Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Remembering stroke

Do you always give your partner/family/friends happy birthday wishes? I used to get them, but these days I wouldn't miss them. I'm too old! Well, not "too" old, but a lot older than I was 30 years ago (get that??). Okay, I'm not fed up with my age, but I am - was - still am - fed up with aphasia after my stroke, which happened under the "usual" age. I was told by the hospital that I was "young". I was 57. Is that how you feel when you look at your mum or grandma or aunt or someone older than you in hospital after a stroke? How old were they?

Do you know the youngest age for a stroke? A New York Times blog had an article written by Jane E Brody on 3 September 2012, titled "Too young to have a stroke? Think again". Writers to caring.com asked questions about the age of stroke on 12 November 2016, titled "Are strokes at a young age common?". It's very similar in Australia. Brain Injury's pdf file on young who suffer stroke, titled "Position Paper: Young Stroke", say that the "first time event occur[s] between the ages of 18 and 64". Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), while their article was dated 2009, said that only 30% of those having a stroke would be under the age of 65.

Maria Lewis wrote an article for SBS, the Australian channel. She was 22 when she had her stroke. There's a video at the beginning of the article which started with Luke Webb - he was 20 when he had his stroke.

The 2009 ABS article (linked further up) showed 9 impairments from stroke. The aphasia, which I suffered, was the 4th lowest, but there were still nearly 30% of people who had a stroke who suffered that. Physical impairment was just about up to 60%, and happening just a little more to women than men. What it doesn't say is how many people who had a stroke are very quickly back to "normal".

3% of those who had it might die.

I encourage everyone who reads this to pass it on and share it with your partner/family/friends/workers. You need to know more about stroke, need to understand how people suffer after their stroke, need to know the websites where you can get much more information just in Australia. The most important (for me) are listed.

Stroke Foundation: their home page says they are "a national charity that partners with the community to prevent, treat and beat stroke. We stand alongside stroke survivors and their families, healthcare professionals and researchers. We build community awareness and foster new thinking and innovative treatments. We support survivors on their journey to live the best possible life after stroke. We are the voice of stroke in Australia..."

Synapse: looks after brain injuries which includes stroke. The website says "Our commitment to reduce the massive unmet need for these services is unwavering. Our objective to see specialist and individualised services available to all in need is resolute. No matter where they live, or culture they belong to." Synapse has a pic of their current magazine, "Bridge", number 22, which has stories from stroke survivors. Read them!

Australian Aphasia Association: this is a non-profit association which started in 2002. They say they are "a support and advocacy association for people with aphasia, their families and the professionals who help them."

Check those ones. There are plenty more throughout Australia but these are the organisations I've been involved with. One more I've chosen to add to the list is the Australian Aphasia Rehabilitation Pathway: came into being in 2014. Their website says they are "for speech pathologists to help guide person-centered, evidence-based aphasia services. It aims to optimise the overall rehabilitation journey for people with aphasia and their families/friends."

I truly hope that everyone who reads this will educate themselves on stroke. It can happen to 2% of the whole population, even younger people. Maybe one day it can happen to you.

Educate yourself.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mapping my walks

Have you ever used a program called Map My Walk? The one I use is called just that, and available for mapping your own walks wherever you are in Australia. Have a look at their website and pick your own city or town, or if you don’t live in any of those listed pick one close and move your map to find your own home area. If you set up this program in your own name and address, it can start, every time you log a map, at your own home. Try it!

I started using this back in September 2014 when I moved to Redlands area because of my stroke. My first map was a cycle one – I rode from Woody Point across the Hornibrook Bridge with my daughter. 12.89km! Later, in 2015, I recorded my walk from Woody Point to the Clontarf side of that bridge and return – 6.02km. I recorded each walk I took both of my dogs on. Those walks weren’t very long – most of them less than 2km – as both of my dogs were old/getting old, but I had some lovely walks to beaches on either side of the Scarborough peninsula. We would repeat, either direction. A dog doesn’t need too much change!

I still have my American Bulldog, Jordie, but she’s too old to walk now. I still plan my own walks on Map My Walk. Since I moved to Eagleby I’ve recorded a few more walks. I can go any direction: I can go through Albert River Park or the Oliver Sports Complex Park. I can go through walkways from one road to another. I can go pretty much anywhere I want to walk… and I can map it.

