Such a scary time

I’ve been away for a week, at the start of what was supposed to be a seven week stint of work. Two trips and a few days in between, when I was going to fly to Canberra to stay with my brother and his newly immigrated family.

The first trip was one I’d been looking forward to for a while: down the Tanami Track, which I’d never done before. It was quite a hard trip, owing to unrealistic expectations set up by the office and also because of the presence of two middle aged special needs guys, travelling without a carer. But the country was new to me and it was wonderful sleeping out under the stars again and was enjoying it.

I’d been in touch with my daughter in Canada and was aware of her health situation (she suffers from the same auto immune disease that I do and was experiencing the pain of a first flare up). I could only console from a distance and feel bad that I was the genetic cause. She had taken a lot of time off work and was under a specialist, just awaiting the results of a blood test before she could move onto the very expensive biological drugs; they tried steroids for months and it didn’t help much.

Then her boyfriend cut his hand very badly and the local hospital (great for ski injuries) sent him to a specialist place 2 and a half hours drive away. My girl drove them both down, he was treated, they drove back again and her doctor called, said she was to come in immediately.

Her iron levels were so low that she could have passed out anytime and was a couple of days away from autonomic body function failure. They immediately put her in an ambulance and rushed her back down to the city they’d just been in, admitted her to hospital and started transfusing. All in all, she ended up having five blood transfusions.

They started to do tests, checking for why the iron loss and obviously internal bleeding somewhere was the cause. Endoscopy and a colonoscopy later and they thought it was ulcerative colitis at the fulmitive disease level (most severe). She was put on massive doses of IV steroids in a bid to halt the inflammation but it was a juggling act between giving the steroids enough chance to work but also wanting to do surgery before her colon perforated and she went into septic shock.

There was a very real chance she would die.

I found this out when I came back into phone range and it was devastating. I arranged that I could leave the tour (so unprofessional but the next leg was four days out of phone signal and I just couldn’t cope with that) and was poised to fly to Canada if she got worse or they did surgery anyway.

Funny, at first I was so upset at the thought of my beautiful twenty five year old daughter having to cope with a colostomy. Then I was just so grateful that that was even an option, if it saved her life.

The inflammatory markers kept going up, even with treatment. It looked really bad. Then finally they started to descend and the doctors were cautiously optimistic, although still keeping a surgical team on standby.

And now they started her on the biologic drugs and she is responding amazingly well, so much so that they are talking of discharging her in a couple of days.

I feel a bit shell shocked, to be honest. So glad but there was so much adrenaline in my system that the letdown makes me feel disgusting. Probably won’t fly out now if she continues to improve.

 

But, oh dear, I thought I would lose her and that took me back to the past.

 

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A little bit more of a reboot

Help my brain be better again.

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Government regulations suck everywhere

Currently filling out and drawing up myriad papers to satisfy the Tourism Council; they won’t let us be accredited unless we’ve jumped through all the hoops and used our bells and whistles.

One of the particularly annoying aspects of this form filling is that it is a new protocol; past tourism operators never had to work on generic workbooks where the questions are meant to apply to accommodation, hospitality and tourism, all in one very confusing form and mostly those questions don’t apply at all or don’t apply because we haven’t started touring yet. i don’t know what best practice I’ll use for the tours because they are new tours and haven’t started yet.

I cannot even begin to add up the countless hours I’ve spent on this useless government requirement and how many arguments I’ve had with the person reviewing the application.

Things like food permits and risk management for cooking on tour, for example. There is no such thing as a mobile cooking licence in tourism and I told gov drone exactly that. She then said to get a licence from the Shire I would do the most cooking in.

What?! I am never more in one place than another as we are a TOUR COMPANY and our tours do need to move around to fulfill that necessary detail. I explained this very nicely to her, at which point she suggested I research it more.

I have now decided we won’t be cooking on tour.

Another irritating thing includes a Catch 22 situation with licensing and accreditation. We need a National Parks Pass but you can’t get one as an operator unless you have completed the tourism accreditation. In order to complete the accreditation, you need to provide copies of all permits and passes and your accreditation isn’t going to be passed unless you have a Parks Permit. This has been mentioned once or twice but nobody has had any.

Fine. We won’t go to any national parks then and I’ll just tick the box that says ‘No’ when asked if we will operate there.

Of course, circumstances will obviously change on the road and we might end up cooking and visiting National Parks after all but you don’t have to redo the accreditation to reflect these changes.

We need to show a document that lists all of our suppliers and contact details. Hell, no, I am not giving Tourism WA a free list to spam. What I’ve done is uploaded the form from their website example, changed names and re branded it with our logo. I’ve then added a current date and listed the date as of last week, with a reminder to follow up yearly. The whole section that actually focuses on names, details etc, I’ve deliberately left blank, apart from a statement saying that our vendors require confidentiality .

I’ve had the application sent back twice with requests for more information and they are helpful enough to include comments, highlighting the necessary essential changes. Changes like using bulleting to list tasks.

