Russ

Russ’ Barefooter story

Now you may or may not have run into Russ at the clinic. If you have you will know about it. The pure Joie de vivre that comes from him lights up any room. Crazy cool cars and trucks, weekends in the bush, adventures with the incredible Mandie and all while being open and honest about Mental Health. We love a person with depth and you know Russ has it. Read on and learn a bit more, you’ll be a little envious but a lot inspired 🙂

Russ you often spend weekends working on your property at Croftby. Tell us a little about your bit of dirt out there!

We have 40 acres at Croftby in The Scenic Rim. It is super quiet and set back into the hills a little. We badly need rain out there at the moment. Only last week I saw 2 trees fighting over a dog!

Farm life

There are 10 spoilt cows on our land. We treat them like our own but they belong to ‘the farmer down the road’. We foolishly named some of the recent herd. “T-Bone”, “Sausages” and “Rissoles” were our favourites. We believe they now look similar to their names…

Barefooter story

Another frequent getaway spot for you is Rainbow Beach. What should we know about Rainbow? And what about it do you love?

Rainbow Beach is my ‘happy place’. I have been holidaying there for 35 years. I love the sun, the beach and the beauty of Double Island Point. We travel there up to 6 times a year. We enjoy flying with Rainbow Beach Helicopters and often ride with Rainbow Beach Horse Rides. There truly is nothing quite like riding a horse on the beach. I have had beach vehicles all my life and never tire of driving the ‘sand highway’. We restored a VW Kombi a couple of years ago and adopted the Rainbow Beach theme for the car.

Kombie

Your trucks and vehicles are a hot topic of conversation in the waiting room. What’s your favourite car you’ve owned?

The Toxodon Truck was my special project. With 24 forward gears and huge 37” tyres, it was unstoppable on the beach. I’m particularly proud of the graphics applied to the truck. It was certainly unique. It held 6 people, 200 litres of water, 110 litres of fuel and you could winch from either the front or rear of the truck.

Kangaroo point

We see the DESCO logo on the truck. What is that?

I have worked at Desco for 38 years. It is a Workplace Supplies company. My parents started the business in 1976 and joined them after completing my university degree in 1982. I employ a small team, we work hard, but always make sure we have fun! So I am apparently the best boss in the world…

Desco

What’s 5 Fun Facts about you?

  1. I can get a match out of a matchbox and light it with one hand.
  2. I have a photographic memory for phone numbers and part numbers.
  3. I was ‘in love’ with Lara Bingle before she became famous. (When I married Mandie, she allowed me just one framed photo of Lara for my office wall.)
  4. I have a Bachelors Degree in Landscape Architecture.
  5. I am an identical twin and was born and raised in Tarragindi. There was another set of twins born and raised in Tarragindi at around the same time. Lyn and Sandra Sully.
Identical twins

Now we know that you are an advocate for speaking honestly and openly especially about Mental Health, could you share where that comes from.

I had my last alcoholic drink on my 55th birthday in March of 2015. I had battled depression for 11 years and used alcohol to cope with my life’s journey. Looking back, I had always had issues with substance abuse. I am genetically predisposed to alcoholism and addiction. These last 5 ½ years have been the happiest of my life. My disposition is almost entirely due to my sobriety. Life is different, my perspective is different. My favourite Instagram hashtags are #soloved, #soblessed, #sograteful.

So blessed

The amazing Kate – lives life to the full and speaks up for those who need it (including the bees!)

Kate is a classic Barefooter… so friendly and lovely to have at the clinic and so many amazing stories to tell. We love that she speaks openly about Mental Health and advocates for people getting the help they need. We love when she comes to the clinic there is always laughter, especially when her dog Roxy comes along too! With all the amazing things she does we didn’t even get to ask her about her travels but made sure their were some photos in there 🙂 Questions by Caitlin

1. You wear many different hats, including being involved with Beyond Blue. Tell us what that looks like and why in particular this charity is important to you?

Yes, I do wear a lot of hats, it keeps life interesting. I am very honoured to be on two Project Steering Committees for Beyond Blue and love being involved in the great work they do to support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live. My first PSC was Be You, a program that provides educators with knowledge, resources and strategies for helping children and young people achieve their best possible mental health. And, early last year I joined another of their fantastic projects to roll out The Way Back Support Service to more sites across the country, which supports people (for up to three months) who have attempted suicide or experienced a suicidal crisis.

