the WAFFLE page

January 31, 2012. NC Art wrote: You have diagnosed your own problem. Major surgery is an awful assault on the body and its systems. Multiple traumas of surgery make recovery a real bitch. If it's possible, you truly need in-home health assistance now, consisting of regular blood chemistry analysis, red and white blood cell readings, nutrition advice--including high protein and vitamin intake. Seems the Kelly organism is way out of balance and needs a radical tune-up. I'm no doctor, but I've been there after surgery, just not as sorely as you are now.
Cheers Old Boy,

I've got my local doc arriving for a home visit this Thursday to check my blood pressure medication, and whether I actually need it or not. My bloody pressure was very low while I was in Port Macquarie hospital and the nurse suggested I stop taking my heart medication until I see my doc. Now that I haven't taken any  for several days, I'm feeling stronger and less faint. So something's different between the old me and the new me and my doc's gonna figure out what.

As to high vitamin intake, I'm on special high fiber liquid which I pour through the stomach tube at least 3 times a day, plus lots of water. But I became seriously constipated yesterday and the nutritionist said it was because I wasn't drinking enough plain water. I sat up all night desperate to go to the loo but nothing happened. And it was painful. This morning I drank lots more water, and only water, so the situation is slowly easing. I won't have any more "solid" food until my bowels are completely emptied. No way I'm going through that damn hassle again. Matter of fact, I'm having an  orange juice at the mo, the NORMAL way!

TX wrote: Well that just suxs :( Was starting to get worried there, but did figure they kept you overnite for that. Hopefully this will all be behind in a few weeks!!! Make sure you get plenty of Vitameatavegamin..... A few weeks? Try six! The therapy doesn't finish before the end of March. By the way, this is the stuff I'm on.

Francois wrote: A surgery is a surgery, and the most difficult to clear out is the anesthesia and you'd 2 !  So take it easy and be patient: that's the only way to heal. After my surgery I took morphin during 2 weeks: good days sleeping the whole time. Then then then pain and tears with painkillers which gave me nauseas: awful weeks when I survived only thinking "I've no more a tumor, the cancer is killed, I'll live..." the surgeon had won to remove the tumor without cuting a little piece of my spine: thanks to his skilful hands! 3 months without walking outside, some meters in more each day, don't speak of driving... One year to recover, yes but 13 years since to live happy doing quite anything I dream for... maybe some ten years still in purpose... Of course there are still pain days, but I try to keep in mind only the numerous happy days. Life is good to live if you try to forget the bad days and hoping for the good ones. The 5 years to wait to be sure of being free of the cancer, are a long way too, but you'll think to this once a semester then once a year.
Think to your dream, this odyssey you'll be doing in some months: only some months in your life...
Courage Gary, you'll see soon the end of the tunnel

Thanks for the encouragement, Francois. I appreciate it.

Steve W (who knew Cody back in the old days) wrote: Take it easy mate, your body is trying to tell you something………….and you either listen to it or face the consequences. I feel your frustration, been there, so just accept it and wait it out. You will be back better than ever. Steve knew Code when he was holidaying in Oz from Canada and wrote a blog. I think Steve is working permanently in Oz now. 

Dave in Ormond Beach wrote: Sometimes your body tells you what to do - or NOT to do. You had better listen to it! Seems that you had quite a long drive, so ya gotta wait 'til you feel up to it. Whatever it takes, thats what you must do. Sure that L&S will survive a day without you. Take care, Gary, and before long you should be up to full strength and ready to rattle our cages again. Yep, a  bit of good old fashioned cage rattling would nice. :)

And here's NC Art again from the other day: Hope you got a good restful sleep after such ill-treatment. The blood pressure thing is common after many invasive surgical procedures. In my own case and others who take meds for hypertension, the meds may be reduced or eliminated--but only temporarily. Just make sure the pressure is monitored regularly to keep out of more trouble. It may be cold comfort, but I've had friends who were fitted with stomach feeding tube but became accustomed to it and went merrily about doing whatever. I never underwent that indignity and how very effing glad I be about that!

BP will be checked on Thursday. As to the feeding tube, I didn't want it either but they more or less insisted. Even my surgeon in Sydney thought it was "a bit over the top".

