Category: Karuna

The birth of my fourth decade

I’ve been thinking about my thirties. About how they started, and how they’re about to end. Ten years ago at my thirtieth birthday party, I was bloated from massive doses of steroids I’d had to have earlier in the year due to a serious respiratory virus. I was puffy faced and swollen, and going into my third decade, I was fat (for me, anyway. Or at least my face looked like a puffer fish).

For what it’s worth, I haven’t exactly loved my thirties. They started off on a bad note when I had to be treated for the early stages of vulvar cancer. My oncology team and I tried  to keep the cancer at bay with a topical chemotherapy, which would leave my vagina looking like I’d sat on a cheese grater and ridden it like a champ. I know – so glam.

In November 2007, I underwent surgery so the cancer didn’t travel into my lymph nodes and metastasise, which would have afforded me protracted suffering and death, and while the surgery saved my life, it left me teetering on the brink of death. I had a poo bag and a broken vagina pieced together with skin grafts, and I honestly don’t know how I got through three months of non-stop shit explosions and blistered skin from a stoma that refused to stick, but I did (thanks for all the late night laundry, Mum).

When I was 31, I got myself into a destructive relationship, and my boundaries with men were still pretty woeful when in my mid-thirties, a person I was seeing got into a fight and called me for help. I cleaned and dressed his wounds, after which he pissed in my bed. The next morning, he helped me move the mattress out onto my balcony, but left before I had to bring it in myself. I was on home IV’s at the time, and nearly popped my CV line out of my jugular.

My response was an almost ethereal calm, simply because not much fazes me. I thought, ‘hey, that’s ok – mattresses can be replaced.’ WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK, CARLY?! My response now would be entirely different, and for all intents and purposes, he should have bought me a new mattress (he didn’t). Now, I’d kick him to the kerb without a second thought, block his number, and never connect with him again. It was only then that a close friend began to teach me about boundaries, self-worth and self-respect. This friend has also helped me plug in to my intuition – something I’d struggled to get in tune with before. There was other stuff. My sister’s divorce and its ongoing aftermath has been confounding in its cruelty and acrimony.

All in all, I’ve learned my most powerful and empowering lessons in my third decade. Yes, my thirties saw its share of death, but through this came unexpected gifts. I discovered my true purpose and passion with wanting to care and advocate for the dying. I went to my first Spiritual Care Australia conference which opened up the world of hospital chaplaincy (I call it spiritual care), and in 2015, I graduated from my first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. My CPE training was one of the most rewarding learning experiences of my life, and I’m now working at the city’s biggest trauma centre as their only non-religious spiritual carer – such a privilege and so incredibly humbling (if you ever want a lesson in humility, go and sit with people at the bedside, and listen). In 2016, I was asked to be on the organising committee for the 2017 Spiritual Care Australia conference, and I’ve been made to feel welcome by all faith groups.

In 2014, I was invited to speak at TEDx Brisbane where I  shared my story and my hopes for how we can do death differently and how we must do death differently. After seventeen years, I discovered who my donor is/was after realising that I needed to know about her, even though I’ve had information about her since just after my transplant.

I have been lucky enough to work and learn with the best people in the death care industry, I did my first Vipassana, let go of my survivors guilt, and got clean. I’ve been clean for three years, and honestly can’t think of anything worse than taking opiates again. In fact, you’d have to render me unconscious to get any narcotic into my system.

On Christmas Eve, I was accepted into the Karuna Hospice Palliative Care Support Volunteer training program – an intensive I’ve been dreaming of doing for many years. It’s as though the world is opening up for me, and for that I sit in a space of deep gratitude. Transplanniversaries came and went, but never without much introspection and indebtedness.

I discovered what I needed to keep and what I needed to let go. I realised that just because I have a history with a person, that it doesn’t mean I have a present or a future with them. I know what ingredients help make me my best self, and I’m clear in my purpose. I’m settled, happy, and in love with giving zero fucks about what anyone may or may not think of me.

So why is that? It’s because I’m done with not being and living as my authentic, no-bullshit self. I was done with that a time ago, but as 2016 and this decade comes to a close, having lived with so much uncertainty, I am certain of one thing – life is beautiful, and all that matters in the end is the love you share and the love you get.

