Friday, October 21, 2022

-a-thon

(waaaay) back in the day, the little school that I went to did an annual (at least 2 years running) walk-a-thon.

The walk-a-thon started at the school at crack-of-dawn o'clock.

Various categories got off to a staggered start. 

Little and slow kicked off first to allow time for stringing out.

Then the couldas and shouldas made their move through this undulating landscape, one year so crisp and brown, the next if verdant green.

Last were the serious contenders - frothing at the mouths, chomping at their bits, jumping out of their smart, white socks to eat up the 24 km out to the dam.

(I, of course, can only imagine the latter category, as I was never in a position to witness it firsthand.)

Back in the day, of course, anything-a-thons were all the rage.

You were forced to write to relatives far and wide and explain the plight of the charity of choice; and the possibility of you -thonning the whatever-a forming part of a solution; and the fact of them promising coppers-per-whatever for the a-thon would be the other part of the puzzle.

There would be great competition as to who got the most pledged - just for the glory, no incentive prizes needed.

And this was back in the day. The 70s had a lotof things going for it - fashion, music, movies - but it also had 1c and 2c pieces and they were used!it was a simpler time, where very few ruined the ethos of the a-thon by making straight donations to the cause - oh no, it was multiplying lots of 24s (if you were able to stagger that far).

According to my memory I made it both times - a blistered, sun-burned, sweaty and possibly sweary child, in one instance bleeding.

My triumph was to then do my maths, write letters of my success to the pledgers, await the fortune in small coins and write thank you notes*.

 A version of this ritual exists today.

My old school (45 years later and they have their own facebook page)  have finally arrived upon the concept of wheels. My Old SS Bike-a-thon

I wish we'd thought of that.

To think, I had nearly two full days of thinking time and I could have used that time more wisely than just thinking "ow ow ow ow ow".

* To be perfectly honest, I think I probably still owe a few thank you notes. In fact, I probably need to use as my standard "what is your biggest weakness" response to be the sheer immensity of my thank you note list.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Philomath(s)

 I am a girl who loves numbers.

I know that it is not cool, that it has never been cool and is indeed part of what makes me decidedly uncool.

That is okay.  I have never been cool.


Every day these days I juggle numbers.

In my work, I juggle numbers that I do not discuss.  Not because I do not love the work that I do and the people that I work with.  But that is a different world.

There are numbers that I am currently having to subtract from work.

There is a decent balance to withdraw from luckily.  I do not have to weigh the values too harshly. 

Every day it is a vastly a different number that I must start from.  A precise, to the minute number.

I have had to learn that it is approximately 26 minutes from the car leaving garage here to the car park there.  Dependent on factors beyond my control like roadworks or red lights.

Yet I rely on 26 minutes induced stress.  Before I leave, I have to subtract at least 28 (because its a find a mask and a decent walk from the car park) from any of the random numbers I am assigned for that day and aim to leave before that moment.  Or at the very latest that I am to leave.

There is generally a 10 minute process from sanitizing hands, greeting desk ladies and scannning barcode to take a water, take a mentos, take a seat and relax.

There are two rooms in operation.  Both on time states the screen in the reception.

I then get ushered - through this way to a room.  This room has three doors ahead.

The three doors read from left to right:

  1. Change Room Three,
  2. Change Room One, and 
  3. Change Room Two.

Today I got Change Room Two.

I have never had Change Room Two before.

All three change rooms are nearly the same but slightly different.

A cubicle.  A small bench.  A mirror.  Three signs with associated buttons.  A door at either end.

I can lock both doors. I do.

De-mask, drink some water, suck the mentos, change from clothing and underwear to robe.

Drink more water, chew the mentos, put my mask on and leave by the other door.

Take a seat in the runway.

If I am lucky, I get to read half a page of the book I am reading.  (link to Booktopia listing of Live Fearlessly by Dr Emilia Dauway - not a paid gig, just if you wanted to know.  Given my progress, there will be much book left when I finish my treatment.)

 I am called through.  I need to confirm who I am, where I live and what I am doing here.

I de-mask and ascend to become radiant.

Ha.

Without going into details how, my tattoos are aligned, my breathing monitored and a warmed blanket placed between me and the machines.

First, there are two x-rays taken to ensure that I am positioned to within the millimetre.  During each I am to hold my breath for 25 seconds.  It is counted through.  25 seconds.  Then 15.  Then (sometimes) 10.  Then 5 (and one even gives a full countdown from that point.)

