Those online meetings?

Email? Maybe. Audio-visual? Please…. noooo….

because online meetings are EXHAUSTING

I had two mental health meetings today (not unusual, this often happens) but somehow, having to do them via telehealth was so much more draining than usual. Whether it was the lag time in the technology, or just my feelings of lack of privacy and security, I hated it. Haaaaaated it. But … it’s our best option while the pandemic lasts.

Badly lit, but this is no high budget production….

I fell over for a small nap, woke up for dinner when the hoon across the road roared off… and now it’s time for podcasts and maybe an audiobook chapter.

Maybe tomorrow will be more productive.

Remember, no matter how tired you are, wash your hands, and don’t forget to eat,

Love

Caity

Well I woke up this mornin’…

(and of course this should be in 8 bar blues…)

I’d only had 3 hours sleep.

(3 hours. Sleep.)

But I got up and made breakfast and a cuppa anyway.

Welll, I said I woke up this mornin’… (continue as you like, the blues 8 bar pattern should be familiar enough)

And then… the migraine fairy hit me over the head with her great big wooden mallet. DOOONNNNNGGGGGGG!

Sing along “Welll I woke up this mornin’…”

Cut to much later in the day, when I stumble back out into the light, knowing that today, we have to set up and test for Zoom and Skype telehealth appointments later in the week.

What an annoying disappointment Zoom turned out to be! The audio was dragging and delayed, the way to send invites was clumsy. We have fast internet (by Australian terms, having been lucky enough to be in a pilot suburb years ago where we got the much vaunted National Broadband Network fibre directly to the house).

Whether it’s because *everybody* working from home (and especially telehealth providers) have been advised to use Zoom as a secure way to provide services, and therefore Zoom’s servers are clogged liked a sewer full of fatbergs, or whether my (not that old) computer didn’t like the program, it just was not workable.

Skype, on the other hand, was easier to connect, had zero audio or visual lag over wired or wireless connection, and was clear to see and hear. Definitely a winner. I’ve been using Skype with one of my medical providers for years and while her setup sometimes had delays, it was still nowhere near as bad as Zoom.

I would prefer going to the privacy of a provider’s rooms, of course I would! But its a pandemic. I have yet to read the news today (oh boy) but I’m sure it won’t have suddenly all gone away overnight. Safety for everyone has to be be observed.

At the same time, I’m getting tired of the stupidity of panic buying. Very tired. There are a few things that will be in limited supply, for good reasons – like rice – growers simply couldn’t get the water to grow a good crop this year (do not even talk to me about the mess that the government has made of the Murray Darling River) – but mostly, supplies will build up again, supermarket shelves will be stocked and greengrocers will be able to fill orders, if people stop being so selfish.

Oh, I’m tired. I still have that post-migraine hangover and I’m feeling groggy and grumpy. More later.

Wash your damn hands and stop being idiots.

Love

Caity

Today…

I admit I had a little breakdown.

I was overtired, overwhelmed, and under-caloried. Oops. My hands were sore, my eyes were stinging, I’d generally neglected to look after myself.

And so I had a little crash.

Some time on the bed, eyedrops, hand cream, and a bowl of frozen raspberries and I was okay to get up and keep going again.

Then my little blender somehow went wrong when I was mixing my food supplement (chocolate flavoured Ensure, the nicest of the supplements) and things got messy. Fingers crossed it still works tomorrow.

But! Thanks to a recipe from my dear friend in Canada (hi Mandy!) and Mr Beloved’s braving the shops during Oldies Hour at Coles (“I’m oollld!” he says, but we actually qualify to shop then on several counts) we had this amazing soup tonight. It’s the Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Soup from The Whole Cook, and it was as good as Mandy promised. I used chicken thighs instead of breasts (cheaper and better flavour) and only half an onion, and cut back on the chilli powder slightly; next time, I won’t cut back on the chilli because even though I don’t usually tolerate spicy things well, this wasn’t spicy – warming, filling, and exactly what I needed today. With lots to put away in the fridge and freezer.

The Coronavirus crisis rolls on, with new rules announced today further limiting movement and social contact: essential shopping/medical visits that can’t be done by telehealth only, exercise obeying social distancing rules, over 70s must stay at home, more financial help for those who have become unemployed as a result of the virus – and fines and police enforcement if the rules are broken. What frightens me is that these laws are being rushed into effect with no grandfather clauses – no end dates. Margaret Atwood’s dystopian vision in “The Handmaid’s Tale” is starting to look just a little too prescient…

For us oooold Robert Smith fans…

In happier news: I had a lovely long text chat with an old friend tonight (well, old in the sense that we’ve known each other quite a while, and old because we are) and the talk came around to writers we mutually admire. He has finally embraced the joy that is Dorothy L. Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey novels (her religious work is scholarly but tedious), and he has just read “Gaudy Night” – coincidentally, I had just reread the same book.

