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Betcha thought I was dead …actually, so did I. And there’s still a fair distance to the edge of the woods that I’m fighting to get out of !!.

After my terrific summer drew to and end and I waved goodbye to friends, old and new, I headed home to make the ‘getting ready for winter’ list.  I had all the usual: pull up the summer garden and get everything ploughed, pack away the pool, generally tidy the place and make sure everything was working for winter, fireplaces etc…the possibility of spending weeks fighting for my life certainly wasn’t included.

Colin was moving in for his last few weeks in Bulgaria before his return to the UK, so we got him settled and I turned my attention to things to do.

As you know from my blogs since returning to Bulgaria, things have been pretty fantastic. Of course there’s been the odd glitch…life wouldn’t be life without them.

I got so much done with the house and garden and got to enjoy two fantastic summers, meeting new friends and catching up with old. I was happy, healthy, strong and content and really looking forward to my future here.

Now I’m not so sure….

But let me step back to my time in Australia in 2008/2009.  In 2009 I just went to the docs for an annual checkup, as you do.    I got a call from the surgery late one afternoon asking me to get down there ASAP.  As I figured nothing’s that urgent I replied “‘tomorrow?” and was promptly told “no, now”. When I arrived, I was informed that I had returned a very strange blood result and as such, had no immunity.  I made the joke that if I caught a cold I’d die…and he replied ‘possibly’.  It kinda started to hit home and I underwent another round of blood tests and was then dispatched to Royal Perth Hospital for further testing, because the results were not improving. When your blood is tested, you should have between 2,000 and 11,000 white soldiers to protect you against invading forces…I had 600. I spent a dizzy day at RPH only to be told later that afternoon, that everything have returned to normal. ?????  Good news, I didn’t have AIDS, wasn’t HIV positive, showed no signs of any other immunity disease, no visible active cancers…in fact the doctor said I was one of the healthiest people he’d ever tested. All and sundry were perplexed by theses events, but how can you treat something that’s not there.  So back to Geraldton I went and never gave it another thought.

Moving forward to September 2011

While I was tripping around with Di I got a little cut on my left index finger and be damned if the bloody thing would heal…I also had a small burn, which was healing but ever so slowly.  I figured perhaps just another sign of getting older.  The  ‘Australian incident’ never for a moment crossed my mind.

Now, I’m a pretty energetic soul.  Colin kept telling me I’m hyperactive and should slow down and my neighbours were constantly telling me to slow down and to find a ‘good man’ to do all the work that I was undertaking.. ..but while I was traveling in Spain and France I had a couple of moments where I just flagged. I said to Di a couple of time that I must be having too much fun…and I was, believe you me, but one day I just didn’t have it in me to go with Deb and Di on a day out.  I stayed home and nana rested!!

When I got back and did a little blog for France, I put up some pics of Di, Deb and I.  I looked at myself and thought ‘jesus christ, you look like shit’ and funnily enough on the other side of the world, my family were making the same observations…did we discuss it ?  don’t be ridiculous, we all just got on with our lives…as you do.

My finger still hadn’t healed so I popped into the chemist and got a little cream that sorted it in a couple of days…or did it ?  er, no

I was still feeling weak but plugged on thinking I could rest all through winter.

Then there was the little red spot under my right arm. I figured it for a bite but within days I had a large, angry red ‘thing’ that was starting to go blue/black. I was off to Yambol for a massage and decided to pop into the doctor in Insovo and get a script for some antibiotics. She lifted my arm, winced and told me to get to a surgeon,  I said I was going for a massage and she said absolutely NOT !!

Anyway, what can I say..I popped into the office of a surgeon at the Polyclinic….he winced as well, told me it was septic and packed me off the (thankfully) the new hospital.  I’m thinking “how in the world could something like this go septic in three days ??”

