Friday, 1 October 2021

A wake up call

Every now and then you experience something that stops you in your tracks. You think - is this happening to me? - it can’t be - this could be it…

Two weeks ago I had a severe, crushing pain in my chest. It felt as though there was a really heavy weight pressing down on my breastbone. Unrelenting, intense pain.  I was having a heart attack but I didn’t know it. 

Will you recognise your heart attack?

Two weeks ago…

I need to confess that the pain on Thursday afternoon wasn’t the first. I had experienced the crushing pain on both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. On both occasions the pain went away so I carried on as normal. The sensible thing to do when I had the first severe chest pain would have been to phone 000. But because we don’t want to face up to reality/make a fuss/cause trouble/are human we ignore these warning signs. 

Thank goodness I came to my senses on Thursday and phoned 000. The ambulance arrived, hooked me up to the ECG machine, gave me an aspirin, and a spray under my tongue. A cannula was inserted into my hand so they could administer a pain killer which was very welcome!

The paramedics were so efficient and caring as we drove to the emergency department at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. We waited for a short time outside the ED, all the while the paramedics checked that my pain level was manageable.

The Emergency Room

Once inside, everything seemed to move at warp speed. I was having a bit of trouble breathing. 

Someone said “let’s move her to the resuscitation ward” 

Another person said “No beds”

The Cardiac doctor: “We are going to do an Angiogram here and then a stent if needed.”

I was moved on to the treatment table. 

There seemed to be a dozen people in the ward, each doing their part in organising the upcoming procedure. All the while, the cardiologist was explaining exactly what they planned to do. 

Overwhelming and confronting...

“We will try to go into the artery in your wrist so we can use a dye to show up the arteries and to see if any are blocked. If there’s a blockage we will insert a stent to open up the blood vessel.”

And that’s what they did.

My wrist was strapped down so it wouldn’t move during the procedure, and painted with pink antiseptic lotion. 

There was a huge screen - the size of the biggest most extravagant flat screen TV - it showed large images of my heart and blood vessels . I watched the whole time as the probe moved in through the arteries  towards my heart. Then I saw the stent being inserted. 

Once it was over, my doctor showed me before and after photographs of the problem artery. In the “before” photo, the ink dye was visible for just a short distance. The rest of the artery was so blocked that it was invisible. The “after” photo showed the entire length of the now working blood vessel. 

The blockage was in the LAD artery, the Lateral Anterior Descending artery often called The Widow Maker.  Fortunately for me the other arteries were not blocked. They are not in pristine condition but are not blocked. 

A very firm plastic strap was wound around my wrist to put pressure on what was now essentially a hole in my artery, and to stop any bleeding. I was moved to the Cardiac Care Unit. All the while I had been attached to an ECG machine and blood pressure monitor. These remained in place the whole time I was in hospital. The fixed unit was replaced by a portable telemetry unit the following day so I could move around a little. 


Three days later I was moved to the General Cardiac ward, and was discharged five days after being admitted. 

Now I feel so much better than I did two weeks ago and have started some gentle exercise. 

I am really fortunate that I had a chance to face reality, to call for help and to receive excellent medical care. I have to come to terms with daily medication and ongoing lifestyle changes. 

The big bonus is that I am here to tell my story. 

Some thoughts

  • Do not disregard the warning signs - these not always dramatic - the symptoms can be vague and hard to explain.
  • Take action immediately - rather go to the Emergency Department and be told “You are fine, it’s a false alarm”. If you wait it may be too late. 

NOTE: photographs from My Heart, My Life a guide to improve heart health issued by the Heart Foundation, Australia.


Sunday, 20 June 2021

Lethbridge 20,000 2013 to 2021

On Saturday evening the Lethbridge Gallery celebrated twelve years of hosting the Lethbridge 20,000. I love hearing Breet Lethbridge tell the charming story of how in Europe 20 years ago, he got his big break, and starting his artistic journey. For twelve years he has given back to artists, opening his gallery and holding the annual Lethbridge exhibition, originally The Lethbridge 10,000 , the big prize was increased to 20,000 a couple of years ago. 
The opening event was special since last year the event was confined to a video opening. Since the Lethbridge Gallery has expanded to include the adjoining premises, the Exhibition HD room to breathe making viewing the paintings such an enjoyable experience. 

My congratulations to all the most deserving winners - wonderful inspiring work. All the paintings can be viewed here.

I first entered the Exhibition in 2013 and have been extremely fortunate to have been selected as a gallery finalist six times, and as an online finalist three times. 

This year The Wind Scatters the Golden Leaves is a gallery finalist.

 The Wind Scatters the Golden Leaves - oil on canvas 610 mm x 610 mm
All the paintings can be viewed here

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

#30Faces30Days wrap up

A week into June and the 30Faces30Days challenge seems ages ago. It was such a busy, exciting and inspiring experience. There was a video tutorial each day, with some of the first tutors appearing again for a second session. 

Since each tutorial was almost an hour long, and each portrait could take anything from  an hour to a few hours to complete this entailed a considerable amount of time dedicated to the challenge. 

The videos were posted at the Sktchy Art School website, available from 6.00 am (Brisbane time).. using]The Mighty Network is available for both IOS and Android users,  an advantage since the Sktchy app is only iOS. I would watch some of the video and if I had time do some work on the portrait. The reference photos grade been previously posted on the Art school site so we were able to do a preliminary sketch. 

Sometimes the tutor would start in a different way, such as using the reference photo selecting sections to use in the final work. We learned how work with multiple layers (trying not to get confused) and how to experiment with the many interesting facets of the Procreate app. 

Such a lot to learn and absorb - I know I will need to go back, take one tutor at a time and really master each particular approach and technique.

What is digital painting? How do you do this? 

These are questions put to me recently by a friend when talking about the challenge. She was complimenting me on the portraits I had been posting on Instagram and Facebook. When I said that these were all done digitally using the procreate drawing app, she couldn’t picture how this was done.  Then I realised that for the last few years I have been dabbling in an art form foreign to many. 

Essntially one is drawing or painting on digital device using a stylus or even one's finger.
There are any number of apps that allow one to draw and paint digitally. 

Procreate is in a league of its own. The wonderful talent behind Procreate are based in Tasmania. Their business model is unique in this age of subscription based and in app purchases. It’s a ONE TIME PURCHASE - and that includes EVERY NEW UPDATE - FOREVER! 

Then as if this isn’t enough, the choice of brushes native to the app is vast. (All the tools are called ‘brushes’ even though you might be drawing with a charcoal or crayon ‘brush’)
As with Photoshop, layers are available so each section of the painting can be drawn on separately, and when combined make the finished work. 

Procreate records each stroke that you make to create a timelapse. This allows one to view the process of the painting. There of few of these portraits on my Instagram page which will give you an idea of how the painting evolves. Here is one of them.