Where’s winter?

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Cairns 1987  © PJ Croft 1987, 2013

I must be feeling better. Yesterday I did a 45 min round trip walk via the chemist (across Marmion Avenue) and Coles then back home. Without stick.

Today I did the beach stairs, again without stick, and then did half the flights again. My aim is to reach the stage of getting up all ten flights without stopping for breath, then maybe do it twice. I can feel my legs improving.

Then today I followed the path at the top of the cliff for about a kilometer to see where it goes, and found a slightly easier way down to the beach. It’s a dog beach there too, but I don’t think Minnie would be up to it. Anyway, it’s such a struggle to get her in and out of the car. Hard on her, and me.

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What a warm winter. Every day 20-21C. Perfect weather really, but where’s winter?

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Oh, nearly forgot. If you buy (or look through) Australian Personal Computer mag this month, on page 12 you’ll see my mug shot looking out at you, with “Peter Croft says” beside it. The editor asked me to send him a shot of myself a couple of months ago, so I knew something was coming. I hoped I might win a prize, but no such luck. He’s actually used another mug shot from 2008, not the one I sent him.

Then in the list of suggested advertising slogans for PCs, mine is the second in the list: “The PC. When you’re serious, come and see us.”

It’s all about how tablets and laptops are outselling desktop PCs, but are really useless for serious work such as CAD, 3D animation, HD video editing, audio editing, large spreadsheets, serious writing and page layout and so on.

Tick, tick, tick, tick …

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Another tachycardia last night. That was the second since I came home from hospital. I was trying to get to sleep again and just felt odd – a bit breathless. I felt my pulse and sure enough, double rate. I tried the fingers-over-the-nose-and-blow-hard trick and it took four tries, but it worked again. Thank goodness.

There seems to be a link between lying down in bed and the fibrillation starting. Maybe when I lie on my side, the lungs move and press on the heart to cause it? It settles down after a while, but it’s definitely still a problem.

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I’ve started to build up the TV/hi-fi bench shown below, and it’s the most complex IKEA item I’ve built. I’ve been going about four hours so far and only got about 1/3 done. Still, I enjoy it. It’s like the old Meccano or model aeroplane kits.

But it’s too low. I don’t want to bend down so low all the time, so I’ve been looking for a way to raise it. I bought some large (75mm diam.) castors yesterday for $4.45 ea. but they’ll look a bit unsightly. I need to make a front skirt to hide them. At the old house, I had a workshop, but here I can’t cut wood easily. Maybe the skirt will have to come later. Hah! It’ll never get done.

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We’ve started the wheels turning to hold another Northam Senior High School Reunion next year, because 2014 will be the 50th anniversary of our Leaving year. Amazing, ain’t it? Fifty years on and we’re still in touch, a lot of us anyway.

We have 155 names on our list, but I only had 62 email addresses. I sent a heads-up to them all last Friday, and 25 bounced, so that cuts it to 37 active email addresses. And only 13 people replied. We have phone numbers for almost all the names, so we’ll have to get on the phones. Still, we’re looking to hold it in October next year, so there’s plenty of time … or is there? Some of the names on the list have passed away already.

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I changed the battery in my alarm system on Sunday and now the Program icon is flashing continuously. I downloaded the manual and boy! the programming is amazingly complex. Surely you don’t have to start from scratch? Luckily there’s a Perth phone number, so I’ll have to ring them and ask if it has a basic program stored in ROM that I can load. Surely it must?

4pm: Er, yes, why didn’t I think of that? Read the flippin’ manual. When the Program icon is flashing, press P then E and you’re in Normal mode. Solved. There’s still a lot to learn about this unit, though. The programming instructions are about 40 pages of tables.

I also discovered the external blue light and siren box today. That’s good.

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I used to use Quicken Personal finance software to keep track of my bank accounts, but it’s very closely guarded by the makers and I lost control of my copy a couple of years ago (I changed the hard drive – that’s enough to stop it from running! You can reinstall, but it forces you to re-register and that’s difficult.)

I just visited the Reckon Australia web site on Sunday to see what the latest version is, no more. But bingo! Next day I got an email from them asking if I want to update my Quickbooks. Just from visiting their website, they knew my email address and to start sending me stuff. Big brother is watching!

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While cleaning up litter in the back lane, I just met my other neighbour as she drove in. Her name is Barbara and we had a good old chat. She’s off on a trip soon, so we’ll talk more later.

Blow it

Bugger. I felt really good yesterday – more energy and there had been no more fibrillations since Tuesday.

