Blog…

Organisation – How to live a life that runs smoothly…

Lunches, what your wearing, washing put on the night before. Life seems to run so much more smoother prepping everything the night before and always thinking ahead. Another helpful tip is aiming to be places ten minutes earlier, I’m hardly ever late, it’s awesome.

Know when you will be exhausted and plan around it. I’m always at my best in the mornings and tend to be bloody exhausted by the time the clock hits 4 pm. I plan to have all my housework, errands, appointments and that nights dinner prepped in the mornings so that if I need to have a rest I can before I pick my son up from daycare. It also allows me to have more free time in the arvo to play him.

The days my son is home we have a routine that’s similar to a day at daycare and every arvo I try have him fed and bathed by 6pm so that it let’s my night be over quicker as well. I like to clean up after dinner so that the next day is easier. It’s a hell of a lot quicker and easier if I am left to deal with my son especially when he’s completely lossing it. I won’t stand back when my child is cutting sick and let someone else try do my job, if anything it makes things much harder for me.

Before I hang the clothes out I go to all the bedrooms and collect all the empty clothes hangers. I hang all our shirts, singlets, dresses etc so that they dry quicker and I can put them straight away saving time and energy and cutting my folding down by half.

I find writing lists helps a heap with remembering things like what you need to buy from the grocery store and what jobs have to be done. I’ve got an organisation board in the kitchen which is a cork board I pin all my appointment cards and letters to. There’s a calendar on there as well where I write all my appointments on. I walk past the board numerous times a day so if I do miss an appointment it didn’t make it on to the board. I also have a diary that I write everything in. I take it with me everywhere I go as I prefer to write things down so it burns into my brain.

Because of my disabilities, I have an NDIS plan and because I need much less support than what I used to I get my house spring cleaned once a year, all the jobs I can’t do with my impairments get done. It’s a great feeling when your house is clean. My house is always relatively clean therefore I live a much more organised life because you can always find everything.

My husband bought me a thermomix a few months back and it has changed my life! With one functioning arm, dinners are so much quicker & easier giving me more time to sort everything else out. Not to mention it can do almost bloody everything! Sorbet, meals, bread, butter, you name it! My husband would tell you if there was a possibility I could have sex with it, I would! (And I don’t think that’s far from the truth!)

My head injuries from my accident aggravated my impulse, and because of my memory problems I have had to train myself to be organised. Most days now you wouldn’t be able to tell I have any impairments at all. I don’t have freak outs all the time because I’ve forgotten doctors appointments or forgotten to rock up to something I said I would attend.

Life does just run smoother when you bring organisation and routine into it. You may think “Oh your full of shit.” But seriously, stop being so negative, start trying to be organised, push yourself, and start a routine, even if you don’t have kids – start a routine for yourself. You will start to feel better in yourself and things will start looking up in no time – wait and see!

Aquo Xx

Waking up to a clean kitchen is the best feeling ever!
My magnetic meal planner I use as a trigger for what I need to defrost in the morning
My organisation board, I need to spruce it up a bit!

Thermomix has changed my life!

Here’s a little bit on how life changing having a thermomix has been!

Many of you have heard me rave on about Theodore! – my awesome, life changing thermomix but some of you may be wondering what the bloody hell is this thermomix thing she keeps going on about?! I promise I will try and keep this under a five thousand word essay, no promises though! Haha.

A Thermomix is an all-in-one kitchen appliance designed in Germany and sold all over the world. It’s been around since the 70’s, the company is actually owned by a family, not a major corporation, so more personal touches and goodwill is involved. I’ve had one since late 2018, and use it everyday, a few times a day!

It replaces most of the appliances in your kitchen – mixer, blender, food processor, steamer, rice cooker, grain grinder, coffee grinder, nut and seed mill, milk frother, bread maker, yoghurt maker, ice shaver, pate and more. You only need one hand to operate it – that’s why my husband agreed that I should get one, cause let’s face it….. I would have gotten one anyway! Haha.

In my first few weeks I wasn’t overly confident using my thermo, but after a while I was using it to do literally everything! Make pizza dough, make different kinds of bread, ice cream/sorbet, butter, and so many different meals it’s not even funny! – Just to name a few.

You don’t necessarily need all the ingredients listed in a recipe (some have quite a few), you can substitute for healthier options. It was awesome I was introduced to thermomix when I was, I was in the middle of my fitness journey so I was already researching healthier options for all my meals – and the thermo makes awesome snacks that are next level healthy! One of my favourite substitutes is sugar for rice malt syrup (sucrose for fructose). The recipe will give you all the measurements of what you need to add but I have played around with this a bit and only add so much of certain ingredients so that whatever I’m making is better for you.

