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.

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…

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.

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.

Gold Card

My new RAC membership card arrived in the mail on Friday. I have been upgraded to Gold status, having been a member for twenty five years. That is including my New Zealand AA membership of course. It would actually be forty five years had I not let my AA membership lapse for a year when I was in Solomon Islands.

It reminded me that I failed my first drivers test only a few days after my fifteenth birthday. Fifty three years ago. I remember that Ted Saunders, the Henderson traffic cop, asked me who had taught me. I told him my Dad. He said to tell my dad to teach me how to park. I learned later that he failed every kid on their first try.

A few weeks later I passed and for three hundred dollars bought my first car. A Morris Oxford, made only a year or two after I was born. Column change, dipswitch on the floor, as solid as a tank, and probably just as dangerous if it could have got up to any speed.

I remember we had a standard joke coming up the hill from Piha beach where the thirty mile per hour sign was placed. everyone yelled “thirty! Speed up!”

She could barely do twenty up that hill in second gear, and inevitably boiled over at the top.

Even so, with a roof rack loaded with surfboards, we rode that old girl everywhere from the Bay of Islands in the north, to Coromandel and Tauranga in the south and East, to Raglan and Muriwai in the West. often we would drive to Hamilton merely to have the best burger ever from one of the Uncle’s franchise burger bars, better than all the rest. Or to Coromandel for the best ever fish and chips, or to Hikurangi for the best ever pies.

And in Mission Bay one could obtain the best ever pizza from Mimmo’s. Fungi, Quatro Stagione, Marinara, Margherita, All authentic. I’ve never since had a pizza to compare. Better still, one could buy a half bottle of red wine from the shop next door and take it with the pizza across the road to eat and drink by the fountain. Magic memories. Our lives were based on beaches and food.

The Morris had a cracked head. After an attempt to have it welded, and a day spent just doing a valve grind, and continual problems of overheating, I eventually got rid of it. I never again had a car that smelled like old leather and exhaust fumes. Ah the nostrilalgia.

I can’t find a picture of her.

My second car was a beach buggy. Probably the most fun vehicle ever until the Landcruiser. Certainly better than the two Land Rovers that followed. We had discovered SCUBA diving by then. All our previous surfing trips were replaced by dive trips. Often to the same areas. In those days a three hour drive was a long way. I hadn’t discovered Australia yet.

Gimme a head with hair…
Long, beautiful hair…

Lockdown

From The Guardian

Queensland has announced a state of emergency, and along with enforcing the two-person limit, residents are now only allowed to leave their home for one of eight essential reasons. These are:

  • Obtaining food or other essential goods or services
  • Obtaining medical treatment or other healthcare services
  • Engaging in physical exercise, either alone or in the company of no more than one other person; or in the company of a family group who ordinarily live in the same household
  • Performing work on behalf of an employer that is engaged in essential business, activity or undertaking, and the work to be performed is of a nature that cannot reasonably be performed from the person’s principal place of residence
  • Visiting a terminally ill relative or to attend a funeral
  • Providing assistance, care or support to an immediate member of the person’s family
  • Attending any court of Australia or to comply with or give effect to orders of the court
  • Attending a childcare facility, school, university or other educational institution, to the extent care or instruction cannot reasonably be obtained in the person’s principal place of residence

A full list can be found here.

Queensland now restricts gatherings of more than two people. This applies in public areas but exempts members of the same household.

This means if someone leaves their house for an essential reason, such as exercise, they can be joined by only one other person or the members of their household.

On Thursday the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said that inside a person’s home they were allowed to have all the members of the household and two guests.Advertisement

Palaszczuk said this amendment is intended to help families who may not all live in the same home to stay connected. She also clarified that those who live alone are allowed to have one or two social guests.

Queensland police officers will be able to issue on-the-spot fines of $1,334.50 for individuals and $6,672.50 for corporations, who breach these laws. The maximum penalties available through the courts will be 10 times those amounts.

From 3 April, Queensland borders will be closed to everyone except residents and essential workers, including freight carriers and emergency workers. This includes erecting barriers in the Gold Coast suburb of Coolangatta, which straddles both Queensland and NSW.

There are some exemptions for those who regularly cross the Queensland-NSW border for work.

Alan’s Rant

It’s Official

I’m a cripple.

Now I can park in their parking spaces.

Those crippled bastards have been parking in our spaces all along, but could we park in theirs? No!

I have infiltrated their cosy little clique.

My turn!

