Eye eye

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Aaaah, home again from three days of hospital stuff. It was all highly successful and I’m feeling pretty good, happy that it’s all over. Jeepers, I’ve had a busy year. In the past twelve months I’ve had five general anaesthetic operations and two local anaesthetic ones. These are the GAs, as they call them, all for different things:

  • November 2016 – removal of gastric band;
  • March 2017 – removal of gall bladder;
  • September – colonoscopy;
  • October 10 – bladder and kidney infection, discovery of stone in ureter, requiring insertion of stent;
  • November 21 (Tuesday this week) – removal of stone and stent.

The local anaesthetic jobs were:

  • October 31 – removal of BCC (skin cancer) on nose;
  • November 22 (yesterday) – cataract operation on left eye.

Crazy! I’m fine and feeling good, happy that it’s all over for the year – I hope. It’s been a busy year! There’s one ongoing thing, the CLL leukemia (properly called Mantle Cell Lymphoma). The news on that is to wait about three months, check red cell count again and if decline is ongoing, to boost the bone marrow by injections of iron, vitamin B12 and folate. Not too difficult, I don’t think, except he said the iron may be done by an infusion into a vein in my hand, and sometimes it leaves a brown mark which is permanent. Big deal – tattoos are fashionable these days. So my next appointment for that is 13 February. I might bring it forward if I still feel fatigued.

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The stone and stent removal was painless and highly successful. The surgeon said I’m free of all stones now. I think that stone had been lurking in my right kidney for 25 years or more. It showed on X rays back then, but it wasn’t moving, so it was left alone. But I remember having some pretty bad pain for two days in Bali in December 2014, but it stopped, so there was no action then. This seems to have been its final trip down the tube. Painless, thank goodness! It’s gone now, broken up by laser lithotripsy, hi power focused green laser pulses to blast it apart in small sections. That wasn’t available when I had a lot of trouble back in the 80s and 90s.

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Yesterday was my first cataract operation. It was quite easy and almost painless. I now have a new lens in my left eye, made from acrylic. It’s corrected for astigmatism, but it’s fixed focus because the eye muscles can’t change its shape as the original lenses are. That means it’s set for distance vision, and therefore I now have the equivalent of “long sight” (presbyopia) instead of the short sight (myopia) that I had before, in that left eye.

The effect is a bit magical. I don’t think I need my glasses for distance vision with that eye now. That would be a big thing, because I’ve been wearing glasses so long I think I was born with them on.

As well, it’s brighter and noticeably sharper in general. I had felt that my vision was dimming before, and now I can see the difference between left and right, I can see it’s true. It’s a bit disconcerting and the surgeon said I can have the right eye done if I want it. He offered the next available slot, but I said let’s give it a few weeks to settle down first.

It means I’ll have to get my left lens redone in my glasses frame, effectively just for close vision. I’m not sure if I need bifocals or what yet. I’ll wait and see.

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The operation was fascinating. It all went fine, not as scary or painful as I expected. No nervousness. I arrived at 9.20am, filled out forms and answered questions with a nurse (no, she wouldn’t marry me), had drops put in (sting!) to open the iris, then was taken to a booth where I stripped off (she still wouldn’t marry me even after seeing my body) and got fitted out in two green gowns, one frontways and one for the back. Why? No idea, but with the hair cap on and the bootees I felt like a surgeon!

Then at about 10.30am it was into the theatre and first, sitting on a stool, some marks were made with marker pen on my face, to identify the correct eye, I guess (ho ho). I have a feeling some local anaesthetic might have been injected at this point, but I hardly felt anything. Then a small tool was applied to hold the eyelids apart. No hurts. Oh, I forgot, I’d previously had a “pedget” placed under my lower eyelid. A “pedget”? It’s a tiny white cube (0,5mm) that, maybe, had anaesthetic in it? I don’t know, but there’s a new word for your Scrabble games. They removed it with tweezers now.