My wish for you, going into 2017, is that you embrace the simple things, because these too have been my greatest lessons. Go and hug trees, howl at the moon naked, walk in the rain (naked again), take less and give more, love yourself, treat others with kindness and suspend your judgment. Own your shit, be accountable, tread lightly upon the earth, and as my dear friend Andy who died last month waiting for a transplant would say, ‘don’t be a cunt’. Life is short – paint it your shade of spectacular.

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Tool of my trade #1 – compassionate listening

I wrote this last year sitting in Adelaide airport just after I’d attended the Spiritual Care Australia conference. The next conference is in Tasmania and I’m sad that I’m missing it, but I have a full calendar to tend to. This post concerns the value of compassionate listening and how we can serve the dying – and the living – better by really being able to hear what people are saying.

After three days of extending my practice as a spiritual carer at the Spiritual Care Australia conference in Adelaide, my vocation really is all about LISTENING. Not listening in a one-dimensional or perfunctory way, but really listening. I like to call it active or compassionate listening.

Tenzin Chodron from Karuna Hospice gave a rousing speech yesterday. The energy in the room was palpable after she lead us through a gentle meditation, and continued to enthral delegates when she spoke about her Buddhist model of spiritual care and about some of her intimate experiences with the dying. I’ve been  lucky enough to have studied under Chodron through Karuna as part of my ‘Spiritual Care with the Dying’ training, and compassionate listening is a skill I honed during my training. During both courses, the group did a listening exercise. We were partnered off where we had to actively listen for ten minutes to our partner without saying a word. No interruptions, no ‘me too’. We then swapped places so that the other person could speak.

It’s amazing how much you can really hear when you’re fully engaged with another person. Once the exercise was over, we discussed the listening activity and how it facilitated true listening, because when we think we’re listening to the person in front of us, are we ever fully engaged with that person and what they are saying? I would have to say that no, we’re not. But we can be.

From then on, whenever I have had to speak with someone as a fully engaged listener, I do a small meditation before I literally step or place myself into the conversation. This is also how I prepare when I’m about to speak with people who are sick or dying, which translates to me that there needs to be a quality of presence.

Clear the mind, set your intention and be almost hyper-attuned. I truly believe that by not listening properly we are failing the sick and dying.

It never ceases to surprise me what comes up for people who are dying. But as with speaking, there needs to be a greater respect for silence. Ofttimes, that is all the person can do until they know what they do want to speak about, or if they want to speak at all.

There are many ways in which we fail the dying. While palliative care nurses, spiritual carers, doctors and other practitioners recognise that suffering affects a person’s spirit, it is common for doctors who are not specialised in palliative care to treat people as just ‘a body in a bed.’ I’ve experienced this first hand, particular when I transitioned to an adult hospital. Everyone – patient or not – is more than the sum of their parts.

In Canberra, there is a much more holistic approach in palliative care medicine. Existential and spiritual suffering often manifests as physical pain, and I have heard stories that once this pain has been addressed, the need for morphine and other pain relief is lessened – particularly at night. This resonates with me because I’ve been to that place and I know that night time is both figuratively and literally the darkest of times where every layer of pain and suffering surfaces and is amplified tenfold. I’d be interested to know if you have had any ‘dark nights of the soul’.

As a spiritual carer, this interests me greatly. What’s more, it offers irrefutable proof that in order to fully understand other peoples pain and suffering, we must first recognise what kind of pain a person is in – emotionally, existentially, physically and spiritually. While pain relieving drugs are almost always necessary in palliative care, there’s evidence to suggest that the use of morphine and its ilk can mask spiritual pain. I have heard stories of many people who are dying who have refused pain relief so they could just BE. They wanted to experience dying in its infinite form and to be present. That takes momentous courage which the dying seem to have in spades.

The day before I flew to Adelaide for the conference, I was lucky enough to do a Death Midwifery workshop with Dr. Michael Barbato. During the workshop, Michael discussed these issues as well as quality of care, the evolution of spiritual care, and midwifeing the self, which is something I will address as another tool of my trade in another post. One of the last things Michael shared with us was a mantra for the living and the dying which I will leave you with as I sit at my desk on this early evening.

I forgive you.

I forgive me.

Bless you.

Thank you.

I love you.

Learning to Die: my TEDx talk

Yesterday my TEDx talk went live on TEDx Brisbane’s YouTube channel, and I’ve had an almost overwhelming response about speaking about my life (and deaths), and my beliefs and truths about death and dying. Here it is – Learning to Die.

