Health Update, May 19

Dear Diary,

I have a new kidney specialist. The North Lakes clinic have transferred my file to Caboolture. Last week I peed and bled for the pathology lab, and this morning I discussed the lab results with the specialist at Caboolture Hospital in a telephone consultation.

He tells me he is pleased with the lab report. I have maintained my 37% kidney function in the face of adversity and adiposity. My results were good despite that I have regained a little of the weight I lost. This is since the pool was closed for the COVID crisis. Exercise has been rather problematic as walking for any worthwhile time is not a feasible option.

I was heartened to learn the pool should be reopening in about three weeks. It is not only the best place for me to get active, but also my most important social activity, because I don’t frequent pubs and clubs. Lately my depression has become noticeable again. Too much time alone. Perhaps a little too much introspection.

Life has been quiet since lockdown. I watch a lot of Netflix, and read, though I am finding that my eyes get tired if I read a lot. My marathon book days are done. it is frustrating. Now the weather has deteriorated, and deters me from taking out the boat.

On the plus side, I have had time to tidy up and organise my caravan and get rid of more stuff I don’t need. I have completely killed the collector bug and the sentimental attachments I once had to material things, even the valuable collectibles. I’m not sure if that is due to depression or a late development of sense.

Another Busy Lockdown Day.

Today was pretty busy. I decided it was time to get off my chuff and get active. I did not have pain as an excuse. The leg pain is minimal. I still waddle,. My knees have not miraculously healed. But I’m getting around without too much distress -as long as it is not too far.

I really had to get active. I’m not getting enough exercise. With no swimming and limited waddling, plus all that extra time on my hands to think about food, I am regaining some of the weight I lost.

On top of all that, all this sitting around being idly locked down causes haemorrhoids. And let me tell you. That stuff they give you for piles tastes awful.

First I checked over my faithful cruiser. Tyres, water, oil, windscreen washer. Lights. Then I checked over the boat and trailer. I was going to mount the navigation light brackets but the sun decided to make an appearance. So I gave that up and did three loads of laundry instead.

I like Laundry Day. Having a shower in the evening and climbing between clean fresh scented sheets is the best part of the week.

I’ll get back to the boat in the next few days. Hopefully when it’s overcast. I want to be ready for when the restrictions ease.

And yes, the whole point of this post was that bad joke.

Lockdown Diary pt 3

I have finished binge watching the whole of Game of Thrones and Doc Martin from the first to last episodes. I have watched everything that interested me currently available on Netflix, and quite a few things that didn’t. I’ve re-watched Stardust, Blade Runner, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly..

I’ve been reading the complete collection of Earthsea books in one volume. But it is a heavy book. My arms and my eyes are growing tired. I can’t read for as long as I could when I was young.

It is now 16:45. I shall pour the first bevvie of the day and then perhaps take a nap until tea time. My evening meal shall consist of lettuce, tomato and beetroot sandwiches on fresh whole grain bread. I shall open the beetroot tin with my Swiss Army Knife.

The adventure continues.

The Rare Queensland Quacking Frog

I was sitting quietly, reading, when from somewhere nearby I heard what seemed to be a duck quacking in synchronised time with the frogs in the trees outside. At least, it sounded very like a duck. The call was so constant I figured it had to really be a frog. Besides, there are no ducks here. I was excited. This might be another new species for me.

It was very close by. I could tell. I grabbed a torch and a camera, just in case I spotted it, and went outside. Everywhere I searched, the sound seemed to come from somewhere else. But it never stopped. The little bugger wouldn’t shut up.

No matter where I looked the call always seemed to be coming from the other side of the caravan. Then I realised it was actually inside the caravan. This was exciting. I hurried back in to search for it.

Then I realised it was a duck. Coming from my iPad. I had set the alarm to remind me to take my evening antibiotic. The alarm sound was “duck”. I had forgotten.

My mind, once as sharp as a really, really sharp thingy, is definitely slowing down.

SAS Deployed in Brisbane as Unrest Increases in the Suburbs.

The newly formed Special Assembly Squad of the Department of Health had only just completed its inaugural training exercises, when a sudden upsurge in grumpy elderly people congregating at supermarkets necessitated their early deployment.

The SAS is manned by elite members of the Flying Hygiene Squad, considered to be the most highly trained Environmental Health Officers on the planet. The identity of the individual squad members is known only to their close family and the boys at the pub.

