28th November 2019
Travel Home Base
Sitting around waiting to hear about Will’s job prospects and finding out what is to be done about Jenny’s knees. This is our life right now. It isn’t the most exciting time, and we are finding it tough. Maybe even tougher than cycling over the Canadian Rocky’s.
There isn’t much I am now able to do, with no medication, I have high pain, and difficulty even walking 500mtrs. So while we wait, I filled my time with Arty stuff and family time.
My first go at Mosaic, and I learned I have a lot to learn…..but it was fun.
Will missed out on the Train driver job. This was a bit more disappointing than expected, although I realised I was not going to be happy if Will had a full-time job, and being confined that much.
Lots of emotional stress, trying to decide what to do about my rapidly deteriorating knees. Once we found out about the train job, I was keener to just start fixing them. We still were not sure about when Will would begin work for CBH on the grain harvest. Waiting everyday for a phone call was bloody annoying.
Good friend and Art Guru, Delys and I journeyed to Bunbury to check out an Arid Plant nursery, which was fantastic, and of course we got plants.
Warmshowers visitors from the UK. Martina and Nigel, TheLifeCyclers , stayed with us. Wonderful couple, and if they didn’t have a plan to try to adhere to, I think we could have spent a week drinking wine and discussing the difficulties of life after travel. They have been on the road for 18mths, cycling from the UK, through places like India and planning to finish up in New Zealand in April 2020. They had already ridden 20,000kms, with another probably 10k to go. Having these adventurers (same ages as us) making these massive changes to their lives and realising they can never go back to how they were, gives us courage to continue. It also made me just want my knees fixed. I was not able to ride to meet them, or to ride with them on their way out of town. Will did it, and I felt decidedly alone.
They write a great blog, so check it out as they have been to so many fantastic places. They continue to message us with updates and questions.
One last motorbike ride before I can’t anymore. Cycling and adventure friends, Alan and Julie, were cycling from Perth to Moora, through some lovely bush tracks, and were going to be spending a night in New Norcia. We decided that, as I couldn’t cycle with them, I would have liked to, we would meet them in New Norcia on the motorbikes and spend the night with them. We also know another lady living up there, that I had a delivery for, and wanted to catch up with. So that was a fabulous weekend away.
If you haven’t been to New Norcia, or even not for a while, get yourself there. It is only an hour or so North of Perth, and has some interesting history. The pub is cool, and they have accommodation to suit most. Alan and Julie stayed at the Monastery, which has a few different options, and there is a small community Caravan Park.
More arty workshops and trying new things to keep my mind off the pain and decision making. Will found out he would be in Wagin for the harvest and was starting soon. Still no date, and I was frustrated with everything, so just booked in my Left Total Knee replacement surgery for the earliest possible date the doctor had. 13th November 2019. That was a scary thing to do. To finally say yes, let’s do it, and confirm a date. It’s one of those things that you want the result, just not to have to go through all the shit first.
Delys (aka Dilli Delli) provided us with another variation of her Mandala Workshops, which was great fun, and then I convinced my sister in-law, Debra, to come make some Christmas Decorations with me. These little, fun workshops are a great way to meet and enjoy different people and experience new things. Lots of laughter and story sharing.
Another Mandala workshop, with Embark With Simone . A totally different technique, and out of my comfort zone. It was a nice experience.
My birthday. We had the kids around, and it was a lovely evening. Easy and relaxed. The worst is yet to come right? Rodgie dog is getting big and having lots of fun. She just loves jumping on everybody, and we are trying hard to teach her some manners.
One last, but a first for Rodgie, little road trip before everything gets thrown upside down. Will still hadn’t heard a start date, so we decided to take Rodgie, and visit our friends in Kambalda. We took two days to drive there, choosing back roads through the wheatbelt to Carrabin, where we’d had enough of driving for the day. The original plan was to camp at Karalee Rock, a place we’d camped at before, but we were tired, and it was stopping time. Carrabin is a roadhouse, pub, restaurant and caravan park. They have motel style rooms, but we pitched our tent, and made ourselves at home. Rodgie was awesome in the car, and with a few exercise stops, she was brilliant. Great little traveller. When we stopped at Carrabin, Will took her for a walk through the bush at the back, and threw the ball for her. She is a great “retriever” and loves a good run. So, we leashed her up at dinner time, and had a meal and a beer in the bar with all the roadworkers. Another couple of early retirees had parked their caravan next to us, and we had a great night chatting with them too.
