|trivial tales from someone who's always in it|
Monday, May 05, 2008
hot water has moved ...... to http://www.yourcorrespondent.net/
It's not quite finished but it's good enough to go. Maybe I'll even update it occasionally.
Thanks for everything, Blogger. You'll always have a special place in my heart for being the first.
Monday, March 03, 2008
In the Top FiveYesterday we went out on a friend's sailing ship. We swam, we snorkelled, we drank a shitload of beer and, when it was all over, we agreed it was one of the Top Five days we'd ever spent in North West WA.
That, despite Your Correspondent's being stung by a jellyfish. I was bobbing squiffily in the water, when it suddenly felt as though a nettle plant was being dragged down my inner arm. I waited to see if I was going to start screaming and thrashing around (a dead giveaway that the villain's an irukandji). When that didn't happen, I swam rather unsteadily over to our friend, the Cap'n.
Niki: I think I got stung by a thing.
Cap'n: Let's have a look. (examines welts) Yep. Jellyfish. You're lucky.
Cap'n: It only tapped you. We should put vinegar on that but I don't have any left. Used it all yesterday on this other chick who got stung. Just don't touch it. You'll be fine.
Later, he poured some beer over my arm, "to make sure", and murmured something about "astringent qualities". I was forced to question his motives, however, because earlier in the day, he'd tipped the dregs from his bottle over one of my feet and then laughed maniacally for far longer than one would normally deem acceptable for a sane person.
Still, given that I'm now writing about the experience, our jolly tar's folk medicine obviously worked. After sucking down two or three more beers (I have conveniently forgotten how many exactly), I disembarked with the sober Dreamboat and we headed off to pick up The Dog.
What can I say about The Dog? He's gorgeous. The Dreamboat and I are both smitten. He's amazingly well behaved, given that he's just a puppy. He doesn't bark or dig (so far). The cat adores him too:
Dog: (laying the white flag of parley at the cat's feet) Hello. You're very beautiful. I know that it's difficult to ignore millennia of genetic conditioning but I'd really like to be your friend.
Cat: Thank you for the compliment. You're very sweet. I'd really like to be your friend too ... just not enough to override the pleasure I'm currently getting from strafing your snout with my needle-sharp claws.
So Round One went to Buffy the cat. Given that the puppy's paws are only marginally smaller than bread-and-butter plates, though, I'd be leery of her chances in any future skirmishes.
We'll need to see how the dog copes while we're both at work. If all goes well, I really think we'll adopt this little guy. And if we do, we'll change his name to Tongi. It's Maori for ... "Spot".
Friday, February 29, 2008
Same-old, same-old (nothing ever happens 'round here)First there was ...
1. The Hospital
At the beginning of January, I had tonsillitis. (Could there possibly be anything more welcome in one's life than the return of a forgotten childhood disease, all grown up into a freakish hybrid that takes two courses of antibiotics to subdue? Of course there is. There's the asthma it leaves behind.)
So when the Dreamboat started complaining of a sore throat three weeks back, I shouldered the full blame for his condition and then did my best to ignore him.
My husband is not the world's greatest patient, you see. I am holding myself severely in check here. Let's just say I can see why the 'in sickness and in health' stuff is in the contractual, legally-binding, vow part of the wedding ceremony.
He just kept getting sicker, though. Two days later, when his temperature spiked to 39.2 deg C, I really started to worry. The Dreamboat noticed.
DB: Thanks for looking after me. You're being a lot nicer than you usually are when I'm sick.
Niki: Am I really that bad?
The following morning I took him to the emergency department of the hospital ... not because I enjoy the drama of an ER visit but because there's nowhere else to take sick people in Karratha on a weekend.
They wouldn't let me come in for the consultation. Apparently, the doctor took one look down the Dreamboat's throat, screamed, "It's a monster!" and admitted him on the spot.