We spoke to an officer of the Corps, anonymous under his blue surgical mask and impenetrable dark glasses. He told us that the squad has been training with non-lethal means of subjugating grumpy old bags and petulant old codgers, as well as a few stroppy young mothers with crappy little babies.

“Though the temptation to use lethal force can be overwhelming, especially when one sees the weeping remains of a checkout lady writhing and wailing on the floor, suffering extreme PTSD, we mostly stick to our aerosol cans of Glen-20 and clever blunted snake catcher hooks which are ideal for pulling a walking stick or walker out from under an assailant” he said.

“Mostly” he added.”Sometimes things can get a bit rough. Have you ever confronted an old lady who has been shopping here since before you were born young man? It can be pretty scary.”

He shivered at some remembered horror. Then pulled himself together.

“Apart from a few broken hips, which we consider acceptable collateral damage, there have been no casualties among the public” he told us.

Only one member of the squad has been injured, when struck by some loony old bat’s umbrella. He is recovering at a secret location.

Song for Ireland

https://youtu.be/oRdDnpkR3AQ

Amhrán d’Éirinn

Walking all the day near tall towers where falcons build their nests

Silver winged they fly, they know the call of freedom in their breasts

Soar Black Head against the sky

Between the rocks that run down to the sea

Living on your western shore, saw summer sunsets, asked for more

I stood by your Atlantic sea and sang a song for Ireland

.

Talking all the day with true friends, who try to make you stay

Telling jokes and news, singing songs to pass the night away

Watched the Galway salmon run like silver dancing darting in the sun

Living on your western shore saw summer sunsets, asked for more

I stood by your Atlantic sea and sang a song for Ireland

© 2008 ARF

Drinking all the day in old pubs where fiddlers love to play

Someone touched the bow, he played a reel, it seemed so fine and gay

Stood on Dingle beach and cast, in wild foam we found Atlantic Bass

Living on your western shore, saw summer sunsets asked for more

I stood by your Atlantic sea and sang a song for Ireland

.

Dreaming in the night, I saw a land where no man had to fight

Waking in your dawn, I saw you crying in the morning light

Lying where the Falcons fly, they twist and turn all in you e’er blue sky

Living on your western shore, saw summer sunsets asked for more

I stood by your Atlantic sea and I sang a song for Ireland

Phil Colclough

© 2008 ARF

Licence to Fill

On the plus side – there’s always a plus side – this minor medical crisis has triggered the contingency gourmet plan. I’m exercising my right to override some dietary restrictions.

I have just made what I consider to be the apogee of iron-rich dinners. Also one I really enjoy. Pure comfort food. Delicious: Lambs fry in a slow cooked caramelised red onion, bacon, marmite, and garlic gravy. The haeme iron in liver is one of the most easily digested bio-available forms of iron. The vitamin c that is found in the onion is essential for the body to digest the iron. The bacon and gravy tastes good. I used wholemeal flour, so it was very Wholesome. Because of the gravy I skipped the mashed potato but I still had the peas. Essential.

For dessert: Guinness.

And a mandarin.

I am replete, and comforted. Not something I get to say all that much.

Cool Under Fire

An Anecdote:

I’ve had a gun pointed at me with intent. By a policeman at Heathrow.

Scary. I stayed cool.

I’ve been shot at.

Scarier. I stayed cool.

Being Shot At – A Memoir

I was SCUBA diving alone at Goat Island, Leigh, in New Zealand. I did that quite often back then. There were not a lot of divers I thought were competent enough to buddy with. It’s fine for them to rely on me, but I need to rely on them too. So mostly, if my mates were not available, i dived alone. I preferred to dive alone anyway. Rely on myself. I had a high opinion of my own ability.

I was returning to the mainland after a pleasant spell smashing kina to feed the blue cod, baby snapper and red moki. Smashing kina was a breach of the new voluntary sanctuary rules all local dive clubs had agreed upon, but it wasn’t illegal, yet. Besides, there were plenty of them. No harm done. At least I was feeding the fish, not spearing them as I used to do. It is actually more enjoyable.

As I swam back I saw before me in the water a sudden flash of silver that looked exactly like what you see in that scene in the movies when the hero has jumped off a cliff into deep water, and bullets come raining down from the bad guys guns above. We’ve seen it countless times. A zing! of silver.

