Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except a cat and a collection of Australian parrots, finches, canaries and a dozen hens.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What else is happening here?

Ken is starting to feel a bit more human and less like a zombie. His body is getting used to the new meds, and the rotten side effects have ceased. Parts of him still cause pain, but not as much as a week ago. Here he is talking to a friend on the phone tonight.

In contrast, Tiger has his back to me for good reason. I had run a bath for myself, and was turning off the computer in the next room when I heard a splash, followed by frantic scrabbling sounds. A wet furry creature shot past the door in a blur, and when I finally caught up with him, I had to wipe him down with a wet cloth before I dried him. I'd poured aromatic oils into the bath, and I think he would have been very sick if he'd licked himself clean. One of Ken's visitors commented on Tiger's tail, saying he looked more like a Ring-tailed Lemur than a Tiger, with those stripes!

Lots of action in the back yard over the past fortnight. One of the eucalypts in the back yard provided excellent shade for the birds in their aviaries, but when the tree developed a tilt and started to LEAN against the end aviary, it had to go, otherwise it would have crushed them all. It took three blokes a couple of hours to cut the tree down. One climbed up as far as he could go, chain saw swinging from his belt, and sawed off the top branches, which were guided away from the aviaries by the other blokes holding ropes. It cost $660, but worth every cent, as there was no damage at all to the aviaries, and the birds survived all the noise. (How can you tell if a bird is deaf?) If they aren't deaf already, they might be after tomorrow. The fence at the back is going to be torn down and replaced at a cost of $540 (our half share). Don't anybody DARE ask me when I'm getting a new computer...

The other exciting event in our back yard is the arrival of a garden shed. Our neighbour had this shed in her back yard, but wanted to get rid of it. As we had been wanting one for years, but never got around to buying one, she said we may as well have hers, otherwise she would have to pay someone to take it to the tip. Ken's two nephews arrived one Sunday and took two hours to dismantle the shed in neighbour's yard, throw the panels over the fence, re-assemble it in our yard and lay a brick floor! Ken was in hospital while this was going on, so he didn't have any say about what was put into the shed. I scooped up everything that had been lying around the back yard and put them in to it. Happy Jan!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thanks for your encouraging comments!

Sylvia, you are so right about cats. They can be so comforting in their own way, but all Cat People know that, don't we?! Topsy and Tiger vie for position on our bed at night, but after a spitting hissing brawl at the end of the bed one night, we put a stop to that, and they both sleep in the laundry now.

Isabelle, I was getting some spam, so I had to resort to the moderator thing - sorry to confuse you! As you can see, both of your comments are now here. Thank you for your kind words about me being the best one to look after Ken. Not just the best person, but the only person, lol! No kids to help out in this house.

Freda, you have sent so many encouraging messages, there is no need to apologise for being slow in responding to my latest posts! Ken and I appreciate each and every message and comment sent from my bloggy friends.

My poor baby is not having a good time of it. His diabetes meds were doubled after the op. because his blood sugar is too high, and this has caused horrid side effects (bowel and tummy stuff - we won't go there...). According to our GP, this is normal, and will settle down in a week or so. The good news is that the wounds on his chest and arm have healed dramatically fast according to the doctor, so that is a plus.

I thought (and Ken hoped) that he would have some visitors over the weekend, but nobody came except Ken's sister today (Sunday), and she stayed for over an hour, which made Ken very happy, as they don't see each other very often on their own. It is usually on family occasions when other people are around, and they don't get a chance to have deep and meaningfuls. Still, it would cheer Ken up no end if some of our other friends dropped by now that he is home.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Heart surgery - is it worth all the pain?

Ken is feeling very fragile, very sorry for himself. He said today that it would have been better if he'd been allowed to die naturally, instead of feeling so awful after the operation. We have been warned that it is quite normal for cardiac patients to feel depressed and in pain at times, but that it will get better within a few weeks. I made the mistake of looking at videos of heart surgery on YouTube tonight, and I was exclaiming loudly over the scenes where the rib cage is separated by the surgeons winding it apart with a mechanical thing. OMG, no wonder the poor bloke is feeling like he has been run over by a truck. UGH...Ken heard me from the other end of the house and asked what I was looking at. I said "NOTHING! Go back to sleep!" I did not want him to see that particular video scene, although I told him later that the bit showing the heart lung machine was incredible.

Isabelle posted a poem called "I Carry Your Heart" on her blog this week, and it reminded me of what one of the nurses actually said to him before the operation: "don't worry, your heart is in good hands"! He is still coming to terms with the thought that complete strangers (surgeons) were actually holding his heart in their hands.

Tiger is playing a big part in cheering up Ken. We had the gas fire on tonight, and Tiger is a bit wary of it, but decided to lie far enough away to be safe, but close enough to be warm.

