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  • Writer's pictureCat Ward


Updated: Sep 14, 2023

You've noticed that I've used a picture of my late Mother, as this is in part the story of how her death affected me, and what I endured after. It's also the story as to why I've come back with all cannons firing, despite some serious, and current doubts as to my own worth sometimes.

This is not a sob story, it's a survival story, and an explanation as to why I'm extreme sometimes. As always, it's a story of gratitude, honour, and also courage, but no pity please, I'm well beyond what may have been a reason to pity me, which was the illness that saw me in hospital for nearly 2 months. I'll get to that soon, but not in great detail. My Mum was a gentle woman, and it was from her I inherited my love of animals and nature. I talk to plants, rescue worms from the footpath, pat any animal I can, and love trees, flowers, and birds. Alex and I shared our apartment with a sparrow for almost a year- we called her Flappy and she'd mostly sit in the plants near the kitchen window.

She was eventually released, and Alex, a kind soul, left the window open for 3 nights in case she came back.

We shared our apartment with a large, black, placid house spider too- she lived in the top corner of our bathroom window, I called her Bebe, short for big black, and I said hello when I went in there. She apoeared just after I was released from hospital, and stayed quietly, barely moving, for 6 months before she died. I miss her in a way, as some wildlife here isn't nasty, even some spiders! I'm not a fan of mobile spiders, but Alex rescus those for me. Pigeons fall down the chimney into the disused fireplaces in Alex's lounge and our box room, and we save them. We're both gentle and kind, and we try our best to do no harm.

My Mum died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve 2019, possibly hours before she was due to arrive to spend a few days with me. I'd booked a taxi to pick her up, but after two hours had passed I started to wonder if the taxi had arrived to pick her up, so I called the supported residential service home where she was staying (I did want her to live with me but like all parents she didn't want to be a burden.), and they told me the taxi had come and gone. They took a while to check, but when there was a knock at my door it was the police, with my Mum's small, deaf black oriental cat in a carrier. They explained what had happened. The autopsy report said complications from pneumonia, but she had sounded fine the previous night. After she died, I. Couldn't. not a thing except cry and try to find some understanding in something incomprehensible. I stopped writing my part in a book I was contributing to with 2 of my friends and guests, I stopped writing full stop. For nearly 2 years I lived in a haze of odd hours, disturbing dreams, and tears. My salvation was Alex, and I moved here to be with him in Euroa. I think that was 13 months ago now, and I loved it immediately. I was working at the hotel already, and for extra exercise I started cleaning at our primary school here. I worked 7 days, sometimes 5 hours a day between the hotel and nights cleaning the old school, which is quite large. The cleaning company I was working for emloyed 1 cleaner for 3 hours each night, 5 nights a week, and I suspect that massive workload, and the sheer exhaustion it caused, plus trauma from my Mum's death, were what made me sick. I started having trouble swallowing solid food, and would vomit if it hit my stomach, so I was existing on protein shakes and occasionally mashed vegetables in tiny quantities. I was too weak to move from the bed or couch eventually hair started falling out, but I finally gave in and let the doctor caIl an ambulance. I'm not sure how long I was in the Emergency ward for as I was heavily medicated, and I weighed 30kgs when I was admitted. My normal weight is around 52 kilos, as I've always been thin. Alex could only visit me on Sunday and Monday, as he has to work, often long hours. I started to think I'd invented him as I'd ask the nurses if they'd seen him and of course they hadn't, as he hadn't been there. I had x-rays, ECG's MRI's, daily blood tests, a lumbar puncture which thankfully I don't remember, and I have no clue how many other tests, and I don't recall my time in The

Goulburn Valley Hospital Emergency ward at all. I spent time in two other wards, and at first was confined to bed, but I attempted to escape, and indeed escaped fairly repeatedly...possibly I saw something I wanted to look at, or just wanted to explore- I'm curious, remember??but it's a blur now. I eventually was given a walker to use. The dreams I had while medicated were bizarre, and terrifying sometimes.

I was spoon- fed until I could eat on my own, and on IV fluids sometimes. I gained weight, and was released, but for a while I had forgotten absolutely everything- my family, my friends, my passwords and pin numbers, where I was, and who I was. The medication gave me vivid hallucinations, but mainly I saw sparrows, cats- and apparently Frasier and Niles Crane as I am fond of the TV show! I was used a cane for the first month or so after I came out, and was still medicated for a bit. I was frightened and confused, and at the time the nerve pain, which is the reason I get sore from typing now, was so severe I'd cry. I have permanently hypersensitive feet, and wear socks except when showering, and I have something called sinus arrythmia, which makes my heartbeat irregular, but rarely now.

I'm mostly fine though, so you needn't worry if indeed you were, but it was cheating death, and one of the millions of "ghost" (read pareidolia) photos that got me started on what I'm doing, podcasting and writing for ASSAP's magazine which I admit still scares me as I feel I may have bitten off more than I can chew, as this is a new frontier for me. I am genuinely fond of my podcast guests, and have known some for years and can only hope the feeling is mutual, as I never mean offense to anybody. I send them funny or weird things via messenger thst remind me of them, as I do with a few friends in general, and Alex and I send each other things all the time, if he's working or we both are, or if I'm writing upstairs in our apartment.

The doctors have no idea what happened, as every test they did came up with nothing, but I'm really not worried any more, just glad to be here, and if I get a bit extreme or annoying sometimes I can only hope people understand. But no sympathy, I'm nearly fine now...and perhaps after I die someone will write about me, if I manage to help them or make them smile, or think, or teach them as my guests are doing, or to display the dark humour common in this field maybe they'll name a syndrome after me someday!


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