Seven months

SEVEN MONTHS! Seven months since my last post! I would love to say I’ve been writing a book or poetry, but until October 3rd, I wasn’t a very well chicky.

As months passed and the world turned into something we didn’t recognise, many days of mine were spent looking outside focusing on two trees, one is a beautiful Blossom Tree (which naturally lost its beauty during autumn, echoing my physical state) and a giant Pittosporum (silver screen), which provided the meditation of watching its leaves and branches sway…yes a trick from the 90’s movie Phenomenon.

As the months passed, the more days I sat in front of my desktop computer looking outside (in case or when I needed Mum suddenly). Chronic headaches from a very pissed off occipital nerve became a daily thing. I had a battery pack in my tummy that supplied electrical pulses to over-stimulate the nerve, but unfortunately, the previous batteries had six to seven-year lifespans, and this one was eight!

And then 2020 happened! Yep…My neurosurgeon ordered x-rays in March (just when the Outbreak became an issue.) So more waiting to get a damn set of x-rays. I must say, the x-ray department at the hospital was great once we bit the bullet and went in. That was May/June (it could have been earlier), then we saw my neurosurgeon in July thanks to a cancellation and the fact that the battery pack had really started hurting (it should never be painful).

I should explain since January I suffered from migraines that often made me physically ill. By August I would have these migraines twice or three times within a month. As well as the headaches and migraines, I was putting up with Mr Zappy (nerve pain in my left leg and foot) as well. Headaches and Mr Zappy played off each other especially when I had vomited. I had a surgery two years ago to put a spinal stimulator in. Unaware of what it was supposed to be like, I thought it was the norm. Boy, I was wrong.

After a little setback in August, the stars aligned on Thursday, October 3rd, 2020! The surgery took almost three hours, and I’m still healing in several sites. But I’m mostly headache and most incredibly 98% Zappy free. I’m like a different woman! Sure, I get tired still and now know my limitations, but now I don’t stare outside focusing on the trees’ movements counting to ten while deep breathing…. I look outside thanking the trees getting me through days where I had sea of nausea!

And I can eat a bit of chocolate after thirteen months of cocoa abstinence!

The Tree

Swaying in the breeze
            Providing me with focus
Watching your leaves swa
Reminding me to breathe through
            Days where I couldn’t function.


We shared two seasons together
            Where we wilted to nothing
Until we began to bloom
            In the following Spring
When your pink blossoms became to life again.

            Jacqui James
            September 2020

Choices

2020 started with a different feeling. Maybe feeling disillusioned by the bushfires we had all around Australia which had especially around Christmas. For the first time in years, Mum and I didn’t watch the fireworks on TV (although around 9 pm we went outside and watched fireworks from nearby), but by fluke around midnight I was watching a +LIVE+ concert and 2020 was brought in by one of our all-time favourite ROCK songs Lakini’s Juice! Oh yeah, baby!

Healthwise, things have declined and we are waiting to have scans and x-rays to be done to determine what’s going on. Something is going on with my neck, plus the headaches (we’re pretty sure we know what’s causing headaches and that will be an “easy fix”). The catch is, I have to choose whether to risk going into a hospital to have these tests done. Normally I wouldn’t hesitate, but with this coronavirus, it’s like “Do I risk it? Do I risk my family, friends and workers?“  Contracting this virus is at my family, friends’ and my minds, but we’re going about life as normal. (and we’re definitely not stocking up on toilet paper and god knows what else) I think I will have the tests done because this pain I’m having is impacting every aspect of my life at the moment and it having a ripple effect on others’ lives too.

As I’m having pain every day, I’m finding having free will or choices make me feel empowered. Last month I joined two libraries so I can download eAudiobooks to listen to in bed. Reading in bed has been a dream of mine since I was a teenager so I was over-the-moon! Soon we’re mounting my old eye gaze system mounted over my bed so I will be able to control everything in my room with my eyes, so then I will be able to access Audible, Spotify, Netflix, Youtube, etc from my bed! I will be able to spontaneity choose what I desire. At the moment I set up a “Tonight” folder and number the shows or movies I feel like watching and hit a wand switch to control it (with limitations). So I can’t wait to get the eye gaze setup! I’m also getting a Bluetooth car radio for my van. This will allow me to pipe my “computer” voice through the car’s speakers so that the driver can hear me, and most excitingly I will have control over the radio station through iHeart Radio and Spotify! Booyeah! I’m very stoked about this, Mum jokingly says it’s TROUBLE! Again it’s about choice!

