Whether I’m standing on the front verandah of our little cottage at Wombat Hill, or looking back at these photos, I am simultaneously thrilled that this is about to become our permanent home, amazed that we’ve managed to land us something so beautiful, and full of gratitude that we’re in a position to take advantage of all the loveliness that lays before us.
In just 3 weeks I will have finished my grad year. In 4 weeks the removalists will have collected all of our belongings here in Melbourne and we will all be living on our little farm. In 5 weeks the removalists will have delivered all of our belongings (and we’ll probably still be trying to squeeze it all into the shed) and we will be truly at home.
But oh my, this has been a huge year. Huge.
We spent the first half of the year in the throes of finding and buying this lovely property. There were literally thousands of kilometres driven, many hours spent traipsing up and down hills, false starts involving ridiculous planning legislation, hours juggling finances, and weeks wondering whether we could ever pull this off – when they say buying a home is one of life’s great stressors, man they were right!
Of course, things have only hotted up since the contract was signed, sealed and delivered and for the last five months we’ve been living amidst the chaos of moving, with boxes stacked everywhere, mess that I could never usually tolerate, and no sense of routine or down time. We are so done with it and just want to be there!
During this upheaval, Julian and I have nurtured and encouraged our child through the end of his formal schooling, all the while supporting and loving him through the first stages of his transition. Our steepest parenting experience yet.
Then, halfway through the year, my beloved Grandad died amidst horrible and ongoing extended family unpleasantness. And at the end of his funeral (a dreadful affair) I literally had a young motorcyclist (who was racing a mate through a red light) hit by a 4WD and land on the road in front of me – his femur snapped in half and sticking out through his horrifically injured leg. There I crouched, on the phone to the paramedics, terrified this young man’s femoral artery would begin to bleed, and crazily thinking, “oh my god! I’ve only got a dress on! (the postmaster’s granddaughter’s dress) I’m going to have to pull it off and use it to staunch the blood flow and I’ll be standing here on Lutwyche Road in my knickers and bra!” – thankfully that didn’t happen, the ambulance arrived very quickly and the young man survived.
And then, of course, there is the whole “Grad Year” experience, where I’ve spent the vast majority of my time pushed totally out of my comfort zone (and the habits of a 17 year veteran of stay at home mummying), expected to behave with confidence, compassion and competence, whilst balancing on the lip of a very steep learning curve.
I’ve had a patient die whilst cradled against my body. I’ve had several others come very close – let me tell you how long that adrenaline takes to leave your body! I’ve had shifts where it is so confronting I’ve literally wanted to lay on the floor and wail “I can’t do this!!!!!” And others where I have had to say to the nurse in charge “This patient is just beyond my skills and experience.” And there have been many crazy, chaotic shifts in Emergency where I get by by practising my best Dory impression “Just keep swimming/smiling/nursing/writing/observing/comforting/caring … “
Then, yesterday morning, as I was preparing for a long shift in RITZ (that’s where the patients come after they’ve been triaged), I was very aware that my chest felt funny. Not asthma funny (44 years experience with that one). Not anxiety funny (something I thankfully seem to have had under control for the last few years). A different funny – like every few moments there was a pigeon fluttering in my chest trying to get out, followed by a heavy-feeling thump.
Now I had noticed this, on and off, the day before when I was at work and thought I was just tired. But yesterday morning, it started the moment I got up and just kept happening. So, at my mum’s demand, I got ready for work quickly and headed in early, thinking I would just mention it to one of the senior staff to see if they thought it needed looking at.
See, when you work in Emergency you see a lot of people who aren’t dreadfully sick – they’re a little bit off, worried, unsure of what to do, and need to know that it’s all okay and they’ll be fine. I’m cool with that but I didn’t want to be one of those people.
However, when I arrived at work, it was chaos. So I just popped my stethoscope around my neck and got working whilst that pigeon fluttered away.
Eventually my nursing educator arrived and innocently asked how I was. I almost cried and whispered “Actually, I’ve got a really weird feeling in my chest.”
The next thing, I was triaged, in the white patient gown, on the trolley, cardiac monitor hooked up, with bloods being taken. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so awkward in my life as junior doctors waved and smiled to me from the desk, orderlies made kind jokes about me being today’s “mystery shopper”, and my nursing colleagues popped in and out of my cubicle to give me a hug, see how I was doing, and watch the monitor.
Turns out I was having premature atrial contractions – little “ectopics” that were randomly firing off every now and then. They were the flutter. Then because they are pretty useless, the next proper contraction had more blood behind it which created the “thump”. My colleagues watched the monitor and would say “Oh did you feel that one! I saw it!” “Yep,” I’d answer. Surreal.
My bloods were perfect. My blood pressure remained a rock solid 117/60 (thereabouts) for 3 hours. The consultant checked me out, gave me the thumbs up, and deemed it best if I went home and rested for the rest of this day and the next. I’m not at any risk of anything awful happening. It may never happen again or it may be something I experience on and off for the rest of my life. Premature atrial contractions are the most common cardiac arrythmias and they don’t need treatment unless they become symptomatic (i.e. shortness of breath, dizzyness, or coming in a regular pattern)
These things just happen sometimes – more common in women then men, and common for women experiencing menopause.
Wow! Isn’t menopause the gift that just keeps on giving. I can add trapped pigeons fluttering to the floods of blood I have during my really frequent periods!
So here I am at home. Amidst the appalling mess. I haven’t vacuumed for a fortnight so there’s Fu fluff everywhere (she’s having her summer moult). Do you know, I haven’t even cleaned the shower floor for over a month. I no longer have ANY domestic aspirations for this house. I just want to get out.
Oh and it’s tipped to hit 42 degrees today. Yay Climate Change! Nothing like a mess to make me feel ten times hotter.
There is still so much to pack. There are Christmas presents to finish, buy and wrap. Remember – there’s only 3 weeks and 2 days until those removalists arrive. And I still have two blocks of night shift, one block of days, and a quality project to get through at work. And Christmas to celebrate.
But I also have this beauty above to look forward to. Is it any wonder my heart is all a flutter :-)