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    A pain in the…

      Yesterday we had an Easter gathering at mum and T’s house. Me, she-who-will-not-be-blogged and Small Brother all in the same room for once! It was a lovely day, only hampered by Small Z having had a fever all through the previous night and me feeling as though a truck had rolled over me. Somehow, during the day, I began having a sore back/left butt cheek.

      By the time we got our caravan to L&D’s last night (where we were staying due to a meet up with other friends the following day) it was pretty uncomfortable. However, bolstered by three pillows, the night wasn’t too bad – but this morning? This morning I resembled my father a few months back. Not so much hunched over like a pretzel, but barely able to walk.

      And then I started getting the tingling all the way down to my toes, numbness and a kind of occasional giving-way feeling in my left leg. Notice how that last sentence just tripped off my fingertips? That’s because I write that sentence all the time. About OTHER PEOPLE. At least one file a week that I work on has someone with sciatic symptoms (those words? sciatic symptoms? typed in a nano-second. believe it.) So yeah. I know the drill.

      I am desperately tempted to find myself an osteopath, despite knowing that rest and gentle exercise are really the only answer. I am limping around, unable to pick up Small Z, feeling (here I go again) frustrated by my limitations and ongoing pain. Hee hee. I find it darkly ironic. Anyway, I have organised my ever-helpful maternal parent to come and look after Small Z tomorrow, which I will make a work day – as sitting is the most bearable position, M will do the same with Wednesday… and then I will see how I (ahem) stand. Hopefully not listing gently to the East… because then you can call me Eileen.


        I try and not be too much of a sooker. But last night the numbed out pain in my left calf (radiating to the arch of the foot and toes with associated paraesthesia – yep, that was a work sentence) got on top of me and I had a lovely big cry. Cleansing. And then spent the best part of an hour trying to get comfortable in bed, while Small Z slumbered a foot away, oblivious.

        In the end I couldn’t find the position, although I briefly had a window where circulation came back to my leg and my left foot (should that be My Left Foot?) got warm. Deliciously. Anyway, I just tried to think of anything besides the ache in my left hip/butt cheek and watched three episodes of 30Rock – bringing me to the end of my fourth season episodes (have to check with my dealer…maybe there are more?!) and was so weary that I passed out until 4am.

        This morning I acted against my previously espoused wisdom and attended a chiropractor. I’ve always been more of an osteopath person, but this chiro specialises in kids and pregnant people…and is two minutes drive away. The good news is that it is not, contrary to my GID (google inspired diagnosis) sciatica. Woo!

        So what is it? Hips and pelvic bones out of alignment and squishing some nerves, which is why my left leg is numb, painful and my foot is icy. I got poked, prodded, and ice packed for 20 minutes out the back under a big soft blanket. Then I stood on a hydraulic massage table thing and it gently made me horizontal and I got poked a bit more. (There was a gap for Pikelet in it, thankfully…)

        It was the prodding of my left calf that was the hardest to take – but both times I got down from the table it was obviously easier to walk. I was instructed to spend as much time as I could lying on my side on a firm surface with a pillow between my knees and my hips aligned, to take the pressure of the nerve/s. And to buy an icepack to try and bring down the inflammation.

        M has been cast in the role of carer, which he is doing with perfection. Apparently it thrills him to see me forcibly relaxing. And me? I am a convert to this particular chiropractor, particularly after she said I could call her out of hours on Friday or Saturday if things got worse. It’s good to have a fallback… Meanwhile, it’s great to know what the actual problem is, and I can alleviate it fairly well by lying on my side in the required position. Once this thing improves? There will be ongoing maintenance…

        Pack Ice….

        Pack Ice.

        Backing away

          I gave up going to the chiropractor about three or four weeks ago, sick of handing over the $40 a week with no sign of improvement. I had asked repeatedly about any exercise I could do.

          “Gentle walking?” I suggested hopefully.
          “Mmmm, a bit of gentle walking,” he agreed.
          “Anything else? Any stretches?”
          “Well, you could do some stretching of your calf muscles when they feel tight.”

          It was so frustrating. I felt like a LUMP. I felt like there were things I could be doing, but I didn’t want to aggravate anything and make it worse. I was not at all keen to return to the state I had been in when I first attended the practice. Granted, I still have oceans of appreciation for the chiropractor that ended my pain – but after a few weeks, I made no progress and was basically told to come back each week for ‘maintenance’. Gah.

          I went to my GP to get her opinion and told her all of the above. She is a big believer in the wonder of the chiropractor and sees one weekly. However, she felt that I should also see a physiotherapist to get information on what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I procrastinated and left it for another few weeks, but over the past week I have had a few days with Small Z that have really shoved me to the end of my tether, as far as my stamina goes.

          Yesterday I went to the physio. She said I was her third pregnant person that morning. She kneaded one butt cheek and then the other, and was awed by the tightness.
          “It’s like there’s golfballs in there,” she breathed reverently, squashing one out of the way. “You have the tightest arse I have seen in two months.” I was prone, but attempted a modest shrug.

          “So, did the chiropractor tape up your back or did you get a back brace?” she asked. I shook my head. She sighed, and told me that she was going to tape my back and that I needed to report to her on whether it helped. I asked her to tell me what exercise I could do.

          “No walking,” she said immediately, “And wear shoes around the house for shock absorption. Avoid lifting and carrying Small Z. The only place I want you walking is in the pool. Jog in there too. Do aqua aerobics. But this is the the main thing you have to remember. At ALL times, in and out of the pool, think of yourself as wearing a short, tight SKIRT and fixate on not flashing your undies.”

          I gasped in appreciation at such visual instruction, and before I could say anything she was dragging me down the hall to the gym room, where she put me on a fitball and showed me the exercises she wanted me to do.

          Halle-f!@#ing-luah. This is what I’ve wanted for two months. She said that there was about a 50% chance that my L5 disc was not herniated but that my butt was SO tight that it was squashing things and making my calf, foot and toe numb. We would see. Once Pikelet arrives I will be able to have scans and maybe anti-inflammatories, but until then…it’s exercise and imaginary tight skirts. Which is fine with me. She drew a star on my hand and told me to fix my posture every time I glanced at it. Tummy tucked (as much as it can be) and bum relaxed…tummy tucked…and bum relaxed…

          I have been endeavouring to do gentle walking up until yesterday and am so glad I can stop. It left me wiped. Last night, with my back taped, I felt normal as I lay in bed. This morning, when I got up, I realised how crap I had been feeling prior to now. It’s the same as the time many years ago when I had a low grade throat infection for months, finally got diagnosed and given antibiotics and felt like the world had jolted into technicolour. I don’t feel anywhere near as whale-like and immobile as I did two days ago. Please, oh please let it continue…!!

          Now I just have to figure out if the pool has a lane for me to run up and down in or whether I have to do some scary aqua aerobic class with the blue rinse set.

          The Health Report – Me

            Last week is a big fat blank in this blog, so I will backdate this post to Thursday. First there was me. Iron levels and vitamin D are crap. I went into the health food shop and asked the woman behind the counter, a naturopath, about taking both iron and zinc, as I suspected my zinc was low as well. She told me to take them at opposite ends of the day, as they did not interact well.

            She then gave me a zinc test, where you hold a mouthful of liquid for ten seconds before swallowing.

            “What did it taste like?” she enquired.

            “Um. Nothing. Like water…?”

            “Like water? You didn’t taste anything?” She looked mildly horrified.

            “What was it supposed to taste like?”

            “It’s…it’s…it’s disgusting! I can hardly hold it in my mouth.”

            “So that would mean…”

            “Your zinc levels are stupidly low.”


            Ten minutes later I was $60 poorer. She told me that she had found Floradix to be a more effective iron supplement than Spatone. I was also the owner of a liquid zinc supplement.

            After two days of using the Floradix I felt like my purpose in life was draining out of my body through my toes. An insane malaise. I assumed it was sleep deprivation. After a few more days I woke up one morning, dragged my irritable and vague self into the kitchen, and just to experiment, I took two Spatone sachets. The change was almost instantaneous. Goodbye Floradix, you are now my rather expensive secondary supplement. I also did a bit more reading on the Spatone website and noted that I should be using it 45 minutes before breakfast, and wait at least an hour afterward before drinking tea. Done, and done. I’m feeling soooo much better. This is also due to my other ‘supplement’.

            While I was getting my ‘six week post natal checkup’ that was actually done at 11 weeks due to the popularity of my GP and the intricacies of booking a triple appointment, I told my doctor of my constant, horrible dehydration. I was p-a-r-c-h-e-d. Skin was flaking off my face and my lips were cracking. A couple of times I’d drunk more than four litres of water a day, plus one and a half during the night while breastfeeding, but nothing helped.

            Another deficiency. Oestrogen. Apparently it takes a dive after giving birth. Or something. I will not detail how my doctor confirmed the diagnosis, as it would be in the realm of Too Much Information. Suffice to say, I was to take the medication every night for two weeks. One problem, it was not recommended for breastfeeding women as it depletes the milk supply. Gah!!!! I got a second opinion and was told that due to my oversupply, it would probably be OK.

