It’s getting colder…

As May approaches, the warm weather is tapering off down here.  It was 59 degrees this morning at 8:00AM (about 15 degrees C).  I must confess that living in a warm sub-tropical climate has made me a cold wimp.  MBW and I went to Garfish for dinner with another couple last Tuesday evening and I had to wear my leather jacket for the first time this year.  No need for the aircon now; open the windows and let the cool breeze flow through!  Heck, I was wearing my flannel shirt this morning when I went downstairs!

Rough Quarter

It’s a long one but then again I haven’t posted in a LONG time!

Well, it HAS been a long while since I posted on the blog. Its been a rough first quarter of 2012 for me. My last true post was on 6 January. I don’t think this quarter would have been this hard had I been prepared for the Australian Government’s control of some types of prescription medication. I’m going to get personal but it’s helpful to me to explain and maybe someone else can be helped by me explaining. At the age of 40, I was diagnosed with Adult ADHD. To some of you this may not be much of a surprise; to me it was life shattering and life-giving, I guess you could say. The diagnosis rocked my life’s foundation and devastated me. So much I had lost, so much I had missed, so much I had dreamt of and so many lies I had lived with.

When I was around 10 or 11, I knew deep down in my heart that I wanted to be a vet and I wanted to live in Australia. I shared it with anyone who would listen. My parents even enrolled me in private school beginning in the first grade. I don’t think this had much to do with my dream more than they were able at the time to afford private school for 1 out of 4 kids. Why not start with the one just beginning to go to school? In my mind, I limped by in school. I was more in trouble for being noisy than I was getting commendations for my academic prowess. It took me twice as long to learn things because every time I got to the end of a paragraph, I had no clue what I had just read. Literally I couldn’t tell you whether I had just read about an English lesson or a History lesson because while I was reading, there were thousands of other thoughts going through my mind. Those thoughts raced and raced and collided and magnified. I felt stupid. What was wrong with me? I was average but I felt a very lost average. When I went to a private college preparatory high school, I felt way out of my league. I just had to work harder, care less or find another way to pass my courses. I am inventive in that way.

I was in high school with kids who aced their SAT’s and ACT’s. Me? I hated those tests because my brain always used those racing thoughts to fake me out. It would tell me, “Hurry, hurry, there is going to be something in here you don’t know. Hurry, rush through the test. Find that one question that is going to ruin the whole thing. Look at everyone else. They’re doing just fine!” By the time I rushed through, I had no clue what had happened, which question was answered correctly, which one I was supposed to come back to, etc. Studying was difficult and I didn’t sit still for long. I also contended with the racing thoughts. I didn’t know that was what they were. I thought everyone had them. Mine tended to be negative observations about myself physically and always did a number on me emotionally. I was overwhelming in relationships; as though my life depended on you being my friend. I still hear the hundreds of comments, “Jeez Susan, you are so hyper. Calm down!” If my perception was you didn’t like me, that gave me license to try harder. It was always something wrong with me. I compared my insides to your outsides and I never measured up.

I graduated high school and was accepted to Texas A&M into their Pre-Veterinarian Program. So many things happened that first year of college that beat me to a pulp. I was cut during sorority rush which seemed to confirm the negative racing thoughts in my head. I gained 24 pounds that first year, same confirmation. I was lost in a math class of 600 students after spending the last 12 years in classes no larger than 25. The one thing I had been feeling in high school that was becoming clearer to me in college was that I was definitely not smart enough to be there nor to become a vet. After 3 semesters I transferred to TCU and got a business degree with which I have never done a thing with…why? Because it isn’t what I wanted to do with my life. In my mind I personally haven’t accomplished much. I am a wife and I mother but I have always felt a sense of loss since I transferred from A&M.

Back in the 70’s to early 80’s, there wasn’t much information on learning disorders, especially ADD or ADHD. I have a brother who was diagnosed with Dyslexia in high school in the very early 80’s but very little was known about it either. He struggled; I watched him struggle. The reason he got help (from my perspective) and my learning disability wasn’t diagnosed was that he was failing some classes and no one could figure out why. Hell, ADHD was not even a recognized disorder until 1980 and it was more common in boys. I think so much of my ADHD was internalized and being a female, the hyperactivity wasn’t an issue. I graduated high school in 1986. Go figure…

When a dear friend mentioned ADHD to me under the assumption I knew I had it, I was dumbfounded. HUH? Why would she think I have the disorder? She mentioned a few symptoms…ones that even I knew were a part of my makeup. I looked at her and asked, “Is this why I can read a paragraph and have no idea what I have read?” As she slowly nodded, I broke down in the most gut wrenching sobs I have experienced. It hurt. It hurt deeply. So many years of feeling like a failure from not being a vet to not being able to keep a clean house. So many racing thoughts had pounded my heart and soul for 40 years, I wasn’t sure I would recover.