I can not believe how much time it saves! It’s so great, especially now I’m used to using it more and more, and we have our go to favourites – dinner is becoming faster every time I make something. If my son decides he’s having a velcro day, I pull a chair to the bench so he can help me, he LOVES being in the kitchen! It’s become quite easy for me not having a functional right arm, my husband even uses it! When I first got it I wouldn’t let him touch it – at all. He joked that he uses macheniery worth a quarter of a million dollars but I wouldn’t let him touch Theodore.

Some of my go to favourites (which I will include recipes to below for your convenience) include:-

*** recipes of cookidoo.com.au & the recipe community.

Yes, since I hit the six month mark in pregnancy, I kinda eat anything, I still watch my portion control, but at least with the thermomix you know exactly what is going in your food.

Testimonials from actual people who introduced me to Thermomix had this to say:-

“As a mum of 5 young kids (12,7,6,3 &2) the best thing I have ever done is purchased a Thermomix. With the stresses of everyday life, adding into that studying externally with university, trying to raise five independent and decent humans, keep the hubby happy and all the rest that goes with being a house wife, I was starting to really dread meal times; especially when it came to trying to prepare a meal that was healthy and something everyone enjoyed.

My kids love pasta and pizza especially, so now with my Thermie, I can easily prepare homemade pasta, pasta sauce and pizza bases where I know exactly what goes into them, the kids get to help and everyone is being fed a wholesome, home cooked meal.

Thermie has introduced us all to a whole new way of cooking and to new flavours we would never have tried before. I have a whole drawer dedicated to spices now. My grocery bill has dramatically dropped, meal times are a lot less stressful and overall we are eating so much better then ever before.

I personally have had stomach surgery which limits my amount of food intake – so I’m very conscious of feeding my body as much good food as possible and limiting preservatives etc.

Thermie lives on my kitchen bench, as it is used daily, sometimes several times a day. From crushing up ice to make the kids a slushee, to my 7 year old using it to boil his favourite snack, eggs! Thermie will always be a part of our home and routine. It really is a magical machine that has changed our way of approaching food.” Kirby Guy – Thermomix owner.

If you are the slightest bit interested in the thermomix please get in contact with me! I will try answer all your questions or find the answers. If you would like to come see what it can do, give me a yell – I’m more than happy to show you!

Aquo Xx

Making sweet & sour pork sauce to freeze
Making pasta
Making the process even faster with a pasta machine

How I rebuilt my body – Aquo 2.0…

So there was this one day back in early 2015 where I was so down on myself while still in recovery from my accident. I had come leaps and bounds since that fateful day, but I was the biggest fat ass! As my brain was still healing, I slept a lot, most of the time with Sons of Anarchy in the background to drown out the outside noise. Because of my impulse post accident, I would fixate on certain things that would attract me, my 2 biggest – hot guys, mostly NQ farmers with dark features andddddd Sons of Anarchy!

I got up to the larger size of an 18 which is the biggest I have ever been in my life and I was so unhappy. At the time I was living at mum and dads and had a lot of time on my hands as I was still in the recovery process of my journey. I decided it was time to do something about my weight and how I felt about myself, because no one can change that but you, you have to want it, and I wanted it so bad!

So i went and bought a $99 exercise bike from Big W and as I would watch tv in my room I would get on my bike. I would ride for 20 minutes at a time. I would do this a few times a day and after a few weeks I found my clothes fitting better. I thought “Well this is a nice change, I’ll keep going.”

I set up a little gym on the deck outside of my bedroom with a set of weights, a fit ball, my bike and my walker. I started off doing hour sessions once a day, 7 days a week. I have always been bad at over doing it, but I felt better training 7 days a week, I think it comes down to how your body rests, and at the time all I was doing was training and resting.

I can’t remember exactly how long it took me to drop my first dress size but I remember it taking a while. Once that happened I signed up to Tweak Fitness and trained 3 times a week, sometimes 4 with a Personal Trainer (PT), for 30 minutes at a time. I would push myself almost to the point of being physically sick. When I fell pregnant all my doctors advised I stopped any exercise as they were unsure as to how pregnancy would fit me after a massive accident. It was hard, but I still ate well.