Another streaked down, a little closer. It was definitely a bullet. Just like in the movies.

I headed for the bottom, glad I wasn’t snorkelling. I tried to retrieve the bullet, but I couldn’t find it.

I made my way across the sea floor to the rock ledge below the research station, where I surfaced, and climbed out. A boy approached, all excited. “Did you see the shark? My dad shot it”.

“Tell your dad he was shooting at me, and I’m going to shove his gun up his arse.”

The boy ran off.

By the time I’d got my gear off and lugged it up the hill to the car park, there was no sign of the boy or his dad. I regretted my comment. I should have liked to have had a chat with the shooter about that huge shark, and got his name and car registration before revealing it was I that was his target.

I reported the incident at the Warkworth police station anyway, just to let them know, but they could obviously do nothing except take note.

I suspect in any case, the gunman had quite a scare when he realised what he had done. I hope. He scarpered quickly enough.

The first firearm rule I learned was to identify your target before pulling the trigger.

My aluminium SCUBA tank was grey. My wetsuit black. So were my fins. I suppose I could have been taken for a shark if you ignored the bright yellow collar of my buoyancy compensator. A yellow tipped reef shark, perhaps.

A few years later the area was properly gazetted as a sanctuary, following a lot of lobbying by the diving community. After that the sharks and I should have been safe swimming there.

The kina were, I promise.

Kina are sea urchins, considered a delicacy by some New Zealanders and all fish.

The Might of Chondroitin

I’ve just dropped David off at Brisbane Airport. Then I drove to the Apple store at Chermside. There my iPhone six, which has been playing up badly, was diagnosed in need of a new battery. I asked for it to be done. An eighty dollar battery is cheaper by far than a new iPhone. I had to wait a couple of hours until they could fix it, so I killed time by having a chicken and rocket wrap for brunch with a good coffee. Opposite the coffee kiosk was a discount pharmacy. 60% off selected stock.

David had told me about Chondroitin and the benefits he had derived from it. He also cited some fairly scientific sounding backup data. It sounded as if it might be beneficial to one in my situation. David is a practical person. A real Taurean, though we Capricorns don’t believe in that rubbish. In any case, I’ve never had bad advice from Dave, and in many cases, including this week, his thoughtful and insightful way of looking at things has given me new inspiration and determination. So I bought some Chondroitin and glucosamine tablets. Enough for a few months. That should be a good trial period.

Aside from the delight and pleasure of Dave’s company, and the practical things that he helped me with – and there was a good deal of that – last week did not go entirely well. We got the Bimini on the boat and sorted out everything to make her shipshape and Bristol shanky. We took her out on a maiden voyage with no disasters. I had some concerns about how I would manage handling her alone, mainly at the launching and retrieving stages. I shall have to work on that. I may have to go out with a companion if I can’t improve my mobility. Some things are just too hard. Fortunately there is no shortage of offers from my fellow inmates. I already have two. I’m not giving up.

Night trips were not even to be considered until I knew my way around the passage better, and in any case, the weather crapped out, all rain storms and wind. Finally, on the last day before Dave had to go home the sea seemed calm enough despite the rain squalls. We took her out from Banksia Beach, and fished off White Patch. Of course it poured with rain. But we didn’t get sunburnt. The Bimini was up.

I threw in a whiting rig. I used squid for bait. Within minutes I caught my first fish. It was a Yellowfin Tripodfish, Tripodichthys angustifrons (Hollard 1854). I’d never seen one before. It was not on my fish identification chart. I had to look it up when I got home.

It did not look very palatable, and it was not so big, so I threw it back.

Then, to my surprise and delight, I caught a snapper (Pagrus auratus). A fish I know well from New Zealand. The first I have caught in over thirty years of trying. It looked perfect for pan frying. However, David, ever practical, pointed out it could be undersized. Not knowing for sure what the size limit is, we concluded that too should be released.

Both Dave and I caught another tripodfish, which we released. After that we thought we’d change location. No more fish. But a good day on the water.

The boat and outboard performed well. The weakest link is me. I need to work on getting in and out of it, and on the logistics of doing some tasks alone. But it is not yet time to despair and sell it.

