When Driving is no longer your thing

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I am at the age where people close to me, parents and some friends are now in the twilight of their lives and decisions need to be made that they won’t or can not see they are having issues with. I know I am no longer the fit agile girl from my youth, but I look in the mirror and am not horrified by what I see. I see a woman looking back at me whose hair is greyer than colour, I have a face that smiles with lines, I have a body that gave birth and there are lumps and bumps one never thinks about when being in your 30’s and 40’s.

The biggest issue I can see for our elderly folk is the driving license, it is something many hold onto without thought for others, it is a single entity that one holds despite ability to drive safely. I know of children of aged parents who go to the Doctor and ask them to remove it and many are angry when this request is refused. I have worked in a Doctors surgery many years back and watched an eighty year old man throw a thousand dollars at the doctor and said it’s all yours if you let me keep my license. It was a shock, the doctor opened his door called the nurse (me) and I was witness to him handing it back and then watching the eye test and other requirements of the medically fit to drive test for the Department of Motor Registration (in Australia) to which this gentleman failed.

I was also the nurse who then had to call his son and get him to come and collect his father and the car whilst he sat in my treatment room sobbing, he was 83 and I sat taking with him about his life and other issues for him to tell me, he and his son hadn’t spoken for 6 months earlier as he asked him to consider stopping driving. This made him angry as he wanted to keep driving to the local shops and to church. I asked him why he put himself and others in danger by doing this as he clearly couldn’t ambulate well – he had a frame, to assist him walking and couldn’t see well enough.

His answer is one that many use to justify the need to keep the license, ” but I’ll lose my independence, I don’t want to rely on my son and others to drive me, but I’ve been driving since I was 13 and I haven’t had an accident. I don’t want to take public transport as there is no bus, train or tram near me.”

Having the discussion about driving with the elderly brings, in most cases an immediate anger response, and instant emotive change from happy to angry no matter the intent of the messenger. How does one go about getting someone you love and care about to admit they are having issues ? Most times saying things out loud can trigger truth in the speaker but the drivers license issue doesn’t.

I look, watch and talk to people and am surprised when I hear children of aging parents say yep, ” I know they are terrible drivers and I won’t let them drive my children around anymore. ” so then begs the question ” have you told your parents this?” 99% of the answer is “God no I don’t want to hurt their feeling” so it’s ok NOT to have your own children being driven by an elderly  unsafe driver but it’s ok that they can drive through school areas without being aware they have an issue.” Here is where it doesn’t make sense but as humans we are basic nurturers and do not wish to hurt anyone’s feelings even if it means putting others in the path of danger.

I know of a person who has TIA (Transient ischemic Attacks – or mini strokes) and refuses to tell the doctor and family about them as they  knows they will have to give up the  license, one of her children just this week has told her they will be discussing this fact after Christmas, she is horrified at the thought, not of the thought she could kill herself or others if she has one when driving, but that she may have to stop driving, umm yes you do.

Then there is stories of deaths by running over spouses, miss identifying the pedals in the car, running cars into shops as they mistook the accelerator instead of the brake, or in cases I have watched driving at 20 kms and then using the gutter as the indicator to stop the car as that’s as far as one can go. There are tales of mistaking car parking spots and ending up on ovals, lawns and other areas, yet this isn’t enough for the person to tell someone they are having trouble. We watch as people use the brake every time they think a car is going to hit them, see a car in their vision and immediately think it is coming at them, these are minor eye issues but they still pose a risk to the general public, nothing worse than driving behind someone who constantly hits the brakes for no reason.

Why this blog and why now? I would like to have any answer from anyone who has had this conversation with a loved one about stopping driving. I don’t want road statistics quoted to me I would like you to contact me and give me clues or stories that got you to stop driving or got a parent or loved one to stop. Keeping in mind some people, country people don’t have any access to hired drivers, taxi’s or public transport.

Please send me ideas and stories, I would love to hear them and read them as this may give me options on how to broach the subject with a loved one who is being observed driving terribly.

 

Telecommunications #fail or #pass

Living in regional areas means having to use every thing available to stay in-contact with families, travel safely in areas during daily work life, maintain and do business, so it requires properties and families to have a land line, mobile phones, satellite internet and satellite TV services that are affordable and relevant. It also makes sense to provide these areas with great services due to the high risk of fire, isolation, horrific road tolls, farm accidents, distances needed to travel to get to anywhere and educational opportunities that city children don’t have to give a thought to. These are a few of the daily activities that regional and rural people need to combat in order to be educated, informed and involved in their local communities and lives, even medical services are now looking to linking up with video conferencing to diagnose and treat people in these areas as Doctors stay away in droves.