But lying in bed this morning I got two short bursts, about 3 – 5 secs at low level of fibrillation. Damn. I don’t want this!

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At least I’ll be able to fibrillate in comfort. I’ve finally managed to make decisions to get some IKEA furniture and it was delivered yesterday. Two full sized armchairs, two tub chairs, a 1.8m wide gloss white TV bench/cabinet, two bookcases and two CD/DVD towers.

ImageThis will be the first time I’ve had comfy chairs for a few years, rather than using office chairs. There’ll be more cabinets to buy, but this lot will take me some time to assemble.

I lost my nerve

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Hangin' in there

Busy few days. Last Sunday I felt bad again as soon as I awoke – a bit breathless, pulse feeling funny, but not as bad as last Friday. It went on all day.

Monday morning it was still the same, so I phoned the cardiologist’s office to ask for an earlier appointment. She could hear my breathing and asked what I was feeling, then went and spoke to the doctor. He said come in to Hollywood Private Hospital. Barry, my great friend, collected and delivered me.

In Assessment my tachycardia and atrial flutter were clearly visible on the ecg. The cardiologist arrived about an hour later and said they needed to do an ablation. He passed me over to the ablation specialist Michael Davis, who I’d met before. Very self confident, commanding bloke and very friendly, so I felt good. Operation scheduled for Tuesday at 1.30pm.

Tachycardia and flutter were still going the whole time – they wanted to be able to see the result of the nerve ablation, so I spent the night feeling a little wonky.

Tuesday it was back into that old familiar Catheter Lab. I’ve been in there so many times now that I know it well. This time they let me walk to the table and sit myself up on it. It’s always been so hard to grab and drag myself over from the trolley before. I made a joke about going into the “female” (femoral) artery and the nurses found it very funny.

I was immediately injected with “jungle juice” as the surgeon called it, Fentanyl and Midazolam, to make me drowsy. It didn’t seem to have much effect. He ordered some more and that didn’t work either. No matter, I was OK.

But then he started probing with a long needle for the femoral vein in my right leg and couldn’t find it. Lots of needle sticks, some a bit painful. Then he switched to the left leg and spent some time probing that too, calling for a longer needle, 9cm!

Eventually he called for a fellow surgeon to help and he used ultrasound to find it. They still couldn’t make a big enough entry hole so had to put “two in one”. All this took more than an hour.

Once he got the catheters in, it only took about a minute to get it into the heart and onto the nerve between the upper and lower chambers of the right side. I could see it on the X-ray display. Then three minutes of diathermy heating and Bob’s your uncle. Another 20-30 mins waiting to see that it stays OK, while we had a chat.  Then he pulled the catheters out and it was done. Off to the recovery area where the nurse pulled the plastic tubes out of my groin. I tried to get her to give them to me, but she wouldn’t. Too messy, she said.

So back to my room and four hours of lying flat on my back, not allowed to raise my head, to ensure the vein doesn’t bleed. No problem, but your bum gets sore!

Ever eaten spaghetti bolognaise in that position? I was like a kid again, spaghetti all over my neck and face. But I was hungry enough to eat it all.

So another night in the ward, then home on Wednesday. No problems since. I hope that fixes the atrial fibrillation too. That was really getting to me. It’s all good so far.

One thing I didn’t realise is that the surgeon has to wear a lead lined gown, because the X-ray machine is on continuously. They’re in danger from radiation. The gowns weigh quite a bit, apparently.

Shocking treatment!

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Shocking

Another day of excitement yesterday – another ride in one of those green and white taxis.

I’ve been having a lot of atrial fibrillation lately, and as I was going to sleep on Thursday night I felt a few short bursts. But they stopped and I went to sleep.

But as soon as I woke up at about 7.30am I felt wonky. A bit trembly, shaky, puffing a bit. I realised my heart was racing, about 100bpm I thought.

I had a shower and got dressed but it didn’t settle down. About 10am I started thinking about ambulances and after asking my new next door neighbours to look in on Minnie, which they very readily agreed to do, I called 000 at about 1030am.

The ambo guys agreed I had a problem (tachycardia) and so off we went. At the hospital (in bay 13!) it was still going at 130bpm and a dose of a beta blocker about midday did no good.

So the next step was an electric shock. We see all those TV images of the body arching in spasm so I was a bit apprehensive, but they explained I’d be given pain relief and although I might feel a bit of pain, it wouldn’t be bad. I’d also be given a sedative.

So at about 1pm I was wheeled over to the resuscitation room, where sticky pads were placed front and back (no paddles to the sides of the chest like you see on TV). Nervous!

