with what needed to be done. Most of us have made good choices and all of us are benefitting from the Australian focus which leans more towards for the good of all, rather than the burning up and down over one’s individual rights.

Whilst I am very thankful for all of this, without a blink of hesitation I am most grateful for my family. Today in particular, I am thinking of the three wonderful young people that my own children have brought into our family.

Greg, Heidi and Jake are spectacular. Kind, calm, loving, funny, talented and hard working – they are accomplished ‘catches‘ all three and thankfully they each chose one of our kids to love and make a life with. They all come from beautiful families. Ours is the richer for the connection and inclusion which we are so deeply blessed to share with theirs.

We love it when our kids visit. We actually enjoy it all the more when their partners are with them. They are all such good company, useful for sorting IT which falls to Greg who brings the humour and all things sports. Jake, who can fix and sort just about everything and Heidi who is our games master and kitchen Queen. They are all easy and respectful guests who happily make themselves at home. We are looking forward to spending time with them after lock downs, delayed wedding plans for Harry and Heidi, cancelled holidays and uncertain bookings.

There is no present I ever need or want other than their sweet presence. We have three good kids. With their loving partners we have three great blossoming families branching out with solid roots under well tended family canopies from Donnybrook to Bomaderry and across to Wisconsin. Shane and I do feel, beyond blessed.

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