Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three times the price of beef

The vet tells me that Milly the dog is seriously under-weight after being away from us for six weeks. Sapphire is seeing a child psychiatrist to discuss her emerging anger about moving across the world and I’m on anti depressants, neglecting this blog terribly.

These are all good things.

Firstly, the pooch. She arrived on Wednesday morning after a twenty seven hour flight that was endured without sedation or food. The thocka-thocka-thocka of her tail against the hard plastic shell of her container was the first sign we had that our furry one was to join us again. “Voila,” the customs bloke said, wheeling her out on a trolley and abruptly departing.

Her container was impossible to open, having been doubly, triply, quadruply fastened with plastic ties commonly used on boxes of paper reams. Customs guy was already gone; another example of a service provider doing the least possible. We eventually flag down a forklift driver who offers us a Stanley knife; Milly’s nose pressing up against the bars eagerly.

The whiff of fear and wee emerges as the door flies open and we’re shocked to see such a bony animal emerge. It’s clearly our dog, but her ribs are painfully visible and the vertebrae on her back protrude like a line of gravel stones. She doesn’t even protest a few minutes later when the taxi driver insists that she be placed back in her container for the drive home.

Secondly, my daughter. Mood swings that include insults, sulking, accusations, heightened versions of old events and heart rending tears. Loneliness, puberty, boredom and fear with behaviour and unpredictability to match. We empathise and sympathise but the lashings are harder and harder to bear.

Our Welfare Officer, assigned by LC’s work, finally shines. This is what she’s good at: people problems, not finding us a good land agent or a bus timetable. She hears LC’s concerns and recommends a child psych who is American and available.

Dr S listens to me, he listens to LC and then he speaks with Sapphire alone. A white noise machine is turned on by his office door so that we only hear murmurings in the waiting room outside. An hour later she emerges. “He understands me,” she says quietly, “and says that things are going to be all right because I’m a smart kid.”

We can see how hard she's trying and I get a small shock when I see her walking around the corner with her father and realise how tall she's becoming. There are bumps still ahead in her road, but mostly progress.

Same with me as issue number three. Frustration and isolation was rapidly turning to despair and self-loathing; feelings that were familiar and unwanted. This time I wasn’t going to suffer needlessly or any longer than was necessary. This move to Switzerland is our life, not a brief holiday and I want to take my full part in it.

I know exactly what medication to ask for and the doctor recognises it. No bumbling French is needed in the pharmacy as I hand over the script. Like beef, the 28 pills cost three times what they would in Australia but I don’t wince.

Two days later my old self returns. Shopping is an outing and not a nightmare. Milly takes to apartment living like a native New Yorker. Sapphire draws this

.......... freehand and sings as she does so. My Achilles behaves itself as it is gingerly tested around our local park and I realise how much we’ve all achieved in a short time when I’m taking a friend-of-a-friend around Geneva and know where I’m going.

That’s all any of us want isn’t it?


Pandora Behr said...

Well done. Very proud of you all. Can't say anything more than that - just glad your head is above water once again. We've missed your sunny presence. Keep strong.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Pand. It's been a much bigger challenge than I thought it would be, but like your recent 'little bucket list' blog, I should write down what we have achieved to put things into perspective.

Sian said...

Hi Kath,
I have been reading your blog for a while and have been meaning to comment. I have lived in Melbourne (now in NSW) and have recently returned from 3 yrs in the UK with a then 5 yr old and 10 yr old. I cried myself to sleep for the first month!! All that change house, schs, wk (once I got some) My son cried the biggest tears on starting a new was very hard. Fast forward 3 years we made the decision to come back more tears and the transition back hasn't been that easy either!! Our dog stayed with grandma when we were away and they love each other so much he is now hers. It all sounds so familiar but slowly it got better until we were so settled at 3 yrs that it was very hard to make a decision to come back. Not least of all the wonderful trips to Europe one of which was for my 40 th a three day trip to Amsterdam. Something I could never have done from Australia. It will get easier I promise.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

Poor Millie - she must have missed you - but at least she's back where she belongs.

I still think everything will get better - let's hope its soon.




Lidian said...

Poor Milly! I am glad you are all together again. And also glad you are taking care of yourself, and that Sapphire is seeing such a good therapist - I can't imagine how hard it has been/is for you all...good to hear from you. I've been thinking of you.

