Mothers Day

I am extremely proud of my children who have grown up to be outstanding, respectful, resilient and successful adults.  I think that Paul and I must have done something right in raising them.

When Paul and I came together, we became an instant family and I became step mum to two boys who were reasonably young at the time.  After our marriage we started our own family and had another son and then two years later, our long awaited daughter.

Our little family was complete and happy no matter what was thrown at us, we were an awesome dynamic unit.

As the years have gone by, I am very happy that all the kids have come together and become close over the years, backing and supporting each other no matter what.  They know that they can call upon each other if they need anything and they often do.

As a single mum now, I am fortunate that both my children are adults although they both still live at home.

During Paul’s illness all of the kids were amazing and supportive especially Sarah our daughter who was my rock when we were at our lowest and darkest moments.

I am blessed that I have an open and honest relationship with all the kids and we have some great conversations and they can ask me anything.  We are still a close and tight family unit as family was extremely important to Paul and that still remains intact.

For me I am one lucky mum who has four beautiful kids and one step grandson.  Paul’s legacy continues in all the kids; his love of photography through Matthew, his passion for cars and racing through Garry, his love of wheeling and dealing through Brendan, and his passion for mentoring and teaching through Sarah.  And most of all his positive outlook and passion for life through me.

I am truly blessed and proud to be called mum.

When your number is up

My Husband Paul was diagnosed terminally ill with a rare aggressive melanoma with months to live in January 2016.

So how does someone fit and healthy end up terminally ill at 60 years of age?

The answer is I don’t know.  Who knows when there number is up?  We wander through life not thinking anything major will happen to us and then bang, your life is turned upside down. What you thought was a normal life can change within a matter of seconds.

We don’t go through life thinking when we will get sick or have cancer or even die.  We are too busy living, raising families, working to even think the worst.

And even when you know you are terminal and going through the journey you still have a false sense of security until the very end.  You often wish for hope thinking that there will be a cure or you will live on, survive but is not the case.

When it is time to go, then it’s time.

Death is final.

True to self

Are you true to yourself?

You are the most important person in your life.  Did you know that?

Many people put others first and not themselves. And before you say it’s being selfish, it is far from the meaning of selfishness.

One of the main lessons taught in Occupational Health & Safety courses is to look after yourself first and keep out of danger before assisting others.  So if we are advised this in Occupation Health & Safety training, why don’t we do this in our everyday lives?

Who is looking out for you?

I am the only one who can look after my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being.

If I put me first and love and respect myself then I am able to give 100% to others as I value myself as a true being.

Do you want to know how to get to know yourself?  It’s easy.

All you need is to spend some time for self.  It could be quietly sitting down having that well-earned break by yourself.  Having a long walk in nature or just day dreaming. I am sure you all have fantastic ideas as how to spend time out for you.

It’s not difficult, the only difficulty is making the time for self.

Once you are in that quiet space, listen for the ideas or inspiration which could come in thought form or you might just hear a song that resonates with you.  No matter how you receive information the one thing I know is that you will be more informed of who you are as a person.

The right one

How do we know when we have met the right person?

For me when I met Paul it was instant attraction.  Over the years as our love grew we became closer to the point that we became one.

We were very good mates, friends from the beginning and just continued to grow from there.

I felt at ease and could tell him anything and everything and we talked to each other to all hours, night and day.  The connection between the two of us was electric and we couldn’t get any closer, Paul was my soul mate.

Over the years we found strength, tenderness and compassion in equal measures more recently, deepening our admiration and respect for each other.

Some inside thoughts are:

When you find the right partner / soul mate hold on and enjoy the ride

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Tell each other you love them every day

Spend quality time together date night each week

The Aftermath

Do we really loose someone when they die?  I have thought about this question for some time and don’t believe so.  We are all energy and although my late husband Paul is not physically here in body, he still remains in my heart and memories, we are still connected.

Is there really life after death? I believe there is, considering I still talk to Paul and he communicates back, there must be something.

Can people who die communicate with the living?  I continue to talk to Paul, he still communicates with me through thoughts, feelings, smells and the signs of the mini cars that I see.  He also communicates through music.  I often hear our song “unchained melody” and “have I told you lately”.

I often hear the doorbell ring and go to open the door and no one is there.

So there must be something.  I believe and know there is.

Roller coaster Ride

Who else has experienced lately the ups and downs of life that I call the roller coaster ride of life?

Let’s face it, we all have experienced this.  One day happy and the next sad or something in between.

Sometimes the roller coaster can be easy flowing and other times can be very scary.

It’s how we react and respond to the situation that will determine how we ride the roller coaster.

