Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

You can safely ignore this post if you’re not at all interested, but there are some who might be.  I was certainly googling a lot to find out what exactly to expect.

I had had a colonoscopy in NZ about 10 years ago but it was a vastly different experience.  Back then I was given a laxative the night before (and no-one had warned me about leakage overnight) and then it was a fairly straightforward procedure with me being aware (I must have had a local anaesthetic).  I’m pretty sure I took myself home and that was that.  I wasn’t told about any findings so presumably all was good.

I tried to get another colonoscopy about five or six years later due to differing bowel habits.  The doctors at the time looked at me blankly but duly sent off a request – a request which was denied despite there being a history of bowel cancer in the family.  Bizarre.

In October I went to the GP here in Australia and she sent a referral off for a colonoscopy just like that, without me even requesting one.  She warned it could be six months or more.  Less than a month later I got a letter and headed off for an appointment on my return from my trip, to be told the procedure was the following week.  I was given a script for three sachets of powder to take at different intervals the night before and the morning of the procedure.  I was told categorically that someone had to pick me up afterwards and stay with me overnight.

Two days before the procedure I was told to stop iron supplements and stop eating seeds and grains.

The day before I was to have a light breakfast and lunch of only certain foods.  I had egg and potato.  After 1pm no food.  At 6pm I was to drink the first sachet of Picoprep (made up with warm water then chilled).

The Picoprep was revolting.  The instructions said to drink slowly.  I couldn’t have sculled it anyway.  It was horrible – an artificial lemony taste but sour, so I cringed at every mouthful.  I read that the effects could start from about half an hour afterwards.  My wait was four hours.  There wasn’t an urgent need but I went to the toilet maybe three times before waiting an extra three-quarters of an hour before going to bed.  The advice was to drink lots of fluids, so I had to get up twice during the night just to empty my bladder.

I got up about 6.30am to make up the Glycoprep – a litre of the stuff, to drink over two hours from 7am – again made with warm water and chilled.  One litre is about four glasses and it certainly took a while to drink.  I thought Picoprep was revolting.  Glycoprep was more so.  I could only have a mouthful at a time.  I found that having a sip of tea between each helped a little.  The black tea tasted very sweet in comparison.

I congratulated myself on getting halfway through then prepared the next Picoprep (why so many?, I moaned to myself).  After the third glass of Glyco I was feeling nauseous and after the last (hallelujah!) I was feeling positively ill – bloated, nauseous and slightly headachey.  I drank copious amounts of water and teas but nothing could get the ghastly lemony taste out of my mouth.  And then it was time for the last Picoprep at 9am.  At least it was only one glass.  My god, I felt horrible.  It was a mistake to buy lemon-flavoured iced tea as a drink – the smell was too much like the preparations.

The effects were interesting.  From brownish splat to a waterfall.  It was a weird experience.  I heard the sound of gushing water but had no sensation of it passing from my body.  But no-one had warned me about the smell!  Holy fuck!  It wasn’t the normal pooey-smell from a normal evacuation, oh no.  It was much, much worse.

Anyway, relief that the prep was all over, I continued with drinking fluids up until 11am, finishing my last mouthful of herbal tea at 10.55.  There was a little more to empty but it all seemed to have quietened down by 11.30 when I walked to the hospital for the 12pm appointment.  I had feared having an accident on the way, but it was fine.  No such feeling (what a relief!).

Are you still with me?  Well done.  The prep over with, I waited at reception, after “checking in”, for three quarters of an hour before a nurse saw me.  Lots of questions and forms (which she had to fill in) and stickers galore.  Two wrist bands of my details then led through to change into the gown and a robe, then more waiting.  I felt dehydrated but had another hour or more (one-and-a-half-hours in total) before my name was called.  Seven others were in the waiting room with me and their names seemed to be called before mine.  I was about to ask how much longer, in desperation, feeling awful and headachey, thinking they had forgotten me, when I was finally taken to a room to lie down.  Another nurse and anaesthetist prepped me and then it was a “15 minute” wait.  Half an hour later I was finally wheeled into the procedure room.  I had waited three-and-a-quarter hours from my arrival.  Why?  Why ask people to be there for three hours, dehydrated and starving?

