Natural Bali

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Sanur dawn.  (C) PJ Croft 2016

Aaah, back at the nooooooood  resort, and what a pleasure it is. Cool pools, nice people, lush gardens, coconut palms, butterflies, dragonflies. They remembered us from August when we were here last, which is nice, but I suppose my odd bod is pretty memorable!

There are a few more guests this time, and we have the middle room of the upper group of three. We have an American guy from New Jersey via Bogor where he teaches English, and the other guy seems to be an Aussie but we haven’t met yet. Only one other woman here, and we’ve said good morning but that’s all. V has gone snorkelling off the beach with the US guy. I’ve just been for a swim in this upper, semi-private pool, and I’m sitting here starkers drying off slowly, no towel, no nothing. Aaaah.

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The US guy is only 27 but has a degree in English Literature and an advanced certificate in English teaching from Cambridge University. Impressive. He says he’s the only “white” face for miles around in Bogor, Java, and feels as if everyone is staring at him. He’s just not used to it yet, I think. It’s a very Muslim area, of course. Bali is so much more tolerant and cosmopolitan. With so many tourists, English is widely spoken and is taught to children at school from the beginning.

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Unfortunately V was forced to evade a truck the other day and damaged the left rear tyre. We took it to a repair place (bengkel) on the way here and he tried to plug the hole, but it was too big. The tyre is a write off, I’m afraid, but the car’s insurance covers anything that happens, seemingly, so it should be covered.*

In the process at the bengkel, at first he was going to fit a tube and did all the preparation, using a pneumatic press to push the tyre off the rim. But we decided to stop there until we sort the insurance out, so I paid him for his work. Can you believe, Rp20,000?  That’s A$2! I gave him another Rp5,000 and I wish I’d given more now. They are so friendly and nice.

But it means we’re driving without a spare tyre at the moment. Uh uh.

*Update:  insurance won’t pay, unfortunately, but the cost of a new tyre was A$40, I think. Pretty good.

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The car is a Daihatsu Ayla, a very small four door with a liftback, big enough for the two of us but too small for four, which we’ll be from Saturday. V is renting this one from a friend, but we’re going to exchange it for another Daihatsu, a Xenia, a much bigger people mover. Still small enough to be manouverable, but big enough for four. Hope it’s an automatic.

This bigger car has become available because it belongs to a guy who has lost his job, and the rent from this vehicle will give him at least some income for him, his wife and two small children. No dole here.

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Slept like a log the last few nights, thank goodness. My insomnia is improved here, but I still need the mild sedative otherwise it takes an hour or more to get to sleep. I suppose I’ll develop a tolerance for these tablets, but I need them. I stay asleep, that’s the point. Phenergan 10mg, available without prescription, an anti-histamine, but listed as a sedative on the box.

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I have a massage booked at 2pm (it’s 1pm as I write) and I’m a bit nervous. I hope it’s not the same guy who “did me” last visit. Hoooboy, he was brutal. I was yelling with the pain. I asked him to tone it down but he seemed deaf, or he was taking delight in torturing this strange body. He’s built like a weight lifter and can climb a coconut palm with bare hands and feet, and bring down coconuts.

Update: I had the massage yesterday and although it was a different guy, younger, and he asked at the beginning, “Strong, medium or smooth” and I chose smooth, he was still determined to make every stroke count. I was yelling with pain a fair bit. Incredibly strong thumbs. I kept asking him to tone it down and it worked for a minute or so, but it was soon back to full strength.

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V loves the milk and the soft flesh of young coconut, kelapa muda. I’m not so keen. I prefer the hard flesh of older nuts, the type we buy at home, all brown and hairy, that you crack with a hammer.

I have a possible UTI, (yooow when I pee), and sirsac fruit is recommended. We bought some yesterday and I had one this morning. Quite nice. I like it.

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Rambutan fruit ripening. In the background the guys are sawing the base off the new wardrobe so as to fit it through the doors of the house.

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Sawing the base off the wardrobe. Luckily Superman was there to help.

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Taking a break. They are always ready for a photo.

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It’s been a beautiful cloudless blue-sky morning, the first I’ve had since I’ve been here, but the sky is getting dark with rain clouds from the south over the mountains. Let’s hope it rains; I love tropical rain, warm, wet and cooling.

There was a beautiful soft sea breeze off the ocean as we ate breakfast, lulled by the soothing sounds of the angle grinder from the property next door. And the chain saw. Wonderful.

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Wednesday morning: it’s been raining overnight and is beautifully cool and damp now. The bloody angle grinder! It never seems to stop.