I’ve been bathing in the beautiful waters of Death Walking training over the last two days, the last of which is today, and being able to come together with other ‘deathies’ has been such a gift; so serendipitous in its timing. When I looked at my phone at morning tea, I couldn’t understand why I had a flurry of messages, though it soon registered when friends and strangers alike were reaching out to congratulate me. Mission accomplished! And so here it is. It’s been released to the the world, and it’s there for people to do with it as they wish.

So make yourself a cuppa or an espresso or whatever your poison is and sit down to hear what I have to say. And please – let me know what you think. Comment, share, repost. I’m feeling happy and grateful that my words can be heard should you so desire to listen, and if just one person walks away – or leaves their desk or kitchen table – a little more fluent in the language of death, then my work here is done. Peace.

Breathing in life in silence

Today is a gift. Every day is a gift. But today is a year since I did Vipassana – a ten-day silent meditation ‘retreat’, which also means it’s one year since my friend Camille had her double lung transplant. It was a strange day. On my way up the Sunshine Coast, I popped a postcard in the post box which contained messages of the ilk of ‘let’s get some lungs SOON!!’. Sure enough, Camille had been hauled into the Alfred down in Melbourne to see if she was a proper match for the donor lungs they had available.

Just as she went to theatre, I had to switch off and hand in my mobile phone for the ten days, and I had no idea whether Camille had survived or not. I had a wonderful teacher at vipassana, and a few days later, she asked for me so that she could tell me that my mum had called to let me know that Cam had survived her surgery. With so much compassion already in my heart, I smiled, placed my hands in prayer position, said thank you and wept. Compassion and gratitude filled my heart to nearly bursting, and I slept so well that evening after discourse and final meditation. As much as I didn’t want to leave on the last day, I was looking forward to finding out the details of Cam’s surgery and she certainly had not had an easy run. Transplant can reduce you to a shell of the person you once were.

I can’t begin to describe how physically and mentally the entire transplant process is – from initially going on the list, to waiting and then finding out that there are donor lungs available only to be told that it’s a false alarm. It is stupendously taxing. In fact, I still fumble for the words to describe how difficult it is, and they rarely come easily.

Everyone wants to live; everyone wants to survive. People like myself and Cam go through the emotional wringer of putting ourselves on a wait list that can reach into months and even years, but we do it because we want to see our nephews grow up, we want to surround ourselves with our family and friends, and we want to be happy while we’re in a kind of health space that we’ve never enjoyed before. Cam has packed more into one year than you or I could in three. Happy ‘Lungaversary’*, Cam! I hope to celebrate one with you sometime soon, or at least a cuppa and a hike when I’m next in Melbourne. This is Cam’s company and website where you can buy her beautiful creations. She’s a clever kitten.

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This morning, my friend David put it up on FaceCrack that it was his Transplanniversary* today. Nine years of ups and downs, but he’s still here, enjoying every day and showing his donor and their family respect, dignity, joy and gratitude by living and being a happy, balanced being – and a clown, no less.

I was in hospital when Dave became critically ill at a speed I had never seen and haven’t seen since. I remember at night, we would watch the tennis, having all manner of dirty typically C.F conversations. But within a couple of days, Dave started to rest more. Then he had trouble walking. I would see him trying to make his way down the hall and he was incredibly breathless. And then he never came out of his room again. Within three to four days, Dave had gone from a man with a bad chest infection to the end of his life. He was dying.

Dave was on bi-pap therapy, and I believe the day was a Saturday. His family priest was called and he was given the last rites. But then something miraculous happened. The word ‘miracle’ is bandied around a lot, but there simply is no other explanation. With less than an hour to live, donor lungs had been found for my mate. I remember a flurry of activity and a small army of people outside his room when I left the ward that day so I could have some respite from hospital.

I ran into Dave’s mum in the hall outside the ward as I was leaving. I hadn’t heard a whisper that the doctors had found a possible match, so I gave her a hug because we were both crying, and we knew what for. I whispered that Dave was in my prayers (the whole family was, including Dave’s identical twin brother who was also extremely crook and on the transplant list). She knew that I was shocked and sorry about Dave’s steep decline and what seemed his imminent death. No words needed to be said. The line of tears staining our cheeks, the touch of a hand and a hug. There was no doubt about it – Dave was going to die within the hour. How awful it is when there is but one certainty; one firm truth.