In 2001 I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety which was extremely debilitating, I couldn’t work, couldn’t leave the house on my own and many days I couldn’t leave my bed. Without the support of my husband I am not sure that I would have made it through those really tough times. Thankfully, I got professional help and slowly got back my life. Over the past 20 years I have worked very hard to live a happy life and healthy life and a key to that is using my experience, skills and knowledge to help others.  

Kate and Rob… with guest appearance by Roxy

2. One of your other roles is with the UQ Human Research Ethics Committee – can you tell us more about that and how you got involved in it?

One of my amazing neighbours is doing her thesis and was complaining about having to submit a large and somewhat painful application to have her research proposal assessed by an ethics committee. I didn’t know anything about this so asked her more…it sounded very interesting to me as I’ve always been interested in philosophy, morals, ethics and human behaviour. So, I rang the number on the Ethics Committee webpage and spoke to the Coordinator who after looking at my CV invited me to join the Committee. So, the Committee’s job is to protect the mental and physical welfare, rights, dignity and safety of participants of research and minimise the risk of harm arising from research studies involving humans. I love it! I learn something new from each research proposal and even more from the discussions that our diverse committee has.

3. Beekeeping is one of your many hobbies. What is involved in keeping European honeybees and harvesting honey?

Bees are amazing and it’s so exciting how the ‘plight of the bee’ has become a passion for so many people across the globe. I have been fascinated by bees for decades and got our first hive about 7 years ago with the help of bee-mentors (Gordie and his Dad, Don). Our apiary has grown to six;  the last being a successful first attempt at a split; 2 were given to us because the owner couldn’t take care of them; 1 was a swarm that we caught; and the other two we purchased as nuc’s. It is a lot of work in the warmer months starting in spring to prepare for a busy summer, and slows by the beginning of winter when there’s less nectar flowing.

Sarah beekeeping
Kate teaching a friend’s daughter about bees

Harvesting honey is my favourite part of beekeeping because I get to admire up close the amazing honeycomb the bees have built and find out what this harvest is going to taste like. You may not realise but the honey tastes slightly different depending on what is flowering at the time, even in my backyard on the side of Mt Coot-tha, the honey tastes and looks different each time. Harvesting takes a full day for us, with a few rest breaks because it’s physically hard work. We collect the frames from the hives, use the hot knife to take off the capping, then spin the frames, then strain and store the honey in large buckets until we’re ready to bottle. 

Interesting Bee Fact: Australia is one fo the few countries in the world to remain free of varroa mite, which if they become established in Australia, our healthy population of honey bees and the pollination services they provide could be reduced by 90-100%. 

4. You have a condition call fibromuscular dysplasia which can effect a variety of systems in the body. How has it impacted you and what would you like the general public to know/understand about it?

Fibromuscular dysplasia, or FMD is a rare medical condition which creates abnormal cellular growth in the walls of arteries, most often renal and carotid. My FMD is in both carotid arteries and looks like a beaded necklace rather than the smooth straw appearance they should have. It is most common in women between the ages of 40 and 60. Complications and symptoms of the disease include aneurysms, dissections, high blood pressure, strokes/TIAs, headaches, pulsatile tinnitis as well as many other yet to be researched symptoms that are known throughout the FMD community.

I discovered I had it when I temporarily lost peripheral vision in my left eye which as you can imagine was quite frightening, although not as frightening as finding out that you have an incurable disease that is virtually unknown. I am blessed to have very few symptoms with medication and careful management of my health and stress. I am working on a book about my experience with FMD to try to raise awareness of the disease as we are in desperate need for research on the topic, so much is unknown and very few medical practitioners have even heard of it. I am extremely excited that world renowned FMD specialist, Professor Jason Kovacic has returned to Australia from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, to further his cardiac research at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Exciting times ahead.

New Zealand adventure! (co-pilot!!!)

We love reading and sharing Barefooter stories – if you would like to read others CLICK HERE

Lara – A Barefooter story of life, lungs and laughter!

As Donate Life week is at the end of this month we’d like to share a Barefooter story of Lara who is an organ recipient to raise awareness of the awesomeness of Organ Donation. We usually write a little intro but I think I’ll leave it to Lara to introduce herself. Questions by Sal

Lara! You superstar – could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your health history?

How much time do you have? So, I was the ripe old age of 17, I played Netball and competed in Little Athletics and was pretty fit and active.  I had just graduated high school and the Christmas of 2008 saw me get hit with a bad case of Glandular Fever.  If you’ve ever had Glandular Fever, you know that there isn’t anything a doctor can do for you other than prescribe a good dose of a few days rest.  To cut a long story short, one thing led to another and the Glandular Fever had turned to pneumonia, and then into septicaemia and before we knew it, I was put into a medically induced coma.  I was diagnosed with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and after both lungs collapsed, a lung transplant was my only chance of survival.  After 4 months of being in a coma and loads of complications, I was finally gifted with two new lungs thanks to the beautiful gift of life that is Organ Donation.   