Yet in Australia, Governments historically and modern-day concentrate all finances and upgrading of services i.e. roads, high-speed internet to the cities, to get more votes. Their tunnel vision doesn’t expand greater than for self-serving and vote grabbing. Despite the fact that all politicians admit and acknowledge it’s an issue, one will come up with an idea i.e. NBN Co  the next incoming Government will veto it, change it and then make it so redundant it fails to provide anything for regional and rural areas, it becomes obsolete or rather the service so over subscribed they cut everybody sighting a ‘Fair Use Policy” designed to discriminate against “‘only regional customers” as told to the local radio station by a CEO of a provider, when challenged.

When paying subscribers were notified by email of this announcement to cut GB to 20Gb for all, there was a written disclaimer of being sued for breach of confidential information should you share it ( they were trying to infer regional people would just accept this as delivery of more poor services to our areas without a fuss). In the city, emails seen to fly out of sent boxes with ease, regionally you sometimes have to walk away and or disect the email and send in consequential lots, 1 email in the city and 4 from regional areas, depending upon content (thankfully there are now drop boxes and clouds).

I have written to all Communications Ministers, Sitting and Shadow, State and Federal to receive, at best, a substandard response from them all, when sending some of these onto radio producers I have had to send them with a warning “this will be 5 minutes of your life you will never get back if you read this” some Ministers Shadow and Sitting, actually think it is ok to make this about THEM, not only as individuals but as a party, the absolute vanity and non caring of these people sitting in $100K+ salaries telling us that if it weren’t for them we would have nothing was awkward at best. The radio producers have had to agree and then not able to put it to air so as not to embarrass themselves with such stupidity. Others have referred me off to the Dept of Communications – beautifully side stepping the issue.

Our local ABC radio has been great with the cause as it affects all of regional and rural areas, having diminished services puts safety at risk of all road users and travellers, tourism, business, medical services and educational growth of these areas. I was lucky enough to be able to get onto the regional telecommunications review webinars to hear how these decreases have affected many people in different forms from all over Australia.

My other issue is that though the provider has reduced the satellite internet services by 2/3rd they have not reduced the price. All our communications services are extremely expensive and fairly useless, mobiles do not ring or can’t be answered in houses, we get great reception 30kms away so we are reliant on a land line which during our fire was damaged and though, in an active fire zone was told we “were not important enough to have it fixed” it took Telstra 6 weeks to reconnect us. Recently it was out for 9 days with no explanation as to why they wouldn’t come and fix it, when they did it took less than 30 minutes.

Now with the reduction in Satellite internet services we also have had the announcement that Mobile black spot funding has been settled at 11 towers in SA, due to lack of input and finances from our State Government. In the South East of South Australia there was none allocated despite areas being identified where there is no network, no safety for people in these areas and no level of comfort they are being taken seriously. Our State Government has had over 12 years to improve our state and regional areas, with the exception of Port Pirie, they haven’t nor do I feel comfort that the opposition party will be any better, there is no money. Governments spend and spend tax payers money with no real planning for future growth and needs.

I have heard of families struggling with remote education, saying that their 2 teenage children had used the quota up in two weeks with school work and then they were cut off till the next billing round, does this then make it necessary to have local and regional libraries open after hours? Will the Government be proactive and allow this? pay the wages and encourage students to go there? the problem is lack of foresight by  Government and lack of finances to pay wages due to poor fiscal management.  Distance being an issue for families in that some of these libraries are attached to schools and are over 100+kms away from properties. I think not, its put up with it until we fix it sometime in 2016.

For anyone wanting to let the Department know of their issues and problems with reduced services please go to the Regional Telecommunications Review, issue papers and do a submission you have till 15th July 2015 to get your voice for your area read. It may not help solve the problem in the short term but will give them different aspects to work on. To make it easier click the link and it will take you straight there. I am also happy to share with you the correspondence I have received from the Ministers and Shadow Ministers if you would like to email me requesting it.

Some of these people and Departments make as much sense as standing in a paddock full of cattle, the language barrier is huge and the lack of concentration and understanding by the parties is a great divide.

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I’m giving our Governments and Telecommunications a big #FAIL

Road Toll is Down but “King Hits” are up

It is quite distressing isn’t it, all these young men and they are young men, being punched and killed in ‘unprovoked attacks’? It makes both me and Huz shake our heads, as a parent I can not comprehend the grief that the parents must feel sitting at the bedside of their beautiful boys on the brink of becoming men, having to make decisions like, whether or not they will live, what sort of quality of life will they have and if they are not going to live, they will be asked to consider organ donation. Why? would be the greatest question of all, why did they go out? why were they in the wrong place at the wrong time? Why did I (as a parent) not protect them enough?