But because of a selfless family’s decision to donate their loved ones organs, today David is a happily married man who makes his living as a clown with his twin brother, Peter who also had a double lung transplant. Tragically, the twins lost their sister Tonya many years ago to Cystic Fibrosis. It really is an illness that cannot be ignored, let alone underestimated.

Peebo and Dagwood are magnificent clowns. They don’t even scare me, which is also miraculous because I haaaaaaaaate clowns due to traumatic childhood memories of them.

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And so, three monumental things in one day. Two lives literally revived, given hope, breath and ultimately LIFE. Another great thing that happened today, was that I went back to my place after being looked after at my folks for a week due to a lung infection I have. I went into hospital last Thursday, had a central line inserted into my jugular, spent the night, then went back to Mum and Dad’s the following day where I slept for 20 hours a day for the first three days I was there. These drugs can be worse than chemo. Here’s a piece I wrote last year about how these treatments can make me feel. What they take out of me before they give back. It hurts.

Here are a couple of photos with hideously boring captions.

Um, hello? Is that a scalpel, or are you just pleased to see me? Unfortunately, it was a scalpel.

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Stitching and bitching all the way to pain cake land …

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Oh, HAI!

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Something to make you feel less nauseated. Oh, wait! #sorrynotsorry

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Who’s got the confetti?!

As I’ve rattled on in previous posts, I found my calling a number of years ago, and that that calling is Palliative Care (sometimes called ‘end of life’ care). My life has been characterised by death and dying (with a lot of very happy living in between), and I’ve helped lead the way for friends and family who have died, where I’ve played a role both directly in their presence, as well as in spirit.

I started my tenure as a death ‘midwife’* when I was very young – far too young – but I’ve long yearned to serve in palliative care. The only that had been standing in my way was the distinct lack of education/teaching resources that hadn’t been available in a non-nursing graduate setting.

As it stands, there are now quite a few programs across Australia in palliative care education at a tertiary level, and I’ve been patient in hoping that one day, I’d be able to learn about my passion so I can actually practice it.

Yesterday, I received an offer from La Trobe University in Melbourne for their Graduate Certificate in Health promoting Palliative Care. I screamed, cried, ran around, did a handstand, and proceeded to call my parents and some close friends.**

I’m so proud of myself for a few reasons. It wasn’t a normal university application process. I had to write a personal statement as to why I believed I would be suited to the course. I also needed to find someone who would write a solid support letter. My application letter just got longer and longer, and thanks to my proofreaders (you know who you are), I wrote an outstanding letter. For some support ‘material’, I asked my spiritual mentor Tenzin Chodron from Karuna Hospice to explain to La Trobe why I’d be suited to the program, at which she wrote an edifying and heartfelt letter. I believe Chodron got me through.

Putting yourself out there isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but with some amazing friends and peers telling me to go for it, gave me the courage to apply. I’m the happiest I’ve been in recent memory, as I wasn’t sure whether I would be offered a place because of my lack of a medical background. But as it turns out, La Trobe’s Palliative Care studies program is  holistic, in that the course material lends itself to the spiritual side of end of life care, as well as the practicalities of what palliative care involves.

And so, a new journey begins, and I couldn’t be more excited. Stand up for your dreams, people! Allow yourself to be supported and GO FOR IT!

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* my name for a PC practitioner 🙂

** screamed some more.

The turning of tides

I can feel the ground beneath my feet opening up to greet me; as though it is ready for me to step in and entangle me with its roots.

I am a very different woman than who I was the last time I was out here in central Queensland. Five years ago I was broken from a damaging relationship. After my spirit been chipped away, there was only one place I could think of that could even remotely begin to heal me, and that was my dear friend Meagan’s parents cattle station out in central Queensland. I needed to get out of the city and out of my head, because there’s only so much introspection you can do. And I didn’t want to talk. To anyone. My problem, my issue, my silence, my choice.

So this is what I did next – I hopped on a train and made my way out west. I was still mired in shock that the cancer surgery I’d had the previous November had come so close to claiming my life, I was afraid of life and death, and I was writing a book about the death of a child in a car crash. Reading coroners reports and interviewing first responders as well as the family of the child wasn’t conducive to healing, but I needed something to keep my head above the waterline that kept lapping at my throat until it reached my nostrils. I managed to keep the water from lapping at my neck.

I needed to heal from the outside in.

