Riding it out


Singapore 1992  © P.J. Croft 2013

I’m still here, albeit a bit quiet. The last week or more (more) has been pretty ordinary, fending off the black dog circling me, but it’s improving quite noticeably.

But at 1015pm I’m sitting at the computer when I’d really rather be in bed. Atrial fibrillation. My heart has been doing a mad dance for the past 90 mins, fluttering and jumping around, missing beats, then running at double rate. There’s no pain, but it makes me breathless. It’s been happening a lot recently and I’m seeing the GP tomorrow so I’ll ask about it. As far as I know, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Just take an aspirin to ensure nice clot free blood.

SCGH told me to just “ride it out” and come in if pain gets too bad. There has been a little bit of pain (angina) in the past few days, but none now.

So I’m just waiting for it to settle down, which it will. But trying to go to sleep with it like this is a bit hard.


I picked up my new glasses today, two pairs, one for close work and one for distance (since I said I don’t like bifocals). But wow, they are so different. Wearing the distance ones, I can’t read the fine print on food packaging in the shop, but there’s no way I could wear the reading glasses for normal walking around.

I’ll give them time to settle, but I may have to go back and ask for bifocals I think.

However, good news. My peripheral vision is absolutely fine and the prescription for both eyes is the same now, -3.0, whereas they used to be half a dioptre different at -3.25 and -3.75. So apart from age related inability to focus close, my sight has actually improved. No problem with glaucoma either.


I bought a Bunnings brand (Ozito) line trimmer yesterday. I used to have a Ryobi and it was fantastically powerful, but cost $120. This one cost $39.95, a third of the price. Usually I don’t buy the cheap stuff, but for the small amount of grass I’ve got and at the price, I’ll take the risk.

It’s a big dilemma for manufacturers. If you make good quality tools, your customers buy one and it lasts forever and they don’t need to buy it again. Many, many of my tools are one offs, which I bought 40 years ago and they’ve lasted because you bought the best quality you could afford then. There was really no choice.

But technology and quality are improving so fast that people are prepared to buy cheaper and more often to get a better model. So the quality maker has to go down market or risk losing sales. Catch 22. Luckily, down market stuff is greatly improving in quality so we’re the winners.


11pm – still irregular heart rate. Waiting, waiting.


I had the carpets cleaned today. I’d got used to the smell after Minnie christened the rooms, but the guy said he could smell it straight away. Smells good now.

Luckily Minnie wants to be outside, but she surprised me last week by coming in, unnoticed by me, and sleeping in the darkest bedroom one afternoon. I didn’t realise until I went in there. No problem this time – she didn’t do anything wrong and came out the back door to wee on the grass later.

I’m working in the garage at the back to reduce my stock of books. I’ve got far too many. I’m being ruthless. Unless they serve a purpose (i.e. they are some kind of reference), or I’m definitely going to read them, out they’re going. Out to the Save the Children Fund collection depot, that is.


The carpet cleaning guy talked today about the future development of this area and it fits with what I saw in the local paper yesterday. There is going to be huge residential and commercial development just north of here, to rival Joondalup, he said. Fine with me. Even Joondalup is 14Km from here. Whitfords is 18Km. I want more shops nearby. Target is being built at Clarkson, 10 mins drive down the road. Good.

The Italian cafe on the corner near me is applying for an alcohol licence too. Fine with me. The pub is across the road, so it won’t make any difference to me.



1986 © P.J.Croft

Crumbs, I’m getting jumpy.

Last night while watching TV I heard a loud crash from the back end of the house. I’ve been a bit nervous about someone jumping the back fence and attacking my back door. It’s only a sliding glass door. This sounded like it.

I didn’t immediately get up, but I realised it was a book shelf in one of the bedrooms had broken away from the wall. There are these shelves that appear to have no supports – they have rods driven into the wall and the shelf slides onto the rods. I’d put a load of books up on one, but it seems they don’t support many books, hence now they’re all over the floor.

Now, at 1145am, I heard another knock on the door – just two quick, polite knocks. It was so clear that I got up and answered the knock. No-one there!

I forgot to mention – there was also a loud crash yesterday afternoon from the patio area. It sounded really bad and I immediately went to investigate. It turned out it came from next door. We’re only 3m or so apart.

PS: Later – I took the shelf down and found it should have easily supported the books, if it had been put up properly. It uses a substantial steel “frame” screwed to the wall with four screws. But whoever put it up drilled the holes in the brickwork too large for the green wall plugs. As soon as any weight was put on it, the plugs pulled out.

This is easily fixed. I just use the next size of wall plug and screw the bracket on again with heavier screws. But there are six of these shelves, four in one bedroom and two in another. I’ll have to check the others now. Bugger.


