Sunday, October 30, 2005

mundane mutterings about marriage

When you really think about it, it's amazing how many people do stay married. Marriage is hard work, plain and simple. And I know that Fatty is a great guy, probably easier to live with than many other men....and yet... sometimes, I find being marriage to be intensely frustrating (as I'm sure Fatty does). We are pretty good at talking, trying to see each others point of view, and staying calm (OK really it ranges from calm to fairly irritated and snappy!). The problem is, what do you do when you both listen to each other, you talk it through, you try to understand each other ...but still you disagree. It's hard to get past. It's depressing and kind of lonely. I know - compromise, compromise - but what if it is about something you feel strongly about, such as an issue relating to the health or safety of your kids? I find it hard to compromise then. I want to just say NO NO NO and that's that. Now you're getting a glimpse into my true nature. I think I'm quite strong-willed (i.e. stubborn) and decisive (i.e. bossy). So that's probably something I need to work on. Sigh. More work, just what I need!

I know I have much to be thankful for, and I am thankful. I just felt like having a moan and whine. After all, blogs are good for that sometimes. So anyone who wants to have a guilt-free whine, feel free to join in. I won't think you're self-involved or ungrateful. This can be a little group therapy session. And then we can all start the new week happy and peaceful!

P.S. the photo was taken on a weekend away we spent near a lake... just put it in because it's pretty, and to add a more positive vibe!

Friday, October 28, 2005

a twitchy husband

Some of you may have already heard about Fatty's new-ish pastime - birdwatching (or 'twitching', as it is apparently known to serious birdwatchers). I thought it may have been a passing phase, but no. He's been at it again. Yesterday he bought some new, improved binoculars (our current, perfectly fine-looking ones seemingly not up to the mark) and headed off into bushland. He has returned with photos of various birds, which I was required to duly admire. Fatty now has photos of 67 different Australian bird species. That's only about 633 more to go.

For your edification, I present the purple swamp hen. I know you will love it almost as much as Fatty does.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the sanctity of life

Hmmm.. I'm wondering even before I start this post whether I may be howled down as being anti-feminist or maybe even called small-minded. Never mind, I have broad shoulders.

One issue I struggle with a little as a doctor is that of abortion (or 'termination', as it is so politely referred to these days). Now before anyone gets too upset with me, I understand that there are circumstances where it may be the best possible choice - for example when a woman or girl is raped, or if the mother is extremely ill, or if the baby is diagnosed with a disorder that is definitely not compatible with life. Some would disagree even under these circumstances. Some would extend these categories - say, to include disorders where the baby would have what we would judge to be a poor quality of life. I don't necessarily know precisely what my view is, but I'm not totally anti-abortion

The times when I find it very hard to remain impartial, supportive and non-judgemental are when young married women come to see me, pregnant, saying, "It's not the right time for us now", or, "We haven't paid off the house yet" or, "I was going to lose a few kilos then try next year". I mean, a young girl still at school or university, or a single mother with 4 kids already...these are circumstances where at least I can understand the decision, and feel that if it is their best and carefully-considered decision, then I must respect the choice (after all, it's not me who will have to deal with the baby, and I don't have to walk in their shoes). But sometimes the reasons I am given for the planned termination are, in my opinion, so shallow and cold. The worst example I can recall was a young solicitor, married, who asked to be referred for a termination because she and her husband had a ski holiday lined up in 2 months' time. She hadn't planned to attempt to conceive for another 4 months. The baby developing inside her was just not going to be convenient, evidently. So what did I do? I did what I always try to do - allowed her to explore all her feelings with me, discussed the range of options available to her, then discussed some possible pros and cons of termination (emotional effects included there). But what I wanted to do was say, " Don't you realise you are destroying what would be your child, if you let it grow? Can you not see that you can never go back and have this particular child again?" AAAARGH... it is heart-wrenching.

Sometimes there are happier stories, though. Another mother I saw recently, who had 2 children already, came to see me with an unplanned pregnancy. She was really thinking she wanted to have a termination, but she wasn't absolutely sure. There were some financial considerations, though she knew they'd manage. It was mainly the thought of coping with another child. I let her talk, we did some problem-solving about some of the concerns she had. I discussed the risk of postnatal depression if she went ahead with the pregnancy just to keep her husband/mother/friend happy, but I also discussed how many women can also suffer feelings of loss and guilt after a termination - even when the decision is clear for them at the time. I know this woman had her life planned a certain way, and this 3rd child was throwing her off balance. But this lady took some time, talked with her husband, adjusted her plans, and now these plans include a 3rd child to complete her family. I can't wait to meet this baby!

I might just go hug my 2 kids. They are infinitely precious.