 My walks recently haven’t been very long – the longest one was 4.85kms – but if I want to go much further then I can work out where I want to walk.

You don’t need to trust in or believe in Map My Walk – there are heaps of others on Google – but this program pleases me. Have a look at it if you walk and would like to map it.

And if you try it, give yourself a pat on your back - you’re pretty damned good!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Messing up

Stress can mess up your body or stomach action. Mine got worse since 2013, when my husband broke up with me, my brain aneurysm was diagnosed, and I was fired from my employer after 7 years service with them. I was a Kiwi, not eligible for benefits. I retrieved my superannuation to keep me alive. I put on 10 kgs.

I got to hospital on 22 April 2014, had a stroke during my surgery and put into BIRU for 6.5 weeks. I fought my ex-employer at QIRC and lost because my mental illness was not covered under legislation.

I stopped renting my lovely Scarborough home because it was too expensive. Eventually I moved into Bethania, but 4.5 months later they kicked my dog out  - and me. I attempted suicide. I put on 5 kgs.

I moved to Eagleby. I was in Tarlo Street 9.5 months when I found out that the unit was illegal - no approval from Logan City Council. I put on 5 more kgs.

I had been 72kgs, size 12, before all my stress issues. I was now size 16. I was so disappointed for what had happened over the last 4 years. Who was at fault??

Well, you know what? I don't blame myself. I didn't ask for the end of my marriage. I didn't ask for the brain aneurysm diagnosis. I didn't ask to be fired from my 7 years employer. I didn't ask for my stroke. But, over the last four years, I have fought to recover... and put on 20kgs during all of my stress.

I love red wine. I love the fact that I am now working, if only 10 hours a week. That will certainly help me get over my aphasia from stroke. I love SOHK, because there are people there I would not normally talk to. And I love my new neighbour, who would join me for a coffee, chat to me, drive with me, walk with me - make me feel okay. If I have to live with this extra weight, so be it.

I am loving my life!

Monday, October 2, 2017

What is “religion”?

It would be a fascinating subject to study. Religion now and before. I know people who go to religious schools under different religions. I know too many people who believe whatever they are taught in their different religions, never dig into the past to see what’s happened/happening. So many religions over Earth, and all of them brought to you (or anyone else) by self-taught people – self-taught after their memory is filled with whatever they learned as a child. Who knows which books to read? Who knows what is true and what is simply your own belief? 

60,000+ years ago Aboriginal people lived in Australia. No religion lived in this world then. On the website Working with Indigenous Australians Helen Milroy said:

We are part of the Dreaming. We have been in the Dreaming for a long time before we are born on this earth and we will return to this vast landscape at the end of our days. It provides for us during our time on earth, a place to heal, to restore purpose and hope, and to continue our destiny.

Aboriginals believed in their spiritual ancestors, the Dreaming Ancestors.

Their lives changed when the “Christian” British arrived in 1788. At that time there were many more Aboriginals than English, but it didn’t really take very long for the British to multiply and outgrow the number of Aboriginals. Of course, they murdered them too. Very “Christian”…   

In the Middle East Judaism began around 3,000 years ago as a monotheist Abrahamic religion, using the Torah as their written text. A thousand years later a man split Judaism: those who followed Christ would call themselves Christians. A short religion, yet mostly filled by European people.

According to Pew Forum, two thirds of Christianity lived in Europe a century ago (1910). And according to BBC, two thousand years ago – actually, 1 century AD – Middle East traders arrived in Britain and over the next four hundred years managed to convert the British predominantly with intolerance of “other” gods – which, of course, most people believed in back then. Pagans! Christians used their Bible, which has a long and not particularly decent history, as their text. Of course, there are many sub-texts, re-written by some of the sub-Christian religions. Wikipaedia says there are at least 7 large Christian churches: Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Restorationism and Non-Trinitarianism and Church of the East. There are also a lot of others – look at Mormons (Book of Mormon), Seventh Day Adventists, Quakers, Jehovah Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, Salvation Army, Lutherans, Presbytarians, Pentecostal…. et al.

