Barely.

Last night I knew things were going down hill. For a few days I had been getting some of the tell tale symptoms that I was crashing. I kept on getting very windy, which nearly always precedes a flare up of Fibromyalgia for me, but it was coming and going for the last few days without anything progressing further. My fatigue levels had been in the upper end end of the 1 to 10 scale, for weeks, but have been even worse this past week. And the pain has been waxing and waning as well, but a gradual overall increase has been the trend.

After dinner last night, everything started to hit, except a rise in the pain, which hasn’t fallen below about a 6 on the 1 to 10 scale for weeks. The fatigue hit me like a truck, I mean, I was feeling okay one minute, the next it was almost all over red rover. I have been getting increasingly unsteady on my feet in recent days, but last night it was one step forwards, 3 steps sideways until I crashed into something, the wall, a chair, the door….. It’s almost like I feel like I am going to pass out.

Nausea, oh so much fun. I eat a delicious meal, not at all rich or spicy, just tasty normal food, and then it comes like a wave. My left hand has started to drop shit all the time again, which is the hangover from the stroke, as the fatigue gets worse, my ability to cope with it all slides. When I am okay, you wouldn’t even know I’d had a stroke, but when I get heavily tired, then it just all falls apart. Last night, as I was doing the dishes, I dropped a plastic container into the sink of water, it splashed on me, and I just got so annoyed and frustrated that I yelled at my hand to settle down, and almost felt like ripping it off.

I am just frustrated and annoyed this is happening. I try my best to stay positive about it all most of the time, but today, I was completely written off, pain, fatigue, everything, and for the first time for a bit, I have found myself monstrously depressed about it, and feel like completely giving up. This afternoon, I popped out the front for a cigarette, and was staring off into nothing, and just thought that I felt like I wanted to just soldier on until I keeled over, and then it would be all over. I don’t know if any of that makes sense, it is just too much to deal with right now. I can’t enjoy anything. I can’t sleep well because of pain, I am always dead tired, I can’t eat anything without feeling nausea, or if that doesn’t happen I get IBS and farty as well, I can’t concentrate on anything much, I sit and watch TV, hoping to be able to take my mind off it, but sitting down hurts. Lying down hurts. Standing up hurts. I reckon that if I was in space, floating around would hurt.

I so much want to do things, but just can’t do anything. I tried to sleep today, but it was hopeless. I just couldn’t get comfortable. If it wasn’t great pain in my hip, it was in my neck, or one of my shoulders. My feet were just throbbing with pain. My forearms aching. I feel like screaming.

Well, for now, I will go and have a shower and try to sleep once again. I have dosed up on pills, trying in vain to reduce the pain to a bearable level, so I guess I know tonight is going to be hell, I have resigned myself to that.

Andy.

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Watching the storms.

Yesterday we had a pretty impressive storm outbreak, brought on by the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Penny. After lunch, Jack and I went off for a little drive, as the sky was looking menacing to the south and west of our place, and, of course, my favourite photographic subject is storms.

We headed a little east and north of home, trying to get a good vantage point of the storms across open ground looking back towards Walsh’s Pyramid, away from power lines and any other man made structure that wasn’t photogenic. It’s hard trying to get a good landscape shot without power lines, and I hate power lines. We sort of left our run too late, as we found a spot, and the storm was really advancing towards us very quickly. I did get a couple of shots, not lightning, the ultimate goal, but the storm was menacing.

This was taken not long after we got out of the car. The sun was still illuminating the foreground. That is Walsh’s Pyramid, the pyramid shaped mountain on the left. The foreground is a sugar cane field in fallow.

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Only a few moments later and the sun was rapidly vanishing, and so was Walsh’s Pyramid !!!

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This was the view to the west of our location, which was at a place called Packer’s Camp., a very turbulent sky indeed. The wind was astonishing as it came over. Under that rain on the left is where we live. There is a mountain about 900 metres above sea level in that rain.

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As the cloud front came upon us, this was the view of the sky to the north. Amazingly blue, with the menacing blackness over our heads.