My life had changed right before my eyes, and there was no chance I was going to let it slip past me again.  I woke up and Barack Obama was president and Michael Jackson had passed, and that was only the beginning.  I had a long road of recovery ahead, but I had a second chance at life.  It took me about 6 months, some gruelling physio and OT and I was gratefully back on track. I have just turned 29, and although the road hasn’t been smooth, I have been incredibly lucky.  Sure, I have been in and out of hospital a bunch of times, and have been poked and prodded on numerous occasions, but I have achieved more than I could ever have possibly imagined, and am here to thankfully tell the tale.  My new lungs have allowed me to complete a law degree, practise law, renovate a house, become an aunt 7 times over,  travelled o/s, build a house, change careers, start a business and get married.  I also did this crazy thing and walk 30km from Sandgate to Southbank, and not even I expected my lungs to handle that.  None of it would have been possible without organ donation.   I often tell people I was just really unlucky, but lucky at the same time to still be here.  I am happily married, have the cutest little floof ball, Alfie, and am just generally living my best life.    

I have met a lot of people in my life and I would have to say you have one of the strongest sense of humour I have ever seen. Did you know that? Where do you think it comes from?

Are you saying I am the funniest person you know?! I had no idea.   

If I really sit and think about it, I think even from a young age I have always been able to see the funny side of things, and have loved making people laugh and smile.  Going through the transplant journey has probably definitely given me a stronger sense of humour (albeit sometimes a little sick), and I truly think a lot of it comes from self-acceptance.  I have been through more than most people go through in a lifetime, but that has only made me stronger and allowed me to really see things in a different light.  I also promised myself that I wouldn’t let my health or sickness consume me, and I think a sense of humour helps me to remain optimistic.  We have really tried to embrace what is happening, and the cards that we have been dealt and I think if we couldn’t see the funny side in it, or if we didn’t laugh, we would probably cry all the time.  I have learnt that life is absolutely too short, and you never know when it could be taken away from you – so you have to enjoy it and you have to smile.  At the end of the day, no matter how tough life seems at the time, there is almost always someone worse off.   My team of doctors often say that if it wasn’t for my outlook on life I probably wouldn’t have come as far as I have, but in my eyes I don’t see the alternative as even a choice. As cliché as it sounds, laughter really is the best medicine – and our attitude and approach toward challenges that life throws at plays a major role. 

At this stage we are aware that you need another transplant in the foreseeable future. What do you do to get ready for that?

That’s right!  My current airbags have given me a beautiful, epic 11 extra years of life so far, and although we would love them to, they were never meant to last forever.  I mean, let’s just think about that – I physically have someone else’s organs in my body, keeping me alive (I’m border line super human).  Being heavily immunocompromised means I am highly susceptible to any little bug, or bacteria and infection.  So over the years I have copped a few coughs and colds, and viruses that have damaged my lungs to the point that they are now heavily scarred.  At the moment, I operate at about 19% capacity.  Just to put that into perspective for you, a “normal” person my height and weight would have a lung function of approximately 2.9-3.0L/Sec.  Mine sits at about 0.60L/Sec on a good day.  I’ll let that sink in..  Some days I feel like I am walking around breathing through a straw, other days I feel amazing.  But, given no one should live a life where they struggle to breath, the decision was made to consider a second transplant, or a “re-do” as well call it in lung world.     

Right now, I am being assessed for a second transplant, and basically that involves me preparing my body for its (second) biggest challenge.  In addition to maintaining my general health, I see an Exercise Physiologist three times a week, and am working on building overall strength and conditioning so when the time comes to be re-transplanted, the road to recovery is a lot easier. My strength is also a precondition to qualifying for a second transplant.   The team at Barefoot is also playing a major role right now, by tuning me up, so I can keep building that strength.  I have an epic team of health practitioners on my team right now, and they all play a really important role in my future.         

