Friday, October 29, 2004


About half an hour after Ross left for school today, the phone rang and I was really surprised when I heard his voice greet me.

I was relieved when he told me nothing was wrong and that he was just calling to let me know that the school’s Halloween parade would be starting at 1.30pm. I told him that I knew that and asked how come he was calling. He told me that he thought I didn’t know and went on to explain how he had told this to his teacher. I then asked if she was having the whole class call their parents and he again explained that only he and another girl were calling their Moms because both their Moms didn’t know what time the parade was.

I thanked him so much for calling me to ensure I had the right information and he said goodbye happy that he would see me later.

Pretty cool situation management for a 7 year old.


Have a great weekend.

 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


My friend Jodi came to visit this morning. It is a rare treat for us to have time together and I love it. I got up early and was actually dressed and ready to receive her at 9am. We were sitting and talking away in the kitchen when I saw the reflection in the oven door of what looked like an extremely large animal on the deck. I said out loud to Jodi “what the hell is on the deck?” and we both went over to the sliding door.

There a large black dog greeted us. Jodi being the animal adorer that she is was greeting him so lovingly that I was starting to feel guilty for not having invited him for Thanksgiving. The warmth she extends to animals is just wonderful and he was responding happily with big barks right back at her. Pingy was immediately alerted and came rushing into the kitchen and immediately assumed her usual shake, rattle and roll position.

The next thing, uninvited guest features starts dragging himself around on the deck in that most outrageous way dogs scratch their butts. I am used to seeing Pingy do it once in a while, but it looked really funny on such a big dog. It actually bugged me that this stranger was dragging his ass around on my deck!

Jodi and I quickly agreed that we were not opening the door. His collar and tags indicated that he was simply lost and not abandoned, but he was not managing to find his way out of my house.

We agreed that the best thing to do was call 911. I felt really silly doing this and somehow it seemed like a waste of their time and resource to place such a call. I did however think to myself that as my husband responds to almost every ambulance call in the town, I did have a foot in the door here.

Within a few minutes of placing the call, the super friendly Sergeant was standing at the sliding door and we were all discussing this still barking, butt scraping black dog. The Animal Protection Unit said they would come and get him as soon as they could.

I noticed something really interesting while chatting away with the Sergeant. What is it that makes one feel so guilty, in psite of your obvious innocence, when you are in the presence of a police officer or going through customs at the airport? I felt like he was scanning the joint and then my imagination ran rampant. I know Jodi is going to be shocked when she reads this and is going to think , how could all this have been going on in that mad woman’s head while I was standing next to her.

I watched as the Sergeant scanned the room and thought to myself that I hoped all drugs and weapons were well concealed in the house. I had visions of us opening the sliding door and butt scraper turning into this mad dog who grabbed Pingy out of Jodi’s arms and swallowed her in one bite.

With that I remembered that my brother in law was actually coming to use our grill. He had some meat he wanted to BBQ and was about to arrive. I again had mad visions of him strolling on to the deck laden with meat only to find this mad dog who would attack the stock of meat and run off with it into the forest. I called him to warn him that the deck had been inhabited by an uninvited lost butt scratcher and that hopefully the APU would get here before him.

This is exactly what happened and when the lady stuck her head in my front door to ask if the dog was perhaps the neighbors, my Alley McBeal moment extended to me lunging down the stairs and yelling at her something to the effect of “yes, you silly cow, that is why I called 911, so that he could come out to call you so that you could walk the dog over the road for me!!”

As but scratcher hopped into the APU truck, I was relieved that he would find his way home safely and called the Sergeant to tell him the guest had been collected. My brother in law arrived and bbq’d his meat and Jodi left.

I wondered if this is what Halloween season does or if maybe I really do need to up my medication?

H.A.P.P.Y H.A.L.L.O.W.E.E.N.

Happy Halloween! Posted by Hello

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It's that time of the year folks! Posted by Hello

Monday, October 25, 2004


I have just finished watching the RADIO MUSIC AWARDS. I know we have to make way for new talent etc., etc., blah blah blah, but call me old fashioned … the coolest 61 year old on the planet still does it better than anyone for me!

