Monday, November 29, 2010

Three Score and Ten+

Today I 'celebrate' a 71st. A friend emailed me to inform me that.... 'You have now gone over your biblically allotted three score years and ten'. We had a small gathering here for our daughter Helen's birthday yesterday and combined it with mine of today. I specifically asked for no pressies, but got lots of nice ones including a wonderful recliner lounge from Helen and her man James. Joan held up for most of the afternoon, but had to go to bed and rest before our guests departed.
And today, Joan bought me an iPhone. We decided to buy it from one of the myriad of phone shops at Garden City shopping centre. We scored a new salesperson and it took around 40 minutes to get the signup done. He asked why I was buying an iPhone. 'Do you have an Apple Mac Computer?' Strange!

During the final stages of setting up the contract, the store manager also asked why I was buying an iPhone, explaining...'because most people don't know the poor things about the iPhone and don't want to be told'.

As I remember, he listed several problems.....miniature SIM card; the battery cannot be removed, when transferring songs from a PC it wipes previous loaded tunes. He also informed us that there are other better phones.

Probably not the best salesperson and strangely working for a phone company that recently merged with a large Apple retailer here in Perth.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Running Hot and Cold

Over the last two days Joan’s body thermometer has been playing up. One minute she is hot and the next she is freezing cold with extreme shakes. Her temperature jumped to 38c so we rang the Oncologist. He told her to come into his rooms today. She had some bloods done and her white cells are good. He then ordered a urine sample and a PICC line blood culture. He suspects an infection and has prescribed a heavy anti-biotic. We will hear from him on Saturday with the results.

These setbacks are frightening and with the BigC in the picture, one thinks the worst when something like this happens. Somewhat of a relief when The Man suggests an infection is probably the cause. The Onco was of two minds as to whether to hospitalise Joan and we are thankful that he decided not to.

Our son Martin has sorted out the problem with the ambulance service and because he had missed a meeting at CentreLink whilst in hospital, had to do a lot of explaining to get back on welfare. I drove down to his unit this afternoon and waved a magic screwdriver over his washing machine and it decided to do the right thing and start working again.

Calm has returned to the Lock household.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No good news here

Nothing good to write about today. Joan is very tired and 'washed out' with severe diarrhea. Our son Martin is still with antibiotic pump and catheter. Yesterday we drove him to Rockingham hospital to get dressings done, more antibiotics for the pump and get the results of a blood test. Bad news is, he now has Kidney problems bordering on failure.

He is a little offside with me at the moment and that makes it difficult to help him. I need to investigate a malfunction in his washing machine, because the retailer tells me that the symptoms seem like the water pump is blocked, and if that is so it wouldn't be covered by the warranty. I need to take the rear panel off and see if something like a sock has lodged in the pump before calling on a warranty repair. I am expecting the cold shoulder when I turn up at his place. Even after all we have done for him a couple of words can sour the relationship.

Some time ago I thought about my relationship with my late father, Arthur Lock.

I miss him when I am working alone

His skills were of a yesteryear.

He’d be interested in today’s

gadgets I know. We were closer

In the latter years and

I yearn for the same for my son and I .

but I fear it is not to be.

I am unsure we will ever be friends

Like I was with my father.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hospital costs

Martin is still in hospital and looks like he will be for some days yet. He is waiting on the result of a blood culture before being allowed home. He had the catheter removed a few days ago, but was unable to urinate, so it was replaced. He has been moved out of the single ward and into a four bed ward because the bed was needed for a post operative patient, Yesterday I did some more work at his unit and in the mailbox was a bill from the St John’s Ambulance Service for $418.

On the evening that Martin was admitted to Rockingham Hospital he called an ambulance. The dispatch person asked him to describe his situation to another person, presumably a nurse, and was told that his case was not an emergency. He then rang us and we drove down to his place and took him to Rockingham Hospital. Whilst waiting outside his unit for us, an ambulance arrived. He told the ambos the story and they drove off. They told Martin that they were returning from another job and would not do any paperwork on his call.