Thanks again, dear Breth. Maybe a little more tomorrow. Gary

January 30, 2012. Thanks a bunch for the emails, thoughts, wishes, lectures, jokes and anecdotes, dear Breth. They were well received this morning even though I'm not up to answering them individually. Might take a shot at a bit of cut and paste tomorrow so you can all enjoy each other's fun. Oregon Richie has just returned from South Africa so he hasn't really caught up on the latest yet. Francois says a surgery is a surgery and the most difficult stuff to recover from is anaesthetic... and I've had two heavy general doses in just 1 month. Yes, I'm still pretty weak but getting a little better. I've also stopped having little nightmares about breathing difficulties and being in strange places. In one nightmare I thought this soreness and inability to sleep was some kind of new problem I had permanently... the mind trying to play tricks on me. I was afraid to go to bed and instead sat up in my chair with a blanket all night (that was the other night).

Jeremy, my mate who brought the wirless modum into Royal Prince Albert in Sydney, wrote to ask how I am. It's all a bit complicated to explain it all, and I can't focus or type very well. The brain is dull. The tongue's still swollen too (although getting better) so the phone's no good either.

I'm getting more proficient at this stomach-tube feeding business. I guess I'd better do like the nutritientist tells me and keep socking all those vitamins and minerals and fiber away so that the body can toughen itself up in preparation for the radiation. I'd never make it through like I am now. Too bloody stuffed. Gary

January 29, 2012. Nope, no point in writing the Waffle Page until I'm reasonably heathly again. I'm way too weak mentally and physically to focus on anything. Maybe it's caused by the second operation so soon after the first. I was still mentally alert only a week ago. Anyway, dear Breth, I gotta take it easy till I'm back to my old self. Meanwhile, feel free to drop me a line or two.  Gary

January 28, 2012. I'm buggered again. I think this general anaesthetic stuff knocks me around way too much. I thought they'd allow me to drive home the same day but that's not the way it happened... I stayed overnight. The tube in my stomach is quite sore, and pulls when I move or stretch. It's most annoying. There's also something wrong with my blood pressure. It used to be too high, now it's too low, and causes me to become quite weak. I'll see if I can get a good night's sleep tonight and write a decent Waffle tomorrow. I'm just to worn out. Gary

January 26, 2012. Rain yesterday, rain today, rain tomorrow and rain for the rest of the week. The holiday summer tourist season up here on the coast must be in tatters. And tomorrow I have to drive to Port Macquarie to have the feeding tube inserted in my tummy. They want to do it now so that it'll be ready to use by the time its needed... in a month or so. By the way, Lindsay took a phone message from them when I was in Sydney. It was about the cost of fuel to and from Port Macquarie during my radiation therapy. I can claim it, and the cost is rebatable, which is good. Saves me about $150 a week.

This business of checking in with Dr Clark every 3 months is a bit of a bother if I'm gonna be galavanting around Oz on the Odyssey. Oh well, I'll have to sort that out some other time. Right now I got more immediate things on my mind... like sleep. Slept in the chair almost all of yesterday, then in the bed for 12 hours last night, and again in the chair for another 3 hours this morning.

It's incredible to think that it's only 3 weeks today since the operation. So much has happened... all those long boring hours in hospital, the constant checking of blood pressure, temperature and whatever else by the nurses, and the injections, the neverending train journeys, the total disruption to normal life, and this infernal swollen tongue that's taking forever to go down! Maybe it seems longer because it's not a single event... it's a series of events so far stretched over 21 days. Three weeks usually whips by in a flash but this period seems somehow more a big solid chunk of time.

Anyway, it's pretty obvious to me now, judging by what the various doctors have said, that you would have been referring to me in the past tense before many more months had gone by. I would have been the "late" Fossil. And there was I for six months or more feeling this lesion in my mouth with my tongue and saying "I wonder if this is a problem or not?" Sheesh. I was still undecided whether or not I should mention it to my GP last November, but figured it wasn't gonna get better by itself, and it certainly wasn't gonna go away. When Dr Clark in Sydney saw it, be bundled me off to hospital quick smart.

