I was thinking today about the catalogue of things that have added to my stress levels this last month since my laser surgery. The list has been impressive really.

Let’s see… There was the bruised feeling in my eyes after the surgery which lasted for days and all the headaches that have come from that. I used to get headaches and chest pains on a regular basis when I worked at St Vincent’s. I was investigated for potential heart problems more than once.

Since leaving there, I haven’t had a single headache or chest pain though. That speaks volumes about that place and how bad it was for me. Then I had laser surgery and wham, the headaches are back but at least this time, they have an honest cause.

Then there was the blurry vision that has plagued me all month limiting the amount of time I can spend on the computer and making it difficult to read anything even with the use of a magnifying glass, so I’ve kind of given up on reading anything until my vision clears a bit.

I’ve also given up a lot of my driving because I knew my eyes weren’t in great shape. I only drive now when I absolutely have to. This means trips for medical reasons and volunteer work, and nothing else. Those trips are of short duration, less than 15 minutes, and if I’m feeling my vision really isn’t up to it, I make other arrangements. Being housebound is a drag though.

I had bad pains in my lower ribs on the left hand side of my chest that went on for over 6 weeks. The pains were sharp and constant no matter what I did so I got them investigated. The x-rays didn’t show any breaks but since the pain was so bad, they went further and did a bone scan which involved being injected with a radioactive dye. If any bones were showing signs of recent healing, the dye would have shown it clearly. Nothing was found.

While no broken bones is a good thing, it means that the pain is being caused by a soft tissue injury which is going to take over a month or more to heal. Oh yay!

The bill for the accident last year came in and it’s over $4,800. That’s going to take forever to pay off.

The real estate agent contacted me to say that my landlord is increasing my rent by $20 a week which is a huge increase and one I really can’t afford.

I copped a parking fine of $90.

Icing on the cake was the accident I was in last week which has left me badly bruised and sore. I still can’t walk properly and that’s going to take 4-6 weeks to heal also. Further, because the accident was my fault, I’m going to have a huge bill to pay off for that one also.

Even volunteering has meant more stress for me. It’s a new environment and I’m still learning the ropes. I’m doing my best there and I think they’re happy with me but you know, I still worry that maybe they’re going to give me the flick. It’s like putting your head into a guillotine and hoping the blade doesn’t fall. You could die from the worry alone.

Of course there have been good things that have happened as well but with all these things happening, I’m feeling very picked on by the universe. I could really use a break and some breathing space.

When I left St Vincent’s last year, I had no debts at all. Now I loosely estimate that I have debts of about $8k. I don’t really know how that happened. It just all appeared out of nowhere and here I am, up to the eyeballs in debt.

I hate owing money. I’ve always been one to pay my way and not live above my means. Here I am, behind the 8 ball with not that much of a game plan.

No wonder I’m feeling stressed and anxious. I’m starting to see clear signs of it which I will need to have addressed in the near future because this cannot be allowed to continue. It could be that a slight adjustment to my medication will make a lot of difference. We shall see.

What I can say is that I’ve felt really hammered over the last month with just one thing after another. It’s felt pretty relentless.

I think I’m coping but these days that term is somewhat relative. I’m trying to stay positive but it’s getting to be a tough ask.


Laser Surgery

Today was laser surgery day at the Eye and Ear Hospital. We were booked to attend at 10am, and we were there on time, but it was nearly midday before anyone called us. As the Outpatient area began to empty out and we were still sitting there, I was starting to feel like one of those kids in high school where they line everyone up to pick sides for netball and you’re still standing there when everyone else has been chosen. It was setting off my anxiety.

They finally came out and told us all that they had a lot of staff away sick and were doing their best to get to everyone as soon as possible but it would take time. I fully understand this and knowing the situation eased my anxiety somewhat but it was still a long wait.

When they finally called us, they did the eye chart first and I did okay with my right eye but the left eye was bad until they gave me the black disk with just a tiny hole to see through. Then I could see plenty.

