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.

Lockdown Diary, Continued.

I’ve just returned from another late night walk around the camp. Over on the other side there is a permanent site surrounded by pot plants, gnomes and ceramic frogs. I was so tempted to move the gnomes and other figurines around, and maybe kidnap one, leaving a ransom note for a pack of M&Ms – or the gnome gets it.

But I don’t know where the CCTV cameras are.

Lockdown Diary pt 2

I’ve been visiting the bottle store much more frequently lately, for essential supplies.

So often, in fact, that my farewell comment has become “See you as soon as I sober up”.

A Gordon for me,
A Gordon for me,
If yer nae a Gordon
Yer nae use tae me…

Lockdown Diary

Time.

As the Lockdown continues and as the seriousness of the pandemic begins to filter through to all but the thickest, I’ve had time to reflect. This is not the apocalyptic pandemic predicted in popular fiction by any means. No hordes of brain-sucking zombies, no piles of dead in the city streets, no flesh melting from bones of living corpses. Just a sniffle, Fever, a cough and respiratory distress – slow death gasping for air – and health systems struggling for resources and infrastructure. Plus a lot of people apparently unaffected except by the social restrictions being imposed. Especially the closing of the pubs and clubs. The social hubs of this part of Australia. It rankles with many. After all, it is only…..

I’ve heard the word “only” too many times. It’s only the old, the weak and sick. It’s only two percent of the population. It’s not. It’s the old, the weak and sick. It’s two percent of the population. Or more. It is sickness and death. That’s never only. I believe we haven’t yet seen the worst. It’s only a matter of time.

Rant over. Had to get that off my chest.

What I intended this post to be about was how I’m not spending my time. As I had thought, being under lockdown is little different from my ordinary days of retirement: a week or so spent not doing the laundry until a lack of clean underwear made it unavoidable; a week spent not tidying up in the caravan until I can’t even prepare a sandwich without knocking down a pile of containers and utensils that should have been put away in cupboards and drawers. At least I keep surfaces clean and dishes done. I have to. Apart from my public health training reasons, there are ants here.

But there is a difference. Now I can’t go to the pool, or even to the the beach, I’m not getting enough exercise. I walk about thirty minutes or so twice a day, I can’t go far. As far as the pharmacy or the butcher is about all I can manage. I’ve taken to strolling around the camp at around two thirty or so in the morning. It’s cool and quiet then. I nap more during the day. I eat at odd hours. I drink more.

My daily schedule is completely awry. I may have breakfast at three in the morning after a stroll and a shower, because I was sleepless and restless. I’d then return to bed at five and sleep until eleven. Read, watch Netflix, nap again. Eat at three pm and perhaps again at eight. I’m still trying to keep to under 7,000 kJ a day, but without getting enough exercise, I’m not winning the waistline war. A slight increase in the consumption of alcoholic beverages doesn’t help.

On the plus side, the leg pain from the spondylosis is virtually a zero out of ten. Nothing more than a twinge now and then. My knees are still grating and wobbly but I’m actually getting round again without support. I can climb in and out of the Landcruiser with ease. If only it had been like this when Dave was here. This would be a great time to get out in the boat. If he could pull the starter cord for me.

I’ve pulled the stitches in my back. It was inevitable. I live alone. I found that lifting even a mug of coffee hurts. I still have to lift and carry. Shopping, laundry, rubbish bags. My left arm can’t lift more than a kilo or so above my waist, even if I could be ambidextrous, so the right arm still has to do all the work.

The newest cut got a slight infection after a stitch pulled, but I’m keeping it clean and using antiseptic cream. Clearly Mehdi was right when he quoted the stats; the scar gets only 30% of the skin’s original strength back in three weeks, and 80% after three months.

I’m not wearing a watch these days. The reason is embarrassing. Both my watches are powered by movement. The old Certina dive watch from 1977 still runs well, but stores kinetic energy in a spring to make it run. My thirteen year old Seiko Arctura stores it in a capacitor battery.

Both stop at random times because I’m not moving enough to keep them running.

As a result I lose track of the time. It doesn’t matter, because my time is completely mine anyway. I just have to remember when my next medical appointment is. My phone does that for me. Because I rely on that, I even lose track of days. Or rather dates. My pillbox tells me what day of the week it is.

So I missed my Dad’s 89th birthday. It’s in my calendar, but not with a reminder. Mea culpa. I apologised over the phone the other day, but again; Sorry Dad! Congratulations on being such a venerable age and still having a driver’s licence.

