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Mercedes CL500.  See below.

Long time no write, sorry. I’m OK, but insomnia is very bad. I seem to have phase shifted, sleeping in the day and alert at night. It’s odd, I can feel myself becoming less sleepy while watching TV in the evening, so when I go to bed around 10.30pm, I’m mentally active.

I never drink tea or coffee at night, and I use valerian and/or camomile tea to try to slow me down. It works to some extent, but not enough. I average about 3-4 hrs sleep a night, but it’s light and I wake frequently. Unfortunately I’ve become very acquainted with the radio programs between midnight and 7am.

I do have other sedatives available, but they give me hangovers in the morning, meaning I want to sleep again after breakfast. Lucky I’m retired! She’ll be right.

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I had my skin cancer operation on the 31st October, ten days ago. It was for a small basal cell carcinoma on my nose. The GP said they are not malign, but grow and need to be taken off, especially from my schnozz!

When I arrived at the dermatology clinic in Mt Hawthorn, I was given one of those disposable smocks and a cap, then had to wait quite a while. Then it was into a room with a black vinyl padded table and an almost blindingly bright light for the doctor.

First it was a local anaesthetic into the nose, and the first jab was the worst part of the operation. A few more around the area, but I hardly felt those. Then he started cutting, working fast. I could feel him working, but it was painless and all over in about ten minutes. I was sent out to the waiting room with a temporary dressing.

And wait I did. About 45 minutes. I could feel the anaesthetic wearing off. Finally it was back in, and it was stitching time. He said this would take about 45 minutes, although I don’t think it was that long. Another needle of anaesthetic (ugh) and more cutting, lots of it. He said he was cutting skin to pull down over the wound, to hide the hole and scar area. Then it was stitching, lots and lots of fine stitches, with a little knot for each stitch. It took a while, with the blinding light all the time. They put a cloth over my eyes, but it wasn’t opaque.

Finally, lots of strips of flesh coloured sticking plaster. I looked like Gerard Depardieu. I got home at 6pm and the anaesthetic was wearing off. Ouch, pretty painful, but Panadeine fixed it. I found Tramadol hardly touched the pain.

So that was that, more complicated than I thought, but it should last me a few years. Now, ten days later, it’s pretty smooth again, still a little scabbing but hardly any pain. A couple of lumps of oedaema, but they will dissipate.  Done deal.

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Medical appointments! Comin’ out of me ears! Each doctor seems to want another appointment.

As above, I had the BCC on my nose removed about 10 days ago, and that needed a pre-examination, then the surgery, then a post-op visit for removal of the stitches, lots of them. I said to the doctor, “It feels as if you’re darning a sock.” I thought it would be a simple procedure to cut a little thing like that, like a wart off, but jingies, he cut right down the side of my nose as well, making sure it hadn’t spread. Then he made lots of small cuts so as to pull the skin from above down to cover the wound. There should only be a small scar. The GP told me that the Medicare fee to the dermatologist is double for a nose job compared to any other part of the body, because it’s so difficult. Hmmm.

PS: I’ve just been to see a doctor prior to seeing a nurse to get a renegade stitch out, and it seems to have gone. That’s good. I didn’t relish someone poking around trying to find it.

I still have to make an appointment for another followup in a month. Crumbs!

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Tiredness is an increasing problem, and I had an “urgent” visit to a haematologist last Monday re the CLL.

Crikey, the appointment was at 3.30pm. I took the freeway all the way (the entry for the new north end extension is only 5km down the road now) and it took me 50 mins, counting Leach Highway and a couple of backstreets. I got there 15 mins early, spent that time filling out one of those exhaustive patient history forms, then waited an hour in the waiting room!

OK, so he says my red cell count has been declining for several months, and that’s of concern. It accounts for the tiredness. White cell count has been all over the place, due to infections, but on average is OK. Neutrophils are OK. Just the reds. He thinks my bone marrow may have “gone to sleep” and we might have to “wake it up”. Might need a bone marrow biopsy. Ugh.

However, waking it up can be done by administration of human growth factor, folate and vitamin B12. Sounds good to me. Sprinkled on my cereal?

