Why We Vaccinate

 “In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.” — Benjamin Franklin

 

We live on a beautiful rural property in Byron Bay, which we farm organically. We don’t use chemicals, artificial fertilisers or pesticides. To support the health of our herds and crops we use natural mineral fertilisers, biodynamics and good farm management. We also supplement our stock with minerals and molasses, and we vaccinate.

People are often surprised that we vaccinate, and that I am the chief officer of those vaccinations. But we live in the Northern Rivers – a lush country with high rainfall and summer temperatures, and every year when the season’s conditions are right ( dry winter followed by lashings of rain, summer storms, high heat and abundant new grass growth) we have an upsurge of a spore-forming bacteria in the soil called Clostridium chauvoei. It causes a condition called Black Leg, which kills healthy young cattle in a number of hours. By the time the condition is detected, if at all, there is little that can be done to save the animal. There are livestock deaths every year on farms around us. All of which can be prevented by vaccination.

Why do I know this?

Previously we farmed organically on a property in Queensland – a very different kind of holding with open forests and hard grasses. I hadn’t even heard of Blackleg, because our farm just didn’t have the conditions for it to be a problem. We vaccinated there too, but for different illnesses, including Tick Fever (Babesiosis – a co-infection that many human Lyme suffers have, including myself. Blood tests revealed this in me, along with a number of other bacterial infections that are also tick and biting insect borne and that are accepted to be present in many other mammals including cattle, although of course not humans! I’d love to show you the Fact Sheet on Borreliosis in cattle put out by the Department of Primary Industries in Australia. It was widely available for many years until the Lyme controversy started to heat up here, after which it was suddenly withdrawn. Sorry, I digress…)

When we trucked the best of our herd to our new farm we had a summer just like the one we are entering into now – lush, wet and hot. And within a month we lost six young animals over just a few days to this disease I’d never heard of. They were the healthiest and best animals we had, and that good health and good genetics did not protect them. We found them dead in the paddocks, after having seem them healthy and strong the day before. We called in the vet, and the vet introduced us to Blackleg and explained how and why it had occurred and what we could do to minimise the chance of it happening again. We’d vaccinated those cattle too, but not for this illness. I was beside myself that it could have been prevented and that I hadn’t researched this better.

So now as part of our herd health we vaccinate. Our dogs are vaccinated too, especially for the highly contagious Parvovirus which is rampant in the Northern Rivers and which kills too many puppies and dogs here in Byron Bay every year.

I thought about whether to post this, as vaccination has become such a polarising and controversial subject. Here in Byron Bay we have one of the lowest rates of human vaccination in Australia. I think the ongoing debate about the number, frequency and manufacture of vaccines for children is important. But I also know that vaccines save lives.

While we keep farming I’ll keep practicing land care, soil health, biodiversity, organic practices and I’ll vaccinate.

Take care of yourself, and each other,

Much love, Nicole  xx

Crying Over Sushi

Me, driving!

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?” 
~  Erin Hanson

 

Yesterday was quite a remarkable day for me. In the morning I drove to the other side of town for a meeting with an illustrator who’s joining my team. We’ll be working on a few projects together, including a tarot deck, oracle cards and a fairy book. Squeeeeeeee!!!

From there I drove to a supplier to pick up a few things. Then I was STARVING and also quite urgently needing to pee, so I drove a little further to a shopping mall at Carindale where I was able to use the rest rooms and then eat some lunch.

Lunch was slightly delayed though. As I wandered the huge mall, trying to orient myself and find a lunch spot I saw a woman coming towards me, crying and in obvious distress. She stopped me to ask me where the bathrooms were, and as I touched her arm to ask if she was okay information and images flooded through me. She had just been told that her Nana had died. A lady who had brought her up, and been a steadying influence for a dysfunctional family.

“I’m so sorry about your Nana,” I said to her without thinking. “She loved you very much.”

The woman lifted her head in panic and stared at me. “How do you know that?”

“I’m psychic,” I said. “Sometimes I just know things.”

The woman began crying harder so I led her over to a bench and we sat down together.