For me I live in the moment and hold on and see where it takes me.  If I feel sad, then it’s okay for me to be sad and if I am happy then fantastic.  And if I feel something in between, then that is okay as well.

Life was never meant to be easy and can really suck at times, but that is okay too.

Promises

Have you ever been asked to keep a promise?

Have you asked someone else to keep a promise?

If you have, did you keep that promise?

Some promises may be difficult to keep considering the circumstances and may change over time.  It may also depend on what is asked and if it is achievable or not.

Asking someone to keep a promise is very personal.

When asking someone to promise something, be mindful of what you are asking and if that person will take on the request.

Paul asked all his children and I to keep a promise and that was to care and look out for each other.  This is a promise that is achievable and accepted with love.

What will be your request when the time comes?

Paul’s words of wisdom

We were fortunate enough to film Paul before his untimely death and he offered some words of wisdom about life.

He was asked was there any words of wisdom.  Paul’s response was, well you got to live life to the fullest and be caring.  Sometimes it is better off to bite your tongue and count to 10 and breathe before diving in and having an argument.  Don’t have to argue but compromise and care about what the other person wants.  Think what you are going to say before you say it. Take a step backwards and think about it rather than having a blue over the issue.

He was asked if he had enjoyed his life so far.  Paul’s response was that he was lucky, he had a good family and Michelle (wife) was an excellent part of his life & was spectacular.

He was asked about any highlights.  Paul responded by saying that having his kids and when they were born and arrived healthy.  Getting to marry Michelle (wife) and having a relationship is spectacular and was lucky as a lot of people don’t get to experience a relationship like that.

He was asked if he would change anything.  Paul responded by saying, that there is always something that you would change but only some of the massive disasters, but in some way if you didn’t end up in that disaster you wouldn’t have experienced certain things in which perhaps you had to go through in life.

Paul was very wise and brave

Caring for someone you love who is terminally ill

We were fortunate to have the services of Mercy Palliative care when Paul was diagnosed terminal with months to live.  Towards the end, they were brilliant and a great support to me especially when he passed away.  After Paul’s death they provided the family grief counselling for those that wanted it.

Here are some excerpts from my book Conversations with Paul on our experience with Palliative Care and me caring for Paul

When Paul came home from hospital for the last time with the diagnosis that he had months to live, our lives changed and we had to adapt our house to cater for a disabled person.

Paul adapted to being in the wheelchair permanently and we contacted palliative care as instructed by Peter MacCallum. Paul had organised to have them come over to see what the next step was. Paul said he would never get those three hours back and it was a waste of time. Little did he know that there services would be required within six weeks of that first encounter.

We had to rethink and plan the way Paul travelled around the house, having support bars installed in the toilet and the shower. We also removed the toilet door in our ensuite so that he could wheel his wheelchair into the toilet.

Peter MacCallum also leant us a commode to use in the short term for Paul, which helped when he was going to the toilet and also transferring in and out of the shower. The process was to move him from the bed onto the commode, and then into the toilet, then the shower; after that it was from the shower back onto the commode and then, once dressed, a transfer into the wheelchair. This process took time and worked well for a few months. Paul then did what he would normally do and searched on eBay for a commode to buy. We found a similar commode to what we had from the hospital and went out to Blackburn to collect it.

As Sunshine’s rehabilitation facilities couldn’t help us anymore, we were then referred to the local community health Centre and their occupational therapists. So three therapists turned up at our doorstep one day and proceeded to chat with us for a few hours. They recommended a hospital bed; Paul was very adamant that he did not want one, and was definitely not interested in the air mattress that was also on offer.  He’d had enough of hospital beds and air mattresses over the past twelve months; all he wanted to do was stay in his own bed. Again both Paul and I looked at each other, rolled our eyes and said we would never get those hours back. It was exhausting and frustrating. Paul and I had worked together for so long and had our routine and ways we managed his disability, so that anyone from outside who came in with other ideas had little to contribute. We would always revert back to our process, as it was simple and easier.

By April and Paul had started deteriorating over the past few weeks, started spending more time in bed and sleeping more. It was now just a matter of time and we hoped he didn’t have to suffer much more pain. The palliative nurse was coming over twice a week and we had a nurse showering him once a week. Paul eventually succumbed to the air mattress purely because of the bed sores that were appearing on his backside and my concern that they were spreading to his hips.