When my son was six weeks old I was back at gym, lucky babies sleep so much! I was also walking 5km after he woke of a morning, every morning, anywhere from 5am to 6am, I was brave enough to do a few sneaky 3am walks, only during the cane season (because at that time there’s heaps of people up going to work). After a few months I turned that walking into running. I eventually would walk a km or so and do a 300m sprint, changing to this made the weight slide off. I would give myself Sunday as a rest day and I gave myself a cheat day once a fortnight, but instead of eating shit for an entire day, I would allow myself one naughty thing. One of my trainers once told me, “If your body has been craving something all day, sleep on it – if you wake up and still want it, have it – don’t feel guilty, then return to living a healthy lifestyle.”

Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand, I slowly slowly changed my eating habits and after I had my son in 2017, I went proper health freak, which at times, gave my husband the shits because of what I wouldn’t cook anymore. But portion control also played a part in me being able to loose so much weight. Before I made a switch, I would easily smash a plate of dinner the size my husband would. I did a lot of research on nutrition and asked my PT a million questions, I attended a few nutrition seminars at my gym (which I loved)! I slowly tried many different approaches (many which failed) but eventually after many months I found what does & doesn’t work for my husband and I.

Changing our eating habits defiantly paid off for me! I lost over 30kg from when I had my son in June 2017 till when I fell pregnant late August 2018 or there abouts. I think the biggest advice I could give to anyone out there (remembering I’m not a PT or anything!) is YOU have to want it more than anything! you wont do it for a partner that tells you your fat (trust me, I’ve been there), you need to want to do it for yourself. My husband would stop me all the time and tell me how he didn’t care what I looked like, and I had the same response every time – “I know. I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing it for me!”

Yes, attending my PT sessions helped me heaps! but you don’t need a gym, or any exercise equipment at all to start living a healthier lifestyle. I read this book – Head First Health Fast by Leanne Hall, it was the kick in the ass I needed to get my head in the game. This was about the time where my husband lost it with the ways I would try to make our favourite meals by substituting certain ingredients with healthier alternatives – like raw sugar with rice malt syrup (my personal fave!) I was getting creative and some things I would make would fail, but the most part is successful. I have always had a passion for cooking, which we will defiantly talk about on a later date.

Things I have resorted to to stay motivated include reading some really awesome books before bed, I will add a list below for your convenience. I wasn’t afraid to message my Personal Trainer and let them (I have had about 5 or 6 from 2015 to present) know I’m finding it hard to stay in the game, I would always receive some inspirational advice, articles etc that would keep me focused. One thing I would not do was team up with anyone for gym or with exercising, if they said ‘not today’, I would cancel and I didn’t want that. Because of my struggles with chronic pain I had to postpone many, many sessions, but I would always make them up. It was so bloody hard but I did it!

You really do have to want to change for yourself, it won’t work if your doing it because anyone tells you your fat, your unhealthy etc. That’s just going to make you feel worse! A massive part is to start by trying to improve your mental state – start changing the way you see things from a negative to a positive and it will help you in a massive way to keep your head in the game.

Pages I follow:-

tweak Fitness

Sharny and Julius

Women’s Health and Fitness

Fitness Education Online

The Healthy Mummy Fitness

Books that have helped keep my head in the game:-

Happy Healthy Strong – by Rachel Finch
Head First Health Fast – by Leanne Hall. This book is amazing! I will so be doing an article on this.
A really awesome book & dvd set – You Can Heal Your Life – by Louise Hay – I will be doing an article on this aswell, it has helped me through so much!

Remember – you need to find systems that work for YOU! If I was able to do it, so can you!

Aquo Xx

Aquo’s Golden Hour…

Since my accident my friends circle has changed dramatically! It went from being friends with the wild ones, the bad asses because let’s face it, they are the fun ones, to being friends with doctors, ambo bearers, firies, solicitors, accountants, financial advisors, business people – you name it.

I’ve become friends with the doctor in charge on the morning of my accident, I asked him if he would write me a piece about what he was confronted with on that morning, he obliged and this is his story – Mum, do not read this! You will be an absolute mess and I don’t want to do that to you!

It’s 5am and the phone rings.

“Hello, doctor? There’s been an accident, a patient is coming in after an accident with a head injury, they’re GCS 3, and the other doctor wants you to come in.”

“Yes, of course, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

I am, of course, not ‘on call’ for the night, but this sort of event needs anyone available to help.

My wife and I have been living in Ingham for 9 months. I’m not popular at the hospital with the other staff because I tend to tell it like it is, which in the healthcare setting can cause friction.

Whenever we get a call like this, the mind starts racing. Do we know the patient, particularly likely in a small town? What injuries could they have? How are we going to manage them? What are we going to walk into? Will they even make it to hospital? Often we get the call, race in only to find that the person has died before arrival.

