Monday, June 29, 2009

Beautiful inside and out

I have mentioned our son's (Mr. Almost-16's) scoliosis and subsequent surgeries several times on this blog. In fact, the reason behind this blog was for me to write about our experience from the time just before diagnosis, the diagnosis itself, the surgeons, the surgeries and recovery. There are other entries in between these so I have chosen only a few. At the time, the more I wrote the more difficult it became to continue writing. I was a little disappointed because I expected the opposite.

Anyway, a few months ago my son had more X-rays done to see how healing has progressed in his spine.

This is an image of the X-ray at diagnosis (he is standing up straight) that shocked us to the core:

After his first surgery where T10 to L3 (five vertebraes) were fixed together with titanium rods and screws. His intervertebral discs were removed completely. He also had two ribs removed and 'chipped' over the instrumentation. The chips eventually grow and mould to create one solid fixture eliminating the chance of any further curvature of the spine.

Six weeks later he underwent further surgery where T5 to T12 (a further seven levels) fixed in a similar way to the first operation. Again, all intervertebral discs were removed. This time five ribs were removed and chipped over the instrumentation. This is the end result:

He does have limited movement but never once has he complained or questioned 'why me?'. After his second surgery his chest filled with 1.5 litres of blood and he almost had to be intubated for respiratory distress had it not been for pure luck. He even had a chest drain inserted to drain the fluid, no anaesthesia. This was the worst for him (and certainly us; we could hear his cries of agony 60 metres away down a long corridor).

He recently expressed to me that the main concern for him was worrying about us and how we were going to be disrupted with his hospitalisation, such is his selflessness. As you can imagine, he also has numerous huge scars on his chest and back and, on a recent beach holiday, commented that he needed his singlet to cover his hairy chest. He didn't make mention of the scars. He never makes mention of the scars. I wish he did, sometimes. But this is his way of dealing with 'it'.

Our wonderful son is as happy today as he looks in the first photo. He is the comedian of the family and his class, and an absolute car enthusiast. He is also academic and applies himself to his schoolwork like a mature-age student. He wants to study medicine to become a surgeon. He wants to be like his surgeon, one who talks with patients; a surgeon who asks his patients how they are before he sees them on the inside. I think he'll get there.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The power of punctuation!

A highschool teacher wrote the following on a blackboard to demonstrate to her students the power of punctuation:

Woman without man would be nothing

She asked the class to punctuate this sentence as they saw fit. The majority of the class punctuated the sentence as they saw fit:

Woman, without man, would be nothing.

Others corrected it accordingly:

Woman: without, man would be nothing.

The power of punctuation, indeed!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Things that make you go AARRGHHH!

Whilst walking down the toiletries isle in our local supermarket, I looked from right to left, left to right searching for sensitive-teeth toothpaste for my daughter. In the background I could hear a mother chatting with her young son of about three years of age. She was asking him what sort of toothbrush he wanted. I thought how lovely it was she was seeking his opinion. Initially she asked him if he wanted a sparky blue one. The boy responded with "Yes Mummy". Then she asked him if he wanted the green one that feels like jelly instead. The boy again responded with "Yes Mummy". She then proceeded to ask him if he wanted one that glows in the dark. The poor boy again answered with "Yes Mummy". She again asked him if he wanted the one that glows in the dark. By the time I reached the end of the isle she had asked him at least five times (I stopped counting after that!).

It was enough to test the patience of a saint. I kept walking down the isle and finally reached its end and went on to collect the rest of my shopping. About ten minutes later I realised that I had forgotten the toothpaste. I quickly pulled (and pushed and tugged!) the trolley back to the toiletries isle once again. You would never guess who was still standing there asking her tired and now half-asleep son if he was sure about the glow-in-the-dark toothbrush. It was enough to make me want to scream! And definitely no comment here on my aspirations to be a clinical psychologist...

Photo is of my 9 months old niece, Sara (or, whom we lovingly refer to as Miss Peaches!).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Don't cry over spilt...paint.