You and your husband have been together through all this – can you give him a rating out of 10 😉 and share an example of how he supports you.(side note: Lara’s husband Todd is a friend of Sal’s, is Barefoot’s sparky and refrigeration mechanic and is the butt of many jokes at Barefoot about remembering his physio appointments)

Oh look, he is probably a solid 12.  Todd is the perfect balance for me – If anyone has ever met him, you know he is literally a tornado of energy and you cannot stop him.  He is pretty cut & dry, so he also shows me a little bit of tough love, which to be honest with you I probably need (even though I may not think it at the time).  Todd knows when to push me enough to keep me going, but also knows when to hold off.  His energy is probably one of my biggest motivations.  Support from him seems to come so easy, and it is really second nature to him so I am incredibly grateful.  His support scales from the simplest things like carrying the groceries up the stairs for me, all the way through to sitting on the floor crying with me over the unknown and what might be ahead of us.  Nothing seems to waiver Todd, and I know that he is the best support person I could ever ask for.  I couldn’t do any of this without Todd.  He is also really great at bringing me all of the good snacks and food when I am stuck in the hospital, because let’s be honest, no one likes hospital food. I met Todd only a few short months before I got sick and we were super young, so my expectations were pretty low.  I mean, he definitely had better things to do than hang around a hospital.  Turns out, I should have given him more credit.   

Can you share a message for anyone that is considering being an organ donor, or isn’t sure if they are one

If I am brutally honest – don’t even think twice.  Just do it.   

There are plenty of misconceptions and myths around organ transplant / donation which is probably peoples biggest turnoff, but what I have found is that telling my story provides people with a little more education, and opens their eyes to what it can actually achieve.  I am living proof it works, and its pretty bloody good.  One organ donor can change the life of up to 10 people.  That’s pretty cool if you think about.   

I know so many people I talk to think they have it covered, they ticked that box when they got their drivers licence 30+ years ago, but that is a thing of the past.  You now need to be a registered organ donor on the Australian Organ Donation Register and this is all done through medicare.  The most important part though, is to discuss this decision with your loved ones and next of kin because ultimately they are the ones that make the decision.   

Each year approximately 1,600 Australians wait for an organ transplant, whether it be heart, lung, livers or kidneys.  In Australia, sadly, viable organs can only be taken from a small pool of people and those deaths count for a minute percent of the population, and from that even less donate.   

I promise you; a double lung transplant was the farthest expectation for my life that you, or I could ever have possibly imagined.  It’s one of those things that you never think will happen to you, or someone you know or love. But you shouldn’t discredit that.  Sometimes life has its own plan for you and you just have to follow the path that’s been paved.  If after reading this just one extra person registers, or even has the chat with their family, then I have made a difference.  Death isn’t something anyone wants to think about, or discuss with their family but the reality of it is, is that it is inevitable.  Life can, sadly be taken away from us in an instant, and in the event that it does, wouldn’t you like to know that you’ve saved someone’s life ?

CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW TO GO TO THE ORGAN DONATION WEBSITE

10 years since double lung transplant!
Jayde 4WD

Jayde – weekend adventurer and all round legend :)

Jayde is a hilarious pocket rocket that does some pretty cool things on the weekend. We love hearing all her stories so asked her to share a bit about her life with us. Questions by Sal

1 – Superstar Jayde! You have some sweet adventurous weekends… can you explain what VMR is and what you do in it?

VMR stands for Volunteer Marine Rescue, and our base is in Southport next to the SeaWorld Resort. I find the easiest way to describe what we do is like RACQ, but for boats. We provide towing to people who have broken down or run out of fuel or cannot return to their boat ramps due to any issues with their boats. We have also been involved in searches for missing people in co-ordinance with the Water Police. I’ve been with the organisation for about 10 years now and joined as I wanted to acquire more life skills. When I was growing up, our family had boats and I’ve always enjoyed being out on the water. The organisation is amazing as you learn so much through all their training modules about the waterways, how to operate a boat and lead a crew, and obviously about the boats themselves. About 8 years ago, VMR and the QLD ambulance Service joined forces for to create a role in the service for First Responders. The role was set out to provide a higher level of care until paramedics were able to arrive on scene. Obviously being out on the water, an ambulance cannot get to you quicker than on road, so these crew members are able to be dispatched for immediate care and then another crew transports the ambulance personnel to the scene of the accident. About 5 years ago, I joined the First Responder group and haven’t looked back since. I have also worked my way up to a VMR crew ranking of inshore skipper which meanss I can take a boat out with a crew on my own.  The knowledge and extra skills I have learned through both organisations have been paramount and I am thankful to be part of 2 awesome communities.