Oddly, even though they masked my right eye for the test, I did a lot better with the left eye once I physically closed my right eye. Don’t ask me why that’s the case because I have no idea. It’s just one of those mysteries of the universe I will probably never understand.

The upshot was that there hadn’t been a lot of change to my vision since they saw me last month. Hmmm…..

Then it was time for the scan. That’s a piece of cake. I could do those standing on my head. You just put your head in the chin rest and keep your eyes on the blue light as the red line scrolls down, then it’s all done.

The scan showed pockets of fluid in my eyes which will need to be addressed tomorrow when I go for my regular Opthamologist appointment.

When I saw the doctor for the result, he told me that someone had made a clerical mistake and only booked me in for review, rather than for laser surgery as well. This meant I couldn’t have any laser work done today. I have been booked in for that in a few weeks time.

The bad news is that the laser appointment is only 15 minutes and in my first surgery, they were only able to do 150 pulses. Ultimately, a full treatment over 4 visits (a total of an hour) should be able to deliver 2000 pulses. I just can’t do that. The light is too bright and I need a break for recovery time between bursts. They might be able to do it in bursts of 3-4 pulses at a time but not more than that.

It really IS like going out on a blazingly bright day and trying to stare into the sun. You might manage it for 5 seconds but after that, you have to look away because it’s burning into your corneas. Try looking into a blazing sun for up to a minute at time while you hold absolutely still and you’ll have some idea what the laser surgery is like.

They said that at this time, they would continue with the surgery, allowing a double appointment (a total of a half hour) and see how that went over the next 4 visits. It is hoped that by allowing more time and doing it in little bursts, they may be able to make more headway rather than trying to do a lot in a really short time, which has been the current approach. If they still can’t make enough headway, then they may have to reconsider.

Nothing specific was said about what ‘reconsidering’ consisted of, but I’m hoping it means a general anaesthetic because ongoing treatment for 8 or more months is just ridiculous. They don’t want it to continue past 4 outpatient appointments either so it seems that we’re on the same page.

Right now, it’s treatment as usual, albeit a bit longer than a normal session, and then we’ll see where we’re at in a few months time. Certainly, there should be some progress on this front before Christmas which would be nice.

The other thing that came out of the scan today is that there are visible pockets of fluid in my right eye again. This means needles for sure tomorrow. There is no way around it.

This isn’t a surprise really because it’s been a difficult month where my vision has been poor and I’ve been struggling to see. I have had my internet browser set to 125% for years but in recent weeks I’ve had to set it anywhere from 150-200% to see anything clearly and I can’t sit on the net for too long before I get headaches. If the writing is grey on a white background, it doesn’t matter how big the magnification is, I can’t read it. This is due to the fluid in my eyes and hopefully that should resolve a little after treatment tomorrow.

I’m not looking forward to it but I’m sort of resigned to it even though I’m dreading it. The hardest part for me is the mental barrier. If I didn’t know what was happening, I’d probably do better with it but unfortunately I don’t have an IQ the same as my shoe size so I know precisely what’s happening and I cringe from it.

I really can’t name anyone who doesn’t physically shrink where treatment of the eyes is concerned. There is just something about having someone doing something to your eyeballs that makes people want to run.

I know how they feel. I want to run too but I can’t. I have to hold still and accept the treatment or resign myself to permanent blindness. Since those are my choices, I’ll suck it up and tolerate the needle.

Today I dodged the treatment bullet but tomorrow I cop it head on. It’s not the greatest outcome, especially considering how long we were waiting, but this month has been a difficult one for me on all fronts so why should this be any different?

I’m hanging in there though and trying to manage everything just one step at a time as it presents to me.

I can do this.

Bad News

Angels are definitely telling me to slow down and to prove their point, I was in another car accident last week.

