Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The World Cup

The World Cup is still playing out, I think. There is a nice letter about the Cup in this morning's West Australian newspaper.

Allan missed out the most significant record of all at the soccer...oops, football cup. The record goes to More horns than a herd of Wildebeests. That by the way, is a Kev one.

I notice that when I click the Next button on our blog I invariably get directed to a long journey through Christian blogs. I thought that Google searched for key words and directed the reader to similar blogs? I cannot remember writing too much about religion. How does that happen?

The new Australian Prime Minister has declared that she is a non religious person. I am sure that will be felt in the polls and the upcoming Federal elections. It shouldn't; we have seen Presidents and Prime Ministers toadying up to religious factions before. In the U.S. the fundamentalist Christians have a big sway in elections. Pollies of both parties here have courted the fundamentalists, some of which can rightly be called cults.

In the 1950s the Labor Party split and the Democratic Labor Party was formed by Catholics. Voters were advised how to vote from the pulpit. The leaders of the DLP (long gone from the political scene) had some very appropriate names .... Santamaria......Martyr.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Look Good - Feel Better

This morning we drove to Mandurah for Joan to attend a free workshop run by the Cancer Council. It is called Look good - feel better. There were 5 volunteers helping women feel better about themselves with makeup tips and tricks and another woman demonstrating wigs and head gear for sufferers who have lost their hair to chemo. It was a very rewarding two hours. I took photos with the permission of some participants. The scheme has been running in Australia for 20 years and 18 years in W.A..

Each participant received training on personal makeup and a nice sample bag of 18 products valued at $250. minimum. The scheme is sponsored by the cosmetic industry to the tune of around $1.5m per year.

One lady, Catherine, had a shaved head decorated with kids' stick-ons done by her granddaughter. She became the model for the workshop and it was an amazing transformation. From the stark chemo look to made up face and a hairpiece; a real transformation.
Joan getting the treatment.

Later we visited our neighbor's Dave's business which is a large composting plant in the countryside out from Mandurah. Most interesting, and I will gather some pertinent facts before I write about that. I don't want to get it wrong as it is a very complex business.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Aus Aid

Just lately we have been the recipients of kindness given to us by friends and neighbors. Wendy, Judy and Juliet have been kind as to give us some very nice winter soups. Thanks friends!

Juliet and Joan are friends in a group named Designing Women. Juliet is involved in an Leadership Training project by AusAid. The Australian Government is running leadership training courses for potential leaders from developing nations. There are many nations involved and Juliet has been involved with mainly South Pacific nations including Papua New Guinea. Participants are brought to Australia; in this case, Queensland, and after the course is over they are bonded to remain in their own country for two years. Sounds like a good scheme!

Haddon is feeling a little better about his situation at Hollywood Hospital. His CT Scan showed no blood clots in his lungs, but plenty of fluids. Today he had one of his lungs drained of 1.6 litres of fluid and the other lung is to be drained tomorrow morning. One pertinent point about Haddon's treatment is patient pressure. Without patient and family pressure on the GP and the oncologist things may have deteriorated to the point where he may have died.

Last week I delivered a Mac computer to a single mum who is temporarily living with her part aboriginal daughter. The daughter is a harridan. She abuses her mother sometimes physically. The house seems to have some 8 young aboriginal women staying there along with an extremely abusive man. I was somewhat intimidated and happy to leave the house after installing the computer. Unfortunately the computer malfunctioned and I prepared another to replace it. I rang to arrange a suitable time to exchange machines. She said, 'come now they are all out!'

I delivered another machine on which I had loaded a program named Garage Band as she is/was a country and western singer-guitarist. She was ecstatic and told me that she was on a priority list for government housing. Hope she gets one soon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The King has abdicated

I have to think long and hard to remember all the events of yesterday. Early in the day we had our Prime Minister fall on his sword and Australia’s first female Prime Minister took the reins. Kevin Rudd didn’t have the numbers and decided to step down rather than let the Australian public know what was going to be a fairly close vote by the caucus which would have been politically damaging with an election waiting in the wings.

Kev was a bit abrasive sometimes and journos had a field day with his flowery language. I don’t think the journos are going to give the new PM Julia Gillard a very long taunt-free holiday. She will be a good target for cartoonists. I wish her well.

On a personal level yesterday was busy and thankfully not as bad as it could have been. I will try and chronologically remember all the events.

