50 Years Ago

In the shadow world between life and death, the young girl could hear voices coming from afar. One voice sounded urgent, the other placating. The woman with the child must wait her turn.

“This child needs to see a doctor urgently”, a man interrupted. “You go first. Take my spot”, he said to the stricken woman.

A locum was on this week, a doctor that neither mother or daughter had seen before. They had been to the clinic a number of times already this month. The little girl was normally interested in adult conversations, but not this time. The child could barely keep her eyes open or sit up. “Can you do a wee for me?” the doctor asked the listless child. “I don’t feel like it”, the little girl responded, giving lie to her mother’s assertions about the child’s constant thirst and need to urinate.

The doctor turned to my mother. “I know a pediatrician in Parramatta. I’ve rung his office and he will see you as soon as you get there. Go straight there. Don’t delay”, he said.

The woman was relieved that someone was finally taking her seriously. She propped up the lolling child on the front seat of the car. Her daughter’s breathing was shallow. The mother’s gut wrenched with fear.

******

They finally arrived at Dr Vines’ rooms. The woman carried her daughter into the doctor’s rooms. The child was light as a feather, barely there, barely conscious. They were quickly ushered in.

The doctor’s office was bathed in a warm, golden light, afternoon light, and the air smelt of leather. Doctor and mother exchanged some preliminary information but there was scarcely any time for the mother to sit down before the doctor was helping her to her feet again. “Your daughter has Type 1 diabetes”, he said. He seemed to know that without examining the child. The child exuded a sickly sweet smell. “She’s very ill. You must take her to the hospital straight away, the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Camperdown. I could call an ambulance to take her but that will take too long. Drive to the main entrance. The emergency team will be waiting for you there.”

The woman started to panic. She was alone with a dying child and a long journey ahead on unfamiliar roads in busy traffic.

******

The doctor was as good as his word. There were people waiting for the woman as she pulled in. “You go find a park”, another doctor said to my mother, as they whisked me away. “We are taking your daughter straight to Intensive Care. We will meet you there.”

******

I recently asked my mother about the events of that day and the days after. I wanted to know who my doctor was, what date I was diagnosed, etc. “Why do you want to know all this stuff, Trace?” she asked. “I can’t remember. I don’t want to remember. I thought you were going to die in my arms in the car, and in hospital, we didn’t know if you were going to make it.”

I replied that I needed to know this information because it was 50 years ago that I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and I wanted to apply for the Kellion Victory Medal. Apart from my family, saving the planet and a cure for Type 1 diabetes, the Kellion Victory Medal is the only thing I’ve really wanted in my life. All Australians who have been living with diabetes for 50 years or more are eligible for the Kellion Award.

The Kellion Victory Medal was the idea of Dr Alan Stocks, who first put a proposal for the award to Diabetes Australia. For a brief time, at another very shitty time of my diabetes life in the 1980s, I was a patient of Dr Stocks. I was in my early 20s at the time. Dr Stocks was one of the few endocrinologists I’ve really liked, although I do recall liking Dr Vines very much. Dr Stocks told me about the Kellion Medal for those who made it to the 50 year mark. I also remember him saying that I should try to find myself a nice husband because it could save my life. This seemed a pretty odd thing to say to a 20 year old. I think he said that because he attributed his remarkable success in managing his own Type 1 diabetes to his beloved. Apparently there is now also a Kellion Award for carers, and rightly so.

Anyway, Diabetes Australia apparently needs some corroborating evidence, including a date of diagnosis, which of course, I don’t have. The only thing I have is my story. I know I was diagnosed in 1972. Between the two of us, my mother and I figured out that my diagnosis was probably later in the year, because I have photos of a very chubby me in the 1971/1972 summer, while towards the end of the year, photos show that I was very thin. Sometime in 1972, I caught measles and then was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes shortly after that. I believe my specialist’s name was Dr Robert Vines. I can still remember the smell of his office. It is probably not enough information, but I sure would like that award.

As my mother said to me recently, “You know, Trace, we didn’t have Dr Google in those days. No-one knew anything about diabetes. I had no-one. It was frightening.”

Once again, my father was pretty useless, but that’s another story.

Thank goodness that impressive young locum was on that day. Thank goodness for Dr Vines.

How To Impress Your Boss – A Haibun

Once, in an important work meeting with the senior execs, I opened my notepad and was confronted by a huge, black cockroach that had taken up residence between the pages of my notepad. We all saw it waving its monstrous antennae as it contemplated its next move. I made a hasty exit from the meeting, at which point the cockroach made its own dash for freedom. There may have been screaming. Did the bigwigs help with the dispatch? What do you think? I love my life.

Eyes agog. Cockroach!
One extra makes a quorum.
Best meeting ever.

True story, one which is best told on a weekend when nobody is reading.

I have never regretted being a pesticide-free household.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

NaPoWriMo #23

Choose Your Own Poison

Tracy (front) and her sister riding Lightning,1972
An image flickers like an old home movie across the screen.  
A young girl stands by an open fridge door drinking thirstily from a large bottle of Passiona.  A woman, her mother, appears in the background and chastises her daughter for drinking too much soft drink.  Too much Passiona.  Always Passiona.

"Drink water," the child's mother says.
But the child doesn't stop. 

Images flicker alternately between the child vomiting violently, and drinking from the bottle of Passiona, before vomiting again.  The child becomes thinner and thinner.  
Images of the wasting child flicker faster until she is nothing but a wisp of fetid Passiona air,  translucent and ephemeral as she drifts in and out of consciousness.

