I definitely have the Ideal Husband and no, you can’t have him ! After 43 years of marriage I can say this with confidence, although it was not the ‘normal’ kind of wedded bliss that I had been expecting. For starters, within a few years of getting married, we moved lock, stock and a barrel-shaped me (pregnant with my daughter Gemma) to the South West of Ireland and shortly after she was born he left to work on an oil rig in the North Sea rotating a month on/a month off, so he was only at home six months of the year. In the meantime I had to cope with three small children, one enormous dog, two calves, four goats, two sheep and numerous chickens and ducks with the nearest shop 14 miles away ! Thank goodness I had no symptoms of my Rheumatoid Arthritis then – or maybe I did, but just didn’t have the time to think about it !
So my Ideal Husband came and went in and out of our lives, though when he was there he crammed all the jobs normally needed to be done over eight weeks, into four. He chopped wood, milked cows, took the goats (in our car!) to the Billy for you-know-what, built chicken coops and sheared sheep and then returned for a well deserved rest to be boss of an oil rig in far off countries. I’m sure a few people got fired who didn’t deserve it!!
I was diagnosed in 2000 by which time my kids were aged 25,23 and 21 and had mostly left home, except for the odd crisis, such as being ditched by a boyfriend/girlfriend when they had to return to mother on a temporary basis till the dust settled again. By this time I saw even less of my man as he became a Drilling Superintendent and roamed from country to far off country working and no longer came home on a regular basis like before. Mind you, I really quite enjoyed being on my own at home because if I felt unwell I could just stay in bed or take my time over whatever jobs needed to be done.
However being on my own meant that whilst I had a hip replacement, gallstone removal, a knee replacement, two broken feet, a broken shoulder and a broken wrist plus a touch of skin cancer, he usually wasn’t there. Mind you he would always attempt to grab a few days home too make sure I was still breathing, but it wasn’t something you could rely on as, hey presto, he was gone again ! During these times of bad patches for me health wise I came to rely on my eldest son Jason and his wife Debbie more and more as they lived about 20 miles away and when I was good enough to go, off I went to visit Pat in whatever country he happened to be in ! I discovered that it was a simple matter to fly to anywhere with the help of the airlines and I got to visit amazing places around the world and meet amazing people.
If he was really busy on a job far out in the Sahara desert, for example, and I was post first foot operation, he paid for me and my girlfriend to go and visit my daughter Gemma living in Far North Queensland for six weeks and unfailingly phoned 3 times a day for an update on my progress ! My second foot operation coincided with the bottom dropping out of the oil industry at the end of 2014 so suddenly I had a full time husband at home – what a novelty after 42 years of marriage !! As I was in a wheelchair, apart from looking after me, he had to do all the cooking, all the housework and shopping which were all whole new experiences for this rough, tough oil man and, what is more, he took to it like a duck to water ! I stand in awe of his competence – he’s much better at household chores than I ever was!
The only thing he isn’t good at is gardening and as I am now not able to remove so much as a weed from our large garden, I got myself another man to do the gardening and he has saved the day. This paragon of all things green has proved himself invaluable and treats our garden as his own so I can thank my lucky stars that I now have two ideal men !!

My lovely husband Pat !
Our garden


If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, you are probably no stranger to having various bits of your anatomy replaced at one time or another and all of these will set the alarm bells ringing when you pass through Security at an airport. When I first had surgery to replace a hip, the hospital gave me a letter stating this fact. I still have it, and to date no-one has asked to see it ! Mind you, at Brisbane Airport my new hip did not set off the alarm and they kept passing me through and through the security gate trying to set it off ! Now with an added knee replacement and two titanium feet, I don’t stand a chance ! I get the security pat down like it or not, but at least my watch which used to set off the alarms at Cork airport before I got RA, passes through un-noticed !
Because I travel so often, I am well aware of what you can, and cannot, take through security. This prompts great suspicion that I simply must be carrying something illegal ! I take off my coat/jacket, never travel with a belt, but just try asking for a chair to take your shoes off with! Oh the suspicion of it all – a granny shoe bomber who has to sit down !
Mind you I am always more than willing to comply being reminded of a young man in front of us after going through several security checks in Istanbul after a bomb had gone off that morning in the City. We were leaving to come home and endured security check after security check . Then at the last one they made us all take off our shoes and lo and behold the young man in front of us had a small knife in his shoe! He’s probably still fading away in some prison somewhere judging from all the armed cops that fell on him and we were pushed on to the plane still with our shoes off – but at least I could sit down in my seat and put them back on !
My handbag was tested for explosives recently in Cairns with one of those long probes with a special bit put on the end. Of course it was OK, though I always feel as if I am looking terribly guilty of something or other. However the lady doing the probe was far more interested in if I had seen Steven Spielberg at Mossman where apparently they we’re filming a war movie with 400 extras and bombing the beaches ! Seeing as how we were staying just up the road from this tiny town with a population of less than the extras, she was finding it harder and harder to believe that I hadn’t noticed being bombed whilst lying on the quietest, most beautiful beach it has ever been my
privilege to lie on. Maybe they were filming the crawling through the Daintree rain forest bit whilst we were there because they all passed unnoticed to my laid back, laid down personage !

(Newell Beach – Far North Queensland)