I sat and waited as she cried. She needed someone with her, and I knew it was wrong to try and comfort her; she needed to feel her feelings.

Finally she calmed and asked me about a necklace I was wearing. It’s my meditation mala I made for my recent Temple of Light retreat. I explained that each crystal represented a student, and that the final few crystals represented my family, my community and the world. I then took my mala off and showed her how I used it to meditate and pray for them all twice a day.

“Could you pray for my Nana?” she asked me.

So I held her hands and we sat in the middle of Carindale with our heads bowed and our eyes closed and I prayed aloud for her grandmother, and for this woman and her family, and I asked for her Ancestors and Angels to gather around them and watch over them all.

After which we talked about death and souls and love, and how souls and love are eternal. Finally comforted and okay the woman thanked me. We hugged and then went our own ways. I’d never even learned her name or given mine.

A few minutes later I was sitting in a little corner of a sushi restaurant, watching the plates come towards me in an endless stream of yumminess. Now I began to cry. Not over the events with the distressed woman – anyone who knows me will tell you that my daily life inevitably looks like that. I’m here to be of service. My door is always open and my light is always on. Somehow, people find me when they need me. No, I wasn’t crying about that. I was crying about freedom.

I was sitting on my own in a sushi restaurant. I had driven myself from one side of town to the other, I’d merged with other cars on the freeway, I’d negotiated traffic, I’d parked the car, done hill-starts in a manual car on a steep road, visited places of business, enjoyed a fruitful design meeting about projects I had shelved several times due to poor health, and now I was in a fancy shopping mall buying myself lunch. After which I would drive myself home. ALL ON MY OWN after ten years of relying on Ben to drive me almost everywhere, and for the past five years of having been almost a complete prisoner to illness that had stopped me driving.

I was free. And it felt like a miracle.

After lunch I drove myself home and immediately rang my sister to share the adventures of my morning. Later that afternoon I drove to my elderly mother-in-law’s to drop off some groceries, make her dinner and keep her company. It was a very full day indeed.

Wow.

That’s all I have for yesterday… Wow. I got my life back. After years of suffering all kinds of horrors due to Lyme disease I am finally well enough to reclaim my independence.

Wow.

Thanks for sticking by me as I’ve walked this long road. I’m not done yet, but I’m well on my way. I think that deserves a few tears at a sushi train!

Sending the biggest love and hugs your way, Nicole  xoxo

PS –  if you want to join me for the last retreat of the year you can find out more here: Soul Sanctuary – Working With Crystals. But it’s almost full, so please act quickly. I won’t be running this particular retreat again any time soon, so this is your one chance for this one, and it’s going to be AMAZING!

Meditation mala and a happy driver!

 

 

It’s crowded here right now…

“Nurses dispense comfort, compassion, and caring without even a prescription.” ~ Val Saintsbury

 

While I’m busy on bed rest just now I’m being very well looked after.

Harry and Rufous take turns to stay with me during the day.

Except for nap time, when we all bunk in together.

There’s no chance of me moving. I’m well secured to the bed by their heavy heads.

During the night they are there beside me every time I get up (which is lots due to my UTI still not resolved).

I feel very loved and cared for.

I still don’t seem to have much energy and tire after the simplest activities, but I can finally see some small improvements, so I’ll keep resting and following doctors’ orders.

June is a fabulous month for attending to our own wellbeing. I hope you’re carving out some time for yourselves too. Your health and happiness are important. Please don’t play second-best in your own life!

Biggest hugs and love to you all,

Nicole <3 xoxo

 

 

Superbugs: My First Real Taste of Fear

Pretty as a child’s picture, but not fun at all! ESBL E. coli Image from www.scitechdaily.com

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
~ Frank Herbert, Dune

 

Wondered why I haven’t been blogging this past fortnight?

Last year, in the aftermath of major surgery, I became infected with a UTI (urinary tract infection). You can read more about that here. I had a catheter at the time while my bladder healed from a tear and it seems that this is how I picked up this little bug. A hospital-acquired infection.

No biggie, I thought back then. A simple round of antibiotics and it will be fixed.

