Sunday, 24 June 2012


Five months ago my stepfather Jim was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré Syndrome. His health has been up and down ever since. Pain management has been hard to negotiate, he had to retire early, my mum doesn't know if she can ever go back to work, and all of their travel plans are now out the window.

They've been married for - almost twenty years? I can't remember. Jim walked me and both my sisters down the aisle at our weddings. He is the best father figure we ever had and has had a huge grounding and calming influence on our family.

Early yesterday morning my mum found him on his side in bed, kind of blue and hardly breathing. She called an ambulance and they shredded his new pyjamas to save his life.

We don't know if he's had a stroke or reacted to this stupid analgesic pain patch. We wonder if he'll ever be the same again. He's scared. He keeps thinking he's dead and we all reassure him that he's not. He knows that Black Caviar won at Ascot and tells us who's playing in the footy.

He crunched my hand so tight last night and told me that if he dies, to just be ok and keep living. I looked straight back into his eyes and told him, okay, I will.

He's spoken more of love in the past day than he ever has in the past twenty years. It's spilling out of him. He loves us all. And we all love him - everybody who knows him, loves him. He's that kind of guy.

Last night we watched from his hospital bed as a helicopter landed right outside his window. The nurse was solemn.

"It's never a good sign when the chopper comes."

A teeny incubator was wheeled off the helipad. Somewhere there was a mother, aching. Human dramas get played out every day.

The helicopter sent everything around it into chaos, throwing leaves and litter and debris all up against the wind. Helicopters fuck shit up.

We had to leave at 8pm and Jim didn't want us to go. I searched in my handbag and found a red leather shoe keyring that Adel gave me on my last day in Africa. She said it was a token of how much we had travelled over there. I gave it to Jim and told him that if he can see it and hold it, it means that he's still alive. Mum and my sisters promised him that he wouldn't die.

We all went back to mums house and had stir-fry and pizza and laughed. A lot.

He kind of went downhill, today. Tomorrow, answers will be demanded because it will be Monday and all the doctors and specialists better be on the ball. I'm home now but will go back soon. We're aiming for effective treatment, so that he gets better.

Mum and Jim don't deserve this. Does anyone? They've worked hard for their entire lives.

There's nobody to blame. It's just life. It's why we have to travel now, do that thing, make that difference, tell that person. Now, man. Right now. Right now.

(I don't know why I wrote this. I guess, my family could use some good thoughts. Hopefully one day soon Jim will read it and say, love, I was fine all along.)                                  


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