Ken is spending a lot of time on the couch under the furry rug, and Tiger spends a few moments during the day, snuggling down at his feet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The MOTH is home!

On my arrival at the Austin hospital this morning, I was informed Ken was to be discharged today. He'd been for final X-rays, blood tests, ECGs, and exercise sessions, and was pronounced fit enough to go home. He was elated, and I was also pleased, but a bit apprehensive. We took home a new list of medications which luckily included most of his old ones, a chart of exercises that he has to do every day, a list of foods he should eat, and a list of foods he should not eat (most of his favourites), and instructions to take his blood sugar reading three times daily. A nurse brought him in a wheelchair to the hospital entrance where I was parked waiting for him. I tucked him tenderly in the front seat, with a cushion between his chest and the seat belt (to protect the wound), and drove carefully home, trying to avoid potholes and speed humps.

It was nearly 4 pm by the time we got home, and once Ken had said hello to Tiger and Topsy, he sat on the couch in the lounge room for a few minutes, then decided to lie on the bed and have a snooze. He fell asleep almost immediately, and I left him there in peace until he woke up about 7.30. In that time, I phoned most of the people who had been asking after him, so that the phone wouldn't ring nonstop into the night, but the few that I didn't call got through on the phone inbetween my calls out, so it wasn't really a silent night.
We had a light meal of vegetable soup and buttered toast for tea, and later on he had a low-fat icecream. We sat in front of the t.v. for a couple of hours and talked about the hospital and other topics relating to his health, and I could see him visibly relaxing. He commented "How nice it is to see a picture on our big t.v. instead of four walls, curtains, beds, machines, and people coming and going".

He now has at least two - more likely three - months at home before he can drive, let alone go back to work, but he says he is not going to push himself beyond reasonable limits, as he has been given a second chance at life, and doesn't want to botch it. It will be interesting to see who loses their patience first - lol!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I am so tired...

...but considering what has happened in Japan, I am very grateful to be safe and alive here in Australia. I have had two emails from my friend in Tokyo, who wrote that she sheltered in a gymnasium for four hours during the worst of it, but now she is back home and her family are safe. And after all that, she asked after Ken!
As for Ken, he is recovering much faster than most of us expected, and the medics are all very happy with his progress. He hasn't been sleeping well, but apparently this is normal for cardiac patients, and they say that once he gets home, he will probably sleep a lot. What's new? I ask - he was always looking for opportunities to take a nap before all this! He has been out of bed, able to shower and shave himself, but feels very weak and tired when he's done that.

I haven't been sleeping much either, and on Saturday while I was visiting him at the hospital, the nurse on duty asked me if I felt okay, and I said no, not really. She took my blood pressure and it was way too high. She wanted to take me to the emergency ward there and then, but I said no, I would see my own doctor the next day. It has been a hectic time, some of it my own fault I guess, but I did not want to hang around the house brooding, so I've been out and about with my wonderful friends and Ken's cousins. On Wednesday I had lunch at Hurstbridge with Cheryl, and after visiting Ken, went on to Ivanhoe to have dinner with my old friend Jenny, who had cooked a delicious meal.

The next day, one of Ken's cousins picked me up in her car and we visited Ken for a short time, as he had just been transferred to the Cardiac ward from ICU, and was very groggy. That night I had another friend Sandra to my place for tea, and it was lovely to sit and chat with her for a few hours.
On Friday, I did some shopping, visited Ken just after lunch, and then took my disabled friend Helen out for coffee, as it was a nice sunny day. That night I had dinner with Ken's cousin Sue at her home with other members of the family, and we had a great night, reminiscing about our respective families.

On Saturday, I picked up Ken's Mum from the hostel, which is only a few blocks from the Austin hospital - and took her in to visit Ken. We spent over an hour with him, and his Mum held his hand for most of that time. The nursing staff were amazed to learn that she is 98, as she doesn't really look that old, and still speaks like a younger woman. She is quite proud of the fact that she doesn't have a squeaky tired old voice like many of the ladies who live at the same hostel! After taking her back home, I went home, had a rest, then tizzied myself up for a night out with Sandra and Louise. We went to a pub in Diamond Creek for dinner and greatly enjoyed our meals. I had chicken on skewers with rice for mains and shared a Toblerone Cheesecake with Louise for dessert, because there was no way either of us could have eaten it all on our own! We returned to Louise's home afterwards, and stayed until around midnight.

Today (Sunday) Ken's nephews came to our place to put a garden shed up. Our neighbour had it in her yard but wanted to get rid of it, so she said "If you can remove it, you can have it". Chris and Ag dismantled it, chucked the walls and roof over the fence into our yard, and rebuilt it. Then they laid bricks inside for a floor. All within a couple of hours! They wanted to do it for their Uncle Ken while he was in hospital, so he would have a nice surprise when he comes home. I took some photos and showed Ken when I visited him tonight.