Let me begin at the beginning. Last year I tried to drive my car and got less than 10 minutes from home before I crashed it. I was a total bundle of nerves back then and shouldn’t have been behind the wheel at all but there was a get together on and I *really* wanted to go. I had nobody to drive me so I tried to drive myself. There is now front end damage to the drivers side headlamp, indicator and body. The car is still driveable though.

I recently received the bill for the damage to the other two cars involved. Over $4,800 which I simply cannot afford. I’ve been unemployed for just over a year, have bad eyesight prohibiting me from getting work (some days I’m legally blind) and I cannot afford insurance. I contacted that company and arranged a payment plan to pay it off. They have had their cars fixed. Mine is still damaged and I could be pulled over by police at any time for failing a roadworthy.

A couple of weeks back, the battery on the car died because the indicator lights would not switch off on my car even if it was turned off. Thus they drained the battery entirely. I posted on Airtasker for someone to come and move my old, deceased television out to the kerb for hard rubbish collection and to jump start my car.

While the airtasker was here and after he got the car going, he suggested taking out the fuses so the indicators wouldn’t stay on and drain the battery again. Not realising what that meant, I agreed. I don’t know what he did with the fuses he removed although I saw where he got them from.

The reality is that without those fuses, I have no indicators when I drive, nor do I have any of my gauges on my consol. Thus my speedometer doesn’t work so I have no idea how fast I’m going. I found out last Tuesday that the fuel gauge doesn’t work either.

It has been constantly showing that I have 1/3 of a tank of petrol left rather than the reality, that it was dangerously low and needed filling immediately. The warning light didn’t come on either.

So last Tuesday I was returning from an appointment with my dietician in Preston (about 15 minute drive away) and in a small street which was one lane in either direction. I was first at the set of lights. My car died. I just couldn’t get it started no matter what I did. Since the battery had died some weeks before, I thought it must have died again. I had no idea the fuel indicator wasn’t working.

Because the fuse had been removed, I had no hazard lights to warn anyone that I had broken down. The guy behind me was honking me furiously as we got through a whole change of lights and I hadn’t moved.

When the lights turned green again, I put the car in neutral and pushed it across the intersection by myself. Naturally, nobody came to help me.

I got to the other side of the intersection and unfortunately there was a slight downward hill after the lights. The car gained momentum and I couldn’t stop it.

I tried to reach into the cabin to grab the hand brake but never reached it. The car door was open and I had one hand on it. In trying to reach for the hand brake with my left hand, I overbalanced, fell to the road and got dragged for about 2 meters.

As I lay there, the car that had been honking me drove past me at a mad speed coming a little too close to me and honking me as he went just to “show me what for”. He wouldn’t stop to HELP an injured woman, would he? No, he sped off.

The car continued to roll and ended up running to another vehicle. I never got to see the damage caused, which I will explain, but now I’m on the hook for that damage too.

Two women did stop to help me. One, named Victoria, came to my aid and both she and her brother had to bodily pick me up off the road and help me to the kerb because I physically couldn’t get my knees underneath me. I took the brunt of the fall on my knees as it happens and they were badly scraped. I had also wrenched my right shoulder again. This is the same shoulder that was causing me all that massive, intolerable pain a couple of months back.

Victoria called an ambulance for me and the other woman, whose name I never discovered, told me that some of the guys had pushed my car into the car park of a nearby church to get it off the road as it was an obstruction to traffic where it was. She was invaluable running back and forth and getting me things I needed, such as my handbag and keys.

The ambulance turned up and assessed me. I could sort of piece together what had happened and tell them about it but I found it hard to think enough to form proper sentences so my words were spoken haltingly and broken. They wanted to take me to hospital for assessment and got out the stretcher ready to load me up.

I was still sitting on the kerb in someone’s driveway at the time and then I saw the police roll up. They came over and asked me what had happened and I had to go through it all again.

The ambulance officer, Liz, wanted to know what drugs I was on and I fished my diary out of my handbag and showed her where I had that information written down. I wrote it in there because frankly, I can just never remember the names of the newer ones. Having it there came in handy.