Silent Struggles

The other day I got in touch with one my old Tafe friends who has doing her own exhibitions of her illustrations around the state. I had intended to go to one to check her wonderful creative drawings out, but I won’t make it. So I inboxed her instead to congratulate her and told her how I’m in awe of her as she’s written children’s stories to, which has always been a dream of mine to get one or two published. This is on my “ONE DAY” list.

This gorgeous friend suggested I should submit my story to publishers on certain days where they look at unpublished authors. I thanked her, then I had to explain about my past ten years with chronic nerve pain which is under control, most days, getting off my meditations earlier this year…and now living with headaches most days and other unfolding issues we’re dealing with.

My friend soon apologised, but she didn’t know. Most people don’t know if someone is going through things if the person doesn’t announce it. There are only four people who know what’s going on with myself. My Mum, Dad, my sisters (to an extent) two workers and my good friend. I’ve been in denial a lot (which I do a lot if things are happening…

“It’s a phase” I tell myself)

So I guess people become great at hiding what’s really going on. “I’m ok thanks, just headaches…no biggie!” when deep down you know you’re not ok…you feel like shit constantly and you feel like a failure because you can’t do things like going to your nephew’s 14th birthday and writing interviews, but you don’t have the strength to do so.

I guess what I’m getting at is people are going through silent struggles all the time without the outside world not seeing it, because a lot of the time people don’t want to publise everything. So if you have an inkling that someone’s going through something, just being there (even not acknowledging your suspicions) is sometimes all what people need.

Changes

Sometimes life changes in an instant, making you really think “Life is precious”. Since June Mum and my lives have been shook upside down, but we’ve landed on our feet with Mum’s determination and my acceptance of our new situation we’ve found ourselves in. By the way, Mum is healthy. She had a fall and shattered and dislocated her elbow.   

I want to start by saying how proud of Mum I am. She was determined to get movement back into her elbow and hand. She’s back to be able to quilt, just after three months of not being able to move her elbow and most importantly being able to do fine hand motor skills. She’s now able to stick her rude finger up all the way, which is extremely important to her!

Obviously, Mum hasn’t been able to lift me and never will be able to again, so we’ve got three lovely workers coming everyday morning and night, seven days a week. It’s set times at the moment (it’s still cold at night so I don’t mind getting into bed by 8pm every night), we had a public holiday last Friday thanks to Melbourne’s obsession of AFL so we had no-one coming in, hence I had a sleep in and that night stayed up until 9:30!

The change of lifting using a ceiling hoist and sling took a few months to get my body used to – even now some days are good, other days through no fault to the workers, I injure my neck, shoulder and lower back. Due to my severe scoliosis and luque rods, I can’t physically bend in the middle, so all the pressure goes on my neck and lower back – my two weakest points. No, before you ask, I don’t do physio or any therapy as it causes more pain. Our family (apart from my brother) believes exercise is a dirty word!

Sadly, on June 1, we lost our girl Roxy. That’s what kinda begun our bad luck. On that weekend I made the tough decision; Mum and I had spoken about it since February, but Roxy kept bouncing back. But in her final week she had trouble getting into her bed and wasn’t her tap-dancing self, so on one Friday night I made that merciful decision and cried, and cried some more telling Mum and our dear friends who were staying with us that it was time, so Monday Mum, Danielle and Destiny (who was Roxy’s previous owner) surrounded Our Girl with love as she took her last breath. (yes, I’m tearing up while I write this part). We think she’s still hanging around because occasionally we hear her tap-dancing on the floor and sometimes, I feel something under the kitchen table where she sat for me to give her footpats. I’m grateful for seven years of her unconditional love and protection (she only growled when Mum was out and someone was at the door, then she started. Haha)

Looking forward, Mum and I are planning our first holiday since last June! We’re hoping to get away in March. Our good friend suggested a fully accessible apartment with a hoist and large bathroom. Yeah baby! We don’t know if we’ll fly or drive. It’s in the hands of NDIS! (my companion airfares aren’t covered, and Qantas is the only airline that can cope with my chair).