Monday, October 24, 2005

the pinnacle of suburban pleasure - a BBQ!

Half-blackened chicken, a hunk of bread, a green salad......Ben and Laura fighting over who gets to sit next to Daddy... a glass of cold white wine to help me ignore the racket - I love BBQ dinners! There is something about eating on our back deck that makes me feel like we're on holiday. It's the perfect way to end a weekend, so tonight we'll be doing just that. I hope everyone has had a relaxing weekend, or at least ended it with some serenity!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

it's a dog's life

Millie the beagle is a bad bad dog. She looks like a sweet, loving, obedient hound. However, she is a Hoover on legs, and will eat anything, anywhere, anytime. Just the other day, she stole Ben's bug-catcher from the table, carried it down into the back yard, and pried the lid off with her teeth -all to gain access to a small tomato inside (in which a caterpillar was innocently living its munching life).
If we have visitors over, and we go to the door with them to say goodbye, we will return inside to find whatever food remained has mysteriously disappeared. Hmm we say, I thought we still had half a cake left...
Once, when Fatty and I were doing last-minute packing on the day we were leaving for an overseas trip, I found my toiletry bag had been attacked. All that was left of an entire month's worth of contraceptive pill was the much-chewed foil packet. I rang the vet in a flap, worried that something awful might happen - vomiting, diarrhoea, perhaps abdominal pain? The vet could hardly contain his hilarity and could only remark that the dog certainly wouldn't fall pregnant now. HA HA.
Somehow, despite the fact she has no regard for my authority, I respect Millie's ingenuity and sheer bravado. And she does have the softest ears ever.

Friday, October 21, 2005

wow, another bug

Thought it was time I tried posting a here are my two ratbags checking out yet another insect on the pavement. Louey isn't really all that interested, I suspect, but humours her little brother by inspecting his findings. I try to show the required enthusiasm, too. In fact it's funny how sometimes I'm faking fascination, then I find whatever Ben's looking at really is intriguing. I guess kids are good like that - they make you look at things anew.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

do husbands have it better?

I might be about to create some controversy here but hey, better that than boredom.

I am feeling overworked and underappreciated, having done the usual working mother stuff - got up, dressed and fed both kids (oh, yeah, and myself), gone to work, come home, gone grocery shopping with 2 bored kids in tow, unpacked groceries, reorganised fridge, made a start on dinner, intervened in WW3, gone to look at the twig that was caught in the clothesline (after my kids pleading with me, "Mum! You have to come and see this!"), blah blah blah. All other mothers will know what I mean, whether full-time at home, or working and doing home duties. And generally I must say, Fatty (my husband) is pretty good at doing his share - he always cleans up the kitchen at night, because I always cook (when I say cleans up the kitchen - this may or may not involve wiping benches etc!, but does involve stacking the dishwasher and washing pots in the sink). But I sometimes feel that I am doing more of the running around, and I almost always feel that he doesn't realise how much I do, and therefore doesn't appreciate it. Anyone feel the same?

I think the problem is - when our kids were smaller, it was pretty much a full-time job to look after the 2 of them, so I was happy to cook, set the table, clean up a bit etc while Fatty was on pre-dinner kid-duty. But lately the kids play a lot without us, and so Fatty gets to sit around, flicking through the paper, watching the news... and I'm like, HELLO! COULD YOU POSSIBLY MAYBE do SOMETHING??! Poor Fatty. I always told him I was not the apple-pie-baking, smiling-whilst-bringing-hubby-a-nice-drink kind of woman. I'm sure he thinks I'm a grumpy cow and that he does his fair share in the end. But I'm not so sure.

Monday, October 17, 2005

up late

oh I'm weary to me bones. I should go to bed. Why do I keep catching myself watching " The Biggest Loser" when it is such terrible TV?( I guess the answer to that one is self-evident!)

It was pretty frantic today at work. At one point I called a man in 1 1/4 hours late (yes, i know, embarrassing but true). While I could understand that 75 minutes is an outrageous amount of time to wait in a doctor's surgery, there was nothing I could do about it. I was trying to be firm with all those people who say, " Now, I have written a list", (meanwhile they have a 15 minute appointment slot and expect 1 hour worth of consulting time). There were just a couple of emergency non-booked patients, plus quite a few who would tell me, at the end of 15 minutes of discussion and examination ... " By the way, I've ALSO been having these crushing chest pains..." or something equivalent. It's not something you can just leave until another visit, is it?Inwardly I groan, thinking, well, that's going to take another 20 minutes minimum to sort out (I can feel the others in the waiting room seething, glaring, hating me). Anyway, today everyone was actually pretty nice about having to wait, for which I was so grateful. There's nothing worse than being hungry, tired, thirsty, worried about the sick baby you saw 2 patients ago, trying to do a good job with every patient, and then you call in a patient who is stony-faced, rigid with anger, who tells you, " I have been waiting 50 minutes! That is just not good enough!". I can understand the frustration, but I also feel like saying, " Do you think I want to run late and not get home until my kids are almost in bed? Do you think I'm running late because I'm eating cake? I'm sorry but I'm BUSTING MY GUTS here, lady!"