The police officer wanted my name and address. I just handed him my licence and that solved that issue.
I needed to sort out what to do with the car. I still believed that the car just needed a jump start and nobody had leads to do that for me. I rang a friend named Bill.

This is the same Bill who showed up to help me prepare for the second inspection in March. He and his wife, Helen, are true godsends to me. They are both on my ICE list.

I rang but barely got a few words out before I just couldn’t continue. I handed the phone to someone else who explained the situation to him and then handed me my phone back saying that he wanted to speak to the ambulance officers before anything happened. I was fine with that. Even though he was 40 minutes drive way, he said he would come and bring his jumper leads for me.

I chose not to go to hospital, exchanged details with the other driver and was breath tested by the police (as is protocol). Since I had done nothing criminally wrong, the police left and then the ambulance officers left. Then everyone else left. I was alone in the car still a bit shaken and waiting for Bill.

When he showed up, Bill (engineer that he is) quickly determined that it wasn’t the battery at fault but the fact that I had no fuel. He went and bought a jerry can, filled it with fuel and put it in the car. When I asked him later how much I owed him for it, he said ‘no charge, he was happy he could help.’

The fuel was enough to get me home but I was worried about the car breaking down again so he followed me home and ordered me to sit and and have a cup of tea before doing anything else. Digging around in the bathroom, he found some dettol (antiseptic) so I could swab off the wounded knees. He also scrubbed out one of my dual sinks in the kitchen because he felt it needed it. How many people do you know who do this kind of thing?

Before they left, the ambulance officers made me promise to see my GP later that day and get checked out since I wouldn’t go to the hospital. I made an appointment for 3.50pm and drove the car there. She said I was bruised, my knees were swollen and I had been shaken. Soft tissue injuries only. Thank goodness.

On the way back, I filled the car so I wouldn’t run out of petrol again. I also bought some fuses at the petrol station to replace the ones taken out since I don’t know what happened to them. There were two types, big ones and small ones. I had to buy both because I didn’t know what type my car took.

I still can’t put the fuses in the car however. I can’t kneel and likely won’t be able to do so for a couple of weeks yet. My knees are still too swollen and bruised to take my weight.

Bad news #2, I have already heard from the insurance company for the new accident and they want me to call them. I’m wondering if they will be amenable to payment plan because I just can’t afford a lump sum.

Bad news #3. I have heard from my Real Estate Agent who has informed me that my landlord wants an extra $20 a week so my rent is going up. Rental Assistance from Centrelink might cover 1/10th of that increase.

Bad news #4. No matter what I seem to do, my eyes are an absolute mess this last week. I can barely see anything. I have my browser set to 200% and even then if the writing is small or grey on white, it’s impossible to read clearly. I am staying away from the car because I really don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m legally blind and not fit to drive.

I’m sort of wondering where this bad news merry go round is going to end.


Today’s source of angst is my older brother. He’s 5 years older than me and I’m the youngest in the family. I grew up looking up to him. If I bumped into him today, I might not be able to stop myself from punching his lights out.

Let me start by saying my family has never been close. As soon as he was old enough, my brother hung out with just about anyone else but us. In his adulthood, he barely keeps in contact.

By and large I respect this as his choice (even though I don’t like it) and make an effort not to intrude in his life. Thus we can go absolutely years without contact of any kind. If I do make contact, I always feel unwelcome and try to keep it brief because I KNOW he’d rather not hear from me at all.

However… I do believe there are times when this kind of attitude should be set aside and family comes first.

About 5 years back I was throwing up a lot so my doctor sent me for stomach scans. The radiologist sent back a report saying they thought they saw a growth of some kind in my stomach. They measured it at 5-7cms and stomach cancer at that size has a REALLY bad prognosis. It’s also a horrible, painful and absolutely hideous way to die.

