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17 May 2016 @ 07:40 am
It was a perfect autumn Sydney morning for the 2016 Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, which starts at sunrise.

I am too old, decrepit and lazy to participate, but daiskmeliadorn was keen to improve on her time in the Grunty Fen Half Marathon last year. She's been training hard, using a training and nutrition guide, and has joined up with Frontrunners. I decided to go and watch and cheer her on. I set myself up at the 2 km mark in The Rocks about 15 minutes before the start.

[2 km mark SMH Half Marathon 2016]
[George Street, The Rocks. The 2 km flag is on the left, as we wait for the start.]

From my position I could look east and see the sun just starting to light up Sydney Harbour.

[Sydney Opera House, dawn, 15 May 2016]
[The Harbour; Sydney Opera House. Dawn, 15 May 2016]

I didn't have to wait too long before the lights of an approaching police motor cycle heralded the first runner's progress down George Street.

[The leading runner arrives at the 2km mark]
[The leading runner approaching the 2 km mark]

As he got closer I could see that already he had opened up a big gap on second place.

[The leading runner is already about 100 m ahead of the second runner at the 2km mark]
[The leading runner is already about 100 m ahead of the second runner at the 2 km mark]

The trickle of fast runners started to swell fairly quickly and it wasn't too long until the trickle turned into a flood. They were even running down the footpath past the early morning coffee-drinking tourists.

[The pack arrives]
[The pack arrives!]

Unfortunately, I couldn't spot daiskmeliadorn. I had a rough idea of what pace she was hoping to be setting, but I realised they had a staggered start and I wasn't even sure if she was in the group which started at the first gun. I eventually gave up watching and headed off towards the 17 km point, where I hoped to have a better chance of seeing her in a more spread out field. Perhaps my mind was elsewhere or maybe I'm simply lacking the appropriate motor coordination, but I tripped on a kerb and crashed to the ground, landing heavily on my left side. My knee and elbow were grazed, and my thigh bruised. Sadly, my phone was in my pocket and was sandwiched between my thigh and the ground.  The screen glass was intact, but the underlying LCD was cracked, making the phone completely unusable. I would later be quoted $180 to repair it.

[My knee.]
[My knee]

I hadn't broken any bones, however, and was able to hobble up to a nearby nice sunny spot about 4 km from the finish line (it's an 'out and back' course so the finish is near the start). I got there just in time to see the eventual winner run past.

I had an idea what time daiskmeliadorn was aiming for at the 17 km point so I was on the alert for her arrival about half an hour after the leader, but was surprised to hear her calling out my name as she ran past - I missed her again! I saw her dreadlocks disappearing up the road towards the finish, though, and she seemed to be running pretty well. Not exhausted (as far as I could tell).

[daiskmeliadorn at the 17 km point]
[daiskmeliadorn at the 17 km point]

At this time I decided that I needed a coffee, so I limped off to the railway station to catch a train home. I later found out that daiskmeliadorn had beaten her previous best half marathon time, with an outstanding new PB of 01:47:20 which is at the 89th percentile in her very competitive female 30-39 y.o. group (91st percentile of all women, and 78th percentile of all entrants). What a performance!

[daiskmeliadorn after the finish (Copyright)]
[daiskmeliadorn & her partner]

I didn't go to the finish line and the photo above, which was taken in Hyde Park after the finish, is not mine. But I imagined this scene and it gave me great pleasure. Not only is daiskmeliadorn rejoicing in her wonderful achievement, but she's sharing that moment with a very special person who understands her better than anyone else.

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Several years ago I had to have a tooth treated with root canal therapy. Then it fell apart and I had to have this dead tooth repaired. And then the repair failed and about a year ago I had to have it reconstructed, with a stainless steel post inserted down the middle. Now it has broken again. I also have visible deep decay in one of my canines, right on the gum line. Unfortunately, it turns out that Alain, my dentist since the retirement of his wife Susan, is overseas in Europe somewhere.

I decided that my broken dead tooth and the lower right canine couldn't wait for Alain to come back from Europe (and I have no idea when that would be). Alain said the business would be opened by a substitute-dentist on Tuesdays so I went there at their official opening time and waited. At 09:10 I gave up waiting. I phoned repeatedly, with no one answering. I gave up on this practice.

I decided to try the dental practice down the road: DentArtisans.


I think a work colleague goes here. I decided to book in to see Dr Max Guazzato. His waiting room reading matter indicates that he has a PhD for his work with dental ceramics, so he could be just the person to fix this broken tooth.

[waiting room bookshelf at DentArtisans]

He took a radiograph of the broken tooth and showed it to me. The top has broken off (as I knew) but there's some evidence of movement of the threaded stainless steel post that Alain installed. When I had that procedure done in February 2015, I wrote: "I don’t have that much confidence that the repair will last, but Alain reckons I’ll get many years out of it. We’ll see."

Clearly Alain was wrong. But maybe it was a freak accident? Maybe I bit into something too hard?

