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.

Environmental Health in the Kimberley

From ABC Radio National. An Aboriginal led initiative is what is needed. Reading this in 2020 is almost like reading my exit report after my EH position was defunded in 2017 after which the Shire transferred me to youth work. With the same problems.

Sorry about the formatting. My iPad WordPress app is contrary.

rom https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/healthreport/environmental-health-in-the-kimberley/11779592

Environmental health in the Kimberley

On Health Report with Dr Norman Swan

A study in the Kimberley in Western Australia has found that the environment in Aboriginal communities explains a high percentage of hospital admissions and many millions of dollars in costs.

These same environmental factors increase the incidence and severity of over 40 diseases and are likely to explain a proportion of the gap in life expectancy and wellness between Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians.

The study was driven by Nirrumbuk, the Kimberley’s Aboriginal owned environmental health enterprise.

Guests:

Ray Christophers
CEO, Nirrumbuk Environmental Health & Services

Chicky Clements

Field Support Officer, Nirrumbuk Environmental Health & Services

Host:

Dr Norman Swan

Producer:

James Bullen

Transcript:

Further Information

Trajectory

Noteworthy

….. we have evolved massive creative brains, capable of planning and predicting the future, of invention and creativity, and this had helped us extract ourselves from many of the historical shackles of natural selection. We have externalized the stomach with the invention of cooking, so we don’t have to digest a whole range of chewy molecules, because they are already partly broken down by our unique control of elemental fire. We have bypassed many aspects of a life of nomadic sustenance, as well as hunting and gathering, by settling and domesticating all manner of beasts of the field and plants of the ground. This also has changed our culture, technology, and even our genes. We have radically eliminated diseases that scythed down ancient popu­lations with casual indifference — plagues, malarias, cancers, pesti­lence. Smallpox once killed hundreds of thousands every year. Since the 1980s, as a result of vaccination, there have been no cases of smallpox. Polio looks set to follow soon as a disease only of inter­est to historians. These sorts of evolutionary pressures have been radically altered as a result of invention and science and the tech­nology that has come about through our own evolutionary trajectory.

From: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes
Author: Adam Rutherford
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Copyright 2016, 2017 by Adam Rutherford.

Trajectory is an interesting choice of word.

Wednesday

The last few days have been a little strange. But I won’t go into that. I’m better again. Except this agonising sciatic, or whatever, pain. I’m on so much Pregabalin now that I have to restrict my alcohol intake to an occasional glass of wine or cider just before bed. That won’t do me any harm.

I am now a Queenslander. I have surrendered my WA driver’s licence and been issued a Queensland one. I had my over 65 medical today. Then went straight to Queensland Transport. A new licence will arrive in the mail in a few days. My new licence is coded M, which means I must carry with me a current medical certificate as well as my licence at all times I’m driving. That is something new. And I must wear glasses. Fair enough.

I really like having Mehdi as my doctor , as I have mentioned before. No matter the reason for the appointment, he is always willing to take time to discuss anything else of concern. Today we went overtime talking about my meds, my activity, and the suspicious spots I am finding. That is why I don’t mind waiting patiently past the set time of my appointment, because I know someone else is getting the same treatment.

I have designated the last Wednesday of the month as Rangla Punjab day. Today is that day. So it has been a busy one. In order to enjoy without guilt a splurge on a $20 all you can eat -and very deliciously worth it – Punjabi buffet which is available there every Wednesday I have to bank some kilojoule credits. So it was up early, coffee and a digestive only for breakfast, swimming , cycling, driving to Woodford and Caboolture and back, with only water and a light 360 kJ snack of corn wafers to keep me going. As it happens, 90 minutes of driving puts me in credit another 600 kJ, so that covers a naan.

I’ll be sailing in with 12,000 kJ in credit. That is the daily allowance of 7000 I have set as my target, the purpose of which is to keep my brain operating, less what I’ve eaten already, and adding the energy burnt in exercise.

Even if I go mad I should not eat my way through even half of that.

But there was a time…

A Visit from Varanus

Mehdi doubled the strength of my pain meds. I’m so grateful..

I’m having some of the more pleasant side effects I had when I first started taking Pregabalin though not nearly as strong. Strong enough however to think I should not be driving for a day or two.

That’s fine. There’s nowhere I need to go that I can’t go by bike. First thing this morning: to the pool! I’m permitted to swim again.

I’m probably being ultra-conservative about not driving. I was perfectly steady and in control on the bike. But as if to pat me on the back, Karma had me come upon a pair of cops on First Avenue stopping cars and checking out the drivers.