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We quickly decided that staying out, trying to find a better location to get more shots was a daft idea, the wind was gusting very strongly, buffeting my little car very noticeably. And the rain, it was almost impossible to drive. The water was accumulating on the road so quickly (and these roads are made to cope with a big deluge and drain well), that it was like driving through a pond, the water was 3 or 4 inches deep just from what was falling from the sky.

After a slightly nerve wracking drive the 10 kilometres home, we pulled up in the carport, went out the back verandah, and found 2 inches of water across the rear verandah, it was raining so hard that the drain couldn’t get it away quickly enough. I ended up going out in the rain with the shovel, and dug a trench about 3 inches deep to get the water to flow away down the slope, it was raining so hard, just 10 seconds out in the rain meant you were drenched right through, and the rain was cold !! The trench worked rapidly, and it drained off, even while it was still pouring down. We ended up with 60mm of rain in the space of 30 minutes. in the old scale, that’s probably a bit over 2 inches. In 30 minutes.

Later in the evening, we had a round 2, with lightning flashing intermittently to the west and east. I went out by myself after Jack went to bed, but didn’t capture anything worth sharing. It was nice to see some lightning return after a couple of weeks of nothing.


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Today, it has rained a bit, we’ve had about an inch of rain again, but nothing as spectacular as yesterday. We woke this morning to a bit of a disaster from our elderly dog, we have to contain her during the night in a playpen, so she doesn’t do her business all over the house during the night, we have a tarpaulin under it so if she does anything, it goes on it, and not the floor, and we just take that out to wash it off and clean it. She is very old, nearly 17 years old, and a Jack Russell, she is an awesome dog, but just getting a little incontinent. Dogs, or any pet for that matter, are for life, and you just have to take that getting old will happen.

The disaster was her best yet though. It was contained, but all over the tarp, her bed and bedding, her, it was just full on, and it stank so bad. Even when it was all cleaned up, the smell lingered, and we sprayed every version of room deodoriser we have around. Some just made it worse, as their scent, mixed with, well, the smell of shit, was more revolting than the smell of the shit on it’s own. I know, it’s hard to imagine air freshener making it worse, but trust me, it did. I ended up going over the entire floor, even though it wasn’t on the floor, with a very strong bleach and water solution with the mop, and after that, the smell was gone. I think the bleach dissipating into the air actually killed the smell that was lingering. Tonight, you wouldn’t even know there was such a mess this morning.

My fatigue really is a problem right now. It just doesn’t seem to want to subside. The pain is going from uncomfortable to bad on a roller coaster over the days, today wasn’t so bad on the pain front, but then I have had all sorts of gut issues, and nausea. This fibromyalgia is just sooooo fun !!!

It wears you down.

Andy.

Having wins when losing

The fatigue and pain have driven me into being very absent minded at times recently. I had a spell late 2017/early 2018 when I thought I was losing my mind, so forgetful and just felt like I was going crazy. This isn’t quite as bad, yet, but it is certainly disconcerting to be going through it all again. I also have moments during the bad patches of fatigue where I start slurring, the result of a slight stroke a few years back, when the hospital put it down as a “migraine”, and then a week later they discovered, after I went back with another excruciating “migraine” that my blood pressure was through the roof and I should have been having either a heart attack or a stroke.  They never actually tested me to see if I was, but gave me pills to bring my blood pressure down quickly. The slurring is just one thing, I also tend to let go of things unexpectedly with my left hand and my left foot drags when the fatigue gets bad as well. Oh, what a barrel of laughs my life is !! At least I can say it’s not dull !!!

Today I had a pretty major win, I still had to get school shirts for Jack, like, the ones with the school logo on them, as that is the requirement. I went on a whim to town (well, I needed smokes, so that was the real reason), and decided to take Jack along and go look at the Op Shops, as Jack loves Op Shopping. I have scoured them for school shirts for weeks, to no avail, and then today, I walk in to the Lifeline Op Shop and there they are, 4 school shirts. I was going to buy 3 brand new at the school, as I had failed to find any, they are $30 a pop, so just to keep him clothed for school for 3 days, it would have cost me $90, a lot of money when you don’t have much to go around. Today’s stroke of luck cost me $16 for all four. So, I saved big. It’s nice to have a win.

