Doctors seem to have changed greatly in the last generation or so. Or I have become luckier of late. GPs in my youth were largely impersonal, dismissive, and short on time and empathy. It was rare to have a doctor who took time to listen. The first I recall who actually did was doctor Ah Chan in West Auckland, when I was raising a young family.

There have been others over the years, but equally as many who did not have that spark. If one particular doctor had actually listened to my concerns about changes in my pee, for example, instead of dismissing them as irrelevant, I might have gotten onto my kidney disease sooner. The same goes for the torn muscle or ligament in my left arm that left me partially lame.

On the other hand, I have been well served lately. On top of that, the practice I currently attend bulk bills, which means I pay nothing to see my GP, who is a patient and thorough Persian gentleman willing to take as much time as necessary to examine his patients and discuss their concerns. Yesterday I spent forty minutes with him. As he smilingly put it, I do not have cancer and can remain on the control side of the medical study I’ve been participating in for a year or so. That was good news.

With his support and encouragement, and that of the kidney team at Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital I have lost 16 kg in the last six months or so, and have become active after years of moping and allowing pain to dictate my inaction.

I had good doctors in the outback, but the nature of medical services out there meant I never saw the same GP for long. Now I have found one that suits me, I am reluctant to change practices. I live an hour’s drive from Woodford now, but I make that drive willingly. As long as I’m in this region, I shall stay with them. One more reason to account for my reluctance to move on and continue what I initially intended to be a nomadic existence.

I seem to feel a need for some sense of permanence in my life. Now I no longer have strong ties to any one place, nor indeed, to any person, but I believe I have lost the wanderlust that I thought I had. Here seems as good a place as any to settle. I am living on an island. I like islands. The sea is only 200 metres away from where I sleep. I can hear the surf at night.

My weekly rent is supplemented by the Government. My grocery bills are half what they might be in some places, thanks to the proximity of Aldi, where I can go by bicycle, reducing my fuel bills and my carbon footprint. The winter is mild, the summer not as hot as I’ve endured before.

I’ll never have a place of my own. I think I’ll stay here. For a while, at least.

Author: Uisce úr

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.

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