Professionally, I’m taking regular breaks from doing Gigs ‘n Interviews. I was really honoured to interview Busby Marou and Vanessa Amorosi, and I had a couple of interviews lined-up after those, but I postponed them due to headaches and other pain. Rob Thomas is still my ultimate interview but 2019 won’t be the year. I think sometimes I want to prove to myself and others I’m doing SOMETHING other than watching Netflix or listening to audiobooks. But if people think I’m lazy, that’s their opinion.

Baby Steps

We’re celebrating a huge achievement! I’m off all my drugs now! No Targin, no Lyrica, no Gabapentin… Only Endone occasionally on my really bad days!

No More Meds

It’s been a long journey, since December after my back stimulator operation. I had been on Lyrica and Gabapentin since my 20’s after having an incident causing nerve damage in my lower back and to my Occipital nerve (but this was mainly from using a headswitch for twenty-four years. Until then I was on NO drugs, not even Valium, and people were always shocked by this!

We had slowly weened myself off each drug, but the killer was the last drug Gabapentin! Because Lyrica was totally out of my system, when we stopped Gabapentin that was when the fun began. From last Wednesday morning to Friday night (When Mum had to get a doctor out) I was dry-wrenching non-stop to the point of risking of tearing something inside. Thank goodness the doctor gave me the super doper anti-nausea drug and luckily the violent dry-wrenching stopped.

I’m starting to eat more again (not very well because for some reason my mouth and swallowing has changed), but I’ve just eaten a shepherd’s pie for lunch.

Thanks to Netflix, I’ve binged Lucifer’s latest season (and now Tom Ellis is more welcome to pop in anytime…I was a massive fan before, but now… *insert dirty thoughts here*). And of course my friends and I are hanging for the GOT final on Monday!

I’m still taking one day at a time and have realised my life will never be the same to before the incident. But that’s OK. Maybe sometimes life has other plans than you strive for?

I have to thank Mum for seeing me through these 19yrs! You have always been my rock! Ps. I love you to the moon and back! X

You Can’t Get What You Want, But You Always Get What You Need

Last month was a difficult month.  A friendship broke down (I don’t know why to this day, I haven’t even told Mum what went down because I would cry but I think she’s aware because mums know everything), then Roxy our dog gave us a big scare but thankfully she’s healthy for her age! Later in the month my Lil bro, partner and their gorgeous eight month daughter visited from Queensland for a long weekend which made me appreciate what I do have in my life. Elsie, my little niece from Queensland’s has a great grip and when she was in her pram, I put my hand down so she could grab it.  She also enjoyed crawling next to me and looking up with her big blue eyes along with her eyelashes!

The gorgeous Elsie James Rogers

Last night The Stones song You Can’t Get What You Want entered my head without hearing it. I was introduced to this song in 2004 when I befriended a Melbourne singer-songwriter (well he really was the one who befriended me over chips with my parma!) who played this song at his gigs.  Then of course the bold TV series Californication used this song in one of its episodes (it may have been the season finale).  So I love this song as it provokes so many memories, mostly good.  Last night as this tune entered my mind, I thought “appreciate what you have, try not to grieve over someone who tossed our friendship away.” I know I have a loving family and friends who love me.  But it’s funny how one person can make you doubt yourself and cause you to think “Am I a crap friend?  Are my circumstances the reason why some people let go?  Could I do more?” Self-doubt crept in and for a while I found myself crying at night because I didn’t know the answers to these questions.

I’m finally getting out of this headspace and trying to move forward without this person in my life.  I’ve started interviewing again, so keep an eye out on gigsninterviews.com. AND I’m so determined to interview Rob Thomas this year seeing his third solo album Chip Tooth Smile is released next month.  Rob has right at the top of my interview wish-list since I began interviewing in 2010 and every time he has toured Australia, I have come closer to getting through to the relevant people who could make an interview possible for me! So that’s my goal for 2019!

