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.

Writing

Even if it seems unrealistic, or self-important, or just delusional, the act of writing implies that someone in the future will read what we’re currently in the process of writing. That future can only exist if we believe in it now.

Emily Gould

I don’t think so.

Alan R Freshwater

Mo Cheapaire

I made myself a sandwich for lunch today.

I buttered two thick slices of soft bread and layered between them some lettuce, tomato and beetroot with a dash of pepper and a spoon of mayonnaise.

Just as I was about to bite into it I heard a voice say “Go raib maith agat”.

“What?” I said.

The voice continued “Déarfaidh mé arís é. Go raib maith agat”.

I was sure the voice was coming from the sandwich. I pulled it apart, and examined it carefully.

“Go mbeidh an ghrian ag taitneamh i gcónaí ort”. I heard the sandwich say.

I separated all the lettuce leaves and slices of tomato and checked them. I lifted the beetroot and checked the butter.

Then I realised. It was Gaelic bread.

The President’s Brain is Missing.

I doubt there is a sane person left who believes Trump has any sense, or any credibility, whatsoever. Following the news as it unfolds in the US is like watching some surreal black comedy.

It’s something Peter Sellars might have made with Stanley Kubrick – Dr Kidglove, or How I Learned to Stop Thinking and Follow the Trump.

COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS / DEATH TOLL 

Last updated: April 25, 2020, 09:17 GMT
Coronavirus Death Toll

197,694 people have died so far from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak as of April 25, 2020, 09:17 GMT.
There are currently 2,836,338 confirmed cases in 210 countries and territories . The fatality rate is still being assessed.

Follow the world-wide statistics, or country by country, here.

At the risk of being considered crepidarian: There is no doubt this COVID19 pandemic is just as scary as WHO said it could be. We are seeing now that the countries with the lowest infection and mortality curves are the ones with the best, and quickest lockdown response. Go New Zealand.

Now that testing is becoming more prevalent, and more reliable, many countries are finding evidence there is a significant proportion of asymptomatic infectious carriers among the apparently healthy population. These are not all being numbered among confirmed cases.

In our current world, this is about as apocalyptic as it gets.

I’m sure they said the same thing during the great flu pandemic of 1918 when about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected and the number of deaths worldwide was estimated to be at least 50 million.

The population of the world is exponentially greater now. So is the risk.

Stay safe out there. Good Luck.

Self-Isolation

I self-isolated first.

Late last year I deleted, or thought I deleted, my Facebook page. With that act, I cut myself off from over 90% of my daily social interaction. I had not realised at the time how significant this was.

I kept my Eric TDuck page, and my blogs, but they do not involve any conversations with others. That’s just me talking. I really don’t think many are listening. There is very little feedback, or indeed much indication that anyone reads my blog. Most of the ‘likes’ I get are from self interested bloggers pushing a product and farming followers.

It was not until a visit from my best and oldest friend, followed pretty quickly by the Coronavirus issue, that I realised how much my sanity depended on social interaction. Chatting, joking and exchanging views. And it was appalling to realise how much of the social interaction in my life was now virtual, with friends scattered across several countries, and very few physically nearby. That is, less than a week’s drive away.

Social distancing as a result of COVID19 did not change my life one iota.

If I plotted the location of all the friends with whom I stay in touch on a map of the world using blue dots for all those I have at some time actually met and interacted with, and green for those I’ve met through Facebook and never seen in person, by far the greatest number would be green, and the greatest concentration of blue would be around the great southern area of Western Australia. How did that happen?

Even so, it was through Facebook and Messenger that I had stayed in contact with most of these friends. I speak on the phone to only a few. I don’t write letters, and only a few emails. So. By deleting my Facebook page I had cut myself off from almost all of my friends, as well as the sexist, racist, fascist, ignorant twats who had driven me to despair.

The old nose and face conundrum.

I was surprised when, after following a news link which led to a Facebook post, I was offered the chance to log in as Eric TDuck (expected) or as myself (not expected).

So I got my page back. It seems I hadn’t deleted it. And with the return to sharing my thoughts, jokes, photos and political opinions came immediate conviviality and good wishes plus a little bit of the sanity I hadn’t realised I was losing.

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

Social Intercourse in the Time of Social Distance

Some of the coffee bars are open, with reduced hours, for take-away service only. Even baristas need to make a living.

Customers stand around outside the shop sociably spacing themselves in accordance with the regulations as they await their order. Some stay to sip and chat.

People who, in the past, would not have conversed with each other as they sat drinking their coffee and eating a croissant, now seek something to talk about. They seem fed up with being alone with their spouses and their thoughts. Assuming they have spouses, that is. The demographic is one in which the odds of that are probably 50/50.

The police have been busy enforcing the social distancing requirements quite strictly, it seems. As everyone stands well apart, they repeat the tales hey’ve heard, or read, such as of foolish people picnicking at a picnic table in a park somewhere who picked up a $1,300 fine for returning to the table after being told to disburse by the cops. There’s always someone. I wondered if they were fined as a bunch, or each. No one knew. I suspect the latter. This is Queensland.

What I find interesting is that I’ve had more friendly chats with strangers since the lockdown than I had in the previous six months. All at a respectful distance.

I thought of a cool social game to play with my neighbours. Chatting with a small accidental gathering on the road outside the caravan yesterday, I suggested we should all get our barbecues out, cook up something fun and then play musical barbecues, wandering from one to the other with a plate, to share the food. Then we could all return to a chair outside our own homes, sit, eat, drink a beer or wine, and chat.

It seems I’m the only one in this corner who has a barbecue. so much for that idea.

Stir-Fry Crazy

I did sort of go shopping mad in Woolworths. I only went in for coffee and coffee whitener, plus some low sugar lime cordial for my lager. But I suddenly thought of making a stir fry. So I bought some capsicum, chillies, celery, carrots, a quarter of a cabbage – a quarter! They’re selling them in quarters now! You don’t want to know the price but it was a quarter of the price of half a cauliflower. Several old pensioners were phoning their bank for permission to buy a whole one on credit. I was able to buy enough groceries for a couple of meals and plenty of coffees for just less than eighty dollars. I’m glad my Engel freezer is well stocked. For the next two weeks I shall leave home for nothing until it’s time for the stitches to come out on the 21st.

I might pop across to the off-licence sometimes though. Needs must…

It’s sad to see the old folks. I mean those older than I by ten years or more. The competitive light has gone from their eyes. There is no toilet paper left for them to fight for. It is hard to tell how they feel, their facial expressions are masked. By masks. I wonder if they are allowed into banks and service stations like that. The Muslims must find this all rather ironic.

The slice and dice went well as usual. Four deep self-dissolving stitches and six more of catgut on top. This was a bigger cut, but bigger deep rather than bigger wide. The last shoulder slice has not healed well, and Mehdi mildly reprimanded me for lifting or pushing or whatever it was I did to strain the wound. He reminded me that the scars would develop only thirty percent of the skin’s original strength in three weeks and a mere eighty percent in three months.

So it was foolish of me to ask if I could take the boat out. Apart from all the trailer pushing and shoving, lifting, nautical line tugging and anchor yo ho heaving, there is also the issue of the pull starter on the outboard. Not to mention the problems associated with pulling in a twenty kilo fish all by myself.

Not surprisingly, Mehdi’s response was a firm “no. For now”.

Then he did a great impression of my Mum. “We’ll see”.

Warning! Graphic Images Follow.

Latest (shoulder2)
Arm 1

Arm2

Shoulder 1 omitted. Too gooey. Also the photo did not come out well. You can see the edge of it at the top of the new cut.