This year has been one of great change, both personally and professionally. I’ve ended friendships that no longer served me and focused on my ‘real’ friendships. I took an indefinite hiatus from social media – namely Facebook, and by doing that, it came to light who my true friends are. I surmised that if someone wants to be in my life, they’ll make the effort, just as I make the effort to be in theirs.

Life deviates. Our sails adjust. We change course.

Had someone told me last year that I’d be studying human services, I would have questioned their state of mind, but in order to pursue my dream of studying palliative care at Flinders University in Adelaide, I’m preparing by studying a graduate certificate in human services – effectively ensconced in the field of community services, specifically health.

Life deviates. Our sails adjust. We change course.

You think you have your life in order. I thought I had my career as a writer carved into the skin of an elephant, but everything changed when I discovered Karuna – a hospice for the dying. I knew I’d found my purpose. It’s a slow process, and over the past few of years, I’ve completed levels one and two of ‘Spiritual Care with the Dying’ through Karuna and next  there’s an intensive family volunteer program I want to do so I can finally start working with the dying and their families. I liken it to being a death midwife. It’s just as important to die a good death as it is to live a good life.

Karuna was a life-altering experience. As I walked into the grounds, I came home. I had found my place in the world and my passion – palliative care. I walked into Karuna’s beautiful homestead a very frightened woman. Ever since I’d missed death by a hairs breadth in 2007, I had never been more afraid of death and dying. But I left Karuna feeling liberated, empowered and fearless.

The plan? I don’t know yet. My passion for palliative care has of late, taken a sharp turn into the welfare of Indigenous people and the gaping chasm of palliative care in rural areas, but again …

Life deviates. Our sails adjust. We change course.

In February, I did a Vipassana – a ten-day silent meditation ‘retreat’. It was one of the most trying things I’ve ever done spiritually, but I left Dhamma Rasmi liberated from my past and far more mindful of the present. I walked out of there a free woman.

I acknowledge that I am at the beginning of this journey. I acknowledge that I am a novice when it comes to medical palliative care. I’ve been accumulating and reading an ever-growing stack of material about the massive chasm in Indigenous palliative care, and I’m well aware that I’m very much at the beginning of what I know will be a life changing journey.

You calculate the risks in your head and your heart, and this makes you a passion hunter. FIND your deeper purpose. Deviate your life, adjust your sails and change course. Close the door on things and people who don’t serve or support your passions, hopes and desires, but be mindful to practice kindness and compassion. If I had to choose a religion, I would choose kindness and compassion. Kindness is my religion. I’m blessed to know where my passions lie and how to go about chasing them and bringing them to the forefront of my life.

My relationship with my family – especially my sister – has evolved to a level where we are closer than ever. My sister and I support both our individual and shared passions; encouraging each other to jump, or in her case – sprint – out of our comfort zones and just go for it. I couldn’t be more proud of her and what she has achieved throughout this year. She’s deviated her life, adjusted her sails and changed course. We both have.

I’m now in a place where my writing plays a far different role in my life. I will always write. Words are like cordite in my blood. That nitroglycerin and cellulose-nitrate never stops steaming; it’s just that novels don’t seem to be as important as my studies and the direction they’re taking me.

Deviate your life. Adjust your sails. Change course. Dig your feet in. Be fearless and claim your passion.

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Plan F

I’m a full-time healthcare provider. To myself. People assume that you’re cured after transplant, and that you go on your merry way with your phenomenal donor lungs and you live forever and ever with just the odd complication, sail through life, find a partner, have a lovely courtship, get engaged, get married in between a fabulous career and shit and maybe even have a baby and yeehaw, THIS IS YOUR LIFE. YAY!

But stuff happens. Unglamorous stuff like bowel obstructions, cancer that will keep returning, anaemia, addiction, diabetes, painful infusions for osteoporosis, rejection, migraines, lung infections, chronic sinus, life threatening blood clots, and that one time when your adrenal system fails you and you literally drop dead at your friends funeral where your Mum has to resuscitate you. Talk about stealing someone’s thunder, but apparently I ‘died’ very elegantly and without much fuss. Side note: Thanks Mum and the White Ladies who diverted traffic so I could be ferried across a main road to a medical centre.

And so last week, I started uni. You would think two courses would be simple enough, even if I’ve missed out on the first three weeks of lectures and tutorials because my enrolment was all very eleventh hour*.

