Monday, February 29, 2016


The large novel has gone back to China for correction and the Brian Johns article has been edited and okayed by the Sydney Review of Books. Now for a rest pending more medical encounters tomorrow.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Sadly, I didn't feel up to going to the family BBQ today: too tired and I wanted quiet. Next year, I hope. Instead, I worked on the big novel which is taking longer than I thought. I should get it finished tomorrow. Now for a quiet night, with luck, and a good sleep.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Peace at last

The private power people, Service Today, returned this morning to check a couple of things on the new switchboard now that the power is back on. They also upsold us on having two smoke alarms 'plumbed' in so they are not reliant on batteries totally. When they departed at lunchtime, peace descended on the house. I managed to catch up on two days worth of emails and made some progress on the large novel with the author in Sydney. I should be able to send it back to China tomorrow (Sunday), I hope.


That was only the beginning. The power company (the people who do the famous poles and wires) opined after a long delay taking us into overtime that the fault was ours, so we had to get a private company at night rates to fix the problem. They arrived, in the dark, to say it would be fixed in the morning, Friday at vast expense. I had been expecting this for years, so it was no shock to force a pun. This mob (Service Today) did their stuff pronto on Friday morning and our end was fixed. Not so Powercorp, who had to reconnect us. They finally arrived at 4AM the next morning, Saturday, and now, as of Saturday morning, we are reconnected. Meantime, our neighbour Maria had supplied us with power via an extension cord over the road (hugely illegal) to keep the fridge going and give us a night light so we didn't fall over something. In the meantime, on Friday, I'd gone off to the hospital to collect some medication which I ordered on Tuesday for collection on Friday afternoon. It wasn't ready. I chucked a minor wobbly and, after an hour and half acquired the necessary med. I've decided, at the age of 68 and in true Victor Meldew fashion, that the world is entirely dysfunctional. I'll get over it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


This morning I sent off my piece on Brian Johns at Penguin to the Sydney Review of Books and did some other admin. stuff. Then a man arrive to replace our water meter and found it had an electrical fault (spark). A power man came later in the day to say there is a fault and a truck is coming later to check whether the fault is ours (in the house) or theirs between us and the street. Ho hum. It's just what we need right now. More to come. Meanwhile, can't use the microwave as it draws too much power.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Close encounters of a medical kind

What a surprise! The PDF pages of the vast novel have been simmering in China and arrived overnight for checking. I've now got more than enough to do. As well, medical encounter number one: I went to pick up some needed meds from the Health Centre this morning, which gave me an outing on an overcrowded bus. I hope I am free of medical things tomorrow so I can catch up on some work and more admin. stuff. I am trying not to push things too hard and have plenty of rest.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Action stations

You have to be very fit to be sick. Today I went off to the Melbourne hospital to see Genie, my nephrologist, who referred me to ENT about the tongue in the first place. She ordered a heart stress test, which I duly organised afterwards, along with a fresh supply of my liquid tachrolimus which is about to run out at the end of the week. Having accomplished all these errands, I came home, had muck lunch and fell into bed exhausted. In the arvo, when I was napping, the Royal District Nursing turned up to do the last of my tracheotomy dressings as it is nearly completely healed. Now to embark on a marathon of meetings with various medical entities.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Rest day

Today is a quietish day which gives a chance to sort out all the papers and admin. stuff left over from the three and a half weeks in hospital. I'm nearly done, then it will be time for lunch (more muck in a tube) followed by a welcome rest. Fortunately, P. did a lot of it while I was in hospital so there wasn't a great deal left to do.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Royal District Nurse cometh

The nurse has been and changed my tracheostomy dressing, lickety-split. She says that by the time they come next Tuesday, it will be all healed and only need 'bandaid' treatment after that. The dressing holding in my feed tube should be attended on a 'needs' basis. Now all I need to do is get rid of the bloody thing and get back to normal. I think that after all this it is time for an afternoon rest.

If something can go wrong...

Now recovering, I faced difficulties with my tracheostomy (too much accumulating saliva) so I had antibiotics for a possible infection. This delayed removal of the trach. which cannot be done until you can breathe without it for 24 hours, but at last I managed to do this. The next hurdle was my swallow which speech therapy claims is not good enough, so I need to keep the eating tube for at least two weeks for basic food and medication. I can, however, have oral food if it is thickened by a fiendish German potion. So that's where we are now.

The surgery

When I emerged from surgery, I was placed in cardiology not the surgical ward. During the surgery, my heart had shown some irregularities so they didn't put a 'flap' on my tongue as they had thought they might, but simply sewed it together. They were always uncertain about whether to do this or not anyway. Now, to my amazement cardiology wanted to do an angiogram to find out what was happening in my heart, two days after the surgery while I was still like a drowned rat. I said no. Eventually, when a postop echocardiogram (non-invasive) was done, it was identical to the pre-op one which had allowed the op to continue. So I was transferred to the surgical ward. Meanwhile, in spite of all this cardioconcern, the hospital had been unable to insert a feeding tube which, most importantly, would allow me to take my medications, including anti-rejection ones for the kidney transplant. After eight tries, each one requiring an Xray to check its position, one of the nurses, Lisa, managed to get it in. Bravo. Hi ho, hi ho, into a new ward I go.

Cast of characters

Before getting into the grislier details of the hospital experience, some of the characters, nice and not, who cohabited the wards with me deserve comment. Because I was in a mainly surgical ward, there were lots of bicycle accidents, one of which had ridden into a stone wall and broken his back several times, plus ribs, which were used to repair his back and who needed an ear sewn back on. He was very stoic. Most stoic were an 83-year-old Italian man who fell off his roof while fixing it and an Asian man who had a run-in with an angle grinder and had to wait a day-and-a-half for emergency surgery, all the while with no eating and drinking. His stolid wife waited the whole time, occasionally protesting. Most affecting were a couple of cases which obviously involved wife abuse. When the man in the bed next to you is threatening to kill his wife if she doesn't bring him a blanket, you can't do much. Or when a woman who says she has nowhere to be released to, then is later collected by a rather threatening-looking man who takes her away with her in tears. Life's rich tapestry.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Three and a bit weeks later...

It proved to be a bit of an underestimate, for a number of reasons. After three weeks and three days, I'm home again, sporting a natty feeding tube and being visited by the District Nursing Service to change my dressings. The good news is that the Ear, Nose and Throat team think that they got all the cancer on my tongue, but everything else turned into large complications or at least difficulties. None of this was helped by being under the care of not only ENT but also Plastics, Maxillo-Facial, Cardiology, Renal, and, near the end, Neurology (for the polio part). Complications occurred with my feeding tube, tracheostomy and swallowing, all of which caused, and still cause, delays. At present, I am part-feeding through the tube (which also takes medications) and partly through oral thickened liquids or purees, not the most gourmet of delights. More later, but I don't want to dwell on the inevitable horrors of hospital. I'd rather focus on getting back to normal.