            Oh. My. Goodness. Oestrogen is my happy drug. I took it ONE NIGHT and my skin went from Gobi Desert to peaches. Amazing. Then I skipped a day because I was afraid my milk might deplete, and the Gobi Desert came straight back. I looked about a million. So I have been using it every night since then and have three more to go… I’m interested to see what will happen when I stop it, as I don’t know whether oestrogen builds up reserves in your body and this will have put me back on track, or whether I’ll just return to looking like I’ve been lost at sea for a fortnight without fresh water…

            The Health Report – Small Z

              What a week. If you want to feel really unsettled, combine low iron with your daughter waking up on a Tuesday morning and not being able to walk on one of her legs. For. No. Reason. Yes – and you will feel like I did. A luscious combination of befuddled malaise and a sick worry in my guts. This was compounded by the fact that I couldn’t go with Small Z to the various medical appointments that followed as I had to stay home and look after Small DB (the most stress free scenario – for everyone except myself…)

              M took her to the GP, who looked her over and was very puzzled. He couldn’t find any specialists to see her on short notice and so referred her to Frankston Hospital. We decided to wait a night and see if her leg was any better in the morning. In the meantime we took her up to see my physiotherapist, who examined her and suggested the same thing. She had improved by this time and was able to run around a bit, but looked like a puppy with a limp. Her hip looked all out of whack.

              The next morning it was worse. Poor Small Z couldn’t walk without whimpering. It was so sad. M whizzed her down to the Emergency Department, where they spent a few hours. Five different people looked her over. There was talk of a biopsy of her knee, of septic arthritis, of blood tests… Argh! (I was oblivious of all of this as M did not contact me, for which I later briefly strangled him. I was so out of the loop.)

              The last super-specialist dismissed all these suggestions and told M to take her home and bring her back if it was still bad in the morning. It was. They went back. This time for five hours. M said that the facilities there for kids were just amazing – toys, television, free food, games – the works! Small Z had a ball (despite the fact that she was limping everywhere). She eventually had an x-ray and an ultrasound. And finally a diagnosis.

              In my worry I had begun to stupidly google her symptoms. Oh gosh. I had decided she had Perthe’s Disease. Not a life-ending situation, but not a good one either. I had a night of wondering what the hell we were going to do with a kid who needed to avoid putting weight on her right leg for a few years *boggle* Thankfully the diagnosis was of an ‘irritable hip’. Makes it sound like a grumpy relative had just decided to stay and bother her for a bit, doesn’t it? ‘Irritable hip’ came to visit just before Christmas. Huh. Apparently it’s caused by some little infection in the hip joint and likely to disappear in a few days. Which it has.

              How do parents COPE with situations like this when the diagnoses are not so trifling? I cannot imagine. My relief was h-u-g-e. Small Z thought it was all a great adventure. M and I aged about a decade. Blood tests and biopsies? She’s never even had an antibiotic! We are limp. And of course, everything is back to normal and it’s like it never happened… Thank goodness for our health system. None of it cost a thing.

              The depths

                Low oestrogen levels suck the big one. Particularly when most googling brings up ‘menopause’ (the most common cause, so not all that surprising). If I ever have the energy I am going to put up a page devoted to low oestrogen and its associated symptoms as a result of giving birth.

                I was to use the medication every night for two weeks and then ‘once or twice a week as required’. Sorry. You can forget about the latter part of that sentence. Bluntly, I fell in a heap. I called the guru – the medication helpline at Monash Medical Centre, the most useful free service I have ever stumbled upon, and was told that reducing to every second day was no drama. Things evened out.

                Then I got one of the side effects of using this stuff. It’s probably too much information to share here, so I’ll spare you. Suffice to say, I didn’t use the oestrogen for two nights in a row, and as a result, the past two days have been a fucking nightmare. Someone used a tin opener on my head and poured in treacle. I can’t remember anything, I have trouble finding words, I have no humour, no tolerance and no delight. I feel totally spent. I am dour. And still I google for ‘symptoms of low oestrogen’ and keep coming up with ‘hot flushes, fatigue, headaches…’ but nothing that really describes what I’m feeling…

                But this afternoon I read an article on PND (post natal depression). Not only did it finally sound similar to how I feel, but it mentioned something that I think is the key – a 2001 study of 24 women with PND found that all of them had low oestrogen levels. Now I don’t think I have PND necessarily, but I do have low oestrogen, and so have similar symptoms. And now a greater feeling of sympathy for anyone who has suffered with PND for any length of time. The past few days (and the earlier episode a few weeks ago when I came off the daily dose) have brought me to a whole new level of suck.

                I called the guru back today, and he suggested continuing with the every-second-day regime combined with another medication to prevent the side effect I had. This is good. I’m going with it. Despite using the oestrogen stuff last night, it still hasn’t kicked into my system yet, which has left today in ruins, but hopefully tomorrow (which is going to be a testing 40 degrees – or 104 Fahrenheit) will be better.

                My consolation is that it is so obvious to me that my mood and wellbeing is so linked to my oestrogen levels. If I didn’t know this I would suspect I was going insane. It’s good to know that my body responds to the medication and life becomes correspondingly less dire. However, this realisation doesn’t help me and my relations with Small Z, with whom I have no patience. She responds to my horribleness by being generally combative and cheeky, but has also just cried at me and said, “Use a nice voice, mama. Use a nice voice with me.” It makes me cry to even type it.

                I need to feel better.


                The shallows

                  After my little outpouring yesterday, I feel a bit apologetic. The medication kicked in over night and today I feel almost completely human. Like I’ve just emerged from a fog. However, I am going to leave my bleating unedited, if only to remind myself that if it happens again, it’s not the end of the world – it only temporarily feels like it!

                  M and my mum have been helping out. And this morning I have been making reparations with poor little Small Z – I think most of her attitude has just been a result of my fruitcake status. I actually took some time with her this morning and read a book before breakfast. We are both feeling a bit happier. Small DB is her usual cute kooky self…

                  Her neck is getting stronger!

                  OK. Nothing to see here.

                  The bug

                    Small Z woke up with what looked like a black eye. She has constant eyebags due to the nap she stopped taking at the age of two, but this was quite pronounced. Our doctor is near our old house and impossible to see at short notice (unless your two week old baby is jaundiced and the MCHN is concerned *sigh*) – there are two medical practices around here, and one is not taking new patients – and the other one could not see her anytime soon.

                    Convenient, no? Anyway, after calling about four other places getting further and further away, I found one in Somerville that would see her. Myself, Mum, Small Z and Small DB all piled into the car and went along. The car was warm, as it had been in the sun and Small Z got hot, as she had her cardigan on. We took it off when we arrived.

                    We saw the doctor. I gave a potted history of Small Z. Normal everything – woke up and couldn’t walk – normal – normal. That’s basically it.

                    “Ah,” said the doctor.

                    I gave a small shriek, grabbed Small Z, and brushed a cockroach the size of a mouse off the back of her trouser leg. The doctor did not blink.

                    “Probably a virus. Her cheeks are flushed. I’ll take a look at her eyes, ears and throat.”

                    I kept trying to point out the black eye scenario. She looked for a nanosecond into Small Z’s gob and said ‘a bit red’. She looked into her eyes and into her ears. All fine. Again she said, ‘probably a virus’ and handed me a prescription for antibiotics. Right. Because antibiotics fix viruses.

                    To be fair, she said to use it if she wasn’t better in a few days, but Small Z was there for the BLACK EYE. Gah. Anyway, what with the cockroach and the communication issues, we shall continue doctor shopping. The eye thing was gone in the morning.

                    Back to the Great Dictator

                      And this post is about how I am trying to blog using my headphones. Well, less my headphones and more my microphone. I am dictating to the computer while standing up. And that sentence was seamless. Without any errors. Maybe this is the new way for me to blog more regularly, although the interruptions seem to be the same.

                      I’m standing so I don’t have to sit. I finally got the results of the CT scan I had done on my lumbar spine a few weeks ago. And now I wish I hadn’t. This is probably to do with the fact that I spent all my time when I am working typing out other people’s CT scan results and all the gory details of how they try to cope with their day-to-day back pain.

                      So anyway, I have three bulging discs, one of which is more problematic than the other two. It is not, unfortunately, my piriformis muscle- which I thought was squashing my sciatic nerve and causing my numb leg; this would have been my preferred scenario.

                      Instead, my general practitioner has prescribed me a book called ‘Treat Your Own Back’ by Robin Mackenzie, who appears to be something of a guru. I saw my physiotherapist today and he told me to keep sitting to a minimum, which is why I’m standing up and dictating what you are currently reading.

                      The weird thing is that is not very painful. Just now. With occasional electrical little pain in my left big toe. So this is a good thing. I read such terrible files every week about people learning to live with their back pain and while this makes my situation scary it also makes me want to try and be as proactive as possible. Instead of saying ‘I need to start swimming’, I’m just actually going to go swimming bikini line waxed or not.

                      Capped off by minimal serenity

                        Today. A series of meltdowns from Small Z. A seven-month-old who napped a total of ONE HOUR all day. And occasional moments of serenity.

                        I began the day on a kind of odd note. Having purchased my very first swimming cap I entered the pool looking like a large walking purple condom, or, more poetically, a walking purple tipped missile. (No innuendo please…) I was also wearing my knickers instead of my bather bottoms due to an organisational malfunction. I sped so fast from the change rooms into the water that no one would have noticed my butt being covered in black cotton instead of spandex.

                        I am up to doing 25 laps of freestyle and four laps of kicking along on my back. It’s the last four that kill me. Anyway, with my new purple appendage (ahem) I found myself feeling a little more, um – what’s the aquatic term for aerodynamic? That’s what I felt. But by the time it came to the end of my last laps I could feel all the water sloshing around my hair. The good thing was that my head, when lying on my back, was a lot more floaty – a plus!

                        However, I felt offended. I had paid ten dollars to keep my hair DRY. I spoke to a woman who was drying her hair in the changerooms.

                        “Do you wear a cap?”


                        “Does it keep your hair dry? My hair is soaking.”

                        “It doesn’t keep my hair dry.”

                        “So…” I looked inquiring. Why would you look like a condom for no reason?