Next surgeon lined up, took a look and said ‘operation’ . I was a little stunned but told him I’d go home and get some bits and bobs and come back.  I wasn’t going anywhere and by 5pm was flat out on the operating table, tits akimbo (again) being prepped.  Post Op, the shit really hit the fan. The drips were coming thick and fast, lots of blood sampling being done and in between the feverish haze I was dwelling in, a small thought of 2009 in Oz popped into my head. And when one of the doctors came and told me they thought they may have created the right cocktail to halt the infection, I knew what was happening…the infection was winning the battle and I had nothing to give.

That night really was hell, but I woke around 4am and I was dry, not lathered in sweat and the blinding headache I’d had for three days had abated but I was completely exhausted. Of course, the next morning the doctors were happier…temp down, sweating, steaming stopped, but I still had lousy blood results.  They sat me down to tell me I had a very dangerous problem, but before he started I asked my translator to tell him about Australia.. He wanted my records, which thanks to some friends and a terrific little doctor that I had in Geradlton, were there hours later. Same problem, only this time I got to see how serious it could be.

He told me I was to get to Sofia to a specialist hematologist as quickly as possible and recommended a specialist hospital there.  Armed with all my records I went to my translator and friends Diliana to get things organised.  I’m glad I did as she recommended what turned out to be a far, far superior hospital and it gave me a chance to find out what as in my Yambol report. They were diagnosing leukemia, which came a a bit of a  surprise, but by this stage I was so sick I didn’t really care.

Next morning I was bundled up in Colin’s car and on my way to the Tukuda Hospital, and we couldn’t have got there sooner. We managed to end up at the back of the hospital and, with the help of a random woman, found the hematology floor.  I staggered into the office of the head of Hematology, Dr Radinov, ( much to his surprise) and while he was asking who I was, how I had got into his office, why wasn’t I registered etc etc, I just slumped in a chair and said ‘please help me, I’m so sick and I don’t know what to do’

He immediately went from official director to caring, warm, concerned Doctor.  I was in a treatment room before you could say ‘jack robinson’ and my treatment, after a few formalities, swung into action.

I was put into a room and isolated for starters…shouldn’t have been near anyone, apparently…I had a terrific Doctor appointed to me, Dr Amene.  He is one of those big, shaven headed, rather scary looking guys and he was fantastic. Once I was settled and he’d had a good chat with me, they bought in something that looked like a hat stand and had about half a dozen different bags handing off it. The next four days were a blur of tramadol, antibiotics, blood and various intravenous infusions and the constant changing of bags and strangers holding my hand and caring for me . But I could feel myself emerging from the darkness and through it all, every now and again I’d peer out through a hazy world and see a large mountain looking down on me. Once I was back in the real world I realised the hospital was at the base of the Vitosha Mountian and it was an enduring and strong image to see in my weakest and most vulnerable moments.

Day five saw a battered and bruised shell of my former self emerge.  Dr Amene asked me to stay an extra night and as my friend Dimitor was bringing some people to Sofia on the Saturday, he agreed to bring me home. I had the extra night of observation and though my white cells were showing some improvement, my red cells had decided to join in the fun and weren’t looking great, hence the blood transfusion. My blood pressure was sitting around the 80/54 mark, which was also an issue. My liver, kidneys and pancreas had also taken a bit of a kicking through the whole mess and my Doc had concerns there as well.  Seems the only organs that sailed through unscathed are my heart and lungs, which is kind of ironic given I hammered them for 36 years with as many fags as I could jam in. !!  They are both in great shape and very strong indeed…at least a little good news  🙂

And so to Bed Land I have come.  I am very ill, there’s no doubt about that.  Like the doctors in Australia, Dr Amene is shaking his head over this. They can all see the problems, but there don’t seem to be a lot of answers.  I do suspect that Dr Amene isn’t just going to shove this under the carpet and hope it goes away…he seems to have a great deal of interest in what’s happening and suggests I should be monitored. I’m  back there next week for a check up so lets see what we can come up with.

The local doctor has been popping and giving me B12 injections and the good news is that my blood pressure has rising to the dizzy, and very respectable, heights of 110/80.  Hes also been changing the dressing on the wound under my arm and that’s coming on at last.

