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Making the most of music therapy

 

For Wayne and Lizzy when people say ‘they’re playing our song’ that sentence now takes on a whole new meaning.

As part of Wayne’s music therapy, the couple have penned a song that encapsulates their last eight years, from diagnosis to today. Aptly titled “Wayne’s song”, it is the poignant and real result of months of working together with PHH Music Therapist Andrea Bryk.

8 years ago

We didn’t think much of it at the time

The diagnosis was unclear

As time went on

We still didn’t think much of it

But I noticed slight changes in my reflexes and my memory.

“It all started eight years ago, that’s the start of the song, that’s where it all began,” explained Lizzy. “They said he had trouble with his liver back then but we didn’t think too much about it because he wasn’t showing any signs of being sick. We knew it was ‘there’ but it was in the background and not really impacting on us too much but it’s gotten worse as time has gone on…which is basically what the song says”.

Married for 12 years, this down to earth couple were destined to be together – a match made in heaven (or in the delivery area at the supermarket at least).

“I was a meat packer for a supermarket and he was a meat lumper (the guys who lug in the meat)”, she explained laughing. “I used to sit out the back on a milk crate having smoko and he’d be there delivering the meat. One day he chimed up and said he’d come and have a drink with me and we’ve been together ever since”.

3 years ago

We were noticing more changes

I was making mistakes in judgement

And I lost my job

As time went on I was getting more confused

And then I was forgetful, getting frustrated

One of the biggest challenges as Wayne’s illness progressed was his inability to sleep (which impacted on Lizzy as well). PHH Counsellor-Case worker Paula Street suggested music therapy might be able to help with his sleeplessness.

“Paula suggested music might help him sleep,” said Lizzy. “Wayne thought that sounded like a good idea so Andrea came around and played him some relaxation tapes that help you concentrate on your breathing; different parts of your body to help you relax so you can go to sleep.” Even now Wayne still uses these techniques if he needs them.

“Lizzy then made me some playlists on my phone called sleep music and it was just our favorite songs but nothing too rocky, no Led Zeppelin or anything. Carole King, Phil Collins, songs that we like,” Wayne said. “I really looked forward to Andrea coming over”.

“We didn’t know anything about music therapy at all, it sounds a bit wanky but it’s been brilliant. Andrea is very much a professional and it’s helped Wayne a lot”, said Lizzy.

What started off as relaxation and helping Wayne sleep then progressed to the idea of writing a song together as part of their therapy.So the couple sat down together to do their ‘homework’ before Andrea arrived the next day.

“When Andrea suggested it we both thought oh that’s different, we don’t know how to write a song”, Lizzy said. “So she said for us to just write down how we felt when Wayne was first diagnosed and how we felt along the way”.

“I said it started eight years ago so I wrote that down. The way we felt, what was happening with Wayne, he tried to end his life; he didn’t know what he was doing. The last three years have been the hardest but it’s levelled off now. Now we’re in a rhythm; we know how to manage his pain, sleeping is easy, I feel confident to give him morphine when he needs it”, she said.

2 years ago

There were many more complications

The liver had become much worse, explaining most of the problems.

So I spent more time in the hospital, thought I was going insane,

Slowly going crazy!

For Wayne one of the hardest things was when he lost his job as a transport manager while he was in hospital two weeks short of 10 years of service (he got a watch but it wasn’t a gold one).

“I was starting to lose concentration. Obviously my boss picked up on that but we didn’t even know I was sick at that stage. Losing my job was a bitter pill to swallow, I thought I was going to work there until I retired”, he said.

Over another year

I started to go in and out of delirium

Addicted to pain medications, drugs, dope, Mary J

I didn’t really know what I was doing

And I tried to end my life.

“Wayne went into delirium and was admitted to hospital. On the way home he said he wanted me to leave work so I could look after him”, said Lizzy. “So of course I’m thinking he’s got no money coming in, he wants me to quit my job, how are we going to live? Lucky we came across a letter that said he had some super so we got onto that then Paula helped us get onto Community Care and they referred us to Good Shepherd who put us onto Slater and Gordon. He had a few super funds that had a little bit of money that we could claim.

“Being able to cash in Wayne’s life insurance meant we could pay off the house and I could stay at home with him”, she said. “It’s given us the gift of time to spend together, I think it’s the best thing we could have done”.

Then we were through the worst of it

There were a lot of worrying times but we worked it out.

Lizzy was my rock and I had good people around me.

For this loving couple, it’s been a real rollercoaster but what is evident from the onset is they haven’t let go of each other, or their sense of humour.

“Oh it’s been a rollercoaster that’s for sure”, she said. “A case of buckle up, hold on and let’s see where we go. Definitely lots of highs and some really low lows. The song is finished now…we might do another one, don’t know yet”.

Chorus:

Our lives have been turned upside down

We thought this was the end of us

We just had no idea

We didn’t know what we were gonna do

Or what the future held.