Friday, May 16, 2014


A. Fruitcake

I’ve now had procedures and surgeries enough to single-handedly break both the LaTrobe Health Insurance Fund and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. If you are unhappy with changes to these in the new federal budget, please feel free to blame me.

Radiation therapy is over.
As my risk of breast cancer recurring now is about the same as the risk of women in the general population getting breast cancer for the first time, I’ve decided to forego the 5 years of Tamoxifen. I got off lightly, for some reason.

Despite the cancer, I have not experienced one of those Pauline Conversions, Epiphanies or whatever people like to call them. Having flirted [like a wallflower] with cancer and survived [god that sounds dramatic] I’m not sure I have any more idea of why we are on this earth or what I ought to do while here than I did before. 

My right heel is almost back to normal [without the Achilles pain-yay!]. Just some occasionally whining from scar tissue. [Still wearing those dreadful pressure stockings].

The sad news is that what I thought was a “sprain” in my right shoulder as a result of falling from my crutches is actually a complete tear of one of the tendons, so more surgery ahead – it’s dashed inconvenient not being able to reach with the right arm when the left arm is itchy.

B. Auntie

Poor Aunty has spent about 75% of the time between Christmas and now in hospital, what with one thing and another. Between the three of us we have spent so much time in hospital as visitors/patients we saved a bundle with our coffee loyalty card. But, even in the worst possible settings, there is often something to smile at.

At last, Auntie's [second] new pacemaker is ticking away nicely. She gets a bit stronger every day.


JJ is chugging along with her Div 2 nursing course. She has passed the Occupational English test that will qualify her to do a Div 1 bridging course, but has decided for now to keep on with the Div 2 course. She's making the most of the chance to become familiar with the expensive equipment our hospitals have, or to learn the local names for various medications.

When JJ first arrived, TO shared a story about the international student who was on a placement in a cardiac wing. "I have pain", cried a patient. While the student rushed off to fetch a pan, her mentor dealt with the heart attack. 
Vowel sounds can be tricky for people from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Recently JJ came home from her part-time nursing home job, laughing because one of her fellow workers went to the kitchen and said a resident did not get her prawns. "Why would we give people prawns for breakfast?" asked the chef. JJ guessed there was a vowel problem, and was able to work out the resident really wanted prunes.

Well…. it’s only a matter of time before she has her driving licence. 

Go JJ!

D. The wonderful TO.

What can you say about someone who has spent her entire life caring for others but, this year, found a little too much happening a little too close to home? [Between the lines… she learned that not being able to control everything can be stressful].
The good news is that she has finally got a teaching contract that matches her own preferred timeframe for easing into retirement this year.

Next: Let the downsizing begin!

Most lists of really truly extreme sources of stress include moving house. This house is TO’s baby, and the thought of having to move after 30 or so years is really stressful for her. 

I shall soon have to apologise for every rude joke I’ve ever made about TO’s hoarding. She is being brave and ruthless beyond my wildest expectations, but I won't assume it isn't stressing her.

Stage one of the downsizing process is decluttering. I've allowed 18 months for this on the project management plan.

If something is not wanted or can’t be kept and absolutely must go, then what we think it is “worth” is irrelevant. And if something is a nice reminder of a person or event from the past but will take up too much room… we take a photo of it as a souvenir before letting go. 
[I’m sure I saw the photo idea in someone else’s blog. Thanks, whoever you are.]

TO still has her dad’s shaving mug, brush and razor – it’s the sort of thing that is very personal but will not take up too much room in a bathroom. [Well, it is bigger than my grandmother's sugar bowl, but not much.]

We are having a garage sale on Saturday– preparation for which began in earnest with a giant book cull last week. Multiplying the number of books culled [so far] by the average new book price of $20 has been a sobering exercise. 
Our list of must-haves when we down size, which started with ITEM 1: “within scooter distance of shops”, has now been altered slightly to read “within scooter distance of shops and library”.

I could go on about downsizing, but for now the key idea is that this has been horrendously stressful for my FBF, who has not been too well herself.

E. Mr Bin Guardin’

Things have been a tad quiet on the home front side, since he was booked for parking on the wrong side of the road - and copping a second fine for parking over his driveway when he complained about the first fine.

Last But By No Means Least: My Friends

A big thank you, blogland friends, for all your get well wishes.

I’ve had the energy to do sod all for, oh, about 60 years, but the last few months I’ve done less than my usual nothing. It might take me a while, but I hope to eventually catch up on what you’ve been doing or pondering upon, where you have been, what you see when you look through a lens, and what you did when you went to New Guinea to teach.

Keep well :) 


  1. I'm so happy to hear you are healing! It's strange when the medical world becomes a way of life isn't it.
    Being a minimalist since before they invented the concept, I am the exact opposite of TO. I am a gatherer but also a drifter and each time I move I get rid of everything that won't fit in my car. Perhaps you can encourage TO to only keep what fits in a bedroom?

    1. Hi Rubye. Months of dealing with various illnesses made me wonder if it is becoming a way of life! Hope the shoulder repair is the last of it for some time to come.
      I've been a bit of a minimalist most of my life until I bought my own [much smaller] house. When I moved to Frankston I arrived with "stuff" that would fit easily into my own room. Sold the house with most of its contents, lock stock and barrel. Sometimes miss little things like my favourite, brightly coloured coffee mugs, but that's life, I guess.

      I've often accused TO of being a "proof junkie". A few years ago she observed she had been keeping many of her father's effects for more than 40 years "in case" he needed them. Things like his leather apron were precious because they proved that he had, in fact, been a green grocer. Here's where the photos help. She has been fighting something that is part of her personality/nature, and I'm impressed. For now, we are focusing on the question of what would fit /be handy in a 3 bedroom home.