When I was a small girl, I lived on a rural property on the outskirts of Sydney. Every week, the soft drink man would deliver a crate of syrupy, carbonated drinks to the property. They were supposed to be a treat, but I couldn’t get enough of them. My favourite was a passionfruit-flavoured fizzy called Passiona. In the 50 years since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I have always craved carbonated fizzy drinks on those rare occasions when my blood glucose levels have been seriously high. It is worth noting that I became a Type 1 diabetic in the months after I recovered from a serious bout of the measles. Isn’t it fortunate that there are now vaccines to protect against many serious viruses that can trigger our immune systems to go into hyper drive and attack our own bodies?

The (optional) task for Day 14 of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) is to write a poem/piece that takes the form of the opening scene of the movie of your life.

There’s more to this movie, but this is a start.

Take care, everyone.
Kind Regards.
Tracy.

NaPoWriMo #14
Ragtag Daily Prompt – Changeling

,

This Ain’t No Teddy Bears Picnic

Be afraid, be very afraid. (NaPoWriMo #5)

In Australia, there are whispers of a murderous cabal of people-eating koalas. Known colloquially as “drop bears”, their location is known only to Aussies, who avoid them for dear life. The modus operandi of the drop bear is to drop down from the trees onto unsuspecting visitors. That’s when things get gruesome. But times are a-changing, ladies and gentlemen. Survival of our respective species, of the planet, means we will all need to reduce our meat consumption. Let’s see how that goes. Gather round.

Blood red eyes, dagger claws, give lie to that sweet furry body and button nose.
“To our sacrifice and to yours!” The leader of the Drop Bears includes the captive in her hypnotic gaze. Then, in a booming bark, she projects to the crowd, “One last time. For tomorrow we turn vegan.”
The crowd blanches, then tentatively at first, begins to chant, “Flu-ffy. Flu-ffy.”
“But tonight. Tonight, Sisters. Tonight, Brothers. Tonight, there will be feasting on more meaty prey.”
“Flu-ffy. Flu-ffy.”
Silence falls – or maybe drops – as the throng gathers to feast.
Finally, a shout rings out. “Tomorrow. Tomorrow, we dine on the Infidel.”
The crowd roars. “Flu-ffy. Flu-ffy.”

A Vegetable’s Nightmare
The silence ripples.
Beyond the shadows,
beyond the adulation,
in gardens across the country,
the infidels quiver in their beds.

If you are a visitor to Australia and plan on visiting koala habitat, best do that during the day. Koalas and their kin, the drop bears, are nocturnal and feed at night. There’s no telling if the drop bears will honour their resolution.

Day 5 of the NaPoWriMo challenge was to write a poem about a mythical person or creature (drop bears are more secretive than mythical) doing something unusual – or at least something that seems unusual in relation to that person/creature. I made a slight deviation from the brief, but near enough is good enough.

Stay safe, everyone.
Kind Regards.
Tracy.

PS. I had rather too much fun setting up the photos. I’ve had the koala toy since I was a baby.

The Appointment

She felt she was being judged. She didn’t want to look at the woman across from her. Would her judge think her a fraud, or worse, incompetent and weak?

“What is a good day for you?” the disembodied voice across the desk asked.

How to answer that? Think, think, but the thoughts came too slowly. Silence filled the room. She felt so weary. A psychiatrist’s couch would have been welcome at this point.

Then, “A good day is when I don’t have to rest in the car for an hour before taking my groceries inside.”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As she left the office, she could feel the doctor’s eyes boring into her back. She wondered what her gait and posture said about her, but she no longer cared.

Round The Bend

There has been many a twist and turn, and a few curve balls thrown at us over the last few weeks.

My mother and step-father visited from up north, skirting the floods that have left thousands homeless on the east coast of Australia. It has been over two years since I had my hair cut. My mother plaited it for me. The plait was a bit wonky, so perfect for me.

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All My Trials – A Mouse In The House

I have three dogs – Makea Fluffy Bear, Ama Mouse and Fynnie Puss. Makea is a Finnish Lapphund, Ama and Fynn are Finnish Spitz. The Finnish Lapphund was originally bred to herd reindeer and to guard the family, while the Finnish Spitz’s role was to hunt small game like grouse and squirrels. Each dog barks a lot but usually for different reasons, so between them they have all bases covered. Much of our evening is spent barking at the possums that walk the telecommunications cable or at rodents that may or may not be frequenting their domain.

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Christmas Tale

The year that my sister, brother and I had our last Christmas together with our father, was probably the same year that my father bought a jet ski and a schmick new wetsuit to affirm his mid-life experiment. In keeping with the new purchases, he also rented a holiday house at the south coast over the Christmas/New Year holiday period. It was our first ever trip to, and holiday at, the south coast. Summer holidays at the coast are a Canberra tradition that was normally beyond our means. My father also paid for my brother and sister to fly down from Queensland for the festivities, the offer to pay the airfares alone being insufficient to bribe them to make the trip south.

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Another Toilet

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day and general ramble, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

My anxiety levels have been up this week. I haven’t been all that well so I’ve been fussing about getting old and needing another toilet in the house. We have only one toilet and when you have only one house toilet and you live with a house full of people, there’s often a clash of needs. The cost of housing has skyrocketed in Australia. It is now well beyond the reach of first-home buyers, unless, of course, mum and dad can help out. The cost of rent is also astronomical. Canberra (Australia) rents are the highest of any Australian capital city, and that’s saying something. So, the grown-up children will probably be living at home for a while longer.

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