A Matter of Time

Miscellaneous Items

A quick visit to Woolworths yesterday, for low sodium chicken stock pods, eggs, bread, instant mashed potato, and some vegetables. I went to Woolworths specifically because Aldi does not stock the stock I prefer.

As one does, I added a few items not on my shopping list, namely some dried peas and a can of sliced beetroot. I suddenly fancied beetroot sandwiches for lunch.

Signs all over the shelves advise customers they may buy no more than two miscellaneous grocery items, as a measure against shortage due to hoarding. Fair enough. The times are changing.

At the self-checkout, however the algorithm that monitors such matters spat the dummy. Two packs of stock, OK. Two packs of mashed potato, OK. Two packs of dried peas, NO! It seems I used up my quota of miscellaneous grocery items. I know better than to argue with the young lady who came to unlock the machine so that I could proceed. She is just as helpless as I. I handed over the offending items, thinking I’d just have to go round again if I really wanted them.

Then I scanned the can of beetroot. Once again the alarm went off and the machine locked up. This is getting silly. It seems I could choose between mashed potato or canned beetroot. How they equate as miscellaneous grocery items is beyond me. What if I wanted mashed potato and beetroot on the same plate?

I’m not going to add to the stress of the poor girl trying her best to stay cool and to placate grumpy old customers, so I meekly handed over the beetroot, paid the machine for what I was permitted to have, and left. I didn’t even do a second round.

No beetroot sandwiches. However, I got the stock I need. There is no need to return to Woolworths until I need coffee whitener. Another item Aldi does not carry.

The Police called by this morning, to talk about my stolen bicycle. I’m frankly not expecting to hear further from them now they’ve made the effort. My bike is probably in a canal by now.

?

Missing Chocolate

The Australian CSIRO estimates the average Aussie eats 32 kg of chocolate a year. I estimate I eat little more than one kg a year. Despite the fact I really like chocolate. It has become a rare treat for me. So someone out there is eating more than their fair share. In fact considering the average is 32 kg, and considering that some folk don’t eat it at all, there must be one or two people out there eating a kilo or more a week. This week I indulged. I bought myself a Lindt 70% cocoa egg for Easter. It came with four dark chocolate Lindor balls. 143g of not overly sweet heaven. I know this because I’ve eaten it already. So much for Easter. When one is in lockdown any day is what one wants it to be.

Exactly what I needed.

Apart from a kitkat a week or so ago, the last chocolate I recall eating was some Whittaker’s bars I surprisingly found in Halls Creek, years ago. I usually only buy Whittaker’s or Lindt because I had the idea they were the most ethical manufacturers. The article I link to above confirms they are, though it seems the others are catching up at last. Even the cocoa I drink is Lindt, despite the increased cost. I like it dark.

My sweet tooth seems to be returning. I found myself yearning for lime marmalade on my toast the other morning. Aldi doesn’t sell it, and I forgot to look when I was in Woolworths the other day. I did buy some raspberry conserve at Aldi. I like it on toast with cream cheese. An irresistible combination of flavour and texture. It takes a bit of willpower to limit myself to two slices of toast when that is my breakfast.

I suspect it is the reduced intake of salt that has stimulated this increased appetite for sweet. I still have to remember that sugar in excess is not good for my kidneys either. Some things are still too sweet for my taste. Ice cream for example, I bought some ice creams a while ago and found it was far too sweet. The rest are still in the freezer. And liqueur. No longer palatable. The Dubliner I bought had to be diluted in unsweetened dark cocoa to be drinkable.

I’m not doing too badly, all the same. My energy intake seems to match my output. My weight hasn’t changed since January. This does show I’m not exercising enough despite sticking close to my goal of eating a maximum of 7,000 kJ a day.

I can’t walk far. My bike was nicked. I can’t swim for a while yet, and with my arm and shoulder in stitches I can’t use my rubber band gym gear. I can’t even go out in the boat and throw a fishing line out. On the other hand, I can’t eat much less. I’ve already reduced my food intake to accommodate a little alcohol every day. A can of lager or a glass of wine after dinner, a tot of whiskey before bed. I put it in a cup of Lindt cocoa sometimes if it’s not a very good whisky, like when my limited budget lowered me to buying Johnny Walker red last week. The horror, the horror…

But $39 a bottle…

A Scholarly Analysis of a Classic PC* Poem

*PC = post coronavirus.

By a scholarly poet analyst.

The Poem:

I do not like you little fly
And I shall surely tell you why
You walk on shyte and things that die
And then you land upon my pie.