It was the lead up to Christmas and I couldn’t get an appointment with a Gastroenterologist to have it investigated until the new year. I spent all of those weeks and Christmas alone thinking I was dying of cancer. No support. No help. No nothing. Believe me, it was a ghastly and very lonely experience.

Since we lost our only other sibling, a sister, to cancer in 2000, I chose not to ruin his Christmas by telling him I might also have a form of cancer. I waited until the new year. In fact, I waited until after I had seen the Gastroenterologist and was due to have a gastroscopy (camera down the throat under general anaesthetic) the next day.

When I called my brother, he spent the next hour coldly and mercilessly lecturing me on why I should opt for the public health system rather than go privately, what I should ask, why I should ask it, what I should do to prepare, what papers to draw up, etc etc.

Not ONCE did he ask me how I was doing or speak a single word of sympathy. He didn’t even make an effort to SOUND sympathetic. His words were delivered completely dispassionately. I’ve had warmer receptions from total strangers.

I had called him from my mobile so I know he had the number. Lack of number to ring is not an excuse.

That day was the last time I had contact with him. He hasn’t made ONE single attempt to text me, call me or write me to ask how the scan went and find out if I really DO have cancer. I could be dead by now and he obviously doesn’t care.

He’s made no effort to support me emotionally. No effort to find out how I am doing medically. No effort to find out if I died or where I was buried. No attempt to demonstrate even the slightest concern for me whatsoever.

This is the big brother and FAMILY I’m supposed to be able to rely on and turn to when things get tough. Like hell.

What bugs me hugely is that I’ve done NOTHING to deserve this. We’ve had no falling out. No fights. No nothing. He just doesn’t want anything to do with the family and that, by definition, includes me.

If I had to claim blame to anything, it’s that my voice sounds a little like my mother and he despises her and refuses to have contact with her. Maybe I remind him of her. Gee…. what a SIN!

It’s plain that he doesn’t care that I exist and draw breath and that makes me absolutely furious because frankly, it’s so far over the line into the land of brazen indecency it’s not funny.

For the record I would like to say that the gastroscopy came back clean. No cancer.  They felt that it was a glitch on the film.  Of course, my brother had no way to know that and no excuse under the sun for not following up to check on the results.

As much as I hate admitting it to myself, he’s just a cold, callous, nasty bastard and I cannot rely on him for anything other than abusive treatment. It’s that simple. 

I would really like to think that if shit hit the fan, I would respond in a far better way than he has but I honestly can’t be sure because I’m so hurt and furious with him. I just can’t find it in myself to forgive him because every day that passes where he doesn’t make contact, is another day he’s coldly ignoring me.

But what I hate most of all and what makes me REALLY angry – he makes me doubt myself and how I would respond to his cry for help should it come now. Would I be the good, kind hearted person I know myself to be who puts themselves way out of their way to help people? Or would I be just as cold and unfeeling as he was?

I can’t be sure any more. Damn him to HELL!

First Aid

I am home from my first aid course. The instructors were very understanding about my injuries and allowed me to do many competencies in the chair. I only had to do adult CPR on the floor although for infant CPR I was able to do so with the ‘baby’ on a table. Just as well. Every time I got down on the floor, it took 2-3 people to get me back up. However, I have passed my competencies.

I did find this course different from the last one I did even though it was at the same place. The instructors were much more engaged and there were videos which gave us some information which I liked because I’m a visual person. They also told us what they were looking to see from us before we proceeded with practical application for assessment.

I was very pleased that at one point, one of the two instructors was eavesdropping on me when I was doing an assessment as the first aider and interrupted me to say that I had very good communication which was a pleasure to hear.

For the Adult CPR, they accommodated my injuries by getting me a cushion to kneel on which really helped because my knees aren’t just scraped raw but the brusising is starting to come out and they’re turning all shades of black and blue. The cushion really made a difference.