The Dreamboat languished there for the next three days, hallucinating because of the drugs and because the pain wouldn't let him sleep, chewing the fat with the other blokes in the ward and being waited on hand and foot. Meanwhile, Your Correspondent spent all of her time dashing between hospital and work -- the latter at battle stations because of ...
2. The Cyclone
I'm sure it was no accident that this bastard first came to my attention on the same day the Dreamboat began complaining of feeling unwell. That's just how the Big Cheese likes to divert Itself when there's nothing good on TV. (I've noticed things have calmed down since the new season of Lost started screening in the US.)
Two weeks, that bloody cyclone dithered around the place. It looped the loop, it dawdled down the coast, it passed us in Karratha with hardly a trace and eventually crossed the coast near Carnarvon, around 800km south of here.
A team was flown in early on from the eastern states to help with the broadcasting but there wasn't a lot for them to do until the very end ... by which time, two of the three were due to fly home -- and did.
It was a wearing time for everyone. Even though there wasn't much action, there were still regular updates to be broadcast. These are issued six-hourly to begin with, then every three hours as the system moves closer to the coast, and finally every hour. The helpers did the night reads to save the regular staff from having to come in. It was a hard slog.
Things are almost back to normal now, which is the cue for another system to start acting up further north. That's happening as I write and on a holiday weekend, too -- also par for the course. And right when I'm preparing for the arrival of ...
3. The Dog
You know how I've been going on for years about wanting a border collie called Hootie? Well, this isn't him. This is some mutt that looks like a dalmatian-cross, called Oliver. So far, I've spent over $300 on indoor and outdoor beds, collar, leads, toys, food, car harness ...
He arrives tomorrow at 4:30pm. The idea is that I foster him until he finds a permanent home, which may or may not be with us. It all depends on whether he and the cat can co-exist. The cat was here first so it's her decision.
I suspect this dog could end up being more disruptive than illness and cyclones rolled into one. So maybe we'll get another.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
My hair is dull and uncommunicative ...... as am I these days, one might think. But one would be wrong. I'm just too damn busy.
My hair started to fall out sometime between last year's surgery and the subsequent radiotherapy. It didn't come out in clumps the way it does when you're having chemo; rather, it just thinned out and kept right on thinning.
I lost about a third of it. When your hair's fine-textured to begin with, one third is a very big fraction.
So I went to see my hairdresser.
"Cut it all off!" demanded Your Correspondent.
"Really?" she squealed in excitement. She'd been having a very boring day filled with "just a little trim, thanks" and "maybe a nibble off the front".
"Yeah," I asserted grimly. "Gimme a really sharp, angular 80's style bob ... the sort that follows the line of the jaw and side of the face and that's really short at the back."
I have, you see, a most exquisite jawline. From the side, at least. Front-on, I look like fucking Clutch Cargo.
She set to work. Other hairdressers gathered around and watched respectfully, emitting little sighs of rapture as what was left of my tresses fell to the floor. You think I'm joking, don't you? I'm bloody not. It was quite obviously the most beautiful thing any of them had seen in months.
"You'll really suit a Pob!" exclaimed one.
"A Pob! That style you're getting."
"No, I'm getting a really sharp, angular 80s bob, etc. etc."
We stared at each other in mutual incomprehension. And it's then that I realised just how far out of the loop the year's events had taken me.
So anyway, I got a Pob and it looked fabulous for all of a month. It didn't look quite so good after the second cut. Now, it just looks like shit. I don't know if this will make sense to any women reading but it's almost as if my hair didn't see the whole 'being cut off' thing coming first time around and just sort of behaved itself because it was so deeply shocked. Now it's grown used to the style and it's worked out all sorts of devilish ways of making itself look like complete crap.
Some of it's started to grow back, too -- grey, of course. So not only do I have a Pob that flopped, I also have these frizzy little silver antennae contributing enthusiastically to the general disaster that sprouts from my scalp.
