Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Dressings off!

A happy day today.  The dressings on my surgical wounds came off.  So I once again have a normal-looking face.  Emily took the dressings off and said that the healing was good so there was no need for any more dressings.  I still have a lot of subsurface stitches but they will dissolve of their own accord.

I am far from totally out of the woods, however. I still have to undergo radiotherapy to kill off any stray cancer cells that might still be there. But that won't be invasive.

I am still feeling a bit washed out after all my experiences but I hope that I will gradually bounce back from that. I have had rather good recovery of function.  My left eye gets watery only occasionally now and I can eat anything I want with no great trouble.  I will always have a crooked smile henceforth however.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Free at last!

I did not enjoy my time in hospital.  Who does?  So I was very glad when Joe came and picked me up at 10am this morning. As soon as I got out, Joe and I went and had Sunday morning breakfast together as we usually do. Routines must be observed! We talked mainly about American politics as we usually do.  Politics is a great interest for both of us. There was no point in saying anything much about my health as what is done is done.

An unexpected blessing while I was in hospital was that there were a few things things on TV -- mainly history -- that I found interesting. That helped with the boredom.

The Brisbane Private Hospital on Wickham Tce. is a VERY good hospital.  In some respects, it even pipped the Wesley, to my surprise. Each room had its own temperature control, the meals were first class restaurant standard and the TV controls were better.  Such things may seem trivial but they are not trivial when you are in there.

My captor who kept me in hospital for four days was the pretty and gracious "Emily" (Dr. Emily Perry), the highly regarded head and neck surgeon.  Outside the office, she dresses like a young woman about town rather than the very serious professional that she is.  So her daily visits to check on me were definitely a bright spot in my day. See her  below with Chris Perry, her father, also a distinguished surgeon.  They are both very self confident people.  She is in mufti there, not at all glammed up, as she can be.

I had an aggressive tumour on my neck which had metastasized (spread) from one of my skin cancers (SCCs). SCCs are known for spreading so my luck just ran out eventually.  That I had something like 100 SCCs removed that did NOT spread is the wonder. I always said that cancer would get me one day.

The tumour was in my parotid gland (one of the salivary glands) and was wrapped around my left facial nerve so I lost both the parotid gland and the left facial nerve, which was an unexpectedly bad result.  It was a two hour operation and Emily said she tried for half an hour save the facial nerve but it was just too entangled.

My face looks much as it did -- no saggy features -- but I do have to be careful eating and my left eye is rather watery so it is still no fun.  But it is certainly not fatal so I plan to carry on as before until something else gets me.  I do expect to live to help celebrate Mr Trump's second inauguration.

A small update: When I was being interviewed by the anesthetist prior to the procedure, he asked me what medications I was on.  None, I said perfectly truthfully.  He did not believe me at first. He said I was one in a thousand at my age who was not taking anything regularly.  That was rather pleasing.  It suggests that I might have had a long life span without the cancer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

More scans

After my failure to cop the MRI machine at Mater Private, alternatives were sought.  But I was already down today for a scan on a PET/CT machine at Mater Private.  That scan was however scheduled at the ungodly hour of 7am.  So they thought a second scan that day to get an MRI result should be possible.  And that scan was scheduled for 1:20pm at the QE2 branch of Qld Xray

Joe drove me in for the PET scan and it went ahead without a hitch.  That machine did not bother me and it was only a 12 minute scan anyway.

But the MRI scan was another story.  I knew I would need some sedation so I got Jenny to bring me over some Valium and she then drove me to QE2 and waited to pick me up afterwards.  She is an old hand at QE2 visits and has things she takes with her to entertain herself while waiting there.

We talked about old times in the car driving over and we still got a laugh about how we got her a good parking spot for the Expo fireworks.  We parked her little yellow Daihatsu the previous night and left it there.  We went home in my Ford Laser after doing so.  So she had a prime parking spot on the day

The situation at the MRI machine was a little better than previously but not enough.  The machine was still very narrow and rubbed on my elbows as it moved.  But the worst part was that for a head scan they put a tightly fitting plastic cage over your head -- presumably to keep your head immobile.  That really freaked me out. I felt like The Man in the Iron Mask.  I could not even close my jaw.  I could probably have hacked it for 5 minutes but that scan is 25 minutes and that would have distressed me greatly.  So I refused to go ahead.