I’m also trying to think of a way to make a little bit of cash to put towards a Queensland holiday. I enjoy working on websites and designing things (on the computer of course 😉) So if you have any ideas, please let me know. 

Thanks for reading.  I hope you all are well and safe!

Jacqui xx

A Life-Changer Procedure

I’ve been quiet for a couple of months because I was gearing up for two operations and they ended up being just under a month apart. Then after the second op I got bronchitis which I’m still getting over but I’m much better than I was thanks to some superdooper antibiotics.

Thanks to my Neurologist (and pain specialist) we can manage my nerve pain after he nd him team inserted electrodes in my coccyx and under the skin in my lower back. It’s called a stimulator, I’ve had an occipital nerve stimulator to control headaches for about twelve years now and it works. My Neurologist attempted to insert electrodes into my spine about six years ago. It was extremely traumatic for him and I as I had to be awake for most of the procedure because if he was able to get in, I was to be able to tell him if the stimulation was going down my legs. Unfortunately that time wasn’t meant to be. But I’m wrapped to say this time he was successful and now we can get rid of Mr Zappy (the zapping pain that ran up my left leg), Mr Shitty (sciatica in my right leg) and lower back pain with a remote.

As my Neuro once explained it to me, if you bang your knee and then rub it, your brain will sense the rubbing sensation and forget about the pain. So my occipital nerve stimulator and now spinal stimulator sends electric pulses to the areas and my brain forgets about the pain. For five days I had zappy in one toe due to coughing (we didn’t know I had bloody bronchitis then), so I had a foot massage and until yesterday I didn’t had constant Zappy (one or two here and there but it immediately stopped). Yesterday morning was the first real test as I had two huge zaps. Mum adjusted the stimulator with the remote and I could enjoy an overdue birthday lunch with Nan.

So now we can look forward to the future with myself on less or no medications (I’ve been on a crapload for years and it has made me forgetful and dopey). I might even start interviewing artists again (I’ve had many people say I have to interview “Rob Rob” aka Rob Thomas), but I haven’t decided what’s next for me yet. I’m really interested in website design and social media marketing also. Overseas travelling is one of Mum and my goals, but you need money for that. Haha!

Looking From The Outside

If you look at me from the outside
You might assume she just sits at her computer achieving nothing,
Looking at my spamsing body
You might be fooled into assuming this,
And I don’t make a contribution to the society…
This couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘

Even though I have had more bad days than good in the past few years,
Until this February I prided myself on being a journalist,
Chasing and organising interviews was my life for over eight years,
People still say, “You have to interview Rob Rob”,
and they’re right.  I will!

I live for holidays with Mum or a friend,
Queensland is our favourite destination,
Because of my little brother and my little niece up there,
But going away with my Bestie is the best fun
He makes me forget about all of my health issues for a while.,
We get up to mischief!

Looking at me you wouldn’t know how I met a musician at one of his gigs,
I struck up Dutch courage and asked my carer to ask him over to our table,
We bonded immediately and for six years we were best mates,
We used to text everyday, sometimes he just wanted to say hi
or chat about things that made us laugh,
And even though he broke my heart in the end,
I don’t regret meeting him,
because he taught me that some people “Just see Jac”.

Being An Adult

{please read this paragraph sarcastically} Everyone says to themselves when they were little, “I can’t wait to be an adult… I’m going to do this and this!” In my case it was “I’m going to become a journalist and have a family of my own and live independently!” Kiddies, adulthood sometimes doesn’t turn out to be what you wished for. In fact, adulthood sometimes sucks. So kiddies, stay kiddies! Adulthood is not what you think.

When I was little, I had a Cabbage Patch doll called Jeanette and I took her EVERYWHERE. I used to have a bag that Mum made for my communication board and Jeanette used to go in there with her head out of course so she could see everything. She became my baby and at a such an early age, I knew I wanted to be a Mum and believed I would have at least one child. Life hasn’t turned out that way, and this year I’m turning 41, so time has run out. (Unless I meet Mr Right tomorrow….only joking) being a mother won’t be on the cards, and like some women in a similar situation it makes me sad.