The physical act of getting dressed into a pair of scrubs and driving allows the fog of sleepiness clear. I think of a line from a medical book, ‘Cautionary Tales’ which reminds us to slow down, drive properly to a call out so as not to cause another accident. I slow down, just as well! Some idiot has thought that 5am is a great time to wheel their bloody motorbike out onto the middle of the road, when it’s as foggy as all hell and visibility is shot to shit. I narrowly avoid them.

Wouldn’t that have been great… one severe injury becomes two, and takes out the doctor going to help the first one…

I arrive at the hospital, not five minutes later, right in front of the ambulance, the adrenaline already pumping.

The paramedics bring the patient in. Their condition is as said over the phone, GCS 3, with a probable head injury, having come off a quad bike.

The GCS is the Glasgow Coma Score, which is an assessment used to guide how severe a head injury is. 15 is a normal person, and 3 is the lowest you can get, meaning the person is completely unresponsive with no external signs of any brain activity; common medical knowledge and medical research gives such persons almost no chance of surviving such injuries.

Yet, the way people in this situation present, they often appear remarkably intact from the end of the bed, with almost no external sign of injury. That is the case here, a young girl, quite pretty actually.

“What’s the situation?” I ask.

“We’ve been called out to the scene, quad bike injury, we think there’s been alcohol involved. Head injury, GCS 3 on arrival. We think her name is Amy Aquilini.”

They say this because having someone’s name and date of birth becomes important for us to arrange retrieval to a larger hospital, and so that we can give a name to the person. Also, if the worst should happen the police will need to attend the hospital and this information can help them get an identity and make the dreaded trip to the family to inform them.

We’ve put this information onto the whiteboard. I am the most senior doctor on the ground and so this is my scenario to run.

The management of someone in this situation is driven very much by a system and protocol to run through, and follows an ABCDE format.

A is for Airway. Airway compromise, meaning that the person cannot move air into and out of their lungs, is very common in this situation, but right now Amy has a clear airway.

B is for Breathing, the action of moving air into and out of their lungs. This is currently being controlled by the paramedic, who is using a device called a Bag Valve Mask over the face, to provide ventilation. I listen to both sides of the chest, and hear air moving in and out equally. This is important, because what we call a ‘tension pneumothorax’ can occur, where the lung space becomes occupied with so much air that nothing can move in or out, and it can kill within minutes.

C is for Circulation, the beat of the heart pumping blood to the body. We check this by measuring heart rate and blood pressure and by looking at the person. These are often well maintained in young, fit and healthy people which proves to be the case here. The heart rate is high, which is to be expected in this situation.

D is for Disability – given the story of a head injury, some form of compromise to the brain function seems entirely likely, and this assessment refers to the person’s conscious state among other things. It reminds us to be wary for an injury to someone’s neck. The GCS is 3, move on.

E is for exposure. When someone has a serious head injury it is not uncommon for other injuries to be present. Amy’s clothes are removed completely. This is no time for dignity. There are some bruises to her right shoulder and arm, but no signs of injury to her chest, abdomen or pelvis. By the time the night is through I will have done things like check for nerve injury to the rectum, and to help the nurse insert a catheter into Amy’s bladder. This was not in the brochure…

I’m then on the phone to retrieval services to arrange a helicopter to retrieve Amy from Ingham to Townsville, where she will get the care she needs. They’re on their way.

It’s about this point where a difficult situation becomes much worse – where everything turns to shit.

The paramedic, who until now has been admirably managing to provide ventilation through the bag-valve mask, tells us that they are starting to struggle to move air in and out.

This can be due to any number of things. Sometimes it is because there is swelling in the mouth or voicebox because of injury, or bleeding. Sometimes it’s because the stomach contents are regurgitating up, which can also be life-threatening – this is literally someone ‘choking on their vomit’ and it’s how Bon Scott from AC/DC died. Whilst I am sure that someone like Amy would consider that fact somewhat cool, it’s not really what we’re aiming for.

I must take over. There’s me, the other doctor, and a couple of nurses. In the big smoke there would be a team of probably at least 15 people to look after this situation. Oh, well!

We need to secure the airway, which means inserting a breathing tube. This is called a Rapid Sequence Intubation and it is one of those things that raises the hair of even the most experienced emergency doctor.

I ask the nurses to get things ready, as I’m busy trying to ventilate Amy. We need the tubes themselves; a laryngoscope (this is a device that pushes the tongue back and allows us to insert the tube), other pieces of equipment that help guide the tube directly into the voicebox, and drugs that will allow us to insert the tube by inducing complete anaesthesia (no pain or awareness) and paralysis, so that the muscles and reflexes don’t prevent the tube going in.