Since my shoulder is also not good, they let me practice Adult CPR on the dummy initially but rather than doing 2 full minutes as a practice, I only had to demonstrate that I had the competency so I could save myself for the actual assessment. Just as well. After 2 minutes, my shoulder was about to give out but due to these accommodations, I passed.

I am now confident with sprains, fractures, bleeds, allergies, epipens, ventolin with spacers, choking, shock, stroke, cardiac arrset, CPR and basic drsabcd. I have also mastered the automatic defib kit which was a great toy. There were so many of them going in the room that I had to hold mine next to my ear like an old radio or I wouldn’t have heard it. It was all good.

The icing on the cake was the bacon deluxe and chocolate milkshake I got myself for lunch from Hungry Jacks. I haven’t had any fast food at all for about 3 years so it was a total treat.

I feel I have achieved much today. My certificate will arrive by email this evening or tomorrow. Now I can relax.

The Mintie Award

In recent days I’ve done a lot of cruising through old photos and come across a lot of memories. They seem like yesterday. Where did all that time go?

It appears I’m not the only one hunting out good times of days past because a friend on Facebook has been posting some memories of the many various science fiction events held back in the 80s when I was part of the fandom scene. So many faces I can remember and some, no longer with us.

There was one event I recall clearly. It was a mini convention held in Ballarat. We had rented out a Girl Guide Camp in Creswick called Lingbogol, and taken over the place for the weekend.

My best friend at the time, Lavinia, had close associations wLavinia & Iith the Girl Guides and was able to get the camp at a good rate. Everyone jumped on board and it was all happening. For a while there it was an annual event and became quite well attended because word got out that it was always a fun time had by all. That’s a photo of the two of us taken elsewhere at a picnic. It’s the only photo of the two of us that I ever liked. I’m on the right.

This particular weekend took place in the year I was learning to drive. That was a big year.

It was the mid 80s. I had never been able to learn with my parents. Dad’s car was strictly off limits to anyone but Dad. My brother and sister both took driving lessons with Mum in her car. Unfortunately, the day after she got her licence, my sister borrowed Mum’s car to go out for the evening. About 10 minutes later the phone rang to say she’d been in a head on collision. I knew it was going to be bad news as soon as I heard the phone begin to ring. You know…my hackles were up immediately and I just KNEW.

Julia was okay and nobody was badly hurt in the accident but Mum’s car was a write off. Given that situation plus the few accident’s Mum had also had, her Insurer wouldn’t underwrite a policy for anyone but Mum as the driver. This meant that she couldn’t have me in the car as a learner because we would be uninsured if anything happened. Thank you Julia for totally screwing things up for me. Sometimes being the third child in line is NOT such a great thing.  Sharing bedrooms and hand-me-down toys and clothes were one thing.  Hand-me-down karma was quite another.

So I went a lot of years without a car, getting around on public transport, my own two legs and cadging the occasional lift, until I finally decided it was time to do something about the situation.  I booked in for my Learner’s Permit and then began taking driving lessons with a paid instructor. I had quite a number of them under my belt by the time the annual minicon at Lingobogal rolled around. I still didn’t have a car yet but that was okay. I hitched a lift with someone else for the 90 minute trek up the highway to the camp.

Lingbogol really rocks as camp sites go. It has great facilities including cabins so we weren’t out pitching tents. They had a flying fox, a brilliant commando fitness course, an underground mine and it even had a set up for archery – which was my undoing.

I’d never done archery before so I stayed back and watched a few others first  before I was game to try it out. It didn’t seem too hard. Then it was my turn. I put the arrow in the bow and drew back. WHAM! The arrow came loose and broke and the string snapped back and cracked me across all my fingers. God it hurt like hell!

I couldn’t make a sound. I couldn’t even cry. All I could do was fold over and clench my jaw shut in pain, holding my hand tightly. Lavinia is a nurse and she quickly took charge and gave my hand the once over in case it needed first aid. As soon as she could see that nothing had been broken, jokes began to surface in the group as everyone began to relax. The pain subsided eventually and it was nicely bruised, but there was absolutely no way I was going to try for an encore performance. My archery days were done right then and there.