Do I need a raincoat or umbrella? I do not. I’m naked. Getting wet is half the fun.

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Christmas Day 2016 in Bali

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Golden fisherman, Kuta     (C) PJ Croft 2016

Aaah, Christmas Day in Bali. Happy Christmas everyone.

The past few days are blurring into each other. This is the most international Xmas I have ever spent. As I wrote this on Xmas Eve, I was listening to two Russian women friends of V’s in the kitchen. V is Austrian, so speaks Viennese dialect, and of course English is the common language in this country of Bahasa (formal) Indonesian with the Balinese dialect. I’m so fortunate that English is so widely spoken. I’ve spent an hour or so at other friends’ place with a different German friend where the husband is German. I was hearing a three sided German conversation, but I was able to follow the threads. I don’t mind that. Much of the talk was about how cheap it is to live in Bali, especially when you’re on a pension.

The night before, Friday evening, we were at a Balinese woman’s place who is the widow of a German, and one of the Russians was there, with other Bali friends dropping by. Wow, it was a whirlwind of switching languages. It was great.

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Another thing about the Christmas/New Year period here is fireworks. Any excuse for a rocket or two! BANG! zing, fizz! in groups of a dozen or so. You can’t always see the display, but you can hear it.

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It’s a beautiful cool morning at 9am, hardly any wind, the pool looking very inviting. Breakfast is fresh papaya (labelled as from Thailand, huh?) with pieces of fresh coconut flesh, not as tasty as I’d prefer. Then sourdough toast and cheese. The papaya keeps me reg-oo-lar.

V’s gone off for a special massage she’s been told about, with a friend. Too expensive for me. The pool is my massage.

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Yesterday I got to see Yupi, the Great Dane which belongs to the owners of this house. She’s very friendly, with beautiful grey and brown toning shading to black. But she has to stay with the other dogs as we’re off on the road again tomorrow.

Still here

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(C) PJ Croft 2016

Ooops, sorry for the break. No problems, just being kept busy. Stayed seven nights at the Sun Hotel in Legian, a hotel with two wings, one each side of the long pool. A bit too much noise from the splashing, balls being bounced and yelling kids, but OK. Also a lot of noise from the two-piece band in the restaurant, but they stopped at 10.30pm so it was OK. The staff were very good, very friendly and attentive. I give the hotel 5/10 for a small room, smaller bathroom, noise and poor check-in when I arrived, but at A$43 per night, I won’t push it.

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I can’t remember if I mentioned it, but I did find insulin in Legian, at Kimia Farma. They seem to be the source for anything complicated in Bali. I had to wait 15 mins while they got it in, but no problems, it’s the same Lantus I use. The only problem was the cost – for five pens, A$125. Ouch. That’ll teach me.

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I also nearly forgot to mention, I’ve had an email from one of the staff at the Director of Security Services of Transperth, in response to my letter of complaint about a parking fine at Butler train station.

I’d said I tried to pay but the machine gave a silly indication, the fine was excessive at $50 for a $2 missed fee, and I’m a Seniors Card holder and pensioner. And I’d paid the fine anyway. I asked for the fine to be waived and my money refunded.

The reply was in bureaucratese and there was no apology, but they’ve done as I asked and refunded my money. It cost me a $1 stamp, but it worked. Bagus.

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My friend has had a big lot of furniture custom made and we went to inspect it at north Sanur. Crumbs, the price for what she got is a bargain. It’s locally made and has a few defects, but it’s all solid teak.

It had to be trucked up over the mountain to Lovina on Wednesday morning and was supposed to arrive at midday. But at 07.50am we were woken when my friend got a phone call: the trucks are outside the gates! They were worried about rain so had set off early. Gee, they must have left Sanur at 3am, two small trucks and six guys. (Pics coming.) It meant a mad scramble to clear rooms and make space for the new bed, wardrobes, tables, chairs and so on. It’s all in now and looks great, although smelling of new varnish.

It was somewhat funny, though: the main wardrobe was too big to fit through the villa doors. It had to be upended and a layer of legs sawn off the base. Likewise, the four-poster bed was too high and we had to ask for 15cm to be sawn off the turned legs. It looks great now, though. Unless I told you, you wouldn’t know.

Unfortunately I’ve got a fairly bad cold and I spend half the night coughing, so I’m temporarily in another bedroom. My suggestion. Getting better.

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My friend uses a laptop bag and had a padlock on the main zip closure, but she couldn’t find the key! It’s still missing, despite being at home and upending her voluminous shoulder bag.

