Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 - A Backward Glance

As we begin the countdown to say farewell to a long year, it is easy to look back with rose-coloured glasses (or sometimes it's due to poor memory) and only remember the good times. But I'm wiping my glasses (I have glasses now, purple ones, just for fun) one last time, to see clearly so that I can put the year down (on paper so to speak) and move on to new beginnings.

I am not one to label a year. I have lived through many years (not too many of course, I'm still a spring chicken!) and have therefore come to understand the ebb and flow, the ying and yang and the more commonly known, ups and downs and cycles of life as they happen throughout a 12 month period. This year, however, will have to go down in history as the most challenging for the Walker clan.

There were Milestone Beginnings :-)
  1. Tomato started Grade 1 
  2. Hubby left his job of 7 years and started his own business with a friend

There were Milestone Endings :-(
  1. Bacon graduated from pre-school
  2. I had to shut down a toxic friendship with a man who I have known since I was 14 and considered to be a good friend. He took advantage of my good nature. I was heart sore for a long time.
  3. So many friends lost their partners, parents and grandparents this year, so I appreciate that I have still got my mom. [Ian B lost his mom, Troy and Kelly lost their dad, Irene lost Manfred, Beth lost her dad, Peter and Tanya lost their mom, Vicky lost her granddad. May they all Rest In Peace].

There were Milestone Medical Issues :-(

Tomato (skin)
Just this year went to - a Naturopath, Homeopath, GP, Gastro-enterologist x 2, Spiritual healer, Reflexologist, Hypnotist, Child psychologists x 4, Child psychiatrist, Allergist, Radiologist, Pathologist and a very kind anaesthetist (who drew 21 bloods under anaesthetic due to Tomato's anxiety levels. One blood test was inconclusive). Tomato then needed a colonoscopy and gastroscopy during which, the inconclusive blood test was done again and other blood tests were carried out while she was anaesthetised. We were called 2 days ago to please bring her in again as there is ANOTHER problem with the bloods!! Grrrrr don't they understand it's not that simple!!!)

There were also the obvious dental, GP issues, Ophthalmologist (her eyesight has deteriorated even though we are patching her eye every second day) and the Optometrist to re-test and new glasses.

Broke his tooth and then proceeded to get abscess after abscess and became a ball of stress. Starting a new business with 3 small children (and fortunately a lovely wife) is not for sissies! Finances have been fun to say the least!

I started off the year with aches and pains and went from the physio to the acupuncturist to the GP to radiologist to the pathologist. Finally the Rheumatologist gave a diagnosis of an auto-immune disease (induced by stress), back to the pathologist for a monthly visit and chemotherapy drugs, which give me blurred vision, nausea and a non-existent immune system. I managed to contact baby measles (I know! How is that even possible??)  Then to Rheumatologist number 2 for second opinion.

Off to the Ophthalmologist - I need glasses! Really? Is that why I'm battling to read my text messages? Seems like it, so off I go to the Optometrist to re-test and choose frames. Then, big mistake grrr - after putting cream on Tomato, I rubbed the remaining cream on my hands, into my legs (as you do) and I passed on her infection (didn't know she had an infection, I thought it was eczema)  to me, so I got an abscess on my leg which remained for 3 months and left a lovely reminder in the form of a purple scar. Then just before Christmas I managed to get a really nice spider bite which spread down my arm and became beautifully infected, plus my (not so bi-annual) visit to the dentist showed that I also needed the first 2 fillings of my life due to stress-induced grinding (haha stress? What stress?) I had both teeth filled without an anesthetic!! #hardcore

Oh and while this is all going on (because hubby and I have so much free time *not*) we were required to attend 5 sessions with a psychologist to equip us to parent a child with a disease and the impact that the disease has on the child and the rest of the family.

Went to the Ophthalmologist - perfect 20/20 vision, one GP visit and the dental check up

3 Visits to the GP - baby measles (thanks for handing it on Bubby!), bronchial issues and an ear and eye  infection.

Thank goodness Bacon and Lettuce were troopers and left the rest of us to suffer! The medical aid dried up in February - just to add to the stress and I have made personal friends with the pharmacists at Dischem!!