                        “…but it helps my head float. I think most people wear them to make their heads float.”

                        “Of course.”


                          I stopped using my Spatone iron supplements about a month and a half ago. Our finances are about as low as my iron levels once were and I thought it was time to pull my finger out and just chomp down on some liver. It’s $2.50 for a whole liver – which is about five serves. Yeah. I can feel the hairs rising on your arms and the slight gagging sensation at the back of your throat.

                          Nevertheless – after eating two or three serves a week for a month I have much less dragging fatigue. I no longer have to worry about getting up, taking two sachets ($2 each), waiting for 45 minutes (while gnawing on my own arm) before eating breakfast, etc. etc.

                          Now I just fry up an onion, chuck in some tomatoes, wait. wait. wait. throw in the liver (cut into SMALL pieces) and fry for a short while. Then I often add in cous cous (anything to distract the focus on the main ingredient) and eat while hot. Obviously I don’t do this for breakfast. I’m not completely immune to common decency. No. It’s always lunch – and usually two days in a row, to get it over with…

                          My childhood was spent eating liver, the consistency of dried boot, while holding my nose and then ‘sneezing’ it into a tissue. It’s still kind of gross, but when you cook it quick, it doesn’t have that dried grainy texture that it acquires while languishing in your mother’s electric frypan for half an hour circa 1981.

                          So there is my quick, simple solution to low iron levels. I have been experimenting with different things to put with liver to make it more palatable. I have found that butter beans are a good distraction, because they are kind of meaty to start with. But basically, after I’m about three quarters through a bowl of the stuff I just have to jam the rest down my throat with my eyes shut. But hey. It’s doing the job. Oh – and then I crunch down two Vitamin C tablets – they aid iron absorption.

                          Coming down?

                            I spent a bit of time putting together a page about the symptoms of low oestrogen in women who have recently given birth. It really started to annoy me that I had to google and google and google to find any information about it. The problem is that ‘low oestrogen’ is best known as a symptom of menopause – and that’s all I kept coming up with.

                            So, now I’ve given Google a page about low oestrogen in younger women. Hopefully I’ve put in the right keywords. I feel better now that I’ve tried to do something about it. The issue is – it’s so hard to know that your symptoms are a result of low oestrogen – particularly as I had never heard of a link between low oestrogen and post natal depression. Obviously PND other causes as well – people with a family history of depression are more susceptible – things like that.

                            Anyway, the other reason I’ve been thinking about all this is because I ran out of my medication the other night and I have no prescription to get more. Seeing my doctor is such an effort as she is now far away, as well as being more popular than the royal wedding. So I decided to go cold turkey and see what happened. It’s been about five days and I have not morphed into a catatonic not-coping freakshow.

                            I am more tired, my skin is not so happy – but really, it’s not too bad. I think my swimming may be paying off? It took me many laps the other day to do the maths and realise that I’m now clocking up a kilometre every morning. Yay me! The person previously known as the human sloth!

                            Ear buds.

                              This is Friday. This has been A. Hard. Week. M still has mild lingering strains of his cold from a few weeks ago. Small Z spent Wednesday and Thursday with her head tilted like an inquisitive bird – her neck was stuck and painful. We thought she had slept on it at an odd angle, but she has since been commenced on her first ever antibiotics and it seems that it was some kind of infection.

                              Small DB ran a temperature all Tuesday night and Wednesday. Thursday morning I woke up feeling like I’d been dragged on a rope behind a car. Sore joints, thumping head. Do I get sick days? I do not. So I typed. And then took Small Z to the doctor, which took over an hour. And then typed some more. I have sore bumps behind both ears that feel like I’m about to grow another set of backup ears. And I won’t miss them when they’re gone…

                              Thankfully my mother was here to do kid minding or it would have all been way too hard. Small Z’s doctor also looked at me and said I should try and get on top of my lurgy with lots of saltwater gargling, hot drinks and analgesics. I’ve been doing all that. AND I swallowed a clove of garlic. Whole. Peeled first, of course. I have fond thoughts of that clove, somewhere in there, working its anti-bacterial magic…go clove, go!!

                              Today Small Z had farm animals at kinder, and it was our turn to be the parent ‘helper’ for the day. I very much wanted to do it, but had extra work to do, and felt vile – so M went along *whimper* and I will go at the next opportunity. And I won’t take Small DB, as I planned to, but will ask M to take time off the boat to look after her. And that is how I sound when I’m feeling proactive!

                              My extra work is done. Tomorrow morning I see my sublime new osteopath for whom I have left my physiotherapist in the dust. And then we have been invited to an afternoon ‘solstice’ party…in the NEXT STREET! Oh my god! Is this our first locally located social outing? After living here for 18 months? I think it is. How completely refreshing to be able to walk to a social engagement that is also happening at a kid-friendly hour! And there will be mulled wine. So things are getting better. Get thee behind me, week of crud! (Birth of Small Nephew is excluded from crudness – obviously. He was highlight.)

                              Feeling toey

                                In my adult life I have had a preference for the osteopath. They have helped me. I like their approach. Here’s the deal:

                                The osteopathic medical philosophy is defined as the concept of health care that embraces the concept of the unity of the living organism’s structure (anatomy) and function (physiology). These are the four major principles of osteopathy:
                                - The body is a unit. An integrated unit of mind, body, and spirit.
                                - The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms, having the inherent capacity to defend, repair, and remodel itself.
                                - Structure and function are reciprocally inter-related.
                                - Rational therapy is based on consideration of the first three principles.

                                I have had good responses from osteopathy. And if you’re in the Melbourne CBD, the cut price clinic at Victoria University where you are treated by supervised senior students is excellent. However, when my back was at its worse, I realised that my current local surrounds did not include an osteopath. Gaaaaah.

                                And thus, I had to go to a chiropractor. She was awesome, and really helped me. However, while I was pregnant there wasn’t much they could do. No scans, no xrays…

                                After tiring of being told to return for weekly ‘maintenance’ visits, I went to a physio recommended by my GP. She was also awesome. She gave me exercises (the chiropractor would not) and a back support belt that gave me great relief. But… she was too far away.

                                So then I found the guy that I’ve been seeing sporadically since Small DB was born. He’s a physio. And while he taught me quite a few Pilates exercises and impressed upon me the importance of strengthening my core muscles, I kept saying, “My leg is numb. NUMB. I have no left big toe? Will it be this way forever?”

                                He would look introspective. Massage the insanely sore bit of my left butt cheek. Tell me to keep doing my exercises. And kind of evade the question. I told him I thought that my problem was with the piriformis muscle, not the discs in my spine. He poked my sore bit and said “If it was your piriformis muscle, you would have just jumped through the roof.”

                                I still didn’t believe him. And had a CT scan. Three bulging discs! Party time!! This made my physiotherapist look more introspective than ever. I began swimming five days a week and doing back exercises every day. I began being careful and mindful, focusing on prevention. Little changed.

                                Two weeks ago I just could not reconcile myself to the fact that I was going to have no relationship at all with my left big toe – the one I have not felt for a year. I did what I should have done months, and months and MONTHS ago.

                                I went to see an osteopath. He agrees with my piriformis self-diagnosis. He has treated me twice. I can feel my left big toe now. Not totally, but more than I have for over a year. This guy is the business. My first appointment was an hour long. My second one was over 35 minutes and cost less than the physio, who would usually give me twenty.

                                He listened to me. He worked hard on the sore bit of my butt, where I can feel things kind of ‘stick’ when I wiggle my big toe. So hard that there is now a bruise there. But we have results. And I am VERY FUCKING HAPPY about that.

                                It was not until he said to me that he feels that my disc bulges are largely asymptomatic* and that my symptoms were due to my nerve being squashed by the tightness in my bum, that I realised I have had such a blob of worry in the back of my mind (not helped by the files about chronic back pain I have to type each week). Gosh I feel better! I’ve missed my toe!

                                *Many people have disc bulges but have no symptoms. More here. It was one of the first things I read about piriformis syndrome – the symptoms are so similar to a disc bulge that people often have a scan, bulging discs are there, they go on to have surgery, and… their symptoms remain. Because their disc bulges were not the problem. Scary.

                                Five days of respite

                                  Yep. Five days. Five days without snot or fever or horror teething. Amazing while it lasted. Of course (she types bitterly) two days ago, we jumped right back into what appears to be the Smalls favourite vat of Wintery yuckfest when Small Z awoke with iridescent green snot. Obviously feeling left out, Small DB developed a fever later that afternoon.

                                  Is it going to be like this for the next HOWEVER MANY YEARS? Is it because Small Z is of an age where she is actually regularly attending playgroup and kindergarten? Or is it just that their immune systems are both bottom of the range and fall over at the sight of a used up tissue?

                                  For two nights in a row Small DB roamed the bed cheerfully at least every two hours, and on one occasion almost FOR two hours. Last night, thankfully, was slightly better. And I have taken up swimming again after two weeks off the job and my stamina is returning. Which is good, because she’s on sleep strike during the day. I was almost at the end of the line late this morning when my dad and Mgs arrived resplendent in my Humber.

                                  They walked down to the cafe with me and the Smalls and the New Pram of Excitement. They bought us lunch. Small Z had her first ever chocolate milkshake. We played some soccer in the front garden. I made tea. Dad helped me make further adjustments to the dishwasher (which is just one of the things that I am fixated on persevering with at the moment).

                                  Did you know that you can use a spanner on hose clamps, not just a straight edged screwdriver? I didn’t, until today, and got two more full turns out of them and stopped a bit of dripping. The Asko will triumph yet!! We were gifted eggs, home made biscuits and home grown limes and blackberries. And I felt remarkably improved by the time they left.