He particularly enjoyed her descriptions of Oxford (I have to take his word for that, having only ever seen it on screen, but imagined it frequently) and thus the chat moved to another author who uses Oxford in his work: Philip Pullman. (Yes, the author of the audio book I’m enjoying so much.)

Which reminded me, I keep dipping into this book, which was my Christmas book last year

So clever. For short bouts only. With thinking time and note taking.

And now it’s time for me to listen to the Coronacast podcast, then switch over to listening to the audiobook and hopefully… sleep.

Remember, take care of yourselves and each other, cook something nice, and wash your hands,

Love

Caity

Keen readers…

May have noticed that there was no blog post last night.

Are there any keen readers? Send me a comment, I’d love to hear back from you!

But you know what? Even if this is me shouting into the interwebs, I’m okay with that. Because my entire blogging life, which stretches waaaaay back to early times on Typepad and Livejournal, more than twenty years ago, has been less about who’s reading, and more about something else. I think it was Gretchen Rubin, speaking on Judith Lucy’s podcast, who said that narrative was how we made sense of our lives. This, and all my other blogs, have always been my way of turning my narrative, my stories, into memory, into reality, into history.

So here’s a little glimpse of what happened today: I walked Ms Emmalumpdogg. Mostly successfully.

Happy tails, to youuuuu…
Over there, Mum!

I say “mostly” because a) it was a very short walk and b) usually she walks with Mr Beloved, not least because she is around half my weight (yes, she needs to lose a couple of kg) and she is VERY strong. However, she is also quite well trained, and so long as people (especially cyclists) don’t sneak up on her while she’s busy on her walk, she’s quiet. She is a Koolie/Kelpie cross, both Australian working dog breeds, and both known for being good thinkers – dogs you have to work with, not dogs you can always tell what to do, because they may decide they have a better idea – and be right.

There’s an interesting smell over HERE!
But I CAN be good and sit when I’m told
See Dad? I’ve got this!
And of course, the most important business of any walk- checking one’s pee- mail
Crossing safely.

We didn’t see anyone else, so we maintained the appropriate social distancing rules currently in force.

Since that was nowhere near enough of an outing for the doggo, we came back inside, let her have a drink, clipped her leash back on, and sent her back out with Daddy for her usual, much longer walk.

And she was very happy.

Tomorrow I’m going to take her on a short outing by myself, as having Mr Beloved next to us was causing some issues; but as you can see from the glaring white state of my legs and Ms Emmalumpdogg’s happy smile, today was good for both of us.

And now it’s time for me to ask you, imaginary reader: what have you done to put a smile on your face today?

Remember to be good to yourselves and others, (now more than ever as we enter into this lockdown phase that I’m just hearing about), call someone you miss, and wash your hands!

Love

Caity

Today, I’m tired.

So for some reason, I’m tired today. I took this photo earlier in the day, showing my new computer glasses (single vision, since I wear multivision or whatever the fancy name is for most of the time, and a different pair for reading, and of course prescription sunnies… quite a collection I’ve built up over the last couple of years).

Also, since I’m expecting hairdressers to close, and I was going to grow my hair out anyway (and it’s getting a bit tight between now and next pension day), it’s time to start using scarves and bobby pins and anything else that comes to hand to manage my hair.

I over-read the news today, and there really wasn’t any. I mean, nothing that was going to make a difference to the way we are already living. We’re already self isolating, and only venturing out for essentials. We’ve already experienced the brutality and rudeness of some people at the shops. Some of my necessary medications are unavailable from the pharmacy, they say they’ll try and supply soon… (I’m hoping that for a couple of key ones we can find them somewhere, because otherwise things could get… tricky.)

So – back to the self discipline of only reading the news once, at most twice, in the day. Preferably around lunch time, when things have maybe stabilised. Any more than that is just feeding anxiety.

And of course, there’s always this…

Meanwhile, the most excellent Miss Emmalumpdogg continues to let us know when there is a WRONG by barking at it and pointing to draw our attention. She is also a marvellous self taught therapy dog, who knows when we need extra cuddles, or a nap.

Maybe tomorrow will be more productive. Or maybe not. Right now, it’s time for podcasts and then sleep.

Be kind to yourselves and each other, try and get some exercise while you’re self isolating, and remember to wash your hands!

Love

Caity

Something must be done.

hey, this is something, let’s do it!

So this afternoon, the first text message arrived. This is what it said:

Coronavirus Aus Gov msg: To stop the spread, stay 1.5 m from others, follow rules on social gatherings, wash hands, stay home if sick.

aus.gov.au

There ya go. We have been told.