Can’t get enough of this (sound required).

Sir Mick Jagger  Posted by Hello


Picture perfect scenes like this right outside my front door.

Pics by Alex Posted by Hello

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Sunday, October 24, 2004


This pic speaks volumes for me of where I am in my life right now. I feel like I was stripped of all my leaves, but as I stand in the midst of it all, I stand strong, and I stand tall. I will re-generate and fresh things will blossom and from the bare branches, life will come forth and the tree will breathe, and other people will breathe because of it. Some people will rest in the shade it offers, and take comfort there. Some people will delight in its glory and dance around it, others might climb the branches; some might try piss on it, because that’s what some people do. But the tree will stand tall, because it is rooted and because it is safe where it is.

pic lovingly Posted by Hello


Back in May I wrote a post “Bach was a breath of fresh air”. Since then, I have been trying to come to terms with sleeping with the ventilator. To cut a long struggle short, I eventually thought I was going totally insane … how can you feel like you can’t breathe when you are on a ventilator? Try as I did, I just could not work this out. I don’t know what took me so long to do anything about it, but fact of the matter is I didn’t make it a priority and that is something I will never do to myself again. I let life and mothering and step parenting and all sorts of other things come first. So, I continued to endure the hours and hours and hours, and did I say hours of no sleep at night. On the odd occasion when I did sleep a bit, I would wake up and stagger to the bathroom and chuck two Excedrin down my throat to get rid of the monster headache I would wake up with.

Besides the exhaustion, sitting awake, all night, night after night after night, starts to get extremely lonely. You don’t want to watch any more TV, you are too exhausted to read. If you are wondering why I am suddenly switching to talking about this in the third person, it is because that is how I started feeling. I started feeling separate from myself. My life was something over there, and I was just going through the motions of doing certain things every day ‘cos I know from habit I have to do them. I have to be clean, I have to eat, I have to pay bills, and just keep things ticking over.

I write this post at the risk of it being a little disjointed, but this is the first time I am sitting down to write about the horror I have been through in the last couple of weeks. I have not planned this post, I am just letting it come out and leaving it where it lands. I am not going to re-read it or make any changes to it. This one is for me, and right now, externalizing this stuff feels beneficial to me – but I hope, as always that someone else reading it might find some value in it.

My feet and legs have been swelling over a period of time. Two weeks ago, they got so ridiculously swollen that I realized I needed to see the Doctor. My sister the Reflexologist with a lot of physiology knowledge looked at them and was horrified.

When I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, one of the things I dedicated myself to, was continuing to love my body as the vehicle I live in. We all know I have never loved it enough to prance around in a bikini, but I felt it was essential to not distance myself from it. I needed it to keep working as best as it could for me, and I have tried to maintain that headspace all the time. This has resulted, I believe, with me generally being very in tune with my body. I know what it needs and when it needs it.

The night before I was due to see the Doctor, my body was telling me it needed sleep. I also reached a point that day where I just could not face sitting awake, alone all night – I just felt like I couldn’t do it. I decided to take a sleeping pill. The reason I generally don’t take sleeping aids is because I wake up with the dreadful headache and that makes it impossible for me to get Ross to school. I believe my body therefore made the decision not to sleep as a way of avoiding these headaches. But this particular night I was taking a sleeping pill and if I awoke with a headache, Marti would take Ross to school so there would be no problem.

We were lying in bed watching TV waiting for the sleeping pill to kick in and suddenly I felt this huge, horrible wave of fear wash over me. I felt like I was on the brink of a panic attack. I started taking deep breaths and calming myself down, but this feeling persisted. I told Daniel I needed him to be next to me, right next to me, like sitting on the edge of my side of the bed next to me. He came around and I explained to him that at the risk of sounding dramatic, I was experiencing this dreadful fear which I believed was coming from a thought that if I closed my eyes tonight, I was not going to wake up in the morning. I don’t remember the detail of the conversation we had, but as always, Daniel managed to calm me down and I did soon fall asleep. I was very happy when I woke up in the morning but was really distracted by the events of the night before.

