August (fully [well, almost] mended)

Back to work tomorrow. Ho hum. It's actually been kind of pleasant existing in a bit of a vacuum for a week or so. Not being asked to drive here, or pick up someone from there. Being able to catch up on a few projects without the normal distractions. Apparently, when I was quite young, I professed a desire to become a hermit when I grew up and I'm starting to think that maybe I was on to something there (at one stage I also wanted to be a nun but we'll leave that one right alone).
Kokoda plans are still on track also (no pun intended), although I believe that at least one of our prospective members is having second thoughts in light of the recent plane-crash tragedy. But we're all meeting next month for a few days hiking at Hall's Gap, so no doubt all will be revealed (figuratively speaking). And did I mention that, finally facing the fact my extra weight wasn't going to dissolve by itself (bugger it), I joined weight watchers a month or so ago? Well I mention it now because (drum roll please): four kilos gone! Even with my temporary incapacitation, I managed to keep my eye on the prize. Four kilos! That's like eight tubs of margarine, or forty packets of rice crackers (preferably the sweet chilli and sour cream ones - yum), or 160 packets of jelly crystals. Or even a whole other person - albeit a little one!

August (partially mended)

I have decided that there are both good and bad elements to being temporarily housebound. The good involve being able to stay in my pyjamas for days on end and getting heaps of work done, while the bad concern being stuck within a fixed amount of walls, and the way those walls seem to compress as the days go by. Oh, and the pre-shower battle to cover my not-terribly-flexible leg with a plastic garbage bag and then adhere said bag to the skin of my thigh with industrial-strength tape - well, that's not much fun either (neither is ripping the industrial-strength tape off afterwards).

But the main thing is that I've finally had the operation done. It's over. And it was a close call for a while there when it looked likely that I would be 'bumped' off the list, which is official hospital-speak for being sent home sans operation and rescheduled (an understandable confusion between this figure of speech and the slightly more terminal 'bumped off' may explain why some of the other patients, particularly the elderly ones, were looking rather distressed). Anyway, barely had I sat down in the crowded waiting room when, to my surprise, my name was called. Now the reason for my surprise was that I have a long-standing tradition of always being last on a hospital operation list. This rule extends to even my loved ones, so that if I take my daughter in for a tonsilectomy and there are thirty-three other people waiting, the odds are excellent that she will be number thirty-four on the list. I think it's the family curse (the story goes that my great-great grandfather, in what I think displays a distinct lack of fatherly affection, cursed his son and all future generations after the son married against his wishes - the father's wishes that is, not the son's. Now my mother fervently believes that the curse relates to electrical goods and their ability to continue working either (a) immediately post-purchase, or (b) one day past warranty. However I suspect the curse is more fluid than that, with a spooky ability to change focus for each affected person. With me it's all about hospital waiting lists).

So anyway, without getting my hopes up, I mosey into a little room to get my personal particulars recorded by a very friendly nurse and am handed a plastic bag with one of those fetching bottom-baring nighties and - a new addition since last time I was in - a terry-towelling dressing-gown (or maybe they just hand these out for those whose about-to-be-bared bottoms are, let's say, slightly less firm than they once were). Then the surgeon pops in to put a large X on my right leg and adds a message that appears to be in another language (and which I find a trifle concerning - what if it says something like: 'note: this is a leg' or 'don't forget the milk and bread' or even 'amputate this limb post-haste'). But my friendly nurse seems unperturbed, which means that either she can't read the language or it's nothing to worry about. I decide to go with the latter. It is at this point that I am told, to my utter amazement, that I am first on the operation list. All those hordes of potential patients still out in the waiting-room and I am first! I win!!! The curse has been lifted!

And thus for the first time in my life, I am the patient who has to get changed in a hurry, and I am the one who the others mutter about jealously (who did she have to sleep with to be number one?), and I am the one for whom the orderly comes before any others. It is a feeling of victory against the odds that buoys me all the way to the operating theatre, and while I'm tucked onto a waiting guernsey, and while the surgeon explains the procedure (and checks his note on my leg), and while I'm parked in an alcove until the anaesthetist arrives and even when I look down and realise that I forgot to shave my legs (maybe what he wrote was: 'yea gods, what a jungle') - in fact I am cosseted by curse-free euphoria all the way through until the head nurse comes over twenty minutes later and tells me that there's a problem with my anaesthetist (no one else's apparently, just mine - and what exactly is a 'problem' with an anaesthetist anyway?). But the upshot of this alleged 'problem' is that I've been bumped down the list just a tad. How far? Well... apparently now I'm last.
Thanks, Great-great Grandad, you total tool. Thanks a bloody lot.