Dr Amene says I’m a fighter but I confess to having some dark moments just now.  Six months ago I was a strong, healthy 56 year old woman working like a navie, taking on everything the world could throw at me and enjoying every second of it, loving my life and all it was giving me. Just now, the trip from my bed to the dunny (maybe 10metres) is really hard work.  This is not for me.  Let’s hope the improvement continues.

My sister Jillian, the same rock that got me through last time, is flying in on the 20th and I know that will bring some sanity into my existence. She’s amazing and I admit to lying here counting off the days until she walks in the door…hopefully I can walk out to meet her, not shuffle to her like her granny 🙂

I wasn’t going to put any of this up here but have had so many messages asking what the hell is happening.  I’ve also been swamped with emails but I only have about an hours working time in me each day( and half of that is spent getting the geese fed and kicking Gina out for some fresh air ) and I’m sorry, but I just don’t have the energy to do individual messages.

There may be stories from Bed Land…though let’s be honest, it’s a pretty boring place even when I’m too sick to be anywhere else.

Ah yes, perhaps there’s life in the old dog yet…

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After the extraordinary day we had at Gallipoli, Di and I had another day to spend in Istanbul and spent it being real, full blown tourists. We did an open top bus tour, which was really fun and saw Istanbul in a completely different light…especially the bridge over the Bosphorus

It was quite stunning…and the lights changed colour all the time.  I did try to take pics as it was changing, but these were the only ones that didn’t look like something from a bad LSD trip.

The trip was a lot of fun and we got to find out things like where Istanbul ladies go to get any extra hair they might need

and the preferred method of travel when moving furniture

We found this bloke trying to entice folk to have their pictures taken with him

but at 5 euros a pop I figured that was way too expensive, so I convinced Di to sidle up next to him so I could get one of him for free

She looks like she’s actually talking to him, doesn’t she…she’s not, but she’s damned good at getting close to someone without them being aware of what’s really going on.  This wasn’t the only time I got away with doing this.  I got this bloke as well

The ‘photographer’ that was working with this guy told me I couldn’t take his pic…a little late methinks as I already had it …

and this guy, who was dispensing water to hot, thirsty tourists, just looked great

One of the last things we did before leaving Turkey was go for a ridgy didge Turkish bath and not in the touristy places…we were told about a real place where the Turks go by a couple who were staying with me ( more about them later) and so we decided to take the leap and see what awaited us.

Hooley Dooley…if you’re shy or have body image issues ( thank god I’ve reached the “I don’t give a tinkers toss” stage of my life) then don’t even consider it. If you want one of the best things life has to offer and want to feel better than you ever have in your entire life, then get thee to a proper Turkish bath house.  It was fantastic…but let me take you through it…

First we had to take everything off…forget about undies or bras, everything comes off and you’re given a Turkish towel to wrap yourself in. Then it’s off the the incredibly hot, steamy room with a huge slab of very warm marble in the centre that you’re told to lie on…by the way, this is all being done by charades and gesticulations …not a word of English was spoken in this place. You lie there and just sweat !!! Even my legs were sweating, which is something I don’t think I’ve experienced before. Di and I were just about dying in the heat when the rather voluptuous woman, who was clearly our bath lady, came in (just in her bra and knickers) and indicated that I should follow her. I felt a little nervous about leaving Di on her own and a little apprehensive about going with this stranger on my own but I figured what the hell…I reckon I was far to old and saggy for white slavery, so off I went.

I was taken into the room next door, relieved of my towel and told to lie face down on another slab of marble. She put on what I can only describe as looking like large oven gloves with a light sandpaper on them. She proceeded to lather me up, and I mean LATHER me up… I reckon all that was showing under the huge pile of fluffy suds would have been my eyes peering out.  Anyway she then rubbed and scrubbed  just about every square inch of me. She turned me over and repeated the entire process on my front, breasts and all !!  She really was amazing and just kinda flipped you over and dealt with you like a great slab of meat. Like I said, no point being shy and retiring here. She then poured buckets after bucket after bucket of exactly the right temperature warm water all over me…front, back, top, bottom.