Hmm. I think I feel a little better. Nothing like a good vent.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

boring blogs and birthdays

Since starting my own blog, I've been doing a bit of 'blog-surfing' (as everyone does, I suspect) and found it interesting to read what other people were doing in their lives. It's sort of like eavesdropping except you're not breaking any moral codes of behaviour, so it's guilt-free! But lately most of the sites seem to be business sites with boring blurb about insurance and the like (plus most of the comments posted on real people's blogs are from salespersons of one type or another). It's annoying and dull. I guess at least this ensures that my blog will always be comparatively more readable. I am real. I am not selling anything! I am telling the truth! - at least my version of it.

Today is Fatty's birthday. He is very old. Fatty plays an important role in my life, and that role is...always being older than me. Via him, I am forever young(er). We spent most of the day with friends, at their home. We ate steak, baked potatoes and coleslaw, and drank a bit of red wine, while our kids played. It was very laid-back. The ratbags (children) were all surpisingly well-behaved and it was almost like our carefree pre-children days as we lolled around on couches. Ahhhh..... lovely! We are now home, though, and real life has intervened - time to feed, bathe, story-read, song-sing, bed-dump our offspring. Most importantly, somewhere in there (preferably BEFORE the bed-dump) we must light birthday candles, sing to gorgeous Fatty, and eat banana cake.

Friday, October 14, 2005

post-funeral thoughts

I went to a funeral this afternoon (no one close to me, for anyone out there who was mustering up some sympathy). I decided that people cry at funerals for many reasons other than the fact they are sad at the loss of the person who died.
People cry because they feel awful for the family left behind
People cry because they have lost someone on another occasion, or are fearful of losing someone soon
People cry because they are depressed, and trying to cope bravely (but 'lose it' at funerals)
People cry because death, especially sudden or unexpected death, is scary. We try to protect ourselves with cholesterol checks, safe houses, traffic calming, security systems, immunisations, trust funds and insurance... yet we will all die - some young, some middle-aged, some elderly, but it's where we're all heading. I guess the death of someone we know is a very big reminder of our own mortality, and that of our nearest and dearest.
Yet what a blast life is! Every pat of a soft dog's ear, every mouthful of fine cheesecake, every glimpse of a pink-and-orange sunset, every buzz from an post-exercise endorphin high.... every word of love from a child or friend or partner... it makes all the tough stuff worthwhile. To me it does, anyway.

morning grumping

I started this morning trying to boost my caffeine levels (which had plummetted to a shocking low) but being interrupted by squeals of was a child-with-an-itchy-rash emergency. After ministering to said child, The Itch was still causing distress, so we sat down and read " The Little Polar Bear" for distraction. Poor little Lars the polar bear - thank goodness it all worked out in the end for him.

Now it's off to work - an extra shift. First must drop 1 child at preschool, then 1 at daycare, then go to work with a full tank of empathy and concern. Deep breaths.... I know I can do it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

my friend Chook

Tonight my friend Chook (as she is sometimes called, and as she shall be called in this blog) came over. Chook has been my friend since we were 12 years old, and she is very dear to me. Apart from my family, she has known me longest, and loved me most unconditionally. More recently, she has suffered from depression, and came very close to suicide last year.

Tonight, she was expressing how she was fed up with being a 'needy friend', as she put it, and that she wished our friendship was more 'equal'. I replied that if I'd had a father who left when I was tiny, and a mother who was in & out of psychiatric institutions all my childhood, then perhaps I might be more 'needy', too. Chook ended up admitting that when she was lining up the bottles of pills last year, she'd thought to herself that if she topped herself, her friends would be sorry that they hadn't been able to prevent the death, but that they'd probably feel a bit relieved too. I was shocked by her words. What a terrible thought to have - how awful she must have been feeling to truly believe this. My Chook is wacky and wonderful, and I don't ever want to have to live without her. I told her this. I don't know for sure if she believes me. I take comfort in the fact that although she has ups & downs, like everyone (and the past few weeks have been a bit rough for one reason or another), she is now on medication, and her depression seems to have retreated.