Alas, no. This particular infection, ESBL E. coli is a superbug. In other words my little infection was antibiotic-resistant. It was okay, I was assured. There were still antibiotics that would work.

I was given oral antibiotics in hospital and then more when I got home. Apart from being slow to clear the infection, these particular antibiotics also caused me vision loss. Ocular toxicity and crystals forming in the back of my retina mean that even now my vision hasn’t returned to normal, although it is 80% better than what it was in October last year.

After the vision loss I decided to step away from my specialists ( a gynecologist and a urologist) and work with my fabulous local doctor who is also my acupuncturist. Using diet, chinese herbs, IV Vitamin C infusions and acupuncture we finally got my bladder infection sorted, my eyes improved and me feeling really good again.

Hooray. I beat the superbug! I went off on holidays and ran at life full tilt. It felt marvellous.

Until late March when I became infected with Shigella, a nasty gastrointestinal bug that laid me out flat and totalled my already-compromised immune system. (I have late-stage Lyme-disease. It complicates everything.)

My UTI flared up again, and my local doctor took a urine specimen. It was Easter Thursday, and we didn’t expect a result quickly. But we got one on Easter Saturday. It was the same superbug – ESBL E. coli. No worries my doctor said. It’s resistant to quite a few oral antibiotics but there are some it has sensitivity to. We’ll get you on them right away. And he did.

I took a first course and then a second, but I wasn’t noticing much difference. In fact I was beginning to feel worse.

We took a second specimen and discontinued the drugs.

This infection felt different to the one I had in hospital in 2016. Back then I was pissing blood and tissue and was in complete unrelenting misery, needing to pee every ten minutes and then only producing a bloody dribble. This time my urine was cloudy, and my entire lower pelvis ached but although I felt awfully uncomfortable I didn’t feel like I needed to pee constantly. Instead I felt like something was about to burst inside me. Car rides over bumps were agony, and I couldn’t even bend down to trim my toenails because of the pressure it put on my bladder. My back ached, and I couldn’t sit or lie comfortably.

On Friday 28 April, the night before my retreat, my doctor called me at home, quite late. I still had the superbug. It was no longer responsive to any oral antibiotic. He’d consulted an Infectious Diseases expert about what to do next.  I needed to report to hospital early the next morning for IV antibiotics. One big dose should do it and then I’d be able to head to retreat as planned. Important, seeing as I was running it! And just to be safe I’d have a second dose on Monday lunchtime while everyone was on a break.

Getting ready for my IV antibiotics and finding it hard to believe that things had escalated to me needing to go to hospital to be treated.

But I didn’t feel better from my massive IV antibiotic hit. I tried not to panic and focused on other things.

Monday morning my doctor rang me early. I was in my room, getting ready for breakfast before a big day of teaching. My lab work showed that my superbug was now resistant to this IV antibiotic too. I was going to have to be admitted to hospital and try a new antibiotic, very strong, and given in infusions eight hours apart for five days.

My wonderful PA Dana and I madly restructured the course to allow me to be a hospital inpatient from late every afternoon until mid-morning the next day, then duck back to run the retreat in my seven hour window of free time.

We coped okay, but the drugs made me feel even more awful.

Resigning myself to being in hospital in the middle of my retreat

On Tuesday morning just as I was about to head back to my retreat the Duty Doctor came racing into my room. I couldn’t leave. The superbug was now no longer responding to the latest drugs. There was only one real option left. I was to be given a new drug straight away. My own doctor kept talking to the Infectious Diseases specialist, and I was given incredible care by the staff at Byron Central Hospital.

We rolled onto the final option, with the same regime of an IV infusion every eight hours over seven days. Retreat finished midday on Thursday and my husband Ben raced my back to hospital to stay. No more gate passes for me!

I’ve been really ill before. I’ve had some very big scares. But nothing compares to this one.

As Ben drove me back to hospital after my retreat concluded I realised that even after a full week of IV drugs I still wasn’t feeling improvement. I was struck with a sudden thought. There weren’t many things left to throw at this infection. It was a sobering moment. My darling husband. My precious pups. What if there was no more time? If things went downhill there was no time left to finish my memoir or my pirate tales. No time to go to the places I had wanted to travel to. No time to finally be well and just hang out with Ben. Or to go do yum-cha with my sister. Or go listen to my brother’s band in some Tasmanian pub on a Friday night.