Why have they done that? (Asking a question… don’t mean to answer it!)

Islam started in around 610CE – after even Christianity had started. Muslims now look on Jesus, David, Moses, Abraham, Noah and Adam as prophets, and use their Quran as their religious text. It’s the second largest religion, behind Christianity.

Surprisingly, India’s religions date back before Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Hinduism came to India 5,000 years ago and its oldest text is Rigveda, written more than a thousand years BCE. India has a few sub-religions: Hinduism (80% of population), Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. I know very little about any of these. Neolithic pastoralists “buried their dead in a manner suggestive of spiritual practices that incorporated notions of an afterlife” according to Peter Heehs  (Heehs, 2002). Prof Dr Quack is a Principal Investigator of University of Zurich’s Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology and wrote about the “first ethnographic study of the contemporary rationalist (atheist, humanist, or freethinking) movement in India” (Quack, 2011). Baha’i is also an Indian religion. It believes that “divine Educators” are Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and Bahá’u’lláh, sent to them by God. Apparently.

I am atheist. I am 60 years old. I don’t believe in “god(s)” because I don’t believe that any god “created” us. Too many religions to think – or believe in - just what any other religion does. How – why – do so many different religions supply missionaries to a country like this? A Western country? Religions are all different. Sometimes, though, I get very interested in reading or talking about religion – and about atheism. Do you know how many atheists live around the globe? Keysar and Navarro-Rivera wrote this year that there are around 7% of the total world population, half a billion atheists and agnostics globally (Keysar, 2017). China has 200 million atheists – 14% of their population.

I know that I don’t know as much about any religion, but maybe I need to get back into reading. At the beginning of this blog I wrote: Who knows which books to read? I found one, Introducing Anthropology of Religion: Culture to the Ultimate, written by Jack David Eller, which looks at the anthropology of belief, of symbolism, of ritual and ritualization, morality, religious change, “great transformation”, violence, secularism and fundamentalism. If I can afford that, I think I’d buy it.

Maybe I’ll be after you… 

Eller, J. D. 2015. Introducing Anthropology of Religion: Culture to the Ultimate. Routledge, NY.

Heehs, P. 2002. Indian Religions: A Historical Reader of Spiritual Expression and Experience. New York University Press, NY.

Keysar, Ariela; Navarro-Rivera, Juhem, 2017. "A World of Atheism: Global Demographics". In Bullivant, Stephen; Ruse, Michael. The Oxford Handbook of Atheism. Oxford University Press.

Quack, Prof Dr J. 2012. Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Oxford University Press, NY.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cat’s in the Cradle

How old are you? Have you felt this same way as this song? How old do you feel?

This song was brought out by Harry Chapin back in 1974. In the early 70s I was reacting with my parents after we’d moved to our new home. My Dad saw me walking home from school one day, looking at the ground. Later that day he had a chat with me and told me I had to hold my head up, walk with pride. After that I developed a like for high heels – or platform shoes in those days. I had a platform of cork with white sandals on top, and clogs, and wooden heels and anything else I could find! I respected what Dad told me – I thanked him: I felt more than 6 feet tall with those heels on! But I still lived different to my parents.

In the 50s we were brought up with great parents, most of whom would always stay with their partner (my grandmother left her husband because he used to beat her up: her second husband became my Pop from the 1960s). Born between 1920s and 1940s, parents from the 1950s, I’m told, were the “Silent Generation”, named by a Time article  - they feared speaking up during the 1950 McCarthy era, but they needed to reinvent the population. So those of us, who were born in 1950s, became the “Baby Boomers”. As we grew up we were still supposed to add to the population – get married, have kids, have more. Women were still the “wife”; however their husband played around was up to him, not up to her.

1980s parents had so many TV shows – The Partridge Family, Hogan’s Family, Growing Pains, Who’s the Boss?, Family Ties, Diff’rent Strokes, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father… what were we doing?? Certainly the growth of children in the 1980s then was nothing at all like we’d been brought up in the 1950s. Who was thinking differently than that era? We were, it seems.  Kids brought up in 50s and 60s were “so much better off”. We were grasping our future! The 80s programmes would teach us anything our parents hadn’t taught us!