Don’t get me started on the fact that you have to be a Tourism WA member to apply for accreditation in the first place, paying a very hefty fee for the privilege. And guess what? The calendar year runs from June to June and it isn’t pro rata, so we get the delightful opportunity to pay twice. BTW, your application won’t be assessed unless you are a current member so empty your wallet again. Please.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that our application might well be the first to use this new protocol and that they are being so pedantic because they want to use it for refining the form. I know for a fact that most of the WA tourism companies, including the one I mainly work for, would never get accreditation if they had to do all of this.

I am getting to the stage where I am seriously thinking of sending back the application with only one minor change here or there, in line with feedback but very subtle, and then assuring our Tourism facilitator that I have actually changed things but can’t remember exactly where. Or maybe just send it back with no changes and see who quits first in this childish game of paper chicken.

 

 

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I try and I try

Tomorrow I have a counselling appointment. It must be so tiring for those who love me to have to live with the knockdown effect of any important date dealing with my brother; I haven’t bounced back since his birthday, try though I might.

I sometimes think that being bipolar means that these things affect me more and then I think that’s a piss weak excuse. I am bipolar, according to medical professionals, and if my life choices/physiological defects mean that I have to be un-medicated, then I owe it to those people that I interact with (be they family, friends or work related contacts) to be the best version of myself that I can be.

I haven’t been happy since early June. Faking it until I make it is a good strategy but it won’t work long term. I have so much to accomplish. I need to keep striving for it, to aim for the long term and there is nothing wrong with admitting that I need help to keep seeing just why that is important.

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Bit by bit; little by little…

Our first tour (requested by an Australian branch of a world wide famous organisation, as a specialist design tour) has just filled up! And by filled up, I mean we have 20 people who have paid deposits to tour and we have opened up a waiting list. There is cash money in the bank and we will make a profit, above and beyond wages, on this trip.

Of course, profit means that we can build up a business reserve and maybe start paying ourselves back a bit for all the up front startup costs, rather than lots of money to go in the personal account, but it is a very positive thing.

Our first exclusive celebrity wildflower tour hasn’t even been advertised yet and we have already filled 2 out of the 12 spots, just through groupies. There is a second, slightly longer one planned, and I’m hoping this will be as well received.

So much for October’s tours. We are currently planning November and further on.

I just got in last night at 2.30 a.m. from the East coast and I have nearly two weeks of down time. I’m glad of it because it is so hard to run a business when you are already working 16 hour days for somebody else and in remote locations with no phone or internet.

It feels really cold back on the west coast though, after the warmth of the tropic rainforests! Next trip is Cairns to Broome along the top and I am seriously debating bringing along the red flannel underwear I bought in Canada over Christmas, as it is a camping tour! The trip after that is through the Tanami Desert and I seriously might bring along my camping fur coat – it gets below zero at night out there and I sleep in a swag.

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My brother’s birthday yesterday

I’d just flown in at 2 am after two months of working constantly, culminating in the trip from hell. I knew I would be home on his birthday but I didn’t have any spare clockticks to even think about it until¬†I’d shrugged off my work responsibilities (maybe forever: it was that hard).

Once I was home, I just couldn’t talk about it to anybody. 18 months now and I still can’t address my issues with anybody relevant in my life.

He would have been 53 yesterday. I wonder if his birthday, seeing down all the days of my life, will always be like this for me.

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Sometimes I write here about the process of starting up the business

I usually run out of steam halfway through, and leave it as a draft. I tend to do that with a lot of entries, actually; writing furiously seems to be cathartic for me. These day I am older and wiser and my husband and his practical, reliable advice have rubbed off on me. I pretty much never publish emotive entries (95% of the posts) immediately any more. I sit on them for 24 hours and then decide. Sometimes yes, much more often no.

 

I suppose even a slow learning person like me (literally; takes a lot to sink in, not meant as derogatory in any way) eventually absorbs life lessons. For some of us it takes a lot longer to get it right. I’m there now but it is still hard.

 

I worry all the time about balancing my mental health condition with my lifestyle and the business factors a lot into this. I know, KNOW, that I do my best work manic. Every good job I’ve ever had, every good position in life, has been obtained in a manic state, even though it wasn’t stripper boots manic level. I truly believe that I can do anything when I am in this state and I pretty much always achieve what I’ve pitched at.

When I am neutral, neither depressed or manic, I am just ordinary with no particular skill set and no confidence. I’m neutral a lot these days. I worry that my ordinariness might be the thing that stops my business from taking off.

So I write about it. I don’t publish all the doubts and fears but I have them. I also want to document the process of setting up a business but my personal emotions come into it so there aren’t many times that I feel comfortable¬† publishing. I at least can look back upon them one day and maybe analyse what I did wrong and what I did right.

 

It is March. Next Wednesday I go out on tour for an 8 day trip to the Goldfields. I will forever hate March because that is when cancer, going for the long con, annexed most of my brother. I learned about it inadvertently, via an email from a concerned aunt, and I never got to speak to him before he became ‘other’. I can remember the room I stayed in, the shock I was in and the awful agony of working that day and not knowing if he would even survive.

 

We stay in the same accommodation and do the same things on this exact tour. It was hard last year and it is going to be hard this year.

 

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