So this morning she asked me to do the trick you see on YouTube of using a Biro to break through the zip. I’ve never done this before, but after about five seconds of probing, POP! and I was through. It was just so simple and easy. So, never think that your bag is secure if it has a zip. It ain’t.

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We just ate the lovely cooked food delivered daily by a local kitchen/restaurant. It comes in a three level stainless steel steamer vessel and is unbelievably cheap – a  week’s worth of lunches for about ten dollars. Enough for two. Wish I had that at home. It’s good food value too – lots of veges and fibre.

I think I might start using the Lite’n’Easy food delivery service when I get home. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and seems recommended. Start and stop any time, no contract. I shall report.

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Clouds are building over the mountains out the window and it’s getting darker at 3pm. There should be rain. There’s a small stream constantly rushing just over the wall of the villa, producing a soothing sound. Cows are mooing, dogs are barking, pigs are rooting and there’s a blessed absence of traffic noise. Wunderbar!

Ah, the rain has just started, heavy drenching rain. The pool is almost full to the rim.

Back again

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I’m back on the Island of the Gods, for my 5th trip this year and my 14th since 1980.

The shops and taxi driver are saying, “It’s so quiet. There are no tourists.” Where is everyone? My taxi driver had been at the airport since 7am and my hire at 12.30pm was his first of the day. I bought some DVDs just now and the poor woman said I was her first customer all day. She remarked on how boring it is to sit there with no customers. I feel sorry for them. It’s good for me, of course, not crowded, shops wanting to do any bargaining to get a sale.

So what’s wrong? Is it fear of terr–ism? Bermbs? I feel safe enough, as long as I avoid the flashy nightclubs, but I wouldn’t go there anyway. Assuming they’d let this portly, balding, 70 yo gentleman in. 😉

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I flew Garuda and the spacing between seats is much nicer than Air Asia Cattle Class. I can easily get the tray table down, no trouble. A full breakfast is served, with wine if wanted. I wanted. Full movie entertainment in the seat screen. A 30kg luggage allowance (I used it all). Lots to like.

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The movie I watched was marvellous! It was called Genius, the story of a book editor called Max Perkins at a Baltimore publisher in 1929 and on. He edited Thomas Wolfe, as the subject of the movie, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ernest Hemingway even made a scene.

The star was Colin Firth, and what a great actor he is. Wolfe was played by Jude Law, and Fitzgerald was played by our Perth hometown boy, Guy Pearce. Wolfe’s wife lover was Nicole Kidman, in another great performance. All in all, it was a good Aussie showing.

I highly recommend this movie. Firth plays an understated role and (almost) never removes his hat, even at the dinner table at home.

I’m confused though: is this the Thomas Wolfe who wrote The Bonfire of the Vanities? I thought that was set in the 1960s and 70s, whereas this Wolfe died in 1950 aged 31. I must look it up.

PS: I looked it up. There’s also a living author called Tom Wolfe, born 1931. He wrote The Right Stuff, about US test pilots who become astronauts.

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And here was another of my amazing coincidences. At the airport I was talking about the author Ken Follett with my friend Geoff, who drove me out there. I recommended he reads The Pillars of the Earth by that author, which I found to be a great story.

One of the characters in that book is a woman named Alene, and she shines as being very intelligent and resourceful, becoming a leader of that medieval community called Kingsbridge, which happens to be the name of a street where I live, Kingsbridge Boulevard, Butler. But that’s not the coincidence.

Here’s the amazing coincidence: who is Thomas Wolfe’s wife in this movie, Genius? Her name is Aline, played by Nicole Kidman.

Dang blast it, Alene and Aline, just a few hours apart! It’s a cosmic force, I tell you.

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Denpasar airport Customs were much more interested in me than usual. I had nothing to declare, but I had a suitcase, a big cardboard box weighing 7.5kg, my CPAP, all bubble wrapped as checked baggage, my camera bag, my insulin bag and my duty free bag, quite a load.

They pulled me aside after I’d gone through the Nothing to Declare line, and asked about each item. I had to open the insulin cold bag, my camera bag, and they asked about the CPAP, what it was. Then they pulled my suitcase off and X-rayed it again. They didn’t ask me to open it, which I would have happily done. The one thing they didn’t ask about was the big box, and that one I was a little nervous about because it had some food things in it, Xmas pudding, biscuits etc. But they seemed oblivious to it. Lucky, because opening it would have been a major hassle, being all taped up and tied with twine.

So it was all for nothing. I don’t know why they chose me today.

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My cosmic good luck has let me down. I unpacked this afternoon and went to get another insulin cartridge out of the box in the fridge. I brought four boxes, each with five cartridges, enough for four weeks.