Paul by now needed assistance with everything except feeding. He would have a shower each day depending on his energy, and we would transfer him out of bed via the sally board and onto the commode. I would then wheel him into our ensuite and back the commode up against the wall beside the shower, helping him onto the shower chair. It was a huge process that took time and energy from us both. Paul would use the wall-mounted rails to help him slide across to the middle of the chair. Sometimes I would physically jump into the shower to help glide him across. After his shower, I would give him a towel to dry off and then slide him back to the edge of the shower bench and back onto the commode. Once back on the commode I would dry the rest of him off, apply Sudocrem to his backside and then help him dress. Early this was an easy task for him, but towards the end he couldn’t support himself and I had to do the majority of the work.

I would then get his pads and put them on, and then his shorts and t-shirt. This was his standard dress these days: black shorts and black t-shirt. We had at least ten pairs of each as he could go through two or three pairs in one day, so I was forever washing.

The palliative care nurse was visiting on our wedding anniversary and noticed that Paul’s intake of breakthrough medication was increasing, yet he was not keeping on top of the pain. The nurse called in the doctor to exam Paul and provide the next step in his care. By this time Paul was not eating and found it difficult to hold any food down. The doctor arrived and said that Paul had anorexia, putting him on a steroid to help with the vomiting and give him an appetite. We were lucky that we already had a stash of steroids in the medical box, so we didn’t have to wait for a script or run up to the chemist.

The doctor also prescribed a morphine drive to be inserted. This was Paul’s one fear and knew his days were numbered. After they put the drive into him, he said to me, ‘Darling, this is the beginning of the end.’ I walked out of our bedroom and cried. The gorgeous palliative care nurse came past and asked what happened and I told her. She just gave me a big hug and I cried more. This was heartbreaking – my beautiful husband and soul mate was slowly dying and there was not much I could do but support him and love him with all I had.

Now that the morphine driver was in, the palliative care nurses were calling in each day to check and top- up the morphine. I had extra morphine on hand and a drug to stop nausea in the fridge, so if Paul needed a top- up, I could insert it into the extra line in his arm. I now became a nurse.

Our palliative care nurse had become a part of the family and we just loved her; she was so caring and very good with Paul and the rest of the family, including Ollie our dog.

In Paul’s last week, the nurse told me that Paul was deteriorating and suggested that the doctor be called in; she also prescribed midazolam, an anti-depressant that would help him sleep. I also asked her to organise a more permanent catheter as Paul was still self-catheterising and had lost most of his dignity – and that is one thing I didn’t want to take away from him.  We had also organised a hospital bed to be delivered which was such a relief to me as my back was constantly in pain.  The doctor arrived around 11 am and told us that Paul was definitely dying; we had the option to move him to a palliative care facility. I was having nothing of it, as Paul’s wish was to die at home and it was my wish as well. It may have been selfish but I’d had enough of cold clinical places over the past twelve months and wanted a warm, loving home environment for Paul. Paul felt the same and had asked the family a few weeks earlier if they were okay with him dying at home. It was a family decision and we stood united with Paul’s dying wish to be at home.

The doctor also prescribed a drug to heavily sedate and keep him calm.  When the palliative care nurse came in the day before his death to administer the drug that would send Paul into a deeper sleep, I asked the nurse to explain to the kids exactly what she was doing, as they thought she was putting their father down. Our gorgeous palliative care nurse explained to them that this new drug would just put Paul into a deeper sleep and keep him more comfortable.

After Paul passed away, at around 7 pm the palliative care nurse arrived to prepare Paul for his final journey. When Paul passed away I took the battery out of his morphine drive, as I thought there was no point having any more drugs pumped into the body. I also placed a rolled- up flannel under his chin, as I was advised that this would stop the mouth from falling open if rigor mortis set in. Although this wasn’t the case with Paul, as his body was being collected in a short space of time.

The nurse greeted Paul and talked to him with such respect for him and his body; it was really amazing to watch. We removed his clothes, bathed him with warm soapy water and changed him into a fresh black t-shirt and shorts, which was the norm for so many months. The nurse removed the morphine drive and catheter; he was now free of all medical interventions. She also filled out all the forms confirming that Paul had passed away, as we needed this for the death certificate. I gave all the heavy medication of morphine and the sedation drugs to the nurse as I didn’t want any of it in the house anymore.

We laid him back on his pillow and placed a light blanket over him. He looked old and grey but peaceful.

Leap of faith

On our journey in this lifetime, at some stage there is a moment where it’s time to let go.  Trust in the universe and take that leap of faith.

Taking that leap may lead to an amazing experience but won’t be fulfilled or completed until you take that initial step.

That first step may be scary, exhilarating or challenging.

But after that moment you will look back & wonder what all the worry was about.

I can assure you that each and every one of us can have that amazing life, it’s how we choose to think and act.

Are you ready to take that leap of faith?

I have……..