So, another appointment next Thursday, with another blood test prior. But at Joondalup this time, thank goodness.

Then it was off home at 5pm. I wasn’t going to risk the freeway, so it was Stirling Highway and Stirling Bridge and the coast road. But it was bumper to bumper crawl from City Beach on. Then once through the SBR lights it was clear, then I heard on the radio of a crash at the intersection of Marmion Ave and Beach Rd, so the crawl was on from level with my old Trigg house. I took the turnoff and went down to West Coast Drive along the coast, and that was chockas too, but eventually I rejoined marmion Ave at Mindarie Drive. All up, it took me 90 mins to get home! Yow.

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Next up is the kidney stone and stent removal on the 21st at Joondalup. Of course, the anaesthetist wants to see me prior, so that’s next … crumbs, I can’t remember! No worries, it’ll come. (I’ve got a letter somewhere in the mess on the table.)

Even though it’s a general anaesthetic, it’s a day procedure, no overnight stay. There’s no cutting, you see, just “hooking out” with a probe.

That’s lucky, because my cataract operation is the next day. That’s also a day procedure with just a local anaesthetic, at SJOG Subi. I tried to shift both of them, but the schedules are full. In the case of the cataract, it’s Christmas and holidays and the next possible is in February. I can’t wait that long.  The right eye is also showing signs, as I knew, but nowhere near as bad.

Of course, the eye doctor also wants another prior appointment, don’t know when yet. Join the queue, mate. I’ll see if I can fit you in.

Luckily, I’ll be staying with my good friends in Scarborough for a couple of nights, who will then drive me home, presumably with my left eye covered by a patch. Harrrr, me hearrrties!

I always thought cataracts were very slow growing, but although I was told mine were coming a couple of years ago, the left eye has gone really bad in the past month or two. It’s like a permanent smear and haziness. It’s quite useless for seeing now, and quite a nuisance. I’ll be very glad when it’s fixed.

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Ever since I’ve had this Dell XPS15 laptop, I’ve had the feeling that the trackpad was no longer level with the outer areas, and the left and right sections had lost their click, if they ever had it. But I wasn’t sure. The front edge of the track pad is about 2mm proud of the surface now and the case is visibly curved.

Recently Dell have sent out service notice that we will get a free battery replacement due to swelling of the original battery. So that’s it. We have the choice of sending the laptop to their service centre, or requesting a battery to do it ourselves, and full instructions are given. I’ve chosen that, naturally. I await delivery. I hope the pressure is not too much in the meantime.

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I’ve been taking part in the ABC Study, the Australian Breakthrough Cancer Study, in the past few months. It’s a big study trying to identify genetic factors in cancer incidence. Obviously, I have an interest in this.

So far, there’s been a long, detailed questionnaire on-line, followed by receipt of a saliva collection device for DNA recording and examination.

Then it was blood sample collection, six vials of about 4mls each. That was last week.

Now they are sending me a kit of an accelerometer and an inclinometer, two small body mountable devices, to record movement for a week, to be returned to Melbourne. Not here yet.

It’s all very interesting, but it will take a long time to hear the results as they may take years to prepare. I may not be here. Starting to think of mortality. A lot.

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Which leads me into … I’ve been looking for a used car for a couple of years now, as you know, but have been unable to make a decision. Well, I think I’ve finally found “the one”. It’s a Mercedes CL500.

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It’s a 2005 model, but has only done 84,000km. That’s important. It looks hardly used, which is not unusual for these cars. They are driven by very careful people.  It has all the log books showing the servicing has been done, also vital. Price about $33,000. This was a $220,000 car when new in 2005 and the drop in value is probably as low as it goes, provided I didn’t put too many more kays on it and kept up with the servicing.

It should actually appreciate, as long as it’s kept in great condition. If I missed this one, there’s another almost identical one in Sydney too, except that it’s all black leather inside, and has done 184,000km for $21,000. I suppose I’ve just contradicted my last statements about depreciation, but there may be other faults with this one.

Anyway, it’s all pie in the sky. It has to wait until all these medical things are out of the way, probably December at the earliest. I would love to fly over, buy one of these cars, then drive, maybe up to Brisbane, then down the coast south of Sydney and follow it around, then back across the Nullarbor. In the height of summer? Yikes.