Later when Di and I were comparing notes, she asked me if I had looked at the water rinsing off me…I hadn’t, but she did and that it was grey…which we can only assume was all the old skin and dead tissue being sluiced off our bodies.

The next thing I was wrapped in a huge fluffy dressing gown and popped out into a waiting area for the next stage, which turned out to be the most incredible massage I have ever had. This woman was small of stature but as strong as an ox, but with that special ability to give you a massage that found all the achy painy areas and dealt with them accordingly and for the rest, just a terrific massage.

When it was all over and we returned to the real world, we both felt fantastic and my skin was gorgeous and stayed that way for weeks and weeks.  The process obviously took off layers of ‘ick’ and revealed nice new, soft, baby skin which I reveled in for ages.  Even now, it still feels better than it has for years…

I highly recommend it 🙂

Soon enough it was time to say farewell to Turkey and get back to Miladinovtsi where my Gina and some guests, Stuart and Amanda, were waiting for our return…

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So…the guests have gone, the house is in total disarray, the country is slowly moving from summer green to autumnal colours, the ground is covered in gold and red and, before I waved my old friend Di Stevens off yesterday, both of us and Colin got to see the first snows for autumn/winter 2011.  Yep, we took a tour through the mountains and the Shipka Pass and the surrounding mountains weren’t just dusted with snow, some of them had a good heavy coverage !! Is this a harbinger of the winter to come ??  I kinda hope so…I do love snow, as long as I don’t have to drive in it, and last winter was, quite frankly, a little disappointing in the snow stakes.

I’m still not back with you in full.  I have a million photos to upload for this blog…can’t have yarns without pics. Though here’s a little taste of what I’ve been doing for the last three months

Two of the most terrific women I know…and we got to spend a little time in France together, which was pretty special. And look at that colour co-ordination !!  We emerged from the house for a BBQ at Deb’s and, Voila !! we were the purple tarts !!

There will be more about that little trip later…

..and I do have a few vital things to prepare for the rapidly approaching winter and then I can dedicate myself to catching up here.  Thank god I’ve got a good memory  🙂

I’ll be back

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and now it’s October

I know I promised to catch up and I will…but first I have to get back home.

I’m in France just now with two school friends, Di Stevens, who’s on holidays and Deb Westerberg, who lives here, but I will soon return to Bulgaria to make preparations for winter and then I suspect that then I’ll have more time than I know what to do with.

For now, it’s three old girls catching up and have a bloody good time. !!

If you’re in Western Australia, apparently there’s an article about me in the latest Scoop magazine…perhaps someone could send me a copy…moxje bi ? (maybe ?)  🙂

I’m off to enjoy what southern France has to offer and to spend some quality time with fabulous old friends…

ciao for now

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and I’ve been so busy, I’ve hardly had time to scratch myself. Again my website suffers and this isn’t really a proper catch up either…just a little  teaser about what’s to come.

It’s been a very busy time indeed and a real mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly…actually, I have to add the very, very good and enjoyable to that as well.

The very, very good is all about trips around Bulgaria with both Colin and my cousin Kerrie….yep, she’s been with me again.  Might have to name one of the rooms after her.  🙂

The  good is a mixture of day to day stuff and getting the contents of my garden preserved.

The bad and the ugly is something that, at first, had me quite angry, but the situation has become so ludicrous that I’ve spent quite a lot of time having a good old laugh. It’s all about an Englishman in this village who needs to get a grip.  His behaviour has become so bizarre that I’ve enlisted a little help…more about it later.

And someone mentioned that I haven’t said much about Gina lately…..what can one say about a large black & white blob that spends her days reclining in luxury as she makes up for all the bad years ?  Not a lot really…she gets love, food, a daily walk and plenty of sleep. She’s happy, she’s content and that’s all I want for her.

I will be back…

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Plovdiv

As long as I’ve been living in Bulgaria I’ve heard great stories of the old town of Plovdiv and the Roman amphitheatre which dwells within.

