Tag Archives: Travel

The Numbers

From Home to General Practice Placement:

Total Distance (each way): 31.9km
Times per Week: 2
Speed Zones, Outbound Journey: 50 – 70 – 60 – 100 – 90 – 100 – 60 – 80 – 50
Speed Zones, Homeward Journey: 50 – 80 – 60 – 100 – 90 – 100 – 60 – 70 – 50
Speed Cameras (Fixed): 3
Traffic Lights: 7
Average Red Lights on Arrival: 6
Roundabouts: 2
Golf Courses: 2
Cow Crossings: 2
Cow Crossing Delays Experienced: 0
Rail Crossings: 1
Rail Crossing Delays Experienced: 2
Rail Crossing Delay Duration: 11mins / 8mins
Bridges Crossed: 3
Properties for Sale: 14
Wineries: 2
Winery Delays Experienced: 0
Factories: 2
Smokestacks (Gas Flame): 1
Hitchhikers: 1
Hitchhiker Sightings: 3 (Same Guy)
Minimum Journey Time: 24mins
Maximum Journey Time: 49mins
Early/On Time/Late Arrival (%, est): 30/40/30
Maximum Ground Speed Attained: Fine Exceeds Boyish Desire To Tell
Times Speed Limit Unconsciously Exceeded by Maximal Amount: 1
Times Rihanna’s S.O.S Unconsciously Played On Loop, Single Journey: 11
Total Distance Driven for GP Placement, Phase 3: 2424.4km

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Apparently Crazy Cat Lady

Our two cats are brothers, different colours but with virtually identical markings. They have lived indoors (and within the limits of the backyard, under supervision) for their fourteen years of life. This has given us all plenty of time to bond as a tribe.

McCat is most closely bonded to me, especially since his brother has become irritable with hyperthyroidism. We have a few things in common. We both like birds. We both like my armchair and its lambskin throw. We both like raw salmon and roast lamb (not together). For a while there, unbeknownst to me, we shared a bedside glass of water.

One of us is a little OCD.

At bedtime, McCat enforces the following routine:

1. Human is to brush teeth.
2. Human is to fill cat’s bedside water glass with fresh water.
3. Human is to top up biscuit bowl.
4. Human is to pat Brother Cat.
5. Human is to seek out Superior Cat lounging place; this step to be conducted under cover of darkness, simulating safari conditions.
6. Human is to advise Superior Cat of imminent bed entry.
7. Human is to stop faffing and get into bed.
8. Superior Cat shall drink water; four swipes of paw on beside table to accompany drink, indicating primal origins.
9. Superior Cat shall sit staring at Human until such time as Human switches off light.
10. Superior Cat shall patrol perimeter, ensuring all doors and windows secure.
11. Human is to assume supine position; left arm to be bent like tea-pot handle.
12. Superior Cat shall grace Human with presence between left arm and left flank; Human is to remain motionless until 4am.

The penalty for deviation from any of the above routine may range from gentle rebuke to forced sleep deprivation, with such penalties administered vocally, by strategic bladder-trampling, or by judicious use of paws to ensure Human eyes are open and airways clear.

Every so often I escape desert the McCat for education-related purposes, such as placements away, or conferences. The Girl does her best to meet his exacting standards of bedtime care, however as she has the Yellow Dog of Happiness to care for, as well as Brother Cat, McCat tends to develop abandonment issues and his vocal and paw-to-face admonishments eventually become unbearable. Or so I am told.

And so it is that I find myself on the phone to the cat. I am fluent in McEse, and though it pains me that my communications are delivered via speaker phone for all to enjoy, it does seem to settle him down.

I can only guess at what “Brrt, brrt, micmicmic meow” means, but I think it’s something like “Hello, honeycat, I’ll be home soon.”

Mock me and I’ll scratch your eyes out.

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One Hand Clapping

McCat is asleep and purring on my arm, and my one`handed typing can’t keep up with my brain.

It’s Hiroshima Day. Please take a moment to reflect on world peace. Make it as long a moment as you like.

Today I had to go to the dentist in the city. Last time I did this, my mouth stayed numb for far too long and I felt all woozy, so I had an unscheduled overnight stay with my dad. This time, my girl and the Yellow Dog of Happiness came with me to drive me home.

We drove for three hours, got a great coffee, had a quick catch-up with my lovely Step-Ma, I tottled off to the chair; Girl and Yellow Dog had a stroll by the water. They picked me up, excessively numb and somewhat dopey, we picked up some sashimi to take home for dinner, and stopped near our old house to get the Girl a late lunch.