Who writes this stuff?

Is this going to make a difference to those who are still going out and clearing the shelves and hoarding? Probably not.

Is it going to leave some people unnecessarily worried? Possibly.

I am not dismissing the advice. After all a man from our town has died from Covid-19 now. HOWEVER, he contracted it while on a cruise ship, and his family and contacts are now in isolation. This was not a direct transmission case.

1.5 metres, girls! 1.5 metres!

The smoke is bad here again, but now we know why: more than 20 hazard reduction burns around us, and a large hazard reduction burn off throughout the week in the Lockyer Valley State Park. So I’m back on my red preventer inhaler medicine for asthma, which I usually only use when we either have bushfire smoke or the woodsmoke season starts. (I have cleared using it this way with my doctor, and have regular lung function tests.)

Making sure I eat….

The other thing I make sure I do is EAT. The thing that’s maybe hardest for other people to understand about anorexia is that it’s not about eating, as much as it is about how I think about food – or rather, I don’t. I’ve lost my natural hunger signals so I have to set alarms to remind myself to eat. It’s a battle in my head about wanting to eat. I don’t fear getting fat (it’s not that sort of anorexia) nor do I throw up food (that’s a different kind again.) I have an anorexia that’s technically called “Eating Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified)”, and some people tell me it’s about control, some people tell me it’s about past trauma, some people tell me just eat when my alarms go off. It’s not an easy fix, and it’s not going to be a quick one. Like other brain behaviours, even when it’s “cured”, it can come back.

When you have no egg cups… you innovate!

Soft boiled eggs are something I’ve been able to manage. My dietitian says they’re great, (even better with buttered toast soldiers but I didn’t do that today because I am just about out of my special bread.)

But back to the egg cups: I know I own at least one, somewhere. But since I can’t find it, I’m using this trick instead: small bowls, filled with about half a cup of rice each. Once the eggs are ready, use the rice-in-bowls as egg cups. So long as the rice stays clean (no eggy drips), I pour it back into a separate little jar, ready to use again.

Maybe when we’re next allowed out, we’ll look for egg cups (if such a shop is still open). Or maybe I’ll just keep using my little rice bowls.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll make biscuits. I think gingernuts sound good.

I’m tired, so that’s it for today. Remember, be kind to yourselves and others, wash those hands, and eat when your alarms tell you to,

Love

Caity

Breaking out, briefly

So today I got to leave the house for a while! I wouldn’t have even considered it but my throat was much, much better – just rough because of the huge amount of smoke in the air, coming from vegetation fires thirty-ish miles out from where we are:

And I promise that we left the house for essentials. Yes, bread, milk, pharmacy items – but also we went to Officeworks. Because now that we’ve all been told to stay at home as much as possible (at least, that was the last news I read, I haven’t read any since this morning, I don’t want to know if it’s a level worse than that) I am working through the book I bought for my birthday:

Lynda Barry’s “Making Comics” (see some great extra pages at the link below) https://www.drawnandquarterly.com/blog/2019/11/lynda-barrys-making-comics

So, Mr Prime Minister, (or anyone else, for that matter) – we did it safely. We stood 1.5 metres apart from everyone else. We stood behind the marked lines at the registers. We used a tap and go card, not a pin. We washed our hands immediately on coming back into the house.

But I will FIGHT YOU FOR MY BOX OF 24 CRAYONS AND MY 8 DRAWING PENS AND MY 200 INDEX CARDS, oh yes I will.

I’m serious. These, as much as my brain chemical medications, are essential supplies. It’s already tough going, finding routine, staving off the loneliness, finding motivation, without the usual external drivers.

And for those of us who already spent a lot of time on our own, and only got out for say, groceries or medical appointments, and now don’t even have those outlets ?

From the awesome Dorothy Gambrell, artist of Cat and Girl http://catandgirl.com/

It’s going to be tough unless we can find a new way to live. I’m going to use up my phone calls I usually let go unused. I’m going to try video calls with people who might not have done that before. I’m going to try and get a bit of housework done (within my abilities, if I overdo things I end up having to have a recovery day or two and the last thing I want is a depression spiral during self isolation.)

How about you? Any plans for different activities? Are you baking? Doing different exercises? Sorting through those books you’ve been meaning to get to? Sewing?

Take care of yourselves and each other. This isn’t the end of the world, it’s just… different. And wash your hands.

Love,

Caity

Do not adjust your sets…

This is your new reality.