I woke up from a pleasant doze, thinking I was on an aeroplane.  It had all gone well, and the ‘doc’ said I was as clean on the inside as the outside.  No polyps but mention of diverticular disease and haemorrhoids.  I knew about the haemorrhoids.  I was given some sandwiches and a cup of tea and water while a drip continued to rehydrate me.  Then I got dressed and waited for C to pick me up.  To make it easier for her to get to work the next day, I stayed overnight at her place, but had neglected to bring my Myki card so had to wait for her to get back from work the next day to take me home.

What I hadn’t expected – the constant gurgling from the innards from the day before to the day after, the smell, and the waiting.  I was told to expect gas (as they insert gas to expand the ol’ tubes) and possibly abdominal pain from that pressure, but I didn’t get that.  Gurgling and a couple of urges to pass more brown splattiness the morning after.

I’m so glad to have that over with!  I’ll know what to expect in about five years’ time.  And note to self: take a book to read!

Thanks for reading.  I found one such post very helpful on my search for what to expect.  I hope you have found this so.


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I will

I will write about my trip eventually.  At the moment I just can’t be bothered.  I can only put it down to depression – I just don’t want to do anything.  I have no energy, nothing seems to interest me, nothing seems to make me laugh, I just get annoyed at things (especially on Facebook).

I’ve only just recovered from bronchitis which I picked up thanks to sleeping in a mouldy hotel room in Yangon.  (Do not stay at the “East” hotel.)  So the constant coughing and wheezing hasn’t helped.  I was on antibiotics for a week (had to visit a doctor in Singapore) and antihistamines.  They seem to have worked.

Now I have a colonoscopy to prepare for this week.  I only found out last week that it was all on – very quick, but I can’t think of anything else.  I dread the preparation – drinking lots of revolting “preps” to empty the bowels and then the procedure itself.  It’s just hanging over me, so it feels like the whole of this week is a write-off.

So much for getting into any “Christmas spirit”.  It’s just a day of enforced “happiness”, eating, drinking, and maybe a gift or two.  It was easy to spend Xmas at my brother’s – he didn’t celebrate other than to have good food and alcohol – that’s all you need.  It helped being in the middle of nowhere too so you weren’t bothered by noisy neighbours or kids with toys.  I shall spend Xmas at C’s and it will be nice in their spacious house, but it’s still just an artificial day of meaninglessness.  The period between Xmas and New Year is also one of loneliness and heartache.  My parents died during this period so I just think of them and feel sad every year, especially if I’m on my own.

Meh, sounds like a dose of self-pity.  I need something to look forward to…

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Already well over a week since I went to Melbourne.

C picked me up from the airport and we arranged to meet H at her place.  From there we walked to Fairfield shopping area and walked down to a Thai restaurant.  So many good eating places along that street.  Nice food, then walked back, and saw a cute little ring-tailed possum looking down on us.

Saturday, arranged to meet bro at aunt’s place.  C drove us there.  At first I didn’t recognise aunt J, as she’d aged so much, and was with a grey-haired man I also didn’t recognise.  Then saw cousin R and got out to greet them.  The man was R’s husband, of course.  They were all in the garden tidying it up during their visit from Bairnsdale.  K and G arrived shortly after while we were about to have a cup of tea, then cousin H arrived, having flown down from Brisbane.  Walked to a Japanese restaurant nearby for lunch.  After we returned, decided to drive to one of the vineyards up the Yarra valley and did some wine tasting at Rochford.

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I found all the wine a bit dry for me.  Continued to Healesville and finally settled on another vineyard cafe for dinner.

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Very pleasant.  H couldn’t join us as she finished work at 7pm.  We headed off to our respective “homes”, C and I following K and G to their place up the valley.  We had a cuppa and heard kookaburras.  It always makes me smile to hear them.  C and I drove back, reaching home about 10ish.

H did meet us (C, K and G) the next day at the convent at Abbotsford.  R and G returned to Bairnsdale but H joined us as well.  We had lunch at Lentil as Anything (wonderful food and said to be closing because people weren’t giving enough money for the food – payment by donation).  Wandered around the grounds afterwards and then along the river.