Why would I have such a real feeling that I was going to die? My body or inner voice, or call it what you want, is always a source of truth. I didn’t even want to think such thoughts so as much as it was there, I tried to put it out and replace it with positive thoughts of well-being.

I got to the Doctor for my appointment and was soon going off for a scan to check that I did not have a blood clot in my legs. Things felt like they were getting really serious and my fear level was mounting. My head and heart were filled of thoughts of my son, and knowing that I did not want to let him down by checking out of his life at this early age. I also didn’t want to leave Daniel so I started drawing on every resource I have to turn this around. I kept reminding myself of how strong I am and how I bounce back from everything.

My scan was ok but my Doctor still felt it necessary for me to go to the Emergency Room. He was not happy at all and we went straight there. I had blood tests, x-rays, and an EKG. The Doctors were amazed that I was able to communicate coherently. Their surprise was based on the following facts:

My Oxygen Saturation Level was at 77%. Normal for this is 98 – 100.
My Carbon Dioxide (amount of CO2 in my blood) was 60+. Normal for this is around 42.
When you carbon dioxide is this high, it constricts the blood vessels in your lungs, which make it harder for the heart to pump blood to the lungs. This causes blood to back-up behind the heart and induces swelling in the legs and feet due to fluid build up.
The reason for the CO2 build up is because I cannot, when I am sleeping, get rid of the CO2. This is as a result of an already weak diaphragm slacking off even further in a sleep state.
The solution is to use a breathing assist apparatus called a BI-PAP. This assists by forcing additional air into the lungs via either the nose or the mouth. This expands the lungs, which assists in exhaling more carbon dioxide.
Utilizing this machine eventually brings down the amount of CO2 in the blood, therefore making more room for oxygen, relaxing the blood vessels in the lungs and allowing the heart to function normally. This process takes about three days of continuous use of the BI-PAP, which is what kept me in the hospital.

If we had not have identified the problem, the CO2 levels once above 70, causes a person to go into a coma which is unlikely they will come out of.

At this point, we realized that the worst thing I could have done that night before the doc appointment was take a sleeping pill and how lucky we were that I did wake up the next morning. The fear was real – my body knew it didn’t need that sleeping pill and it certainly let me know that something was not ok. I truly never want to experience anything like that fear again.

Needless to say, the next three days passed in a bit of a haze. But pass they did, and my levels reached a point where everyone was satisfied for me to come home. I was taken care of by some incredible people in the hospital. The nurses and respiratory therapists and everyone else were just amazing. I was in what is called Progressive Care, or as I called it, the Business Class of Sick Travel. It is one up from a regular ward and one before Intensive Care. You are monitored more closely than on a regular ward and exactly like in business class, the differences are subtle but you do feel them.

I came home convinced now that I should be able to hook up to the machine at home and sleep the same way I did in the hospital. Unfortunately, that was not the case. One minute on the ventilator and again I feel like I can’t breathe. At this point, I start to question my sanity. How can this be? I have just been on a BI PAP machine for three days and here I am saying I can’t breathe on a ventilator. Oh the frustration, the tears, the freak out. The next day Daniel dedicated himself to getting me on to a BI PAP machine at home. It was a case of letting the Rottweiler loose on the medical profession. In short, the BI PAP arrived at the house.

Am I managing on it – YES!
Am I getting sleep – 10 STRAIGHT HOURS LAST NIGHT!
As I sit and write this, I cry tears of relief – again, not to be dramatic. It is 12.30am Monday morning and as recently as 10 days ago, I would be thinking, another night to get through. As the sun would start setting each day, I would start getting anxious about how to get through the night.
There is so much relief in the fear being gone. I know I want to be here. I know that the powers that be want me here - I just KNOW that.

I also know that there is no time for bullshit. I will not let anything or anyone be any kind of energy drain on my family anymore. That might well mean an element of change is going to wash over our very own home, and if that is what it takes, that is what will happen.