After I’d slept all day Monday and all night, I woke up exhausted yesterday, unable to get out of bed. I tried to convince myself that I was ok, to the point of saying out loud, ‘I’m fine. Really, I am. It’s just the general anaesthetic that’s making me feel yuck. I AM NOT GETTING A CHEST INFECTION.’ I repeated this until I started getting breathless, which was about third canon in. I felt like I was coming down with the flu, had a productive cough; I was having hot and cold sweats and my resting pulse rate was 100.

My gem of a Dad rushed me off to hospital and dropped me off with my overnight bag – the same overnight bag I gave a stern lecture to on Saturday morning after I went home the following day after my sinus surgery, in that I didn’t want to see it again for the foreseeable future, unless it was for a dirty weekend or for my trip out bush later this month.

I sat on my bed and did something I rarely do. I cried. It’s not that I’m a hard human being. In fact, the most benign things make me cry. Music mostly. It is easily the most affecting art form, but crying makes me feel torpid and vulnerable. I want to push myself away from myself, but I can’t because I’m so present in my body. Crying also gives me a roaring headache and I end up wondering what I was even crying about, because everything that I should have cried over (but didn’t) bleeds into what I’m feeling, and I cry like a kid who’s had his Tonka truck taken away.

But back to yesterday. I underwent my usual tests after which I saw a doctor I’ve known for a couple of years. We’re not ‘close’, and while I don’t know him particularly well, he’s an excellent doctor. He took my blood pressure, looked at my tattoo and said, ‘that looks fresh.’

‘No,’ I said. ‘It’s nearly five years old. It probably looks so good because I don’t go out in the sun and I slather myself in sunscreen. I’ve got really good genes too. Apart from the C.F ones, I mean. You should see my Mum. She looks amazing for her age.’

He raised his eyebrows and nodded. I’d rambled too much, and so cleared my throat, closed my mouth and darted my eyes southward to the benign hospital carpet. I either say too much, or too little. There seems to be no middle ground. For example, I’m currently crushing on someone who doesn’t know it (or maybe he does – who knows, but if you do, speak up, because I can’t!) who I’ve only ever managed a smile or a ‘thank you’, or a really loud ‘hi!’ or ‘great!’, or ‘can you please put my coffee down for me, I have the shakes because of the drugs’ with. Oh yeah – ‘I have the shakes because of the drugs?’ FFS, Carly.

So back to yesterday … My blood pressure was uncharacteristically low. So call me underwhelmed.**

Five years. What have I achieved in five years? Some small stuff. Nothing major. Except for surviving. I haven’t finished my research Masters or my novel, simply because ‘stuff’ gets in the way. Some obstacles are too big to go over, so I have to go around and that takes time. I’ll not forget when a friend said to me that I always seem to ‘take the long way round’. We were 19, and I said calmly that I’ve had some stops along the way. We’re do’t really see each other anymore. Life has deviated for both of us and there’s really not a lot we can talk about. I’m also a big believer in that just because you have a history with someone, you don’t need to maintain the friendship for friendships sake.

So when ‘stuff’ happens (read: when I become unwell. I’ll rarely say I’m sick – ‘sick’ is reserved for when I’m on life support), I make other plans. Because I always have a Plan B, C, D and E. Sometimes, I even have Plan F for FUCK ME, UNIVERSE – ARE YOU SERIOUS? But I always get through it. Whether I’ve had my chest cracked and opened up like a clam for transplant or my vagina ripped to shreds first through topical chemotherapy and then peeled off like the skin of a grape when surgery was my only option, I get through it. Even with a poo bag, I managed. I’m not saying I managed it well. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. But I managed.

The last five years have been about survival and just that. I’ve learned so much – about myself, about the world I find myself in and about other people, in both stop the clock beautiful ways and in less lovely ways. People can be … fucked. There I said it. People can be fucked. I like to think that for every misguided human being, there are three earth angels who are all managing their best. And that’s why I want to help look after people. That’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do – to be a light in the dark for someone when their light is fading.

We’re all just managing. I am just surviving. Every day is a new beginning. We’ve got this, people so let’s slather on sunscreen, pull on our boots and look fabulous while we’re doing it (thanks again, Mum).

* Currently checking to see if I can study just the one course this semester and an intensive in summer semester.

** which won’t last very long. I’m guessing I’ll be hypertensive tonight when I watch Patrick’s funeral on Offspring. And Nina gives birth #ohsweetbabycheesesicannotibelievethisishappeningandirealiseitsonlyatvshowbutFUCKIneedsomeEddieVedderrightnow

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