In a cupboard in our laundry I keep a bag of old clothes to use as rags. Today I needed one of those rags and as I grabbed hold of the bag's handles I came away with something I hadn't quite bargained for...a dull thump. And with the realisation of what the thump was caused by, a painful screech emanated from my throat. Looking down I saw an ever expanding, viscous puddle of paint. Yes, paint. In our laundry. MY laundry! The girth of this shiny, terracotta puddle was fingering its way to the nearby white fridge and had already seeped under the cupboard in which the bucket of paint had been stored.

I certainly was in no state of mind to take a photo of the disaster immediately, but this is how it looked after about 15 minutes of dabbing and wiping:

Initially I grabbed the closest thing next to me (no, not the bag of rags!), but a pair of my husband's navy trousers which had needed a zipper replaced. I also managed to get my hands on some paper towelettes, which proved quite handy. A sponge and a bucket of water came next. What I am amazed at (and rather bemused!) is that it did not even occur to me to use the bag of rags at any time during the clean-up!

Hubby's trousers:
Newly moist towelettes:

Watered down paint and sponge:

As I write this the paint continues to seep (as I almost weep!):

For about a month now I have been trying to think of something in me, in my reaction to an event, that would demonstrate an ability to stay calm. In my mind this would be a small (very small) indication that I may be suited to Clinical Psychology. This is a career path that has been weighing on my mind more and more lately. I was first introduced to psychology in my PhD studies when I analysed asthmatics' perception of their own asthma. But I really hadn't given it much thought until I started working from home, which has been very slow since November 2008 (thank you Global Credit Crisis). Thinking about how I can extend myself academically to increase my skills whilst still looking after my family, a change in career path came to mind.

With this mini disaster, in amongst all of the paint, ruined trousers and my terracotta-stained fingerprints all throughout the laundry, I was trying to think of some positives, even a single positive. I actually came up with four:

1) I hated those navy trousers anyway, especially because the zipper needed replacement.
2) The colour of the tiles and paint are almost identical.
3) I was calm enough (in the end anyway) to take some photos.
4) And most importantly, I did not go off at my husband for placing the paint tin there in the first all. Disaster truly averted!

Do you think the ability to view this situation the way I did, in some way indicates that I am suited for a career in clinical psychology?

And yes, it did not escape me that a possible explanation for my being so calm (nothing to do with my career prospects of course!) was because I used hubby's trousers to clean up the huge mess. Oh, the psychology of marriage!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Vicious Cycle

The first day of school
Neat hair, shiny shoes,
Your uniform, crisp and new
Bag on your back, not quite moulded to you.

The days they became
So routine, so planned,
Week after month after year
Time indeed does pass, back then it was so unclear.

In school you moved forward
Study and adolescence,
Trademarks of those years
So too your teachers, your surroundings, your peers.

My child, my heart
You are etched into my soul,
You learned and moved away in order to succeed
And in the place of my heart now a dry, brittle seed.

There were tears
There was laughter,
Every moment honest and true
To have you back for one moment, oh what I would do.

Today, tommorrow
Whether you reach your goals, or not,
You are loved, you are complete
Now, expecting to see you, is my raison d'etre, my treat.

And as these days pass
You too will patiently wait,
For your own child, to reward you
With a fine sliver of their life, just a moment or two.

Copyright: Mervat @ The Writing Instinct

Friday, June 12, 2009

Words and Imagery: 1

This photo was taken by my husband during his visit to Paris for a conference in 2006. Looking at this the following words come to mind.

Anticipation, Expectation, Time.

What comes to your mind when you see this image?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Imagine your arms up in the air
You will not resist, you will not argue
Let the processes surrounding you carve your day

Let your mind be free
Let what is to be, be
No worries, no opinions, no concerns

And feel your tense nerves unravel
To not be in control
Not even for a little while

Listen to nothing
See everything
Taste that sweet freedom
of Surrender.
Copyright: Mervat @ The Writing Instinct

Thursday, June 4, 2009

'Hey Mum, Guess What?'