Blow

A spot of wind last night. Gretel’s skirts brushing Queensland as she heads down past Noumea. It got pretty rough. Several times in the small hours I thought I was going to be awaking not in Kansas. I’m really grateful to Dave for his help with bracing the awning while he was here. Though the caravan rocked, she rocked steady. Nothing buckled or gave way. Usually I’d have folded everything away at the start of a tropical cyclone, but I’m not actually physically up to it at the moment. I just had to trust she’d ride it out, which she did.

Half my windows, my door, and all my vents were open so it was almost as breezy inside as it was out. I was snug and unworried under the duvet. The wind was strong enough to periodically blow open the magnetic closures of the insect screen curtains in the doorway. It sounded and felt as if someone was coming into the caravan as it rocked at the same time.

I’ve always liked sleeping with a breeze across my face, in fact it helps me sleep. It feels like camping out. Even so, I did not get that much sleep last night. I must have slept at some stage, but it felt as if I lay awake all night. I can’t spend the day catching up, because I have to drive to Woodford soon for two more excisions on my shoulder. Mehdi should have the results of the last lot by now.

Some Bastard

Some bastard has stolen my bicycle away
So I on old Bribie no longer can play
I will wade round the beaches right up to my chest
To find out my bicycle, the one I love the best

And when I have found out my joy and delight
Whoever is riding it I’ll surely fight
For his ears shall be ringing and his head shall be thick
Once I give him a beating with my walking stick

Here’s a health to all riders that are loyal and just
Here’s confusion to the rider that lives in distrust
For I’m telling you now that when I catch that prick
I shall give him such a beating with my walking stick.

Trad Arr! ARF!

Yes. Some prick stole my bike.

Special Points to anyone who knows the tune for this song.

https://youtu.be/n-tRqcow10k


https://youtu.be/vFVdxOy42JA

My Ironic Injury

The cooler weather has one advantage. I sleep better. However, I still have that early hours visit to the loo to deal with. I cannot try to avoid it by drinking less before bedtime. Must keep these kidneys functioning.

This morning my walk down to the ablution block was punctuated by that shooting pain up and down the right leg that is caused by the spondylosis of my back. I think it was triggered by reaching above my head to turn on the light. My light switches are on the ceiling. I must try to remember to stretch and warm up a bit before getting out of bed.

As I limped along, grateful once again for the gift of the walker, I had a sudden insight, and wondered if the first manifestation of this spondylosis problem might not have been the incident I think of as my ironic injury. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed possible.

Back when I was an investigator for the Ministry of Health, I had a couple of jobs to do at the top of of South Island. The first involved the unlawful laying of cyanide along the one of the walking tracks of a National Park near Blenheim. That was a pretty simple matter, because cyanide tubes all have a serial number. Not difficult to establish who was stupid enough to discard one without even trying to obliterate it.

The second was across in Takaka. An unqualified, unregistered physiotherapist, unlawfully practicing.

I had flown into Blenheim, and as anticipated, taken less than a day to interview the offender and get a confession. I then drove a rental car to Takaka. On the way, about an hour or so out, I stopped at the bridge over the Pelorus River. A scenic structure in a picturesque place.

I walked down onto the rocky riverbank for a photo from a good vantage point. Then I started back up.

Climbing over the boulders, I jumped off one, no higher than a foot or so above the path. As I landed, excruciating pain shot up and down my right leg around my knee. It was so bad I blacked out. I don’t know for how long. When I woke up I was lying on the ground. Still in agony. I made my way very slowly to my car, barely able to stand.

I was really lucky my rental had been upgraded to a large automatic with electric seats. Otherwise I’d never have got into it. I could have called an ambulance but I was reluctant to leave the car and my gear on the side of the road. Somehow I drove to Nelson hospital, and was admitted. I was examined and my leg x-rayed. They could find nothing wrong with my knee or my leg muscles. This is what makes me think someone should have thought to check my back.

Eventually I was discharged, everyone still perplexed about the cause. I manfully drove on to Takaka, in pain, and checked into my motel room. I sat down with a strong coffee, and ended up cast in the couch, unable to get up. Eventually I rolled off the couch, crawled to the bed, and pulled myself in.

Next day I realised I was not in a position to interview the subject. Or do much else. I took photos of the signs outside his practice, and headed back to Nelson airport for an early flight back. They had to use a fork hoist to put me onto the plane. A colleague met me in Wellington and helped me home.

The irony was that I needed physiotherapy for months after injuring myself on the way to interview a so-called physio.

No one ever determined what was actually wrong with me. I’ve never walked properly since, and though I was was eventually diagnosed with osteoarthritis it was not the only cause of my pain. It was years later in the Kimberley a visiting physician made the connection and I first heard the location of L5 mentioned. I learned that leg pain can be caused by the spinal nerves being pinched.. Apparently the doc can tell which vertebra is doing the pinching by the location of the pain.

Thought of the Day

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