Don’t come here with your shitty feet
And walk across the things I eat
I just want pastry, gravy, meat,
Not hours upon a toilet seat

So shoo fly, do not bother me
Fly far away and let me be
I only want to eat my tea
Not
Campylobacter jejeuni.

Scholarly analysis:

The poet has used several literary devices to consolidate his theme. Firstly he has chosen to write only three quatrains with a simple aaaa bbbb cccc rhyme scheme. This sets out the poem in a deceptive, child-like simplicity, almost as if the it were a nursery rhyme, seemingly concealing rather than accentuating the depth and significance of the tragic theme.

Subtle.

He uses internal rhymes, assonance and alliteration to establish a rhythm that seems to support the nursery rhyme theme, belying once again the significance, indeed, the very the depths of despair and desolation plumbed in the work. For it is important to know that this opus was written during the great pandemic of 2020, when people around the world sat isolated in in their homes, afraid of death, and talking to flies. And dying.

He hauntingly starts the first and third verses with clever literary references to great literary works written before; one an ancient Latin tale of distrust*, translated and extemporised, it is said, by Tom Brown himself during his schooldays, and the other a song now considered racist, by Brigham Bishop. It was ostensibly about a fly and a negro soldier in Company B during the American civil war. It may have deeper, darker meaning. He was not the boogie woogie bugle boy.

Both references reflect and project the anxiety and stress of the poet’s own times.

It is known the poet suffered a serious bout of Campylobacter diarrhoea shortly before he wrote this poem. It was severe, and lasted eight days, at the end of which he was beginning to fear he might not just pass more crap than should really be in one man at any one time, but actually pass away.

When he survived, and recovered, he wrote an ode in gratitude

The poem ends with both a bit of scientific erudition, and poetic licence with the pronunciation of jejeuni.

Masterful.

So this poem can be seen not as simple doggerel, but a deep and meaningful metaphor describing the poet’s state of mind, and the state of the world around him, in which the pie represents a life full of happiness and fulfilment (meat and gravy), the fly a wandering traveller, unknowingly infected – or perhaps a thoughtless fucking food vendor who made a ham and egg burger after not washing his hands after using the toilet on Friday the 20th of last month at about 06:30 just after I picked up Lyn at the airport – (sorry!) – thus unintentionally bringing chaos and pain with him.

The brevity of the poem mirrors the brevity of life itself. The three verses represent the three stages of life; childhood, maturity and decrepitude, also known in literary circles as beginning, middle and end. The poet pulls no punches here.

In the poem, the toilet seat is a subtle metaphor for social isolation enforced as Lockdown, that leaves people sitting alone and lonely at home, unable to leave. Unable to be in company.

“Eat my tea” is a metaphor for “live my life”.

Campylobacter jejeuni is clearly also a metaphor, and a clever one at that, for the dread COVID 19 coronavirus that threatens the enjoyment of life itself.

By cleverly not mentioning toilet paper, a necessity when one has the trots, the poet brings it to mind by carefully not juxtaposing shitty and toilet seat in the same verse. This reminds us of the vast amounts of paper (read money) that the pandemic is costing society.

My word this guy packs a lot of meaning between a few lines.

Image Stolen from Internet

You didn’t know I could be so bloody deceptively deep.

Poem and scholarly analysis © 2020 ARF

*Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare.
Hoc tantum possum dicere: non amo te.

I do not love thee Doctor Fell, Why this is I cannot tell, but this I know, and know full well. I do not love thee Doctor Fell.

Dear Diary

I am not Samuel Pepys. My blog is nowhere near as interesting as his was. I am not John Aubrey. I have dropped a few names, and could drop a few more, but I’ve never really got into it as he did.

There are days, when I wonder if my blog will survive somewhere to be electronically excavated at some far distant future time and be considered as a vivid picture of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. The Pepys or Aubrey of my generation.

Then I realise, no. It won’t. Even if I print it all out, it will be tossed out by my executor.

In any case, millions of people are blogging. So many are they, there aren’t enough readers to go round. Certainly not enough who like my posts. That is hardly surprising. All the adventure is gone from my life. This lock down has accentuated just how different my life has become.

These days I cannot leave home except for the purpose of obtaining food and supplies (but not toilet paper, ‘cos there isn’t any) or for medical reasons. This is because of the COVID19 pandemic. Whereas before it was because I’m a lazy bugger.

I wonder if taking the boat out is essential for exercise, or perhaps for gathering food.

But seriously, I miss my swimming. As soon as these cuts heal I shall swim in the sea, as long as the pool is not open. As walking becomes more of a strain, I’m exercising less and must watch my diet even more than ever.