Dr Max says a stainless steel post should not have been used. He says the elastic modulus is inappropriate and he recommends using a composite post instead. He says leaving the steel post in situ risks cracking the tooth below. He gave me three options, in order of price and efficacy:

  1. leave the steel post and just repair the top with a composite material

  2. replace the steel post with a composite one (which is cemented in, not screwed) and repair the top with a normal composite material

  3. replace the steel post with a composite one and repair the top with a crown.

And he also suggested a fourth option: do nothing till Alain returns and get him to fix it. I decided that I wanted it fixed now, rather than wait some unknown amount of time till Alain returns. I also was persuaded by Dr Max's stiffness modulus argument - I've heard my partner L make the same argument about concrete and masonry repairs. So I have lost a little faith in Alain even though I'm sure he's very good at his specialty - but that's dental forensic work. If I met with a fatal accident, he'd be the first person I'd suggest to identify me from my remains!

Anyway, I opted for alternative 2 - for nearly $900 (including repair of lower right canine)! I asked for the repair of the canine to be done at the same time as the dead tooth repair, so they allocated a two-hour appointment for me next Tuesday.

This is scary stuff! I will not be looking forward to this appointment, but will be relieved to have these repairs done (assuming they are done OK).

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02 May 2016 @ 10:32 am
We didn't sing The Internationale (Billy Bragg's lyrics), but it was a great May Day celebration, nonetheless. Matt, who has recently been laid so low by Crohn's disease and its surgical treatment, arranged for the family to go out to Jago's for lunch to celebrate the birthday of his good friend.

[Jago's family lunch, May Day 2016]

Our lunches - clockwise from left:

  • L's Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon

  • S's Beef Burger with egg, cheese and tomato relish, salad and fries but with bacon instead of egg

  • Matt's Big Breakfast of two eggs with bacon, sausages, mushrooms, smash potato and grilled tomato

  • Matt's friend's BLAT with crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and aioli on turkish

  • Daiskmeliadorn's Poached eggs, avocado, beetroot, wild rice, quinoa, balsamic reduction but with baked beans instead of egg, accompanied by soy Chai tea

  • my mixed leaf salad

The two vegans (daiskmeliadorn & me) were satisfied with our selections, despite the menu itself offering precious little choice for the animal-friendly customer.

Sydney turned on some very pleasant outdoor eating weather as the morning's rain cleared away nicely. They discussed politics down Matt's end of the table while we discussed health and running down my end.

Daiskmelaidorn is hoping for a personal best time in the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon in two weeks' time. She has a few little muscuoskeletal 'issues' but recently got some good advice from expert physiotherapist, Ken Raupach. She wants to beat her 2015 Grunty Fen Half Marathon (perhaps the last ever Grunty Fen Half!) time of 1:52:05. I'm excited about the prospect of seeing her run. I'll probably set up camp at a point on the out-and-back course so I can see her fresh at the 1 km point, then not-quite-so-fresh at around the 17 km point.

It was good to see Matt's friend again. She lives in Brisbane and we don't get to see her so often these days since she and Matt decided to spend less time together.

The best part of our May Day lunch for me, however, was seeing Matt in comparative good health and able to tuck into a Jago's Big Breakfast with enthusiasm. I hope his ileostomy was equally enthusiastic about the final product of the meal.

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18 April 2016 @ 08:25 am

[Matt survives surgery]

[Matt survives surgery!]

Following his 'emergency' admission to hospital a few weeks ago, after tests, discussions, and some thinking time, it was decided that the best option for Matt would be to have part of his large bowel removed.

So last week it happened. It took them about 3.5 hours of knife-work, but they removed around 20% of his colon and created an ileostomy to render the remaining colon redundant, for the time being at least. His faeces now make a premature exit, with most of the water and some of the nutrients still present, to be captured in a plastic bag.

He has been making good recovery, and I reckon he'll be sent home in the next day or two. He's still learning stoma management, but I don't think that will hold up his discharge for long. The surgeon thinks the remaining colon is only mildly affected by the Crohn's disease, so their plan is to give it about three month's rest and then close off the stoma and put the remaining colon back to work.

Coincidentally, Matt is in a room at RNSH which is next door to the one my mother was in after her emergency admission a few years ago. On that fateful occasion my mother decided she couldn't go back living at home by herself again. Now every time I visit her she abuses me for dumping her in a nursing home just for my convenience. I'm hoping history doesn't repeat itself and Matt won't have too many long term regrets about his trip to Ward 8B.

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17 February 2016 @ 06:10 pm
He's out! Today Matt was released from hospital. It's highly likely that he'll be back in a few weeks, however, for the removal of part of his large bowel. That's where Matt's Crohn's Disease seems to be most active and troublesome. That's yet to be determined, however. He has more medical treatment and investigations ahead of him first.

Today I was walking around Rat City and noticed that a homeless guy had this sign displayed on his belongings:

[I have Crhones diseas. That is one of my problems]

[I have Crhones diseas. That is one of my problems]

This disease is hard enough for Matt to manage. How difficult would it be to be camped on the streets of Broadway with uncontrollable diarrhoea?