Depression - the black dog as they call it - may it run far away with its tail between its legs.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

bugs and birds

My son Ben has a bug-catcher (you know, one of those cheap plastic conical thingies with lids at top and bottom for easy entrapment), and currently residing within is an enormous bug. Fatty caught it for Ben while the kids and I were out swimming. Ben is definitely impressed. The bug is a Longicorn beetle - this I know because my husband is one of those nerdy people who owns many books entitled "What Plant Is It?", and, " Wildlife of Greater Brisbane" etc. One Christmas I scored big points with Fatty when I bought him the all-time favourite book, "What Garden Pest or Disease is That?". So you get the picture.

Lately, Fatty has become obsessed with bird-watching (no predictable jokes here, please) and if he gets off work early will not come home, but will go sneaking off into bushland, where he furtively takes photos of feathered creatures. He has found out where there are 'hides' (which are like little cubbyhouses from which one can birdwatch, for those who, like me, didn't know this) and is systematically trying them out. I'm sure this must all be my fault. Perhaps he wouldn't be compelled to birdwatch if I wore some feather boas or developed some sort of personal song, or even just gave him a peck when he got home (ha ha).

In truth, I don't mind at all, because apart from playing squash once a week, and going to the odd footy game, Fatty is really a home-and-family kind of guy. If anything, I go out more - to karate, gym, out with friends. So if he really must go be with his fluffy chirpy friends, it seems reasonable, plus provides me with an opportunity to mock him (in an extremely loving and supportive way)

It's time for me to go effortlessly whip up a gourmet meal, all the time smiling seductively and licking the spoon (like Nigella Lawson), whilst looking gorgeous and capable at the same time (like the women in the margarine ads). No problem, I do this every night. I even have an apron that says "I'm not a housewife, I'm a hornbag". I believe I look very fetching in it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 working week over

As I don't work Fridays, Thursday nights are when I start to wind down... so here I am winding, winding (not to be confused with whining, whining). It was a pretty good week - no patients dead as a result of my advice or lack thereof (not that I know of anyway and ignorance is bliss, right?). It was actually one of those weeks which reaffirm for me why I am lucky to do the job I do. I get to meet many different people, who share various intimate details about themselves, and their lives, with me. I get to feel that I am helping treat or prevent illness in these people (and surely at least some of the time I actually am?!) and over time these people often become quite dear to me. That may be quite unprofessional of me, but I'm not an automaton, and I can't help but become close to patients that I see regularly. Some of my patients have been patients of mine for 8 years (which I know is not a LONG LONG time, but long enough)- ever since I started in general practice - having 'followed' me from my previous practice to my current surgery. These long-term patients become a little like friends, but then it's weird friendship where you only ever listen to their problems, and they have to pay money for the privilege! So true friendship it is not, but there's definitely a connection. As I say, this has been a good week, so these are my warm and fuzzy thoughts about being a GP. There will be complaining in further posts.

My fat beagle is snoring softly near my feet as I write. Sometimes she snores more loudly, and it becomes difficult to hear the TV. I'm not exaggerating.
My kids are both asleep. My husband (known affectionately as 'Fatty' despite the fact he is lean) is still at work. When he gets home he will be delighted to see I have saved him some congealed pasta bake that I 'made up' i.e .did not use a recipe for i.e. fairly average in both taste and consistency. Mmmm-mmmmm.

Time to go put on a mini-skirt, slick on some body sparkle and hit the nightclubs. Whoops, forgot I have too much cellulite now and kids to look after. Time to read a book then.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

day at home with my kids

Wow, I guess that's a pretty enticing title (not!). I must admit that nothing too riveting happens on my days at home with the wee ones. They are good little kids, though (boy aged 3 and girl almost 5), and despite all the mundane sandwich-making, nose-blowing, and dispute-negotiating, there is also the laughing at dumb jokes, running around in the back yard, and the odd spontaneous tight hug for me.

Right now they are watching TV (kids educational programs but still ... I feel guilty when I use the TV as entertainer, so try to limit it to 1/2-1 hour per day) - Laura with a pink ballerina dress on (appropriate morning attire as far as she's concerned), and Benjamin sucking his thumb whilst clutching Sheet (grubby old cot sheet which I have to sneak away to wash every now & then causing subsequent complaints that 'it doesn't smell good anymore!').
I myself should not criticise my daughter for her clothing, as at least she isn't still in PJs like her bad mother...... time to shower and dress and get on with the rest of the day!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

no idea here

OK, here we go.... I am a person with very poor computer skills, so I'll just be pleased if I can make words appear on my blog (how exciting, i have a blog! I just know there will be thousands of people lining up to read my profound writings... err ..hmm)
So this is a start.. am feeling terribly self-conscious, which is ridiculous because NO ONE CARES WHAT I WRITE! and no-one knows who I am. OK, I'm sure I can get used to this, and next post actually say something.