The latest feminist movement started in 1963, according to the Guardian article (even though the suffragettes had been around for at least 50 years before that):

"Is this all?" That was the question that echoed around a generation of US housewives in the early 1960s. Theirs was the problem with no name, wrote Betty Friedan in her 1963 bestseller, The Feminine Mystique, and the symptoms were legion. They included creeping fatigue, tranquiliser and alcohol abuse, bleeding blisters that appeared suddenly on their arms, which doctors attributed not to the cleaning fluids they used constantly, but a deeper malaise. In the years since the war, women had grown smaller (department store buyers reported they had shrunk three or four dress sizes), more feminine (30% of women dyed their hair blond), and apparently much sadder.

I started with feminism in the 70s, but didn’t really support them until the 90s, after I divorced my first husband. Sadly, back then, I realised what I did wrong – I had taken his name and passed that on to my children. My daughter hates it. Unfortunately, I hadn’t learned my lesson until 2013 when I was left by my second husband whose name I had also taken. I should have picked up from the feminist movement in the 60s and 70s - I now swear that I will never take anyone else’s name, I use my own.

I heard Chapin’s song back in the 70s, and I agreed with it. I am woman, but how different was I to a man who was less important than his child? At the bottom of this blog is a pic with the words. Read them. Learn them. Make sure they involve you… because they do.  You have no control over any of your children when they grow up. They will get educated, find a job, find their own partner… and won’t see you as often as you would so hope. I did the same to my parents, with the final stupidity after Dad had died and Mum was alone and not well but I still moved over to Oz. Oh, I’d pop back over and visit her again, but she died, like Dad had, in hospital. I regret what I did. I regret that I didn’t spend so much time with her because I had married for the second time, which – I say – should have been a second event after Mum.

Baby Boomers are blamed nowadays for how our children are. How they are poor compared to how we raised them. How they are rich compared to how we were back then. How they had to pay for their university education when we got our own free. How they get well paid jobs. How they lose their jobs when they are behind the ball of going ahead. How… how… how… That hurts me to see that, read that, be told that. I’ve argued with other people from different eras who would comment about people like me. They didn’t know, or didn’t care. I brought my kids up as a single parent. I always thought I did pretty well. I was also poor, but I paid for the things my kids wanted to do. I was also stupid to “fall in love” for my second marriage (11 years after I had broken off the first one: 11 years should have taught me).

Why am I writing this? Because I am old. How old do you think your parents are before you look on them as old? In the PA Hospital before I went in for surgery I was 57. They told me I was young. My daughter didn’t believe that. These days I accept that I’m old.

Chapin’s song upsets me. This happens the same way that I treated my own parents. Now my children treat me that way, and it frustrates the hell out of me. I don’t blame my kids, but I get annoyed if they expect me to visit them rather than them coming to visit me. I get annoyed when I think of the aphasia I suffer from, which I know has recovered a lot but is still there. I get annoyed when my rental place treats me like I don’t count, expecting me to simply find somewhere new – never mind that I need to take my dog! Yes, that’s another post – has been.

Last night I saw an ABC program which interviewed Rutger Bregman about his view that 15 weeks paid work would spread all work around the world. That is so good! I have been aware of the Universal Basic Income and think that getting Bregman’s book might help me to understand. It needs to help so many other people understand what is happening in this world! 1% people are rich and don’t care about what happens within any other generation. What I have wrote about today is that I am a Baby Boomer, I am not at fault for what is happening in this world, I have previously written a post about population, posts about rentals, posts about homeless and unemployment and NDIS and so much more.

Harry Chapin’s song is still correct. 1974 isn’t far away. Too close for comfort. Be sure you understand Chapin’s song. And Bregman’s suggestion which could fix this world.

If you want it to.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Relocation – depression?

9 months ago I was “relocated” from the retirement village I’d lived in for only 5 months. My dog, Jordie, had been on the lease at the start, but she was kicked out after 4.5 months… why?? I moved into Eagleby, a fairly decent (albeit not the best) unit underneath a house where Jordie could definitely be… until, 9 months later, I had found out that the unit was “illegal”. The owner had never got approval from the city council. I had to move. Again. Why?? I wrote a post about this on 25th August, and again on 1st September.