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From there we made our way to IKEA and had a look around.  H and I liked the day bed so I think I’ll have to get one of those for the second bedroom.  Spotted potential candidates for the couch.  C was sick of driving so she took the car home while the rest of us caught the train into the CBD.  H had drinks with colleagues to go to, so the rest of us made our way to the Munich Brauhaus on the South bank.  It was extremely noisy and unpleasant (architects never seem to get the acoustics right for cafes and bars).  We waited for C and then continued onto the Belgian bar, where we ate dinner.  At Flinders Street station we all went our separate ways.  H would fly back to Brisbane the next day.

Monday, I took the train to Fairfield to meet H.  We had lunch at one of the Mediterranean cafes along the main street then went for a walk to Northcote.  Very pleasant neighbourhood.  She found me a pet shop where they sold a spray to calm cats.  Very useful for Jasmine’s upcoming trip to Wellington to catch the plane over.  It wasn’t cheap though, but worth it if it helps, and apparently it does.  It was quite hot, so we wandered past a pub which didn’t look very inviting on the outside but it was nice inside, if empty.  We were even offered a beer tasting before choosing one.  Then we took the beers out the back to the outside part and found lots of people there chilling and reading books, etc.  It was wonderful.  We returned to H’s place where she made dinner.  I caught the train back.

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Tuesday, H and I had arranged to meet K and G and caught the same train (great organisational skills there) for the one hour trip to where they were staying.  They picked us up from the station at Lilydale and we headed into the Dandenongs.  G wanted to go to the William Rickett’s sanctuary.  I’d never heard of it and didn’t know what to expect.  I thought sanctuary might involve animals but it was a path around the man’s sculptures.  They were a bit samey, I thought.  Pleasant walk though.  From there we stopped at Olinda and had a pie.  Well, we didn’t think much of them.  Bro and I ordered a steak and bacon pie and it was just like a normal mince pie.  Didn’t see any bacon.  We felt ripped off, and H even more so when we had to pay $3.20 for a small bottle of water.  G’s next desire was to go to the rhododendron gardens, even though I knew the season was pretty much over.  Lovely tall gum trees at the entrance though.

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As I suspected, there were few rhododendrons still in flower, but the gardens were nice to walk through, with many other different plants and trees to see and a lovely view from one spot.

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The gardens would be stunning at their peak.  We did the loop around the gardens and were heading back when bro spotted a snake on the path.  I had never seen one in the wild but was almost too late to see it as it turned and slithered into the bushes as soon as it sensed us.

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I figured out later (from bro’s superior photo) that it was a lowland copperhead snake.  From the gardens we headed to an area where we could walk through the gums on walking tracks (Ferntree gully?).  I kept a lookout for snakes in the undergrowth, while also trying to look up to find birds – tricky!  I did see some little black birds flitting around but couldn’t get a photo.  K didn’t hear his favourite whipbirds.  After the walk we looked for somewhere for a beer and something to eat.  We did have a beer at Coldstream but decided not to stay to eat.  It was still quite early.  We continued to Yarra Glen but places were either closing or were not serving food until 5.30 or 6pm, even if they sold beer (you’d think they’d offer snacks, but no).  After looking at the one-dish menu at the beer place we settled on the remaining Grand Hotel, avoiding the kids and the pop music.  The food was average.  We returned with K and G to their place and this time saw a kangaroo and its joey.  She wasn’t too concerned at our presence nearby.

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H and I missed a train so had to wait an hour for another at Wattle Glen.  H could get off at Fairfield, but I changed trains at Flinders and got another to Prahran, arriving about 10.30.

Wednesday was a right-off, as I woke with stomach pains.  C had left for work and I had to make do without pain meds (she’d run out).  Diarrhoea for most of the day and vomiting.  Not pleasant.  I couldn’t leave the apartment as W had the spare key and he was in China.  H said she’d head over with some panadol and food, although I wasn’t hungry.  I could only put it down to the chicken I’d eaten the evening before.  I napped while waiting for H but then as soon as I got up to let her in, I had to go to the bathroom again to vomit.  Not at all pleasant.  We’d arranged to meet K and G at a Burmese restaurant that night, so I was pissed off to miss out on it.  H left to meet them and C, and I stayed back, feeling rather sorry for myself.