One's hairstyle is supposed to communicate something. If that's true, mine's saying, "Hello, I am a complete loser. Now piss off."
Happy New Year, by the way!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Not dead yetFar from it, mein superheroes. I've just been a little busy. And my laptop died.
To pick up where we left off, here's the music I was nuked to:
Day One: Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes (promptly taken off at my request) followed by Video Killed the Radio Star, courtesy of The Buggles (because it was such an improvement).
Day Two: All Out of Love by Air Supply, briskly chased the fuck out of Dodge by The B52s with Love Shack.
Day Three: Abba all the way: Take a Chance on Me and Waterloo.
Days Four and Five: Mozart and Bach.
Ah, yes ... radiotherapy; it's basically about being stuck in a 1970s music wonderland. When considered in context, though -- Your Irradiated Correspondent was younger by at least 20 years than everyone else in the waiting room -- Air Supply and The Buggles were probably edgy and in-your-face.
As far as the treatment was concerned, I didn't have to do much: just throw open my legs to a new bunch of strangers, basically. Then I had to lie vewwwwy still while they hooked me up to the Machine of Seeming Harmlessness. It looked innocent enough but its job was to introduce what was left of my poor old Lady Bits to some element from the dark side of the Periodic Table.
The first couple of sessions lasted exactly two minutes and 39 seconds. The last three were three minutes apiece. It didn't hurt. Everyone was very nice to me.
When they decided I was cooked to perfection, I was allowed to go home.
After a week or two to recover, I went back to work, this time as the Breakfast Show presenter. Doing Brekky basically involves getting up at 4am five days a week and having no life ... kind of like having cancer, really, except that it's a lot more fun and you get paid.
I also found myself with another title: Acting Manager. I so don't know anything about being a boss, so it's just as well I currently have a staff of one-and-a-half. It's a long story. Don't worry about it.
It's taken me almost two months to get a handle on my two jobs. Presenting the show isn't the problem; it's all the managerial stuff that's done my head in. As a consequence, I've been working twelve-hour days. This week I'm aiming for nine-to-ten-hour days. If I'm really good, Santa might bring me an eight-hour day for Christmas.
Other than that, all is well in my early-onset menopausal world. I had a twelve-week post-op check-up (wow! Look at all those hyphens!) in Perth a few weeks back. The Dreamboat's parents were over from Scotland and we'd taken them to Margaret River for a week. We did the seven-hour round trip to Perth by car so I could see a doctor for seven minutes, five of which were spent talking about what Karratha's like and how much he'd like to one day retire in New Zealand. The actual medical bit went like this:
Doctor: Tell me your symptoms.
Niki: (tells him her symptoms)
Doctor: Well, that's to be expected. Let me take a look.
Niki: (gives him a look)
Doctor: Hmmm, there is some scarring ... but that's to be expected. Come back in April.
I'd been kind of hoping there'd be a blood test or tea-leaf reading or something to tell me I didn't have cancer anymore but nothing was forthcoming. I guess going back in April just gives me that much more to look forward to.
Given my complete wimpishness on that occasion, I decided it was time to be a bit more pro-active where my health's concerned. I booked myself in for a mammogram a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't too bad, if you're the sort who enjoys having your boobs squished to pancake thickness. I'm glad I had it done, though. And the results were normal. That is a Good Thing.
So, we're all up to speed. If the nine-to-ten hour thing continues to work for me this week, I'll no doubt coo sweet nothings again to you sometime soon.
P.S. I've grown to hate this bloody layout. Can anyone recommend a skin doctor? Will pay for new aesthetics.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Cankles: Why Wasn't I Told?!A couple of weeks ago, Your Cancerous Correspondent had her first formal Karratha outing/airing after returning from Perth. Those who know me well will not be surprised to learn that this involved a visit to the hairdresser.