Apart from that little adventure, I have been completely wrecked by fibromyalgia, we’ve had the vinyl floor removed ready for tiling, I’ve named all of Jack’s school stuff, and, well, I can’t think, mind block. It’s been a crazy day. Right now, I need to go to bed, hopefully, hopefully, I will sleep all night and sleep in tomorrow, I should be so lucky. We shall see. (I apologise now if any of this sounds disjointed, it’s just my head).

Andy.

Doing my best

With everything that life has thrown at me, the second most worst thing is Fibromyalgia, it is certainly the most debilitating, but my ex, and everything she threw at me (figuratively and literally) was the worst. But this is about the fibromyalgia, it’s in the present, the other in the past.

I have been wrecked for days. Not sleeping well, until last night when I had a can of Wild Turkey and cola before bed although I rarely drink, at least it kept me asleep all night, although I did wake up early again, who knows why, but my body, as exhausted as it is, still wants me to be awake at 6.30am. I have had at times excruciating pain as well, so a full blown flare up is under way.

As crap as I am, I have been promising Jack that I would go out on my pushbike for a ride with him, a decent one, so he could show me how well he is doing with the bike riding thing. Well, half awake this afternoon at around 4pm, we went for a ride, first it was to the park just around the corner, I wasn’t sure how far I could push him to go, but we got there in a breeze ( I haven’t ridden a bike for waaaayyyy to long). So we rode through the park, and down to the highway. Still, he was going great guns, doing it all easy, and even I was doing pretty good, all things considered.

We got the the highway, and I bit the bullet. The tyres on my bike were a bit soft, not flat, but nearly there, so I decided that we would ride into town. The highway is about a third of the way to town, so we went across when there was a break in the traffic, and kept going. Down past his school (which was a good test, as we may be doing the bike to school thing together every day when school starts), and on to the service station to use their tyre inflator. Once I did that, my bike was even easier to ride.

Last year, I bought myself a ladies cruiser style bike, very retro, it’s powder blue and white with some tropical themed trim, and a bit of tan on the seat, pedals and handlebar grips. It was my very first new bike in my entire life, every single one I had had in the past was secondhand. Yes, you did read correctly, even though I am a man, I bought a ladies bike. It is easier for me to get on and off, as it doesn’t have the cross bar so high, and with the fibromyalgia, coupled with all the problems I have with my back from breaking it in 2005, I need something that is easy to use. It has a wide seat, I do have a more than ample backside, and those swept out and angled back type handle bars, so I don’t have to lean forward to ride, I can keep my back nice and straight and upright. I have to say, it is so much more stylish than any men’s bike, men’s bikes usually come in a range of black or grey, and usually are mountain bikes, which, unless you are a mountain biker, suck.

I was really stoked at how well Jack did with the ride, we ended up going right into town, which is 4 kilometres, and then back again, which is a slight uphill ride all the way. I think he was thrilled to do it, and especially seeing me out riding a bike, I think he didn’t think I could do it !!! To be honest, I am really stoked that I managed to do it too !!! And, considering this was the first time I had gone for a decent ride on the new bike, it blew me away as to how easy it was to ride, it is such an awesome bike.

Before our little outing this afternoon, we went into the city, as Mum wanted to buy a new TV.  She ended up buying a 50 inch screen one, and after watching an action movie on it this afternoon, all I can say is, wow ! Its Ultra High Definition 4K, and with the new Blu-ray player she got, it is just amazing sound and clarity of picture. I now have my TV back, it’s only 32 inch, but that is perfect for my bedroom, and it’s nice to have my TV back in my room so if I want to watch something on my own, I can.

Anyhow, I am completely wrecked, my evening painkillers are beginning to kick in, so I should attempt to get some sleep I guess. Goodnight.

Andy.

Landscaping

For the past few days, I have been working away at a patch of the backyard that we are going to use as our main food production area, as well as an outside seating space where we will have a fire pit. It was a run down, weed and rubbish plagued area. Before Christmas, we took 2 trailer loads of rubbish away from this space, pulled down the already falling down chook run, which we didn’t want anyhow as chooks in suburbia don’t work, and the fact that if you watch the news, this part of Australia gets mega sized pythons, so the chooks wouldn’t last long anyhow.