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On the up

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29 October, Happy Birthday, Dad.

Long delay in writing, sorry. I’m feeling much better since my hospital trip, but still tired. The GP is investigating persistent anaemia. There are a couple of possible reasons, one fixable, one not. To be determined, more blood tests tomorrow.

Then on Tuesday I have my small operation to have the BCC removed from my nose. I hope they don’t have to dig too deep.

Then Wednesday I have an appointment at Lions Eye Institute to look at the cataract in my left eye. It’s got really bad in the past couple of weeks, so that I’m having trouble reading and seeing properly. It needs fixing asap. I can’t drive at night, and the GP made noises about needing a police medical to check my driver’s licence validity. Uh oh. Crumbs, if I lost my licence up here (in South Geraldton*, I mean), it would be terrible. There are no taxis, or almost none. Buses are all very well, but not when you’ve got bags of shopping goods.          *Perth joke.

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There was an item in the papers on Friday – about 190 (I think) billionaires in the world now control $6 trillion of the world’s wealth, which is more than twice the GDP of the UK. This is obscene! They are just piling it all up, and most of it is untaxed by way of tax havens. The photo to illustrate the article was of a gold Ferrari parked in Sloane Street, London. Not just a gold painted Ferrari, no, a gold plated one! How arrogant.

A couple of the billionaires were quoted in the article as saying they felt and obligation to give back, and their idea is to open their private art collections to the public.

What arrogance! How is this going to help? How about giving just one of your $billions to help the Rohingyha crisis, for example. When your fortune is $10billion, you’ll make that small donation up in no time.

The theme of the article was that this is a repeat of the Robber Barons era at the beginning of the 20th century, when the Rockefellers, van der Bilts, Morgans and so-on in the USA built vast fortunes, often by nefarious means. It led to a backlash in new tax laws and breakups of their companies. It’s time it happened again.

I’m back

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Sorry, it’s been a long break with no posts. That’s because I’ve been a bit sick, quite sick, actually.

From Wed 4th I started getting big shivering and shaking fits, called “rigors”. (I pronounce this riggers, yet for some reason, all the medicos and nurses pronounce it rye-gors.) Apart from the shaking, I felt OK, so I let it go.

Last Saturday morning I managed to slip out of bed at about 7am and found myself on the floor, too weak to get up or even crawl. I also couldn’t reach my bedside house phone, it being too far back on the bedside cabinet. My mobile was out in the kitchen on charge.

I spent an hour or more slowly crawling into the bathroom trying to find a away to pull myself up, with no success, so crawled back out again. Finally, with much effort I managed to reach my phone. I called my good friend KG and said “Help!” He could come out, luckily, but he had no way to get in, as the house is locked tight at night. So he called the police, who said they’d come here “if they had time.” Someone, they or KG, also called an ambulance, emphasising that I wasn’t injured or anything, just couldn’t get up.

While waiting, I tried to crawl to the door of my bedroom so as to get out and unlatch the front door. No way. I couldn’t do it. In the process I wet myself and my jocks slid off. Ugh 😦

Finally after about 45mins I heard shuffling outside my front windows and people moving out there. A while later I heard, “You get the crowbar and blanket,”  then BASH, BASH, BASH as they tried to break a window. It turns out that I have laminated glass windows with film on the outside, hard to break. They bashed so hard on the sliding window of bathroom 2 that they damaged the whole frame. The police have insurance for this, and my house insurance will cover it too. They left their card and departed. Being still on the floor, without my glasses, I never actually saw them, just heard their voices. I do know two were females, and me stark nekkid!

The front door was open now and the ambos came in, also two females. They covered me with a blanket, then got me some fresh jocks and a T shirt. We had a good old chat, and Keith had arrived as well. It turned out everyone knew someone – small city.

Then an ambulance car arrived with the lifting device, a pneumatic chair. They slip the flat base under you, inflate that, then the next stage, and the next, and soon you find yourself sitting high enough to stand easily, which I did. Then, although I felt weak, I was able to walk around, so in the absence of any real symptoms, ie temperature or BP problems, or authorisation to take me to hospital (I guess), they left. Keith was still with me, and another friend arrived too, so I was OK. But thick headed! And weak! I couldn’t entertain very much and had to just sit there. Keith, in his usual commanding way, installed a support rail that I’d had waiting for something like this, near the bed so I can pull myself up.

