On dementia, disAbility and writing my book

For all those who have or know someone with Dementia – this is a must read and must have book . Written by a truly talented author and friend

Jessica Kingsley Publishers in the UK sent me a few questions to answer about what is was like when first diagnosed with dementia, how dementia has impacted my life and family, and on living beyond dementia, continuing to study and much more… you can hear my response here.

My book “What the hell happened to my Brain?: Living beyond dementia” released on January 21, 2016 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in the UK, and is available there, on Amazon, The Book Depository and through selected bookshops.

If you have dementia, join me and others living with dementia from around the world at Dementia Alliance International, an advocacy and support group of, by and for people with dementia which is exclusive to us, and free – http://www.joindai.org

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Things you don’t want to do

How do we get motivated to do the things we don’t want to do? How do we know we don’t even want to do them? I think it all starts from the nurture and nature up bringing we all have. As children we are taught many things, in-fact these teachings are taken into our adulthood and if you are as lucky as I was with the parents you have, these teachings good and bad go with us into our adulthood.

I think there may be one thing that despite nature or nurture no one looks forward to and from brief conversations with others most avoid going to the dentist at the risk of losing teeth. I myself wish I could be anywhere else yesterday as I headed in, but have nursed this pain now since before Christmas.

I have taken pain relief and antibiotics to ease the risk of infection and pain, but it started to get worse so I headed back to the Dr, to get the same antibiotics I had taken 2 weeks before not giving anything another thought. Waiting till after dinner and following the instructions I washed the tablet down with water and didn’t give it another thought. Approx 2 hours after ingestion I found myself having an adverse reaction to the antibiotics that had me having an overnight visit and stay in the Keith Hospital.

I awoke thinking I was being bitten by mosquitos until I realized my eyelids and upper palate were itchy as well as my scalp. Having had this experience before I knew this was a drug adverse reaction. It took less than 2 hours to have the reaction but have it I did. I got out of bed and checked myself in the mirror, I had the lovely red rash all over the body, swollen hands and feet. I gave myself the appropriate medications , woke the farmer, called the hospital and we headed into the hospital.

I spent the rest of the night on the appropriate medication and observation. It’s times like these that I am grateful, I was part of a community that helped to save the Keith Hospital. As for the visit to the dentist yesterday morning, I dread it, I dislike the injection of local anaesthetic, there were 3. I dislike the drilling, the suction and everything to do with the dentist, especially the numb face for hours afterwards.

So we begin the adventure of fixing the tooth, the gap between private cover, fees and beginning a relationship with parting with money and getting to know another new dentist.

Animal Farm

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Ole “Mr. Grumpy”

I have to correct myself from yesterday the bull Ole Mr Grumpy is not 2 ton, he in fact weighs about 1 ton. To me when you see him standing up and close wouldn’t matter how much he weighed if you annoy him and he hit you, I think it would be the end of a good day and a visit to the hospital. He is quite a gentle bull and will take to being told to move on, even the cats will move when he walks up to them to sniff them.

Whilst watching TV last night we were surprised to see a bat flying around our lounge room. I know a bat, we suspect it was brought in the night before by one of the ‘shed cats’ and it managed to get away from the cat to take place in the curtains. I jumped up turned the fans off, closed our bedroom door, bathroom door, turned the lights off and opened the double sliding doors hoping it would fly out.

We think it did as I have searched in dark places, our drapes and shelves and I can’t seem to find it, this morning. I hope it either flew out via the open doors or the propped open ‘new cat flap’. I say new cat flap as the farmer decided to put a new one in the wall and move the old one to the other side of the house.

The cats are none too happy with this change, they will sit outside the cat flap and look at it. As soon as it’s propped open with a plank of wood they will jump through it and if it is closed and we catch a cat we push them out through the flap so they can get use to it and start using it.

The shed cats are clever they have managed to track down their old flap and enter and leave via this. I think the farmer finds this annoying as he was so happy when he found the correct flap on boxing day that when we got home he commenced the insertion of the wall flap.

Life is not dull on the farm and whether it be day or night we have lots of movements of animals. As for ‘Ole Mr. Grumpy he’s going back to a mob of ladies soon to start this years work.

 

 

 

 

Togetherness

Living and working on the farm means that you are with your partner 24/7 and to some it probably would be too much, for others they would enjoy it. Farming is a different kind of work and a different kind of life. There are many different types of farming also, some farms breed animals to sell, some breed for meat, some plant crops to sell, some milk cows and others do a mixture of different enterprises depending upon soil type and expertise.

We are a multi-mixed farm here, but our highest concentration is breeding and caring for the animals that reside on our farm. Not only do we put them first, their health and well being is checked twice daily and this means we can not get longer than 24 hours off the farm without hiring staff to come in and check them.