Byron Central Hospital – best staff ever!

It took until Sunday night before my symptoms went from escalating to turning the corner. By that stage I was also taking a drop of Frankincense essential oil on my tongue every ten minutes. When my symptoms began to remit I took it back to half-hourly, and then to hourly. I’m not ashamed to say that I also called on God, my Ancestors, my Guides and on the healing energy that my students and friends were sending me.

Somehow, things finally went in my favour.

I’m home now. And I’m feeling wrecked from the enormous stress and quantity of drugs I’ve had to subject my poor body to. On doctor’s orders I’m on two months of rest to build my immune system back up. My next retreat has been postponed until September. We’ll give you more details on that soon.

 

Right now every bladder twinge, every burning sensation or cramp makes me wonder if we killed it. Or if this damned bug still lurks inside me, waiting for me to drop my guard. Something still doesn’t feel right. I’m trying not to worry about it. But of course, I am.

During the day I’m fine. But at night my dreams are all nightmares where the infection was never completely cleared and when it flares up again there are no more drugs and I die.

Suddenly, all that talk about antibiotic-resistant bacteria being the major threat of the future just got personal and very, very real.

 

So, apart from looking after yourselves, what can you do to make sure you don’t end up where I have? Eat well. Rest enough. Get some sunshine and some exercise. Only take antibiotics when prescribed by a doctor, and take them exactly as directed. Wash your hands well after going to the bathroom and before preparing or eating food. It’s simple basic hygiene but it helps enormously to stop the spread of infection. Probiotics and fermented food help too, by keeping your gut health strong. Ladies, when using the bathroom wipe from front to back to stop bacteria from your bowel potentially ending up in your urethra and bladder. If you’re immuno-compromised don’t take risks. Be extra vigilant with your hygiene and don’t be afraid to wear a mask and to use gloves or hand sanitiser.

And whatever you do, don’t get Lyme disease. Especially in Australia.  But that’s a whole other story…

The beautiful waterlillies some of my students brought me during my hospital stay.

Blogging Gone Bad – Why I am taking a break for a few days…

“I find that the best way to cope with life’s difficulties is to surrender to what is. Don’t fight it. Flow with it.” ~ Nicole Cody

Hi Lovelies

I’m pecking out these words left handed from my deluxe overnight accommodation in Byron hospital.

Yes, I am still running my retreat. Except at night where I am now popping down to hospital every evening to stay overnight to receive IV antibiotic infusions to combat the nasty multi-drug resistant superbug in my bladder which has become quite a serious situation.

Not ideal, but we are making it work. Blogging is hard though.  I am now one handed and typing this has taken a stupid amount of time so I will resume blogging next week when my IV line comes out.

Sorry, but it’s just too hard right now.

I’ll pop some little video updates on our facebook page until then.

I love you heaps.
Make the most of these incredible May energies,

Nicole xx

Science-ing Our Way Back to Health!

Image from www.hdwlp.com

“Molecular biology has shown that even the simplest of all living systems on the earth today, bacterial cells, are exceedingly complex objects. Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, weighing less than 10-12 gms, each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the nonliving world.”
~ Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory In Crisis

 

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that Ben and I came home from our overseas holiday and then promptly went down with the worst gastro bug ever.

This wretched bug has defied all normal treatment. And all of the treatments thus far have involved herbs and drugs which have also been causing major lyme die-off for me, which is awesome, but also awful. I’m exhausted from disturbed nights and no food staying in me long enough to be absorbed and do some good. I still have fevers, stomach and bowel pain, cramping and bloody stools. 🙁  And now itchy skin, arthritis, stinging wee and itchy sore eyes. It hasn’t been much fun around here.

Thankfully late yesterday our pathology tests finally gave us a definitive diagnosis of an exotic form of shigella, a treatable bacterial infection, which attacks the colon and if it becomes embedded like ours has, cause all kinds of complications – and now needs to be bombed with antibiotics. Antibiotics which were my personal horror drugs during my extensive lyme treatment.