But the top box was empty! It was still taped to the other three, but contained no cartridges. Fool!

It means I’ll have to ration my supply, and I’ll look to see if I can buy insulin here. The big pharmacies (Apoteks) are big on diabetes supplies these days, so it’s quite possible I’ll be able to get it.

But here’s another blow: I just went to take my evening tablets and found that I’ve left this morning’s Webster pack (a week’s worth of tablets) on the bathroom counter at home. I’ve only brought three of the four I prepared.

I’ve got spare tablets, and I think it’ll be enough to make this pack up again, but I might have to ration things. I’ll sleep on it – too tired to think about it now. G’night.

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That’s if I can sleep with the noise of the live band playing in the restaurant one floor below. Grrrr. And the light on the balcony that can’t be switched off, it’s on a timer and goes off at midnight. Double grrrrr!. Luckily there are full curtains to black it out.

But when I arrived at 1pm this afternoon, tired from lack of sleep, I had to stand at the entrance for 10 minutes trying to attract the attention of the reception people to bring my things in off the forecourt. I was getting annoyed. I asked them to bring the trolley, but to no avail.

Then they told me check-in time is 2pm and the room was still being cleaned. Please wait, they’ll be as quick as possible. But they weren’t. I had to wait in the foyer until 2pm before they took me to the room! I was tired and falling asleep! I’m not happy about this because I told them at booking more than a month ago that I’d be arriving at 1pm. Anyway, if things are so quiet, is this the only room? Couldn’t they have given me a vacant room? I think a written complaint might be needed. Very poor check-in, pokey bathroom, light on the balcony that can’t be switched off, excessive noise from the restaurant. What next?

Caveat emptor

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It seems Apple is developing an electric car. Oh goody. If it’s anything like their computers, this may be the product description:

Apple’s new electric car will be out soon, but will have only one door. The batteries will last about two years and will not be replaceable, you’ll have to buy a new car. The in-dash display will only have one button and will be operated by hand gestures. There will only be one pedal, and forward or reverse speed will be set by two finger gestures. The car’s brain will talk to you periodically, at any time, so you’d better be listening.

The car’s O/S will automatically update itself, possibly while you’re driving. It will be offered at first with four wheels, but they plan to reduce the number of wheels in future models. Steering wheel is an extra cost option, as are lights, seats, engine, windscreen and brakes. Any service not conducted by an Apple registered mechanic will render the car permanently inoperable. No service will be available after the life of the vehicle. The service life is at our discretion. No communication will be entered into. You will enjoy your car. You will.

PS: it will be called the Jonathan and will come in only one colour, brushed aluminium.

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I watched a TV program over the last two nights, called The Impossible, on SBS. It runs two hours. The title doesn’t tell you much, but it’s a telemovie about a family caught at a resort at Kao Lak in Thailand when the earthquake and tidal wave occurred on Boxing Day in 2004.

What a movie! It was brilliant. It’s a Spanish/French cooperation, but starring Naomi Watts and Ewan MacGregor, in English.

What I can’t understand is how they did the effects. The shots of the tidal wave crashing over the resort and the devastation over a wide area are totally realistic, and totally matched to the look of the film. I mean, it definitely does not look like 2004 vision cut into this modern production, yet the effects look incredibly real. How did they do it?

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If it’s computer generated, then it’s the best CGI I’ve ever seen. The camera widens out to show areas of many square kilometres of devastation, and the wave demolishing the beachfront hotel looked totally massive.

PS: one of my readers has very kindly pointed to a Wikipedia article on how this movie was made. It is done with models and computer effects. Of course, it must have been, but what a great job. It fooled me.

When they do the close ups of the people being swept underwater and tumbled, you find yourself holding your breath. Then after the wave recedes and they’re trudging through mud and broken trees, it’s real mud and real trees, over wide areas in shot. How did they do it?

The performances are understated and superb. I found myself gripping the seat cushions, it was so realistic. Naomi collects some severe wounds and they look very gory. At one stage in the hospital she opens her eyes and they’re convincingly bloodshot. The acting of the four young boys is fantastic. The eldest son looks really frightened.

I’ve edited out the commercials and I’ll save this for another viewing, it’s so good.

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I’m about to write a letter to the Director, Security Services, Public Transport Authority after I got a parking ticket last Friday.

I’m going to say, “Unfair! A $50 fine when my Seniors Card tap-and-go didn’t work and the usual parking fee is $2 is excessive!”

I parked at Butler train station and tapped my pre-paid card on the parking “robot”. The first attempt produced a string of beeps and an error message on the LCD. I tried a second time and there were three beeps, the LCD message went blank and that was it. I thought I’d done the deal.

