Grey is the new brown…..for me!

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Grey hair has such stigma attached to it. Granny grey. So we dye our hair. God forbid we show those grey strands. Especially women….why is it that men become distinguished and women become old with grey hair?

I was on that road, same as most. Visiting the salon every 6 weeks or so, whenever I couldn’t stand the grey speckled roots showing through any more. I experimented with henna too as sometimes the chemical worries took over.

But…….let’s be honest. I am lazy when it comes to me. I don’t like having to devote 2 hours to being at the hair salon each time, I was starting to dislike the whole process, but the ‘other’ option seemed scary. No one my age has grey hair, wait, correction, no one my age SHOWS their grey hair, they are all slaves to the system. With this thought that young rebel in me which is always looking for an opportunity to roar…..well….she roared!!!!!! So, here is me….showing the grey. Can’t wait for it all to be in, haven’t decided if I am going for the big chop at some point further down this road. I have to say, the more it grows the more I prefer it to the old dyed hair I am gradually chopping off! Just wanted to share in case I can inspire your inner rebel to roar!

Broken….

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Finally after many hours of waiting we were allowed to see her. I was terrified of what I might see. This would be the new Sarah. Life still in danger, not out the woods, she could have any combination of permanent injuries. She had surgeries ahead for sure. Still we don’t know how she ended up falling or jumping of a huge, very high bridge.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw as I turned the corner. There she was, my beautiful daughter, hooked up to every machine, which was pumping, draining, breathing for her……tubes were inserted everywhere. She was covered by s ‘bear hugger’ a huge blanket that looked a lot like parcel packaging with a heater at one end filling it with warm air. She had a neck brace on and large sticky pads on her cheeks holding the tubes in her mouth which were keeping her alive.

Broken arm. Broken elbow. Broken leg. Broken spine. To unstable for surgery today.

A tiny piece of her right forearm seemed to be tube free, just enough room to place a hand without upsetting any of the tubes. Somehow her beautiful face was injury free. Not even a scratch on it. Briefly I marvelled at this. How did she not look like she had been in a boxing ring?

She was alive. Right now she was alive. Whatever happened from here on in she was alive right now. No longer was I living by the year or month or week, or even hour, right now in this moment she was alive.

Someone was looking out for her, of that much I was certain, and the road to recovery was going to be long.

Hi, please come to the family room the doctor will be with you shortly…..

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It was a January night. Dark, wet and very windy. I drove. Totally numb. A broken leg running through my head. I hope she is not in pain, I hate to think of her in pain and afraid and in hospital. She is 19, but still my baby. How did this happen???? I can’t begin to imagine. Have to get there, just focus on getting to the hospital.

Numb, so numb.

I made it to the hospital, about 45 minutes at that time of night. I walk into the emergency department. I explain who I am and a nurse is waiting for me. ‘Hi, we have been expecting you, please come into the family room and a doctor will be with you shortly.’  I am super confused.  Why didn’t they take me straight to see her if she has a broken leg?  I find it hard to imagine what is happening, at this time it had not really entered my head that her injuries could be worse than a broken leg.  I sit in the hostile little room, fear is starting to creep in.  What bridge could she have jumped off?  Not the harbour bridge, she would be dead…..right?  There are no really big other bridges in the city…..right?  Noooo, she must have (for some reason) jumped off of a small bridge and landed badly.  All these thoughts, all at a hundred miles per hour, all racing through my head.

I sit with my elbows on my knees and my head bent. Jiggling my body nervously.  A man enters the room.  ‘Hi I am doctor [no idea]’ for my brain has shut out the little details, let’s call him Dr Bob. ‘Can I see Sarah?’ I blurt out.  ‘I am sorry she is still in surgery, all I can tell you right now is that she has received four units of blood and we do have blood pressure.’  A wave of nausea washes over me.  Somehow I do not vomit all over my feet.  I must have looked a lot like I could at any point though.  He continues ‘Somehow she has fallen from a great height, we do not know how this came to happen, the nurses will take you up to the ICU, and we will update you as soon as we can, I have to go back to the OR’.  He is gone.  My life is irreversibly changed forever.  Two nurses make me a cup of tea in a styrofoam cup and guide me to the hallway outside the ICU.  A place I will become very familiar with.

During the next 7 hours we wait. Her boyfriend, who was the one who phoned me. My husband. My daughter’s father. And me. I paced. We waited.