Instead the questions that should be asked are why are these violent men allowed to be in a place both mentally and physically at the same time as my precious child? What makes these men so terrible? and they weren’t surely at a younger age? They have parents as well, nothing excuses their behavior, nothing. today we awake to another young man fighting for his life whilst the alleged attacker is ‘crying’ in court.. what is that? He obviously has enough emotions to cry but not enough not to hit, how does that balance out? well it doesn’t (in my opinion). It is actually hard to feel anything for the attacker isn’t it?

Are alcohol and the easy access to drugs the blame? I don’t know I don’t have any answers? it’s just awful and sad. But there are far more people distressed about these than gets reported. The first responders, the passers-by who render assistance, the paramedics, ambulance officers and police. Their efforts to transport this young man to hospital is always filled with determination and care. They care enough to will everybody they carry to live, they care for each and every one of them as if they were their own children.

Then they arrive in the emergency departments, where they are handed over with care to the Dr’s and nurses who feel despair for all involved. They work hard to get their charge to the operating theatre, a Doctor has to ring a parent and in this circumstance may even have to get consent over the phone to get him to theatre to save his life, so the parents may not even be able to get to the hospital to kiss their child before a life saving operation is done. It would be hard as they would be told the chances may be slim that he come out of the operating room alive.. imagine that trip.

Teams of Dr’s & Nurse’s will be engaged to transfer him to theatre, where new teams take over, after this another team in Intensive Care Unit to start the long journey to get him to survive. Every person from the first responders would be feeling terrible and sad, knowing they did the best job they were trained for doesn’t take the human element of care and compassion out of their work. The Ambo’s may have even stayed to hear if they made it to theatre and into ICU. ICU would be fielding calls from all of these people as they would want to know how the patient is going. Many after their shift would be going home to hug their children tighter and longer.

How do I know this, I was one of those operating theatre nurses, every person who came into my care and the teams I worked with were treated like a King or Queen. I would go home and worry and call the teams and even visit them once I returned to work, it’s normal human nature, not walking up to some one you don’t know and punching them so that they are unconscious before they hit the ground.

So the police and population have managed to get the Road toll the lowest it has been for many years, but as my Huz says looks like the “king Hit” is up. How do we educate our young men that “one punch can kill?” There is a QLD / face book campaign that perhaps now Tony Abbott can adopt this as a Federal Campaign or each state premier, something needs to be done. There are parents losing young men to violence and parents visiting their sons in Jails.

Tiresome Tuesday …. April 3rd

It doesn’t start well these Tuesdays, I wonder if they will ever get better. Another broken nights sleep with DH tossing and turning I think he needs to do some serious exercise or something else, that tires him enough he sleeps. He tells me he hates reading now as he has had to concede to the age-old complaint of wearing out his eyesight and having to wear glasses to read. This is unfortunate but part of the cycle of life and no excuse for not sleeping, I suspect it is more the pain in his hip from the constant wear and tear of farm life.

The day starts with this sense of exhaustion and you know it is not going to be a quick end to the day and leading up to Easter the roads are getting busier earlier and people appear to be more impatient to get where they want to go. On my way in this morning at 0730am I had to dodge 2 kangaroos, they were happily hopping along the roadside, it was foggy and I slowed so that they didn’t jump in front of the car. I have been stuck between Cowell & Whyalla many years ago 1 week after getting a new car when a roo jumped dead centre in the bonnet, it killed the roo and my car. I had to wait for a kind truckie to pick me up as I had no phone service or uhf radio and it was dark, my lights didn’t work so I had to flag someone down. Accepting a ride from a stranger was more terrifying than hitting the roo but I was driven into Whyalla, dropped at a hotel, the police came to me and then I was able to phone home. I have never seen a big red roo like that in the Upper South East, they are small grey ones but do damage all the same.

Please travel safely this Easter statistically it is one of the worst for crashes and deaths on the roads. It keeps our over worked nurses and Doctors walking more KM’s than they normally would.It makes me appreciate the hard work all shift work, emergency service people, police, ambo’s, ancillary staff that clean & feed people do, to keep those in hospitals and in crisis situations manage and cope better. Do not meet them by accident for you will not remember the great work they do and the efforts they go to to assist you and your families in times of need. It’s Tuesday and another great day to be alive, “don’t be dead for qiuds”.