(Wonderful photo from the collection of Jann Gail-Jones)
Chapter Sixteen: Working Out What’s Important
(1997 ~~ 26 years)
Gotama the Buddha once said:
‘This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth & death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance; a lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountain.
We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.
This is a precious moment, but it is transient, it is a little parenthesis in eternity. If we share with caring light heartedness & love, we will create abundance & joy for each other. And, then this moment will have been worthwhile!’
MS is a wet dis-ease according to Chinese philosophy, and as my limbs felt heavier whenever I returned to Sydney after periods away from its humid climate, these theories were on the mark.
Steep stairs at Julie’s house highlighted that ‘my problem’ was worsening. Each day I felt rigidity creep into my legs and I was periodically fatigued, necessitating a trip to the neurologist to see if he could help.
At the appointment, after I followed the standard neurological routines of walking on tiptoes, on my heels and one foot in front of the other, Professor Snow diagnosed spasticity in addition to my walking condition, another MS symptom, and prescribed Baclofen medication as treatment to ease this by helping my knees to bend, eliminating all stiffness, which worked for one night only.
A great night for them to work too, as I had VIP passes to see The Corrs—an Irish music sensation that evening. I walked up and down steep stairs with ease at the vibrant concert and went back stage after it meeting the beautiful family band members, which continued at the bar of the hotel they were staying at in Rosebay. I also met John Stevens from Noiseworks that night, so it really was night of meeting stars. I loved feeling ‘normal’, fun and free, so in hope to repeat the effect Baclofen had on my body I continued taking the drug for far too long to no avail.
Professor Snow also gave me a prescription for the Beta-Interferon medication at the appointment saying I qualified. This didn’t surprise me; although, I tried to side-step the reality by telling him that the neurologist I saw in Perth before Christmas wasn’t even sure it was MS. Looking at me solemnly the Professor said, ‘You have MS’. I felt real pangs of terror for the first time! I simply did not wish to put my body through chemical warfare!
* * *
As things seem to go, Mum was in need of me almost as much as I needed her. Mum and Ron had finally ended their time together, and we needed to find a home in a location near Mum’s work. We found an old, cute little house in Pennant Hills that seemed perfect on our first and only day of searching!
Until we woke the first morning after moving in, to the sound of many cars and realised we lived on a by-pass route to the main highway. That peak hour road was to cause Mum and me much heartache, by the way of our ginger pussycats Precious and Angel! Precious was named after Julie, Angel after me. Although a h cumanly impossible title, Mum commenced calling me Angel following a meeting I had with a man in Perth…
One sunny, Perth morning, as I was drinking a freshly-squeezed juice at a table outside a café, a person with one arm missing and the other wired up with metal, walked towards me from across the road. He had a smile that beamed brightly to anyone looking his way and he stopped to smile broadly at me before passing by my table. ‘What happened to you,’ I asked in a happy yet sympathetic tone? ‘What part of me?’ and he went on to tell me of the truck that had veered head-on into his lane and motorbike. Sparing no details, he explained how he didn’t lose consciousness on impact, and saw his arm land in the truck driver’s lap. When everything stilled, all he could say was, ‘Give me my arm back’. He also suffered further wounds by the loss of his upper thigh muscles; feet muscles; use of existing arm; and the loss of most of his large family, unable to cope with an amputee!
I asked what he did for work, but because of medical requirements, he couldn’t manage full-time employment and was very limited on the part-time front. I asked if he liked computers. He replied enthusiastically and I enquired if he would be interested in learning the network engineering side of computers to become specialised, which would permit more time away from work while earning good money. Sure enough, he arranged funding for training through his compensation affairs manager, agreeing to pay for each course on successful completion of the previous. Happily, he succeeded at 17 days of the 22 day program—the remaining days entailed Service & Support, which required pulling a computer apart, fiddling a lot, and then correctly putting it together again: tricky with two hands! In a very short time, he had ongoing and personally suited employment supporting a large company’s network system! When I recounted this to Mum she said, ‘You really are an angel aren’t you!’ Of course, I knew it wasn’t me pulling the strings on our intermingling, pre-destined paths.
A CAR HIT ANGEL soon after we moved into our new home! It happened when Mum was getting ready for work and she had the shower or hairdryer running when the men who hit him knocked on our door. We know this because when Mum arrived home from work nine hours later, our next-door neighbour said he’d heard a loud bang then saw Angel injured and fleeing under our house! Next, he saw the men who hit him kindly go looking for him, and then knock on our door, where there was no response (to which the neighbour was not aware). No one was aware, so our darling boy sat under the house unnoticed all day long.