From the corner of my eye, I vaguely notice Lavinia rescuing the pieces of broken arrow from the ground. I thought she was just making sure the grounds were kept tidy so we wouldn’t get a bad rap from the owners. I should have known better. She was already plotting.

On Saturday, I asked her if I could borrow her car for an impromptu driving lesson around the camp grounds with a fellow attendee. She casually tossed me her keys and off we went. Since we wouldn’t be on public roads and only a relatively small group of us were on the site, there were no other cars to worry about so it should have been a breeze. Yeah….right.

We got down to one of the lower camp grounds and drove into the area to turn around. Then we stalled. I had no idea what had happened. Even though Dad had been a diesel mechanic he had never taught any of us our way around an engine. I was in the driver’s seat, in the middle of a field and absolutely clueless. I nearly panicked.

After turning the key a few times, the car started again. I could have cried with relief! We drove back to the main campsite and told Lavinia what had happened. Nobody had any ideas but hey, what do you do?

Later that day, we went to drive into Creswick and she turned to me. “How long has this light been on?” she asked. “Um…what light?” I replied. I had no idea. I’d never even noticed the light.

It turned out that it was the oil light showing she was dangerously low. When we got back to camp we found a puddle of dark oil on the ground where her car had been earlier. It seems that when I went into the field, I drove over a stray tentpeg and tore a hole in the sump. I was mortified. It really wasn’t my weekend.

At dinner, we were all gathered round enjoying a nice evening when Lavinia produced the bottom half of the broken arrow with a smirk on her face. She announced that it was now the Mintie Award, so named for the “Moments Like These You Need Minties” in the commercial.Mintie Award

She said she’d pondered to whom it should first be awarded to. The group fell expectantly silent. Then she turned to me and announced her decision that the first recipient should be me based on the archery and car debacles! Everyone broke into cheers and laughter.

This is a still image taken from the video of the event depicting the moment she handed it to me! That’s me on the right.  I look at this now and think I looked shockingly fat and horrible. I was pushing 90kg at the time.  I’m a more slender 73kg at present.  I guess we all look back at old photos and cringe for various reasons but today, this is mine.  * shudder *

Anyway, she took the bottom half of the arrow back with the intention no doubt to have it mounted or some such and make it a perpetual award. I never saw it again but that was okay. It lives on in my memory just fine.

Those were fun days. Golden days. Fandom has changed dramatically over the decades. It’s no longer what it once was. Technology has intervened and wrought havoc.

No more monthly meetings at church halls or renting out whole floors at hotels where conventions were being held. No more wild room parties or bunking down on floors to share the room and cut costs. No more memorable photos of costume parades, Guests of Honour, or banquets.

We really lost something there. We didn’t have mobile phones, Facebook or the latest toys but we had ingenuity and a sense of fun and adventure.

I really think we were the lucky ones, those of us back in those golden days. We had it all and we didn’t even know it. Thankfully, a great many of us have managed to reunite on Facebook into our own group. We have piles of photos to share and remind us as we reminisce and share the merry tales with each other.

As troubled as I was in my home life, I really loved that era. It had a magic all its own and I was lucky to be part of it.


I came across an article about Work For The Dole (WFTD) in my Facebook feed. It set me thinking.

I am a strong proponent of WFTD (Welfare). I absolutely believe that if you are unemployed and not physically or mentally impaired, then you SHOULD be out there giving back to the community when you are not searching for paid employment.

Nobody should be enjoying a free holiday at the taxpayers expense while they sit at home watching television or playing games on the computer. I know of some unemployed people who use all their time to go surfing for gods sake which is of course, absolutely outrageous and unacceptable.