I have the upmost respect for mothers. Caring, nurturing and loving a tiny human is the hardest job in the world. As a woman you have the choice to terminate or adopt the child out if you think it’s the time to have a baby, and I respect that. I respect women who choose not to have children at all for whatever reason. I respect and have empathy for mothers whose babies are with them in spirit, you never ever stop being a mother. Step-Mothers are the greatest example of love. They choose to love and parent someone else’s child.

On this blog, I’ve often mentioned my Mum as she’s awesome, beautiful and the strongest woman us four kids know. She keeps on keeping on when times are tough. She loves her children and grandkids and will do anything for them. Thanks to Australia’s flu season this year I had five lots of antibiotics within two months. Finally my chest is clear, but now we’re dealing with something else. I wish I could send Mum on a long holiday with her best friend where they’d have the perfect view of the ocean and a continuous supply of wine! Instead she chooses to stay here, when she could be having a weekend away that us kids gave her for her birthday. Again, being an adult sometimes sucks.

My sister Danielle one Mother’s Day she gave me a little silver angel as she said I look out for the kiddies in our family. And I guess I’m a baby magnet. Whenever a baby or little person is around, my attention goes to them. Earlier this month, Mum and I flew to Queensland to meet the newest member of our family, little Elsie James Rogers from my baby brother and his lovely partner Pia. She was so tiny!

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On Tuesday Mum and I babysit Olivia who’s almost eight months. She’s just learnt to shake her head; it’s so funny to watch. Anyway Mum sat her in her chair on our table in front of me while Mum folded the laundry. I wondered if Olivia would copy me shaking my head. She did! It’s so funny to watch her shake her head, and so heart-warming.

Being A Fur Mum

Ten days ago we adopted little Frankie from Melbourne’s Lost Dogs Home. One of my sisters Monique (aka Neaky) were going down to adopt ONE cat (but ended up getting two after seeing how this particular kitty had bonded with another kitten), and I had kinda chose another kitten for Mum, looking online.

When I spotted our little Frankie (his name was Franklin, but he’s definitely a Frankie) down the bottom row, in a box all alone, I pointed him out to Mum and the lady placed him on my chest. He soon snuggled in around my shoulders, under my chin and started purring non-stop! He’s got the loudest purr. Then gave me chin kisses with his nose. He did the same thing to one of my nephews Quinn, but to Quinnie’s ear. That was it, we adopted little Frankie! Later Mum said, “You knew!” I answered with a smile.

The previous night I chatted about adopting another cat because we have Shadie (our big black beautiful boy) who’s a Mummy’s boy! Mum spoils him with food as he doesn’t shut up when he’s hungry and Shadie was the man of the house. Poor Roxy (our beautifully-natured dog) came to us almost three years ago ago she hadn’t learned to play. She’s around 13 years-old and she loves company but also gets easily scared. Sometimes when she comes in Shadie chases her to Mum’s room whilst Roxy’s whimpering. Mum’s not a dog person but it turned out Roxy and I bonded. I call her “my girl” and Roxy has turned out to love Frankie, even tolerating Frankie to play with her tail and they give each other kisses. Meanwhile, Shadie is still hisses most times when he walks pass my door as Frankie’s in there. You see, Mum was clever and has put up some mesh in my doorway in the hope Shadie gets over his angst. Not yet! (We have the cap spray that’s supposed to chill your cat…maybe a little! So if you have any tricks to make a seven year-old panther to accept a kitten, e-mail me! (Side note: Shadie’s usually a smoochy, playful and maybe gay gorgeous boy, so he’s not usually a vicious type).

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So ever since getting Frankie, he’s been sleeping with me. On the second night he actually climbed between my doona and sheets and slept there. I was so concerned that he would suffocate, I kept waking up to feel him move! I messaged Neaky the next day laughing at myself . Frankie does the sweetest thing sometimes, he curls up right beside my head and sleeps there for halfer,or goes on the other side of me under my arm just to feel my love.30073139_10211965657080390_5703708758926119257_o

I’m a proud part-time Mum of Roxy and Frankie, but still love and deeply care about Shadie. Hell, I was worried he would totally be stressed out by another cat still and am keeping n close eye on him. He’s just being a turd! Haha. I love being responsible of something so tiny though.