Good work Rodgie dog. That wasn’t nearly as stressful as we thought it could be. It was nice to get out of the “city”. Our fun and chatty neighbours helped us enjoy the stop over too.
Next day it was a lovely, easy drive to Kambalda, with a nice long stop at Karalee Rock where Rodgie had a ball exploring around the dam, having a little dip and trying not to eat the emu poo. We all lunch, then carried on to Kambalda.
Karalee Rock dam. We have swum in this before, and although it was pretty low compared to past visits, you could have had a good dip if you wanted to. It has some good bush walking and history around it, and Rodgie loved her explore in the bush.
Nicole and Barry, with their two dogs Bailey and Willow (both rescue dogs with emotional issues) were happy to have visitors. As you can imagine, they don’t get many visitors way out here. All the dogs were great. Bailey just hid under the table while the two highly energetic kelpie types got down and dusty. Rodgie the black dog, became more like the red dog, but she had a ball.
Yep, it was pretty bloody hot, but that is manageable. The evenings were lovely, and it was just what I needed before going into the new knee saga. The Goldfields are a stunning area of this country. Yes it can be harsh, but it is diverse and beautiful. Barry and Nicole are great friends, and we always enjoy seeing them.
After a couple of lovely days catching up and being well looked after, we hopped in the car for the full day’s drive straight home. On the way we received a few Warmshowers requests, which we said yes to 2 out of 3. One was for tonight and that would be just too much. The second was the next night and the 3 for a few nights after that.
Just as we were entering Southern Cross, Will got the call to work. Typical! They wanted him to start today, but as we were in transit, gave him till tomorrow lunch time to get there. Holy shit, when things happen, they happen. So, this is the event schedule for this week.
Monday – drive from Kambalda to Home (800kms)
Tuesday – Will packs and rides his motorbike to Wagin for a 12.30pm start on the job. Pete, a Warmshowers guest comes to stay the night.
Wednesday – Pete carries on his journey south, I pack for me and Rodgie, lock up and leave. Rodgie is going to stay with Olivia (our youngest daughter) who has two cats and dog sits for a living, and I must check into The Mount, hospital for 12pm. Left knee surgery this arvo.
Warmshowers guest, Koen, is coming to stay for 3 nights. No one is home, we have good recommendations on his character, so we give him the Indiana Jones style instructions to find all the necessary keys, and codes to enter Security Will’s “zone”, so he can stay anyway. He was very understanding. Friends of ours, Fred and Wendy, who are hard core cycle tourers, had Koen as a guest, and had nothing but great things to say about him. This is why we decided to throw caution to the wind, and do something we would not usually do.
It was a whirlwind, and neither of us were happy with how it would all pan out, but it just had to be this way. There was nothing Will could do while I had my surgery, he would just be waiting and worrying at home, he might as well be at work. It was tough.
The Mount Hospital staff were great, Dr Peter Annear was fantastic, and everything went how it should. No dramas. Ugh! But now the hard bit.
Surgery has gone well, and I am on the recovery side of life. This is the tough bit. I spent five nights in hospital, with daily physio, lots of meds and sleeping. It is always boring as hell in hospital, and although I was looked after well, I couldn’t wait to get out. I would have liked to go home to my own space, but that was not sensible or practical. So, my amazing Mum took me to her place. She is well set up for disabled people, after taking care of my dad. We call it Nanna Camp!
Way back, we all used to send our dogs to Mums’ when we went away, and she was such a strict dog mum, that all our chubby pooches would come back thinner and fitter, and all our kids called her Nanna. So, I was off to Nanna Camp! Bloody hell, I’m certainly chubby, and unfit. What will become of me?
Delicious home made Chicken soup, and for breakfast, fresh fruit salad and yogurt. So much better than the hospital food.
