I had surgery in April. On Wednesday I went back to my surgeon to find out why I’m still in pain in late June. While I’m grateful that it’s nothing sinister, I’ve learnt that doctors who are skilled at operations aren’t always the best communicators. Maybe they could learn these kinds of skills at University.
Dear medical schools what teach mere mortals to become doctor gurus:
Is there a class in communication, bedside manner, and answering patient questions without attitude during the long years of a medical degree? Is there one lesson about asking your patient what they actually do at work? Is there a sentence in any of the science books about mentioning to your patient that their surgery and what a doctor has prescribed may affect their ability to carry out their job or basic tasks like not passing out behind the wheel?
I have low blood pressure. It’s a hereditary condition, my grandpa had it, my mum has it and I’ve been asked numerous times by medical people if I’m a marathon runner (not a humble brag, well maybe a bit) because my blood pressure is so low. Perhaps telling me that the local anaesthetic cream I’ve been using BEFORE work (to get through work without scratching my bum incessantly) will lower my bloody pressure to the point that I may faint and get headaches; would have been helpful before I drove for over an hour, worked in emergency beside stressed families and tried to be cheerful. Telling me only to use it before bed would have assisted me to get through April and May lying down. By mid June not so much.
I have developed newfound respect for people who live with chronic pain and life changing health issues. I don’t think I’m mentally strong enough to deal with a medical condition for years. When I’m a patient, I can feel weak, vulnerable and anxious; so I forget to ask vital questions, like what are the side effects of my medication, and whether I should be worried, and can I wash my pills down with gin and tonic. Yes I can be neurotic and babble on at length (that’s also hereditary), but no one would be harmed by a few well-timed reassuring words from my surgeon. I’ve forgotten how to play the three chords I used to know on my ukulele for years, so how about you ask me if you need to repeat anything?
How about medical schools teach doctors not to rush patients out the door? Doctor I’m paying for your time so how about you give me a teensy bit of it? I was only asking for a few more minutes to answer a few pressing concerns. Like why is my wound healing so slowly and can I use champagne to stop the muscle spasms and why can’t I find a hunk to give me a free daily massage with oil?
I don’t want to leave my physician’s office with a list of unanswered questions that pop into my scatter brain at 3am, I need to save head space for remembering the real names of dead celebrities. Doctors can you please use a checklist for idiots like me? It may help your receptionist/gatekeeper later because she (99% of the time they’re female) won’t be asked silly questions and you may also become a deity worshipped by your patients.
Thank your for your time. One question for you: Are you practising to be a doctor or has your real recital started?
There comes a weekend in every mother’s life when we have to put on bad music, trample on the walk on wardrobe AKA floor-drobe, cough our way through crusty bits of rubbish and throw out the last remaining bits and bobs of our offsprings’ childhood. That weekend has come for me. There will be no more Hello Kitty pencils, no more craft that comes home saying I luv u mummmy and no more genuine joy at seeing me at the school gate.
I am emptying the unfinished projects into the bin and opening old One Direction pencil cases and finding handwritten notes from their friends. These painstakingly produced jottings were all written at the age when my kids were discovering the magic of writing a heartfelt letter to a beautiful new friend:
Dear Senny, I thik youre really specil and I reallly lik your shoos. I had funn wen we went to the pak and i now we wil be freinds forever. lov you
I’ve been a single mum for 10 years, so there are many jobs in my house that are being tackled well past their use by date. Despite our multiple moves, some special stuff was placed in boxes and carted from new address to new address. The perfectly unused birthday present textas from the seven-year old’s best friend in the hole world that were saved in the back of the cupboard for special occasions have been dug out, the lolly wrappers that she didn’t want mummy to see, beside the half-dressed dolls with real nail polish on their hands. I put together a box of nostalgia, thinking that my last teenager would be remotely interested in the lost cuteness and innocence of her childhood. She came home from a day out at the hideous local shopping trauma centre and said,
“That’s my stuff, what are you doing?”
“We need to chuck out.”