So in 2007 when I was diagnosed, I had a great psychologist to help me with the ADHD and a psychiatrist to prescribe the necessary medication to get it under control. My life changed that year. I went from unorganized chaos to organized chaos – HA! I gave myself a break because the racing thoughts had stopped. I could focus on what was in front of me. Some of the most simple things in life can waylay an ADHD’er for days trying to figure out how to start the process. Once they start it, what are the necessary steps to finish it? AND God forbid something looks colorful or interesting along the way that catches their eye and their attention. All of this cleared up for me and I had felt more successful in the last 4 years than I have in my lifetime.

The problem here in Oz stems from a group of mothers in the 1980’s who decided to sell their children’s Ritalin to make extra money. The government got involved and pulled all ADHD medication “in-house.” I have been working the process since before Christmas and I am still not on the correct levels of medications. I know this because I feel like I did before 2007. I have thoughts like I did before 2007. But most of all, I don’t like how I fell and think because I know I can be better. Patience was never one of my virtues but I am quickly learning.

The process goes like this: I first saw a General Practitioner. God love that man. He worked his rear end off trying to get me the medication I needed or at least to a doctor who could prescribe me what I needed. He even sent me to the hospital emergency room thinking the doctors there had the pull to prescribe the medication to tide me over until I saw a psychiatrist. Nope. He referred me to a Psychiatrist. It took a month to get an appointment with him. I have worked with this doctor for almost 2 months with 3 different kinds of medications each to the max level that he is allowed by the government to prescribe. These are low levels. He has now determined that he wants to refer me to the ADHD Psychiatric Specialist who will also evaluate me just as the previous doctor has done. This new doctor will then petition the Australian government with his findings and recommendations for the restricted medication and the dose he wants to prescribe. The government then decides whether I should have it, grants the doctor the approval and the doctor prescribes the ADHD medication for me. Sadly, this must happen every time a new prescription is needed. So I am waiting to hear back from the specialist to schedule an appointment. We are out almost $2,000 and I’ve dealt with some pretty bad lows in the last few months.

I feel on the upswing though but it will take time. I’m very involved in MBD’s school volunteering in the school’s canteen. It gets me out of the house and around other people. The laid back no worries attitude of this culture has helped with the racing negative thoughts. I feel off kilter and not quite “me.” In the end, I DO know it will all work out.

Thank you to my wonderful husband for all he has endured and to MBD for all she has survived. 🙂 They have both stuck by me on this roller coaster. Thank you to MWH for keeping in touch with all of you. I promise to keep writing. There is so much I want to share with you about this wonderful country – there are some definite quirks here! To all who have or have not noticed,  the new banner photo at the top of the page is the incredibly talented work of MWH! Hugs and kisses to you all!

Blessed beyond belief!

To My Wonderful Husband,

You amaze me at times I don’t expect it. You cherish me in subtle ways I may not see. Your desire for the best for me sometimes clouds your decisions when your only goal is to make me happy. Your love for me is abundant and something I tend to take for granted. You are always willing to sooth the savage beast within me when it rears its ugly head.. Today I want you to know that I do see all that you do for me. I do see the many ways that you love me. And I do see that I am blessed beyond belief to be your wife. Thank you for the best Valentines Day present ever!

I love you with all of my heart.

Your loving wife

Kittens!

After over a decade of holding out and telling my daughter there was no way we’d ever have a cat in the house, I guess this was inevitable.  Yesterday we picked up two kittens from the RSPCA (both boys) so now MBD has what she’s been asking for.  Just keep them off my bed and pillow and hopefully I’ll be fine…(allergies).  I couldn’t bear to walk into the puppy building at the RSPCA–would have been too hard to see with memories of the three dogs left behind fresh in my mind…

Please allow for a moment of blah in my lifetime of gratefulness!

