An Exhausted and Emotionally Drained Plumbette – a looong post


I know I’m not the only one that experiences chaotic weeks. We all experience them. This week has been especially draining for me and I have felt a range of different emotions and have been erratically typing them as my status on Facebook, and then trying to refocus on the job at hand. I have felt a rollercoaster of emotions including anxiety, bitterness, powerlessness, fed-upness (I know, it’s not a word!) and complete exhaustion.


I am 26 weeks pregnant this week and the heat and exhaustion have started to wane on my body. Monday was supposed to be our (dad and mine) last working day before his hip replacement operation on Wednesday. Monday was my mum’s birthday too and we only had part of the morning booked. But the phone call’s came through for more work and the afternoon soon filled up.


I felt pregnant on Monday. I felt heavy and tired because I hadn’t been sleeping (still not – it’s 3am while I’m writing this post!). I don’t function very well without sleep and when combined with heat and manual work… I was glad that Monday was my last full working day because I started to realize my limits.


Tuesday, I found myself with a sick husband at home who had a fever and the shakes. I told my husband to take the day off work to get better because I was needing him to be my anchor for all that was going to take place on Wednesday. He stayed home, but I had to go to work to fix a job that didn’t go quite to plan the day before. Around lunchtime I took my daughter to the shops to get some errands done – put a claim into Medicare, buy some sandals because my feet were starting to swell and get some Christmas shopping out of the way. I only got part way through my list when my toddler decided to crack it and I didn’t have the patience or tolerance to put up with a screaming toddler in a shopping centre.


On Wednesday, not only was my dad booked in for a hip replacement at the Mater Private hospital, my Grandpa (my mum’s dad) was scheduled for a day procedure at the Wesley hospital to put his heart back into the right rhythm. My mum was torn between being at two places at one time so got up at the crack of dawn to pick up my grandparents, dropped dad off to the Mater for his op and then sat and waited with my grandparents at the Wesley to find out when my Grandpa would go in for his procedure.


After my daughter had her day sleep, I left home, to sit with my Grandma in the waiting room so that my mum could go back to the Mater and see my dad in recovery after his operation. The doctor told my mum (who then texted me) to say the operation went well and my dad was in recovery. On the way to driving to see my Grandma, my mum then rang me to say that the heart procedure for my Grandpa’s heart hadn’t gone well and that his heart rate was too low and he would possibly need a pacemaker installed. Because my Grandma is deaf and doesn’t have a mobile phone, I would have to explain this to Grandma or try and find her in the hospital because a nurse was on her way to the waiting area to take her to see Grandpa and explain what was going on.


I got a park at the bottom of the hill at the Wesley. Can I just say walking up that hill holding a toddler nearly put me in labour!! I had to hold onto the rail at the top to gasp for breath but I just wanted to get into the hospital to find Grandma and make sure she was ok.


My Grandma was still sitting in the waiting room, completely oblivious to the world around her. The moment I reached my Grandma, the nurse saw me and said “You must be Rebecca, come with me.”


My Grandpa’s heart was successfully put back into rhythm but because his heart rate was so low, the doctor recommended he get a pace maker installed. My Grandparents don’t have private health insurance, but they have money put aside so that they can pay to have procedures done privately to avoid waiting on the public system. But what was meant to be a day procedure turned hairy because my Grandpa now needed a pacemaker which was going to cost between $20,000-$40,000 to get done at theWesley Private Hospital. Money they didn’t have.


When my mum was told this on her mobile while visiting my dad, she went rank on the phone and explained that my Grandparents didn’t have that type of money and would need to be transferred to the public system. It was arranged for my Grandpa to be transferred to the Princess Alexandra (PA) hospital by ambulance where he would be monitored in the MAPU unit as to whether he would definitely need a pacemaker.


I explained this to my Grandparents, then made a list with my Grandpa of what he would need in hospital as it was likely he’d be at the PA hospital for a couple of nights. By this time it was approximately 1:30pm and my Grandma hadn’t had any lunch, so I took her to get something to eat and then was told my Grandpa had been loaded into an ambulance and was on his way to the PA hospital.


I drove Grandma to her place to pack a bag for Grandpa and so she could freshen up because I wasn’t sure how long we would be at the PA hospital for. At this time I got an email from my mum saying my dad had been transferred to ICU (intensive care unit) because his recovery wasn’t going so well after his hip operation and his core body temperature had dropped to 34 degrees and he had low blood pressure too. In that moment I thought ‘what the hell is going on here???’ I got my husband to leave work early and dropped my daughter off to him, then went straight to the PA hospital where we hit peak hour traffic.


Thankfully my brother, Andrew, had left his work early on the Gold Coast and met with my Grandpa in the Emergency Department at the PA hospital. I was relieved that someone was with my Grandpa. Andrew was great at explaining to me what room Grandpa was being transferred to and waited for me to arrive with Grandma.


By the time we found the room, it was 6pm and Andrew left to check on mum and dad’s house and feed their dog, Penny, who had been locked up in their house since 4am that morning! I stayed with Grandma until 8:30pm when Andrew arrived back and took Grandma home and stayed the night at her place to keep her company, while I was able to drive home and completely collapse into bed at 9:30pm.


All through this ordeal I was still taking mobile phone calls for plumbing jobs and getting my stand-by plumber to attend to them for me, with a two year old toddler who had been interrupted from her routine. I was still feeling tired from lack of sleep and the drama that unfolded from what should have been two normal operations.


You show your true colours when chaos knocks on your doorstep. Through out the ordeal I felt peaceful, but the walking, driving, constant text messaging two and forth to mum, being the translator between my grandparents and the nurses with a two-year-old toddler testing her boundaries throughout the ordeal meant my emotional batteries were being tested.


As of now – Saturday morning, my dad was finally transferred out of ICU into his own room and the x-rays show that the hip is where it needs to be and now my dad just has to heal from his operation.


My Grandpa is still in the PA hospital and is likely to get a pacemaker installed in the next couple of days.


The driving won’t stop until both men are out of hospital. In the meantime I have received a letter from the Plumbing Council advising they are going to audit our business as part of the new national Form 4 Notifiable Works laws that started on the 1st of November this year. We have only done a few jobs that have warranted the need to lodge a Form 4. Of course, it had to be done right when our family is dealing with health complications, but we’ve got nothing to hide. Bring it on.