So, this is a couple of shots beforehand, taken by the realestate agent to sell the house, so good camera angles don’t show how bad it really was. (I forget to do before photos all the time…..)

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There was a lot of rubbish down behind that shed too.

So, I have removed the chook run, and will be able to re-use most of the materials, I did send the chicken wire off to be recycled, but some heavier mesh, most of the timber, steel posts and roofing iron will all get a second life. That project will be the next one.

I have made a large vege garden along the retaining wall, as bending over to tend veges is so, well, in your 20’s, not fibromyalgia affected 40’s. In between the posts of the verandah in the 3 spaces, I have strung plastic coated wire, and now have 2 varieties of grapes and a passion fruit vine planted, which will be trained up onto the wires, thus creating a screen from the neighbours place, as well as producing a bounty of food.

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It may not look pretty right now, but the big area to the left was where the chook run was, and was very uneven, so required a lot of earth to be moved to level it. The other dirt patch near the vege patch was a huge dip in the ground, now it’s nice and level. The end posts of the chook run will stay, as I am going to attach the previously mentioned heavy wire mesh to them to grow beans and kiwi fruit on.

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These are our first green leafy things, lettuce, spinach and rocket for salads, it’s the real pick and mix salad, we will just pick the leaves as we need them and leave the plants to keep growing.

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This is our passionfruit vine. I have already tip pruned it to encourage some laterals to grow, to train out onto the wire. There are 2 wires, so it will be trained onto both in time

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Below is one of the 2 grape vines, this being a white table grape, it’s been in the ground for about 3 weeks now, and is nearly high enough to start training as well.

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Below is the newest grape to be added, a Red Globe table grape. It’s still very short, so I will stake it up soon once it gets some length, and then hopefully by the end of the month, it too will be ready to train onto the wire.

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This space beside the shed will be producing bananas and Paw Paws. I have seedlings of the Paw Paws growing in seedling trays, once big enough they will be in there too.

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Lastly, this was the gift from my brother for Christmas, a weather station. It measures wind velocity and direction, temperature, rainfall and humidity.  The panel with the data is in my bedroom on the desk, and it will be invaluable with the whole food production thing.

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I don’t really know how I have managed to do so much, I have been very fatigued for weeks, and in pain, but being out there doing this has helped take my mind off it, if only for a while. I haven’t done it all in one hit, just as I have been able, so sometimes I have just spent 20 minutes doing some, then other times an hour.  The feeling of achievement is so worth it. I guess the food will be too, once it grows !!!

Andy.

The Midnight Hour

Here I sit as the clock enters the midnight hour. I have been up since 7.30am, and although tired, am still a bit wired. I have managed to squeeze a little bit of “me” time in each day for the past 3 or 4 days, don’t know how, but it is helping me to become a bit more settled into the new life than I have been so far.

For the past couple of months I pretty much haven’t had “me” time, it’s been go, go, go, packing the old house, cleaning the old house, driving 3,500km, cleaning the new place, fixing the new place, unpacking all our stuff, and now finally, everything is starting to settle, so now, I am finally getting a bit of time to chill.

Up until the past few days, I have been so exhausted by the time I have had dinner, that not long after, I have had to go to bed, because I just couldn’t stay awake any longer. I haven’t slept well either, although that hasn’t really changed, the pain from the fibromyalgia has been really bad, so interrupted sleep has been the order of the day, or more specifically the night, for weeks.

Mum has been unwell, as I said in a recent post, today she wasn’t good first thing this morning still, but has slept almost all day, I checked on her at lunchtime, because I hadn’t seen her, and she was starting to improve, and then after almost the entire afternoon asleep again, she finally was able to eat all her dinner, and actually stayed up and watched Django Unchained with me tonight. She even sounds better and has more energy too. She’s been ill since Saturday, so today was the first sign of improvement in all those days.