I believe there are many benefits that can be gained from WFTD activities. For example, people can gain valuable office skills using programs they may not be familiar with and team skills in working with others to achieve an outcome. New Australians can practice their English speaking skills in a practical environment rather than only associating with those of their own Ethnicity and remaining safe within that enclave. There are many ways that WFTD can offer people a chance to step outside their comfort zone and gain new skills which can make them attractive employment candidates.

The real bonus is that while doing these work activities, the job seeker gains a sense of purpose, responsibility and achievement. They may also gain a valuable referee they can utilise in their job seeking activities. Besides, it looks very good to a potential employer to see that the job seeker hasn’t spent their time loafing about but has been motivated and looked for ways to utilise their time to benefit not just themselves but others as well.

I recall being unemployed when I was in my early 20s and I would wake up every day to the bleak prospect of having nowhere to be and no place to go. Sometimes I’d wonder if it was worthwhile even getting out of bed at all. I was just so despondent and lacking in any motivation. It was a really awful period of my life.

Today I find myself in a similar boat. I wake knowing that no job awaits my presence but I am at peace with that situation because as soon as I try to focus my eyes on anything, I am reminded of just how desperate the eyeball situation is right now. I am doing what I can within the boundaries of the situation I’m in and the knowledge that this isn’t forever. It’s just for now.

I have found a niche for myself where I can work as a volunteer and give back which gives me a sense of having earned my newstart payment. Although I only began my volunteer role this week, it has already been a huge boost to my self esteem and sense of pride.

Sure, when I worked on the Excel document, I had to have the screen very close to me and the page set to 200% so I could see it. Sure, my eyes got tired after a few hours and I had to stop. Sure, I had trouble reading the information on the printed page.

For me, these things are easily addressed Computers come with magnification. I can take rest breaks for my eyes. I can take a magnifying glass with me so I can better see printed information. It’s all about adaptability.

I find that I am already gaining so much from the experience. I am working with lovely people who comprise a really good, functional team. I am able to work independently for a lot of the time as well as having times when I interact and foster good working relationships. This is brilliant for my anxieties and gives me a chance to work through those issues in a gentle and non-confronting manner.

I have the opportunity to expand my skill set as well. The Microsoft Office system is all online and I’ve not used the online environment for that before. It’s a little different but knowing the application already has allowed me to adapt and find what I want with minimal trouble. It’s another feather in the cap though.

I will be able to teach as well with the one-on-one literacy program. Although I have taught staff before, teaching someone how to use an application or process calls/paperwork is a lot different from teaching someone how to develop better English skills. I will really have to tune in and listen to their VAK (Visual Audio Kinasthetic) learning system in order to tailor the teaching to them in the best manner possible.

With a computer application, it’s all about this is how you do this, and this button does that. With English, it’s about how someone uses it in their daily life, their education and skill level and the amount of exposure they get to an English speaking environment wher they can realistically practice the skills. I’m looking forward to stretching myself and exploring this road.

I have also gained a new referee who can speak to job agencies and employers about my skills, work ethics and ability to fit into the workplace. This is very valuable in itself.

While I am not currently on a WFTD job plan, it’s foreseeable that at some time in the future, I may be. I have already done my homework and my volunteer role meets the criteria for a WFTD placement so I have no worries in that regard.

I like to think that this is gentle part of my recovery and re-introduction to the workplace that will stand me in good stead as time progresses. I have the time and can totally tailor my hours around the many medical appointments I have to attend in order to keep my vision. I’m not so sure I’d get so much time off for those things from a paid employer so right now, this is an excellent compromise.

Nobody should ever be sitting around enjoying a free ride and getting paid for it. If you don’t have the skills for paid work, find a volunteer placement that will allow you to gain those skills. Give back to those who are supporting the money that you receive. Gain not only a sense of pride but stretch yourself and grow beyond current limitations. If we never challenge ourselves, we simply stagnate.

Yes, I believe that this has been a very good step to take down a path which will bring a great amount of value to my world.

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