This team is very much unpracticed in this sort of procedure. I am by far the most senior person on the ground with the most experience here, but I’m only three years out of medical school.
The KISS principle applies here – Keep It Simple, Stupid! There is a simple trick to this procedure called the 3/2/1 rule, to simplify the drugs used, based on body weight. 3micrograms per kilogram of Fentanyl, a potent painkiller. 2milligrams per kilogram of Ketamine, a potent agent that induces anaesthesia. Finally, 1milligram per kilogram of Suxamethonium, an agent which blocks a chemical that causes muscle contraction, therefore paralysing her. Similar agents are used in poison darts, another useless fact.

Amy is now completely paralysed and her life is in my hands. If we have made the wrong decision, or if this procedure doesn’t work, she will die right here.

I insert the laryngoscope, which has a video camera attached to improve visibility – we need every little bit of help we can get. I can see her vocal chords. I ask for the tube, but it’s too big. I specifically asked for the smaller size! OK. “Hand me a bougie.”

“What’s that, doctor?”

Fuck. Me. Dead.

Now I have a paralysed patient, who cannot breathe for herself, and I cannot breathe for her without a breathing tube, and this is not the time to tell me that you don’t know what a standard piece of equipment is.

“OK, on the trolley, 20 metres away, to the left of the defibrillator, is a long piece of blue plastic. Please bring that to me right now.”
This direct instruction works better than assuming people know what things are and how to set up for this procedure, as they really should in this situation. I recognise that by far the most important thing to do is to remain calm, and even. Shouting like they do on TV is guaranteed to kill someone, literally, from lack of oxygen.

Amy is blue at this point, from lack of oxygen. Keep in mind that her oxygen levels were low and her breathing was in peril before we started. In the big smoke and in an operating theatre this would have been done in a carefully controlled environment, with a perfectly well patient, with doctors and nurses who do this every day. The odds are stacked up against us.

The bougie arrives. I put the laryngoscope in again. I put the bougie in, which thank Christ sails right through the vocal chords. I ‘railroad’ the tube in over the top of the bougie, and straight through the vocal chords. We attach the breathing bag and I start pumping furiously – we need to get her oxygen now! Amy’s chest starts to rise, and fall, and within a minute her oxygen levels have returned to normal. She is lovely and pink again.

We can hook her up to the breathing machine, finally.
We have fixed the immediately life-threatening problem. It’s funny how the mind works. I remember every single bit of the intubation itself as if it was yesterday, but only patches of what we did before and afterward.

At this point, the retrieval team of expert doctors and paramedics arrive. They’re surprised in a good way at what we’ve managed to achieve. They transfer Amy to their ventilator. The sun is up now. I remember the sunrise. A new day, new hope?

I remember the retrieval doctor barking instructions after a line had become kinked and it appeared as if Amy had no recordable blood pressure.

I remember Amy’s family, particularly the moment Allen – or Amy’s dad, as we knew him then – leant forward to give Amy a gentle kiss on her forehead. That moment stuck out, and to be honest I thought that would be their last kiss goodbye, so sick Amy was.

Did I talk to the family? I can’t remember. I remember going home for a rest, then heading into work that afternoon. Naturally, we debrief. “Back then” the best way to keep up with what had happened to our patients sent to Townsville Hospital was to ‘stalk’ the blood test results. Amy’s treating doctor was a general surgeon and often this means that the person is likely to be a candidate for organ donation. This, at that time, was not unexpected and is what happens to the vast majority of people who have this injury. One medical journal I read even said there was no chance of survival!

I heard that when Amy had to be re-intubated in the Intensive Care Unit a few days later, the team there struggled – with many multiples of doctors and nurses over and above what we had in Ingham, more resources, and in a much more controlled environment – my boss at the time said that was a testament to the job we had done for Amy in our ED.

Then, the news articles. The vigils in Ingham. The recovery, over months and months, that happened, was nothing short of miraculous. The role we had played paled in comparison to the work done by the massive team at Townsville Hospital – but by the same token she probably wouldn’t have made it there if we hadn’t stabilised her. We talk about a ‘golden hour’ in trauma where if injuries and complications are assessed and treated the person has a fighting chance. We caught Amy’s ‘golden hour’.
I followed from afar, not wanting to intrude further on what was an extraordinarily difficult time for the family. Then, some months later, Allen came in to see me for an unrelated matter and we got to talking about Amy. I mentioned that I was there that night.