My vivacious friend Julian from Perth visited me that day, and he often danced around the living room—directly above Angel’s unknown recovery position. Whenever Precious came into the house I’d say, ‘Where’s my Angel?’ wishing Julian meet him. Julian certainly did meet a battered and sore Angel when we discovered him once Mum arrived home, and he even drove us to the vets, Mum carefully holding Angel.
No need to detail the worry we went through that night before the x-ray the following day. I left a clear quartz crystal in his cage and we sent him prayers through the night! The morning’s examination revealed that the only thing we needed to worry about was money for the necessary ‘carpentry’ work running into the thousands, or put him down. There was no option, although, Mum was fleetingly practical, concerned over using our only financial ‘security’ at the time; her fears heightened because our living together had just begun. Comments from cynics ran through her mind, ‘All that money on a bloody cat!’ This was a not simply a selfish motive, it would have been selfish to put him down—he gave so much affection to everyone! Anyway, you do that sort of thing for a family member!
Angels of mercy assisted our situation: Gabby and Dave—on the veterinary front, and Sarah and Clint operated the pickup and delivery side of things! Gabby and Dave were vets friends doing practical studies at the Sydney University of Veterinary, and specialised treatment was a lot cheaper as a result. Angel was away two weeks, and the repair work involved a plate in his hip and a pin in his leg. The surgeon warned that he would probably limp and not jump again, and I surmised that Angel was suffering for me. Some karmic event had taken place that offered me an opportunity to observe and learn from the bold nature of the cat, from the nature of nature. Angel was soon walking along our fences in his bandages: abolishing all limping and jumping fears. We watched his daring displays in wondrous horror initially, and as his agility increased, my mind strengthened to the belief that I too would run and jump again! Angel effortlessly re-adopted the mode of body following mind, and he inspired me. This cat had become my teacher!
I FELT SICK at the thought of using Beta-Interferon during this time, injecting myself with chemicals and animal proteins, every second day. I was staying an evening and day at Stephen’s house when the scheduled call came from a friendly nurse in charge of administrating Beta-Interferon instructions. Thankfully, Stephen was present; because my world was spinning out of control when I hung up… scared, helpless tears fell from my eyes. For the first time he saw me cry and he understood, having known me at my finest, fittest self to my now seemingly crumbling self; crumbling well before its time was our opinion! Like an eternal comforter, Stephen offered me sanguinity and hope that everything would okay. I hung off his words with every fibre of my being and silently prayed.
I phoned Leon for solace when Stephen went to bed that night, but another call soon came through on his end, so he said he’d ring me in a couple of days. His caller could only have been Donna, the girl he began seeing during my last month in Perth, and I only discovered this on calling him from my home in Perth one night, during our final stages…
Originally, my idea had been to surprise him by catching a taxi to his place, however thinking better of it, I decided to ring first. Wise move… it was me who was surprised when Leon spoke in strange stifled tones, explaining he was in the middle of watching a video with a ‘friend’ in need; apparently needing refuge from her boyfriend. That was the first mention of another woman, and he barely ever mentioned her again… allowing me to jump to any imaginative conclusion!
Hurt by his lack of concern, I immediately rung Cory, knowing he would genuinely care. Cory was at a pub and was delighted to hear from me although saddened by my unhappiness. ‘You need my arms around you don’t you darling!’ were his first words. ‘Yes!’ love and understanding were all I needed at the time… except for a new brain! I went to bed feeling more positive after the phone call, and a short time later Leon rang back, having had a humility check on the way he had dealt with me at such a time. ‘You sound much happier than before.’ ‘Yes’, I agreed but didn’t disclose why.
I decided to defer proceeding with Beta-Interferon for the time being—trusting my condition wouldn’t deteriorate too much. Being in the second year of MS, I believed progression would be slow, hoping degeneration wouldn’t happen at all!
* * *
Throughout the next 25 pages of this chapter:
Acquire great, high-paying job in the city, which I knock-back due to mobility to and fro.
Acquire great job in a ‘new age’ crystal shop.
Lindy visits in a dream.
Healings continue: kinesiology and shamanic.
Attend the 1997 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, (my seventh), straight all night, few dances.
Leon allures me with mixed messages from Perth. I write 35-page love letter expressing my heart.
Leon visits me in Sydney: passionate, rocky, painful, yet hopeful.
I visit Leon in Perth for his birthday.
Still, can’t forgive me for not leaving Cory when we first met.
We last three days. Very emotional separation.
I go to my cousin’s where I reconnect with Mark - an old friend, Cory, and Liz’s husband, Jia very well.
My health improves in Perth due to its dry heat.