Yes, I know. It has been quite a while since you have heard from me. MWH has kept up with great pictures showing some of our awesome adventures. Me, I don’t know. It’s weird. I’m loving where I am but I am intensely craving some normality. We have been here 5 weeks. I’m not homesick nor am I regretting the move. It’s just weird. It has a lot to do with the adjustment to a new culture. Granted there is no language barrier (well, let’s just say not a total language barrier,) the people are EXTREMELY nice and accommodating and thank God the weather is cooperating with me. Christmas was a blur but we’re proud of what we put together in one week and HRH (her royal highness) was happy and thankful for everything. When I finally gave up on my stress of finding something POWERFUL for our FIRST AUSTRALIAN New Years Eve, a neighbor invited all of us to sit with her family on the beach in Manly for the “family fireworks” at 9:30pm. And my husband and I enjoyed watching the Sydney Harbour midnight fireworks from the comfort of our couch – just the 2 of us!

I started this post on Wednesday, it is now Friday and I can’t find find the desire to write. Its a weird place for me where I am right now. Some things are falling into place, some things are lingering and some things are really bothering me because I think they should be something different than what they are. Am I making sense this morning? We finally have internet and phone service in the house. You have no idea what an adjustment Australian internet has been. First of all, no one uses it. Therefore when you use it like an American, it is EXTREMELY expensive for very LITTLE data. MBD and I have been surviving with a “pre-paid broadband modem” since we arrived 1 December. Pre-paid my rear end. It should be named “continuous payment required broadband modem.” I have put more money in that little 1″x2″ box in the past 35 days than I put in high speed internet access in Knoxville in SIX MONTHS! MWH swears we are spending hours on youtube, downloading movies, large files, SOMETHING to explain our data usage. He is “Mr. I am still using my 5GB data prepaid broadband modem I got when I came over the last time.” Believe me, I have regulated the kid’s usage and I for sure haven’t been sitting around here downloading movies on Netflix and eating bon bons. Mainly because Netflix DOESN’T WORK HERE, Mr. 5GB Modem Man. Solution? Finally got the switch “flicked” on at Telstra for our home phone and 500GB DATA BROADBAND ACCESS! Yah, buddy! Thank you, Jesus! I actually watched a movie on AppleTV yesterday. Which brings me to the lingering things.

It has been an adjustment to get used to living in 70’s again. I am referring to television. We have four stations to choose from. Nope, you heard me right. I definitely didn’t say forty. I said FOUR! I do remember those days as a child when we had ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS. Funny how it seemed normal back then but now it kinda feels like I’m locked in a padded ward going cold turkey from my addiction to reality TV. And before anyone starts the whole, “Why do you need TV when you are living in such an incredible place, with so much outdoor opportunit…..blah,blah,blah,” we DO get outside, we DO go to the beach, we DO hang with the neighbors. Do me a favor, look around your house. Look at all of the electronics there are, your bed with your favorite pillow, the yummy Hellman’s Mayonaise in the pantry, the 40 remote controls on the coffee table. Now go out to the garage and look lovingly at your car, your motorcycle, your bike, your scooter, whatever it is that gets you from point A to point B. Now go to the backyard or inside your house and hug your dogs, your cats, your birds, your fish…well, just wave to the fish.

Then it’s all gone

and you are trying to figure out which way is up. A little TV from home might make you feel slightly better, huh? Just sayin’, don’t judge until you have have walked in the shoes. And then still don’t judge, it’s not good for your complexion. Whatever.

Needless to say, Foxtel should arrive today between 10 and 2 to install our cable TV. We also hope to buy/lease/steal/borrow a car this weekend to make life a little more mobile. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE public transportation but the bickering and whining with the 11 year old when we need to go somewhere has become really, really annoying. This too shall pass. Which brings me to the things that are bothering me because I think they should be different than what they are.

Specifically, I’m worried I’m not doing enough of EVERYTHING to get MBD adjusted to life in Australia. I should be doing this or I should get her involved in that or she should try this or she should want to do that…..yadda,yadda,yadda. When in reality she is doing rather well! We were blessed with a wonderful neighbor named Barbara. She’s the same one from above who invited us for fireworks. She is a single, retired grandmother of 15 (almost 16) who has more energy than those 15, me and MBD put together. Can you believe this woman actually retired so that she could spend EVERYDAY with some or all of her grandchildren???? They range in age from 5 to 18 and come from the 5 children she has. Oh and she is a FABULOUS woman who has fallen madly in love with MBD….and the feeling is mutual.