I am not supposed to talk sbout them (ahem) but I have 2 teen daughters and can relate to some of the ups and downs you describe (ahem, again) - and also seeing them walking ahead of me and they are both taller than me, how did THAT ever happen?

Andrew said...

Nothing wrong with chems and drugs if they work. You are still there and functioning whatever help you need. Are you tuned in to see an Aussie win the Tour de France?

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks for commenting, Sian. I remember moving from Adelaide to Melbourne nearly three years ago and Sapphire cried then too....
.... the hardest thing for us moving across the world has probably not been the actual move but the language barrier and the fact that Sapphire has had to wait three months before school starts, which is a long time to work herself up into a state of anxiety. I'm hoping that I'll be able to write a comment like yours on someone else's blog sometime soon :)

Thanks PlasMan - it already is, in a way. We're getting the help we need, slowly learning more French words and spoiling our dog.

Lidian, I figure that if we don't take care of ourselves, no-one else will do it for us over here. I'm hoping that I'll look at my tall young lady and think of these first few months as something we endured and got through together. Thanks for your comment.

Andrew, would you believe that I had no idea about Cadel Evans' victory until this morning? Afternoons (when the TDF is televised here) we're not often at home and, as you can imagine, an Aussie winner (or Aussie news of any kind) isn't exactly the top story in the Swiss media or British (our only English-speaking TV).

Have Myelin? said...

I am glad Millie is back with you guys and that is one incredible drawing!

Vanessa said...

You sound positive Kath. Poor Milly, she will be back to her old self soon. Go Dog Go is a current fav with our two year old. I love it except for the party in the tree page when I have to describe what every dog is doing!!! Would Sapphire be willing to part with her amazing art (signed of course). She has a great talent.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Have Myelin - I thought her drawing was pretty amazing too - it's larger than the cover which shows that she copied it and didn't trace any of it.

Vanessa, it was also my favourite book as a child - I loved the sleeping scene where one dog's eyes are wide open and I *loved* the dog party page! Then again, I didn't have to describe it every night to a two year old but derived hours of pleasure at looking at what every dog was doing....

Baino said...

Whatever it takes Kath and it sounds like you know exactly what it takes. I remember when my mother came to Australia, she was an only child and leaving her family was such a wrench but it did get better, sweetened by a promise from my father to take her 'home' at least every two years. Here's to light at the end of the tunnel.

Anonymous said...

Still trying to figure out which side of Magill Rd Switzerland is.....


The Elephant's Child said...

So pleased to hear of all the positive steps. And wonderful that Milly is there - for her and for all of you. A dog (or a cat) to nuzzle and tell your fears to is a very, very valuable thing. And their powers are underestimated. Also so pleased to hear that you and Saph are getting the help you need. Taking the friend of the friend around was a BIG achievement too.

Cat J B said...

An upswing finally, the family is together and WOW!, Sapphire did amazingly well with her drawing! Best wishes, have been thinking of you lot over there lately :)

Kari said...

I'm so impressed with your pushing through what have clearly been a challenging few weeks. Goodness. I hope things continue to be slightly easier, and your family can start to enjoy the benefits of moving instead of the challenges of adjusting :)

franzy said...

I was thinking about you just last night as I was kicking closed our little shed after getting firewood.

I can't actually picture the scale of what you're doing because it's too too big. Like someone saying "Imagine a millions dollars in dollar coins". It's too much, too big, beyond human comprehension. That's what you're doing now, but you're doing it. You're all actually achieving the feat of picturing a million little dollar coins, every one.

What made me really think of you was a great saying which I suddenly found paraphrased in my head when I tried to imagine your situation:

"Some are born brave, some achieve it and some have bravery thrust upon them."

This dovetails nicely with another little saying which I'm pretty certain came from that incredibly twee Life's Little Handbook or whatever it's called:

"There's no difference between pretending to be brave and actually being brave"

You - Kath, LC, Saph - have all had the pretence of bravery thrust upon you.

And you're the most courageous people I can think of. My heroes.

Well done.

Hannah said...

Well done, congratulations, and another voice to the chorus of pride supporting you here. Reaching out and acknowledging the need for a bit of help is one of the bravest things we can do. As someone who still sees my psychologist every few months, I absolutely support each step you and Sapphire are taking to get back to a place of smiles. A million hugs.

River said...