I'd called him around 4 pm to say I was coming later, and he was feeling pretty miserable because he had no phone calls or visitors all day. I got on the phone to half a dozen friends and suggested that they might call him instead of me, and when I got to the hospital, he had cheered up quite a bit, after having four calls in a row! He was asleep when I arrived, but woke up when the flash on my camera went off! Poor darling.

While the medics at the hospital are happy with his progress, his blood sugars and blood pressure are still unstable, so they want to keep him there for a few more days until they get everything under control. Hopefully he will come home on Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The consequence of smoking.

I took Ken in to the Austin hospital on Tuesday morning at 6 am, and by 7.15 he was being wheeled into the operating theatre. The medics told me someone would call me as soon as the operation was over, and let me know how he was. I went home for a while, then went back to Heidelberg to join some friends for a coffee. We chatted for an hour or so, then Val had to go, so Julie and I window shopped for a while, then went to the pub for lunch.
By 1pm I hadn't heard anything from the hospital, so I phoned them from my mobile. I was informed that he was out of the theatre and in ICU, and I said "Nobody has told me!" and the girl snapped "He's only just been wheeled in here - give me a bloody chance". I thought Oops, she's having a bad day, or something is going seriously wrong in there. She told me to call back in an hour or so and they would have Ken stabilised. I called back at 2.30, and was told that he had two bypass grafts and the operation was successful with no complications, but his blood pressure was dropping, and he couldn't breathe on his own, so he was on a ventilator. She advised me not to come in until they had 'sorted him out'. You can imagine how all this made me feel. Not happy Jan...

I drove over to the aged care home where Ken's mum is, and told her Ken was out of surgery and the operation had been successful (didn't mention the bad bits), and she was so pleased that I'd come by to tell her. I went home for a while, then out again to visit a friend, and was home again by 5pm. This time when I called the hospital, the news was much better. His blood pressure had levelled out, and he was waking up and responding to the nurses' voices.

I went in to see him last night, after the nurse suggested coming in later rather than sooner, as it would give him time to recover a bit more. Ken's cousin Sue came in with me to see him. The nurse said he is doing remarkably well, groggy but awake enough to know what is going on. We talked to him in short bursts, because he was on oxygen and couldn't talk properly, but well enough for us to understand him. Nurse said if there was a bed available he would be transferred to the cardiac ward the next day, and they would get him up and walking around the ward the next day!! Can you believe that when you see this??

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Melbourne's beautiful Autumn.

Melbourne put on a perfect weekend for us to enjoy before Ken's operation. On Sunday we went up to Sugarloaf with our friends Mark and Louise. We took a picnic lunch, then went for a lazy stroll along the walking track. We walked 5 kilometres, and felt great for doing it!
The reservoir is so beautiful right now, full of water, and all the trees are fresh and green.
We spotted a pair of ducks with eight ducklings in tow - cute!

Mark and Louise ahead of Ken on our walk.
I took a pic of Ken with our friends.

And Mark took one of me giving Ken a hug!

Yesterday (Monday) Ken didn't go back to work. He had a haircut in the morning, and we spent the afternoon sunning ourselves in the back yard, surrounded by the chooks pecking happily away in the garden. We had a steady flow of people dropping in to wish Ken good luck, so it was a nice relaxing day.
I took Ken into the Austin this morning at 6 am, and left just after 7, as they wheeled him into the operating theatre. I was told they would call me when it is over, about lunchtime - so I've come home to catch up on my emails and blogs before I head out to have lunch with my good mates Julie and Val.
I'll do another post here tomorrow, all going well. Thanks again to all my bloggy friends for their good wishes.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Update on Ken.

We went into the Austin Hospital today, and Ken had an ECG, blood tests and X rays, after which he was interviewed by four different medical people involved with his case. The assistant cardiac surgeon told us that Ken is classified as category 1 (critical), so they have brought his operation forward to next Tuesday. Ken got a bit of a shock, but I wasn't surprised, as his cardiologist has been warning me for years that Ken's heart is in bad shape.

We have another interview tomorrow at the Austin, and a check on his defibrillator, then he will be back at work on Thursday and Friday. He doesn't know if he'll go to work on Monday - probably not, as there is a lot of preparation to be done for the surgery on Tuesday. He will probably stay in hospital up to 10 days, and after that, home for a couple of months.

I told one of the nurses today that after I see Ken off into the operating theatre, I wouldn't be hanging around. She said "That's a good idea - you would go nuts in the waiting room for five hours. We try to persuade families to go out of the hospital when it is a long operation". I said I was being whisked off by my support team of girlfriends who insist on taking me out somewhere so I won't have time to brood! Naturally I will have my mobile phone switched on in case the hospital needs to contact me, but I'm hoping that won't happen. No news is good news under those circumstances.

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