The word ‘gratitude’ gets thrown about very easily. This was a reminder to me of just how much I have to be grateful for. I have a husband who so delivers beyond the call of duty. I am in awe of this man, and am so grateful to have him in my life. I have a child who has brought the most amazing soul into my world and he spreads magic in the lives of all who know and love him. I have a mother of 81 years old who displays the strength of a lion and whose capacity to love her children astounds me even after 44 years of wallowing in it. I have a sister who would do anything to provide for anything I might need or want that would enhance my wellbeing. I have a friend called Marti who literally steps in where I have to step aside, sometimes by choice sometimes by necessity, and carries on where I left off. To these people, I stand before you so grateful, so humbled by your kindness, so humbled by your love for me and from the bottom of my (now perfectly pumping) heart, I thank you again and again, and over again.

I know this might be starting to sound like I am about to thank the Academy, but a few more:

Tammy ~ all I can say is, the I80 can’t be bigger than all of this – it is a goal for next summer. Thank you!
Jen W ~ you will never know how many nights you dragged me through. ‘jenw is now on line’ felt like instant relief, night after night, after night. Thank you!
Andi ~ for always having something positive to give me, and encouraging me to never settle for anything less than what I believe I deserve. Thank you!
Alyson ~ for simply hearing me and caring in that quiet, powerful way you do. Thank you!
Jodi ~ making me feel like I have had a friend in NJ for 100 years. It makes such a huge difference in my life. Thank you!
Dave & Rae ~ even at a distance, your wishes for my wellbeing are felt and I take great comfort in that. Thank you!
Yades ~ for being my friendy features. Thank you!
Jen Gray ~ whether you knew it or not, the soul food you provide every day just by clicking here. Thank you!

I’m going to sleep now!

I honor the light and life in you, and I am grateful to share time and space with you. Posted by Hello

We've got a groovy kind of love! Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 17, 2004


This morning I made an Internet discovery that is super cool. So cool that I had to come post it immediately. I can’t take credit for the discovery but instead share THANKS here, where I visit regularly. Welcome to What’s that called? Have fun!

Monday, October 11, 2004


Last year I received an email introducing me to THE STATE OF GRACE DOCUMENT. Through computer deaths and re-births, I mislaid and now recently found the information.

THE STATE OF GRACE DOCUMENT is the brain-heart-spirit child of Maureen K McCarthy. If these questions get you thinking, visit the site and discover a tool that could change the way you manage your relationships.

~What am I afraid of -- including what am I afraid of really saying right now?
~What truths do I need to tell?
~What do I need right now?
~What do we each have to gain by ending this relationship?
~What do we each have to gain by continuing this relationship?
~What part does money play in this situation?
~Have I let you down?
~Is there a power struggle going on between us?
~What do I appreciate most about you?
~What do I have to forgive myself and/or you for?
~Is it time to redefine or redirect this relationship?
~What is the deep down knowing we each have about how this will eventually end up?

I’m pleased I found it and hope it can create some value for you.

Maureen K. McCarthy Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 10, 2004

1952 - 2004
Rest in peace Posted by Hello


Things were a hive of activity around the house this summer. We undertook lots of home improvements that were long overdue and now essential to get done before the winter arrives. The noise levels were horrendous and there were days when I just wanted to run away.

My16 year old step son and his friends were in the TV room “ha-ha-ha” and “no-no-no” and “yeah-yeah-yeah” and “woah-woah-woah” and “censored-censored-censored” and “what?-what?-what?”-ing over some video game that I had a strong urge to throw a hand grenade at. The sound effects on this thing were so realistic, that when the first shot went off, I all but dived under my desk to avoid injury. These boys are loud, they don’t require natural light to function and if you stand still for too long next to them, they will eventually stretch out, pick you up, put you in their mouths and eat you ~ because they DON’T STOP EATING!