My hairdresser is one of the few rock-solid institutions you can have in this world. She dressed my tresses back in 2003/4 when we lived here the first time ... and, lo and behold, she was still here when we came back. I love that in a hairdresser!
Given that we were already bonded in a beautiful hairdresser/client relationship and all the awkward 'getting-to-know-you' stuff was out of the way, we just picked up where we'd left off. If you've seen The Castle, you'll know what I mean:
Niki: So, how's the boyfriend?
Hairdresser: Good. We're engaged.
Hairdresser: Thanks. And how's the fiance?
Niki: Good. We're married.
Niki: Thanks. And how are the dogs?
Hairdresser: Good. And how's the cat?
Hairdresser: Suffer in your jocks.
Okay, that last bit was more about paying homage to the afore-mentioned movie and checking to see if you were still awake than anything she actually said. But given that things have progressed nicely ever since, I felt very comfortable telling her about the whole bizzo in Perth. When I got to the "fear-of-balloon-legs" part of the story, she said, "Oh, you mean cankles."
Hairdresser: Cankles ... when your legs are the same width all the way down from your calves to your ankles.
Niki: Hahahaha! Cankles! Hahahahaha!
Is it only me who finds that word hilarious? It cracked me up ... although I was a little concerned that I wasn't already familiar with it. I'm supposed to be all hip and cutting-edge when it comes to pop culture terminology, given that I work in the media and all. Still, I reassured myself, maybe it's brand new. I've been out of the loop for five weeks. That's a long time in the speed-of-light world of popular culture.
Then, yesterday I had a phone call from an old friend in New Zealand. He'd run into my mother, the Dowager Empress, and been treated to a slightly garbled account of recent events in Your Correspondent's life. I started the well-worn tale and eventually reached the "balloon legs" bit.
Niki: Yeah, balloon legs. Although there's another name for them ... (pausing for effect). You might not have heard it before. It's ... (another pause) ... CANKLES! Hahahaha!
He-friend: (airily) Yeah, I know what you're talking about.
Niki: (thinks) WHAT?! Nooooooooooo! (head explodes)
He's a bloke. He's my age. He lives in New Zealand. He works in the justice system. He's not supposed to know stuff I don't.
I'd only just managed to start incorporating 'fugly' in everyday conversation. I had to look on YouTube to see what krumping looked like. And now the Cankles Revolution presumably swept by me at some point in the distant past and I had absolutely no idea.
Ah, cankles. So funny and yet so sad. Having been thrown out of the mosh pit of pop culture connectedness, I salute you from the dank recliner chair of inexorable middle age.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Convalescence is a BitchIt's much better than being dead from cancer, of course, but it's a slow and frustrating process all the same.
I can't do anything.
I can't lift anything over two kilos in weight. That's your average jug/kettle filled with water.
I can't drive. I'm not supposed to squat or bend over. A thirty-minute walk leaves me sweating and buggered. When I stand up after sitting or lying for any length of time, I get very light-headed and am forced to grab at the nearest object for support. (Where, I ask myself, is my Vin Diesel ornament when I need it? Actually, it doesn't matter. I've gone off him.)
There are still plenty of things I can and do do, like reading. And knitting. And watching DVDs: the first and only season of Firefly; 90s yuppie Brit drama This Life; season six of Scrubs; comic Bill Bailey's Part Troll show; movies The Fountain and The Prestige.
Then there are the things I could do but don't because I'm milking this convalescence thing for all it's worth ... like cooking.
And finally there are the things you bet your ass I do but about which I'm not going to write.
Speaking of writing, you might notice that nowhere on any of those lists was mention made of "blogging" (or "emailing", if I owe you one). That's because there are three laptops in this house and of those three, two habitually crash without warning and the third is so slow I fight the urge to cut my wrists every time I use it. I'm working on one of the crashers at the moment. Let's see how many times I have to re-boot it before this post is done (the score currently sits at one).