August (tragedy, trials & tribulations)

What an absolute tragedy this week, with the plane-crash at Kokoda. Thirteen people lost. Terribly, terribly sad. I keep thinking about all the planning they would have done, and the training, and the intoxicating anticipation that they would have been feeling as the plane circled for landing. But of course it's not just the trekkers, but the tour guide and the pilot and the ripple effect something like this has. How unbelievably awful for their families, for starters.
Part of the ripple effect includes the fact that almost every person who knows I'm off to Kokoda next year, has now taken the time to ask if I'm having second thoughts. In a word: no. The way I see it, I could get hit by a car right this very minute - well, actually, probably not this very minute as I'm sitting at my computer and nowhere near a road so the car would have to drop vertically out of the sky, which probably isn't likely. But you get my point. And I hope other potential trekkers feel the same way, not just because there's a lot of villages who depend on us fools tramping past each day, but because otherwise - it seems to me - it undermines the whole Kokoda 'spirit', which was part of the reason I wanted to go in the first place. Perhaps that doesn't make much sense, but I know what I mean (someone has to!).
And tomorrow I'll be that little bit closer as at approximately eleven o'clock, I finally get that pesky cartilage of mine re-attached! I'm actually looking forward to it, not just because it will make life a lot easier, but because I am currently so sleep-deprived that a general anaesthetic sounds like sheer bliss. See, for the past few nights Melbourne has been blowing a gale and when Melbourne blows a gale my little corner of the world, perched on the side of a bloody big hill that's covered in trees, gets - shall we say - a trifle blowy. So I have spent the better part of each night staring numbly at the ceiling while enormous gusts of wind swirl manically outside, gathering all the loose debris and flinging it willy-nilly at my bedroom window. It's like auditioning for The Wizard of Oz, but without all the fun bits like murder and mayhem and shiny new shoes.

Today I thought I'd rise above my sleep-deprived lethargy and make all this excess wind work for me instead of against me. So instead of lying on the couch moaning, I did two huge loads of washing and then lugged it all out onto the decking. There I valiantly fought the wind in order to peg the wet clothes from the string of Christmas tree lights that I had cannily left up for just such an occasion. What with the clammy clothing either wrapping itself lovingly around my head or slapping me forcefully across the face, the operation took almost an hour and then, just as I stood back to admire my handiwork blowing in the hurricane-force breeze - it stopped. Dead. Unbelievable but true. One minute a borderline cyclone, the next nothing. Nada. Then, even as I stood there with my mouth open, it started to rain. With just enough slant to target every item of clothing I had just laboriously hung up. So, yep, strap me to a hospital guersney and knock me out. Please.

August (drowning in deadlines)

I am drowning in deadlines. To the extent that every single dream I've had for the past two months has involved me being late for something (in one memorable instalment, my Harley Davidson stalled on this single-lane bridge that soared into the sky with no visible means of support, and I was panicking because that meant I would be late for my truck driving lesson). In an effort to get organised, I have taken to making lists, a new one every day, which detail what I have to get done just to keep my head above water. Then the next day I move all the leftover items onto the new list and start again. Ad infinitum. And yes, I do grasp the irony here; if I didn't spend so much time writing lists, I mightn't be in such a bloody pickle time-wise.

Nor would things be so bad if I was just able to crawl into a cave (preferably one with good mobile reception, reliable broadband, and Chinese delivery - food, not people), and be free to become a slightly eccentric hermit. But unfortunately I have no chance, because I am surrounded by teenage drama and incontinent dogs and family crises and a unusually large number of relatives who can't drive (and some of whom, when you're kind enough to give them a lift, manage to jam the inertia reel of the rear seatbelt so now more time has to be found to get it repaired... take a deep breath. In, one two, out, one two). So, anyway, it seems that everytime I sit down and finally start to get some work done I have to jump up again and go do something, like help my daughter buy yet another of the numerous accessories that are apparently essential nowadays for a VCE formal, or visit my youngest sister who's been laying around in bed all week being waited on hand and foot (given that she's in intensive care at the Alfred Hospital, I suppose she can't be held responsible... this time).

Or maybe I'm just in a grumpy mood because it's one way of coping with being worried about stuff (like the above sister). Or maybe because I've finally given up those nicotine chewing gums (seeing I quit smoking over thirteen years ago, it was probably about time). Or maybe because middle-age is finally bringing out the real me - and I'm a bitch. Or maybe I actually do have too much work to do, and not enough time to do it. Or... for a host of other reasons to numerous to write here. Hey I know, I'll make a list.