                                  The other thing I’m fixated on? Oh. Just my boots. MY BOOTS. Yes – I was obsessed with buying boots with my birthday money, and I did. I couldn’t afford the ones I particularly pined for – and they really weren’t that practical for where I’m at: they did up with buckles, and the toe wasn’t the uber-round style that I hanker after.

                                  I got a pair of Jim Barnier boots on eBay – only worn three times. They looked brand new. Sadly, they also felt brand new. Hand made brand new leather boots. In my size, but… Well. It’s my own fault. I was so excited when they arrived that I immediately wore them on a walk down the street.

                                  I returned home, idiotically crippled, with blisters on both heels. This fact alone has been in the way of me ‘wearing them in’. So I have been using double socks. I have shoved potatoes cut to a precise size into them. I have jammed my hairbrush down into the heels. I. WILL. PREVAIL.

                                  …and if I cannot wear them for any reasonable distance after increasingly desperate stretching attempts, I will sell them. I’ll give it two weeks. And I’ll probably make a loss, but it’s my own damn fault. My fixation has been assauged, to be replaced by dead eyed determination and aching feet.

                                  The slog of the slug

                                    I have been slogging my way through the last few weeks. Myself and the Smalls had a lurgy (that I mentioned here) for a week. The week after that M wasn’t well. And the past five days I have been sick again, with a weird and yucky cold.

                                    Aren’t you glad you tuned in to discover what I’d finally decided to post about? More suburban whining. And here’s another lot….

                                    During this time I had a blood test to check my oestrogen levels, and while that was happened I asked the nurse to add iron to the list. Oestrogen wasn’t bad and I have stopped taking extra. Iron? It was lucky I had it added on – my iron stores? Everyone sing together:

                                    THREE is the magic number! THREE is the magic number!

                                    Yes. My iron is stupid low. I was told that I would need an injection/infusion in a month if it didn’t improve. I have thus bought new thug-like iron tablets and this morning breakfasted on liver. Because apparently neither injections or infusions are the height of fun.

                                    It has been hard to figure it all out – is my tiredness normal due to being woken throughout the night (another topic dear to my heart)? Is it due to lowish oestrogen? Is it because I’ve been sick? Or is it all just a result of low iron? Gah. I’m SICK of myself!! Gah to the DOUBLE gah.

                                    I suppose this all occurred when I stopped noshing on liver regularly. OK. Stopped eating it at all ever. And started taking iron tablets recommended to me by a pharmacist. Who obviously didn’t know I was an iron vortex, because my current tablets are about one hundred times stronger than the one I was gaily throwing back every morning.

                                    Guess what, Internet? Tomorrow I’m going to go swimming. For the first time in a m-o-n-t-h. And I have brand new, piercingly unsexy bathers to do my laps in. They are chlorine-proof and assure me they will not become sad transparencies after two months of use. You read it here.

                                    Hip Hooray

                                      She is fine. Small DB has her bones all in the right places. The x-rays were unremarkable in the best possible way. She had been referred to a paediatrician for the ongoing clicking, but pffft! At least her bones are tickety-boo! Can you feel my r-e-l-i-e-f?
                                      She's suddenly started to love books

                                      A much better day today. I SWAM this morning. Holy crap. I pumped up the tyres on our old bike and felt renewed, bicycling to the pool through the morning sunshine, cold air biting my knuckles and baby rabbits running for cover under the hedge.

                                      I’d almost forgotten that I had a new bathing suit. This made a difference as well. Built for lap-swimming, I hadn’t realised how little my previous fashionista suit held all my bits in place! Now I am all business. I have asked this lovely lady, brought to you by Speedo, to model my suit for me…personally I think I rock it better than she does – and there is my triumphantly immodest statement for the year ;)

                                      It was nice to start back again with pumped up tyres and new togs (and no, don’t snicker, this is not in reference to the mammaries above). And I made it through the day without becoming a witch – one of the main reasons for the fitness thing. The day was warm, Small Z’s lurgy is almost over and we had fun.

                                      Eye Eye Sir

                                        Ack. There has been minimal sleep for me tonight. I am not used to having to keep an ear open for Small Z at night. That’s M’s job. So where is M? He is in the caravan [hopefully] sleeping with a patch over one eye. Pirate like. Except that it’s plastic to stop him scratching his eye in his sleep… He has not had an eye issue for several years.

                                        He got home at about 6pm last night and said he’d been sanding upside down on the boat when something went into his eye. Yes, he was wearing safety glasses. But he was upside down… I had a look at his eye. It looked very unhappy. In fact, one bit of of the sort of jelly like stuff that covers your eyeball looked moveable, and not in a good way.

                                        After some umming and aahing and googling, he headed off down to the A&E at Frankston Hospital. He got home sometime after 9pm. I fed him pizza. They hadn’t been able to find anything in his eye, but gave him some anaesthetic drops and he is to see a specialist today…

                                        Unfortunately for M, the drops are only to be applied once every six hours. I put them in for him when he got home, but they’d already started wearing off about 45 minutes later. Not so good. And we have no scotch in the house – so he repaired to the caravan for Night of Pain.

                                        Which is why I have spent chunks of tonight lying in bed listening to see if Small Z has awoken to find M not in the bedroom. He’s been sleeping on the floor and I have been bribing her for three nights to Stay In Her Own Bed. It’s been working well – we are off to buy a new fish in the morning. I think I’ll call it Reward. Hopefully it will get along with our current piscine guest – Big Fat Swimmington.

                                        Eye to Eye

                                          A few weeks ago I took Small Z to the local optometrist. She’s been squishing up her face to read and it was starting to worry us. He examined her eyes and said she should probably have glasses just for reading and that her problem was with the right eye.

                                          He said the situation would right itself with time and the glasses would help her. He then got his assistant to show me their range of kid spectacles – the cheapest frames began at $200. Lenses to go in the frames began at $90.

                                          It seemed a little too slick and easy to me. They stood to make too much money in too little time for me to feel comfortable. Time for a second opinion. I flapped around this morning trying to get the slow cooker underway before leaving for our appointment. Dashed out to the car, got Small Z in there, was about to put Small DB in when I realised that, frankly, she stank.

                                          Raced back inside. Changed her. Stuffed her back in the car. Buckled myself in. Turned the key. The battery was dead. I allowed myself five minutes of deep breathing, inward cursing and outward musing. I called the optometrist and they said if I could make it by around 10am they would fit us in. I called my lovely neighbour, J, in the next street. Yes, she said, I could borrow her car.

                                          I pushed the Smalls in the double pram through rain and hail around the block to her house. Small DB started to scream as I tried to buckle her into the unfamiliar seat (just as she does when I buckle her into her own seat). J raced inside and made her a bottle of milk, and armed with that and some kid-music in the stereo, I drove at a fast clip to Somerville.

                                          The optometrist place was a dream. They were so lovely to us. The optometrist himself saw us almost straightaway. He was older, not very talkative, and appeared very thorough.

                                          Small Z has her eyes tested. With dinosaur.

                                          He concluded that Small Z’s vision is pretty much fine. Her problem is some irritation under her eyelids from some sort of allergen. He said that it would hopefully improve of its own volition and to put a cold compress over her eyes if it was really bothering her. He added that if it got worse or I continued to be worried about it, they would happily lend me some glasses for her to see if they helped, although he doubted that they would.

                                          I was so comforted by this. Small Z was excellent and loves being asked questions about what she was looking at. She was very cute, sitting up in the big chair with her not-so-little dinosaur. I hope that this guy is right. I have a bit more confidence in him as he regularly tests schoolchildren en masse.

                                          I am still tempted to get her checked out by an ophthalmologist. It’s just that her squished up little face as she reads is heartbreaking – it’s getting more frequent. It’s also worse the longer she reads. He said that was common as kids forget to blink when they are immersed in a story and this aggravates the symptoms further. We shall see what transpires… (Yes – that pun was intentional.)


                                            Soon this will be the night I’ll refer to as, “Remember that night when Small DB vomited SIX TIMES?” But right now, having been up since midnight – and it’s now 5am, I am just in the moment. She is a tiny beige creature on a sheepskin rug in front of the heater. The last two times she’s vomited she has barely woken up, and I have to just change the pillowcase underneath her head, hold her as she chokes up what is now just greenish liquid, wipe her mouth and lie her down again.

                                            “My tummy hurts. My tummy hurts,” she told me, over and over the first few times.

                                            Small Z had this three days ago and I thought Small DB had escaped. But their cousin visited today, and the first thing he did was vomit…about four times. So I’m supposing it’s some kind of far-ranging bug – to be both here in Small Z and in him – way on the other side of the city.

                                            I have a furry jacket on, and my slippers. I’m on the couch. Not sleeping, just waiting. I have to stay awake for the next bout. She sleeps still and then begins to move around in discomfort. And we begin again. God knows how the parents of really ill children do it – it’s beyond my comprehension.

                                            She has nothing left in her. She’s very slight to start with – a two year old beanpole. She won’t drink any water and I am grateful that I haven’t paid my mother any heed and am still breastfeeding. She had a good feed…but it all came back up an hour later. The amount of milk surprised me – I don’t see it as it goes from me into her – but could see there was close to a cupful. She won’t have any more now – she won’t have anything. She’s sleeping again.

                                            We have SWWNBB in our second bedroom. Small Z is in the big bed, blissfully unaware that the other half of the mattress is covered in vomit. Mrs H is in the caravan. M is asleep in the boat out the front. It is good to know that there are extra people around here because I don’t think the two hours sleep I’ve had are going to get me through the day. And someone small is going to need a lot of extra TLC.