In the morning I collected a friend, Rob, who is recovering from a hip reconstruction and we went to Murdoch University where they were having their annual IT toss-out. It was a treasure trove of electronics and computer gear. I had been tipped off about this mountain of goodies the day before and went and collected 6 Macintosh computers. We estimated that the original cost of some of the individual pieces was in the tens of thousands of dollars. We loaded up my car with as much computer gear as we could and headed back to Rob’s place to unload his stuff.

I had to leave to be home in time to drive our friends to the GP. Haddon has had a dramatic change in his condition over the last few weeks; extreme weakness, difficulty breathing and as a result, a few falls which have required help from family to get him up from the floor. He was determined to get his GP to do something and that he did. The GP diagnosed fluid in his lungs and a low haemoglobin level needing an immediate transfusion of a couple of units of blood. The GP was a bit offside with Haddon’s oncologist about her lack of care for her patient and rang her and eventually arranged for him to be hospitalised. Coincidentally, when I was taking Haddon and Mararet home to await a phone call about the arrangements, I had a call from Joan who had had a fall and hit the back of her head on a wall. By the time I arrived home she had already called Healthdirect, a government emergency medical helpline. She was advised to go to an emergency department at a hospital for tests to see if there might be any internal bleeding because of the Clexane she has to inject daily. We went to St John’s at Murdoch and although they charge like a wounded bull, got in within minutes. Whilst we were being taken into emergency, Haddon, Margaret and their son arrived as well.

Joan had a number of tests and a CT scan of her head which fortunately showed no internal bleeding. She had an infusion of anti-nausea and painkiller drugs and we waited and waited and waited to be released. By the time we got out of the hospital it was around 8pm and we were starving. We decided to drive into a Red Rooster store and get some chicken and salad. As I waited at the counter I watched a young fellow, who was probably the shift manager, throwing food at one of the female staff. Then he started throwing trays into a full sink from a distance of about four metres (unrequited love?) Things were getting broken and other staff were not acknowledging what was going on. When I got our food I decided I would go back to that store next morning and report that to the day manager. If that was the norm I would be worried about the food.

Haddon was still in emergency waiting on the results of a chest X-ray. He was told that he couldn’t be admitted at that hospital because of some protocol with admissions and that he would have to get an ambulance to take him to the St John’s hospital at Subiaco which is about 25 kilometres away the other side of the city. I hope he eventually gets the blood and treatment for the fluid in the lungs.

PS: Haddon is in Hollywood Hospital and has had one unit of blood and one to come and his lungs will be drained today. A bit off mucking around, but the health system does work.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ruby the Staffy pup

This is the second day that Joan is back on Xeloda. It has had immediate effects and she is feeling poorly and not wanting to eat. She is booked to see her GP on Monday morning to try and determine what is giving her bad muscular pain. The oncologist offered no reasons.

Yesterday we visited our daughter Helen and her partner James. Their puppy is still ‘an excitable gal’ and is still jumping up on visitors and doing a cartoon character when she tries to run on the polished boards. Another inconvenient little habit she has is when left home alone tries to eat anything she can get to. Yesterday I replaced a chewed up power plug she had spent some time on. She has a few other tricks as well.

Take a look at this innocent baby Staffy and see if you think she would do that.
Just as well it wasn't plugged in.

We both taught at John Curtin Senior High School. I taught there in 1964 when I returned from Papua New Guinea the first time and Joan taught there in senior roles from 1990-2000. It was during Joan’s time there that JCSHS became the John Curtin College of the Arts. They have had a couple of notables school at JCC of the Arts....Paul Mercurio and Sam Worthington.

The College is in the news lately because one of its male year 12 students has decided to wear dresses on two of the five days of the school week. In true art college style a group of girls at the school have taken up a petition to allow this gentle lad to cross dress as he pleases. The girls think that... ‘as long as he wears the skirt in an appropriate way - like it’s supposed to be - mid thigh length - it should be fine’.

Poor dears need something to protest about.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Disappointing results

We have had a rather disappointing visit to the Oncologist today.

A couple of days ago on Wednesday Joan had a CTscan at a government public hospital. The dye infusion didn't go well and much of it spilled out on Joan instead of being infused. The scan was done and a Doctor looked at the scan and deemed it to be OK. Today the scan and the analysis had not reached the Oncologists's rooms. Our man rang Royal Perth Hospital and asked a physician to dig out the scans and compare them with the previous scan from three months ago to see what is happening. About an hour later he received a verbal report which suggested no changes. He told us that that is a good sign...'We call that a stable disease'. The results of a blood test showed that the blood tumour marker had risen up to 2,000. Still not alarming, but disappointing.

