House Sitting – Rules & Contradictions

As a house sitter, I’ve mopped more floors in someone else’s home than I will EVER do in my own! I’m a much better house sitter that I am house keeper and, because of that, I’ve learned a few things that I thought I’d share with you.

If you’re a house sitter, always be a better house keeper than the owner. Not ALL the time, just when you’re in their home…or at least on the day you leave.

If you’re a house owner, realise that your home won’t really look the way you left it. If you’re lucky, they might be a better house keeper than you, but…….probably not.

Communicate. This is so important for both sides. Ask questions! Lots and lots of them.

Do you want something done, or not done, while you’re away? Write it down. Write everything down. Where is the vacuum cleaner? Where on Earth is that tiny white on white button that turns on the dishwasher? What does the dog eat? Write it down.

Uh oh. Broken something during your stay? A cup? Plate? Door knob? Write it down. Text if necessary, but at the very least leave a note and an apology.

Be honest. Before during and after the experience, be honest.

I’m bringing 4 kids under 10 and our own inside Dalmatian. We were hoping to have just one person stay with our anxious Shi Tzu.

I’ll be out every day from dusk til dawn. Our pets need someone all day, everyday.

Be realistic.

If your house owner says, “Help yourself to whatever you’d like,” they don’t actually mean that you should eat them out of house and home. Sure, have at the pantry…in moderation. Perhaps don’t eat all of their chocolate stash and drink all of their boutique beer or feed yourself for the week on everything they own. If you had to shop and replace it all before you left, would the grocery bill frighten you? Hmmmm.

If you say, “Help yourself to whatever you’d like,” don’t be surprised if you come home to no milk, bread or chocolate. Say it, mean it.

Be prepared for weird.

It doesn’t seem like much to mind someone’s house and maybe pets, does it? And most times, it’s not. But sometimes…..

Last night, the little old terrier I’m hanging out with this week had a bad night. She’s been fine for the rest of the time, but last night she couldn’t sleep for some reason. Her insomnia and dementia had her pacing her garage bedroom, yipping. Loudly. She’d been fed, watered, taken outside for the necessities, but nothing was working.

So, what to do? It’s now 10pm. Let’s try it all again. Is she too warm? Too cold? Needs to go out? Needs to come in? Water, check. Food….bit more, check.

30 minutes later, it hasn’t worked.

So, what else might work?

I’d turn on the light, but she’s blind.

I’d turn on some music or white noise, but she’s deaf, too.

What to do? What to do?

I’m a mum of 4, I’ve got this.

So now it’s a little past 1am and I’m sitting by the dog’s bed, patting her tiny little self as she circles and pads and sniffles and, finally, falls asleep.

They say there are rules for this house sitting business. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. What do you think? Tell me what I need to know for next time.

Nuts, a ball and other four-letter words. A young man’s journey with testicular cancer. Part 4.

This is Part 4 in a series. Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Sick to death of hospitals, specialists and waiting rooms!  Uncomfortable chairs, fake plants and tinny elevator music.  Some rubbish that even Mum doesn’t like.  Miserable looking patients, waiting for their turn to whine to the specialist about how many times they’ve thrown up this month or how they’re still afraid that IT’ll come back. IT being the cancer.  Like it’s some big secret conspiracy.  For me, I’m there cause I have to be – if they’d let me run the interview, it’d go a whole lot faster too – then I could go home and leave behind the pitying stares of the “support people.”  Their silence speaks pretty loudly,
“Oh, he’s young isn’t he?  Poor thing.” And then the tightly drawn, pathetic smile and the pitying downcast eyes as I stroll by, my thongs slapping against the regulation medical lino.

If the specialist would let me run the appointment – much faster and he’d still know what he wanted to.

“Yep, my ball is still missing.”

“Yep, scar’s healing – itchy though.”

“Yep, pickline hurts like hell, but it’s still there.”

“Yep, lost all of my hair now and the chemo still makes me feel like shit.”

“Feel like a druggie and can’t wait to get this over with.”

“What can you do for me? Well, are you a miracle worker?”

“Can you grow back a normal nut and all of my body hair? No?”

“Fine, I’ll take a Coke, ta.”

“Let’s get this scan thing done, ay?  Where?”

“Yeah, I know.  Drop me pants, move dick out of the way; nah I’ll do that bit thanks.  You concentrate lower.”

“Hey, this chemo’s got something going for it after all – can’t get a boner when you’re this drug-fucked.”

“At least I don’t have to be praying against that under my breath the whole time you’re down there.”

“No, thank you, Doctor.”

“That will be all, see you next month.”