                                            Feel better Small DB. Eat, drink, find your merry. xxx

                                            Some attention please

                                              “Right, let’s get on with it then,” she began stridently, ignoring the fact that she was typing her blog post into a psych file in order to look diligent. “There are things that need to change.”

                                              Like the fact that I have not consciously exercised or stretched in over three months. Sore shoulder? Tick. Numb foot? Tick? Sore arm? Tick. Muscle tone that resembles overcooked lasagne sheets? TICK.

                                              If I successfully wean my Small DB, hopefully it will rid me of being able to use the I’m-too-tired crutch in relation to my wellbeing. Ain’t no one happy if the mama ain’t happy, and an achey floppy mama ain’t happy.

                                              Luckily, the weather is on my side. Beach time! Sand walking! Keeping the outside edges of my feet straight, the pelvis untucked, tummy not sucked in, right shoulder back and chin down. Not much to remember…riiiiight. Thanks Katy.

                                              How hard is it to carve half an hour, broken up here and there, to devote to looking after my physical self? Not hard. But it IS. I can feel myself coming out of a two month train-wreck that began with the conjunctivitis in September. Crabbing my way along. Neglecting to meal-plan, cobbling together lunches, letting the washing win…again.

                                              I need to create myself a bit of structure, a bit of a frame to hang my weeks on. It’s so easy for me to feel overwhelmed by everything I haven’t done. The photos that languish on my hard-drive…they need to be photobooked/scrapbooked…or just bloody printed out and shoved in a cheaparse album. I’m not even going to mention Christmas.

                                              Now we wait. And see if I walk the talk.

                                              Milk Bar = Closed.

                                                Small DB has not breastfed for a week. She had her two-year-old check up with the health nurse (the good one) the other day. She asked how I was and I confessed to staggeringly sore mega-boobs. She suggested I express as much as I could to alleviate the OW! factor and keep chomping down the sage. I didn’t cry, but I was wet-eyed. This shit is hard. She passed the tissues.

                                                I went home and did as she suggested. Five ounces later, I offered the milk to Small DB, expecting her to pounce upon it like a small and ravenous lion. She was absolutely uninterested. In fact, she requested “the other mama-drink” – kefir. Sigh. There was no way I was going to waste the boobjuice…

                                                Don’t be offended when I tell you that I threw it in a smoothie with some yoghurt, raw egg and honey. It was undetectable – but anyway, in case you don’t know, breastmilk is very sweet. I’m assuming that’s the last time I’ll ever pump, and the last time I’ll ever taste it. I feel a combination of disquiet and ambivalence.

                                                The 5.30am starts continue. I am seriously considering covering all the windows in the bedroom with tinfoil to block out the light that inevitably leaks through the blackout curtains. I’m wondering whether the experiment would be worth the effort…

                                                Going to the bleach

                                                  So this is it. I’ve got through my bleach supplies. There will be no more bleach hitting my scalp after this lot – I do like being a super-blonde (with a possible slight disturbing resemblance to Val Kilmer circa Top Gun…eeeep!) Anyway – until I can afford someone to put in foils or something for me, I’m giving up on slathering my scalp with this stuff – it feels like I’m a secret smoker – it’s poisonous – I doubt it’s doing me any good.

                                                  In about four weeks when I start getting cranky with my skanky roots, I am going to hold myself back and either [shudder] reignite my long lost dark mouse brown… or maybe return to the land of red. But whatever I do, it will be more gentle than slathering on peroxide every six weeks. And I’m just putting it out there so it’s harder to recant.

                                                  Getting oneself in order.

                                                    Almost unconsciously I am getting myself in order. I have begun following up on referrals for scans given to me eight or nine months ago. Not scary scans – just scans for my lower back/leg thing and bone density in relation to longterm breast feeding (low calcium…) The things I have been waiting for my tax return to cover.

                                                    And teeth. I had not been to the dentist for five and a half years. Some people might gasp at that; others won’t think it’s weird at all. M told me that you could go the dentist down the street and just get your teeth cleaned…for a hundred dollars or so. Not inspected with a sharp implement – just cleaned.

                                                    So I did. My appointment was last Saturday morning. I filled out the information form in the waiting room confirming all my personal details. At the end of the form it said; “Are there any other issues you would like to make us aware of in relation to having dental treatment?”

                                                    I wrote, “I don’t like it :(

                                                    When I got into the room and settled back on the chair, the hygienist and the dental nurse told me they loved my comment. They did their best to calm me. I like to think I am pretty good with pain – drugfree childbirth? Done it twice. But the feeling of someone poking about with a noisy instrument in my mouth, unpredictably contacting a sensitive area…does my head in.

                                                    I told them that I had never had my teeth cleaned without having anaesthetic injections. I could almost feel their internalised eyeballing. I tried to convince them of my terror and explained that not only had I endured braces for three years, but I had four teeth pulled out at the age of ten…four health teeth, in preparation for the braces.

                                                    “Trauma,” nodded the nurse, “a lot of people have difficulty…”

                                                    “Just remember to breathe and relax,” said the hygienist, snapping on her gloves with unnecessary vigour.

                                                    I lay like an iron rod with zero respiratory function.

                                                    “Wiggle your toes,” instructed the hygienist, “and breathe!”

                                                    Wiggling my toes was actually helpful. Did you know you’re supposed to wiggle your toes if you really need to urinate – the nerves are the same as those to the bladder, so the wee-urge gets distracted by toe-wiggle…or so a physiotherapist once told me.

                                                    “Raise your hand if you need a break,” she said, as I tried to resist another full body spasm. She wasn’t causing me extreme pain, but I was being poked in places that made me jump. She stopped.

                                                    “You’re doing really well. But – you’re going to have to try and stay still. This thing is sharp and I don’t want to go through your cheek…”

                                                    She started back up and I aimed for semi-comatose. My toes wiggling overtime. Trying to breathe slowly through my nose. Thinking that this really wasn’t much to endure in the scheme of things. Finally she stopped – it had been seventeen minutes and $120. I rinsed and spat, expecting blobs of blood…but the water was clear.

                                                    “I’ve done what I can today, but I’d like to finish the clean. Sometimes you can have holes in between your teeth that you can only see on x-rays. So…go to your doctor and ask for a prescription for some valium, and before you come back next time, take half a tablet – also, do you have an iPod?”

                                                    I nodded.

                                                    “Bring that and listen to something that you like while I do the rest of the clean. OK?”


                                                    I staggered out feeling orally violated. And mentally torn – did she really think I needed to go back, or was that just evil up-selling? I am as suspicious of dentists as I am of real estate agents – they have to all encourage you in order to reap more profit. Grrrr. And valium. Valium? That is just too weird…

                                                    My appointment is not until mid-March. I asked the ladies at my work yesterday about the valium (we work for a medical specialist). “Oh, don’t worry about getting a prescription said S, “I told X that I was nervous when I had to fly to Sydney last week and he said he’d give me something MUCH better than valium… I’ve got one left – you can have it.”

                                                    I am now the proud owner of one 2mg tablet of clonazepam – used for epilepsy and, apparently, anxiety. It is also known as Rivotril or Paxam. I often wonder about the freaky people whose job it is to name medications – there are very few poets among them.

                                                    Time to get milky. Strong and milky.

                                                      Today I had my phone turned off all day. Not that I get a lot of phone calls. But today was a h-a-r-d day. I have a post that is languishing in my drafts folder about the transformative effect of magnesium supplements upon my PMT. Guess who forgot to take them this month? NO. DON’T GUESS! Don’t say ANYTHING. Get away from there!! I’ve TOLD YOU A MILLION TIMES.

                                                      And that was my day. Which began with a call from a medical centre requesting me to come in – I had a scan of my back yesterday and a bone density scan. I had asked them to telephone my results through so I didn’t have to drive half an hour – but apparently I had to be told something in person – although they did preface the request with, “Your GP says DON’T PANIC”

                                                      Gah. So the crapness of my back was re-confirmed – a nerve is squashed which is why my leg is numb. I am SO HAPPY that my leg is numb, because I read so many MRI scan reports similar to my own each week where squashed nerves = soul destroying pain. Long live the numbness. Oh, and I am osteopaenic. Great, huh? Long term breastfeeding, low oesterogen and insufficient calcium intake – ROCK AND ROLL – you’ll find me drinking litres of yoghurt in between swallowing chunks of cheese with Vitamin D tablets as chasers (because without Vitamin D – you don’t absorb your calcium).

                                                      The rest of today was pretty much an intolerant irritated smear of suppressed fury with an island of one hour while M took the Smalls to the pool. When I slept, as there was not much of that last night. Once it hit 4pm I drank two gin and tonics and actually began to feel somewhat functional. Not a stellar day.

                                                      In my basket…

                                                        I have a basket (those supermarket plastic ones) full of pottery that I need to paint. Almost a month ago I had to go through Dandenong and I stopped in at ClayWorks. I was armed with some cash given to me by Mung – the remnants of the Bidston Moss account… I wanted to spend it on Something Important – something that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to get.

                                                        I threw $86 at a mixed pack of liquid colours and also bought a bag of TMK porcelainous stoneware clay. I felt rather happy about that – but have not had a chance to do anything with my colours…maybe tonight?!

                                                        Also – my pottery teacher is in hospital right now. Two days ago she had part of her bowel removed. This was only spotted because she was sent a bowel screening test through the post – part the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. Bowel cancer is only second to lung cancer in claiming lives here in Australia. I have just leaned on my mum to get tested as her age meant she fell out of the free-screening catchment.