So, after radiation therapy finishes at the end of March, some time during the following six months they'll remove all my teeth (which the radiation will have destroyed because of their age and condition) and they'll give me a new bunch and I'll look like an American superstar. Actually nothing looks more ridiculous than a set of pearly whites beaming from some wrinkled old geezer that should belong to a 20 y/o. It just doesn't fit. I hope they ask what color I prefer cos I don't want ultra white. I'm a bit too lived in for that.

TX Greg was reminded of his "first time" after reading about NC Art's discovery and wonderment at age 11, but Greg was slightly more mature... he was 14. I don't remember mine. I remember borrowing lots of National Geographic books from the library when I was a young teen but no specific date. Greg however can remember the actual photograph he used to stimulate himself... it was of a bare-chested American popstar who shall remain nameless (but that I distinctly do remember, and who made quite an impact during his Oz tour).

Art also sent this little story which I failed to post yesterday:

A woman decides to have a facelift for her 50th birthday. She spends $15,000 and feels pretty good about the results. On her way home, she stops at a  newsstand to buy a newspaper. Before leaving, she says to the clerk, 'I hope you don't mind my asking, but how old do you think I am??'

'About 32,' is the reply.

'Nope! I'm exactly 50,' the woman says happily. 

A little while later she goes into McDonald's and asks the counter girl the very same question. The girl replies, 'I'd guess about 29.' 

The woman replies with a big smile, 'Nope, I'm 50.'

Now she's feeling really good about herself. She stops in a drug store on her way down the street. She goes up to the counter to get some mints and asks the clerk this burning question. The clerk responds, 'Oh, I'd say 30.'

Again she proudly responds, 'I'm 50, but thank you!'

While waiting for the bus to go home, she asks an old man waiting next to her the same question. He replies, 'Lady, I'm 78 and my eyesight is going. Although when I was young there was a sure-fire way to tell how old a woman was. It sounds very forward, but it requires you to let me put my hands under your bra. Then, and only then can I tell you EXACTLY how old you are.'

They wait in silence on the empty street until her curiosity gets the best of her. She finally blurts out, 'What the hell, go ahead.'

He slips both of his hands under her blouse and begins to feel around very slowly and carefully. He bounces and weighs each breast and he gently pinches each nipple. He pushes her breasts together and rubs them against each other. After a couple of minutes of this, she says, 'Okay, okay....How old am I?'

He completes one last squeeze of her breasts, removes his hands, and says, 'Madam, you are 50.' 

Stunned and amazed, the woman says, 'That was incredible, how could you tell?'

The old man says, 'Promise you won't get mad??

'I promise I won't', she says. 

'I was behind you at McDonalds.'

Speaking of food, I hadn't eaten a thing all day on the train trip back to Taree. At about 3 in the afternoon, the bloke's voice from the buffet car came over the PA talking about Devonshire Tea with fresh hot scones and cream and jam, served with tea or coffee. Grrrr. I couldn't eat them anyway. About 2 hours later, the girl sitting beside me decided to go get herself a meat pie. She returned and made lots of noise with a paper bag and then I got a whiff of the hot pie. It smelled delicious, and I couldn't help sneaking a little peek occasionally as she devoured it. By the time I got home I didn't feel hungry any longer, so I went without food till the morning.

I'll be seeing the nutritionist as well as the doctor and anaesthetist tomorrow at the hospital, and she'll obviously comment on my weight loss. I've probably lost 7 kilos (14 pounds) since the operation, and yet I was a small eater beforehand - always have been. Lindsay is as skinny as a rake and yet easily eats twice as much  as I do. If I go to a restaurant, I can hardly get through an entree. So I hope she doesn't start giving me fiddly menus and instructions about what to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as in between. I can't stand "experts", especially bossy ones.

