Thursday, October 30, 2008

Half done

Well, the top teeth are gone. I hadn't realised that the ENT mob at the Melbourne intended to do the extractions in two or three bites (so to speak). I go back next Thursday where they will maybe do all of the bottom teeth or maybe half of them, depending on how good a patient I am next time. It's more than an indication that I wasn't a good patient this time that they have recommended that I go to my own doctor and get some valium before I come next time. Nuff said.

I was very grateful that my father picked me up this morning and took me to the hospital. Not only did it mean that I could return some of the research project files on the way and get new ones, but it also provided moral support (and meant I couldn't really back out at the last minute).

Last Supper

Last night, I went to The Commoner for a slap-up dinner with P., Frank and Lorraine. We had the full dinner, four plates of small food, shared, to start, then main courses and four desserts which we (mostly) shared. The small food was little anchovy savouries, rabbit rillette parcels, something called Hot Food with spanish sausage and baked carrot with poached egg. Lorraine and Frank each had lamb main course which they said was good while P. and I each had a tiny little capon with orange and olive. The desserts were beignets, a dish with rhubarb, chocolate cake and blood orange tart.

It was all delicious and probably the last such meal I'll have for a while. Now it's off to the hospital for tooth removal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The last few days have seen lots of visitors. On Friday, Barry Dickins dropped in for lunch. He's seems well recovered from his bout of depression, drugs and shock treatment (all of which he's written about in The Age) and is now trying to build a new life in a house of his own, rented, in Carlton, down the road from Sarah, his wife. Louie, their son, is moving between them.

Saturday was Slow Food market day at the convent, shopping and brunch in Brunswick Street, then in the evening we enjoyed dinner and The Bill at Frank's over a delicious pie from the market followed by apple and ginger dessert.

On Sunday, visits from Carmel bearing lots of deli. delights which we brunched on, then Sal in the afternoon, with more goodies, flowers, cake and an old bottle of port retrieved in her tidying up at home. She's off to Tasmania soon for a much needed break.

On Monday, Morris L. dropped in. I won't make his book launch on Thursday because of tooth extractions, so it was good to have a coffee and chat in advance. And I'm off this morning to visit George P. in his hostel which is long overdue.

On Sunday night, P. cooked a delicious spaghetti carbonara and on Monday night I did a whole snapper in foil with tomato concasse, olives and anchovies.

Meantime, I've been working away on the research project, and had notice of a new manuscript, a novel from Queensland. It should arrive any day now. Over the weekend, I read another novel, referred by a friend, and did a short report on it, but can't work on it. I found all the characters, South African emigres, repellent. I couldn't, wouldn't spend more time with them than I had to or it would drive me demented.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Steady working week

Having sent the Tasmanian ms. back to the author for checking on Monday, I've spent most of the rest of the week puddling about on the research project. I have to prepare a short paper (on list building) for the symposium in late November and am doing some investigation of publishing subsidies from the Literature Board of the Australia Council. As part of the same exercises, I'm also trawling through the files which Jessica has sifted from the Penguin archives.

Not very rivetting stuff, I hear you say. Well, I'm finding it interesting, though most of my conclusions turn out to be rather humdrum.

On the dental front, I've confirmed my extractions for Thursday 30 October (in my second week of break from hyperbaric). After they are done, I have to do two more weeks of hyperbaric. Sigh.

By way of celebration, I've organised a small dinner at The Commoner for the night before the exractions as I won't be having much nice food for a while afterwards. Speaking of which, we've been eating rather well this week. My Karen Martini kipfler potato chips with tahine sauce and little whiting fillets with rocket wasn't bad, and P.'s pork chops with mango salsa was a triumph. Last night, I used up lots of leftovers with that old standby cajun chicken salad.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Burn After Reading

The humdrum weekend was very pleasant. After shopping with Frank, we had another excellent lunch at the Spanish pub in Smith Street: more patatas bravas, garlic prawns, fish soup and Spanish platter. The place is very friendly, the prices moderate.

In the evening, Frank treated us to his fantastic homemade pizzas plus some homemade pretzels (not at all what you'd imagine from those dessicated things which often come with drinks). Then on Sunday, P. and I went in the afternoon to the Coen brothers latest, Burn After Reading, which is a plot-driven movie, not unlike Hitchcock's Family Plot in its interweaving of stories which don't quite overlap, but do in the end. All the performances are splendid, especially Brad Pitt, who does a very good line as a dopey character. Doing what comes naturally perhaps? The film is highly recommended.