                                                        I’m going to have a colonoscopy in just over a week…to get checked out from the inside. Is your bottom clenching in sympathy? I’ve been given the word by a good friend who has one every two years to request the TABLETS and not the powder that you have to have as part of the preparation. Have I mentioned my gastroenterologist appears to be barely 25? I suppose someone has to be…

                                                        READ AND TAKE HEED:

                                                        Based on current trends, 1 in 12 Australians will develop bowel cancer before age 85.

                                                        Both men and women are at risk of developing bowel cancer.

                                                        The risk is greater if you –

                                                        • are aged 50 years and over;

                                                          have had an inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis;

                                                          have previously had special types of polyps, called adenomas in the bowel; or

                                                          have a significant family history of bowel cancer polyps.

                                                      • You are considered to have a significant family history of bowel cancer if a close relative (parent, brother, sister or child) developed bowel cancer at a young age (under 55 years) or if more than one relative on the same side of your family has had bowel cancer.


                                                          When you start talking colonoscopies to people, more and more people seem to have had them. “Don’t get the powders that they make you mix with water!!” warned Mrs H, looking dire. “I found out you can get tablets that are far less disgusting!” They agreed with her at the chemist. “Yes,” the chemist-lady said sadly, “I have to have a colonoscopy on Wednesday, and I’m really sorry that I didn’t put those tablets aside for myself a month or so ago…when they discontinued them.” I paid up for the four sachets of powders.

                                                          Just in case you’re blissfully unaware of the intricacies of preparing for having a camera threaded into your bum, you can now SHARE MY PAIN!! (Pain, I suppose, is overstating it – it’s an inconvenience…and yes, I’m still going to share it.) No food all day. I drank black tea, water and clear chicken broth. It got old.

                                                          At 3pm you take the first sachet of powder mixed in water – it fizzes and whizzes in a not very comforting way. You then have to drink another two glasses of water. Repeat at 4pm. At 5pm you mix up TWO LITRES of water with two sachets of other stuff and have to drink the lot before 8pm.

                                                          Oh the joy of making dinner for the Smalls in-dispersed with me running to the toilet, whereupon I would wee from my bum at the slightest provocation. In the end they were hysterical over their meal. Small DB called out, “Mum, is your bum a sunset? Does it have a DANCING FACE??!” Small Z screamed with evil glee, stood on her chair, and danced her naked bottom at me. Small DB, of course, immediately joined in. “Bum, Bum, BUM, B—-U—-M!!!” they sang, cha-cha-cha-ing wildly.

                                                          “Got to go!” I said, and disappeared back to the throne, sitting dejectedly with the noise of their hilarity following me from the kitchen. The night continued in such a way. M came home and kept asking me, “What do you want for dinner?” and “Gosh, will their ever be an END to it?” Then they all made bets about how many times I’d had to go to the loo…

                                                          I was up with Small DB at 2am because she was ‘hungry’. I did think of screeching “I’ll SHOW YOU HUNGRY!!” but restrained myself. Just. Then no liquids (or food) from 7am. If I had been smart I would have set my alarm for 6.3am and spent thirty minutes drinking copiously. But I forgot.

                                                          In an hour I’m getting on a train. Camera goes up bum at 1.15pm. It’s supposed to take only 15 minutes or so. I bet my colon is super-tall-person long, so it might be even 20 minutes… I am going to suggest that they do it without anaesthetic, as I’ve heard it is not painful, and be ready for them to refuse. For the hour that I then have to sit there recovering I have packed a wonder-bag containing:
                                                          - a thermos of strong tea
                                                          - my favourite sandwich (cheese & tomato with salt & pepper on rye bread)
                                                          - two brownies
                                                          - a container of blackberry yoghurt

                                                          I am slightly obsessed… The thing it, as I type this, I am not particularly hungry. But I am as thirsty as a dehydrated camel. When I get home I’ll be drinking a butt-load (ha!) of water-kefir to pro-biotic my gut (the yoghurt will help that too). Bottoms up!

                                                          The post-anaesthesia picnic

                                                            Oh the vulnerability of knowing you’re about to be anaethetised. They stuck a needle connected to a tube in the back of my hand and about thirty seconds later…it was thirty minutes later. The mask was taken off my face. My undies and trousers were being looped over my ankles. I had no sensation that I’d just been probed by an alien…

                                                            I was aware that although that it had been a very new experience for me, the nurses, surgeons, anaethetists were performing at least fifty or so such procedures a day. I was just another bum in the line-up. A comforting thought. My blood pressure was a bit low, but picked up after I’d had some water…

                                                            As soon as I was comfy in my recliner chair, I asked for my bag. “You need a heavy lifting sticker on this thing,” said the nurse. “What’ve you got in it? A laptop?” “No,” I said, with a kind of numbed-out glee, “My PICNIC!!”

                                                            I sat and ate my brownies, sandwich and yoghurt. Drank my tea and their Milo (I don’t buy Nestle, but am happy to drink other people’s Milo.) Felt very tired. I must have sat there for a 20 minutes or so… M and the Smalls came to get me. It didn’t occur to me until they said to me at the desk you’ll have to have another one in three years that they might have actually found something…

                                                            Two polyps in the transverse colon ‘ablated by hot biopsy forceps’. Jeeeez… So they’re not there now. They’ve been ABLATED!! I imagine them tucked up in a little bag somewhere, waiting to be tested. Good. Have I mentioned that I have no symptoms of anything? This was a purely preventative measure – and now I’m very glad I had it. Weird though. :)

                                                            Be prepared.

                                                              This morning gave me hope for the trip I am going to take, on my own, with the Smalls next week. I do a lot of solo-wrangling, but I’ve never flown with them on my own. I am excited, and while I’m not anxious, I am keen to have it go smoothly…thus I am musing on snacks, activities, books to put on my Kindle and the easiest bags to take (we’re doing carry on only).

                                                              I saw a physiotherapist this morning. For three years I’ve been living here and I didn’t realise I could get access to a council subsidised treatment. WTF?! It costs NINE DOLLARS a session. And she was good. And Scottish – an added bonus ;)

                                                              I asked the Smalls to pack their own bags before we left. Small DB needed some help and last minute additions. She had dressed like a gypsy, and Small Z was a fairy. And that was fine…

                                                              Small Z. Five year old fairy.

                                                              She is delicious…

                                                              Small DB. Gypsy look.

                                                              I was with the physio for easily 40 minutes, and the Smalls played beautifully on the floor. It was one of those situations where the person I was seeing did not have kids of her own, so did not truly appreciate the magical nature of an almost uninterupted appointment. (I had learnt my lesson last week when I dragged them to a dietician appointment that I’d almost forgotten about…with only my phone for amusement.)

                                                              At one point Small Z said, in shocked tones, “Mama! Daisy didn’t put her knickers on. She’s wearing nothing.” I eyerolled and the physio pretended she didn’t hear. They made paper boats and drawings…it gave me confidence about our upcoming journey.

                                                              Oh – and I’ve heard it on the radio twice in the past week…an aching version of ‘Leaving On a Jetplane’ by My Morning Jacket. Check it out – it’s gorgeous…

                                                              We brought some friends back with us from NSW

                                                                Unknowingly. If I ever get around to posting about our trip there you will read it and know that apparently, in northern NSW, nits are in plague proportions. It appears that you just assume your kid has them and comb them relentlessly each week. Small Z was petrified she was going to get them…for good reason. Like an idiot, I reassured her that she would probably not get them…STOP WORRYING.

                                                                We were all ready to go to our weekly meetup yesterday. I was plaiting her hair…when I saw something. Something moving. And my heart sank. Gross, icky little bugs. I contacted L, who knows of such things. I was worried Small Z was going to completely freak out.

                                                                There were tears, but she was comforted that we could go straight to the chemist for STUFF that would KILL THEM. We bought the ‘Lice Blaster’ (not because I really thought it would work, but because I felt I had to buy something that sounded savage (and came with a comb).

                                                                Lice Blaster!

                                                                Naturally I was all all over Choice Magazine and their nit information page – which is very good btw. So. The Smalls then got to have a fabulous time sitting in front of ninety minutes of Dinosaur Train while I detangled Small Z’s acres of hair, covered it in the goop, and then pulled the comb through it. She was stoic, because she wanted them g-o-n-e.

                                                                My big fear is for Small DB. (I can feel J, in NSW, shaking her head at me and laughing at me being overly dramatic. She has never had to try to get water on Small DB’s head.) And here is where I tell it to the Interweb.

                                                                Small DB has never had her hair washed.

                                                                All the people who believe that shampoo is just detergent that strips the oils from your hair and can irritate your skin are standing up and cheering me. It’s just I don’t know any of them. Even L, who went no-poo, I think has returned to the mainstream (?). (Just on a tangent – here is a transcript on dermatology/eczema that has stayed with me, from 1997.)

                                                                Anyway. THe information on Choice seemed to indicate that they like clean heads better than dirty ones. Small DB still has some manky bits of cradle cap and I’m assuming the nits have rejected her. I HOPE the nits have rejected her. Because I would have to sedate her in order to comb goop through her hair and then wash it out. Correction: I would have to cut half her curls off because they’re so tangly – before sedating her, gooping her, combing her and washing it all off. (It does sound as if I’m dealing with a recalcitrant puppy, doesn’t it? I kind of am.)

                                                                Small Z’s head is now cleaner and shinier than it has been in it’s whole life. More combing tomorrow. And repeat, and repeat. This is one of those parental rites-of-passage of which I could have happily remained blissfully ignorant.

                                                                MC Ladyparts. Yo. YOW.