I saw the doctor yesterday about Actos, among other things. She wasn’t aware of the severe side effects or the US class action, but she knew about Avandia (another glitazone class drug) and how that was banned in Australia, so was very receptive to me stopping Actos immediately, which I’ve done. No substitute. We’ll see what my next HbA1c is in three months, then decide.

That makes two drugs I’ve had to stop recently. The other was the diuretic Frusemide. Diaorrhea! Yes, listed as one of the side effects. It didn’t show up immediately, but was terrible recently until I realised what was causing it.


I’ve just bought myself a present to cheer myself up (yes, the first lot of pills were definitely not working, so I’ve gone back to the ones I used to use).

Doing as much driving as I am now, I want to listen to DAB+ radio in the car. But I don’t want to lose AM radio because DAB+ isn’t available everywhere. Up to now, DAB+ car radios were rare, and they usually sacrificed the AM band to make it DAB and FM only. No good to me.

But now I’ve found Kenwood make a DAB+/FM/AM/CD player car stereo. That’s what I want! So I’ve ordered one from Ryda.com, that mob in Sydney who gave me good service for my phone order. $198, a reasonable price I feel. I’ve had to add $30 for the wiring plug assembly and another $9.95 for postage. Fair enough.

Now I hope to be able to get my car’s dashboard back to proper shape. I’ve had a double height unit in there, and it doesn’t fit properly, so the dash is a mess. This should be a lot neater.

Nobody told me!

The Shambles, York, UK © P.J. Croft 2008, 2013

Here’s another shambles. An item on ABC News last night said that a class action is being started (in the USA of course) against the makers of the diabetes drug Actos due to its links to bladder cancer.

"But even before the drug was released to the market, studies showed 
that Actos was linked to serious complications, including heart
failure, bladder cancer, blindness and bone fractures. However,
patients were not made readily aware of this. They were simply told
that this once-a-day pill was the best solution to offset the
dangers of diabetes."

I’ve been on this drug for nearly five years! The doctor didn’t tell me anything about these possible side effects. In fact, he’d switched me from a similar version, Avandia (rosiglitazone) due to that drug’s links to heart attacks. Avandia has been withdrawn from the market, but I was on it for about three years.

As of this morning, I have stopped taking Actos. Bloody hell. As if I haven’t got enough problems already.

In the USA, “… Actos carries a black-box warning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s stiffest caution, regarding its link to heart failure. The drug can cause an increased heart failure risk in patients both with and without pre-existing heart problems, the warning states.” [same source as above]

I’m a bit upset about this. It’s still approved and sold in Australia, but at least a doctor should have told me of these potential effects.



Uh oh, again.


 Busselton, 1990  © PJ Croft 2013

I’ve just had a phone call at 1.05pm from a guy with an Indian accent in a very noisy call centre environment telling me that he’s calling from Melbourne in Victoria. He just wants to tell me that he’s from Telstra and from next month on, there will be no line rental charge, and all my local and interstate calls will be free.

I’m thinking, why? Why would Telstra ring me to tell me everything’s free when I’m with iiNet? He says, no, iiNet is just your carrier, your line is with Telstra.

Then he just wants to confirm my details. He knows my address, except he gets one digit of the postcode wrong. Then he asks me to nominate one friend’s mobile number and all my calls to that number will be at a flat rate of 95c. I say no, I don’t want to nominate any number.

Then he tells me my monthly fee will be $59.95 (I already knew that) and asks for further confirmation of my address. By this time I’m getting very suspicious and say, “No, something’s funny here.” He says “What’s funny? You tell me what’s funny.” So I hang up on him. He hasn’t called back.

What the hell was that all about? I think it was an Indian call centre scammer, but if he has my number and address, why does he want me to confirm them? Is it just to get me to give him some friend’s mobile number?

Bloody hell, raps on the door, scam call, bangs at night making me wonder whether to get up and investigate. What’s going on?


I had a bad night last night, too. I woke at 4am needing a loo stop, and my Atrial Fibrillation started up. A bit of angina, a cold feeling on the back of my neck. Scary, in other words. You lie there wondering whether it’s bad enough to phone for an ambulance. And for some reason, I needed to pee six times over the next two hours.

It settled down after that and I slept until after 8am.

Uh oh.



I was a bit worried about this, and it’s happened.

At 5.30pm last night there was a loud rap at the front door. It wasn’t just a polite knock, it was a loud, hard, rat-a-tat-tat. I was immediately suspicious and said, “Who is it?”. No answer, so I looked through the bedroom window and there was no-one there.

