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.

Rain

I’m living on the second largest sand island in the world. As far as I can tell, the only thing stopping it from washing back into the sea is a dense matrix of vegetation roots. I was thinking about this at 04:00 this morning, as I sat and watched the most spectacular show of lightning I’ve seen since I left the Kimberley.

I think that may have been the heaviest rainfall since I moved here. Now that I’m going nautical again I’ve started taking an interest in the weather, so I have subscribed to a few apps that keep me up to date with wind rain and tides. Watching the rain on radar, it was pleasing to see it was heading southwest to where it will no doubt be welcome in the Burning Lands.

The storm reminded me of the rain that fell while I was camped at Inskip Point, which resulted in the flood that damaged the caravan undercarriage. Also causing a huge sinkhole. This time, fortunately it hasn’t lasted as long and did not result in a flood.

I went through the archives to see exactly when that was, and could not find it. For months I did not write in my blog. Everything was posted on Facebook. Now lost.

What kind of journal keeper forgets to keep his journal – and worse – deletes all his notes?

How cool is modern technology? When I gained my navigation certificate, GPS tech was a closely guarded military secret. Now, not just a GPS, but my phone and my iPad can tell me where I am and can carry the tide tables and Marine Charts of all the world. When I had a set of charts for New Zealand alone they filled a cabinet. Now a full set of charts covering Australia and New Zealand occupy an imaginary space in a piece of plastic and rare earth metals smaller than my little fingernail.

Epic Ride

I’m pretty pleased with myself. Given the calorific indiscretions of yesterday, I was determined to do the right thing today. I was up at six. Two mugs of coffee and a Carman’s Oaty Bar for breakfast and off to the pool. I was in the water just after a quarter to eight. I had the pool to myself until after nine. By four minutes to ten I had completed 92 lengths without stopping. Slow and steady. About 6,000 kJ, I estimate.

Then I rode down to Bongaree to visit the library. I called in to talk to Joe at the bike shop, and bought a pump. By then it was lunch time. A steak and kidney pie and Coke Zero from the family bakery in Bongaree. Then I had to work that off, so I set out on the epic ride mapped out below.

I stopped for a walk at Buckley’s Hole, but was disappointed to find the lagoon was dry and there were council workers at the bird hide. No birds. So it didn’t matter I hadn’t taken my good cameras with me.

It seemed a long ride, Despite the electric assist, my legs are telling me they did their fair share of the work. By the time I arrived home just after two, both I and the battery were almost exhausted. But I was not in pain, I noted with some surprise.

There is no way I could have done this a month or so ago. When I recall how I fared on my first ride on this bike, and how tired and sore I was after, I get a good idea of how far I’ve come. It is very encouraging.

There is an underpass beneath the Bribie bridge, for pedestrians and cyclists. It is very interesting because it takes you down below sea level. Joe was telling me there was a major stuff-up in construction because the contractor did not use the specified concrete. The result was porous and the subway filled with water. It had to be dug out and done again. That explains all the work that was going on that I wondered about every time I drove over the bridge.

The roundabout at Bellara is the scariest place for an old codger on a bicycle. I shan’t go that way again. Motorists seem to lose all courtesy on roundabouts. Though some are bastards anywhere on the road. Especially those with ‘P’ plates. I quickly cut back to the cycle path and decided not to ride the roads again if I could avoid it.

Bongaree Jetty
Plenty of places to rest.

Poor Old Horse

I’m paying for all this activity with extra aches and pains, but I keep telling myself it’s a good thing, and it will get better. As long as I keep my knees from twisting while they are flexing. It happens sometimes while pedalling. That fuckin’ hurts badly. I cannot ride with the ball of my foot on the pedals because the positioning of the seat, handlebars and pedals do not allow me to bend my knees that far. So I pedal with my heels. Because I am a bit splay-footed my knees poke out sideways. I need to be careful to avoid the sideways twinge. Pain is a good tutor.

Now while I ride there is a more acceptable sort of pain developing in my thigh and calf muscles, which tells me they are burning energy and performing work. I am now pedalling all the time, with the electric assist set to minimum. The boost is off, so the accelerator doesn’t work. That means the bike only helps when I’m actually pedalling. I’ve been heading out further afield and encountering some slightly more challenging hills. Definitely need the gears. I know I’m contributing significantly to my own progress because apart from being able to feel it, I’ve learned to read the LED lights that tell me how much contribution the bike is making. Also I’ve used up less battery charge by the time I get home even though I’m venturing further.