Tomato's skin was the worst challenge of the year and we were all reduced to tears many times when we were just not able to help her. I don't want to go into any of that again - read about it in The Eczema Chronicles on this blog at

Then Bacon got bullied at school by a boy at her little nursery school and Tomato got bullied about her skin, so I was at the schools sorting that out. Fluffy our beloved bunny died in our garden and we had a funeral. We all said a few words about her and then we sobbed, even Dot-the-domestic was battling to hold it together. The girls got fish for their birthday (new pets!!) and I was cleaning their bowl, forgetting that my skin is toxic from the chemo meds so both fish died instantly, I felt terrible.

I had a car accident and the repair place pranged my car delivering it to me, so I ended up not having a car for 8 weeks, then the full tank of petrol from my car "had evaporated" by the time I got it back. I got a nail in my tyre on the way home and they had discharged my battery so I got stuck at work and needed to get a jump start and buy a new one. My phone just stopped working one day. I lost all my data, all my photos of the last 2 years, everything. This list goes on and on etc etc etc the year was difficult to say the least!!!


There were Milestone Achievements (and happy times)  :-)

Hubby is in a much better space and I have EVERY CONFIDENCE that his business will take off! He has an amazing partner and they build on each other's strengths. He is also writing a series of children's books, watch this space......

After poor Tomato's bad start to the year, she made us so proud with a fantastic report and the Allergist who we now see (sometimes just to drink tea) has got her skin under control and she loves her new therapist. Bacon also had a fabulous report and is just such an easy-going, lovely natured child who we adore and Lettuce grew up in spite of everything that happened and before we knew it he turned 2. We truly believe he was sent to us to balance the force family with his excellent sense of humour and his love for cuddles and fun. He is the family clown (more so than me!) and his sisters dote on him. [okay maybe we all dote on him ;-)]

From the ashes of my toxic friendship rose the phoenix of a new friendship, this time with a man who has a genuine love for this country and the people in it. We meet regularly and have great intellectual debates, especially about the book I am encouraging him to write. I have been privy to the beginnings of the book, he sends me pages as he completes them and it's looking good. I am always left with food for thought after our meetings, but most importantly, this friend truly appreciates me, my busy schedule and the time I take away from my family, work and personal life, to meet with him.  

In June I got to see my sister and her family who flew out from the US just in time to celebrate Tomato, Bacon and my mom's birthdays. The cousins had a ball together!

We all got to spend time together and celebrate my mom's 81st birthday.

We went to the sea!

I have the most amazing friends who worry about me. Some literally gave me an intervention to de-stress by inviting me out for coffee and then "ganging up" and forcing me to take spa vouchers (dammit, had to force myself!!) Some I have invaded their homes for coffee and a chat without warning and others who own coffee shops, were sitting ducks for listening to my one drama after the next, wiping my tears and plying me with coffee and strawberry daiquiris (when I was allowed alcohol). And there were those who invited me out for coffee or brekkie and we didn't talk about any of the dramas, they just made me laugh. Some who bbm me and support me with hard decisions and make me feel better after making the decisions. Others who Skype me at all times of the day and night and inspire me to do better for me and my family. Meeting up again with long lost friends, Col Cachio dinners and wonderful girls nights out where no topic is off limits, we rocked with laughter, the best medicine of all!  I appreciate all of my friends, more than they know!

I have also been blessed with a "random act of kindness" where some unknown person dropped off a letter for me containing cash and a lovely letter of encouagemnt. I will never forget this gesture. Thank you, whoever you are! xxx

I got to see Dorothy and his family from Oz and we were together for Christmas, even though it was a whirlwind visit, we were able to have some real family-time. I thought of the families who have recently lost parents and loved ones, while I was at the Christmas table surrounded by my family, and wondered how they were feeling during this "festive" time.

Along with all the bad times, we've also just been silly! Here Bacon made a dinosaur out of the vacuum pipe and is giving it a hug!

My absolute favourite part of living in Africa is the African sunsets, they are just amazing. I just never get tired of that glorious explosion of colour in the sky. Who says purple and orange don't go together??  One last thing to be grateful for is that the medication I'm on is really aggressive so the mozzies H-A-T-E my blood hahahaha it is really cool to be sitting around enjoying our wonderful sunsets and the mozzies don't come near me!

So while this year has been downright horrible, revolting, unblelievably hectic, gross and putrid challenging, we got through it, stronger and more determined than ever before. The Buddhists believe that you need to suffer in life to appreciate the good times. I think we've done the suffering, the yang, the downs, the ebb part and now 2014 is the year to enjoy the good times, the ying, the flow and the ups!