Today, I over did it first thing, as soon as I could I mowed the lawns, as they desperately needed doing, trying to get it done before it got too hot, but it was already warm, and very humid at 8.30am. By the time I was finished at 9am, I was feeling very woozy, I felt nauseous, and extremely tired, so I sat in the cool for a while, after having a shower because I was dripping with sweat. Later in the day, I sat and sewed the buttons back onto the new couch cushions, but didn’t do too much else outside, as I also ended up with a thumping headache by lunchtime. It wasn’t until about 6pm, that I realised the cause of my headache. I hadn’t had a single cup of coffee all day, and it was caffeine withdrawal. I immediately had a coffee, and woosh, the headache was gone. I had gone hours with this headache, if only I had realised sooner that coffee was the solution !!!

I also broke in the new BBQ tonight. We had sausages with salad for dinner, so I decided to fire up the BBQ and not heat up the inside of the house, so cooked the sausages outside. I have already come to the conclusion that it is the best BBQ I have ever cooked on.

So after all of today chores, we ended up with a monsoonal downpour late this afternoon, and it was a glorious thing to see. After all the gardening of the past few days, with the hot weather that has come back to us again, the garden needed a drink. I have been watering the new plants enough for them to survive, but now the whole garden has had a good drink, established and new plants, as well as the lawn. I refuse to water lawns, I like lush lawns, but don’t like watering them, the sky has to do that, and the grass has to learn to survive on that.

Jack has been working away at trying to learn to ride his bike today again as well, and he is certainly making progress, not a pro yet, but he is getting the hang of it. It’s nice having a garden where he can actually have the space to safely practice, and now hopefully, learn how to ride.

Anyhow, it’s now halfway through the midnight hour, so I will now attempt to get some sleep. My brother arrives from Melbourne in 2 days time, so still a few things to do before he gets here, but then, hopefully, I will be able to chillout a bit more over the Christmas break.

Andy.

Chewy lollies are nice.

I am sitting here after a busy day yet again, chewing on a fruit flavoured soft chewy lolly, thinking I am in heaven. Why does a small square of essentially just sugar make me feel so happy ? It’s strawberry flavoured, if you must know.

Maybe, it’s giving me such enjoyment because this is the first time I have had a moment to myself, except for when I collapsed into bed mid afternoon as the body, and the fibromyalgia fatigue got the better of me. It sucks having a chronic health condition like this, but still need to do everything that a single parent needs to do, like, everything.

Normally, I do have a little help these days, Mum will cook dinner or make lunch, which is a godsend, but for the past few days she has been laid up in bed with a virus that has knocked her for a six. So I have had to do it all again, and make sure she is okay as well.

I did 3 loads of washing before 8am, then went out and got some things from Bunnings, which included a gas bottle refill, and now I know my new secondhand BBQ, which was free, but cost over $1700 just 2 years ago, works like a new one still. I just don’t know how people can be so wasteful, spend $1700 and 2 years later throw it away. Anyhow, their loss is my gain.

Jack has been doing more painting today, his art is amazing. I know, I know, all parents think that, but he has actually won awards for his. And his photography as well. I will have to get some photo’s up of his work, so you can see it for yourself. I guess he was bound to inherit something from me, and being a good artist and photographer isn’t too shabby a thing to inherit from my genes.

Apart from the things I have already listed from today’s effort, I pruned all the plants around the garden as well, and now our garden is coming along quite nicely. We have planted about 60 plants in the garden since we arrived here a month ago. It was an established garden when we moved in, but very neglected and a lot of plants were just about dead. Apart from one tree, I have managed to resurrect them all. It’s amazing.

I love gardening. It is just so relaxing. That might sound crazy in some ways, because it is hard work too, but it relaxes my mind. I have too much going on in my head most of the time, I appear pretty chilled to most people, but inwardly I am wound up, nervous, anxious, pretty much a mess. So gardening is medicine. It makes everything go away.

Talking about the whole anxious/nervous thing, last Friday, we went to the local Carols by Candlelight, and it was the first time I have been out in a social environment like that since moving here. It was a strange sensation, I am always on the look out for my ex, but now, she is over 3500km away. Because of her schizophrenia, it was always a worry living in the old place, because you just didn’t know when you would run into her, and because she is a schizophrenic who is prone to act violently, I just didn’t want to have Jack witness that, or me have to experience that again. So every time we went out, I couldn’t relax. Now I have to learn how to.

Anyhow, enough of my ramblings tonight, I must try and get some sleep before it’s back into the daily grind again tomorrow.

Andy.