After my swim, off to Aldi for fresh salad vegetables. Then home for a brunch of salad made from lettuce, baby spinach, julienned carrot, cucumber, capsicum, tomato, and a chilli all coated in a generous dollop of my home-made aioli.

I took my salad outside to eat. I drank icy cold sparkling mineral water from the Engel. As I sat, I heard a rustling in the dead leaves behind me. At first I thought it was the bush turkey, come for the carrot and cucumber peel I’d put out. But no.

‘It was a huge goanna, a lace monitor lizard, Varanus varius. These are in my opinion the most attractive of the goannas. Their beautiful colours and patterns are perfect for blending in with the bush.

He, or she, was almost two metres long. It strolled past me and lay down to bask in a patch of sunlight behind my Toyota. Long tongue flickering in and out all the while. I got a crick in my neck watching it, but I knew that if I moved my chair it would be off. No chance to fetch the camera even though I’d charged the battery and left it handily by the door ready for just such an occasion. Never mind. I just enjoy watching,

Behind me – more rustling. I said “if that’s you turkey, be advised there is a goanna here. Come back later for the carrot”. But no. Again.

It was another goanna. On the other side of the fence. Same species. Smaller in size. I have two goanna neighbours! It was maybe two thirds the size of. Number one. Again, I have no way of knowing it’s gender. It wandered nonchalantly past without stopping, its tongue constantly tasting the air. It did not seem interested or concerned about us on this side of the fence.

Goanna number one, however, was very interested. It didn’t make any angry hissing sounds or seem agitated, it just got up and started along the hurricane mesh fence looking for a way through. As it moved along the fence it tested the gaps but could not find one large enough for it to push through. I lost sight of it behind the neighbour’s caravan. By the time I’d got up, fetched my camera and followed it, it was gone. There’s a hole under the fence behind Gaz’ place.

I wonder if those two are a pair?

Here is someone else’s picture of Varanus varius

Alamy Stock Photo.

Thank the Kraaken for Kodiene

Yesterday was overcast, and relatively cool until the storm broke later that night. I made significant progress on the list I compiled two days ago. I then went on the bike to deliver outsize trousers and shirts to the hospice op shop in Bongaree. After that I extended the ride, exploring further around the poncy canal-side suburbs until I noticed my battery was going flat. I had forgotten to charge it after my last ride. I hadn’t plugged it in after the ride because I thought it might rain, and even though it is undercover, water flows through my area. Evidently I didn’t plug it in at all, even after the rain didn’t eventuate.

Pedalling home became increasingly strenuous, made worse by a fresh on-shore headwind. At least I got some exercise, but this morning I awoke in severe pain. I could not ride. I took the cruiser to the ATM and coin dispenser for dollar coins for my next laundry loads. Then to Aldi for fresh vegetables. By the time I returned to the car I was in severe pain. It’s not my knees, but my thighs and calves so I know it is my spine that is the cause. Just climbing into the car brought tears to my eyes. I needed Codeine. I hoped I still had some in my medicine drawer.

I did. Four left of twenty prescribed by Mehdi on 14/12/2018. Almost exactly a year ago. Mental note to request more next visit.

Not much else is going to happen today. I hurt.

De Morte

Now that I’ve had a nap, and a glass of wine with my dinner, my reflections on today have given me some insights. It was indeed embarrassing; both for the GP with an unnecessarily concerned patient, and for the patient.

I too quickly leapt to a conclusion. When I received the previous call back, I made the appointment by phone, and asked for a hint of what the doctor wanted to discuss. Of course the receptionist was not falling for that one. This time, I didn’t ring, but just booked via the booking app. If I had rung, no doubt some confusion and distress might have been avoided. Or perhaps not.

No harm, no foul. A lesson learned.

My own (over)reaction ranged from considering the simple possibility that I was just going to lose a bit more of my arm, to the increasingly more sinister implications of chemo, radiation, drastic surgery and a short and painful prognosis. I missed the one I should have considered first; it’s probably nothing serious.

I also thought about where I was right now. From a medical standpoint, possibly the best possible place in the world. I have free medical treatment in a country well equipped and experienced with skin cancer.

I am between 2,500 and 3,600 km away from my closest friends and relatives in any direction. I’m paying the price of having been too far for too long from my immediate and extended family. I explored some time ago the possibility of returning to NZ. My visit only confirmed you can’t go back. Even returning would have to be a going forward. I couldn’t see the way.

My local support group consists of two very kind new acquaintances. I have one person with whom I have regular long distance telephone conversations, a friend who has experience with basal cell carcinoma. It used to be we only had dogs, emus and cooking as common interests. I’d have preferred to stick to that.

Today was, therefore, a reminder of what it is to be alone and ageing. As if I needed one.

In vino veritas