Sunday, February 24, 2013

Take it or leave it, this is ME!

2013 is a big year for me. In July I will celebrate a milestone birthday…my 30th!

Did I just say that out loud? Wow, I really MUST be growing up :)

I can honestly say that it was when I turned 29 that I felt something of a “click”. I suddenly started seeing things differently. I started having different opinions and my tastes seemed to change drastically.  The biggest thing for me, however, is that I have been sweating the “small stuff” a lot less.

Also, things my mum used to warn me about 10/15 years ago, are actually happening now. My body is changing. It’s the inevitable. One day I feel like a princess and the next, I feel like Shrek’s cousin. One day, my hair will sit perfectly from 7am till I go to sleep that night. The next day, I wish I wore wigs. Some days, I look at clothes in my cupboard and wonder, “What the hell was I thinking buying that?” because nothing seems to a) fit me or b) look good on me.

Well this is the conclusion I have reached:

Whether I am feeling bloated or as light as a cloud, whether my hair is frizzier than yesterday, if I’m nursing an unwelcome breakout, I assume that the people near and dear to me still see me for who I am. And if they DO focus on my physical flaws, then 1) are you seriously telling me that they don’t have any? And 2) they’re not sincere and I should question their existence in my daily life. Agreed?

To put it quite bluntly, I stared death in all its ghastly glory in January this year. With my mum lying in ICU breathing with a ventilator – oblivious of what was happening to her, every single time my dad’s phone rang, I would hold my breath. “Please let it NOT be the hospital. God, you will never do this to us. This isn’t the time.”

Doctors and specialists have labelled my mum’s recovery as “remarkable” and “miraculous”. I have said it before and I will continue saying it. It was our FAMILY LOVE that pulled my mum through. She lay there, helpless, unable to speak with drips and pipes connected to her. Everywhere. It was not a sight to remember and even as I write this, I well up with tears just thinking of it.

As my favourite life coach, Dr Demartini says, “There is a blessing in every crisis,” the blessing in my mum’s knocking on death’s door is that our little family unit of four united like never before. For two weeks we worked on getting my mum well, out of ICU and out of hospital – back home. Which is where she is right now as I write this. She’s doing so much better and thank you to everyone who has asked about her well-being. Calls and messages are so deeply appreciated. Thank you.

I know it sounds SO clich├ęd, but the experience forced me to question the purpose of life. At any given moment, our time is up. No warning signs, sometimes not even a chance to say goodbye to loved ones…

So…it made me think, if I were to suddenly depart from this mortal world, how would I be remembered? Would I be remembered for my lumps and bulges? For the nasty zit that never left my skin for a week? Or the fact that I took time out to ask someone how they’re feeling. How they’re REALLY feeling. That I was a good listener? That I went out of my way to help where I could? That I was a hard worker?

These are the things that matter. And this is how I want to live my life.  Every single day, we are granted the opportunity to start over.  From the moment I open my eyes, the first thing I say is “thank you” for giving me another shot at being the best I can be.

I’ve also been reading a lot of inspirational and uplifting stuff by Robin Sharma (thanks a ton to my dad for introducing me to his work).

I’m currently reading The Greatness Guide (Book One) and as I turn each page, following a new chapter, I am just so amped to get out there and LIVE. I want to exude light, laughter and love. These are all the things I (we) desire in life. I know that it will all come to me…but I have to put it out there first.

It’s Sunday evening and I’ve been writing this from my apartment – at a window with a perfect view of Lion’s Head. The sun has set and slowly, people in apartment buildings across from mine, are turning their lights out.  It’s the end of another day. Another weekend. I’m already so excited to wake up tomorrow morning and have a FABULOUS Monday.

From my heart, I wish the same to you…

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My mum - An Update

This morning I received a very "excited" text from my mum saying, "Hooraaayyyy!" She went for a checkup / x-rays and told me that the doctor was very impressed with her results. In his words, she "made a remarkable recovery."