He then illustrated graphically what could be going on with the CT scans. The first sketch would indicate that the scans at a 3 month interval shows a stable situation. The second illustration could possibly show that in between the two scans the results were much lower and had climbed back up to be on a level with the previous CT Scan. Not too comforting!

He has put Joan back on Xeloda at a slightly smaller dose. We shall see what side effects she can tolerate at the lesser dose.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coronial inquiry

An ongoing coronial inquiry in Perth is hearing that a 'prominent' Toxicologist agreed with his wife that her colorectal cancer be best treated by a homeopath. He claims that he didn't investigate what the homeopath was treating his wife with and she eventually died without medical intervention. Her initial consultation was with a surgeon named Platell. He recommended immediate surgery and follow up chemotherapy.

My wife Joan, once diagnosed, also met with Dr (or is it Mr?) Platell. He advised Joan that surgery wasn't an option and without intervention she would have about six months to live. Joan has just passed the six months mark and apart from the side effects of the rat poison she has been getting, still going quite well.

This morning she is having a CT scan to determine the progress of the treatment. We are hoping that the scan will show that the tumours have at least not grown in the time she has been off chemo. We will find out on Friday.

The influx of asylum seekers arriving on Australian shores has increased to the point that the government has had to fly a large group of families from Christmas Island to the desert town of Leonora in this state. They are being accommodated in a mining camp. Leonora is not a town one would choose to live in unless there was a really good reason. It is a 'One Horse' town, very hot in summer and freezing in winter. The refugees were greeted by a large group of rednecks hurling abuse. One reasonable looking woman was seen on the TV coverage wearing the uniform of a St John's Ambulance volunteer. St Johns was forced to sack her because she stated that she would not be able to tend to the refugees if they needed medical help. Glad I don't have to live in such a town as Leonora. Small towns; small thinking!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Soccer World Cup

I am not a sports fan, especially of Soccer, however I watched part of the game between Paraguay and Italy this afternoon.

The noise from the plastic horns the locals blow was both annoying and deafening. On one news channel tonight it was noted that players and most of the audience don't like it, but organisers refuse to ban it because it is a traditional African 'musical' instrument. I reckon there must have been lots of hyperventilation collapses because they kept the noise up non-stop for the entire duration of the match. About three blasts from one of those petrol funnels and I'd be seeing stars!

They are called Vuvuzela and look to be from the $2 shop.

Soccer players are amongst the world's best actors. Any fall by a player appears to be like a multiple fractured broken leg, which heals immediately once the free has been awarded.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Amber's big adventure

I found this representation of the Gulf oil spill. Take a look and shift it to your area to get an idea how such a spill would affect you. Very interesting! click here.

On Sunday we decided to let Joan's new (5 YO) cat out of the house after being cooped up for over two weeks. We were a bit worried that she, Amber, would bolt and never come back. When we opened the screen door it took a lot of coaxing to get her to venture outside. Lots of very slow movements and sniffing and then she bolted! I raced through the house to open the front door and saw her dashing into the neighbor's front yard. I 'headed her off at the pass' and she made a frightened dash through the open front door to the safety of the house.

We waited about 15 minutes and repeated the process....exactly; with Kev once again scaring her into retreating through the open front door. I will secure the side gate with some shade cloth today and give it another shot.

It was a nice warm winter's day and Amber and Kev were a bit warm after the sprint. She spread out flat on her stomach on the cool tile floor and I merely removed my jumper.
Joan is due for her third CT scan on Wednesday and we will see the Oncologist two days later. We are hoping that the forced break from chemo has not allowed the tumours to grow.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hip Surgery

Friday afternoon I visited a friend in hospital who is recovering from hip surgery. At the time of my visit he was in considerable pain and required a shot of Morphine. He had done a little too much exercise and his right thigh was as tight as a drum.

His surgery was a Hip Resurfacing one where, if the ball of the femur is still in reasonable condition, a titanium cap is forced over the ball of the hip joint....I imagine with a bit of hammering with a sterilised mallet. Anyway, it is done and he now has about a week in hospital with painful exercises before heading home. He will be out of action for at least 3-4 weeks. He has had a couple of knee jobs and still needs the other hip fixed, but I think he needs to lose the memory of this op before he contemplates that.

Here is a You Tube video explaining the difference between the two different methods of hip surgery. Video.