Then the bed moves - slightly.  There is always music in the background.

A very eclectic selection.

The machine moves around me and I get counted down - 25 seconds, and when I am ready 25 seconds and then a short one at 10.  I think that truly they are just throwing random numbers at me to soothe, as some they tell me 15 to go but I have counted only 7 and other times my count nearly mimics there own.  

The machine moves around again and I know that we are done with just on half the the first half.  I start to do equations in my head.  How long to go.  How many left.  Are we there yet.

Then I am congratulated for doing so well for the first half and am I up to doing the second.

Of course I am.

 I am realigned and the bed moves for the right this time.

Once they have announced they have left the room, there is always THAT part of my body that says, actually, not 100% okay over here.

Yesterday, my nose suddenly became itchy.  You cannot move with this treatment, let alone scratch your nose.

I start counting down their routine.  There are 8 breath holds to go.  170 seconds.

145 seconds.

120 seconds.

95 seconds. 

70 seconds.

Short one.

Last bit.  Spin the machine.  Don't think about the nose.

35 seconds to go.

10 seconds - 5, 4, 3, 2 and I am done.

I am now 40% done.

Because of another appointment with the nurse after, I did not have enough numbers left after I had taken that away from the end of the day, but most days I return to work when I return home.  See if my numbers are needed.

Today is payday.

It is June.

It is time to get my head around the numbers that I play with but have never really understood.

As long as the numbers on one side sort of look like the numbers on the other I get through another day and count my blessings.

There are those that are living life so they would look at mine and see lack.

And there are others that are living life so they would look at mine and see excess.

And I breathe.

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Quality Time, Candles, and tattoos

 As I said, I visited the folks a few weeks ago.

There are three possible ways to get there sort of directly.

There is the dirt way, which is currently out of action due to the desire for those who would not have it so.  

There is the bitumen, which is slightly longer and makes more sense if you are going to my sisters place.

And then there is The Pinnacle.

I am sure to have many photos of the road to The Pinnacle from this side.  I have some photos (and one particular memory) of the road from the other side of The Pinnacle.

I probably even have photos FROM The Pinnacle (every time my daughter travels across it, she has to memorize it in digitally for a friend).

Due to the dirt way being out of action, it was our route of choice upon this occasion.

On the way out, Paris was my companion.  There was both a ban on screens AND the joy of a communications black spot, so we listened to an audiobook.  Every time there was a glance of one character to another that had an underlying frisson, I got hit in the left arm.

On the return, an all grown up 'Salina was Paris' chauffeur and I got to finish the job I had started with Dad before I drove home - unaccompanied.  Three precious hours of people free time and no work tasks invading me or anyone NEEDING me.

Folks, you cannot PURCHASE such joy.

There is nigh on 200km of road between their place and mine.

There is a ribbon of bitumen winding along many narrow valleys of (currently) green (although on occasion, pallid grey or heartbreaking brown) until you come to the most bizarre little town imaginable huddled on the left of the strip of road - and just after that you make a sudden right turn.

Then your ribbon of bitumen goes up and down and becomes dirt and up and down and there is a grid and KABOOM - the landscape changes.

Forestry (which is a government department and used to be a business enterprise) is - was - the main industry here, with rows of planted pine forests and moonscapes of cleared hills and tangles of potato-vine and cats claw tying together thickets and scrub.

And then another grid and you travel along the bottom of this magical area of massive trees and crossing a creek multiple times and flats with signs of human existence in the form of old yards and signposts to homesteads hidden away.

You then windingly climb up over hills and around bends, all the while keeping in mind the intermittent warnings signs that FORESTRY TRUCK USE THESE ROAD and to share this road with a semi-trailer laden with logs sends a shiver.

Finally you go over rock and hewn tracks are shielded on one side with more rock but the other side plummets down through trees to unseen ground below.

Once you are over, it is one of those roads that seems to both go on forever and yet seems much shorter than you remember.

That bridge.  A bit of bitumen.  A turn off to a right to an area you don't know, but have seen the sign for from the other end too.

And then a T-intersection with the highway that carries the freight - and people in caravans and motorcyle enthusiasts and day trippers - all along the east coast of our state.

It also marks when I get back into mobile signal.

Driving along this highway, accompanied by a sight that I don't have lots of photos of - mainly because I am always the one driving and Paris doesn't think it as amusing as I.