Then Amy came in to see me, and seeing her alive, well, and chatting to her in person was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and certainly the most rewarding of my medical career.

Since then, I have thankfully transitioned out of being one of Amy’s medical practitioners to being able to see her and her family socially – never often enough!

Her wedding day remains one of the best of my life. Seeing this amazing young woman, radiant and beautiful on her special day, and knowing that if not for what I’d done she may not have been there, is something that I will carry with me forever.

Medicine can be a tough gig, a demanding marriage partner. It separates us from our family, and takes the best years of our lives, our weekends, our sleep, and sometimes our sanity. At times I wonder whether it has been worth the sacrifice, as I am sure most doctors do at some stage. Then I think of Amy, and I know that it’s all been worth it.

I believe in you.

This was written by Stephen Dick, Doctor in charge.

We had quite a small wedding on the Tablelands, North Queensland but I wasn’t going to stand for Stephen and his wife not being part of the guest list! We don’t catch up half as much as any of us would like to, life is just crazy at the moment! But that doesn’t mean their not always in my thoughts. Hats off to Chrissy for being a doctor’s wife – I couldn’t do it! But then I think I married a farmer so that’s pretty much the same thing, just with a massive reduction in wages! Haha, I make myself laugh at the places my thoughts take me.

I’ve decided to post this as there are a lot of rumours going around about that morning, but that’s what comes with living in a small town, people can be real assholes! I want to make people understand that my accident was a major life changing event for me, my family and really, the Ingham community. I believe it will open a lot of people’s eyes to how bad I actually was, and to Aquo’s golden hour!

Aquo Xx

Stephen and I up at the Ingham Hospital meeting up
Stephen coming up to the TTH the day after I had my son

Screen Time…

So, screen time relates to any device, computer, tv you have and how much time you spend on them. It can be recreational – playing games etc, educational – researching online, non – interactive – like watching movies, clips online, or interactive – like using video chat, Skype etc.

For adults, screen time is a difficult thing to put a time limit on, as many people use computers as a tool for work, their phones for research on the net etc. Technology addiction is a real thing, it impacts the same area of the brain as drugs and alcohol, and It becomes an addiction when it starts to impact everyday life – relationships with your children, your friends and most importantly your spouse.

After somebody has a TBI the brain is in need of some serious tlc, it needs to rebuild itself again. While I was an impatient in hospital, I used to just sleep a lot (when your sleeping the brain repairs itself). I wasn’t aloud any technology at all – nothing! I didn’t understand at the time, but I do now, and I’m paranoid about screen time for me, for my son – only being 2 so it should really be limited throughout the day as it’s said to impact on their development.

I have read many books over the years about brain plasticity, and some have been very helpful in broadening my understanding on the whole concept. But now it’s like I only have short term memory, and very long term memory (before my accident). Yes – I do remember certain everyday things, but there is a lot I can’t, so from everything I have read, I have only retained a very small amount of it. I do find it helpful to take notes – I have like a million note pads around the house!

Regardless of my struggles, I wasn’t going to let my impairments stop me from becoming a mum. I was always going to be a mum – I did think when I was a bit younger, but everything in life happens for a reason. Screen Time is a hell of a lot harder when your a new mum, all sleep deprived, some days all you can do is watch things on tv (things that don’t require you to use your brain).

I think it’s all about finding the right balance – At lunch interact with your work colleagues, for dinner have a rule that there are no phones at the table and you all sit there and have dinner as a family. Find other things in your day where you can take a break from technology – when you exercise or play out doors with your kids in the afternoons, and here’s a crazy idea – go to the toilet without your phone!

Everyone’s frontal lobe functions better with less screen time, it’s better for your planning and problem solving. Its a really good idea to make it a habit (and for some I know this is unrealistic) to put down all technology a few hours before going to bed. I found it helpful to write out a list of what I have to do the following day, read books or magazines. It has also helped me get a better, more restful sleep at night.

Even for those who haven’t suffered from a TBI, it’s a great idea for your health & wellbeing to make conscious decisions when it comes to screen time – for yourself and for your family. Nothing shits me off more than someone who sits down for dinner with their phone (yes husband, I’m looking at you!), spend time with your family, talk to them, interact with your kids! They just want to spend time with you!

Aquo Xx

I found this website to be very informative, having a TBI, I wasn’t allowed any screen time until my brain met a certain stage of the recovery process.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth

“That’s illegal you know!”