The first day I looked at a one-bedroomed unit, same price as I was paying, but I didn’t know for certain that they would accept Jordie. Two days later I turned away from it, even though I had filled in an application. I had no idea where would accept Jordie, I couldn’t move without her.

I looked at 6 other units in as many suburbs, ranging from $230 up to $260. I couldn’t afford an increase of $30 a week. Even those which didn’t mention pets on their ads told me that they couldn’t accept “them” – meaning a dog as big as Jordie. I looked at an NRAS unit, $10 a week less than what I was paying but two staircases to get up to it (no elevators) and NO pets. I had four more units on my list - until I received a phone call from the agent: my dog was accepted!!

I felt shock. This was the first place I had looked at, which I had walked away from. It was one-bedroomed, but the back yard – small – was fenced and they would accept Jordie. That same day I received another phone call – the two-bedroomed unit I had looked at – which was $30 more a week than I pay now – said that the owner would accept Jordie! OMG! One bedrooms, she was accepted. Two bedrooms, she was accepted. I had to consider the costs. I had to, also, consider if I could fit into one bedroom.

Last night took so much thought. The three units. One bedroom, same rent, Jordie allowed. Two bedrooms, more expensive, Jordie allowed. Two bedrooms, a beautiful balcony looking over a paddock with horses in it, but two staircases up and Jordie not allowed. In the end, the cost of where I would go and the acceptance of Jordie, were the main things I had to think about. This morning I accepted the one bedroom.

I told the agent that I wanted two weeks rent free (I had already stopped paying) and the owner to pay for removalists to shift me. She’s talking to him, but I don’t think he could refuse. I would take him to QCAT, if I needed to. I don’t have enough cash in the bank to move myself. I don’t need to move myself. I didn’t ask to move. I didn’t ask for higher rents, but I am accepting a unit smaller than where I am right now, because they accept Jordie. I don’t know how longer she will live – she’s 15 years old, she had arthritis in her front shoulders and hip dysplasia in her back hips – but our celebration is on 17 February 2018. I will have had her for 10 years since I adopted her from RSPCA. She will be 16. I absolutely count on that celebration, so Jordie must come with me.

Relocation can cause depression. Compare My Move said “There will be an unsettling period of disequilibrium and with that can come a certain (normal) level of anxiety.” I think I suffer a bit more than “normal” anxiety. My Moving Reviews said “It is believed that the toughest stage of a move is the tricky period of dealing with a post-move phenomenon known as relocation depression.” The problem is I’ve been through this before. This time is again. One guy in NY Times said that “he moves a lot because he is always looking for a better deal, a better space, a better neighborhood.” I know about that. Except I seem to be moving downhill. Quotes for Removals in UK said there are five main common emotions when shifting: regret, anxiety, loss, sadness, fear. I understand each of those: I feel each of them. Domain Aus said “It is one of the most disruptive, stressful and chaotic of life experiences. It can also be really expensive.” I know all about that, especially when relocations have not been my choice. A blog, posted on Arrohome talked about how to make your “new” home feel good: grab some houseplants, fill the house with food, try to add something, and warm the house with friendly faces. The first three I could do… the fourth one isn’t something I could do. I’ve lost friends since my aneurysm and stroke. I don’t really know how or when.

So many websites which talk about getting used to relocating. I had Googled “feeling about moving homes in Australia” and found far too few responses which I could relate to me. I needed a response from Beyond Blue, or Mad Dog, or any other support group. I added a word – “depression” to the Google search: “feeling about moving homes in australia depression”. Beyond Blue ran an online forum about moving house anxiety. R U Ok said “there are changes in the social supports that we’re receiving and the connections we have with people in our lives. It can occur suddenly … through a sudden relocation.” I know that. They also said that I should “seek the support of others. Reach out to say you need some help.” I don’t even know how to do that any more.

So I am getting myself relocated, with no help from “friends” or even “family”, because I have no idea any more how or where I fit in with them. I live alone. With my BFF dog, Jordie. I am moving into a one bedroomed unit the weekend after next.

Just me and Jordie.