Its lots of stick figure men holding strings of wire - for miles and miles.  (A. electrical pylons - or transmission towers apparently - and B. the only downside of metric is kilometres and kilometres just doesn't roll off the tongue)

I know they aren't really stick figure men - but from a distance and with enough time (inside my head, at least) they start to look like it.  Sometimes they are configured differently, so one might be holding his hand up and other might be bending to the right.  I don't know, it just tickles me).

This is real road now.  There are full line markings and even overtaking lanes - and roadworks, there always appears to be roadworks.

We are still amongst hills, so the wider road sweeps down and across bridges and around corners, but with trucks and motorbikes and caravans and cars all joining you and sometimes racing you and sometimes biding their time patiently or making you wait upon their timetables.

And they same coming at you the other way.

And then the phone rang.

Now, when you have had an hour or so inside your own head and there is a car about an hour ahead of you with your two most precious cargo on board, you ALWAYS pull over and answer the phone.

It was a bad line, but eventually I got the gist.

Last year, at the school that Paris now attends, there was an Open Day.

It was hot - and crowded.

There was a crafty sort of lane and 'Salina and Paris and I had promenaded along and admired and bought and admired.

One of the stalls was regarding a charity that is worldwide but grassroots - Day for Girls

Its a great concept - the local chapter here has monthly Sew n Pack days - unfortunately the joys of permanent full time work is that such delights are out of reach, being held on weekdays.

So my contribution to this very worthy cause was to buy some raffle tickets.

And here, however long later, was the phone call announcing that I had won.


The best bit?

Within a week of that photo being taken, the prizes - candles - came into very good use.

We had (another) rain event, and one particular evening it was decided by the weather gods that we needed to learn how to truly enjoy the delights and so switched off our lights to let our other senses take control.

Thanks to these candles (and some that are always on hand because the weather gods do like to frolic at times) we held the darkness back just that little bit more and had a candlelit meal.

(BTW - the rest of the car trip was uneventful)

Oh, and the tattoos?  Yes, I had to hand in my cleanskin card because I have now been tagged.

I still haven't actually started treatment yet - some time tomorrow I should be getting a phone call advising whether it will be next week - maybe the 6th - or the 8th - or even the week after - or not.  You know.  

I'm part of the system now, and given the delicate balance of wanting to know when things are happening because it is easier to stress less when you have more knowledge VS bureaucrats who speak in tongues, not always effectively, not always to each other and not always with the right tone of voice connecting with each other. 

Ommmm. 

I do know that Paris is taller than me now, and about to overtake 'Salina.  I am officially the shortest in my family.

I know that there will be 15 zaps between now and the End of Financial Year.

And I know that I can hold my breath for 25 seconds.

And I can breathe.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

A short tale about Mice, Men and Sheds

 A few weeks ago, I went to visit the folks.

It was a long weekend (again - we had 3 in a row - you start to expect it.)

I had most carefully curated my world that I felt I could safely travel to the countryside and see Mum and Dad.

Dad and I got to share a little project.

Their cat, as a mouser, is all class.  Currently he is spoiled for choice - the area is having a mouse plague.  Luckily, there are none to be found in their house - but I think it is because the cat is running a racket.

You see, they stay off his turf and he only shows signs of one or two a day, and he does it rather brashly and unabashedly.  My mother has always had a ritualistic cat.  This one is just like the rest, but with it turned up to 11.

Dad and I cleared the challenges in his shed back down to slightly more organised challenges in his shed.

While doing so, well hidden signs - and the witnessing of many of the scurrying rodents - I surmised that this was where the cat kept his compliant colony.

I saw video of such rodential activity in a near-to-them town's shop during the week.  One does not appreciate the magnitude of the word "plague" until one sees it first hand.

I suppose that is a bit like a pandemic.  Much nicer in the books than in real life, really.

But the shed is amazing now.  We know where the important photos are (still in boxes, but we can locate them), where the not so important documents from 30-50 years ago are and where the "start working our way through the ones at this end" boxes are.  We even know what shelves he would like to be looking at should he ever have a decent rainy day to look at shelves and sort stuff out.

I remember as a kid - the rare occasions when there was no chance of going out to work, your Dad would go down to the shed and be sorting.

Buckets of this and barrows holding that would start to accumulate outside the door - but under the edge of the roof and so out of the rain - and you would be sent down from the house at regular intervals to advise of food opportunities or to "help" for a bit (and looking back, to give Mum a moment to herself, which was otherwise impossible on such rain days).