                                                                  There have been several instances in my life where the personal has merged with the hysterical. The Waxing Night of Horror. The time I dyed my hair and my landlord turned off the water before I could wash it out. The several months of unrest when I was unable to adequately restrain my boobs. In a time before the blog, I tried to remove a contact lense with chilli on my fingers and suffered two black eyes when my housemate tried to wax my leg. I could go on. I think I will.

                                                                  All the ladies in the house say MENSTRUAL CUP.

                                                                  M-E-N-S-T-R-U-A-L C-U-P.

                                                                  (The men can say it too, but they just won’t own it in quite the same way.) If you’ve shouted that out but are gently wondering about the mechanics of such a thing, I find Wikipedia quite helpful. Or just think ‘tampon’ and then substitute ‘small silicone cup with no risks of toxic shock syndrome, no bleached cotton and significantly smaller landfill issues’. It fairly trips off the tongue. Those who are offended by the discussion of every day womanly functions, exit now, pussies…

                                                                  The Lunette

                                                                  My cup and I go back to a time before Small DB prowled the Earth, leaving families sleepless in her wake. It does good work, although it involves slightly more coercion than its mouselike counterpart. Of course they’re given slightly more attractive names by astute marketing departments. There’s the Diva Cup, The Keeper, and my personal fave – the Lunette. Besides all the eco-accreditations, you only have to change an MC once every twelve hours or so – BONUS! – particularly when camping/sailing/travelling etc.

                                                                  The Lunette and I generally get along. However, it has taken me two days to realise my latest personal-care malfunction. And to decide to Warn The Interweb. Or the five or so females that peruse this page, only one of which I am aware uses an MC. The other night after the remove/clean/replace routine (see how clinical I can be when I try?) I had SORE BITS. SAVAGELY SORE. And as I do with most things – I put it down to sleep deprivation. As in, “Did I remember to put down the knife before dealing with my MC? Where is that knife now?”

                                                                  I was so sore I considered calling my MC using friend for counselling. And to try and figure out what I had done wrong. Because my bits? MY BITS WERE ON FIRE. Quite honestly, I had no idea what to do. I actually got out a mirror and looked for the thing that might be causing my ladyparts such fury. No knife. Nothing. I restrained from writhing through the house with an ice pack between my legs. But only just. By the morning the issue had disappeared and was thus gone from my head like smoke.

                                                                  It wasn’t until an hour or so ago (two days later) that my brain, working quietly in the background on such problems, made the link. I had cooked dhal. And in cooking it had chopped the bejesus out of a hot green chilli. I had washed my hands very thoroughly, but obviously NOT THOROUGHLY ENOUGH. Let this be a lesson to you, my one MC using reader. This is not a tip for sexifying your staid existence, there was no joy in green chilli-ing my ladyparts. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. Yet another reason to employ a housekeeper/chef/butler…

                                                                  And I’ll give you one more tip for free. When visiting houses where there are those snazzy new water saving toilets…viz…

                                                                  Water Saving Loo

                                                                  Do not have a brainsnap and wash your MC in the sink. BECAUSE THE WATER IN THAT SINK FLOWS THROUGH TO FLUSH THE LOO. Are you getting my drift, Lily-The-Pink? Eating an entire beetroot would be nothing in comparison. So be aware. (In case you’re wondering – I didn’t do it, but it did cross my mind. A few times. Before I realised exactly what would occur.) Over and out

                                                                  Move it.

                                                                    The more I read and learn about alignment and movement, the more aware (or is that paranoid?) I become. I see these people happily vegging through their lives, sitting on their arses 75% of the time, in their sedentary jobs (Hello, Computer) or in front of their ever-increasing televisions…and they are HAPPY. They are blissfully ignorant about the latest research on the craptasticness of SITTING. And good on them – but I have read – and I cannot unread…

                                                                    So I stand at work. Logically, standing all the time is as bad as sitting all the time – but the thing is, when you stand, you are immediately more mobile. It is easier to switch postures, you can sit down for a bit here and there, you’re not kinking your bloodflow.

                                                                    Yeah – I stayed up late last Wednesday night to watch a crazygood game of tennis, and the next day I was t-i-r-e-d, and I felt it. The standing got hard, my back ached a bit, I sat down more often – but I still had some stamina left at the end of the day after travelling home an hour on the train. I felt better for having persevered with the standing.

                                                                    A podcast I was listening to last night had Katy Bowman talking for a good hour about all things alignment. One of the many things that stuck out for me was when she said that we teach our children ‘stillness’ from the time they are born. They are laid down, they are pushed around in prams, put in slings – and as they grow they’re told to ‘sit still’ and spend extended periods of time immobilised on the couch in front of their favourite television shows, and made to sit in classrooms. They are in a culture of learnt stillness.

                                                                    In a hunter gatherer society children are born, held upright for a great deal of the time, and people were moving, moving… There was no comfy couch to lounge on – there was deep squatting and heaps of walking. Obviously some people have bodies that adapt far better to our culture of inactivity. I don’t. I have YEARS behind me of wearing boots with chunky two inch heels, a bit of a bad back, and many desk jobs. Glerg.

                                                                    Now I think about how much I move each day, how much I walk…and it isn’t a lot. I’m disorganised, I run late – it’s easier to take the car to the supermarket – this in turn impacts upon the Smalls – they get driven around from place to place – and that should be the exception, not the rule. Riding bikes is great, so is scootering and swimming – but walking…walking has you carrying the weight of your body unreliant on any additional helpers.

                                                                    That is something that I’d like to work on this year. To increase our movement, do more walking – on different surfaces – sand, grass, dusty bush tracks. To normalise movement…and throw away our couches. (That little scream you just heard? That was M…”Don’t take my couuuuuuuuch….”)

                                                                    Katy Bowman Podcast on Balanced Bites – you can skip to the bits that are kid related…

                                                                    And while we’re on the topic – the Squatty Potty!

                                                                    The infographic to end all infographics….

                                                                     Prolonged Sitting is the Badness

                                                                    Inside out and round about

                                                                      A crazy week. I was anaesthetised, gastroscoped, had an upper abdominal ultrasound and was invited to compete on a quiz show. It all made for a lovely emotional sandwich of apprehensiveness. Happily, the gastroscopy and the ultrasound indicated nothing untoward (I’m yet to get biopsy results – apparently they took tiny bits of me while there were in there).*

                                                                      In amongst all of that (as I spent several days freaking out that neither Small would have particularly distinct memories if I conked out and how much that would suck) I was contacted by QuizMan (the guy who had run the audition) and told to turn up at the studio at SEVEN THIRTY in the MORNING with three different outfits. To compete.

                                                                      I assume the outfits are there way of gently suggesting that there is a possibility that contestants may appear more than once (i.e. could be somewhat successful). I am not guaranteed a spot because someone might go on a winning streak – if this happens, I return next month to blind people with my lack of sporting knowledge and geographical dead ends.

                                                                      I’ve picked my ‘outfits’ – all op-shop fodder, packed my knitting, kindle and iPad and am sorted. It’s a little premature, but I’m not coming home between leaving here for work on Tuesday morning and going to the studio on Thursday morning. I need to buy some dark chocolate – in the hope it will put some zip in my buzzer reaction time!

                                                                      *Health investigations are in relation to slightly odd blood test results, possibly indicating gallstones that the ultrasound showed not to exist, and refluxish bloating. Too much information, I know. SWWNBB is wincing, I can feel it.

                                                                      Goodbye bread, pasta, biscuits, cake – it all appears to have been a mistake.

                                                                        “Go off wheat,” said my doctor this morning. “We’ll wait on gluten until the test results come back.”

                                                                        The biopsy from my gastroscopy indicated possible coeliac disease (anything that is not cancerous gets a big HUZZAH! from me…) but this needs to be confirmed with more blood tests. Had them this morning. They included one to rule out the sinister aspects of elevated ALP levels. (Yes, it does sound, to Australians, like political unrest…in this instance ALP stands for Alkaline Phosphotase levels, not the Australian Labor Party.)

                                                                        I’m hoping that all symptoms and indicators simply point to a body that has finally kicked back against the influx of wheat over forty years. There are a lot of things that correlate – low bone density, increasing bloatiness, low Vitamin D (in the middle of Summer), reflux.

                                                                        Of course coeliac disease is apparently notoriously mis/un-diagnosed. It has such a constellation of symptoms that people seem to be shunted from one diagnosis to another until something more serious happens and SURPRISE! the damage to their insides is a-d-v-a-n-c-e-d and this in turn can lead on to worse things. So I would have preferred all this investigation to have happened three years ago or so, when my ALP levels began appearing elevated in blood tests – but with anaemia and a little baby and breastfeeding to deal with, I was oblivious, and general practitioners are busy people.

                                                                        I have, of course, been doing some reading. I am beginning to suspect that an elimination diet would be a good thing, but on top of gluten-free it is kind of daunting. I can’t yet figure out if rice is OK. Oats (my breakfast staple for a billion years) are not, unless they are special, untainted and expensive? Goodbye porridge. Like almost everything, the information, once you start digging around in it, is kind of overwhelming. Small DB and I made some GF brownies last night and that was a comfort. It feels like I’ve got a bit of a headstart on a few recipes thanks to my GF friends :)

                                                                        Now I wait another ten days or so to see what the tests have to say. If they confirm coeliac disease, this leads on to further ruminating as the Smalls chance of having the same issues are ten percent. If they are unsymptomatic coeliacs, the best thing to do would be to make them live a GF life too – until they are old enough to make their own dietary choices. I’ll stop now…

                                                                        *I just remembered something I left out of the title. B-E-E-R!! It doesn’t send the ripple of horror through me that it once would have. I do still have half a bottle of boutique gin left, after all. And there’s always flourless orange cake… :)

                                                                        And the mojo went where?