By yesterday, my knees and legs were burning pain. As I limped and waddled up to the ablution block last night one of my neighbours came out, saw my condition, and told me I needed a walker. He brought one out, one of several he had collected, and gave it to me. It has a seat for when I can’t go on. It really does help. Better than the trolleys I lean so heavily on when I’m shopping. At first I was mortified I had progressed from walking stick to walker so soon in my life, but the advantage is undeniable. Once again a random act of kindness just as I needed it. It almost makes one superstitious.

I Do Confess the Vices of my Blood

Dr. Mehdi was not happy with the results of my blood test last week. He frowned as he discussed their significance. He gave me a form, told me to go and drink a litre of water and try again. He was hopeful the poor results were caused by me being dehydrated last time. I have my doubts but dutifully did as bid. I popped around to Woolworths and bought 750 mls of water, and 250 mls of sugar-free lime flavoured sparkling mineral water. I downed them as I sat in the shade outside the mall. I then waited for the path lab nurse to return from lunch.

In the pathology lab the nurse greeted me and said “Back so soon?”

“Yep. Mehdi was not happy with your results last time. He wants you to do it again, and get it right this time”. I could see her umbrage begin for just a tiny fraction of a second before she caught on that I was pulling her leg. This is the sort of humour that gets me into trouble sometimes, when I’ve overestimated the ability of someone to see the joke. This nurse and I have been exchanging banter, and family stories for well over a year now. I knew she would get it. But for just a tic I thought I’d done it again.

She asked if I had tried the food at the Bongaree Bowling Club yet. She had recommended it to me last visit. I said no, I was waiting for my mate to come with me. He arrives tomorrow.

She drew the blood expertly and painlessly. As usual.

Then I went back to the surgery (same building) to see one of the practice nurses for a pneumonia vaccine. Mehdi thought I should have one. Given my age and generally decrepit condition. I’d had to wait for the practice nurse to have lunch also.

She too is one of the ladies I enjoy chatting with. Visiting the doc and all the nurses is the peak of my whirlwind social life. She took my blood pressure. 101/69 she was not happy with that and took it again. I held my breath to raise it a little for her. I told her Mehdi had already noted that my bp was dropping, and was going to review my meds after the next blood tests results come in. I have learned that lower blood pressure is necessary for patients with kidney disease, but my meds were now working too well. Too low is not good either Though lower BP helps the kidneys deal with the proteins, too low disrupts the function of filtering out salt.

She swabbed my shoulder and I felt the gentlest touch of pressure for a second. “Oh God, the pain” I said. She was aghast. “Did that hurt? Oh no I’m s so sorry, are you alright?”

“I didn’t feel a thing. Just kidding. You have a gentle touch.”

“You got me. I’ll get you back next time”.She put a little round plaster on the site. “This might swell a bit and it might be sore for a while. If you have any other reaction, or your arm drops off, call the hospital”. I told her I had worse things to worry about than losing another arm.. I’d adapted to having only two, I could adjust to losing one more. I left her pondering that.

I drove out of Woodford with some new data to think about. My blood chemistry is not good, haemoglobin count down, iron still low, salts out of balance and kidney function has deteriorated another 3%. At this rate dialysis looms and the caravan decision must be reconsidered. To dwell, or not to dwell. On the plus side, lipids, cholesterol and blood sugars are not as badly out of whack as they might be, although they will never be right in the green again.

Next, off to the ships chandlers in search of stainless steel screws and a deck plate for one of the legs of the second hand Bimini I bought for the boat. It’s called a deck plate even though it is fitted to the gunwales. BCF didn’t have any, but I saw the Bimini I bought for sale. .New it is $230 so mine was a bargain at $75, even if I do need to buy bits for it.

The chandler at Sandstone Point marina had what I needed. Only $2.50. I bought two, to have a spare. I also picked up a laminated chart of the area of pumicestone passage from Moreton Bay to Caloundra. That is the area I want to be poking about in. For fishing, yes, but also crabbing and spotting wildlife in the mangroves. I love the mangroves.

Bimini

On the way home it occurred to me I should have bought three deck plates (the Bimini still has one, needs two).Then I could set the Bimini up to be moveable fore and aft, to shade either the bow or stern depending on where I wanted to sit. I wouldn’t need to if the Bimini was bigger but I bought the smallest. Known as a two bow Bimini. Because it was available and I couldn’t afford it a lot less than I couldn’t afford any of the others.

I now have everything I need to be a jolly sailor, except a pirate hat and a cutlass.