Post Script: A more detailed ,but gory, video of the

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The 'Twiggy' and Gina show

Yesterday the Prime Minister arrived in hold meetings explaining his proposed Mining SuperTax. Early in the day some high profile miners staged a rally in the city to protest the introduction of the tax. It was definitely a rent-a-crowd mob. Speakers included the richest man (depending on which day it is) in Australia and the richest woman. ‘Twiggy’ Forrest stirred up rent-a-crowd with the usual ‘What do we want?’ and our richest woman, Gina Rinehart did similarly. Ms Rinehart recently announced that she wants to bring in cheap Chinese labour….a true Australian patriot! Later, Mr Forrest accused the Prime Minister of turning Australia into a Communist dictatorship. Say what!? That would have caused a few shivers amongst the Peppy Grove attendees.

I don’t really understand the implications of the introduction of this tax and I don’t think the average punter on the street does either. It’s complex and may well, as the miners claim, stifle the mining industry. It is a huge jump in tax and I think it will go ahead with some robust negotiations and a bit of downward adjustment.

Also yesterday morning I drove Haddon and Margaret to Hospital so that he could have a couple of scans to determine where he is at with his prostate cancer. They were there for hours and when I collected them in the afternoon he was shattered. In old engineering terms, he had been drilled, punched, bored and reamed.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In the Purple Zone

Joan has to keep a daily diary of her chemotherapy side effects. In the booklet that comes with Xeloda there are three 'Zones' of side effects. Green, Purple and Red. This morning she entered the purple zone with nausea, stomach cramps, a mouth ulcer and chills. The instructions are to ring the oncologist. He is in Chicago at a conference at the moment, but his offsider advised Joan to stop taking the Xeloda and treat the mouth ulcer and urgently ring again if these symptoms persist. The red zone is a straight to hospital ticket.

She is unable to eat anything and that is a bit worrying. This afternoon there has been some improvement and she is feeling a bit better about her situation. We hope tomorrow will be better.

Recently a Western Australian trade union official was released from the Bali jail after serving 5 months for smuggling into Indonesia a small quantity of marijuana. He initially claimed that he had been set up by his enemies and the drug had been planted on him, but later recanted and admitted that he was using marijuana for a medical condition. He was very lucky to get off with a five month sentence especially after lying to Indonesian customs officials. On his release he ranted on about the corruption of the Indonesian justice system and urged the Australian government to seek the release of another Australian, Chapelle Corby, who is serving 20 years for smuggling in over 4kg of weed. His public criticism of 'corrupt Indonesian officials' will certainly not help any efforts to seek the release of Chapelle. Idiot!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

No fun getting old!

Yesterday I drove friends to St John’s hospital in Subiaco. Haddon is a close friend of almost 60 years. We spent our youth in the Sea Scouts on the Swan River and have stayed close friends since then.

About a year after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer Haddon was also diagnosed. His was more advanced than mine which hadn’t jumped out of the prostate. We both had a Radical Prostatecomy, but unfortunately his cancer was also in the bladder. He has, over the years, had lots of chemotherapy and up until relatively recent times…probably just a few months, coped well with it.

Just recently he has lost his muscle strength and needs help to get around. His GP and indeed his oncologist, cannot pinpoint any specific reason for this development.

Haddon is on a double blind trial of a newer chemotherapy regime…neither he nor his oncologist knows whether he is getting the real chemo or just a placebo. He feels that it is this latest chemo that is making him very weak and sick. His PSA level is not outrageously high. I get the feeling that he may well pull out of the trial in the hope that he regains his strength.

Joan, my wife, is very happy not to be on a double blind trial. She knows what treatment she is getting.

It's a bugger getting old!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Whoda thunk?!

Joan's cat is becoming less stressed in her new home. We can not yet trust it to stick around if we let it outside....maybe another week or so.

We have had quite a few cats over the years. This one has put me on a new learning curve. Firstly it is a ginger female. I thought that all ginger cats were Toms, but the Cat Haven told Joan that that is changing. Secondly, the instruction booklet that came with the cat clearly says that cats are lactose intolerant. I am one of those blokes who only reads the instruction manual as a last resort, so I gave her a nice bowl of milk which caused her to be very messy in her toilet area. Whoda thunk?!

I have been rather slack on the computer front. A few days ago I received an email from an Aboriginal gal I help out, asking for another 7 machines. I have set up three for her with an older operating system which suits the educational software I have. The other 4 machines will be specifically set up for internet and general computing. They are all slot loading iMacs and are virtually worries about viruses....very few operating system problems. Just as well, they are going to be hammered!