                                                                          Time is getting away from me again – the end of February – a perfect time of year to lose one’s early January writing mojo. I have not been finding the time to do much of anything, making or writing. Small DB has not recovered from her week of fever – it really knocked her around. She revived to go to kindergarten twice, but has been dragged down by a horrible cough, a sniffle and very little stamina…

                                                                          Cue regular scream-a-thons and almost incessant fighting between the Smalls. The older one is not 100% either. So we are not getting good sleeps, I’ve had a croaky voice and more 5.30am wake-ups. I”m pretty over it and I’ll be sleeping in the caravan tonight. Anything for a good chunk of rest.

                                                                          I have not seen the inside of the pottery studio in two months, initially because the Nana was away, and then because of kindergarten. Admittedly there was one day when I could have gone, but the temptation just to get all the shopping done on my own and run errands unencumbered was too great.

                                                                          I knew it would be like this, and brought a bag of clay home to do some hand building. Haven’t gone anywhere near it. Sigh… Let me get esoteric and blame it all on Mercury being in retrograde. Glerk…it’s almost over…

                                                                          Hey – guess what!? My very talented cousin had a baby! She’s probably lucky to be living far away up in Brisbane or we would be begging to visit and smell his little newborn smell *swoon* Big congratulations and I am hanging out for the birth story :)


                                                                            Two weeks ago or so I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Belatedly I realised that this is why I have struggled with low iron, osteopaenia and low Vitamin D and low zinc etc etc for so long! Hadn’t got around to posting it here because I was busy living through the various stages…

                                                                            a) Hooray!! I don’t have some weird stomachy oesophageal cancer thing!
                                                                            b) The cure is no gluten! Easy. Hooray!!
                                                                            c) Erm…goodbye sourdough/beer/porridge/HP Sauce/Rye/Malt [sob]
                                                                            d) Am not dying though, so… Hooray!
                                                                            e) Cue: spasm. We make whole house a GF zone. Goodbye toaster*.
                                                                            f) But WTF do we eat for breakfast?
                                                                            g) More spasm. Join Coeliac Society. Never a better dollar spent. Am calmed.
                                                                            h) Conflict as to whether it is OK to have GF children.
                                                                            i) The above conflict is then complexified by the need to have Smalls tested for coeliac disease as they now have (or have always had, but I never knew) a 1/10 chance of having it too
                                                                            j) Decide that having a GF house is a good option as we do eat healthily and the Smalls won’t expire from lack of Weet-Bix or wheat based pasta/bread…

                                                                            However, we will try to give Small Z gluten every day until we have her tested. I honestly can’t see testing Small DB being a success, she would totally freak out if someone tried to extract her blood, so that will have to wait for a while.

                                                                            I think that last time I posted about dietary stuff I had not yet had the formal diagnosis. I saw the gastroenterologist on Monday who agreed with my GP – coeliac. Is it possible to ever see a medical specialist and not be aware that you have about ten allotted minutes with them and then TIMES UP!? It makes me twitchy.

                                                                            I had prepared my question, which was: “So, if the little villi in my small intestine are damaged – exactly HOW much are they damaged?”

                                                                            “Ummmm,” he said. “Well there’s obviously damage, because that’s how we know you have it, but…”

                                                                            “I’ll frame it a different way. How damaged are the villi out of ten?”

                                                                            “About five out of ten.”


                                                                            I wasn’t particularly horrified. It’s a reasonable midpoint. And I’d been reading data that stated people with zero symptoms could have severe damage, so I was OK with 50%. And as long as I do not ingest gluten – EVER – it should repair. It will be interesting to see what has happened over a 12-18 month timespan.

                                                                            In the meantime, the Coeliac Society are just awesome. One of their volunteers spoke to me for a-g-e-s on the phone. She wasn’t diagnosed until she was 52! I found out lots of bits and pieces from her of which I’d been unaware. And she also recommended that the Smalls be tested. Sigh…

                                                                            Ah well. Interesting times. Going to cafes feels slightly fraught – I didn’t know some soy milk has gluten – and that the chocolate they sprinkle on top of coffee often has it too! Meanwhile, M found me a new friend…beer from O’Brien. I thought I just didn’t like beer anymore as it has made me feel gross for about the last four years, but no! It was just the gluten! Who knew?!

                                                                            O'Brien Premium Ale!

                                                                            *Toaster not actually in bin, but sleeping at my office because it will probably be put back into action to gluten-up Small Z

                                                                            I feel like a morning star… Not.

                                                                              This post come

                                                                              The place I have been in is not a good one. My mood has been emulating a roller-coaster. I spent the last two nights camping at Shoreham and awoke this morning at 6.45am in order to get into work. Everything is hard. Small DB is a clingbot, and I probably told her too many times yesterday that I would have left for work when she woke up.

                                                                              She was given ‘Peggy’, a book by Anna Walker, a year or so ago. It’s about a chicken that has an unexpected trip into the city. Since then we have always referred to my work as “going to Peggy” – and last night she woke up at least four times, crying “don’t go to Peggy” and “I want to come to Peggy with you”. I was feeling awful as I snuck out of the caravan at dawn :(

                                                                              I stopped in Balnarring to coffee myself into existence and M texted me to say she was awake, happy and chatting :) So I ditched my plans to drive into work and am now on the train instead. WIth the car I could have left work late tonight and driven home if she was inconsolable, but I think it’ll be fine.

                                                                              I drove myself and Small DB home from Shoreham yesterday morning, crying in the car. Distraught for everything and nothing. *eyeroll* I forgot that Small DB had not finished her breakfast – she then threw the world’s hugest tantrum, and when I remembered her lack of sustenance it took ages to make her toast in the stupid griller and as I waited, she screamed and screamed and emptied a sewing box all over the little bedroom. Eating improved us both. Small DB made us a salad for lunch, consisting of cucumber, tomato, capsicum, walnuts and ice-cubes, and things started to get better.

                                                                              Lunch made by DB

                                                                              I tire of my own self. I am deluged by bills and expenses over the past six weeks. I am supposed to be appreciative of life, love and good health, but instead have yoyo mood. The camping thing was great for the Smalls and M, but me not so much. Too hot, too dusty and I was going to say that M and I are incompatible caravanners – but that’s not true. It is just that I am currently in a crazy state and am something of a hand-grenade. I have another health theory that says being coeliac does not tidily wrap up my problem.

                                                                              If I was was a bit more my normal self I would have been able to kick back a bit more. I lay there last night wondering if I could paint the interior of the caravan in one day – it would mean unscrewing all the hinges off the cupboards, painting all the cupboard doors, all the surrounds and using a roller to do the ceiling/walls. If I unscrewed the hinges the night before, it might be doable. I think we painted the interior five years ago. The floor (originally done by M in the Bunning’s carpark on the way to Maldon Folk Festival in 2009) needs redoing as well. I have rethought my paint decisions from last time and want NO flat paint – all semi-gloss satin for WIPING DOWN. Has this sent you to sleep? It worked for me last night ;)

                                                                              [NOTE: This post has been brought to you by my own company, Self Indulgent Online Therapy Via Writing.]

                                                                              Fever when you hold me tight

                                                                                It has been a hard MONTH. That’s right – I think Small DB has been under the weather that long. Functioning, enjoying herself, but not firing on all six (like a Humber) cylinders. A month ago (or maybe even longer) she had a fever for a week. After a really difficult day on Sunday, the fever returned. I have never felt a kid hotter than she was :(

                                                                                She refused to let us take her temperature with the ear thermometer, but M managed to get one under her armpit long enough for it to register 39 degrees. She was burning up. She wouldn’t take medicine and I had to syringe it into her mouth while she was screaming. She spat it all back at me, somewhat deservedly. The fever eventually broke at about 11pm.

                                                                                In the morning she was close to being her normal self. We had (compared to the domestic carnage of the day before) an almost blissful day at home. There were DIY salads, clay modelling, gardening…

                                                                                Lunching on the porch with their DIY salads
                                                                                365/69 • gave the 6yo a lump of clay and left her to it • #2014_ig_069 #6yo #creatures Thought you might like this @tinkerlab
                                                                                The Sylvanian's Haute Couture Collection: Autumn 2014

                                                                                Small Z had suggested that she could sleep in her own room. This was something we tried to implement (at the urging of the outside world) when her sister was born. Like that was going to work [sardonic snort].

                                                                                However, this time it was her suggestion, after looking at my exhausted will-I-ever-sleep-again face. While she was busy with something I tidied up her room (it’s actually more my study) and set her up a little bedside table. I pulled out a set of small drawers and a bedside lamp.

                                                                                To some kids, a mattress on the floor with a vintage suitcase for a bedside table in a room full of your mother’s sewing and books and paper would be totally slumming it. But we have raised Smalls with low standards. She was so thrilled :) She said, “I am going to have some time on my own in my own space.” She folded her blanket down, and then made a little bed for Z-Mow and folded her blanket down as well.

                                                                                A room of one's own...

                                                                                My exhaustment has meant my getting-her-to-bed-early action plan has been wavering, and she read until TEN THIRTY. This will change. But last night all bets were off. She was loving her own, tidy, cosy little nook and lay there reading Pippi Longstocking like she was the happiest kid in the world. Which she kind of was.

                                                                                And at 2am when Small DB woke me up, burning with another fever, I was so glad that Small Z was sleeping in her own space, undisturbed by me getting nappies on, providing drinks, pleading (to no avail) for her to take some medicine – and then lying there listening to the poor smallest one bleating pitifully, “I’m too hot. I’m too hot. I’m too hot.” For two hours…

                                                                                I dragged myself to work today like a zombie. Fingers crossed that she shakes this thing.

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