I’m still marvelling to myself how much I’m enjoying this effort.

In the water, things are even better. The initial shoulder aches and pains last less than fifteen minutes at the beginning of my swim. After that, endorphins or muscle memory or something kicks in and I seem to be able to just keep swimming. Slow and steady. Today I swam another 140 minutes, yesterday 130. I still resist my tendency to count Strokes and laps as I go, cycling through mantras like “Just keep swimming” “Om mane padme Om” finally, to trying to fit sea shanties into my rhythm. While trying to remember all the verses and versions. To quote Dylan Thomas; “Time passes”.

As an aside, by sheer coincidence, today was “Talk Like a Pirate Day”.

Yaarrrr!

Poor Old Man

A poor old man

Came riding by.

And we say so,

And we know so.

O, a poor old man

Came riding by,

O, poor old man.

Says I, “Old man,

Your horse will die.”

And we say so,

And we know so.

And if he dies

we’ll tan his hide.

O, poor old man.

And if he don’t,

I’ll ride him again.

And we say so,

And we know so.

And I’ll ride him

‘Til the Lord knows when,

O, poor old man.

He’s dead as a nail

In the lamp room door,

And we say so,

And we know so.

And he won’t come

Worrying us no more

O, poor old man.

We’ll use the hair of his tail

To sew our sails

And we say so,

And we know so.

And the iron of his shoes

To make deck nails,

O, poor old man.

Drop him down

With a long long rope

And we say so,

And we hope so.

Where the sharks have his body

And the devil takes his soul!

O, poor old man.

Another Version

Poor Old Horse

They say, old man,

your horse will die

(And they say so, and we hope so)

They say, old man,

your horse will die

(Oh poor old man)

And if he dies then we’ll tan his hide

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and if he dies then we’ll tan his hide

(Oh poor old man)

And if he lives then we’ll ride again

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and if he lives then we’ll ride again

(Oh poor old man)

And it’s after years of sore abuse

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Then we’ll salt him down for the sailors’ use

(Oh poor old man)

He’s as dead as a nail in the lamp room floor

(And they say so, and we hope so)

He’s as dead as a nail in the lamp room floor

(Oh poor old man)

Aye and he won’t bother us no more

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and he won’t bother us no more

(Oh poor old man)

And it’s Sally’s in the garden and she’s picking the peas

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and her long black hair’s hangin’ down to her knees

(Oh poor old man)

And it’s Sally’s in the kitchen and she’s baking the duff

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Aye and the cheeks of her arse are going chuff, chuff, chuff

(Oh poor old man)

And it’s down the long and the winding road

(And they say so, and we hope so)

And it’s down the long and the winding road

(Oh poor old man)

It’s mahogany beef and the weevily bread

(And they say so, and we hope so)

It’s mahogany beef and the weevily bread

(Oh poor old man)

And I thought I heard the Old Man say

(And they say so, and we hope so)

Just one more pull and then belay

(Oh poor old man)

Just one more pull and that will do

(And they say so, and they hope so)

For we’re the lads to kick her through

(Oh poor old man)

Swimming Uphill

I forgot my water bottle today, and swam 2hrs and 20 minutes at the pool. Swimming with a mask and snorkel seems to dry one out. I must not make that mistake again. It is stupidly ironic to suffer dehydration in a swimming pool.

I only managed to swim 80 lengths in just over 1 hr 15 mins, a very reasonable 2km distance, except it means my average time per length was 1.7 minutes. That is slow. I started out doing almost 11 lengths per quarter hour and gradually slowed.

I count the number of strokes it takes for me to swim a length. At the beginning it took me around 27 but at the end my strokes were clearly getting weaker and a length took me from 33 to 40.

I noticed one curious thing. Swimming from the deep end to the shallow end took me on average 1 to 2 strokes more than when I swam in the opposite direction. I pondered this as I swam looking through my mask at the bottom sloping up before me. I had a sudden epiphany. I realised I was swimming up hill. Of course it would require a little extra effort.

Yeah, nah. It was really that the kick off at the shallow end gave me more headway at the start.

Now, I am reconsidering my goals. I had hoped to manage 100 lengths – 2.5 km – in two hours. But that would require me to maintain an average of 1.2 mins a length. I don’t think I can. So I shall adopt the ancient adage “Just keep swimming”. I’ll maintain a comfortably steady pace and go for a time record instead. After all, it’s about the exercise. I’ve always been a stamina over speed person.