I will give Martin the bill today and he can explain it to the ambulance service. If they are not nice about this, I guess we will help with the payment. Small bickies really when one considers the total cost of his two+ weeks in three hospitals.

The dispatcher’s initial assessment of Martin’s situation was wrong and he is still in hospital in a semi-serious condition.

As Martin is a Public Patient, we will probably not see the total cost of his hospitalisation, scans etc and treatment.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Of hospital and house maintenance

The last few days have been busy ones. Our son Martin is still in ‘Charlies’ receiving treatment for infections in his spine. Today he will get the catheter removed and a Physio is taking him to the Gym to do some exercises to strengthen his legs. He has improved considerably over the last week and may be discharged soon.

Joan is very tired and weak from her SIRT treatment and today, as predicted, the diarrhea has started. She is quite nauseous and this morning, even though I cooked breakfast outside on the BBQ, the smell of cooking almost made her vomit.

Whilst Martin is in hospital I am using the time to do some repairs and maintenance on his (our) unit. At first he was most reluctant to hand over the keys, but when his phone went flat he had to give them to me to get his phone charger. The block of units was probably built in the ‘60s for the State Housing Commission, then later sold to private owners like us. As with most flats like these, the neighbors are a mixed bag. Say no more!

The shower recess has previously had the tiles painted over and it is time for a repaint. Almost finished that job and I found a light switch plate badly cracked. OK, thought Kev, I will go to Bunnings and buy a new one. Easy! I could find one the same size but the holes for the screws were in different places. I went to an electrical wholesaler, but they only had the switch that Bunnings had. This switch is probably 40 years old.
The price at Bunnings was $5.38 and at the electrical warehouse the exact same switch was $17.80. I mentioned the difference in price to the guy behind the counter and he explained that Bunnings sell some things at a loss to get people in the store where all their appliances are much dearer...bulldust!
I have managed to repair the cracked switch and given it a nice coat of auto lacquer. Next is a chlorine mould treatment as Martin doesn’t open windows and steams up the place. He also wants me to investigate what he thinks is a problem with the washing machine we recently purchased for him. Oh, and then, all the tap washers need replacing. Busy, busy!

I am gradually configuring around 18 computers for distribution to needy folks. They are of several levels and I try and give the advanced machines to students doing serious studies. Machines which are a little long in the tooth go to families loaded with educational games as well as open source word processing packages. Rewarding stuff!

Friday, November 12, 2010

SIRT and Irinotecan

We have just arrived home from the Ivy suite where Joan received her 'Push' of Flourocillin after yesterday's SIRT therapy. Earlier this morning she had a Gama Ray Camera investigation to see if any of the SIRT irradiated spheres went where they should not have. The Man told her that they all reached their target(s), the 30 something tumours in her liver. He was pretty satisfied with the procedure. From that hospital we went to see Joans oncologist at St John's at Subiaco. He wasn't terrible demonstrative about SIRT and pointed out that the tumours had progressed. The next CT scan is in two months, but next week's blood test and visit should, we hope, show a significant lowering of the CEA, the tumour blood marker. He has her scheduled to restart a new form of chemo in three weeks to keep the lung tumours at bay. They have grown since Joan finished chemo almost two months ago. The new one is Irinotecan. Hope the side effects don't hit too hard as Helen's wedding is on the 18th of December. The Onco thinks it should be OK.

The Oncologist told us that the SIRT radiation only penetrates about 1.5 millimetres into the tumours. We don't understand what that means as the tumours are not spherical. Where does does the blood vessel enter the it's widest point or the thinnest part?
We have a lot to learn before we start our own medical practice!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another hospital transfer

Overnight our son Martin was transferred from Fremantle Hospital to the Sir Charles Gardiner (Charlies) Hospital. Firstly, Rockingham Hospital thought Fremantle was more able to cope with his problem and Fremantle transferred him to 'Charlies' because of resident specialists there.
Martin rang this morning to tell us that whilst antibiotics are preferred, surgery may be necessary. As we were talking a nurse advised Martin that he could not eat because of a procedure. Not sure if that means surgery.