One hopes that all the other scans I have had will suffice.  I had a couple last week at Qscan.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Some pesky surgery coming up

I have a tumor under my skin beside my bottom left-hand jaw. It has biopsied as a metastasized SCC from my  skin cancers. So it has to go.

 It needs serious surgery to get it out so I will be in hospital for a couple of days recovering.  The tumor is in my Parotid (salivary) gland but the surgeon will be Emily Perry who has a record of doing that sort of thing well.  It does look like I will lose that salivary gland -- but I have a few others so the salivation should still be OK.

The procedure is on Wednesday but getting  various preliminary scans done continued today.  I was due to have a MRI at Mater Private.  It did not go ahead however. The machine they wanted to put me in was an old one with an aperture much smaller than any other scanner I have encountered.  I have never got claustrophobia before but this machine did it and from the moment I went in to it I asked to be let out -- which I was.

I am booked for a PET scan tomorrow morning so I may be able to do the MRI in the afternoon with a better machine

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A dinner with history

Anne and I had dinner last night with Gordon and Julia, old friends of Anne.  Gordon and I get on well so we do have a few dinners together.  Anne and Julia see one another a LOT.  Julia is of English birth and is noticeably English in some ways, though she is no fan of English triumphalism.  Gordon is a bit more exotic.  He is not only from Norn ("Northern" in Irish vernacular pronunciation) Ireland but he is a genuine son of the Manse, with the Manse concerned being located in the Crumlin Rd, no less.

Because of the "Troubles" in Belfast over the years, the whole world has heard of the Crumlin Rd and the Shankill Rd. but to Gordon both were simply local places. Despite his Presbyterian background, however, Gordon is no Orangeman. He condemns religion generally in fact.  To a considerable extent he came to Australia to get away from "all that".

The Protestant "lads" of Belfast have some reputation of being tough guys.  If many of them are much like Gordon they could be alarming to encounter. He is around 6' tall and an imposing well-built man even in his '70s. The Rev. In Paisley was a tall man too: 6'5".

I rather adored Paisley. When Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother met Pope John XXIII in 1958, Paisley condemned them for "committing spiritual fornication and adultery with the Antichrist". When Pope John died in June 1963, Paisley announced to a crowd of followers that "this Romish man of sin is now in Hell!". Paisley also believed that the European Union is a part of a conspiracy to create a Roman Catholic superstate controlled by the Vatican.

I don't agree with any of it but to hear it is like stepping back 400 years into our religious past.  I admire its sheer committment and conviction. That I was a very fundamentalist Protestant in my teens, with beliefs not too different, means it has good resonances for me.  I could see his point of view and admire the energy he put into his evangelism.

Anyway, I am guessing that the "lads" of Belfast were not in fact generally tall.  If they are like their brethren in Glasgow they will be "wee bauchels" (stunted).

Gordon's big peeve is Australia's many governments.  He sees that as inefficient and thinks the States should be abolished and be replaced by one central government along (presumably) French lines.  I pointed out to him that he originates from a Federal state.  The Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has five legislatures:  in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and the Isle of Man -- and the voters for those assemblies are rather attached to their arrangements.  And, of the other nations most closely related to Australia, the USA and Canada also have Federal systems, as do Germany and India.  But I think I managed to moderate his views only a little.

Something unusual about Gordon is that he frequently speaks highly of his wife!  And I am told she hates that!  I think he means it though.

Anyhow we had chats about lots of things.  One thing all present seemed interested in was my explanation about why Pius XII (Pacelli) is most unjustly called by some, "Hitler's Pope". Before he became Pope, in the '30s, Pacelli was posted to Germany as a representative of the Holy See and he condemned Nazism often.  He wisely shut up when the Nazis came to power however and that is the thread that Soviet disinformation seized on to condemn him.  And the Western Left always swallowed Soviet propaganda hook, line and sinker. Pacelli in fact rescued many Jews while Pope. He was a true man of God.

So it was a good dinner with good company and good food.  Gordon had made what he called a Canadian crumb cake for dessert, which was particularly good.  I think I ate most of it.

Towards the end we started to sing -- very badly -- but it indicated good times being had.  And we weren't even drunk!  Only half a bottle of champagne was consumed all night.