So, a few weeks ago, my husband, son and I went to Stockland to grab a few things. We parked in a disabled spot near the door as I have a disabled sign displayed in my car. The doctors signed off on this because not only did I break a few of my vertebrae when I had my accident, I also have mild Scoliosis which has given me hell since my younger days.

This lady walked past us (she looked as if she was in her mid 50’s) as we were getting our son out of the car, getting his stroller out, etc. When she was in front of us she started mouthing off to her husband (who looked as if he was over her shit,) “That’s illegal you know!” and carrying on about how we shouldn’t be there and how it was wrong etc. In saying that, looking at me – unless you knew me or really looked, you wouldn’t tell I have any impairments.

Obviously she didn’t even attempt to look and see if we had a disabled sign displayed. What she didn’t realise is what we were doing WAS IN NO WAY ILLEGAL! It was one of the very few times where I didn’t actually do anything illegal! She seemed like nothing but a snobby old bird that has nothing better to do with her time than winge about everyone else and who hates life.

It’s the first time in the five odd years since my accident that I have experienced behavior like that from someone else. So many emotions hit home – First shock, then anger then confusion. My husband and I were both in shock for a while after the incident. Once my brain started working again I mouthed off a bit, but she was too far away from me I don’t know if she heard me or not. I would of run after her and given her a piece of my mind but at 7 months pregnant I can’t move fast because everything is so bloody sore!

The pre-accident Aquo would have gone all Sparticus on her ass! Proper warrior style, add the anger & abuse! I’m defiantly not the same person I used to be and it’s definitely for the better. Not only has becoming a mum calmed me down heaps, but with the impairments I now carry, there’s no way I can risk getting into a fight.

The government has the whole one punch could kill slogan circulating – with the head injuries I sustained from my accident one punch really could kill me. It also doesn’t help that I only have one functional arm. I really can not afford to let myself loose my shit so much that I start a physical altercation with somebody, regardless of weather I believe I can take them or not, and really, I have too much to loose.

I’m still extremely hurt by what that lady had to say and the way she said it. She walked away thinking she was 100% in the right My husband and I have spoken about that event in great detail and have discussed how we can be better people from experiencing something so horrible. Everything happens for a reason, and from this experience I have learnt that we shouldn’t judge people from first sight – you have absolutely no idea what someone has gone through. We are all human, and everyone can be quite Judgemental at times.

People who really know me are probably thinking things like “Aquo’s gone all soft.” I’m not saying I’ve always been an angel and I have never been judgemental of anyone in my life. I could write a book on all the illegal shit I’ve done/attempted in my life and I could teach you a thing or two. I’m saying that through my journey, I have grown as a person, I’m no longer the angry bird I used to be (although you see glimpses of it at times) and I try everyday to be mindful of all my actions. I strive to be a better person without the ‘badass’ hangup. I don’t regret anything I have done in my life because without all those experiences I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I hope as parents, my husband and I are successful at raising our gremlins to be more inclusive of people who carry a disability and not be little judgemental assholes. It all starts with what they see at home. So always be mindful of the way you speak and act when your children are present.

Remember BE KIND ALWAYS!

Aquo Xx

My head hurts!….

So a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a nondegenerative, noncongenital insult to the brain from an external force, possibly leading to permanent or temporary impairment of cognitive, physical, and psychosocial functions, with an associated diminished or altered state of consciousness. There are a bunch of causes, mine was a result of my head colliding with a tree, and knowing how fast my quad bike went – it wouldn’t of been slow! From memory, I’m pretty sure my bike tapped out at 108km/hr.

A TBI is measured on a scale of mild, medium and severe. The medical term to measure this is something called a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) and it runs from 3-15, 3 being someone who is in a coma or dead and 15 being normal. Mine was 3. All my family and close friends came to say goodbye, I couldn’t imagine how tuff that was, but it would have been nothing short of terrible. However, the big man up stairs had other plans for me, there is no way I was going out without a fight, not with this hard head!

THANK GOD my TBI was temporary! I will always have struggles with my thinking, processing, explaining… pretty much anything to do with the processes of the brain. I struggle really bad with my fatigue. I will go on manic highs then I will hit a wall and I will be destroyed for ages! I used to be ruined for a few days, now if I have a rest I’m usually good to go again. My speech also is affected pretty bad when I get tired, it’s like I’m blind drunk. A lot of people don’t understand my struggles and would genuinely believe I was blind drunk.

My dad had Power of Attorney over my affairs, so ultimately it was his decision to pull the plug or not, however, my family would have made a collective decision on something so serious. They were told that ‘if’ I survived, I’d be a vegetable. It would have been extraordinarily hard for my family to make a final decision because they all generally know my overall views, there is no way in hell I’d want to live like that. And then I started to show slight improvements.