Then a long wait for a senior doctor to come. About 1.30pm they injected Fentanyl and some sedative and I got a bit drowsy – still aware, but not caring much. Then I felt a sort of convulsion for only 1-2 seconds and they said, “OK, that’s fixed it.” I could see on the monitor it was down to 65bpm. No pain at all, nothing.

So then it was another long wait for the sedative to wear off and I was let go at about 3pm. I asked if there was anything I should do or not do, but no, just carry on. But see the cardiologist asap. I probably need a beta blocker as well as Amiodarone. Another tablet to add to my long list!

That great guy Barry visited me in the morning and then took me home about 4.30pm. A true friend. Can’t thank him enough.

I was very happy with Joondalup ED this time. I must write a letter saying so.

It’s back

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Dunes on Mars

I’ve got my letterbox back again, right after I bought a new one yesterday.

I was out the front this morning as the newspaper lady came by. I apologised for the rubbish bin acting as my temporary box, telling her mine had been stolen.  She said, “Oh, is that yours over there?”

Sure enough, there it was stuck into the ground on the vacant building site about 300m away. That makes it “young people” for sure, just causing mischief.

Unfortunately, they’ve wrenched the rear door off, breaking the plastic (it’s 6mm perspex). I think I can fix it, although it won’t be easy. I may have to find someone to cut me a new door from a piece of plastic, but who? Where?

It looks a bit damaged, but not enough to discard it. Luckily I haven’t opened the packaging of the new one and I have the receipt, so I’ll be able to return it. $92.50! Pity, because I like the new one better than the damaged one. It opens from the top, rather than the rear, so it’s easier for me. Maybe I should keep it. I’ll be bolting it down, though.

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I’ve got new neighbours on the east side and I introduced myself yesterday. They’re a retired couple from the UK (everyone is around here!) and they’re the same age as me (well, he is anyway). The guy’s a London East Ender and I got his life story in about 45 mins of listening to him. Why, oh why can’t people realise they’re dominating the conversation?

Never mind, I think we’ll get along fine, especially as I was able to show them how to program (and turn off) their reticulation. I’ve been invited for a cuppa and to use their pool in summer.

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Did the beach stairs again this morning. Sure is nice down there.

Gone!

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Hawker food, Singapore 1993 © PJ Croft 2013

Bloody hell! Someone’s stolen my letterbox. I’ve only had it about a month. It cost around $100 with the pole it was on. They’ve just pulled it out of the ground and made off with it. Damn!

I suppose the only thing I can do to prevent its replacement from going too is to set it in concrete. I just banged this one deep into the ground with a sledge hammer. Not enough to stop this low life thief.

PS: I’ve just been thinking – whoever did this is going to place it out the front of his house for me to see. It’s very distinctive – it’s bright red. I’ll do some driving around. But how am I going to prove anything?

When I get a replacement letterbox, I’m going to write my name on the inside. Or better still, get my name engraved on the front.

PS Tuesday morning: it’s occurred to me that the thief didn’t get the keys to the lock. Unfortunately, I hadn’t locked it, but if I found a letterbox the same, on the same skinny pole, and my keys fitted the lock … but I don’t think it would be enough proof for the police.

Lesson number 1 – lock your letterbox.

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This on top of the scam calls I’m getting on the phone. Five times today I’ve been called by people with Indian sounding accents in a very noisy call centre saying, “Mr Croft, this is Dave, I’m calling from Telstra in Melbourne.” I don’t believe them. I think this is a scam, but hang up and they call back again. I asked for a number for me to call him back and he gave me a 1 300 number, but I just don’t believe it, so I didn’t. Why have they all got Indian accents and why is the call centre so noisy and the line so bad? If Telstra want me, they’ll write me a letter.

Bloody hell, as I write this, I’ve just had another one! That’s six calls today. How do I stop this?

Seven calls. They just tried again, but hung up on me this time.

Eight calls. They’ve just tried again!

Tuesday morning: Nine calls – they called again about 5pm! This time I left the phone off the hook for about 90 mins, i.e. I kept their line open, I didn’t hang up. Meanwhile, Do Not Call register.

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I’ve done the beach stairs two days in a row. Today there was a cormorant sitting on the railing near the bottom. I thought it would take fright, but it just sat there as I slowly went past. I was only about 2.5m away. Nice.

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I bought two flat pack steel shelving systems 2m high by 1200mm wide by 500mm deep yesterday. I hope I’ll be able to get the pile of boxes into some sort of order with these. I need my Canon multi-function printer, but it’s buried too deep at the moment.