Tonight, P. is preparing Stephanie's roast chook, which is always a delight.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rumours of my death...

have been grossly exaggerated. After four weeks of hyperbaric treatment, I have emerged relatively unscathed in spite of the odd scare here and there with everything from heart to kidneys. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for messages of encouragement and support (and for the basket of gourmet goodies).

Meanwhile, I am applying my mind to the research project colloquium in late November and the following Resourceful Reading conference at Sydney University. How I will manage both of these events without any teeth remains to be seen, but the fallback position is a kind offer by my colleagues to read my paper, in lieu of me.

As well, the Tasmanian manuscript is powering along to completion. I finished the 'final' rearrangement today, and it has gone back to the author and compiler for checking. With any luck and a bit of tweaking by them, it will be ready to go to the publisher soon. Fortuitously, the SBS excellent First Australians program covered Tasmania this week, and echoed some of material in the Tasmanian autobiography (and vice versa). We should all be chanting, 'There will always be Tasmanian Aboriginal people,' as a kind of mantra.

After all this, let's hope for a boringly humdrum weekend of shopping and crosswording.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Great relief

P. had his rostered day off today, which was unfortunate as I spent most of it in hospitals. However, after hyperbaric, we did manage to have a really nice lunch at the farm cafe. I seem to be the only person who doesn't turn up there with a pram or a toddler.

Then off to the cobbler/elves. Remember them? Both of them have been on long service leave, one in Europe, one in northern NSW/Queensland and both are looking refreshed, well and full of travel stories. They took an impression for a new, better fitting nose which should be ready in a few weeks. They restore your faith in decency and niceness. I dread the inevitable day when the health system abolishes them.

Then on to the renal clinic, clutching my reports from hyperbaric at the Alfred. In the two tests I've had since the last (not good) one, my kidney function has improved. Why has this happened? Dr Champion de Crespigny said, 'It was a mystery last week, and it is still a mystery.' Having scared me witless last week, this week he was much more reassuring, but has sent me off for a four-five hour heart assessment at Nuclear Medicine early in November. As one of his colleagues told me, months ago, 'You won't die of kidney failure, you'll die of a heart attack.' So the heart tests are probably a good thing.

Two more hyperbarics to go on this round, so I'll finish Edmund White's excellent autobiography, but what with all this hospital visiting the Tasmanian ms. is going slowly.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bored with Hospitals

Now in week four of hyperbaric and thoroughly bored with hospitals. Last week I had two days in which I had to visit two hospitals each day. First was hyperbaric as usual. I am powering through a lot of books, as reading is all you can do for two hours. Then off for what I thought would be a routine renal clinic visit. However, bad news. My renal function had decreased for the first time in years. Fresh tests were ordered to confirm the results, which I will get tomorrow (Wednesday). Next day, after hyperbaric, back to Ear, Nose and Throat for the flora problem and a fresh and even more powerful lot of antibiotics was ordered. I am starting to rattle.

Just when I thought I had exhausted all possibilities for medical complications, I awoke this morning with chest pains. Thinking the best course, as it didn't feel too dire, was to go to the Alfred and the hyperbaric staff, I did. They swung into very efficient action and gave me many tests, ECGs, x-rays etc. to conclude that nothing major seemed to be wrong. But no hyperbaric today, and back tomorrow for a check with them, maybe a hyperbaric session then off to renal again for the results, armed with the results of the tests from the Alfred.

You can see why I am sick of hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Tasmanian manuscript is fast approaching conclusion. Just a few more matters to resolve and it will be off to the publisher by the end of the week, I hope.

In the middle of all this fol-de-rol, I've had some very nice lunches at the farm cafe: last Thursday with Jackie Yowell, on Friday with George D. and Julie Watts and today with Jo Bramble. It is a very pleasant interlude having lunch with the chooks and geese and gum trees.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


This has been the last two weeks. Shortly after arriving back from Tasmania, and commencing the hyperbaric treatment, I came down with a dreadful cold/flu. As a consequence, life has consisted of, on week days, getting up at 6am, going to the Alfred for two hours of hyperbaric treatment, then going home to bed.

P. came down with the same lurgi a few days later, which was sort of comforting, as it meant it wasn't the result of being pressurised in the hyerbaric chamber, and it also meant that he was around to prepare meals which I responded to, at first, something like a sparrow.

By today, nearly a fortnight later, I'm feeling much better, though not completely cured. I actually feel as though I can do some work this week for a change after two weeks of complete zombiedom.