“No, I’m too busy.”
A few short weeks ago she sobbed because the Easter Bunny hadn’t left her an elaborate trail of eggs in our shared yard on Easter Sunday. But now she’s watching make up tutorials on how to copy the subtle facial contouring of the Kardashians on Youtube. She actually wants to look like a Jenner. I’ve failed as a mother. What the hell will I keep from this phase?
As I prepare to be disappointed by New Year’s Eve celebrations and charge my teen’s phone so I can nag her home at some ungodly hour, I say good riddance to 2017. What a bastard of a year.
There were many lowlights of the numpty kind:
Nivea white purity ad campaign
Orange moron in the White House
Potato Dutton spending billions on locking asylum seekers up on Manus & Nauru
Text messages auto-correcting to duck
Abetz, Bernardi, Blot, Abbott, Kenny, Not Devine, Credlin
Ads featuring Kendall Jenner
Chicken flavoured prosecco
Fine artists Mary Tyler Moore, Sam Shepard, Malcolm Young, David Cassidy, Chuck Berry, John Hurt and Tom Petty left our world
More white male shooters became killers in the US
Too many beautiful souls died of brain cancer
But there were also many heroes of 2017:
Larissa Waters breast fed her baby in parliament
Victorians elected the first-ever female indigenous MP, Lidia Thorpe
Kon from the ASRC
Mums 4 Refugees
A people-powered movement stopped Adani’s $1Billion loan
Same Sex marriage finally became law
War on Waste campaign
Women’s Marches across the world
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse ended; brave souls who’ve endured so much can hopefully begin to heal and churches will be forced to offer compensation
Lee Lin Chin
I graduated from primary school after 15 years
Weinstein and other predators were named and shamed
Political leaders of the resistance
2018 is the year of the Earth Dog. According to Chinese astrologers, dogs sniff out the truth, corruption is exposed and the underdog is championed. Happy joyous New Year, may the dogs of 2018 pee on the legs of mansplainers, bring us a break from the political insanity, and bless us with more women in power, especially needed by those of us with a vagina.
Last Sunday I posted a picture of me wearing a T-shirt with the words
REAL MEN PAY CHILD SUPPORT
emblazoned across it. There was a big reaction. Some men reacted with the predictable ‘not all men,’ and one friend responded like this,
Nothing but a walking sperm donor, he doesn’t get to be honoured with the title of DAD. I have nothing but respect and awe for the strength and perseverance you’ve shown in being both mum and DAD. Too bad some other men are so fragile as to think you are talking about them.
Another response was,
When men who don’t pay child support are shamed, they tend to retreat from discussion and challenge on the subject. They go into a defensive stance that blocks out even mild inquiry about their responsibilities, let alone an outright attack on their claim to manhood.
Which made one poster so mad, they said,
Why don’t the good men encourage these men to man up to responsibilities?
Can men can hold other men to a set of values? The ‘men’ I know who dodge paying for their kids have no values and feel no shame, they’re not capable of it. And their families don’t hold them to account. They come from a long line of men who avoid responsibility and any kind of admission that their behaviour needs to change.
When a woman lives in constant financial stress, lying awake night after night wondering how she’s going to get by, worrying if the electricity is going to be disconnected, knowing she will send her children to school with sniffles because she doesn’t get paid if she takes a day off work, her kids suffer. The children become stressed because their mother is not present. She’s not focused on her kids, she’s too worried about how she’s going to pay the rent and when she’s going to get a good night’s sleep.
What annoys me most is the people who aid them. How does a ‘man’ go from earning $120K per year then within a week have a taxable income of $28K? How does a ‘man’ declare a taxable income of $19K a year when his rent and bills total more than $30K? How do these liars sleep at night?
I understand not respecting or trusting your ex, but making your children suffer? I don’t get it.