Sunday I felt better, showered and washed my hair, and emailed the medical centre for an appointment with my GP for 9.15am Monday.

Monday 5am I nearly fell again. Very weak. I was so scared of it happening again that I dared not go back to bed, so sat up in a chair waiting. Six am, 7am, 8am, I was drooping and fell asleep, waking at 9.15am, the time of my appointment. Rushed to the car, forgetting my phone, drove to the GP (only 5 mins away). My BP was so low that I was dizzy, so he got a cannula in and started a saline drip into the vein. After a litre, I felt better, but was still extremely weak. He ordered an ambulance and so I was off to Joondalup hospital.

I spent five hours on a trolley in the Emergency Dept while they added more drips, litre after litre. Another cannula. Bloods drawn. Urine sample. Diagnosis: severe bladder infection which had moved up the kidneys. As well, X rays and a C/T scan showed a 4mm stone in my right ureter, blocking it, and the tissue around the stone was infected. So I/V antibiotic straight away, and an operation scheduled for the next morning, Tuesday.

The operation, a cystoscopy, went fine. I felt no pain. But they left a bladder catheter in, which I’m not keen on.

Sure enough, after lunch, the balloon of the catheter seemed to have shifted position and pain started, ramping up to 8-9/10, as bad as a kidney stone. I started groaning, then calling out, yelling, asking for pain relief. Nurses came looking concerned, but no authority; have to ask doctor, can’t find one. They gave me two Panadol, then one small Tramadol. Headache strength! Tiddleywinks! I need stronger. After about 40 mins they brought an oxy, but by then they had deflated the balloon, moved the catheter and almost instant pain reduction. Inflate the balloon again and things got back to normal. Ugh.

Later that night, a funny incident, although not so funny for the nurses. At 9pm, routine checks, but my BP was very low. Must be the machine misreading. Got another electronic machine, same thing. Got a manual machine and very carefully checked. No, no mistake, my BP was down to 80/31. The nurse hit the red panic button. Within a minute, the room rapidly filled with people, about 20 I reckon, all talking at once, one guy carrying the big red bag, the defibrillator. The noise! I felt fine. I said, “Thanks for coming. To what do I owe this pleasure?” I think they were relieved it wasn’t a real problem, but extra saline drip was wheeled in and I reckon they put in another three litres overall. The people slowly drifted away.

I mentioned that they all dressed alike, and I couldn’t tell who were the doctors, as it’s hard to see name badges at belt level and they weren’t using the usual badge of rank, the stethoscope around the neck. One guy came over and introduced himself as Dr Singh. OK, fine, no problem.

So that was Tuesday. The next two days were observations of BP, as we don’t know why it plunged like that. The catheter came out on Wed morning, thank goodness, not as painful as you’d think. But it took more than 24hrs to regain bladder control. Ugh, wet carpet, wet towels. I slowly came back.

So home again on Friday morning, collecting my car from the medical centre where I had to leave it last Monday for the ambulance ride. It was still there, dammit. It’s worth more written off than as it stands.

Very weak and tired for the first 36hrs, but much better now. Thinking about ways to ensure I can get out of bed OK, and a key-safe outside so someone can get in without bashing a window in, and a distress alarm. Easy.

It’s all good

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Finally, a tech from Opticomm came on Wednesday. Finally! I’ve been asking for this for weeks. Anyway, he had a look at the coax connections and within about 20 mins had replaced one on my outside wall, in the box, and four in the pit in the footpath. He said they looked corroded, and it’s because they were below the hole in the concrete cover which allows it to be lifted. But that hole allows the rain to drip in, hence the corrosion. He covered them with plastic, he said.

So after 25 days of complaining, and repeatedly being promised phone calls or deliveries, someone finally came. Bloody hell! It wasn’t until I contacted Opticomm directly that something happened. It seems iiNet never submitted a Fault Report to Opticomm, despite all my complaints.