So here's what's happened since last time:
I had the second op on Monday 9 July. The lymph node dissection was clear (i.e. they didn't find any cancer cells), so the doctors felt fairly safe in assuring me they'd got it all. I still have to have radiotherapy, just in case.
I was discharged from hospital three days later but not before my doctor teased me about how remarkably balloon-like my legs were not. The nurse was scandalised that he'd made a joke out of something I'd been so worried about but I was thrilled. He did have a sense of humour after all! His pale cohort, I discovered, did as well. They were both bloody nice guys.
We weren't due to fly home until the following Tuesday, which turned out to be just as well. On the Saturday night I started to bleed and we spent all of Sunday morning and most of Monday in the hospital's Emergency department. One urine test, one blood test, one internal examination and one ultrasound later, it was pronounced safe for me to travel home, with strict instructions to get to my GP pronto if anything got worse.
I've been home three weeks. The first week was all about physical discomfort and feeling like crap. The second week focused more on bursting into tears at odd times for no reason, such as halfway through a conversation with the Dreamboat about his day at work. The third signified my triumphant launch back into Karratha society (I had visitors).
And now I spend my time ripping off my clothes ... partly because I've been hurled into the wonderful world of menopause and menopause can make one feel somewhat warm; and partly because the tissue around and under my scar has become so sensitive I can't stand anything touching it.
In a little under two weeks time, we fly back to Perth for Phase Two on the list of cancer treatment goodies: radiotherapy. I'll be having brachytherapy, where the radioactive yumminess is delivered internally ... deflowered with surgical precision by a complete stranger in the health profession yet again. Yay. It's lucky that the Dreamboat is not a jealous man.
Sooooooo ... two sessions a week, five sessions in all. And then, hopefully, back to work, back to the real world and back to normal. Until the next check-up, that is ... but I'll mark the calendar to worry about that one a bit closer to the actual date.
I don't think there are words enough or skill enough on my part to describe how incredible the Dreamboat has been, and continues to be, through all this.
I always knew he was a keeper.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Notes From Hospital
They let me out for the weekend but I’m due back later today. More surgery tomorrow, fuck it.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Toodles!When I return, I shall be less than I was. I may even finally be able to fit into that skirt I've been carting uselessly around Australia for nine years.
No matter what happens, I take comfort in the knowledge that I'll never be sick enough to buy the knife block I saw in a shop here last week. It's in the shape of a human figure. The knives slide into the places where you'd expect to find vital organs. It'll probably sell like hot-cakes in Karratha once the bogans learn of it.
Oh, and remind me some time to tell you about the friend who found herself locked in a changing room in a clothes shop here. When she eventually got herself out (by squeezing under the door), she complained to the shop assistant who looked at her with all the interest and intelligence of a cane toad. Apparently, that's just how they do things in that shop. Can you imagine the place during a sale? All these bodies squirming and stuck under changing room doors.
Anyway, don't bother reminding me to tell you about that. I just did.
Til next, superheroes. Thanks for all the encouraging words and thoughts.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Will All My Posts Feature Cancer From Now On? Probably.Can't really help it, I'm afraid. Its the biggest news going on at the Karratha Imperial Palace these days.
I went back to work last week, which is why you haven't heard from me in a while. Couldn't keep away -- I love my job. Check it out.
Since you and I last communed, The Dreamboat and Your Correspondent did another 500km round trip to Port Hedland so I could have a couple of CT scans and a chest x-ray. We're getting to know that road quite well. Five hours in the car every couple of weeks is starting to feel almost normal. A nice little Outback jaunt. Gets one out into the fresh air, you know.
So I rocked up to the hospital, had the x-ray and that was the easy bit over with. Next, I was given a litre of chalky shit to drink over a two hour period. After that, I was directed into a room with a door that appeared to be half a kilometre thick and which bore the reassuring observation, DANGER! RADIATION!