Footnote for people of our current irreligious times:  A Manse is where a Presbyterian minister lives.  A child of the Manse is expected to show various influences from that background.  And Gordon can in fact quote scripture appropriately

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A very small incident but perhaps worth a mention

Anne and I have recently been noting the disappearance of Chinese restaurants -- once a great Australian tradition where you could get Chinese food unknown in China.  The big phenomenon now is Indian restaurants.  There are two excellent Indian restaurants within a very short walk of where I usually shop.  So I asked Joe if he knew any nearby Chinese restaurants. He said the one in Ipswich Rd. near the Subway and near Beaurepaires had good food.  He gets takeaway food a lot.

So I went there to try it out.  I found that is really just a takeaway with a few tables and chairs.  But seeing I was there I decided to eat in and ordered BBQ pork with plum sauce, which can be very good.  Cost with rice: $15.50.  To pay I took out a $10 note plus a pocketful of change.  I counted out $5 in change and was about to pick out a 50c coin for the remainder when the Chinese girl serving said, "No, That is enough for you".  She took only the $15.

Now why did she do that?  Why the small discount?  I think I know.  I come across as very old and frail (which I am) and my fiddling around with change probably suggested that I am poor (which I am not).  So it was just kindness to the elderly.  I get a lot of  kindness and helpfulness from all sorts of people now that I am old so I am very pleased that there is so much civility in Australia. I am grateful for it.

And the food was a good standard notable for the big size of the serve. So if you are feeling like takeaway Chinese, drop into the "Gabba Chinese" at Shop 4, 80 Ipswich Road, Woolloongabba, Brisbane.  There they are below:

People may remember that I received similar kindness from a Vietnamese pie shop owner last year

Monday, August 5, 2019

More Hyderabad

I took our Monday dining group to the "Hyderabad Flavours" restaurant in Buranda tonight. It is just a couple of doors from the Dapur Dahlia.

My recent visit there had been good so it was an opportunity to explore more of their menu. There is both an Indian Hyderabad city and a Pakistani Hyderabad city but I think our Brisbane Hyderabad restaurant is of Indian origin.  The waitresses were wearing Western dress so I think that settles it

And I do get the impression that the offerings were meant to be similar to what you would get in Hyderabad, India.  The specialty of the house seemed to be Mirchi Bajji (battered green chillies) so I did order some of those.  I enjoyed them.

Everybody ordered something different but we all found the food to be first class. I think the chicken Korma I had was the best I have ever tasted.  And I have eaten a lot of chicken Korma in my day

And all the meals were LARGE.  So nobody went away with room for more.  Kate was talking of going back another day with Joe to try more of their offerings.

As a memento I reproduce the docket to show what we had:

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Some good dining recently

The day after the twins had departed, I took Anne to the Dosa Hut restaurant at Mt Gravatt.  We had not been there before.  I ordered Masala dosas and a couple of idli.  Our previous dosa restaurant, the Riverwalk in Gladstone Rd., had gone out of business, much to our disappointment.

But the new restaurant was just as good and was even better in that our previous place did not do idlis, not that idlis are great. They are just a traditional thing that go with dosas.

The menu was enormous and the prices were reasonable so we were perfectly happy with our new source of dosas

On Nanna's birthday I took Anne to the Hyderabad, which is just a couple of doors from the Dapur Dahlia.  It was leaping.  There were brown people everywhere and lots of brown people coming and going.  We were the only white faces there.  And the food was good and the servings were enormous.  One dinner would have done both of us.  A specialty of the house seemed to be battered green chillies so we ordered some as an entree.  They were really good and only a little bit "hot".  I think the Hyderabad will be our regular Indian from now on.

And just yesterday, Jenny and Pam cooked Anne and me a Dhansak with all the trimmings.  A genine Parsee Dhansak is a rare privilege. It took the two of them many hours to make it all.  As usual it had a rich taste and was very filling.  I particularly got into the kachumber (Parsee salad). It leaves all other salads for dead.  I am not a big salad eater but I ate lots of the kachumber.  And Jenny served up two chutneys -- the traditional green chutney plus an eggplant chutney.  Both were first rate.

And today, I got a new dinner table in my dining room. It is a very fine traditional brown dinner table.  I got it from Vinnies a few days ago and Joe and Aristides brought it up and put it in my dining room this morning.  The old pine dining table went on the verandah and the Laminex table off the verandah is now in the garage.