We all agree that my mum's recovery is nothing short of a miracle!

THANK YOU to every single person who called, messaged or popped in to offer support to my dad, brother and me. With all our heart and soul, we believe that my mum pulled through this with the grace of God, positive thoughts, prayer and most

My mum - 21 January 2013

The next step was getting my mum out of ICU and into a general ward…one step closer to her coming home.  Three days after my mum went off the ventilator, she was discharged from ICU and went into a general ward.

The next day, she was discharged and we went to pick her up to bring her home – where she belonged.

My mum - 18 January 2013

Friday: On Friday, on our way to the hospital my dad made mention that the ventilator had been increased.  How could that be? Just yesterday they told us that my mum was doing so well.  Dad said that the doctor had no idea what was happening. I seemed to have lost all senses.

Arriving at the hospital, I didn’t walk in with my dad and brother.  Instead I rushed upstairs to my mother. Practically running in, I saw her sitting up in bed. Minus the ventilator. (I have tears in my eyes now, as writing this is forcing me to relive that day.)

My dad walked in behind me – smiling and telling the nurse who was there that he tricked me. 

“What? Mummy’s going to be fine??!?!"

I grabbed my mum’s head and kissed her face as tears streamed down my cheeks.  I walked straight out to my Aunty Aurora and sobbed on her shoulder.  “My mother is going to be ok…!”

And as if by magic, I suddenly felt exhausted – physically and emotionally. For the entire week, all three of us were running on pure adrenaline.

My mum - 16 - 18 January 2013

For the next three days, our lives were centred around hospital visits. I couldn’t reach my mother fast enough. She seemed to be able to comprehend some of what we said to her.  As I write this, I can’t remember half the things I told her.  But I spoke as if everything was normal. I massaged her feet and kissed her wherever I could. I pushed her very hard to fight this and to fight for us… we all loved her so much.

Slowly, my mum started being able to communicate with us.  She would take her index finger and write words on her legs. I realized then that she was able to write, so I put a clipboard with paper under her strapped hand; placed a pen in her hand and she was able to “talk” to us like this.

Taking calls from people was very difficult. I barely understood what was happening to my mum, let alone be able to convey this to others.  We were all extremely grateful for the calls and messages of concern from relatives and friends, but for that week, my dad, brother and I needed to be alone with each other and focus all our energy on our dearest mum.

For the week, I slept in the lounge. Mosquitoes enjoyed gnawing at me and I would wake up at 04:00, counting the minutes till the first visiting hour of the day.

I put the week down to the worst of all of our lives...

My mum - 15 January 2013

Tuesday: I was very emotional as I boarded the flight.  It must have been the longest flight I’ve ever taken.  In between crying on the flight I somehow managed to pass out for a while. 

As we touched down in East London I felt a sense of calm come over me.  I knew I had to compose myself because I couldn’t cry when I saw my dad.

When I met my dad he told me that there was good news.  Mum had a good sleep.  She was sedated and stable.

All these words – ICU, ventilator, sedated, stable… none of them had ever been associated with my mum.  It just wasn’t natural.

We arrived home around 08:30 and as soon as I walked into the house, I started cleaning and tidying up.

I will never forget this moment.
I was making the bed when my dad and brother walked into the room.

Dad wanted to explain exactly what had happened. Post kidney stone op, my mum had contracted septicaemia. I dare not ask what it was. I dared not Google it. But what I did learn was that there wasn’t enough oxygen entering mum’s blood stream.

“…mummy took a bad turn yesterday.  She’s sedated and stable. But it’s up to her now and all we can do is pray.”

I swear, my entire being turned to stone. I became absolutely tight-lipped and nodded. After all, surely he wasn’t talking about MY mum in this condition?

There were still a few hours till the first visiting hour of the day. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself…

Dad came back home from the office around 10:30 to pick my brother and I up. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at the hospital.  It was my first time to enter an ICU.