The whole idea of a CT scan is that you lie on a bed with your abdomen (or other relevant body part) lined up underneath a contraption that looks a bit like a giant donut. Then the radiologist and nurse scurry the fuck out of there because Jesus Christ, we're dealing with x-rays and those things are fucking dangerous!
You, meanwhile, try hard to appear nonchalant while they breathlessly attempt to reassure you from the next room via intercom.
This stage of the picture-taking isn't so bad, apart from the machine's stupid recorded voice instructing you when to hold your breath and when to breathe again. You'd think they'd try to make it sound a little friendly, instead of something out of a bad science-fiction movie. Does anyone remember that movie or tv show where about the only thing the computer ever said was, "Wor-king! Wor-king!" in a god-awful metallic female voice? (What the hell was that movie/show?) Anyhoo, that's exactly what the talking donut sounds like.
The next step of the process involves injecting you with some glop they call 'contrast' (highly technical radiological terms: iodine or barium sulphate) and then taking pictures of it while it goes through your system. This is all very easy provided you hold up your end of the bargain by supplying nice, fat veins. Skinny little wiggly things that keep collapsing every time they catch sight of a needle don't cut it in the demanding world of Computed Tomography.
Long story short: after three unsuccessful attempts at getting in a needle, an anaesthetist was finally called in to do the job. That was eight days ago and the bruises on the backs of both hands and in the crooks of each elbow are only fading now. I should've taken photos to show you. They looked damned impressive.
The radiologist explained what I might feel when the contrast went through my system: hot flush, a strange taste in the mouth and a "warmth in the pelvis". She wasn't kidding with that last. Even though she warned me, I still got the shock of my life. It feels exactly like you're wetting your pants. Trust me. I go camping just so I can piss in rivers while swimming. I know these things.
I started to cry when they buggered off out of the room again. I couldn't help myself. I was scared and all that fiddling around with needles got to me.
[As an aside, I hadn't cried much at all until the day before the events I'm relating. Before then, it hadn't felt quite real ... it was all just words over the phone and internet research. Then I went to see my GP and the moment I opened my mouth I simply fell apart. While I was bawling, I said to him, "I don't understand why I'm doing this. I've been fine for the last two weeks. I thought I'd accepted it but I must've been in denial. Otherwise, why would this be happening?"
He said, "You haven't been in denial. You've been in shock."]
Anyway, the upshot of all this is that they didn't spot any cancer anywhere else. It hasn't spread. This is a very good thing ... not good enough to save my poor ovaries, which will be ripped out with the rest of my dysfunctional reproductive system in about 10 days time ... but good nonetheless.
This time next week, I'll be heading to the airport with the Dreamboat.
I wish it was all over.
Nominated for stuff in the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Australian Blog Awards.
This means I should be taken very, very seriously. You hear me? Very.
meditate on this, Noddy
Hurley: Maybe the dog can find water. I mean, dogs can find pot and bombs, so I'm sure they can find water.
Created by JJ Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber and Damon Lindelof
Niki (Your Correspondent): a shy, retiring, sweet sort of soul who wouldn't say boo to a goose. Born in NZ of Irish parents, jumped across the ditch to Oz in 1998. Hates cabbage and has always craved a life of complete obscurity. So far, this wish has been granted. Dammit.
Karratha, Western Australia ... again.
from the cheap seats
"This person is not a team player."
High school Biology teacher
"... an idiot."
The Dowager Empress
"... powerfully irritating."
A former spouse
"... dangerously mischievous."
current attention grabbers
Curling up with:
The View From the Valley of Hell
Drowning out the world with:
Your Favourite Driving Songs
Staring fixedly at:
Directed by Jonathan King
Trying hard to:
Reassure The Cat about The Dog
other recommended blogs
Bad News Hughes
John Howard: P.M.
S.A.F.E. (Saving Animals From Euthanasia)
Bert Is Evil
Ask Sister Rossetta
the good old days
webrings and cliques
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