So we started our new drugs last night and have five days to go.

Yay for pathology and answers and treatment.

I have profound respect for the powerhouses that bacteria are, and just how much havoc these little critters can wreak. And I’m glad that Now I can finally evict this lot and get back to normal life again.

Hugs and love, Nicole <3 xx

PS – on a very happy note it looks like we may have found a little brother for Harry – a young red cattle dog rescue pup. We’re just waiting for his final vet checks etc so we’ll keep you posted about that!

Choosing Your Perspective

flowers from my garden

“If we are always arriving and departing, it is also
true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”
~ Henry Miller

 

I have never been much good at arranging flowers. I’ve never had the eye for it.

That is, until I found myself suddenly vision-impaired as a side-effect of some medication.

Usually my friend Christine arranges flowers from my garden for me when she comes to clean my house. It’s such a simple thing, but her arrangements always give me so much pleasure. Whenever I tried to create an arrangement of my own they never looked as pleasing as Chrissie’s.

While I have been in the city, recovering from surgery, there have been no flowers in our little farmhouse. So now I am home I decided to have another go and do it myself.

It was easier this time. Everything is blurry, so all I had to do was cut some blooms from the garden, choose a vase (an old teapot!) and then begin. I found myself arranging them by placing a few taller flowers and then filling in the holes with colour. It became all about the colour rather than the individual flowers or their shapes. It became about emotion and flow rather than about getting it right, and suddenly I had a vase full of flowers that spoke to my heart.

All I’d needed was to change how I saw things.

It’s amazing what a simple change of perspective can do for you.

roses and gardenias

These flowers on my kitchen windowsill are in honour of my friend, Kate, who passed away 6 years ago. Every year on October 26 I pick the first gardenias for her. This year for the first time there was a red rose too. I felt that shift from grief to acceptance. I still miss her madly but I walk this world with the ghosts of so many departed loved ones at my side now that it has become oddly comforting.

 

I still can’t see very well (I have about 20% vision in one eye and 50% vision in the other) but I am back doing most of the things I always do – with some necessary modifications. I’ve also had some bonuses. As I watched a wedgetail eagle soar above our farm yesterday I realised that the giant bird left a momentary energy trail in the sky, which I could see as a river of colour behind it, mapping its flight path through the sky. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

This doesn’t mean that suddenly I am okay with vision loss. It’s been incredibly hard. At least once a day I teeter at the edge of a dark deep hole. It’s only recently I haven’t fallen in several times a day. Still not a day goes by that I don’t shed a quiet tear or become momentarily swamped by misery. Truth is, I would much rather have my sight.

But crying and feeling bad doesn’t help. It doesn’t solve anything. And after a while it just gets boring. It is what it is, and adapting works better for me than stubbornly resisting what is and being only okay if it all changes back to how it was before.

I do my best to focus on what I can do. I look at how I can adapt and keep moving forward. I search out alternatives and new solutions. I change my paradigm. Looking from a different perspective always helps. It’s one of my best coping skills.

How about you?

Where in your life right now would you benefit from a perspective shift?

Lots of people have been telling me how panicked they are, or how regretful, that this year is almost over and they never got done what they’d hoped to. You can keep looking at life from that perspective, but it essentially means that you give up on your cherished dreams and outcomes. It’s almost over – I’ll stop trying. It’s almost over – there’s no point in even starting.

What if you change that perspective? There are two months left until year’s end. That is time enough to create change and to forge a different result for yourself.

If you’d like to join us for a month of dedicated perspective-shifting and outcome creation, sign up for #GeShiDoMo – our November-long program for creating and completing goals – and finish 2016 strong. I’ve designed this program so that if you are really stuck you can ease back into momentum again. There are choices that allow for all kinds of goal-setting and achievement, and a special category for those of you who actually need to have less DOING and more BEING in order to find a path back to self-care and life balance.

There is always time to change our perspective and try life from a new angle. I know you’ll be glad that you did!

Sending much love to you, Nicole <3 xx

flowers from my garden