There’s an off-leash park around the corner from the house where we lived for seven years. Let’s take the hound there, I said, and you can eat your lunch before we hit the traffic again. Great idea, off we go.

Yellow Dog is much more in love with her than he is with me, but I convinced him to leave the Girl on her park bench. The two of us wandered across the dusty excuse for a park, greeting assorted small dogs and their owners in the appropriate way. All very harmonious.

Harmonious until behind us, a certain spaniel launched itself at the Girl’s face and stole a part of her lunch.

She politely and quietly suggested to the owner that he control his dog.

Loud enough for me to hear across the park, he suggested that she ‘stop eating for five minutes.’

For the last five months, the Girl has been working against history, genetics and a whole bunch of internal demons to regain the athlete’s frame she lost to sedentary work and too much of a good thing. She has been working HARD. And she’s looking and feeling great. She has muscles on her muscles. Her clothes are hanging off her.

There was a not-so-subtle implication in his choice of words, and I dare say it cut us both to the core.

As the portly man continued to rant at her, blaming her for being in a dog park and completely failing to apologise or attempt to control his dog, she calmly stood up and walked over to the Yellow Dog and I, obnoxious spaniel in tow.

The food obsessed spaniel climbed all over us for a full lap of the park, clawing at our legs and completely fixated on the end of the sandwich. No intervention. No apology. No manners. No accountability.

There was a time when I feared living outside the city because my differences would be more obvious and I thought I would struggle for acceptance. As I got to know the Girl’s home town, I formed the view that the anonymity of the city was a bigger threat. In a small town, people know who you are. Sure, they’ll know you’re the gayest doctor in town. But they’ll also know that if they egg your car, someone in town will know who did it.

He lives in the inner city and has a little rainbow name-tag on his spaniel. Chances are, he’s a friend of a friend. Would he have dared to unleash his stream of vitriol on my Girl if he knew the whole town would know by Wednesday?

Probably. People like that are like that wherever they live their unhappy lives.

But for us, this unpleasant encounter with the obnoxious man and his uncontrollable dog just underscored our growing distaste for the city, and cemented a feeling that our tiny town is the home we want it to be.

I’m so proud of the woman I love for the way she walked away. It implies a healthy stock of inner peace.

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Dear Internet,

Given the amount of time a certain member of my family invests in you in his pursuit of happiness, I thought you may be interested to learn that his holiday to the Ukraine has allegedly been extended while he allegedly waits to act as a witness in the alleged trial of the ruffians who allegedly found him sleeping in his rental car and allegedly mugged him.

I’m not entirely sure of the period of time over which this drama has been unfolding. However the skeptic in me is not entirely sure that my relative is not being deprived of his liberty somewhere.

I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you could send me your bank account details and all of your passwords, I’ll see to it that he gets a new passport.

Sincerely,
Toast

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The Things I Missed

Wednesday we drove out to my aunt’s farm. It was an overcast day, and Ma told me to take a jumper. I don’t get to the farm much, so I thought, maybe it’s cooler out there. I was hot in shorts and a tank top. Ma had long pants and a jumper on.

We arrived bearing some fairly solid iced finger buns which had been in the fridge at least six days, and the remnants of a barbecued chicken which had been uncovered in the fridge for at least four. Did I mention Ma was recovering from Salmonella? Thanks to the wonders of text messaging, my aunt was forewarned and thus armed with a fresh chicken roasting in the oven. The old one quietly disappeared.

We ate, I hung out with my cousin, we watched some coverage of the floods, we left. Ma looked peaky. She napped in the car. Overnight I could hear her coughing.

Thursday morning, back to the doctor, No, Doctor, I feel much better. My stools are normal. I feel fine. What about that arthritis in your finger, Ma? It came up overnight. It was red and swollen. No, no, that’s just my arthritis. But I will get my pills in a bubble pack after all. Hurrah! We’d been applying subtle pressure on this for a year. Off to the chemist with all the scripts. Walking up the ramp to the chemist she was breathless and we took it very very slowly. Come back and get them at three? Sure.

Lunch was scheduled with my mother. I thought Ma looked overtired. She insisted she was fine. I insisted it would not be rude of her to stay at home. That I would be fine on my own. She refused.

She ate a bit of soup. We stopped back at the chemist on the way home and picked up the bubble packed pills. We got home. I went to do some washing. She put on a coat and started peeling vegetables.