Colin suggested a day off and as he is a great lover of history, he has always wanted to see the Roman ruins in Plovdiv.  Seemed like a damned fine idea to me as I was much in need of some time away from work, so off we went.

Plovdiv is a terrific day out.  There are beautiful churches, Roman ruins, lovely architecture, great antique stores ( which I avoided like the plague) and just lovely walks around the old city.

Colin’s major interest was the amphitheatre but on the way there we saw some lovely things.  We visited two very beautiful churches, St. Marina and St. Dimitirs.  We couldn’t take photos in St. Marina but we could in St. Dimitir

It was pretty much all marble and very beautiful inside

We spent a little time in both churches and then continued our upward climb to where the amphitheatre was, this time passing some lovely architecture

and eventually we came over a little rise, down a few steps and there it was…actually, the first thing we saw was this

It was a stinker of a day and this little fella was out for the count in the heat and in exactly the same position when we left a considerable time later….but he did move his head, so he was alive.

And right below him …

And what, I can hear you ask, is going on in that ancient piece of property ? Well, they use it for performances and when we arrived it was being prepared for a concert that evening.

It was slightly odd seeing all that technology in amongst this

But it certainly didn’t detract from that tremendous sense of history that one gets in places like this. Colin was in his element and I did wonder if he would ever want to leave.  While he sat and absorbed & enjoyed where he was, I gazed around and noticed that everywhere I looked there was something of interest peeking out from amongst the surrounding environment…

 

I was particularly impressed with this house teetering on the rim of the amphitheatre

with a most interesting backyard adornment firmly ‘tied’ to the side of the hill.

I can only assume that the risk of damage to the amphitheatre below if they tried to move the stone was greater than securing it to the side of the hill…and this in a country that experiences earthquakes !!!

We wandered off back through the town visiting museums, gazing wistfully into antique shops and enjoying all that was happening around us.

There are further discoveries still being excavated and statues being cleaned up

and let’s not forget this famous figure,

carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders…

A great day out in a lovely place and I can only recommend going there to anyone who comes to BG…it’s gorgeous.

I’m off to pick some more tomatoes now.  With any luck I’ll get another entry up before this day is out…or perhaps I’ll just have a great big Nana nap.

Except for a bit of vege picking, I’m not working today at all…Hooray !!!

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Not only have I been out enjoying a little Bulgarian culture, but I’ve also had a couple of lovely days out of the house with one of my new friends…

not this one

this one This is Colin, who for reasons I won’t go into is hanging around Miladinovtsi until he can return to the UK in November.  He’s been doing some work around here for me, which has been terrific and has taken a lot of pressure off. The combination of trying to keep up with the house and the garden has been a little more difficult than I thought it would be…I’m clearly not as young as I used to be, so he’s been a bit of a godsend really.

Anyway, he hasn’t seen a lot of Bulgaria and I have been lucky enough to see quite a bit so, in between working, we’ve agreed that a few days off here and there will be a great opportunity for me to drag him around to a few places before his return home.

His daughter was here a few weeks ago and we had a really pleasant day on the coast at Sozopol.

The weather was gorgeous, and because it was just before the tourist season really got underway, the beach was almost deserted.

The fishermen were fishing

The flower boxes along the old fortress walls and boardwalk were ‘blooming’ gorgeous

And though the skeleton had been removed, I got a good look at the archeological dig on the medieval church this time

Unfortunately, we were a day too early for an exhibition of everything they had dug up from the site…maybe next time.

I had a lovely day in good company. Colin is a very easy person to spend time with and Chloe, his daughter is lovely. We roamed around, we chatted, we ate and drank and for me it was a big fat relax day, something I need to ensure I do every now and again.

Because…everything else is still lurking in the background, the veges, the housework, the garden in general and all the other things that gobble up my days, including the making of a driveway and parking area for my car. But that’s for my next entry. It’s extremely hot and I’m going to have a large cold drink and perhaps a wee nana nap !!

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