See? Done and dusted in minutes.  Gary’s good for this though.  I’ve never called him Dad, and he doesn’t expect me to, but he’s been in these waiting rooms almost as often as Mum and me.  Always the same, brings his mag, but only reads it if my eyes are closed.  Without that horrible pitying look, he’s ready to talk or listen to me if that’s what I want.  He’s copped a fair bit of mouth from me and a fair few tears from Mum.  She doesn’t cry in front of me – not if she thinks I might be listening either.  She’s always like,
“Right, mate.  Let’s do this, hey?”

I haven’t been embarrassed in front of Mum – if ever I have been a bit shy of stripping off, she reminds me that she’s changed more of my nappies than even she can remember and there aren’t any places that I’ve got that she hasn’t kissed better at some time.  I was much younger then though, Mum! So, being Mum, she doesn’t cry to me, just to Gary when she doesn’t think we can hear her.  I’ve only seen her really lose it once this whole time and that was enough to last me a long time – it was awful!

Nuts, a ball and other four-letter words. A young man’s journey with testicular cancer. Part 3

This is Part 3 in a series. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

I don’t think I have ever been so devastated in my life and I never want to be again. I’ve never had to use the word devastated before, but that’s what I was. I’ve lost my left ball for fuck’s sake! I cried until I couldn’t breathe and then I cried more. My body hurt like hell from the surgery and my lungs were gasping for breath and still I couldn’t stop. At the time I couldn’t think straight and even when I could, I couldn’t get my head around it. Why would they do that? I’m only sixteen. My body hasn’t got enough testosterone to make me fully a man. One ball, that’s like half a eunuch / half a gelding – good for nothing. What if my voice doesn’t finish breaking properly? Will I LOOK lopsided? I’ve only just got most of my body hair, will that go too? Of course, I don’t want kids now, but I might, later. I haven’t even slept with my girlfriend – will I ever get to do that? Oh, Tasha! I’ve read in books sometimes that “he cried like a little girl” but I didn’t. I bawled and screamed and cried and sniffled just like a guy whose life has been cut off, just like his left nut, before he’s had a chance to do all that bloke stuff. I must have passed out again then, what was I gonna I tell Tash?

The doctor and Mum explained it to me more once I was fully awake, but it felt like the worst nightmare ever. I was trapped in it and couldn’t get out. Instead of a cut in my sack, I had stitches and pain just above where my pubes had been. That’s a story in itself, the shaving there. So, pain and stitches on what they called the ‘bikini line’ – yeah right, bikini line! But I’m getting a bit off track. It turns out that when I was fully under, the doctor had another grope around and didn’t like the feel of my left ball. Great. So, for some reason I still don’t fully get, they cut me to the left of my dick and pulled the whole ball up through there. When he saw it, the doc went straight out to Mum in the waiting room,

“Ms Brown, I think its cancer.”

I reckon he probably told her more than that. All the technical stuff that she has always known more about than me; the fact that the cyst had overtaken the whole epididymis on my left nut and that the reason it stayed enlarged was that as the swelling from the knock to the groin was going down, cancer was coming in and taking its place. Mum reckons that there had always been the concern that my cyst might go cancerous, but we hadn’t talked about it – Mum’s a ‘don’t borrow trouble’ sort of person.

Right now though, she wasn’t borrowing trouble, it was standing in front of her and Gary in surgical scrubs offering to give her the lab results just as soon as he’d finished cutting my nut off, stuffing what was left of me back in, stitching me up and dissecting the traitorous, disloyal, backstabbing thing. I don’t blame my mum, I wouldn’t have wanted to hang on to a cancerous nut, but shit it scared me when I first felt it gone. What is the world coming to when you can’t trust your own gonads?

Later, after my chemo, I was allowed to wear a beanie to school. A teacher at the Junior School called me on it when we were over there for the some assembly or service. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but it definitely had the words “disrespectful” and “inappropriate” thrown in for good measure. I could have done it any number of ways, but I thought, damn it, she’s being so rude to me, getting up in my face. So I snapped,

“I’ve had cancer!”

I felt like adding, “Bitch” but managed to stop myself. I made her feel like shit though, which felt pretty good actually. She knew who I was, I suppose stories like mine are too good to stay secret, not that it was ever supposed to be a secret.

“Oh, you’re Sam,” and she walked off, no sorry or anything. Bitch.

After my surgery and chemo, I started riding my bike again – had mates ask about that – the pressure on my groin was obviously not a problem when I stopped catching the bus and started riding to school. Mates are funny like that; maybe it’s a guy thing. We are always, according to my sister, giving each other stick about being a man, or not. She’s probably right though, way back in Primary school I remember playing footy with my mates and it was a badge of honour to be able to walk after a good hit to the groin. So most of them knew a bit about what was going on, but not much, and while I reckon they cared, what could they do? I had a third nut, and then that I’d lost my nut in surgery. Not much chat, guys don’t do that,

“You alright?”