This house is right on the footpath and people are always walking past, including lots of kids and “young people”. Presumably it was some person out to stir me up. I’ve been a bit worried this might happen and here it is. It’s only once, so I won’t get too alarmed yet, but I hope it’s the last time.

I may have to fix a video camera above the door and start recording. It’s easy enough to do these days. I should add that the front door is solid, heavy. No-one could break it down. I doubt anyone could do the TV trick of putting their shoulder to it either. The deadlatch is solid.


Speaking of which, this house has a full alarm system but the battery light is flashing all the time. I assume it’s a backup battery for mains failure/disconnection, so I got up the ladder to look into the control box the other day. Only then did I discover a phone connection plug and socket. The sellers didn’t say anything about it being monitored. There are stickers on the windows with a number to call, so I’ll have to check and find out. I’m sure they would have told me because there would be fees to pay.


I had my eyes tested on Friday as my eyesight has deteriorated in the past year (always myopic, I now have presbyopia as well).

The result was, no wonder I’m having trouble reading. One eye is markedly different to the other and both need new prescriptions. NB: as my HbA1c has fallen, so my eyesight has actually improved as my blood sugar has slowly fallen. My distance vision is good even with my single vision computer glasses. I just can’t focus up close any more.

I also have no signs of retinopathy damage. But it showed my intraocular pressure is borderline between normal and high, the first signs of glaucoma. Dad had it so I’ve been expecting it. I just need annual checks from now on, that’s all. Gettin’ older.


I finally got to IKEA on Friday to see what I’m thinking of ordering. It made me change my mind about a lounge fabric colour, and I saw a desirable tub chair I wasn’t aware of, so it was good. I went on to the rugby klub afterwards, but there was a game on and it was packed out. I don’t like crowds like that so I gave it a miss – a pity because that’s the first time I’ve made it there since about January.

I set off to negotiate Marmion Avenue to home on a Friday at 5.30pm expecting traffic jams, but it was a breeze all the way. The full 80Km/h and no congestion to speak of. No problem.

I’m doin’ OK


Windows86 - Malacca, Malaysia
Note: this is a hotel where you can book
online and stay. I nearly got there in 2004
but had to change plans. Nice place.

I got my latest blood test results this morning. HbA1c = 6.1 !! That’s down from 6.7 in January. A reading of 6.0 is considered not diabetic. I am virtually no longer a NIDDM.

All my other readings were almost bang in the middle of the good range. Cholesterol 4.5 (less than 5.5 is the goal) and HDL/LDL ratio was 2.3, which is great.

I’m feeling better too. The pills are working. Not 100%, but getting better.


Very interesting program on SBS last night about fat, obesity and gastric bypass surgery. I know someone who’s had this done and she swears by it. It’s miraculous, apparently. It cures diabetes type II straight away, and absolutely removes food cravings. Weight loss is dramatic – 30% at least, and it stays off.

The problem for me is that (1) I’d have to have the gastric band removed, and wait at least six months afterwards; (2) it’s a bit late in life for me; (3) it’s major, radical surgery. The risks are small, but not negligible. It’s done by keyhole, but it’s still serious stuff and non-reversible.

The program and my GP both say there has to be a pharmaceutical solution. Something changes in the brain when this surgery is done. If they can discover what that change is, a pill could have the same effect. Maybe 5-10 years, said the doctor on the program. I live in hope, but I don’t think the surgery is for me this late in my life.


I called again at the SJOG Subiaco pharmacy yesterday and finally got a U-handle walking stick like the one I lost. Yet it was the only one there out of about 30 in the racks. All the others are T-handles. I don’t understand it. As soon as I use my wallet, I need two hands and that means I have to hang the stick over my arm. A T-handle slips off. Doesn’t anyone else have this problem?


I took the opportunity to ask if there is any device to assist with getting pressure stockings off. Apart from a wife. The answer is, no.

I’ve got the frame to get them on, but they’re so tight that getting them off risks breaking the skin, and that leads to slow healing and risk of infection, as I found to my great cost last year. I’ve been using a long plastic shoe horn, but I’m dead scared it’ll break and stab me. A steel one would be better, but it would still have rough, sharp edges.

It seems to me there’s a need for an invention here. But the next thought is that if you invented something and it led to any kind of injury to another person, even from misuse, it would inevitably lead to lawsuits and damages claims. In this lawyer crazy world, you can’t take that kind of risk any more. So we don’t. Too bad.


I also had two little skin keratoses frozen off my scalp this morning. They were nothing to worry about, in other words. You hear so much about melanomas that you worry. No need.

Out the door


My nice IKEA wardrobes, gone.

They’re gone. I’ve sold my IKEA wardrobes. A bloke and his son just came and loaded ’em up and took ’em away.