The pressure of the abscesses on his spinal column has left his right leg almost useless. There are other problems as well. He is a public patient and all the costs involved with hospitals, transfers, scans and any operations is covered by Australia's Medicare system.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It doesn't just rain here

It feels like we neglected to pass on to eight friends one of those chain letters which promises bad luck to non believers like me.

As well as the continuing fight Joan is having with her cancer, last night we had an urgent call from our son who was in extreme pain and needed to go to hospital. We collected him outside his unit and went to Rockingham Hospital where he was admitted. Some time during the night he was transferred by ambulance to Fremantle Hospital where he had a scan, a catheter inserted where it hurts and a saline drip. The diagnosis is that he had a number of infections on his lower spine and he will be in for at least a week whilst they try and kill off the infections. The Doc believes that the infection was introduced through fleshy cracks on his feet.

Martin doesn't like hospitals and last time he was in for a similar complaint, as soon as he felt a bit better he discharged himself. This time the doctor has told him that if he discharges himself before the treatment is complete, there is a chance of permanent paralysis. That should keep him there.

Enough about our 'sick' family.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Our road trip to Denmark was successful and most pleasant. Going down, we took the Albany Highway, ‘down the middle’ to Mt Barker, then across to Denmark. In all about 4.5 hours.

I left Joan to rest at the motel whilst I delivered the laptop and printer to the High School. The young lady to whom I was giving the gear had decided to ‘chuck a sickie’ from school, but when we rang her she immediately raced in to get a run down on the operating system and the niceties of the Mac . She was thrilled with it all and I could see that it was a worthwhile project.

We have been to Denmark a few times before and visited our friends, James and Marilyn, but had not seen their 38 acre farmlet. It is about 5 kilometres out of town in a beautiful valley surrounded by picturesque hills. They have about 5 acres of various berries which is a good sideline for Marilyn. She is/was employed by the Commonwealth Government as a census taker but last year had a major road accident and has permanent damage and acute pain due to her injuries. Even so she tends the thousands of berry plants and has plastic chairs placed at strategic points amongst the rows so that she can rest. Kangaroos share the paddocks with cattle. We are envious of their lifestyle and were we younger and fitter,would seriously consider a country lifestyle change
The farmhouse is of Rammed Earth construction and has great views across several properties.

Denmark town is very pretty with the river right in the middle of town. It is a bit backward in as much as the local kids don’t even know how to do graffiti. We saw none in the town or surrounds. Yesterday morning I got up at about 5.30am and went for a walk. Council workers were already watering garden beds and tidying up. Most civilised!

In the middle of town is a war memorial which looks like it was built by a 'busy bee' group. It has a very chintzy 'eternal flame' which is actually red fabric fluttering in a blast of air. I think that beats the statue of Our Lady of Fatima we saw in Noumea which had a circular fluorescent light tube as a Halo.
The 'eternal flame' is at the left and below is a closeup shot of it.

Denmark is about 60 kilometres from Albany which has much more history than Denmark. We like both places, but Albany is a small city, very much like other cities or large towns. Denmark, with its farming and forest very close to the town limits, has a genuine country feel to it.

Tuesday evening we joined Jim and Marilyn for dinner at the Tavern. Nice sounding meals, but rated just a 4 from me.

Before we left Denmark to drive home we returned to Berry Farm to collect three tubs of their selected berries. At home last night we had some with ice cream. Lovely!

We drove back using a different route taking 6 hours through magnificent state forests. The long drive cured us of any urge to drive interstate or anywhere more that 500 kilometres. Plane and hire car for us.

Today we have a meeting with the radiotherapy specialist. We assume that he is going to go over all the side effects and expectations of the SIRT treatment before Joan has it next Thursday. Joan held up well over the two days away. Six weeks without chemo makes a huge difference.