These are the thoughts that flit through my mind as I lay on my bunk, listening to my Celtic playlist on Spotify, bored with Netflix.

I’m due for another slice on my shoulder next Tuesday. It will be bigger than the last one, and I can’t believe how big that was. I can’t see it, but I can feel it. It is wider than my hand with my fingers splayed. I did catch a glimpse of it in the mirror when I had a shower. It’s pretty awesome. I’m half hoping to get another on my chest so I can tell people I was run through with a cutlass.

Another ten days to heal and I should be able to swim and go fishing. And catch some of those mangrove crabs. It’s a solitary pursuit and won’t infringe any social distancing laws.

My morning coffee omens have not been good lately. I see a dragon devouring everything I hold dear in one cup, and in another, an asteroid spiralling in to destroy the world . Consistent coffee. Literal and metaphorical Armageddon. In the midst of a pandemic.

It’s rather fortunate that we Capricorn’s don’t really believe in that sort of thing, though this optimism is counteracted by the guilt that makes us ex-Catholics secretly believe we deserve every bad thing that happens to us.

Optimistic bald person expecting disaster.

Interesting Times

I had a chat with the security guard at Aldi today. He looked bored.

I’d never even seen a guard there before. He was happy to talk, and quick to point out he was glad of the work. His main task is to count the customers and enforce the limit of 150 within the shop at any time. The limit was imposed by Them. Not sure who They are.

There have been no knife fights over toilet paper, mainly because Aldi doesn’t have any.

More and more shelves have growing empty spaces.

Quite a lot of shoppers wore masks. Mostly older folk, but a significant proportion were young. All the young ones were female.

In all the time I’ve shopped at Aldi I don’t recall seeing anyone ring up as much as a hundred dollars of groceries. A hundred dollars bought a lot at Aldi. Today I saw three people ring up over two hundred dollars worth in the space of fifteen minutes. All I went in for originally was some sparkling mineral water, fresh parsley (none available) a leek and some mustard, for a seafood pie I’m planning. I gave in to the temptation to hoard and bought a KitKat and a box of four lemon cheesecake-flavoured ice creams, Aldi knock off versions of the Magnum. Sweet.

Listening to the conversations around the shop and at the checkout. More and more people are becoming worried, and some are angry, because they say they don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Back to camp. My neighbours tell me they are going stir crazy. I remind them they are not confined, but they say they have nowhere to go, and feel they are.

I felt like giving them an ice cream each. But No! They’re mine!

We live in Interesting Times. It is the curse.

The C Word

We talk about melanoma and avoid the C word. When I was first diagnosed, my GP advised me to let my family know that I have joined the 66% of Australians who have, or shall have, skin cancer. They are, he said, genetically predisposed to have it too. Hopefully not the ones with melanin. I do so hope that.

I’m a cancer patient. A few of my friends, but not one of my family except my Dad, have asked how I’m dealing with that. Well enough, I thought, thanks for asking.

Until now. I’m beginning to have reservations. The latest melanomas are deeper, and spreading faster. Therefore the cutting is deeper and wider. For the first time today I had internal stitches. My frigate bird lost half a wing. The two we biopsied on my back will be excised next Friday. The biopsy results were not good. They will be the biggest yet.

So far, Mehdi has done the cutting and stitching of two melanomas at a time in half an hour give or take. Today took longer. The next two will take at least an hour.

Considering this latest batch of seven were not even detectable three months ago, even by the sharp-eyed and very careful Mehdi, I have to consider the future implications.

I stayed with my friend Jeff for the last months of his life, because he did not want to go into a hospice, nor burden his mother with the supervision of his death. He had a cancer which metastasised and became terminal. I don’t want to go through what he went through, nor inflict it on anyone else, particularly anyone I love.

So I must use the C word.

Contingency plan.

In Case.

I need a plan.

I’m rambling. It’s the Jameson’s. And the Guinness. I’ll have a Dubliner in coffee to follow. Finishing off Alcoholic Leftovers from St Patrick’s Day.

Because my arm hurts. Because it’s there, and increases the effect of the meds. And I don’t have to be anywhere tomorrow.

I have to have a plan. For when the outlook is dire.

Yeah. I’ll probably delete this post when I sober up. It is hard to keep the vow I made to tell it like it is.

Slainte.

To die

Is to forget.

To be forgotten

Is Death.

And that, simply put

Is the meaning of life.

A chance to do something

That won’t be forgotten

ARF.