Jayde VMR

2 – Still on weekends and adventures, we know you’re a 4WDing maddog – can you tell us about a recent trip you did? (Where did you go, who did you go with and some highlights)

My first big annual trip last year was out through the Simpson Desert. 3 weeks on the road, 6300kms and the most amazing experiences. The family I travelled with have done the desert crossing about 8 times, so I have complete trust and faith in the awesome people I travel with. I started out from Brisbane and met up with everyone in Birdsville. We were in the desert for about 4 days before arriving into Kulgera (first and last pub in SA). Hot showers and a meal that we didn’t need to cook was very welcomed! From there I split from the group and headed out to Ayers Rock to go and experience all its magnificence. It was a very humbling experience to have it put into perspective just how tiny and fleeting we are in this world when you see this massive rock in the middle of nowhere. I met back up with the group and we then ventured north through Boggy Hole, Palm Valley, Hermannsburg and into Alice Springs. We spent 2 nights there and I visited the National Transport Hall of Fame. I work for a transport company so it’s amazing to see the heritage that logistics and trucks have in our country. From Alice Springs we headed up to Boulia then down through Bladensburg National Park and Winton into Longreach where I spent 2 days in the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. Another extremely humbling experience that makes you proud to be an Australian. From there it was homeward bound sadly. On our last day of travel, we witnessed 2 drover runs of cattle and after the extraordinary journey we had just completed, I had to fight back tears. After a big trip like that, it definitely takes you a week to get your headspace back to civilisation! Camping for me is an opportunity to leave behind the hustle of life, nothing beats a campfire and being surrounded by quality and likeminded people.

Jayde 4WD

3 – Now there is a special 4-legged creature in your life – Tell us about Chloe – what kind of dog is she, and what do you two get up to together?

I adopted Chloe 3 years ago from the QLD Staffy and Amstaff Rescue. She is 6 and a half years old and we believe an Amstaff X Bull Arab. She is the sweetest, gentlest dog and the biggest sook. She loves people and would lick you to death if she was given the chance! She loves camping with me, car rides and going on trips out to the beach, Bunnings or the pet shop (more cuddles). She has gotten me through some very dark days and knows exactly how to cheer me up when I need it. I promised her a life of love and adventure and I spoil her rotten – I always joke that she eats better than I do (which is true!). She always makes me laugh with her goofy antics, she loves to rough house with the cat and is always up for snuggles. She has the most amazing eyes, which I have found to be the most expressive as well. She’s taught me patience, a depth of love I didn’t know existed and to live in the moment. Nothing beats waking up to the wagging tail and her smiley, loveable face every morning!

Jayde doggo

Shellie – recharging the Energizer bunny :)

Shellie is a superstar – an incredible human who brings laughter and fun to everywhere she is. We have always admired her and even more after watching her learn to take care of herself fully over the last year and becoming an advocate for true self care. Here’s to recharging batteries! Questions by Caitlin

You have travelled to some interesting and stunning places. Tell us more about some of your favourite destinations and where to next!

Choosing my favourite destination is a hard one! I am definitely going back to Egypt because it’s an amazing country and I didn’t get to see all of it, but I really loved the tiny town of Chefchaouen in Morocco. It’s a beautiful town with lovely people and the 6 hour bus trip from Casablanca to Chefchaouen is a chance to see the countryside fly by!  The next big trip I’m planning is a long one covering South Korea and Japan.


Until recently, you were balancing a full time office job and coaching group boxing sessions. That requires some serious commitment! What makes you passionate about coaching?

Coaching was definitely one of my happy places, despite the very early mornings! One of my favourite things about coaching was creating programs that people loved to hate! 😊 I loved getting to know the clients – what exercises they loved/dreaded, and what kind of formats they responded to.

You’ve recently been on a journey of self-care – can you tell us more about what you’ve learned and what changes you’ve made as a result

I’ll try and be as concise as possible with this one, but there’s so much to it! The most important thing I’ve learned – that I thought I already knew, but didn’t – is that checking in with your health (mental and physical) needs to be part of your daily routine regardless of how good you feel. It’s shockingly easy when there’s a lot going on in life to slip down from feeling great and on top of everything, to being unable to handle anything. I jot down (in my awesome wellbeing battery journal! plug!) what my battery level is each day, how much water I drank and how many steps I did. This gives me a clear picture of what is happening in my day, and I can see when I need to slow down to recover from work or physical stress – or when I can push myself more. I started doing this in May last year when my battery was in the red every day, and I still do it every day now that I’m green most days! It’s actually what keeps my battery more full – without knowing where I am today, I can’t make decisions that are beneficial to my tomorrow.

The biggest mental hurdle though, was making peace with resting and going back to basics. Accepting that some days all I can do is go for a long walk, and knowing that other days I can complete a 45 min hiit sesh. The word ‘balance’ gets thrown around a lot, but it absolutely is the key, and listening to my body and my mind about what I really need that day is the biggest change I’ve made 🙂