The good news is, I think she has loosened up somewhat. Three good meals a day, lots of cups of tea and lemon barley cordial, ice cream and apple pie, and everything I could need. The hardest part of every day was making myself do the physio exercises and stretch this knee. They are all very little, simple exercises, pushing your knee into the floor, squeezing your butt cheeks together and just trying to get the quads firing again. They don’t cut the muscles anymore, but they get a good messing around and they don’t want to work.
Simple little movements just getting my muscles to remember what they are for.
The first time I tried to do a straight leg raise, it was like talking to a stubborn 2-year-old. There was no way in hell it was going to lift. It was scary. I couldn’t communicate with my thigh muscles at all. No signal! So, lots of trying to bend the knee sliding the foot towards ya bum, then using a scarf to pull it a little bit more. The worst is the quads just tightening up. The knee joint does not hurt, it is all pretty numb, but the quads just block the movement.
So, all this time, Will is working like a crazy man down in Wagin. Twelve-hour days, on his feet in the heat, flies and dust. Why? He feels he needs to. It is tough without him, and I just try to not think about it, and get on with this healing shit.
He doesn’t look happy at the site, but he is in good company, even if he is the oldest one there.
Day two and Nanna Camp, and Liv delivers Rodgie. I thought she would miss me and run straight up to me for pats and cuddles. Nope, she has had a ball with Aunty Liv, heaps of other dogs to play with and good walks, two cats to figure out, and she runs straight up to Mum’s two pups (her siblings) and I barely get a look in. A little depressing, I have to tell you.
Will managed to get an extra day off after two weeks of work and came down for two nights. That was bloody fantastic. I cried. There has been lots of crying. Of course, it went way too fast, but we did go to Travel Home Base for one night on our own, which was very, very nice. Will had to ride off in the mid-afternoon, leaving Rodgie and me to spend our first night alone since the surgery. We were both tired and didn’t do much at all. I put one of the plastic outdoor chairs in the shower (we have a huge shower cubical) and proceeded to spend way too long relaxing under the lovely water. When you are recovering from anything, the running water over your body, just seems to be the best thing. I could sit for ever, but at Mum’s I’m conscious of using too much water. At home, I wasn’t caring.
No Dogs on the Couch! Well I’m on the couch, so she has to come up to give me cuddles. How can ya not?
Back to Nanna Camp for four more days, just to make sure I was moving okay, and could manage to feed myself. I am down to one crutch, and that is more psychological than necessary. So, Mum reluctantly returned me home and Rodgie and I continued to potter around slowly on our own. My oldest daughter, Harper and her partner took Rodgie for the last four days at Mum’s, four dogs is way too much for one Nanna. Rodgie seems to just love everybody, and they enjoyed having her too. Again, lots of walks and people attention. Much better than what a wobbly, slow me can give her.
Some of the exercises I have to do to get this leg moving. A good scarf is very handy to have around. Not just for looks hey?
So, this is how we are going now, me doing my physio on the knee and getting more and more bend in it, ever so slowly. Family coming to take Rodgie for walks, or picking me up and getting me out of the house. Will popping down for another two nights off, and we are on the down hill run back to our usual life. This has been bloody hard, let me tell you. Being away from each other again, after over 10 years of 24/7 time together, has been way harder than either of us thought it would be. We’ve done the fly in, fly out caper, we know how to do this. Not anymore. I have found myself feeling quite isolated and alone. Without anyway of getting myself out and about, having to rely on others to take me, it has tested me greatly. There is no spur of the moment outings. Everything must be well organised to fit in with my helper’s activities. Totally fair, but not how I like to do things. So huge lessons for me, and I realise I don’t want to do this again. We go together or we don’t go.
They all have to cook for themselves, so a bit of working together helps a lot.
A little update video at around two weeks.
It’s four weeks after surgery, I have been back to see the physiotherapist, and started back at hydrotherapy. It hurts like a bitch, but it shows progress. Next week off to see the Surgeon for his check up and see how he thinks things are going. Then I guess I am on my own. Best news yet, though, is Will is finished on the harvest tomorrow, and life can go on as normal. Huge sigh of relief.
Some Christmas fun with Nanna, and Crane folding with Delys. Nice mindful activities that really helped me feel better.