These wardrobes had a long history. I originally bought five PAX wardrobes in flat pack form in about 2001 when IKEA was changing their range. They are wider than the current models and in birch veneer with Baltic pine louvre doors. Beautifully made. I paid $200 each for them, plus another $100 worth of hinges.

But with one thing and another, they stayed in flat form leaning against my bedroom wall until 2008, when I was heading to Europe and having a house sitter in. I had to finally get around to assembling and installing them. They looked great! All five formed a wardrobe wall.

But as these things do, they became the repository for everything – all my junk, as well as clothes. They were packed with stuff.

In early 2011 when I thought I was going to Bali, they had to be emptied and got rid of. It took a huge effort, but we  (Barry and I) did it, and Barry bought them from me and took them away in full assembled form, with his mate Brian to lend muscle.

Then Bali fell through and I needed them again. I bought them back off Baz for the same amount and he and Brian brought them back. Each wardrobe took one trip from Sorrento to Trigg on its own in his Land Cruiser.

They went back into the same place, the same room, but on bare concrete this time because the carpet had been stripped out.

Then in July 2012 I had to get the house recarpeted for sale, so they had to come out again! That meant clearing them again! This was getting boring. This time I disassembled three of them and stored them in the workshop in flat form again. At least, two guys I was paying to help me did. Trouble was, they stood them straight on the concrete floor, which was prone to flooding in heavy rain. That meant after they’d gone, I had to move them to one side in the workshop, put some bricks and timbers in and move them back again off the floor. Did I say boring?

After the carpet was in, the remaining two came back inside and I lived with them for the next seven months until I had to clear the house again after sale in February. So they had to be disassembled again and put into the storage lockup. Then they came out here in the big move in April. I should have sold them while I was at Trigg, but it was just too much to think about, too much to cope with at the time.

They’ve been in the garage since. Luckily there’s plenty of space there, but I can’t use them here, so a couple of days ago I put them up for sale on Gum Tree. Wow. I got the first call within two hours. Fast work.

But he only wanted two of the five. I said, no, it’ll be harder to sell in ones and twos – I need to sell the lot. Anyway, it’s an absolute bargain – $250 for the lot. He said he’d talk to his wife, but didn’t call back.

Another guy rang next day and asked if I had them in white! What? I’m not a dealer – they are as you see in the photo. Oh.

Then yesterday I got a woman again wanting to buy only one. Same deal – no, prefer to sell as job lot. She’d get back to me.

Then only five minutes later, another woman rang from Wanneroo, very enthusiastic, just what she wants, can she come tomorrow? Wants them all. Terrific.

Then the first lady emails me – she wants to come and see them. I say sorry, they’re sold now. She emails back, “I could pay you more if you like.” She’s sorry she missed them and wants to start a bidding process. I say, “Sorry, I’ve committed to a prior sale and it wouldn’t be fair. If the sale falls through, I’ll get back to you.”

But it all went smoothly and the husband collected them just now. Didn’t quibble, didn’t want a closer look, just handed me the cash and started loading up. They fitted his trailer perfectly.

So, all gone. I liked those wardrobes. You can’t buy that style any more. It’s all either white or metallic or mirrors or bold paint colours. No louvre doors. Au revoir.


That was my first experience of Gum Tree and it worked fine. I’ll try to use it again. This morning I’ve just discovered another auction web site for photographic gear, and it’s a West Australian development. It was mentioned on PetaPixel, a US web site.

It’s like eBay, but only for camera gear. You can pay by PayPal, so it’s safe enough. There’s not much gear on it yet, but I really need to get rid of a lot of my “treasures”, so I’ll put them up and see what happens. Good idea.


I finally managed to shift enough boxes yesterday to retrieve my cheap laser printer, so at last I’ll be able to print again. I can see the Canon multi-function printer, and my big Epson photo printer, but they’re too far down to reach yet.


I think Minnie is confused by all the quartz chip ground cover, and she doesn’t know where to poo. There’s no exposed soil for her, so she’s pooing anywhere. Got to clear some ground.

She came out into the back lane while the guy was here and started sniffing the fences. The little terrier dogs behind the fence went mad! I’m surrounded on all three sides by these little yapping silky terriers. They are very annoying with their barking. It’s yapping, going on and on at times. Minnie barks with one woof about once in two or three hours on average, just to get an answer from me or to say, “Hey, have you seen the clock? It’s meal time.”


I put a new letterbox up a few days ago. The old one was so small and low down that it was constantly full with the junk papers. The new one is A4 sized and higher up so I don’t have to bend so much to look in. What to do with the old one? It’s stainless steel. Who would want it? There’s a Salvos shop nearby, but it’s not the kind of thing they’d want.


Nice, eh? It's York, in England.