Saturday, September 27, 2008

dance party

We had a disco at our place last night.

I wore a purple dress with gold lame pants and gold platform shoes. The kids wore their version of disco clothes. We turned up the music in the kitchen, loud.

Laura left Fatty a note on the bed, on top of a silver 'Peter Allen' sequinned shirt. The note read:

"Put this on NOW and join us for the dance party!"

There was grooving and moving to 'Hot Stuff' and 'Give it Up', until we heard Fatty come in the front door, when we danced wildly to 'We Are Family'.

Despite having been at work for 11 hours, dear Fatty dutifully put on his bling, and even wiggled his butt for the camera. I knew there was a good reason I married this man.

We stayed in full disco attire for dinner. I felt slightly conspicuous wandering out on the back deck to pick parsley but I decided it was my civic duty to entertain the neighbours.
Brushing his teeth before bed, Ben sighed contentedly, "I've had so much fun tonight." I smiled, and had to agree.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

in stitches

I think my son Ben may have been watching too many wildlife shows.

You would think the fact might have dawned on me when Ben chose to dress as David Attenborough for the fancy dress school disco. Every other boy was dressed in some sort of superhero outfit, while my son wore beige dress pants, a blue button-up shirt, and had his hair slicked over in a side-part. Nice.

I finally twigged that Ben's brain has been overtaken by documentaries when the following exchange took place:

Laura: Mum, have you ever had stitches?

Me: No, I don't think so

Ben: Yes you have, Mum. Remember? - you had stitches after giving birth to live young.

If that's not a statement to make a gal feel glamorous I don't know what is.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

in sickness and in health

In general I'm a peace-loving sort of woman. Except when sparring at karate. Or when arguing with my husband. Except for those situations, I do try to be accommodating and understanding; I'm happy to 'go with the flow', as they say.

At work I am certainly no tough nut. If a patient tells me they've been sick, even if they appear to be thriving with good health, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, some symptoms aren't readily apparent to the observer. A person may have pain, or nausea, and I have no way of assessing this definitively. Similarly, I try to be generous when a patient has emotional distress and doesn't feel able to attend work. I wouldn't say I'm a pushover, but I'm certainly not hard-line. If a patient is just feeling overwhelmed by life and is completely stressed-out, a day or two off work may prevent them spiralling downwards, and needing several weeks off work. I'm happy to supply a medical cerificate.

I can only recall a few instances in my working career in which I have refused to give a medical certificate. One I clearly recall was when a cheery young man told me he was going fishing the next day, and requested a medical certificate to cover him for the day. I had to try hard not to laugh as I refused this request. (I mean, couldn't he have at least tried to invent a sore throat, a stomach pain, something?!)

Then last week, there was Unhappy Chappie*. Mr UC came to see me with a long list of requests - scripts, referrals, results and the like. I scurried to try to fulfil Mr UC's wishes. After twenty minutes, I had whizzed through it all, and was wrapping up the consultation. He then piped up with one more query:

"Could I have a medical certificate for the next couple of days please?"

"Why? " I queried, concerned (and also imagining further lengthy discussions about this new problem!). "Are you ill?"

"No", Mr UC replied blithely. "It's just that I've taken today off to trim all my hedges right back, and I always get a sore back the next day, so ... I take another day off afterwards."

I blinked. For a minute I was speechless. Then I ventured tentatively, "So, is your back any worse than usual at the moment?"

"No. No, it's fine right now. It's just that I like to get the hedges done in one fell swoop, and the weekends can be busy, so..... you know..... I take the full day, no kids around, get it done." I sat, stunned. "And then I pay for it the next day", he finished.

"Well," I began gently, "I can give you a certificate saying you attended for a doctor's appointment today. But I can't give you a certificate saying you're sick. Because you're not sick in any way."

Mr UC's eyebrows shot up. He glared at me. "But Dr Doodlehead* always used to give me a certificate for this. Every spring!".

I smiled wanly. "Um, well ...... I can't speak for Dr Doodlehead, but ...... it's not legal for me to give you a certificate to trim your hedge. And if your back gets so sore from doing all the hedges in a one day, then .... as harsh as it sounds .... perhaps you shouldn't be doing it all in one go."

Mr UC's eyeballs bulged. He muttered to himself something about 'Dr Doodlehead never had a problem with this'. He seemed to simmer down though, and took his prescriptions, and thanked me as he left. But later that day, the practice manager e-mailed me, saying 'I just had a complaint from a most unreasonable man. See me about this sometime."