A coat?

My uncle fetched the thermometer. 38.9°. I grabbed us a bag of clothes and we headed for Emergency. Her first set of rigors started in the car.

The triage interview happened fast and then we sat in the waiting room. When the hallucinations started, we went straight through.

Fluid resus. IV antibiotics, complicated by allergies. I sat with her all night while her blood pressure swirled, her heart raced, and her body convulsed with rigors. She kept trying to send me home. I held her hand through the wild-eyed terrifying half hour that we all thought would kill her. I talked her through the hallucinations and the strange surrounds and the man who was screaming all the foul words down the hall. I talked to the Med Reg and to ICU. I held her hand through her “final indignity” of insertion of the urinary catheter, keeping her eyes on mine while we talked about the beach and old holidays. I bossed her around for the first time: We are not having this conversation; I am not going home until you are on a ward.

She stabilized, more or less, so they sent her to a ward rather than ICU. I went home and cancelled my flight and called my dad and my aunt. When my uncle woke up, he asked what I thought would have happened if we hadn’t been staying.

What would have happened? She would have put on another coat, and gone for a lie-down, and covered herself with all the blankets she could find. And when those rigors hit her and she was wild-eyed and thinking she would die, with her failing heart desperately trying to keep her brain alive, if she thought to call for help she’d have not been able to dial the numbers. There would have been no one to hold her hand. And that would have been how it ended.

Septic arthritis in the finger. Incontinence pads in the bedroom. Increased work of breathing. Intermittent fevers. Thermal flaming underwear. Intermittent confusion, query delirium. Those are the things I missed, even though I saw (most of) them.

The answer, med nerds, is severe sepsis. The bug was e.coli, origin UTI. It’s a damn scary thing to see in your 87-year-old grandma. Especially when she says she’s fine.

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And So It Continued.

The next day was Tuesday. We saw the GP in the morning and she thought Ma looked a little jaundiced in the eyes. We did bloods for liver function, and then we tootled off for the weekly hour-long drive to the central markets.

We all like the market trip because it reminds us of Pa. But it is completely unnecessary. The money we save on meat, we blow on petrol.

Before we go home Ma bought me some doughnuts, and as we passed the queue for the ATM she said, let’s stop at the Local Shops, I need to get some money out.

On the trip home she changed her mind. Oh, let’s stop at the Not-So-Local Big Supermarket, we need milk and I can get money out there.

We parked in the disabled parking space and as we walked up the ramp to the shop Ma took out her ATM card. Wait on, Toast, she says, I need to get some money out.

As she turned to insert her card into this machine, she realised her mistake.

Not A Money Machine.

Well, it is a hole in the wall. And she was after liquid assets…

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I’ve Been To Google, But I’ve Never Been To Me

It’s the time of the year again where I get to hang out with my grandma. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may remember she’s had some issues with her memory. And that I’m nuts about her.

New Year’s Day, while I was busy not getting nekked, she was showing the first signs of the effects of eating the Christmas chicken a week past its best. My uncle bought her some Imodium and some Hydralyte. Four days later he took her to the doctor.

By the time I arrived on the 8th for my holiday vsit, she claimed to be feeling much better. She was eating and bossing me about and grumbling about the two liters her GP insisted she drink. On Sunday night she barely slept, and on Monday morning we set off to the GP for a follow-up blood test.

She is an inveterate backseat driver, which these days manifests itself in instructing us all on which route to take to our destination. On this trip, we started by dropping my uncle at the station. From there, I drove toward the GP. She became quite insistent that I was heading in the wrong direction, though it was a familiar road and well-signposted. I pointed out old landmarks. “I’ve never seen this place before!”, she insisted.

While I can follow the ant trails between this city’s suburbs fairly well, and know the road to her GP, I didn’t have the address of the clinic, and with my grandma insisting we weren’t there yet, we overshot the destination by a good ten kilometres. By this time she was quite distressed. We were passing windmills, so we agreed it was time to pull over and let Google Maps do the talking.

I handed Ma the iPhone to settle her down. “Here, Ma – we’re following the red line down to the bottom left of the map. We’re the blue dot. Can you watch the blue dot and tell me if it goes off the red line?”.

She applied herself to the task at hand, offering frequent updates. Then, out of the blue: “It says we have to go to Google!”. Huh? I took a look. She’s not so silly, the logo overlay does kind of look like a suburb.

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