Down there, you would be given stories of how this gizmo came into being or the bloke who once gave him some good advice or what that could be used for if and if he just chucked it away, guaranteed the next day he would need it.  Guaranteed.

Anyway, so we had fun.

When young, we would discover new pathways and buckets of treasure that were worth saving from the dump.  we found snake-skins.  We found new toys.

We got filthy dirty.  We had fun.

Rivulets of rainwater would flow from the inadequately plumbed gutters and open sides and we would become engineers and create elaborate civilisations along their paths.

 It rained on the day that I helped Dad too.

Only it wasn't like that.  It was a scud to keep us on our toes.  Instead of building dams and glades, I was building brickwork of boxes and blowing away the debris.

We found some corker photos.  Boxes with history and mystery and incredulity and "What?"

We had fun.

Did any one else grow up with shed rituals?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Now, where was I?

 Yes, I know.

Shocking of me, really.

Give you the "by the way, here's the news, more on that next week" and then...

  •  a pithy post about repugnant petfood, and then...
  •  well, nothing really.

Crickets in here.

Occasional breeze across the chintz (what is chintz?  It sounds nice but it could be plaid, for all I know.  I would say "broderie anglais" (I actually know what that is, having a childhood in the 70s and a teenhood in the '80s) but its more arty than poetic, and I was aiming for poetic).

And yes, that is an elephant in the room.  Funny that you should mention it.

***

In real life, I do mention it.  I am normalising it to my family and workmates.

Its not a big deal.  I mean, statistically with my diagnosis and my options, I have only a slight hill to surmount.  I am not up against the cliffs with jagged rocks and pounding surf.  I am a minnow, an irritating mote with NO FUCKING IDEA of what dragons look like.

I think I am doing that really well.

***

Statistically, however, your chances of getting to the bumpier bits of the ocean increase quite significantly if you actually have a diagnosis.

But - 

  •  pre-surgery came and went - it was a strange time.  Surgery occurred - the only glitches were minor and non-surgical, which is a fantastic outcome.
  •  post-surgery came and went - with the best possible result of "good margins and clear lymph nodes" given.

My surgeon is a pretty fantastic lady, actually.  Does yoga and runs a charity for rural women to have access to the same options as her metropolitan counterparts.  As you do.  There is even a page

  • there is a whole lot not written about work-related stuff - great people, great reason however - as I said, unwritten.
  • and so we get to now. 

***

This week, I had two appointments.

On Monday - the first - as the text reminder called it, my MEDONC.

There, I got to discuss stats and options and side-effects and possible outcomes and it boils down to:

  • A pill that I take every day at the same time for a slight chance of the bits of my body attractive to things within my body that will eventually kill it coming into contact with things within my body that will eventually kill it - however, it can kill you in these statistically small ways that you never imagined.  

Or

  • A needle (one imagines for some reason one of those 1800s weapons with plungers with curlicues, I do not know why) that will crash-land the menopause (that has to land sometime soon anyway) and then a pill every day for the slight chance of the above - however it can kill you in these statically other small ways (and some even the same with changes in the percents) including one that you have heard of and it sounds truly horrid.

And that is for a little % better outcome than not.  But given I got two in different spots (and with slightly different gobbledygook in the pathology report) with the same rapaciousness, that little number might be only a number at the end of the day.

The good news is no chemo necessary.  The statistic for that was a little bit less than the above suggested treatment, but cons outweigh the pros and hey, its handy to have that one in your box of tricks should it ever really (avert) be required.  The MEDONC didn't put it into those words, of course.


The best bit is that I don't NEED to make any decisions now.  And they may well become moot if I get a genetic result that doesn't compile favourable.  Or other stuff happens.  It seems to happen in this world of late.

***

Today was the RADONC.

The good news is that I am a fit enough (the bar must be low) just over 50 woman to get the two-for-one offer!

I get measured up next Monday for kick-off on the 8th or 13th.

10 minutes a day.  Every day Monday through Friday for 3 weeks - so should be done around the start of the new financial year.

Side effects - a bit like the radiation of a small sun but very close and as specific as possible, so hot boobs and possibly skin reaction.  Oh, and that possibility of roasting your bones.  And that maybe your lungs thing, but if you hold your breath...

Then there is that whole feel like you have been hit by a bus.  Everyone gets that one.

Daily double-zap.  First week is generally a breeze but then double-zap and zzzzs for the rest of it and up to a couple of weeks after.

***

There is very good reason not to get Covid or Flu this year.

(There was probably a good reason not to get Cancer this year too.  Oops.)