Then it was onto the table, carefully, lying on my back, and a cannula was put into the left arm, in the area already red and marked from the previous day. Then Fentanyl and Midazolam were injected to make me a bit drowsy, but the anaesthetist said it was a very light dose because with sleep apnea, he didn’t want me falling asleep. I hardly noticed any effect.

Then the eye must have been numb because he quickly started work, breaking up the old lens and sucking it out through a small cut in the left side. I could sort of see what he was doing, via my view of the intense light above. It was changing colours and sharpness as he worked with a very tiny vacuum tool, sucking all the residue of the old lens out. All was blurry then, of course.

Then he said to the nurse, “Give me the lens, please”, then to me, ” Right, a bit of pushing now”, and he pushed the new plastic lens in through that tiny cut, manouevering it into place, taking a minute or two to get it centred. My view of the filament of the bright light got much sharper and I said so. I was giving him a running commentary of what I was seeing, you see 😃, to make sure he got it right 😉

Then he put a pad over the eye and a plastic cover, then lots of sticking plaster to hold it in place, and it was done. No real pain at this stage, just a tiny stinging. Then I was shuffled over onto a bed and taken to the recovery area, alongside about ten other people, and my BP and pulse were monitored to ensure I was OK for 10 mins or so. Then it was off the bed and walk to a “departure lounge” with big comfy chairs for orange juice, coffee, a sandwich and some water. Lovely.

More BP and pulse readings, then I got dressed again and my good friend Geoff arrived at 1.15pm to take me back to their place in Scarborough, where I was staying the night. I still couldn’t wear my glasses, so I couldn’t go home.

This morning it was another appointment with the surgeon at 8am at the Lions Eye Institute in Nedlands for a check, and it was all over. No charge for this appointment, it was only 10 minutes. Another appt for two weeks’ time and we were away. Geoff got me home at about 10.30am and here I am, relieved that this l-o-n-g series of medical things is finally, almost, over apart from the CLL. Phew. I feel quite buoyant, actually. Now I can think of more pleasurable things, like a car!

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After a couple of years of indecision, I’ve given up the idea of a Merc (too unreliable, too expensive to fix, oil leaks, poor quality control in the early 2000s, isn’t that a terrible list?), and decided to go with the idea I had last year when the car above was first released here. It’s the Skoda Superb 162TSi hatch/sedan. It’s made in the Czech Republic and shares a lot with VW and Audi, part of the same group. If you’d told me 30 years ago I’d buy a Skoda one day, I would have laughed my socks off. They used to be terrible cars.

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But look at ’em now. Superb it is. The list of standard equipment is amazing, including leather heated and cooled seats, with electric adjustments. A cooled glove box. A 2.0l turbo 4 cyl, giving 0-100Kmh in 6.6secs! Fuel economy of 6.4l/100Km combined. And a shed load more.

I can’t afford a new one, but there’s a s/h hand one in Carramar for a good price (or it will be, once we’ve haggled him down from his silly  asking price). It’s 15 months old, 30,000Km and black unfortunately, but it looks classy. We’ll see.

The trick is the hatch back. The lower part, below the back window, opens like a normal boot, but if you release a catch, the whole back window opens up as one piece, making a huge boot area.

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The back seats fold down, so it becomes like a station wagon without the wagon look. As well, the back seat area is unusually spacious in leg room, not that that would sway me.

The thing is, I’ve had a station wagon for the last 25 years because of my dogs, and although they’re gone, one day I’ll get another dog. This will serve to carry it without being a wagon, i.e. nicer car looks.

I’m fired up now to do the deal, so I’ll phone my tame ex used car salesman to do some haggling for me. He’s already alerted me to Red Book valuations. Yeah, what a revelation. I might have paid the guy’s asking price, but not after seeing this.

I can’t wait. Anyone want to buy a good 2001 TJ Magna wagon with 148,000Km? Totally reliable, good tyres, cheap? Please?

 

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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.