There are many reasons why they are checked, in hot weather to make sure they have enough water or shade, in breeding season to ensure they can deliver and be given help should they require it, to make sure they do not have bloat in winter and in times of drought they will be fed hay to ensure they remain healthy.

There are times though when animals are orphaned, and if found in time they are brought home to be bottle fed and hand reared. We have the Caloundra 6 from last year 1 lamb, named Josie after my cousins daughter  named Josie, 5 calves, Rosie, Delilah, Abby, Hope & Annie and of late we have had a bull come into the house yard and become part of the crew. It is quite a sight seeing a 2 tonne bull walk around the house eating lawn and bellowing. As we have smoked glass on our sliding doors we have to be aware that he can sometimes see his own reflection. He has been caught licking the glass, so we have to go out and shoo him away, we don’t want him thinking there is another bull in the place and charge at it.

We have also had the arrival of another calf in December  2015 whom we think was a twin and his mother left him so he has come to us. I am amazed to see that it didn’t take long for the Caloundra 6 to get use to the Bull “Mr Grumpy”as I have named him cos he walks around the house making a mmmmmm sound making him appear grumpy and me a little fearful of him. They also have taken to the little calf who was probably 3 days old when he came to us.

They will go to the vegetable patch now known as the animal nursery and sit on the outside so he can see them and feel them. I have caught them leaning against the fence so they can touch him. The bull will also join in. It is amazing to see and last night Jeremy decided he didn’t want to live alone, the reason why we won’t let the others in the nursery is because they would knock him out of the way to get to the milk, they are no longer being given milk and they miss it. Abby is the only one who will continue to come up for a rub under the chin,  we found her on my birthday and my cousins daughter’s birthday. In honour of our Abby the calf was named as such as soon as we knew she was a girl.

Jeremy has now happily found his place in this posse of which Josie is the leader, the lamb came first and bonded with Rosie until the others came along. Josie leads them around the place and will come up to my office window and say hello to me, it is cute but can be off putting to people on the phone, I have been asked many a time ïs that a lamb?” as she baa’s loudly at the sound of my voice Yes I will say.

These animals have formed their own togetherness, from the tiny 3 week old to old Mr Grumpy, it is an amazing sight to see and we are lucky to be able to witness it.

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The baby Jeremy is behind the fence whilst the others are sitting outside in a build up to a thunder storm on 3rd Jan 2016.

There’s beauty in old silos

Silos

The completed silos in the tiny Victorian wheatbelt town Brim. The artist, Guido van Helten, snapped this photo.

Isn’t this beautiful? the artist has painted these abandoned silo’s to help change the landscape in Brim and to bring back to life the characters of the bush.

He has painted these images whilst standing on a cherry picker, at first glance it appears to be all male, but the abc rural is currently doing a radio piece on it and third from the left is a woman in a hat looking down, which clearly demonstrates the diversity in farming.

 

Things you can count on

One thing we can count on in Adelaide, South Australia is the heat, it gets mighty hot here, we have consecutive days over 40 degree Celsius 104 farnheidt. It gets hotter here on the farm and without air conditioning I can count on it being unbearable.

I could spend time listing all of the things we can’t count on but there is one glaringly obvious thing we can can count on and that’s the head line gripping behaviour of politicians. Even on slow news days politicians can manage to make merry on the public purse, tarnish their images and come out looking less than desirable.

We read about these stories, sometimes as they die on their swords or if someone ‘leaks ‘it to the media either way it’s (sadly) becoming common place and we can all count on it, no matter who you  vote for, they all do it.

This last couple of weeks have been Jamie Briggs, Mal Brough, the Royal Commission into unions which shows no one in great light, whilst the politicians who were called before it can say they weren’t aware – it’s not really good enough is it. People’s hard earned money paying for thousand dollar dinners, business class trips and no one checking the checkers. Did they really need to spend all that money on a Royal Commission to discover it? in my opinion probably not.

In this day and age, with cameras in phones do they really expect to get away with it? Let’s face it Jamie Briggs MP looked foolish enough by his own admission and vowed to protect the identity of the women whom says his behaviour made her feel uncomfortable and was inappropriate with, has since sent the image to ‘his mates’ and one of them has kindly assisted him in breeching all the codes of privacy and common decency by giving it to a media outlet.

Are we supposed to think by being able to view the image that it was put out there in self-defence? if we could all see her “piercing eyes”would this mean we would understand why he grabbed her and kissed her neck? Is this implying we should take it as her fault? As one reporter suggested perhaps he should find better drinking partners – here’s a tip don’t drink whilst working, we all know the rules around work functions, it you attend you are working until you get home in what ever state you left the work function, it becomes the responsibility of the boss to protect the worker even if they are drunk, sober or anything in between,  politicians are no different or do they just think they are?