Happy and sad tears here for you all, Kath. I'm picturing Milly being so very glad to see you all, I hope she puts on a few pounds quickly.
It's possible some of Sapphire's angst has come about because of the speed with which everything happened, from finding out the news, to finding herself in a strange country. But she IS smart, and she'll be fine.
I'm also glad you've recognised your symptoms and got help quickly. It really makes a difference.
And how lovely that you're already able to show a friend around your new city!!
I hope the Achilles continues to behave itself.

Red Nomad OZ said...

So great to see these three potentially negative things turn positive. I'll be looking for a guest post on my blog that shows how life OS actually outweirds OZ stuff like camel racing ...!!

Kath Lockett said...

Baino, we too get 'home leave' every two years, but I'm hoping that my life isn't reduced to a counting down for the next 23 months. Here's to next summer seeing us travelling around Europe!

BS - I think most of Switzerland is on the posh side but there are also a lot of beggars. They (according to the locals) are Eastern European gypsies who have (again, according to the locals) caused crime rates to escalate. We have two who work the traffic lights at the end of our street, holding up cardboard signs and tapping on the windows of cars stopped in traffic. Not sure that that answers your question....

You're spot on, Elephant's Child. Milly's ears have been petted, whispered into and kissed. Many times and she's made a huge difference to our apartment feeling like a home.

Thank you CatJB. I bought Sapphire some modelling clay today - any request for artistic equipment is fine by me.

Kari, I reckon we'll feel settled when Sapphire starts school and finds her place there. A week day routine, home fully set up and weekend events, trips and social activities will then occur. It won't matter that summer has gone and it'll be cold - I'm more than happy to sight see in a big old parka!

Franzy..... you've made me cry. And that's a bloody good thing. Thanks for such an inspiring comment.

Hannah, I never knew that about you - amazing how many of us realise what help we need, isn't it?

River, it gets better every day. French lessons continue and we're starting to recognise the words we've learned being used in announcements, conversations around us and on street signs. I *know* that Sapphire will get through this boring summer and I'll do my best to help her.

Red Nomad Oz, there are PLENTY of 'things that are odd about Geneva' that I can contribute to your blog when you're ready. :)

ropcorn said...

Aww. I'm glad Milly the dog has been reunited with with you all. Too bad about her weight loss though. But at least she's with you guys now and that's all that matters. :-)

Mrs Dump - Adelaide said...

Wow - what an amazing picture - I stand in awe of Saphire's talent! I stand in awe too, of you and LC and the fabulous progress you have made in your transition to Geneva. Keep up the good spirits Kath, and remember that you have so many people thinking of you (even if some of us don't vocalise our good wishes as often as we should). All the best...

Jackie K said...

Hi Kath,
Fantastic all round - well done to you all. How great to have Milly with you too, must be making all the difference. And the psychologist for Sapphire will be VERY helpful.
Sapphire is very talented!

Nicole said...

You think you've been neglecting your blog? I've been neglecting your AND mine! It's good to hear things are on the up Kath.

promotional products said...

Kath Lockett, I visited your blog once, really good blog as well as very much useful information which you have shown here. As I just want to say that I was totally unknown from this. But after reading this I came to know about that.

promotional products said...

Kath Lockett, I visited your blog once, really good blog as well as very much useful information which you have shown here. As I just want to say that I was totally unknown from this. But after reading this I came to know about that.

Helen said...

I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. I hope things get easier for you soon!

My friend Jenni from Footscray CC moved to Arkansas last year with her husband, who had a new job, and teenage son. Apparently their time was quite rocky as well and they are coming home.

I hope you get to stay long enough to relax and be happy and enjoy this life experience.

Helen Balcony said...

Aargh, that was Helen Balcony, not Helen Helen.

Deep Kick Girl said...

I'm glad things are improving. I must say it does surprise me that the adjustment is requiring the help of a child psychiatrist and anti-depressants. I don't mean to say that as any sort of criticism but just as an acknowledgement that it is obviously a much harder process than someoneme like me envisages from the sidelines.

I think possibly the key with Sapph is her age. Will is going through HUGE emotional swings right now and as he is normally such a placid boy we can only put it down to puberty and all those hormones kicking in.

She is super smart and super sensitive so these changes probably couldn't have come at a worse time for her. But it is what it is and you are all obviously focused on finding solutions to the issues you face.

You have come so far and have achieved so much in a relatively short amount of time. It can only get better from here.

Since you don't mention LC's adjustment very much I assume he is taking things in his stride and that all is OK with his new job. Is language a barrier for him?

All my love and best wishes from Down Under.