Anyone who knows me would know that I am not a person brimming with self-confidence. I have an average amount of confidence, I suppose, but with my work is probably an area where I have the least confidence. I have had patients complain about me a few times in the past, and it has always upset me quite a lot, and made me question myself. But this day last week, when I got the e-mail, I just laughed. I laughed out loud in my room, and I decided not to spend a moment worrying about displeasing this gentleman. Because you can't please everyone, and you can't trim their hedges either.

*Patient and minor incidental details have been changed to protect the guilty!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

on being the Mum

Now & then, when telemarketers ring, they mistake me for a child. I answer the phone as I always do: "Hello, Jelly speaking!", and they respond sweetly, "Oh hi! Is your Mum or Dad there?". I usually pause, laugh, and then assure them that I actually am an adult of the house. As they bumble and stumble over their words, I briskly dispatch them, telling them we are in the middle of dinner/I'm at home with a sick child/I'm just not interested in their product - whichever excuse happens to be true at the time.

Today, a young man telephoned. I answered in my usual way, and he politely stated his name, and his company, then asked if my parents might be around. A little tired, a little testy, I sighed and snapped, "I'm the Mum!". Then, realising just how silly that sounded, I added quickly, "and I'm not interested in re-financing the mortgage".

Not missing a beat, the young chappie chirped, "Well, take it as a compliment!"

"Mmm", I humphed. "Thanks anyway. Bye."

I hung up and began to grin. My words echoed back to me in my mind. "I'm the Mum!" I repeated to myself incredulously. I rang my husband at work, giggling. "I just told a telemarketer 'I'm the Mum'!", I snickered. Fatty didn't seem to find it particularly funny.

Perhaps I am over-tired. Perhaps I am losing it. Perhaps I am snowed-down under the weight of cooking and scouring the bath and ironing and homework and folding and swimming lessons and work and childrens naughtiness and husbandly misdeeds. I've finally cracked and my family will be very sorry they were ever less than deeply loving towards me. Because dammit, I'M THE MUM!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


There we were, having a perfectly lovely Sunday. There she was, silently coasting away from us down the hill, as Fatty and I chatted to a friend who'd chanced by the same playground.

There was a godawful crash of metal-on-metal. "What was that?", one of us exclaimed. I moved around to where I could see the metal pedestrian bridge. There was a kid on a bike, sprawled over. Our friend, who was closest, ran down to help, Fatty following. I stayed where I was, thinking there were plenty of helpers. Then I saw the green shirt, and heard her begin to cry, quietly. My girl.

I dashed down. She had stopped crying already, but was pale and sweaty. Her chin was dripping blood. I held the gaping cut together with my bare hands to stop the bleeding. Fatty ran off to get the car.

In the ED, they joked with her and checked her over. Her jaw was tender and swollen just near her left ear; she couldn't open her mouth far. The doctor suspected a fractured jaw and I felt slightly sick, but the Xray came back clear. The jaw was only badly jarred. Sweet relief!

Laura lay still and dry-eyed as the doctor injected the local anaesthetic. She closed her eyes and said not a word as he stitched and snipped, stitched and snipped. We took her home and she went straight to sleep, uncomplaining.

Later she woke, whimpering and sweating, her eyes wild and scared. It took me ten minutes to calm the shaking.

Now she is languishing at home on her soft diet of yoghurt and mashed potato. I am kissing her and stroking her cheek and telling her she is the best daughter I've ever had, which makes her laugh.

It's good to hear that laugh.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

nothing much is really something

The book I am reading right now................

The people I am spending the morning with....

The dog I am forgiving for stealing the last piece of date loaf .................

The flowers in my world........

Nothing too exciting going on here folks, but that's a good thing.
Mama's funeral was beautiful. The readings were words from her children, and words Mama had written herself. The mood was respectful, loving, sad and humorous all at once. Afterwards, my brother and sister and brother-in-law all congregated at our place. We had lunch together, and sat around chatting and drinking coffee. Ben showed off his burgeoning reading skills; Laura offered some of her more intricate drawings to be duly admired. Photo albums were pored over, and we discussed the funeral, and Mama.
Last night I made homemade pizzas and read to the kids lying down in bed.
Tonight I'm off to the movies with Fatty.
Tomorrow we're going bike riding, then having friends over for drinks and a sunset dinner on our back deck.
It's more than enough for me.