Thursday was my last full day so I was determined to get out.  My stomach felt a little achey still, but I headed out, making my way to the zoo.  I chose the wrong time of day to go – when there were scores of school kids, and mothers with their screaming toddlers.   Some animals might have a little more room to move and had dirt and grass, but the enclosures were still too small and I was angered at the noise – not just from the kids, but from pop music playing and recordings which no-one listened to and even the constant clicking of an electric fence around the gorilla enclosure.  The poor animals.  I felt sorry for all of them.  Zoos like that are not about conservation – it’s all entertainment – for kids.  They breed simply to replace the inmates with younger ones to grow up in enclosed misery.  These kids should be taught about the diminishing environment of the animals’ native habitat and how their consumption is affecting them, not shown around cages with little extra play activities.  I was annoyed and saddened.

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My sandals had not been up to the task of walking all day, so I headed into the CBD and walked (slowly) to DFO and bought some flat, comfortable shoes.  Then I could comfortably walk along the South Bank to Fed Square, which I hadn’t yet been to on this trip.  I people-watched for a while, then met C at the corner of Swanston and Collins Streets.  We had a look at the Myer shop windows (a cute animated story about a lost dog at Xmas time) before walking further to eat ramen noodles at a Japanese restaurant.

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Friday was the day of flying back and I met H at Southern Cross station.  We had pho, watched by seagulls, then I caught the skybus to the airport.  It was now raining (but cleared up later).  The traffic meant the skybus took twice as long to get to the airport, which made me panic a bit, trying to find the check-in, not being able to get the automatic machine to work, trying to find somewhere to fill the departure card in, queueing up in the wrong place and being told off, then finally getting to the gate, only to be told the flight was delayed half an hour.  Oh, the joys of travelling.

Arrived in Wellington at 11.45 pm local time.  People took forever to retrieve bags and get off, ages to line up at the few smartgate queues, but even then it was another 15 minutes before the bags even started appearing at the baggage claim.  People were not amused, someone nearby comparing it to a third world country.  I then had to wait ages for the shuttle to take me back to the long-term carpark and he drove at about 30 kph.  One hour after landing, I was finally able to drive home, arriving at 2.45 am.  I never seem to have a pleasant experience returning to NZ.  Perhaps it’s just as well that next time I won’t be returning.


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I have packed my first box!  I listed everything, which took up half a page of foolscap-sized paper and took photos, so it took a while!  I started with little knick-knacks and my parents’ silver cutlery, and piled a few old table-cloths on the top.  It felt satisfying taping it up and setting it aside.  Hopefully the rest won’t take quite so long (except perhaps listing DVDs and CDs).  My back was up to kneeling on the floor and wrapping things, then pushing the box along the floor with a foot.  I still intend taking things easy for a week or so – there’s no way I want more pain to restrict the huge job of packing.

I also took the final move of booking my last ticket out of NZ on 11 December.  Huge sigh.  Now I have a definite date and time to work towards.  It’s all rather overwhelming.

So anyway, instead of driving to Hamilton on Saturday, which would’ve been a literal pain, I chatted with bro and drove down to his place in the afternoon, stopping briefly on the way to walk around.  I was still taking painkillers to ease the slight ache.

My bro had two French girls staying there – “Wwoofers” (their property is listed on the Wwoof website, so they get foreign travellers working their way through NZ, which is a good way to get the weeding done!).  Bro wasn’t impressed with this lot with their painted nails.

On Sunday morning I decided to do without painkillers to see how I went.  Sleeping had been ok and I got up alright.  Sis-in-law was selling her wares at a market at Riversdale.  Bro and I took the girls down to the beach and wandered along for a while before having a look at the small market.

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There were thousands of little shrimp-like creatures lying on the sand.  We wondered why and what had killed them.

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On our return, bro’s neighbour came round and asked if we wanted to join him on the boat down the river to his bach where he was going to mow the lawn.  I was a bit unsure about the state of my back but jumped at the chance.  Bro told French girls what to do while we were away.  The dogs came too.  Neighbour’s dog was brother and son to bro’s dogs.

I clambered onto the speedboat with no problems and was glad that the seat was supported.  I had envisaged holding onto the seat and hoping I’d stay upright.  Dogs piled in on top of us, but neighbour’s dog jumped onto the bow and faced the wind – he’d obviously done it many times and loved the wind in his face.

