Sunday, 30 March 2008


I've been reminded recently how much of a visual person I am. It had been (too) many days since I had seen someone in particular and I was missing him. As I was shutting down my computer, he appeared on my desktop (I have a group of photos from a recent trip away that randomly change on my desktop). I was surprised at the intensity of my response. I also thought myself an idiot for not using photos earlier. Not that photos are a substitute for seeing someone in person, but being the visual person I am they help to connect me with people.
In my new role at work I have been meeting people that I have not met before but have spoken with on the phone for many years. When I speak with someone on the phone I always have a visual of who I am speaking with. If I haven't met them, I need to create that visual. It has been interesting to see how accurate my visuals have been, or not in some cases!
I've always thought that if I were to lose either my sight or my hearing, I would prefer to lose my hearing.

Saturday, 22 March 2008


I was speaking to my mother on the phone this morning (when she rang at 9am on a Saturday morning – yes I was awake but still in bed!). I wanted to check something she had said the other day about some treatment she was having that confused me. In the course of the conversation she admitted to having fallen outside her neighbours house yesterday, which led to a general discussion about how she is feeling. At one point she said she thinks she’s ‘coming to the end of the road’. I didn’t quite know how to respond to this. I smothered my immediate response, which was to deny that – I hate it when people deny others’ feelings (and this statement was one of feeling as much as thought). There was enough of a pause for her to say ‘Go on, say it, what else can you expect’. I was honestly able to say that wasn’t what I was thinking. She then saved the moment by moving the conversation on.
The problem is I do think she is coming to the end of the road. Not that I think she is imminently dying. But she is coming to the end of the road as she knows it. The road of independence, of not being constricted by her body. I guess she’s come to the bend in the road called old age.
She’s finding it hard and I don’t know the best way to support her at this time.


Every now and then I need to check my language. Yes I’m talking about swearing here. I rarely swear in public, but I do tend to swear a lot to myself. There are times however when people are within earshot. What I like about swearing is how it can make you feel so much better. That’s why I feel it should not be overused. If significant words are used constantly, then they lose their power when you really need them.
That’s what I have taught son, that swearing has its place, but not to overdo it. This is in contrast to how I was brought up, where I remember being blasted for saying ‘blast’! The result of this is that son rarely swears (well OK, not in my hearing – but at least he has good self control!).
Yesterday I said a word in response to dropping something. The word was out of proportion to the act. I need to keep that in check.

Perceptions of Violence

I saw Drillbit Taylor yesterday with son. It is definitely one of those male adolescent movies, about a group of nerds who employ a bodyguard to protect them from the school bullies.
I found the violence confronting. It was very graphic for supposed school yard bullying. It probably also linked me in with my school yard experience, which whilst it had very little physical violence, had it’s fair share of stressful moments.
Later in the evening we were watching The Simpsons. The violence in that was no less graphic, yet less confronting.
It’s interesting that violence becomes more acceptable when it’s cartoonised. (hhmmm, I might have created a new word!)

Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Last year when I went to a palliative care conference here in Melbourne I got a shoulder bag which is of a convenient size, so I kept it and use it from time to time. I usually wear it with the logo facing towards me so as not to bring attention to it. Today I was on the tram with it and I noticed the man opposite me looking at it. "Damn", I thought, "I've got the logo facing out". After a few moments, he asked me if I was a palliative care worker. I replied in the affirmative. He told me it would be good for me (!) to read this article and handed me the 'mX', which is a free daily magazine type paper here in Melbourne. He smiled (smirked?) and then got off the tram. The article was about euthanasia, or more specifically about a woman in France who was unable to access euthanasia. (Because we here in Melbourne need to know about individual cases of euthanasia in France!)
I can only speculate about why that man thought I, as a palliative care worker, needed to read that article. Palliative care is widely misunderstood in the community, so it could have anything from he equates palliative care with euthanasia, so thought I would be interested, to him seeing palliative care as dichotomous to (with? - need to check my grammar!) euthanasia, so wanted to point out to me what I, by association, have prevented this woman from accessing. Given his smirk as he gave me the paper, I tend to think it was something down the latter end of the spectrum.
I must take this opportunity to do some public health to reiterate that palliative care isn't concerned with length of life, it's aim is to neither shorten nor extend life, but is concerned with quality of life, regardless of length.
Whatever you do, don't assume you know someone's view on something like euthanasia just because of their employment.

Monday, 17 March 2008

It's All A Matter Of Perspective

I had dinner with my parents tonight. They were talking of an 80 year old they know who has recently been in hospital. Mum commented that he has so many things wrong with him she didn't think he would 'make old bones'. I asked my 82 year old mother (rather bravely I thought!) what her definition of 'old bones' was. "Um.....85" she replied with an inflection in her voice.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Love Actually

The movie Love Actually was on TV last night.
This post was originally going to be a post about longer hair on men (more of that later), with Love Actually as a tenuous conduit. I got thinking more about the movie however, and decided that I really liked it. Yes it was Hollywood (or whatever the English version is) and had all the negative aspects those blockbuster films have, but it had enough of real life for it to be a more substantial film. For those who don't know the film it is about eight different stories of love between individuals that loosely connect with each other. Not all the stories were about romantic love between a man and a woman. There was an ageing rockstar's love for his long suffering agent, the step father's love for his stepson, the love of a sister for her intellectually disabled brother, as well as the love a young boy had for the apparently unattainable girl at school. The main thing I liked was that not all the stories had a happy ending. One left you with the feeling of potential for a happy ending, but only if much hard work is embarked upon and one ended abruptly leaving a space of emptiness. This is where it connected more closely with the stuff of life.
Now I'm known as a romantic, so that side of the movie appealed to me, but it was also a very funny film, with a great cameo by Rowan Atkinson.
Oh and the hair thing? Well I was quite taken by the actor Rodrigo Santoro (pictured above left). His hair is screeching out for my hands to run through it. There are not many men who can wear longer hair well, but for those that can, it is mighty appealing! The pic on the right (which was supposed to be at the end of the entry) has nothing to do with Love Actually, but another example of the hair thing (in more ways than one!).
Note to self: learn how to put pictures in different places in an entry!

Friday, 7 March 2008

The Changing of the Seasons

This week I had to drive to a hospital in the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne. I drove past a parade of trees whose leaves were turning their beautiful autumnal tones. Autumn is just around the corner - despite the late spurt of summer weather forecast in the coming days here in Melbourne.

Youthful Learning

We had parent teacher interviews at son's school last night. Why do they allow twelve year olds to teach? I'd swear some of those teachers have yet to reach puberty! Of course this is no reflection on my ageing process whatsoever!!