Photo courtesy of

My children love trivia, especially Mr Almost-16. He greeted me this morning with 'Hey Mum, guess what?'. And of course, before I could even respond the next words fell out of his mouth:

'Did you know that Brad Pitt has been smoking since the age of
16. He's not so pretty on the inside, then is he?'

I laughed. Thinking back, maybe my reaction should have been to reaffirm what Mr Almost-16 already knows, according to the judgement he had just made about Mr Pitt's internal aesthetics. But, I just laughed. No, not a giggle, but a good old belly laugh. If you know anything about Mr Almost-16 he is usually cracking a joke, and always trying to make light of almost any situation he finds himself in. However, this morning his response was to look at me inquiringly, probably wondering what on earth had possessed his mother to respond in this way. He gave me a side-ways smile and got on with his morning preparations. I felt quite embarrassed. Maybe I have such confidence that they will never smoke as I know they are frightened by the potential harm it could do to them? Maybe I genuinly found his comment about Pretty-Mr-Pitt's-not-so-pretty-insides ironic in a humorous way?

I know my children are baffled as to why people smoke when all the warning signs are there (Mr 6 regularly asks me why his grandparents (my parents and mother-in-law) still smoke if smoking 'causes the brain to bleed'). Mr 6's response is the legacy of a rigorous Australian Cancer Institute's anti-smoking campaign in which Leonard Cohen sings 'Everybody Knows'.

In remembering this eerie add (and having just seen it for probably for the 100th time) the smile is wiped off my face completely. Indeed, why won't my parents, and all of those I love and are dear to me, stop smoking? I can only hope and pray that one day they will have the strength and courage to stop smoking and that my confidence, in my own children never smoking, holds true.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Premios Dardo Award from Kelly

I would like to thank the talented, passionate and articulate Kelly from My Voice, My View for nominating me for this wonderful award. Kelly is married and is not only a busy mother to four children but also manages to find time to be a perceptive and insightful poet and writer. She has kindly honoured me with the "Premios Dardo" award, which she says roughly translates to "Top Dart". Thank you so much for this award, Kelly. I don't know whether I deserve it but I gratefully accept it and appreciate this recognition.

This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values everyday.

Here are the rules for this award:

Accept and post the award on your blog.
Link to the person from whom you received it.
Pass the award to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment.
Let them know they’ve been chosen for this award.

Blogging encourages self-expression through writing and imagery. I believe that all bloggers deserve praise for opening up to the world, enabling strangers to see into their lives, their thoughts and experiences. We are all truly fortunate to live in an age where we can express ourselves in this way but are still able to maintain any level of anonymity that we choose. As I really do not wish to burden anyone directly, I would like to pass this award onto anyone who reads this post. Please copy and paste the icon and display proudly on your blog.

Thank you again, Kelly.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Meme from the letter M

I have taken up an invitation to copy the Meme below from the
just loverly Natalie at Musings from the Deep.

The answers have to be real...nothing made up!
If the person before you had the same first initial, you must use different answers.
You cannot use any word twice and you can't use your name for the boy/girl name question.

Have Fun!!


1. What is your name: Mervat

2. A four Letter Word: Muck

3. A boy's Name: Miguel

4. A girl's Name: Mirelle

5. An occupation: Musician

6. A color: Magenta

7. Something you wear: Maxi dress

8. A food: Moussaka

9. Something found in the bathroom: Modelling clay (left on taps and sink by an arty six year old!)

10. A place: Myanmar

11. A reason for being late: Munching on lactose-laden macaroni cheese (please see 14 below!)

12. Something you shout: Mo! (Mr. Almost-16’s nick name! It usually ends with ‘…stop picking on your brother!’)

13. A movie title: My Fair Lady

14. Something you drink: lactose-free Milk

15. A musical group: Meatloaf

16. An animal: Marmoset Monkey (and aren't they just so cute!)

17. Street name: Mulgoa

18. A type of car: Murcielago

19. A song title: Mamma Mia

20. A verb: Mimic

If anybody would like to play then please feel free copy and paste.

Thanks for reading!


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