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We disturbed quite a few birds, including paradise ducks and a heron.  I can imagine that river boat trips would be great for bird photography.  Unfortunately I only had my little point-and-shoot.

Parked the boat at the river mouth (managed to jump off ok, bending ze knees) and walked along the sea front to the bach.

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Neighbour’s bach was fantastic.  He’d built it himself and towed an extra little old building, landscaped it, built a deck.  It was perfect – the good old Kiwi bach.  None of this fancy mansion stuff with all mod cons.  Bro and I loved it and could imagine a weekend staying there reading books and playing Siedler.

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There was not a another soul in sight.  Fantastic.  What a great place for a getaway.  You wouldn’t want to go back.

However, we had to, after they mowed the lawn and it looked like paradise.  Hopped back on the boat and headed back.

Sis-in-law was back home and immediately berated bro for not telling the girls to do things properly.  Neighbour quietly slipped away instead of taking up the offer of a cup of tea.

I wandered around the garden for a while before we had a late lunch.  Spotted some quail.

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There was bird song all around and it was so peaceful.  I would miss that.

Bro and I looked at Melbourne maps for our upcoming trip.  They were staying an hour’s train ride away and I showed him where H and S lived and where to go for NGV and Botanic gardens, etc.  I still had photos from my April trip on my camera, so showed him those.  He, in turn, showed me photos of their Adelaide trip last year.

Headed over to another neighbour’s place for the woman’s 66th birthday drinks.  Lovely verandahed house and beautiful ‘roomed’ gardens.  Returned, and after a quick dinner of pizza I drove back home.  Lovely moonlit night.

I’m glad I went.  It was just what I needed to get me back on track.



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I had planned a while ago to drive up to Hamilton to see my friend on Labour weekend.  It’s now Labour weekend but I called it off – driving for five hours up and back was not a good idea with the current state of my back.

On Thursday morning I must’ve bent slightly to get some clothing to go to work and as I walked down the hallway felt a sharp stab of pain in the lower right side.  Cursing, I took it slowly for the rest of the day but was not comfortable.  I had another physio session booked for the following day.

Was taking it slowly on Friday morning when I got a call to say my physio was sick.  Damn!  So had another day of work but which was easier.  This morning a bit tender, still.  My next physio session now isn’t until Tuesday (Monday being a holiday of course).

They’re all being very nice at work, some saying they’re jealous, yet more saying it’s a bold move and courageous.  Last night, in frustration at not being able to do anything (i.e. start packing things like ornaments and books) I let a tear or two fall and wondered what the hell I was doing.  My safe, easy life in a mortgage-free house, was all going to turn into chaos and uncertainty and expense, and for what, I thought.  That was my head speaking.  I told it to shut up.  Did I want to end up in this miserable hole for the rest of my life, surrounded by brown walls and draughty windows at work, doing the same tedious duties day in and day out?  No, the head said.  Well, then, shut up and stop feeling sorry for yourself.   It’s just the back pain making you miserable.  But it still feels unreal, like it’s happening to someone else, not me.  I have just 12 work days left…

Decision-making is not strong at this point either.  I can’t think when to organise Jasmine to go over (before me so she’s out of the way of the movers) or even when I go over or even how.  I’ve mentioned my quandary to C and H but have heard nothing back.  They’re barely on Facebook, it seems.  H, I know, is busy with her job until she resigns in preparation for her three-month trip to Europe.

Anyway, onward.  Grocery-shopping and buying a marker pen to write on boxes which I can’t pack yet.  I still need heaps of boxes and don’t know where to get them.  There are a lot fewer boxes at work these days and what there are are being used.  And, a colleague is moving house as well, so she has taken quite a few.  Sometimes I just want to scream in frustration.  Bloody hell.


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I’m bored.

I’m stuck at home, having hurt my back just as I was getting ready for work on Monday.  I bent down and felt a twinge and thought, “ow that hurt”.  Stupidly ignoring the warning, I bent down again a short while later and the pain was phenomenal.  Collapsed on the floor unable to move.  Well, that was clever.  I eventually managed to get myself up and thought, “well shit, I can’t go to work now”.  I wondered whether to rest or keep moving.  Googled and stupidly took the advice of some idiot to rest until the pain subsides.  Ha ha.  Like a fool, I lay down on the bed and read a book for a while (having phoned work to explain my predicament).  Then I needed to go to the toilet  and found I couldn’t move.  That was really bright, wasn’t it.  I  imagined myself stuck there without a phone nearby, unable to eat or go to the toilet for hours on end.