On Friday I posted a picture on Facebook of me wearing a T-shirt saying ‘Single Mothers Rock’ with my daughter at her school Father’s Day morning tea, with the caption:
What do you wear to the school Father’s Day breakfast when the father does a no-show? My favourite T-shirt #subtle #singlemothersrock
I hadn’t woken up that morning thinking I’d make a statement with my outfit, but when 350 people liked the photo it made me think about how we bring up kids in 2016. Lucky I didn’t wear this T-shirt
My girl was in tears when her father wasn’t there like her friends’ dads; really how hard is it to schedule your work diary and show up to primary school for an hour for Father’s Day? And that is the easy part of parenting. Not going to the mother or father’s day breakfast at school is a missed opportunity for extra helpings of love from your kid. It is sad for her, but very predictable for me, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I’m disappointed for her because I had a very committed dad, so I know what it feels like to be showered with love from your papa.
There were other single mums there, even a few grandparents, luckily our school puts the invitation out to anyone who is a special person in each child’s life. It’s hard for the kids who don’t have two parents. Then I heard about a woman banned from attending Father’s Day celebrations at her son’s school because she was the wrong gender. The father of the child lives overseas. Why can’t they include that mum as a VIP guest? In the 21st century maybe it’s time to get rid of the gender specific events at schools.
Today I’m going to the footy with a devoted dad to celebrate his special day because I think it’s important to say thank you and well done to our loved ones. So Happy, Happy Father’s Day to all the beautiful dads, including those like my wonderful papa Jack Pollard who are fathering from the skies. I know he’s watching over my beautiful girls and I was blessed to have a dad like him.
Dear 11-year-old child,
I know you’re really busy saving the world by watching people playing Minecraft on Youtube all day, but I’d like to ask a favour. Could you please catch and keep the following Pokemon people/creature/alien/thingies/whateverthehelltheyare?
Cleandyourbedroom a saurus
Oddishwasher won’t empty itself
Clefairy liquid over the sink and wash the dishes
Remove the Vileplume from your sister’s walk on floor-drobe
Meowth and change the kitty litter while you’re at it
Machop up some veggies for dinner
Rapidash to the bathroom to hang up your sisters’ wet towels
Slowpoke the dunny brush around the toilet
Weedle your way out of whinging about housework no more
Thank you great light of my life
This year I’m starting to feel older. There are signs. Plastic surgeons are now following me on Instagram, looking for business. One day I went to work wearing no make up and three people asked me if I was unwell. My youngest child has also been helpful while looking at family photo albums.
“Look at that photo mummy, you have no crinkles.” Thanks for the reminder about my ageing face honey, I think you caused some of those crinkles.
One night a few months ago she was ill, and I held her over the bath to catch her vomit. When she stopped I swung around to wipe her feverish head and a strange woman stared at me from the mirror; a grumpy, frowning, middle-aged harridan holding a sickly-looking kid. Oh God, it was me. I’m sure I’m still 15 years old checking for pimples, how did the old bag take over my body? Do I exorcise her with Botox and skin peels? Some days I long to be young and dumb and pretty.
My lack of fashion sense doesn’t help. Mostly I am a slovenly mother, which is unfashionable in the current air brushed social media perfection climate. My winter look has been Patty and Selma flannelette pyjamas, stained t-shirts and no bra. I should make more effort with my appearance, my look is either dragged through a bush backwards hair or trying to put on as much make up as a drag queen. But I don’t want to be 49 years old and still dressing to impress a male, which is strange for a woman whose shelves are filled with feminist literature.
I do hope I’ll grow wisdom by the time I’m 50, because I am at an age where it is easy not to give a rats any more. My skin is dry and my arse is sliding down the back of my thighs. I wish I had the energy to care. I may be stating the obvious for those of you in your 50s and 60s but losing our youthful shimmer is challenging.
Some mornings my youngest stares at me then looks in the mirror.
“I want hair like mummy monster,” she says. I look at her, at my mangy head in the mirror, then at her again. Is she taking the piss? Having children is exhausting but my kids have also made me a better person. Youngest has improved my wardrobe. We went into a op shop last week and she said, “This is a nice cougar dress for you mummy.”