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15 February 2016 @ 08:51 am
Sunday, St Valentine's Day, 14 February 2015, 7:30am. I am sitting outside the shops waiting for the greengrocer to open. There is a steady stream of people entering one of the shops that is already open, then emerging carrying flowers; mostly roses. At home, although I don't know it, my son Matt is in pain. His Crohn's disease has become very problematic - diarrhoea and abdominal pain. A couple of weeks ago he had a colonoscopy which revealed some obstruction of the sigmoid colon, as well as ongoing active disease despite his medication (Humira). The pain has gotten worse, however, and no plan of action has been forthcoming from the managing specialist. Fortunately, Matt has his specialist's mobile phone number and he sends the gastroenterologist a SMS. The doctor replies that Matt should go to Royal North Shore Hospital Emergency Department and meet him there.

Some hours later and Matt is in the Emergency Ward with drip installed, waiting for a CT scan.

[RNSH Emergency Ward]

[Another family visit to Royal North Shore Hospital's Emergency Ward]

The Emergency Ward at RNSH is becoming a family home-away-from-home.

Monday, 15 February. St Valentine's Day has been & gone and Matt is ensconced in a RNSH ward. He has no roses, but he has some rose-coloured jelly, and lots of other clear fluids while he waits for the medical team to puzzle out how to proceed.

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09 February 2016 @ 01:20 pm
I met for coffee with Dr Rose Ellis today. We went to Haven.

["Haven. tailoring coffee joyously"]

I found this place when I was looking for somewhere to meet Rose - near Central Station, but not too close to Rat City where I work. They serve the coffee on a wooden board with a little bowl of currants on the side. "Tailored" coffee? Not sure what that's all about, but they did have a cold drip brew going, and my long black was quite an interesting flavour. And "joyously"? Well, the staff members I encountered all did seem kind of happy. I'd have to go back a couple of times before I passed a definitive judgement. Daiskmeliadorn arrives back in Australia in two days' time, so maybe we'll come here for a catch-up coffee.

Anyway, the reason I was meeting Dr Rose relates to her PhD topic - she wrote her thesis on the subject of my great Aunt Bee (NLA entry). I had recently acquired a weighty tome which is a combined cash-book/journal/ledger for accounts related to the family company, from whose funds Bee received payments. I wanted to get Dr Rose's opinion on what should happen to this book (I was inclined to throw it out). It turns out that Dr Rose is thinking about turning her thesis into a commercial book and relished the opportunity to add to her vast store of knowledge about my family (she knows way more than me).

[Dr Rose reading the ledger]

[Dr Rose reads the cash-book/journal/ledger (what are those things, anyway?)]

Dr Rose had a quick look through and decided that she would like to examine it more closely before she passes judgement on the book's value.

While we drank our coffee (she had a soy flat white....it's just like drinking coffee with daiskmeliadorn!) she showed me an item recently added to the digital collection in the National Library of Australia. It was a newspaper article (if the now defunct Sunday Truth deserves to be in the "newspaper" category) about my great grandfather taking his daughter to court over an altercation they had in his shop. Love that headline!

[Headline in Sunday Truth, 19 September 1937]

[Headline in Sunday Truth, 19 September 1937]

We talked for a while about families, past and present, and agreed to meet again, perhaps here, when she has done some more work on her book. Dr Rose is a lovely person and has some very profound insights into deviance, mental illness, and families. I'm already looking forward to my next conversation with her.

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11 January 2016 @ 10:12 am
I'm writing private notes to myself (with occasional, sporadic public revelations), but that uses up just about all my energy for communication.

My mother told me yesterday that I am "old and stupid", and I guess she's right. I have nothing worthwhile left to say.

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04 January 2016 @ 11:28 am
When my mother realised her reaction times and physical abilities had significantly declined, she handed in her driver's licence and bequeathed her car to me. For a number of years we used the car to drive my mother to medical appointments, but in the past 12 months she has been confined to a nursing home, unable to transfer from her wheelchair into the car. So lately the car has mostly been used by my son to carry himself, his saxophones and the whole swag of equipment needed by a professional musician. He has driven thousands of kilometres to rehearsals and gigs around the country. This is our only family car, so the other three members of the household have also used the car, when available - to do the shopping on weekends (me), go to exercise classes (my partner), transport election material to and from polling booths (my other son), etc.

Last week my musician son took the car to Melbourne (900 km) to play a couple of New Year's Eve gigs. Unfortunately, while driving between venues in Melbourne, he had a collision with a motorcycle. The motor bike rider wasn't badly injured and my son was not physically injured at all, but the car is written off.

[car - finished]

The loss of the car is problematic for my family and the Harley Davidson must have also sustained major damage, but the personal impacts of this event for both the bike-rider and my son are enormous, and only just beginning to be counted.

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24 December 2015 @ 05:00 am
My blog posts are usually private.

I wrote in my private diary on:

  • 24 December, 2015

  • 23 December, 2015

  • 22 December, 2015

  • 18 December, 2015

  • 16 December, 2015

  • 15 December, 2015

  • 14 December, 2015

  • 11 December, 2015

  • 10 December, 2015

  • 09 December, 2015

  • 08 December, 2015

  • 07 December, 2015

  • 04 December, 2015

  • 03 December, 2015

  • 02 December, 2015

  • 30 November, 2015

  • 27 November, 2015

  • 26 November, 2015

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