I wasn’t going to let my limitations now stop me from having kids. That’s what I wanted the most out of life, I needed purpose – becoming a parent has proven to be the best success in life. I’ve only ever had three serious boyfriends, thank god I didn’t have a child with the first two! In 2017 my then boyfriend (now husband) had a 8lb10oz & 51cm long healthy baby boy! – he was on the bigger scale, both my husband and I were 5lb babies.

My TBI left me with immediate as well as delayed symtoms. I was in a coma from the second I had my accident. My immediate symptoms ranged from extreme fatigue, amnesia and inability to speak. When I was able to start remembering things, I couldn’t use my left leg so I was in a wheelchair until I learnt to walk again. I couldn’t drink water so they had me on this thickened fluid crap and pureed food, which I used to call ‘shit on a stick’.

Since my accident I’ve had double vision, which amplifies when I’m tired. I struggle to sleep well, I have tried everything in the book that could help. Lavender, phenergan, doziles, sleep sprays, relaxation music, classical music, reading, you name it! Doziles I found to be the most affective – an over the counter relaxant (your only supposed to take them for a while to train your sleeping pattern). I go through cycles where natural stuff works like lavender in my diffuser and listening to some kind of relaxation music then that won’t work so I will go back to Doziles.

I found phenergan rather dangerous because I would take 15mg and that would knock me around for the whole of the next day. It was a horrible feeling! And completely unsafe to drive under the influence, there is no way I would even consider the possibility of putting my son in danger deliberately.

My concentration was affected pretty severely, before I had no problem doing a 8-10hr work day, or spend 12 hours operating heavy macheniery. Since my accident however, I’ve really struggled with being able to stay focused for an hour. I had to build this up, there is no way I would accept that being all I could do. I started back at my local gym, Tweak Fitness and that helped me start to transform into who I am today. I was unable to remember new memories, which is gone now and I couldn’t lie to save my life! I would just burst out laughing like a crazy person and you would know!

My impulse and irritability were pretty extreme, I had to retrain my brain in order to change that, although that too is a story for another time. I have only recently been able to dial it right down to mild – where it’s almost non existent, almost. I had absolutely no filter from the get go which has taken 5 years to tone down to an acceptable level. I used to be really bad at repeating myself 5+ times, now I may do it occasionally but only a single time.

Anger, anxiety and depression are symptoms that will never leave me, however I have found different strategies of dealing with each problem. For my anger I started using reiki to channel all my negative energy so that it could leave my body. I wasn’t necessarily angry at anyone, rather angry at myself as it was extremely hard for me to get what was in my head out of my mouth. It was extremely frustrating! It still happens now, 5 odd years down the track, however a lot less and I’m no where near as angry as I used to be. Honestly, being a mum now, I can’t afford to be.

My anxiety used to be extremely bad to the point if I lost mum in woolies I’d break down. It became better however when my son was about a year old it escalated again. I recently went on an antidepressant that has completely changed my life for the better. I go through these waves of depression that since my accident until I resorted to antidepressants has been like the most terrifying rollercoaster you can think of.

Since my accident I have really struggled with people’s perception of me ‘being weak’. I never wanted anyone to see me as anything other than a hard ass, somebody who doesn’t play games, doesn’t put up with people’s bullshit, and definitely people who try to pull the wool over my eyes. Yes, I had a severe brain injury, no im not stupid. I guess that was just my insecurities eating away at me, since being pregnant with my second child, I no longer give two shits about what anyone has to say about me. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Life seems to be getting better all the time! I’m 12 weeks away from having my second baby. I have been able to let go of a lot of my anger which I think reiki has really helped with that, but that’s another story for another day.

Its true what everyone says – life is too short to be angry all the time, to care what people think of you or to live life seeing yourself as anything less than the amazing person you are. I’m so happy with where I am in life now, I’m mega proud of the way my mind & body has recovered. I thank the lord everyday for giving me my wonderful family, friends and the friends have become family.

Aquo Xx

P.s – please take the time to watch the YouTube clip I have attached, it gives a good insight as to the processes I had to bring myself through. 

I was where this bloke was. I had just turned 21, actually, I was 21 for exactly 3 months to the date. I was 10ft tall and bullet proof. It was a lot like the whole humpty dumpty saga, I had to put myself together again. It was much like growing up from a small child in a little over a year. I was the only quad bike survivor in QLD with my extent of injuries.