At one point during my pacing a patient was rushed past with about 6 doctors and nurses around the bed, and many bags of fluid beside the bed. All on wheels. All jogging with a sense of urgency. I caught a glimpse of the face of the person on the bed. Just one closed eye was visible with all the tubes and people around her. It was Sarah.

Periodically we were updated. At this point we had learned she had internal bleeding on arrival at the hospital, she had her spleen removed, and a broken leg. She was unstable and we could not see her. Two things stick in my mind from those long, long hours. When things are very bad, all healthcare professionals begin their sentence ‘So what do you know so far.’ One nurse came out and said ‘I apologize for the lack of updates, we are very busy trying to save your daughter’s life.’

How could this have happened. I was pacing and enduring waves of ‘This is not happening, it can’t even be real’ to ‘How has this happened, how did it come to a point where my [perfect] and beautiful young daughter was in a life and death situation and it was her fault.’ I felt sick. There were not really any tears, I couldn’t find them. There was just lots of shaky breathing and pacing.

Something worth mentioning here. Although generally there are many people out there who complain, with or without reason, about our healthcare system…….during our time in hospital, every single healthcare worker, whatever their role in my daughter’s care, was completely utterly amazing.

My daughter jumped off a bridge.

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This story is 100% true. It’s kind of long, and hard to write, so I have chosen to spread it over a number of days, I don’t want to miss out the details, even though they are perhaps hard to relate to as my story is pretty unusual. This is how it all began.

Hey Chloe, I need you to come to the hospital.’ Not the phone call anyone wants to receive at 4am. I did. ‘What’s happened.’ ‘Sarah jumped off a bridge.’ My heart stops, I can barely believe what I am hearing, my whole body rejects the words, breathing out is an issue…’Which hospital, I am on my way’.

I should introduce myself. I am Chloe. I am normal, or so I thought. Sarah is my eldest daughter. My life was normal, I thought so anyway, but I have to say, if you had asked me 15 or 20 years ago how I saw my life playing out, there is no way I could have imagined even half of the things that have happened to me. The life that is portrayed of an ideal family with a happy marriage and a couple of flawless kids, a black lab or a slobbery St. Bernard and perhaps a cute cat, is so far from the truth that it actually makes me laugh out loud!

Back to the night in question.

‘Is she going to die’ I ask. No idea why I asked that, I was not prepared for any kind of answer, ‘No, but I think she may have broken her leg.’ It turns out that the more correct answer to that fateful question was actually ‘maybe’, but at the time I didn’t know this. I am busy explaining to my husband what the phone call was about, at the same time as I was dragging on any clothes near at hand. I may or may not have cleaned my teeth or brushed my hair or even worn a bra, boots and coat on, I also may or may not have grabbed my purse, car key in hand I head out the door, my brain and body are numb.

Braces….day 3….

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So it’s day 3.  Barbaric torture….that is the truth about braces, I can’t believe I put  my kids through this!  What gets me through the day is the knowledge that I can have a glass of wine at the end of it!  My teeth are numb, I can’t bite or eat anything but baby mush style food, the inside of my cheeks are ripped to shreds.  Yes there is ‘wax’ but to make it stay you have to get your fingers into the back of your mouth and somehow dry the bracket and get the wax to stick on……its virtually impossible.  Then when you think you have done it, the wax will last less than half an hour and fall off and become a floating lump that gets stuck down below your braces.  Lovely….said no one ever.

The bright side is that I am getting used to their presence on my teeth and my lips no longer feel like they are sticking out a million miles from my face.

The funny side is that some people don’t notice I have braces, and others do notice and they stare at my mouth with wide eyes, but don’t say anything!  I wonder if when they have left me I am worthy of gossip??  That might be fun.  I wish I were a fly on the wall when they talk about me.  ‘Did you see, she has braces, she is too old for braces, what a waste of money’…….HA!!!!  Bite me, lets see how my teeth are looking in 15 or so months when they come off, and we will see how much of a waste of money it proves to be.

For today, it is soft food, wine and painkillers that will get me through.  That’s OK, time flies at my age!

Day one….Adult Braces!

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Its been year and years coming.  I have always wanted braces…no actually that’t not true.  I have always wanted straight teeth, I have never actually wanted braces, nor have I ever had the money to actually get braces put on.