Walking in, it was as if I had turned into a different person completely. I passed about two or three people before seeing my mum.  I almost didn’t recognize her.  She lay there listless in bed with tubes and drips connected to her. I rushed to her side and said, “Mummy..mummy I’m here!” God only knows where I had the courage and strength to speak to her the way I did.  I reached for her hand and noticed two things.  She was strapped down to the bed and her hands and fingers were double its size.

I couldn’t help, but notice that my mother was the worst looking patient in that ICU.

My mum - 14 January 2013

07:00 Breakfast with our auditor
09:00 Speaking evaluations with new students

I remember speaking to my dad after the morning visit. Mum was fine...and so I carried on with my day.

Then at 4pm – knowing my dad would have just seen my mum – I messaged my dad.  He replied saying he couldn’t see my mum because the doctors were busy with her.  “Where are you now?” dad asked. 

I knew immediately he wanted to call me. 

“How’s mummy?” I asked.
“I’m not happy.  They put mummy on a ventilator.”

I remember being silent for a while and then asked, “Must I come?”
“No. I’ll let you know if you must come.”

After hanging up from my dad I just remember tears falling from my eyes uncontrollably. A work friend who was in the office with me, Nicola, walked out with me.  I started crying and then sobbing. 

I wanted to see my mum.
I needed to see my mum.
And I knew that my mum needed me.

Nicoletta, my manager, came out to see me and said to call my dad and tell him that I want to go home.

Knowing that my dad was aware of our audit week etc, I was quite surprised when he agreed to my coming home.  I knew then that it was serious.  He said that my coming home may motivate mum to get better.

Two hours later, the academic team and auditor were on our way to the waterfront for dinner.

When I arrived at the waterfront I called my dad again.  During the conversation my dad said, “You must be strong.”

My dad never spoke like that.

“Please tell mummy I’m coming,” I said

Dinner was difficult. Sushi and wine sat heavily on my throat. I think I had more wine than sushi. I just wanted to be home. With my mum. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her. 

It was the worst dinner at my favourite restaurant.

I left the waterfront and went home.  Not quite sure how I drove home, but I needed to pack.  And then I was going to spend some time with Nicola.

Was I going to take a big suitcase or an overnight one? What should I pack? What was I going home to?

Every single thing I looked at or touched had my mother’s name on it. 

I sent a message to my dad asking him to please wake me up at 03:00.  The shuttle was going to pick me up at 04:30.

I didn’t sleep at all and the howling wind didn’t help either. I was chatting to my brother for quite a while too. I guess I wasn’t the only one not sleeping.

03:00 finally came and I texted my dad to tell him that I was awake.  When he replied immediately I knew straight away that he didn’t sleep at all.

My mum - 13 January 2013

Sunday: I was in constant contact with my dad and brother about my mum.  I felt a bit relieved when my brother told me that he was downstairs buying a drink for my mum.

I had an audit the following day and half my focus was on that.

I went to bed thinking my mum would be discharged in a day or two.

My mum - 12 January 2013

Saturday: When my mum didn't respond to my text message on Saturday morning, I knew something was wrong. My brother told me that he was taking her to the doctor.  The previous day my mum was complaining about headaches and mentioned that it felt like her asthma was back. 

A few days before that, my mum had kidney stones removed.  We thought the headaches were a result of a strong cocktail of anesthetic.

I didn't quite know what to do with myself on Saturday to pass time.  My friend, Nicoletta invited me to her place and I spent some time with her, her mum and son. 

Later that evening, we all went out for sushi dinner.  After that I spent a couple of hours with another friend. 

I only got home very late that night and didn't sleep well.  I was so used to keeping in contact with my mum. 

My brother told me that my mum was in ICU.  I didn't think too much of it because earlier my dad told me that there was fluid on my mum’s lungs.  In my mind they were just going to isolate this infection and everything would be OK....