I’m afraid iiNet are going to lose my business after this. This has been painful, atrocious. I’m on a 2 yr contract, but as far as I’m concerned, they have failed to provide the service they contracted to.

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Sorry, no more for now. For the last two days I’ve been shivering and feeling very weak. I had another dose of “the rigors” on Wednesday, uncontrollable shaking and shivering, lasting about three hours. Even now, Friday, I feel weak and shivery. It’s greatly helped by a Panadeine.

Battling on

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Gunung Agung in placid mode.   © PJ Croft 1986, 2017

I battle on, day 23 ending, still no reliable internet. It’s working at the moment, but drops out unpredictably. I’ve discovered by dealing with Opticomm directly that iiNet has never submitted a fault report to Opticomm! After three weeks of empty promises which never result in any action.

According to iiNet last Thursday, I was supposed to have an Opticomm guy deliver a new cable modem “within 24 – 48 hours”, i.e. Friday or Saturday. I sat around all day both days, but no-one called, no-one came. I am sick of this!!!  iiNet’s promises are utterly worthless.

Now today Opticomm are telling me I have to get back onto iiNet Support. Why? I think iiNet have still not submitted a fault notification and I have to prod them.

I shouldn’t have to diagnose this fault. Someone should have come here within the first few days, first week at least. I’ve now emailed iiNet’s Customer Relations and SHOUTED at them, I WANT THIS FIXED. Pathetic.

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I was buying drinks the other day and I noticed a bottle of vodka labelled Gluten Free. That’s good to know, for the big drinkers. I had to laugh.

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Ugh, feeling the beginnings of a cold/flu. A bit achey, muscle aches, throat ache. I hope it goes away. I never get colds or flu. Especially not flu. The only time I can remember was about 1973. I had to go out to make a phone call (no phone in my flat then) and had to crawl up some steps on hands and knees when I got back. Nothing that bad since.

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USA – sick country, sick people, sick president, sick government.  UGH!  I will never go there again.

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Gunung Agung 1986, peaceful.   ©  PJ Croft 1986, 2017

Huh?

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Gunung Agung in the distance, in this case about 45km. I hope any eruption is not too serious.                    © PJ Croft 2017

What’s going on? My iiNet connection has stayed up all night, since about 6pm yesterday. It dropped out briefly (5 mins) at about 11.15pm but is staying with me. Has somebody at iiNet done something? I’m afraid to touch anything in case it goes bad again.

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I know it’s stayed up all night because I was using it all night. It was yet another of my sleepless nights. I’ve had a carbohydrate-rich breakfast and I’m hoping it will make me droopy soon so I can get some sleep now.

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I had a colonoscopy last Friday. It was because the government sponsored bowel cancer screening program showed a positive result for me. I wasn’t worried – I had an all clear colonoscopy only two and a bit years ago.

This one was also clear, no problems. “Come back in five years.” Can’t be too careful.

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Strangely, my left eye problem has cleared up. I had a seemingly permanent smeary effect, like dirty glasses, but it was still there with my glasses off. I thought it was the cataract and was going to arrange for the operation after the colonoscopy. But it’s cleared. Strange, but I’m glad it has, obviously.

On the other hand, now I can see my nose and I’ve got a lump on it. The doc says it’s a BCC, a basal cell carcinoma. This type doesn’t spread apparently, but it will get bigger, like the wicked witch’s nose. It has to come off. The BCC, not my nose. So that’s next.

Just one durn thing after another.

Brief interlude?

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On the air again at 6.30pm Sunday. It’s been out all day, but has come good, for how long …? I got a text message from iiNet this afternoon saying Opticomm have told them my “outage” was already fixed. No, it isn’t!!! I texted and emailed back, FIX THE PROBLEM!

This is the fifteenth day, added to the many hours-long dropouts in the two weeks before. Pathetic.

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For the past couple of weeks this rainbow strip has been placed at the top of my pages. I want to state that this has nothing to do with me. I don’t choose it to be there and I object to it being there. I’m not gay or anti-gay, I’ve voted Yes in the postal vote, but I don’t associate myself in gay promotion in any way. If I could remove this ribbon, I would, but I can’t. It’s not my choice for it to be there.