Slow Progress by Numbers.

Ever since I worked on a poultry farm in my teen years, I’ve had one irritating obsessive compulsive disorder. I count things. This came from the twice daily routine of walking through the sheds and collecting eggs from in, under and around the nesting boxes and the poultry shed. A careful and accurate count had to be recorded of the eggs from each shed.

Nowadays I catch myself counting whenever I’m doing anything that has a hint of repetition associated. Depending on what I’m doing, at some time during the day I discover a number incrementing in my head, and I often have to ponder before I realise what it is that I have been counting. Riding my motorcycle it may have been power poles, or species of animal; driving on the Tanami it was kangaroos and wallabies, or neck-crunching potholes.

In the Bribie swimming pool I’ve been counting the number of strokes it takes me swim a length and the number of lengths I can swim in 15 minutes. Today for the first time I managed to do that and in addition keep count of the total number of lengths I swam. I’m pretty sure I did 50 lengths on Thursday, but I had to calculate it from the number of laps I did per quarter hour. All I know is that I was completely buggered and needed a nap before I could go to the physiotherapist that afternoon for more workout. There I pedalled for 15 minutes with shrieking knees, then 10 minutes pedalling another machine with my arms, and lastly knee bends or squats on a vibrating platform that gave me the weirdest sensation. The efforts of that day left me aching and weary. I treated myself to a lamb biryani for dinner, from the Indian restaurant up the road. The next day I spent quietly at home, napping and reading. And eating leftover biryani.

That itself is a breakthrough. Once, there would have been no leftovers.

Today I kept count again while swimming and was pleased with myself when I completed 40 lengths in just under one hour forty five minutes. That is 1 kilometre. I started out doing two lengths in a little under 3 minutes for a time then settled into a steady 6 per 15 minutes, with enough time spare for a short break every four lengths to do some water assisted chin-ups on the dive podium, and step-ups, squats or leg stretches on the exit steps.

It’s all getting easier and easier. I am concentrating now on breast stroke when I swim, because according to the app I use to record my progress, breast stroke burns the most calories. I know I am not giving it the effort that a fit swimmer would, so I record my swim in the app as leisurely swimming, That is listed as being about a thousand kJ less per half hour. That way, I feel I will not be exaggerating the progress I’m actually making.

On Thursday I was watching the clock, aching and weary long before the time I had set myself, and totally stuffed at the end of my session. Two hours seemed far too long. By the end I was struggling to maintain my determination.

Today I was surprised at how effortless the swimming seemed and how quickly time passed. I could have gone on longer and considered for a bit trying for 50 laps. In the end I chose to finish after an hour and three quarters, while my shoulders were still not aching. Hunger played a part in that decision because I had only had a mug of coffee before I set out. My reward today is a Thai prawn green curry and noodles I am about to prepare.

I swam five out of seven days this week, and I am thinking that four days a week will be sufficient, or perhaps just a regular two days on and one off. Judging by how good I felt today, a periodic rest day is a great idea.

Sodium

I had a really good session with my dietician today. Encouraging, supportive, and quite pleased with what I was already doing, she was very helpful in steering me towards a more finely tuned approach to my diet. I knew that for my kidneys’ sake I need to manage my protein and sodium intake in particular, and I have been paying them some attention, but I must confess I have mainly been trying to ensure I meet my kilojoule goals yet have a balanced and pleasurable diet. Though my kidneys should be my priority I have really been concentrating on losing weight to hopefully relieve the pain and improve my mobility. It is more a matter of life and death that rather than losing weight I keep my kidneys functioning at their current level and prevent them deteriorating further.

So I must do both. Because what is the point of living longer if it is no fun?

Now we have fine tuned the goals to reduce the protein and sodium limits further. I can manage the protein easily enough. I’ve already reduced my meat consumption to a few hundred grams a week. But I’ve noticed that it is easy to exceed the daily sodium limits. I haven’t worried about it too much, but it appears I should. Now my limits are even lower, and it may be that sodium, rather than energy, is what will actually limit my choices of food or quantity.

It looks like anchovies are out, for a start.

Many Cheeses too, which is a shame.

I must pay more attention to the nutritional information on foods and not just focus on the kJ.

Lastly, though I thought I was drinking plenty of water already, I must increase my intake back to Kimberley summer quantities.