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There is no real pattern for this whole healing process.  At every turn I find a new way to address a feeling or thought.  It must be one of the most reflective times in my life.  Learning new, honest and organic ways to sift through my emotions is an art-form that takes time and effort.   I’m lucky to have these beautiful surrounding and people around me, to make it all a little easier.”

This is a paragraph that resonates with me.  I take it from a post I wrote back in June (Down Time) and it is still relevant.  I had just been released from the hospital and I’m sure the healing I was referring to had very little to do with my kidney.

As I get ready to fly to Vietnam, I have taken a few moments to skim through some of my older posts.   It’s interesting to see how this journey has progressed.  I have to admit: I don’t remember writing all that much of it.  Once out there, the words have done their intended duty – they have punched the healing time-card.  Looking back is something I don’t think I’ll make a habit of. ..not yet, at least.

A Taste of the Great Ocean RoadConquering My Fear!After Tonga, I had a week or so in Melbourne.  Catching up with old friends and making new ones – I kept busy and managed to meet some people heading west along the Great Ocean Road.  Beautiful!  The twelve apostles are a highlight.  We had decent weather and it was entirely too cold to swim, but we did attempt whale-watching from the shores of Warnambool.

Adelaide is probably best described as delightful and easy; a planned-city makes for straight-forward navigation.  The museum and art gallery were good hideouts during the rain.  As the weather got better I made my way north to stay with a fabulous family.  I spent time reading in front of the fire (pure luxury) and then got a chance to ride through the hills on the back of a bike!  With the promise of more French food and good conversation,Nothing Like It! I will definitely be making another stop in South Australia.  Thanks friends!

Although Perth found me in my seventh time-zone in little less than a month, arriving here feels as close to coming home as I think possible.  My plans to make a couple of small trips down south – they fell by the wayside as soon as I arrived.  It’s too easy to be in beautiful North Beach, with my friends and my pseudo-routines…albeit I am in a tent in the backyard…but its home-like…in a breezy sort of way.

Western Australia is a place that is close to my heart.  I think it’s interesting to look back on my last visit here, five months in the past.  I was at a very, noticeably different place.  As I gently peruse my current headspace, I can see the lengths at which I’ve travelled to get here…time zones notwithstanding.

The Twelve Apostles

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.”
– Hippocrates

The Dragon that greets patrons of Soul Mama, a vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne

The Dragon that greets patrons of Soul Mama, a vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne

Melbourne is in the running for one of my favourite cities in the country.  It’s beautiful and culturally-varied.  I couldn’t help but notice that people are pretty darn friendly there as well (including my hosts, who were personally responsible for me enjoying a deliciously diverse menu and eating the very best I have in months – thank you Lynch family).

Not only are the cafes and restaurants dynamic and never-ending, but the city’s hospitals ain’t so bad either.  Actually that implies I’ve seen more than one, but really, one hospital tends to fill the quota, wouldn’t you think?

I wasn’t really, seriously sick, but my kidneys had decided to let themselves be known to me.  I had to get it all sorted out by spending the night hooked up to an IV.   The medical system here is very similar to Canada, and because I was in noticeable pain they got me through administration quite quickly – and then doled out morphine with similar speed.  I felt very well taken care of (thanks morphine!) and in general I’m quite okay with hospitals; comfortable enough with how it all works and what to expect…   I know I’m an expert because I was able to get the gown on with only minimal assistance and a short question and answer period….

It was the first time I had been in any sort of medical facility since Kevin’s illness and it was emotionally hard for me.  It brought back so many memories.  Being in the fevered-pain I was in, not having all my defenses intact, it got a little tough there for a while.  As the pain slowly subsided and I knew I wouldn’t have to stay a second night, I actually started to delve into the memories of our journey through the medical system these past couple of years.   What a journey it was.

View from St. Kilda Pier

View from St. Kilda Pier

The tests and the appointments.  The chemotherapy, radiation, steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-convulsants.  The CT scans and MRIs and ECGs.  We had appointments everyday for a while there.  Ambulance rides, stretchers, wheelchairs, walkers.  We had handle bars and poles and railings, so much equipment for normal, everyday activities.   Physiotherapists, nurses, oncologists, GPs, home-care and finally hospice.    There were a minimum of six hospitals that we became all too familiar with.  We were proficient in a field that no one should even have to think about.