As if what was going on inside the house was not enough fun, we were installing new decks at both the front and back of the house. A few people told us that these deck builders are amazing. They come in, rip the old one out and in a day, maybe two, put up the new one. The whole deck thing is a fun and new concept to us South Africans. We have things called patios, and verandahs, and “stoeps”.
While working at my desk one day, the entire house started shaking. Seriously! I actually said out loud “what the fuck is going on here?” It was truly that bad. I really thought that my house was having its own private earthquake. I ventured upstairs to discover a handsome, topless, young man pounding away at the concrete paving outside my front door with a jackhammer.
It’s a darn noisy piece of equipment a jackhammer so short of leaping out the front door topless, there was no way I was going to get his attention through calling him. I thought for a while that if the deck company were going to start building the decks, they might call a day ahead and let us know. Clearly this was not the case but from the noise, one had no choice but to sit back and let them build.

We were then interrupted by lots of rainy days and the whole deck building exercise turned in a protracted period of banging, clanging, digging, filling, hammering, shouting and lots of bare backed, tanned six packs, glistening tattoos summer extravaganza.
I found myself glancing round doorways and peering out windows feeling like I was starring in the ads where up tight office women stand and drool over road workers or window cleaners tonguing their cans of soda wishing it was the road worker.

The rain finally stopped long enough for the men to throw themselves into their work, and finally, the deck was born. The hammering stopped, the hip hop blaring out the shitty speaker in the garage stopped, and the game in the TV room stopped!
I stepped out on to the new deck and felt like a real grown up when I saw how beautifully our home had been enhanced. For the first time in three years, all outside areas of my home were accessible to me. The steps were built to accommodate my ability to climb them and the front of the house is accessible by having raised the entrance to the height of the front door. This is a real treat and it is amazing how much pleasure I get from being able to chat to my neighbor at the front door. This is a luxury I have not been able to do in three years.
Thank you to the team of six packs!

Upstairs deck off kitchen. Posted by Hello

When I sit here ... Posted by Hello

... in the shade of these trees ... Posted by Hello

... this is my view. Posted by Hello

Full Frontal Posted by Hello

Entrance Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


I have had a wonderful time reading so many different Blogs while not being able to update mine. I have discovered new writers and of course continue to visit my regulars. On dooce we were recently given the opportunity of sharing a most incredible journey of child birth, post partum depression, and mental illness. This strong woman opened herself up to the Internet and told it like it was. She shared herself 100% and in so doing served so very many people. It was amazing to see the human spirit shine through her website as people supported her with love and kindness. It was really remarkable. What I found particularly amazing was her courage. Her courage to stand in her total truth and release it to the universe in an attempt to heal herself.

I have only seen one other person do this, my courageous and beautiful friend
Pam Summers who passed away in 2001. We sometimes think that by not saying something, that which we are saying is the truth. I have come to see that this is a cop-out. Without expecting it to turn out this way, my summer of 2004 has turned out to be the most profound learning experience that I have endured in a long time. For some reason, the life choices I make always result in learning experiences being painful for me. I very rarely have the opportunity to go through a light, fun experience and skip out the other end saying WOW I JUST LEARNT THE MOST AMAZING LIFE LESSON. I, for some reason, sabotage myself, put myself through the most extreme circumstances I can, and come out the other end like a hobbling, wounded soldier. But, one thing I do know, I come out wiser, I come out stronger, and I always COME OUT.

I have taken emotional knocks in the last few months from people closest to me and whom I never anticipated could misunderstand anything I said or did. I have seen sides of people that I had never noticed before that have been so extreme they have shaken me to my very core. These things are intense for me. These things take me time to heal from. I come out of these things with a very different view on life to what I might have had in the recent past.

It’s all growth though. I therefore think it is all positive. It pleases me that I am somewhat different today to how I might have been only three months ago. I was inspired by the courage I saw on
dooce and observing her journey from a distance, I see how imperative it is to vibrate at that courageous level of truth – that ultimate – full throttle – in your face with style type of truth!

I visit the orthopedic doctor again soon and hope I will be free to resume using my right arm. I snuck this post through as I have really missed being here and look forward to updating my news of the summer.

Pam Posted by Hello