“Yep.”

And that’s it. Miss reckons that girls would have laughed and cried about it together and talked about every little feeling. I don’t get it.

Nuts, a ball and other 4-letter words! A young man’s story of testicular cancer. Part 1.

A number of years ago, I wrote a short memoir in first person perspective for a young man who I knew through a school I previously taught at. I had recently broken both my ankles whilst on holidays in Indonesia (perhaps more about that in another post) and needed to do something that helped me look outside myself and my situation. Here’s the first installment:

Hey,
Found you on face book and thought I’d say hello and ask you a couple of things that maybe would be harder to ask in person. I’m doing a lot of writing at the moment, since walking is out of the question, and I wondered if I could ask something. I know you’ve been ill this year (that’s about all I know about it) and I wondered if you might consider sharing your story with me. I would be honoured to write it, if you feel like sharing. Maybe it’s something you want to do yourself, so that’s ok too. I don’t know you real well, so if this isn’t ok, let me know. Just thought I could ask and you could honestly tell me what you think.
Thanks for even thinking about it,
Mrs Ross

It’s one thing being monitored for a condition to do with your nuts when you’re 12. That’s one thing, that’s a Mum thing, that’s a thing we don’t talk about. Well I don’t! It’s quite another to have to say to your mum, when you are 16, that not only have you been hit there, hard, during a footy game, but you think there is something wrong. How do you say that?

“Ah, Mum, my balls are hurt. Kinda swollen or something.”

And then the kicker,

“Can you have a look?”

Not easy to ask and harder to let her do it. You can probably imagine how it went from there. Both of us a bit embarrassed, mostly me, but this is mum after all. She’s pretty cool, but this isn’t good. Did I mention we were in the car on the way to footy training when I told her? Now that would’ve been hilarious if she’d had an accident then. Just to have to tell the police what she’d been doing and why she had her hand off the wheel. Anyway, we got through it and she agreed with me that there was something else going on. So then we take it (them? ha ha) to the professionals.

This isn’t that unusual for me. Apparently I have this hormone that is supposed to stop doing its stuff when you’re about 12 and mine didn’t. It’s caused docs some concern and I’ve had to be checked out every 6 months or so, with ultrasounds since I was 14. The first thing I thought when we got referred for an ultrasound was; pregnant women have ultrasounds, don’t they? And I’m pretty damn sure that whatever these odd hormones have done to me, I’m not pregnant!

They monitored me for changes in hormones and a benign epididymal cyst that I figured was like having a smaller third testicle and that’s what I told anyone who ever questioned me. So, having to strip in the doctor’s surgery is not new to me. About now, you’re probably thinking one of a couple of things – I’ve heard most of it before:

a) Shit! I’d hate to do that, imagine if the doctor touched you and….well, you know…?

b) Oh, that poor boy. That would be very traumatic through his puberty; I wonder how it is for his self esteem?

c) No way! Not now, not ever – keep it to yourself, man!

Or some combination of the above. So, let’s leave me there for the moment. In front of doctor, flat on my back, knees up, letting the guy with the gloves feel around my balls…

As I said, I’ve been checked out more than most guys my age, but apart from that, I’m pretty average I reckon. Got an older brother, younger sister and we get on ok I guess. My mum and dad split when I was 8 and I’ve always been pretty close to my mum. Pretty into football, been playing for 4 years and this year I’ve made the A grade. I’m supposed to make this as honest as possible, so I’ll tell you that I was pretty buff then. Training 3 nights a week and games on the weekend will do that for you. So I was feeling alright. And, before you ask, yes, I’ve got a girlfriend. She’s hot. I’m playing A grade and going out with Tash for about 6 months. School is ok. Life is pretty good. Then some *#@!wit gets his shin up hard in my groin in the second match of the season. I go down, winded, and that, I reckon, is where it all really starts.

I don’t know yet where it ends, but it’s been a long journey and it’s only been nine months since it started. There have been good days and bad, ups and downs I guess you could say. Each time I go down it feels like I can’t go any lower, but rock bottom is a LONG way down. I wonder whether it’s harder to fall when you’ve been so high before that. As I said, I’ve led a reasonably average life, but I’ve had it better than some.

{More to come next week.}

Updated: Part 2 is available here.

No fear of flying!