This is a sad trip down memory lane.  I’m sorry if it’s hard for some of you to read.  These are the thoughts that I explored while lying in that hospital bed, and when I faced some of it head-on again, it became a little easier to deal with.

There is no real pattern for this whole healing process.  At every turn I find a new way to address a feeling or thought.  It must be one of the most reflective times in my life.  Learning new, honest and organic ways to sift through my emotions is an art-form that takes time and effort.   I’m lucky to have both these beautiful surrounding, and the amazing people around me;  it makes it all a little easier.

I know that my body needed the rest (and the medicine) and when I felt well enough to be discharged I was able to head back to a very comfortable home where I was made to feel welcome and at ease.  This was invaluable, and really, if I had to be sick, I’m glad I was where I was.  A little down-time has refreshed me in new ways.

Willows Beach, April 2008

Sunshine During Rain

Sunshine During Rain

Ah, the break has been good.  In slowing my writing down for a bit, I have had to adapt and learn to organize my thoughts in a different way; reassess, I guess.

I will never regret the two years that I have been writing with some sort of regularity.  I think it has saved me more often than not.  I also know it brings clarity to large portions of the past that I would otherwise see in a blur (or forget entirely).  “Oh, right – we DID go to Whistler in June…oh, yeah….THAT’S  how we spent October.”  You know, things like that…more important events and thoughts as well, but you get the idea.

I think this may be a bit of a turning point for me.  I’m not sure where exactly I’m turning from, and in which direction I’m now faced, but there’s some kind of crazy road sign associated with it, I’m sure.

Only in Melbourne

Only in Melbourne

Actually the Melbourne hook-turn comes to mind as a very suitable analogy.  Here in Melbourne there is an insane, yet perfectly legal and common maneuver whereby you pull into the far lane to make a right hand turn (keep in mind we drive on the left over here, and to turn right means to cross oncoming traffic).  So you’re driving along and realize you need to go right at the next intersection.  You must pull into the left lane, turn your blinker on and wait for a gap in traffic traveling in both directions! What!?!  You should really only attempt this crazy turn when you’re comfortable.  It feels SO strange…a little exhilarating…different…

… yeah, a good analogy I’d say.

West Coast Eagles lost!

West Coast Eagles lost!

So as one may assume, I have landed myself in Melbourne, a lovely city, indeed.  It was a sad affair to leave Perth, but I had a great last couple of days there, before heading south.  On my last night, Kim and I managed to snag Footy tickets (thanks Sean!)!  Now this is a truly Aussie passion and I can see why: a riled up crowd full of supporters for both teams, fit men running up and down a huge field…running, tackling, kicking (and that’s not including what’s happening in the stands!), over-priced-beer-drinking… Yup – they’ve got everything a good hockey game has, with the exception of ice and Luongo.

I won’t pretend to understand the rules, but it was great to watch – and the atmosphere was electric.  We made friends with the people sitting next to us and managed to make our way to the club bar for a celebratory pint or two.  Good times!

A View from Federation Square

A View from Federation Square

The flight to Melbourne was straight forward, and wouldn’t you know, I happen to be sharing the plane with Matt Gresham, the musician I had seen a couple of weeks earlier in the city (One of his songs was features in my ‘theme songs of the day’ last post).  We had a little chat, and I got to tell him what a great performer he is.  Good times!

I had a total of three days in Melbourne and my tour guide did the city a great service by introducing me to the wonderful cultural diversity that oozes off the pavement here.  There are so many restaurants and cafes and galleries; little nooks to get lost in.  The streets are littered with pieces of orange and red and yellow; it’s just at that point in the season where the balance has been tipped: there are more leaves on the ground than in the trees.   Everyone looks good, somewhere to go, a hurried but casual pace.   This is how I imagined it to be.

It flows upside-down...crystal clear on the bottom

It flows upside-down...crystal clear on the bottom

My tour guide, and host, Matt, is a friend I met in Hawaii many months ago.  He has recently moved back to Australia to travel around a bit and, as his family lives in Melbourne, he thought that a good place to start.  We have kept in touch and the plan is to stay in the city a few days – then we head down to Tasmania for a week of exploring.  What fun.

An adventure awaits… but then, when doesn’t it?

Theme songs of the Day:

Rose PicklesThe Custom Kings, from the album At Sea

Number One – The Custom Kings, from the album At Sea

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