So here I am.  Over 40. My children are growing up and are now teenagers, gradually there is more time for me to think about…well me!  Every time I look in the mirror (which I have to admit, with increasing age is less often!!)..I digress, sorry…every time I look in the mirror, I grin and say ‘God I hate my teeth’.  Finally, I feel a need to deal with that more than ever before.  So, decision made, initial consult completed and today was the day to get braces put on.

I was anxious and nervous mostly, although a tiny piece of me was excited that finally I was dealing with something that has bothered me for my whole adult life.  When I arrive at the dental office, everyone is smiling and happy and reassuring me that I will have no regrets, and it is SOOOOO worth it.  I can’t help but feel that for the money I am paying they have to say that!!  After signing the paperwork, the lady is ready for me, time to lay back in the chair for a couple of hours…today is braces ‘on’ day.

I hate going to the dentist, and I hate people poking around in my mouth.  She was very nice and she polished my teeth at first. My bottom teeth are very crowded.  First of all she sandpapered in between each of these teeth.  This made my toes curl and I was just about ready to leave.  Next she began to glue on each bracket, starting at the top back.  It was very uncomfortable and the back ones took the longest.  Two hours later and I am good to go.

My mouth feels enormous.  I can barely speak properly and my lips have taken on a whole new shape.  I don’t have pain, but I do have pressure.  I have not seen anyone I know yet.

……Fast forward 3 hours………….

I have seen my daughter who say ‘They don’t look bad honesty Mom, legit’…..that is confidence boosting!!  And pain….yes I have pain and pressure, I feel like I have a torture device from the dark ages in my mouth.  I don’t want to eat anything at all, not even soup.  My mouth is now huge and painful.  The insides of my cheeks are like raw meat.  I need wine.  Perhaps I will be drunk for the next 15 months to numb the pain……right now, that seems to be the only way..

Adult Braces….my journey begins

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Here I am, over 40, and three weeks today I will have braces.  Yes, the full deal, full mouth of metal top and bottom for 15 months.  Honestly it has taken me years to make this decision.

I had some orthodontic work, over half my life ago when I was a teenager.  It was minimal.  It was never going to give me perfect teeth, just teeth that were not quite so awful, and only on the top, the ortho deemed that it was not necessary to have any work on the bottom teeth as ‘no one would see those anyway’.  I suffered through it, even having to wear head gear at night, and in the end my top teeth were …… OK……..for a short time anyway, then they moved right back to where they are now.   When I was 17 or so my dentist put some veneers on my front four teeth, adjusting the thickness slightly, to give the illusion that these teeth were straighter than they actually are.  This is how my teeth have stayed….for all these years…..and I hate them, I have always hated them.

Periodically I have thought ‘I will get braces’.  Of course the idea of wearing them is awful, the idea of paying for them is even worse.  I have two beautiful daughters, a husband and a life, and a job, and of course my children take priority in my world.  Therefore between them and running a house, there is no money for lavish things such as braces!  So I will look in the mirror, give myself a toothy grin and say in my head ‘you don’t need them, they are not too bad’….and a few months will pass by.  Then I will look in the mirror again, same ugly grin and think ‘I wish I had straight teeth”…. finally I did something about it.  I explored the different types of invisible (ish) retainer type braces, but they were still going to cost huge money and would only give me 80% of a great smile.  I am a firm believer of ‘if something is worth doing, then it is worth doing well’.  So I went for a ‘free’ orthodontic consultation where I had x-rays taken and some pictures of my teeth with my lips hauled back in a painfully gruesome manner and watched the orthodontist frown at what he saw.  He explained  I would need the full deal for 15 months. Of course I would….those easy looking retainer type braces would not do it….my teeth have never been lucky.

Then came the dollars, and a wonderful lady explained how I could have a 21 month payment plan to ‘lesson the blow’.  I glanced at the paper she was printing before she gave it to me and prayed that I saw a 4 and not a 7.  Alas, it was a 7.  She told me all the benefits of the braces, and all  I really wanted to do was flee the room, because when I was not in that room I did not need braces nor was I about to agree not only to having braces but to parting with a chunk of change that I don’t actually have.

Now as I write this, and I run my tongue over my not straight teeth, I know that my decision is the right one, but the journey ahead of me is no less daunting.

D-Day is Wednesday October 28th 2015, and I plan to blog the journey.