There is always at least one but usually three or more kids at Barbara’s house everyday. I knew something was up on the first day when our “Audiophone” rang. This is the cool box that has a camera built in so you can see who is ringing at the front gate. The first time ours rang I went to look at the screen and there was a kid hanging upside down and all I could see was this face moving in and out, side to side, big eyes, small eyes, mouth open, nostril shot…you get it. Anyway that is the epitome of life in the first unit of our 5 unit townhouse.

Barbara always includes MBD when she is taking the kids somewhere or she has one or 12 over to play. The other day we were invited to go eat fish and chips by the beach. MBD and I went with Barbara to one of her children’s home to coordinate the kids going and how many adults we would have plus the number of cars to get us there. Four cars later, five adults and I think at last count thirteen kids in tow, we made it to the Manly Fishmongers. The line was fierce, the smells were amazing and the experience was fascinating – especially when the mom in me kept trying to count heads while standing on the side of the street. Thank God MBD was in her lime green tye-died WCST t-shirt; never thought I would love to see those colors so much. Anyway, with steaming hot fish, chips, calamari, sauces, chicken salt and drinks in hand we walked to the beach to find picnic tables. It took four tables – it’s unheard of to find an empty one much less FOUR TOGETHER. Ahhh, gotta love it when the planets align. We divvied up the food, drinks and commenced to eat. That sounds really orderly, huh…it was anything but! Soon kids were scattered everywhere. Some on the beach, some in the surf, some playing tag….sounds enjoyable, huh? Now add a thousand people to the picture in your mind. Makes finding “Waldo” look simple. It was a BLAST!

All of this time spent with the kids I kept hearing them say, “Hey Bob, Bob, Hey Bob, Bobbie, Please Bob, Bob, Bob…” imagine to the tune of the seagulls in Nemo: “Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine….” I did not realize until it was time to leave that this was the children’s’ name for Barbara. In fact what they were actually saying was, “Hey Barb, Barb, Hey Barb, Barbie, Please Barb, Barb, Barb…” When I explained my confusion to little Ava (who is 5, enamored with MBD and the ruler of ALL,) she promptly smiled and said, “Hey, Boyb.” Or at least that’s how she heard me say it. So MBD and I have christened our angel from heaven and lifelong friend.

Here’s to BOB!

And to think I had no desire to write……

No, a dingo didn’t take my baby…

I originally wrote this post on 22 December and didn’t finish. I’m posting it so I can get on with my blog without it sitting on my shoulder going, “Finish me, please finish me!” Enjoy. More this afternoon…

Yes, we are still here and doing well. It has been one of those crazy weeks where you know you are living life but you have no idea which way is up.

Here is a Reader’s Digest version of what has happened in the 8 days since my last post: (sounds vaguely familiar from grade school: “Father, it has been 8 days since my last confession…..see, the good little Baptist girl DID listen!)

  1. We successfully moved into our new home. What a difference it is from the previous place! We have wall to wall windows, TONS of light, beautiful greenery in the back yard, and lots of different birds. We have seen the Australian version of the pigeon (which are everywhere!,) Lorikeets and lots and lots of Kookaburras. Here is a fabulous audio file of the Laughing Kookaburra: LaughingKookaburra Now, put about 5 of those together and you have the sounds of our backyard. Truthfully, sometimes we feel like we are in a Planet Of The Apes movie. But SO fascinating to learn about new animals. These guys are meat-eaters!
  2. We arrived at the new house around 5:00pm Friday, 16 December. Once we got everything unloaded, we headed to the local shopping center which is 3 blocks away for some dishes, silverware, sheets, blankets and pillows. Well, guess what? The local trading hours are 9:00am to 5:30pm. Go figure – and that is EVERYWHERE, including malls! The kitchen store was just pulling in their racks when we stopped by to see if we could do some quick shopping. “Come right on in,” said the sweet store clerk. Well, $500 and 15 minutes later we had dishes for 4 place settings, 56 pieces of silverware, 12 glasses, a totally cool Cuisinart toaster  ,  and a awesome Cuisinart kettle . Sad to say, we are actually getting used to the instant coffee. Needless to say, there was not an open linen store in sight!