Not only do all politicians get good salaries, they all get the perks of a tax payers credit card and travel expenses. When they become Ministers rather than back benchers we can count on the fact they get a pay rise and elevate themselves to a higher standing than they should have.

Those of us that are lucky to have seen the New year in, know that we can count on today doing what one can to get through hard times and good times. I do understand politicians are in fact humans working like we do, except they get the benefits of public life and access to money and travel that none of us do, every time I see headlines around their bad behaviour it irks me more.

We have farmers in QLD who are showing signs of third world malnutrition this article should be front and centre of all of their thoughts and abilities to assist.  We should be able to count on our politicians not getting pissed in a Hong Kong bar, kissing a woman who never asked for it, not enlisting a staffer to steal private records which leads to a police investigation or not being party to unions that take hard earned money from working people and so on….

We like politicians, can count on the fact that their behaviour is reported to the general public as they continually tell us the Australian taxpayers are their bosses and they are accountable. So from this boss to ALL politicians, lead by example and just stop allowing yourself to be portrayed as twits.

Losing a Favourite thing

Day 3 and we start in the kitchen, I am getting (mildly) teased by the farmer about my resolutions that I made and haven’t told anyone about. He has asked if one of them is speaking to him with blatant honesty, I did laugh as I told him I’ve always been like this with the exception of a couple of times last year when I bit my tongue. He seemed surprised by this, but haven’t we all opted to bite the lip than to cause or to continue an argument?

Yesterday in my kitchen we had a tragedy, I know one of the first world problem kind. It only rates when it happens to you but when it happens it’s never good. There I was happily unloading and reloading it when the husband says “why is there water in the bottom of the dishwasher?”

Like Carrie out of the Omen, my head spun from the dirty coffee cup to the bottom of the dishwasher and there I saw it. The pool of dirty water that had not drained from it’s cycle from the night before. I look to the cup and to the water and know I have to take action, farmers are good at fixing things so the job now relies on him.

With the precision of a surgeon, he requests a manual whilst I am up looking for it in the filing cabinet he calls to download it. A search engine is engaged and a request for a Youtube to show how to unblock it. The farmer sets about outside to look into the trap and the pipes. I am hopeful it’s a pipe issue so I go about emptying the dishwaser trap and cleaning this out.

He cleans the pipes and outside trap and tells me there is nothing wrong or blocking it except for ALL of the fat I apparently empty into the sink which has set and caused it to block up. I put the dishwasher back on to see / hear it cycle. The water comes in but again there is a lot of beeping and no water goes out. It is determined outside influences are not in play in the breaking of my handy helper.

We do this at least 5 to 6 times each time cleaning out the muck that is in the bottom, I remove 2 cherry pips, a piece of plastic wrap and numerous pieces of sludge, I pour water into it and let it drain out through the hose onto the floor. I can clean that up later, all I want is for the dishwasher to work for me, it doesn’t

He moves to pulling it out of it’s home, turns off the electricity, undoes hoses and moves it to the centre of the kitchen. It sits there, white, stark and not working, it is upended as the farmer removes the bottom and the motor to discover a piece of oyster shell appears to have worked it’s way to stopping it from working, or so we think.

It is a sad day for me, the appliance that I fill up daily and empty daily, the one which I flick 2 buttons on to save me time and effort doesn’t work. It sits upside down in my kitchen mocking me, for above it on the bench sat all the dishes from the night before and yesterday waiting for them to be cleaned. My reliable dishwasher is no longer reliable and now I’ll have to wash the dishes. It’s traumatic really, dirty dishes that I can now no longer pour ALL that fat from will have to go into the sink instead of the basket ready to be washed, rinsed, warmed and dried.

Being in the country and a Saturday – no chance of doing anything, the part he removed sits on the table reminding me to make sure I follow up, my dishwasher is still inverted but slid back into it’s place where it will stand on it’s head until such time as it’s going again or is replaced.

Dirty Dishes sitting there waiting, it reminds me of when I was a little girl growing up in a large family (there was 8 of us) and we were all expected to wipe dishes, doing them for Mum was ok but Dad he used to have this trick of pouring a cup of water over them just as they appeared to be dry. He would tell us it was to rinse them, why you would want to rinse the back of plates was beyond me, we ALL knew it was to keep us there longer.

I waited so long to get the kitchen here at the farm it’s a cruel twist of fate that I now have one albeit upside down that I can look at but not use. I will have to plan meals with less washable items, though this mornings brunch was a clear indication I didn’t do that, 2 saucepans, 5 spoons, knives, forks, plates, and cups all used once with little care to how much and who was going to wash up but breakfast was nice and yes I have washed the dishes. Oh dish pan hands “you know your soaking in it.”

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