There is nothing like the feeling of flying – even if it is down a concrete path in a wheelchair!  A boy I don’t know very well, from year 11, who makes me laugh and teases along with the best of them, offered to push me back down to the next class I was helping with.  Actually, he first asked if he could sit on my knee and I could take him down to the ITD building.  I’m not sure who was more surprised when I compromised and said I would only take him as far as the concrete path went cause I didn’t do “off road” real well.  I think I would have had my bluff called if he had agreed, but I’d like to think that we would have given it a good go.  So I think that taking me to my next class was the trade off.  I certainly could have done that bit on my own, but I think there is a certain buzz from pushing people in wheelchairs, maybe it’s the control, so who am I to say no?  Sam is not careful.  Well, that’s what I reckon it looked like as we whizzed down the hill.  The three of us flying.  Me in the chair, Sam running behind me, holding the handles carefully as he pushed, and Josh trying to run and laugh at the same time beside his best mate.  I think I was more worried for the innocents who might inadvertently get in our path; there is no such thing as power steering on my wheelchair.  Although I did promise (some might say threaten) as we flew, that I would hunt him down on crutches if he let me go, I actually felt amazing.  Yes, I like being the centre of attention.  Yes, it’s exhilarating and a bit of adrenalin on a Monday afternoon can be a good thing.  But it’s more than that.  Sam’s been sick.  I haven’t asked him about it and I don’t know many details, but it’s been a long haul for him this year.  Cancer and chemo don’t make for a party sort of feeling.  Tears started for me when, at a staff meeting, he was given special uniform dispensation, cause apparently his formal one just “felt too heavy.”  There are the highlights though.  He’s back in his formal uniform now, as scruffy as they seem to be able to make it look, and having your best friend have his head shaved at the same time as you in solidarity and support must feel pretty good.  I’m going to have to ask, maybe.  Maybe it’s not important that I know.  But my guess is that if I felt like I was flying, I’m pretty sure that being able to run like that, laughing, in control of a teacher’s transport and scattering juniors as you go must have felt pretty good too.  Maybe I’m trying to make it into something it’s not. All of us were breathless as they stopped me at the door and wandered off – there was no ‘moment’ – but it was great!

Awkward Eating

I’m currently at the other end of the state to where I usually am, visiting my sister and newest niece.


My own children would have liked to come with me, especially the youngest. He adores babies; we (he) often stop prams simply by standing in front of them to talk to ANYBODY’S baby. So to have one of our own is a big deal…and she’s gorgeous!

Tuesday morning on the way to school and daycare, I reminded him that I was going on the plane that evening.

“Can I come, please?”

“Not this time, I’m sorry. It’s pretty expensive to go on the plane and we don’t have that much money. Everyone would have liked to come.”

🤔 “Do you have money for YOU to go on the plane?”

“Well, my ticket has been paid and so jowett I have no money. Luckily though, when I get there, Grandma and Aunty will feed me.”

🤔🤔😕 “Do you mean like Aunty feeds the baby?”

😲😲😂😂

“No. Maybe a sandwich.”

“I didn’t think it was right but I had to see if it was like that.”

Kids!

🖒🐛

Hilarity or Insanity?

Question:

What do the following songs have in common?

  • Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
  • Can’t Fight the Moonlight – Leanne Rimes
  • Crazy – Seal
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day

Answer:

They were all playing in my psychologist’s waiting room while we waited for appointments.

Now at first glance, this doesn’t seem to be anything noteworthy, however, let’s look at the lyrics whilst considering the context and the apparent aims of therapeutic psychology…

But we’re never gonna survive unless

We get a little crazy

No we’re never gonna survive unless

We are a little

Cray cray crazy

Crazy are the people walking through my head

One of them got a gun to shoot the other one

And yet together they were friends at school.

Under a lovers’ sky 

You can try to resist 

Try to hide from my kiss 

But you know 

But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight 

Deep in the dark 

You’ll surrender your heart 

But you know 

But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight 

No you can’t fight it 

No matter what you do 

The night is gonna get to you 

Guess I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all

It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need you now

And I said I wouldn’t call but I’m a little drunk and I need you now

And I don’t know how I can do without, I just need you now

I just need you now

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating

Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me

Til then I walk alone.

I’m walking down the line

That divides me somewhere in my mind

On the border line

Of the edge and where I walk alone

Read between the lines

Of what’s f***ed up and everything’s alright

Check my vital signs

To know I’m still alive and I walk alone.

*************************************************************************************************

I’ve got to tell you that I was definitely in an improved mood after laughing at these songs being played in fairly close succession while I waited! 😂 I couldn’t help but wonder whether anyone was vetting the music selection.

I’ve chosen one of my favourite “Antidepressant Music” songs to share with you here. It’s called “Just Breathe” by Ze Frank. He created it in response to a Facebook follower who asked him to right a song for days when you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

Ze Frank’s TED Talk is thought provoking and hilarious. You can watch it here.
All the songs mentioned in this post are on a playlist I’ve created here.

In humour,

Eski🐛