In June 2014, the man I loved ran into the forest near our home as he did each morning. He never came home. He died beside the road. They say it was a heart attack but now that I know more about Sepsis I rather think he was ill from infections before that day. I will tell his story one day. For me , I was in shock and grief and then in September 2014, I felt just a little unwell. I was alone out in our farmhouse and went to bed for the night. Round about midnight I began to cough up blood and felt rather ill. I have a p;latelet disorder know as thrombocypotaenia and had promised my doctor that if I bled for a half hour or more I wouls call 000. I remember thnking – damn, that is 30 minutes of violent vomitng of blood and I have promised her so I called the ambulance with no idea of how truly ill I was.

The ambulance arrived very quickly but I was down and wandering in my mind by then. I recognied the ambo who knew me as his son’s teacher and he said that he knew ikt was serious when the call came because I NEVER asked for help. I asked to go to our little local hospital and he just laughed a little and said we are going to Coffs. Bellingen could not deal with this. I could hear you rattling from the front gate.

For my family – it was a terrible time. The word SEPSIS was not mentioned but they were told I had a superbug and that no drugs were working to stop it. They tell me now that they were told moost days that I would not survive. Then that if I did survive, I would be very damaged and in high level care for the rest of my life. After 7-8 days they removed the tube but I still didn’t waken not for a couple of weeks more.

Coming back to this world was a fearsome experience. I saw things and heard things. I was not afraid just rather curious and I had a certainty that the Doctor was trying to kill little black ladies like me and bury us in plastic containers. I thought I had walked the length of the ward to complain about one of the nurses. I wondred why they let dogs in the hospital and at all the kuraitcha men flitting round. I could see a jug on the table at the end of my bed and I so wanted the water but I could not move. My son was there from 1000kms away. He said he thought it would be a beautiful thing when I wolke and I would greet him with love and endearments but inatsed they calim I said ” What are doing here you horrid little grommet ?” I would never talk to him like that. I gather that my family enjoyed the silly things I did and said in that time.

I have so many things to say about these years and would love to write more but as it stands I am 68 years old. I have AgedCare and Disability Services in place now and they are making a very big difference. My greathing is labloured. I have been hospitalised maybe 10 times since the intial Sepsis. 3 of them have been 000 emergencies with internal bleeding from an ulcer and the others have included cellultis and weeks on IV antibiotics. I have a walking frame and a walking stick. BUT I am now driving a little. Much of the time my thinkikng is clear but I weary very easily and feel overwhelmed with the least commitment or confusion. I have developd a new way of living that is working well for me. Gentle. Gentle . Gentle.

I will close with one story. I moved to a beachshack by a lagoon near the mouth of our river and surely I did not wish to go on. So I dragged my kayak painfully the 20 or 30 feet to the water where I could drift out to sea. It took me ages because I was so weak and the pain was still severe. I just got it to the edge at maybe 1.am. when a fisherman came along and said ” You shouldnt be trying to get that home by yourself and promptly caried it right back to my shack. I fgure there is NO EASY WAY OUT.

FROM VAN BADHAM Van Badham I wrote the following for his life companion, Lynne: Lynne, amidst heartbreak, be consoled that the man who was your beloved companion was no ordinary man. He was a leader, a fighter, a guru, a comrade, a friend. He was a man of independent thought and resolute moral principle. He was an artist, a maker and creator and a bard in the truest sense. Meeting Izzy as an 18 year old was the encounter that inspired the directions I took in my own life – artistic and political. He proved to me in his example that those who are as selfless as they are motivated have the power to open minds and effect change. He had the rare quality of the true champion – to understand the indivisibility of leadership and teamwork. He was good. He was kind. He shared what he learned with uninhibited generosity, he told a cracking story and he was always prepared to take the piss out of himself. He spoke truth to power. And he loved you, truly. He leaves love and good example behind him as he embarks on his next journey, and so he endures. I am thinking of how he used to treat his terrible migraines by trapping his head in a wire hanger. And it makes me think what I should have realised before hearing this today: that he appeared in my life as some kind of sage, or wizard – a Gandalf or Merlin – grey-bearded, wise to the world, stepping out from the edge of a grey forest at a crossroads, and, smiling, nudging me gently towards my true way.