With determination and a hell of a lot of pain I got myself upright.  I called the nurse’s number at the doc’s for advice and only got an answerphone.  I then called a healthline and she reckoned I should see a doctor within four hours.  Well that wasn’t going to happen without someone taking me.  She called an ambulance!  I thought that was a bit extreme and felt a bit  of a fraud but it least it got me in to see the doctor a lot sooner than normally (the waiting room was packed).  My first ride in an ambulance and I got to suck on the gas which makes your voice go deep – haha.  Very nice understanding medics.  Lots of pain meds, and a ride back home from a kind colleague.  I was dead tired and lay face down on the couch and fell asleep.  Couldn’t get up again without heaps of pain.  I don’t learn do I.  In the afternoon the nurses’s station called back -a bit bloody late.

Following day it was still painful to get up from sleeping but it was a bit quicker than the day before.  I called a physio to see if I could get in and did so.  With the help of Voltaren pills I felt able to drive there.  For the rest of the day I felt absolutely fine but took the advice of the physio and have taken an extra day’s sick leave.

It was much easier getting up this morning.  But now I’m completely bored.  I can’t do anything except sit for a while, stand for a while, move around for a while, ad infinitum.   No housework or gardening allowed, naturally.  I have so much to do and think about.  I did get rid of a couple of items which were picked up – a mere drop in the ocean.  I can’t even give stuff away.  No-one, it seems, wants free camp chairs or a free stereo or an ironing board, for example.

My resignation has been officially announced at work.  I received emails from three people which was nice.  Shock from them all, and all calling me brave, courageous, bold (probably privately thinking I’m completely insane to give up a house and job for an uncertain future, and especially at my age).  I can’t even think of that at the moment.  I just want this bloody sore back to bugger off.  On top of being bored, I’m feeling tired, frustrated and anxious.  Stress, anyone?

So November is rapidly approaching.  Last November I set three challenges for myself:  writing a novel of 50,000 words (Nanowrimo), doing a sketch a day and also taking a photo a day (all of which I accomplished).  This year I might just do the photo one.  It can be like farewell shots of things I will miss, without getting too sentimental.



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Beautiful – I always perk up when it’s warm and sunny.  But the day has gone so quickly.

The first half of the day was spent doing stuff in silence, then I realised how silent it was and put music on.  Currently listening to some funky didgeridoo, after just having read Bill Bryson’s “Down Under” for the second time.

I went through an old tin trunk and sorted contents – mostly memorabilia from a trip to Europe yonks ago, and my grandmother’s paintings.  Emptied out the trunk and discovered it had a bit of rust in the bottom and two small holes.  Bugger.  Decided to sell it.  I sold the other two trunks that came over from England in ’61.  Both damaged by damp, thanks to a leaky garage roof, etc.  Even now the neighbour’s high driveway (created from multiple gravel drops) means the floor gets damp in places.  Thanks, neighbours.  Also put some shit on TradeMe – old heater (wrong time of year but never mind), set of drawers (surplus to requirements) and the record/tape converter now that  I’ve done all my conversions to MP3.

There was an open bag of naphthalene in the trunk and I accidentally spilled some and swept it up.  I had stupidly thought that stuff was relatively harmless (I mean my parents used it everywhere, right) but after a while I felt like I’d been dreaming.  I had no idea how much time had passed but I googled it and discovered my confusion was probably from sweeping up the spill.  Great.  Let the fresh air through everywhere and isolated the stupid bag of crystals, also locating another I had in the cupboard and getting rid of them.  No wonder my parents died so early with all that lethal shit in the house (not to mention the borer bombs and garden sprays).

Feeling way better now after fresh air but man, that was weird for a while.  Still, a bit headachey.  I did feel a sick day coming on but feeling ok, sadly.  I’ve had a stressful few days.

I might have some news soon.  I may be moving on (and not a moment too soon).  Watch this space.

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