So to find a $50 fine when I got back is too much. First, if their machine produces errors, that’s not my fault. I thought I’d logged on. Anyway, as a Senior, my parking is free!  Second, why would I try to avoid paying such a small amount. It was plainly a mistake or error. They should be able to examine their electronic log to see that I did use my card.

So $50! It’s cruel. It’s unnecessary. This is a remote parking area, and it’s never 100% full. To pay the wages of a parking inspector to raise these fines is over the top.

Wish me luck.

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I’ve been attracting a few followers to this blog in the past few months and I thank you very much. But some of them, when I click on About, take me to an advertising login screen for some kind of web service. Sorry, but no thanks. If you show me who you are, instead of just showing some business name, I’ll welcome you, but otherwise, no.

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Off to that island paradise again next week, the fifth trip this year. It makes a big difference to have someone there to greet me and I’m looking forward to a Xmas and New Year’s Eve with my partner. It’s been a long time coming!

Reset

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Another of my amazing coincidences. I was browsing in a shop yesterday (JB HiFi) and picked up a novelty greeting card that showed a picture of an old calculator with the number 5318008 on the display. Upside down. So it reads BOOBIES, as above. Ha ha.

OK. Then on an episode of The Big Bang last night, Sheldon asks what’s the best number. Howard immediately says, you guessed it, five million, three hundred and eighteen thousand and eight, 5318008. Bazinga! Twice in the same day!

Sheldon’s best number? 73, which is 1001001 in binary, which is palindromic. 73 is also a prime, and the mirror of 21, which is 7×3. Huh huh. Exciting, eh?

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Another: My mobile just rang but I missed the call. I phoned the number back and asked who it was. Graham. Graham who? It turned out to be a guy called Graham Baptie, who I got to know at my old house at Trigg in the 2000s. He used to have a beautiful Retriever called Hugo, who he was devoted to, and Hugo and Minnie used to get along well.

Graham Baptie and his lovely Retriever Hugo.

Graham looks a bit tough but once I got to know him through walking our dogs on the ovals, I realised he was a good guy. For a while I wondered about his ethnicity, but he’s Scottish, just one of these guys who has found life a bit hard. He’s skinny and lean, because he walks everywhere. He’d think nothing of walking 10km. He used to do small jobs for me and I’d look after Hugo any chance I got. Which was not many times, because they were inseparable. But I’m afraid Graham said Hugo died a year ago, in the same way Minnie did, his back legs gave way and he couldn’t get up any more. Graham had to get the vet to put him to sleep and he’s still very sad about it.

So how about that? An accidentally dialled number, and we talked for nearly ten minutes.

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The “Reset” title refers to me having to suddenly reset my plans for the next few months.

As I’ve said, I’ve had the dreaded band removed ten days ago, and I thought it was prior to having the gastric sleeve operation. I had the followup appointment with Gastroboy, the surgeon today, and I was all fired up, despite being quite fearful, to set a date for the big Op.

But no, now he’s counselling me against it. He says at my age, with my coronary condition (lotsa stents) and with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), the risks are a bit high. Mainly the risk of leakage of the seal, which would be dangerous and quite hard to fix, given my age. Much easier for a younger person.

Well, that’s produced quite a mix of feelings: relief, obviously, because I was quite scared of such a major operation; but disappointment, because I was looking forward to getting back to a normal size; frustration, because now I won’t have the diabetes fix and I won’t know what’s causing my tiredness, the diabetes or the CLL; some elation, because now I can plan for the next six months with some certainty; but frustration, again, because I’d like to do some long distance travelling and I’d hoped to be smaller and lighter and more easily able to fit an aircraft seat.

This changes everything. It will take me some days to adjust. One thing I’m noticing in the past few months is that I’m slowly getting my blood sugar under better and better control, which is very noticeable in the absence of ulcers and skin breaks on my legs. There’s quite a direct correlation there – blood sugars above, say 12, and dry, scaly skin that breaks easily. Below, as it is now, and almost no trouble. My average b/s levels are now down around 8.5, compared to 11 a year ago. Brilliant.

I suppose if I made a really serious effort at weight control using the Very Low Calorie Diet approach, coupled with my much reduced appetite for alcohol these days, followed by the Lite’n’Easy delivered meals (well reviewed by CHOICE), I might be able to fit those ‘plane seats again without resorting to dangerous surgery.

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Another awful night of insomnia last night and despite a couple of hours when I got home from the city, I still feel weary. I felt as if I was drunk today, swaying with fatigue. This is bad.