Self isolating…

As of thirty or so minutes ago as I’m writing this, (according to the ABC news site live blog on Coronavirus, the PM had this to say:

Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary you go out’

The PM says people should only go out for the “basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members provided it’s a small group, that’s fine”.  But people should not go out and “participate more broadly in the community unless you’re shopping for basics or there are medical needs or you’re providing care and support to an individual at another place”.  “Going to work [is permitted] … where you can, work from home. That is encouraged.” 

So that’s tonight. Beauty salons are closing from tomorrow night and I am going to make what may seem like a shallow and frivolous comment: that will have an impact on my mental health.

Before my appointment…
After my appointment.

Ok. These two images might not seem all that different to most people, but I hadn’t had my eyebrows shaped or dyed since October, nor had I had my eyelashes tinted since then. And since I can’t wear mascara because a) I can’t see to put it on, and b) I have to put in eyedrops a minimum of eight times a day and be very careful of my eye health due to Sjögrens Syndrome, having these two little luxuries taken care of for the first time in months made me feel so happy.

And now they’re gone again. Yeah, boo hoo, small problem, right? Except it’s the small problems that add up in the mental health burden.

So even though the lovely ladies at Plush Skin Body & Beauty are being forced to close from tomorrow night, (and I didn’t know that earlier today), I was still stuck at home with a sore throat and didn’t want to risk Jess or Melitta catching it. So I had a phone consultation, and… ta dah! Melitta even delivered. It was like getting a present. (Mr Beloved went to the gate, I’m staying clear until I’m sure this throat is ok.)

My skin care order, with extra care and goodies….

How do we look after not only ourselves but our small businesses in a time of plague? I’m not dismissing the seriousness of this disease. I have family members who are particularly vulnerable. When it comes to it, we all do, because this novel coronavirus is killing young people, too, just like last year’s flu did. (But make no mistake, Covid-19 is way nastier than the flu).

But with the government closing more and more businesses and facilities, mental health in the general population is going to be a concern. I’m not a mental health expert – except as someone who has experienced mental health issues for many years. From my point of view, watching as demand has always outstripped supply, despairing as promised programs were cut instead, often struggling to get (and keep) appropriate access to mental health professionals: we, as a country in social isolation, are going to need mental health assistance.

“There will be greater access to telehealth!”, the government tell us. Really? While that might work for some things, there are other health appointments that telehealth is not going to be so great at managing.

Uncertain times.

Scary times.

Time to drink my hot milk and listen to a podcast and maybe fall asleep.

Goodnight, if anyone is reading.

And remember- practice random acts of kindness, take care of yourselves and others, and wash your hands.

Love,

Caity

Just this tonight…

I spent way too long online this morning trying to buy some simple art supplies. And I couldn’t. And I missed my mental health appointment because I couldn’t go in, since I had a temperature and a sore throat, which is also why I was trying to shop online instead of just going to the store.

Tomorrow is another day.

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter B…

Teddy Bear Bee
Teddy Bear Bee, photo by Mr Beloved

This wonder was spotted by Mr Beloved while he was pottering amongst the plants the other day. “Nearly as loud as a hawkmoth!” he said. After some searching, he found out that’s it’s an Australian native bee, a solitary bee with a stingless barb, known as the Teddy Bear Bee .

Teddy Bear Bee in the Rosemary bush, photo by Mr Beloved

Apparently the Covid-19 panic buying (just STOP, people!) this weekend extended to stripping Bunning’s shelves bare of plant seedlings. Here’s my prediction about that: in two weeks time, most of those seedlings will be dead, because people have short attention spans and will go back to Netflix or Disney+ or whatever. And plants take too long for most kids, if they’re not already used to seeing the cycle of planting and waiting. Even a tomato plant takes time.

I did let the stress of everything get to me last night and today, just a bit. I probably didn’t eat enough (which is very easy for me to do, I ignored my phone alarms, and at the moment I don’t generate my own hunger signals. It’s easy to slip down into a vicious cycle of not eating, not noticing, not eating…) So tomorrow I’m back on the alarms, back on the supplementary meals. I had Vanilla Hospital Strength Sustagen with some frozen raspberries blended in for a meal this evening, and just had lactose free cheese and gluten free rice crackers as a snack.

And I read the news too often. I’ve been limiting myself to twice a day, but today I kept going back. Not helpful. Learning that South Australia would be closing its borders from 4pm on Tuesday made me surprisingly anxious. The rest of my family are there, and my first instinct was to try and get a plane ticket, at any price – but realistically, I’d be more of a hindrance than a help. And Mr Beloved and Emmalumpdogg need me here.

So, what to do?

Read more. Eat more. (Cook more). I’m grabbing a few new art materials to replace things that have dried up or run out, and doing things with those. Write more. Maybe if I’m strong enough if I can even help walk Emmalumpdogg more.