Well, well, well, here it is January 26 and it's Australia Day, a public holiday in Oz. I'd forgotten... but that's not surprising... my brain has been a mess since the operation. Meanwhile, I'll be up at about 6am tomorrow for the trip up the coast so I doubt I'll get a chance to write any Waffle. Seeya Saturday. Gary

January 25, 2012. What a day yesterday! Caught the 1:30am train from Taree but it was running about 30 minutes late. By the time it got to Sydney it was running 90 minutes later. It was almost half past eight by the time I phoned the surgeon to let her know I was late. But she was cool. I saw her about 9am. She checked me over and gave me the thumbs up... everything seems to be progressing well. She's about to launch her career internationally for the next seventeen months. She's originally from Malaysia but will be attending a head and neck cancer conference in Tawain. Then she'll spend 12 months living and working in the US. She's a pretty bright girl.

So after that, I wandered around Central Station with the camera for a while but I was too grumpy to take an interest in photography. All I seem to wanna do is sleep or stare into space. I suppose all that train travel yesterday wore me out a bit... no sleep. The train was late again on the way back, so that was a total of  13 1/2 hours getting an aching butt on a hard seat.

Meanwhile, the doc suggests I make an appointment with Dr Johnathan Clark, the first specialist I saw and under whose auspices Dr Ch'ng worked. She says I should get him to check me out in 3 months and every three months after that for 5 years. She says the if cancer is ever gonna return it'll be during that period.

My father died of a number of things, one of which was a cancer of the left side of his face (same as mine), which caused his nerves and muscles to collapse. It just hung there, lifeless, like a horror mask. Towards the end he was permanently on morphine for the pain, and was rarely coherent. I'm lucky that we have Medicare these days, with far more sophisticated surgery techniques and therapies such as radiation and chemo. My father was also not one to bother with illnesses or bring any irregularities to the attention of his doctor. In fact, he didn't even have doctor.

NC Art wrote: "Assumptions": Welcome back from an arduous journey. Your gyro must be like mine; I dare not take off until my nerves connect to my legs after sitting awhile. And I'm very careful where I plant the foot that is slow to react to uneven surfaces. But to your insult to my memory. The hell with 81, I prefer to remember 18. Better yet is my recollection of my 11th birthday, Oct. 8,  1936. That was the day of my first and gloriously magnificent orgasm. Every detail is etched in memory and it could hardly be clearer if camcorders were available in that pre-historic age. I guess it would be interesting to see my frightened expression while I wondered what the hell was happening. Whatever it was, I was instantly committed to repeating the event as often as possible!

I've done hardly anything but sleep today, and that's what I'm gonna do again right now. I'm totally buggered. Gary

January 23, 2012. Ormond Beach Dave wrote: Well, Gary, glad to hear that you are starting to feel a bit better, but I'm sure you have got a long way to go. One thing struck me, however, when you said "Out like a light for at least 10 hours". Boy, I wish I could at least say "Out like a light for six hours". Wait until you get to be 81 years old!

Thanks, Dave, and yes the Fat Lady ain't sung just yet. As to getting to 81, fingers crossed. NC Art is 86 but he can't remember being 81 hehe. Speaking of octogenarians, Justin's blog has posted an article about Penn State legend Joe Paterno.

Here's the stuff I'm on for extra fiber and nutrition while I'm convalescing... Sustagen plus fiber. Actually, it doesn't taste too bad, and at least I know my body's getting lots of necessary goodies (probably more than before the operation). One thing I can do now that I couldn't before is clench my teeth... can't chew but can clench, which means my tongue's swelling must be coming down. I can also drink from a glass or mug instead of using a straw, and I've noticed the tongue's color is back to normal. So that's 19 days since the operation now.

By the way, there won't be any Waffle tomorrow. I leave Taree after midnight at 1:30am and arrive in Sydney at 6:50am for my final appointment with the surgeon at 8am. Then I return to Central Station to catch the 11:30am train to Taree which arrives at 5:10pm. Long bloody day sitting on my tired old butt for 11 hours on damn trains.

Beeb time: The Arab League calls on Syria to start a genuine political dialogue with the opposition and form a national unity government within two months. Calls on? What is "calls on?" Sounds a bit like pussy footing to me. European Union foreign ministers are expected to agree to a phased ban on the purchase of oil from Iran at a meeting in Brussels later on Monday. Problem is, China's co-operation is critical if the West's plan to force Iran to stop uranium enrichment is to succeed. US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says he will release his tax returns on Tuesday, following his defeat in the South Carolina primary. How time flies. Do you realize there are people now 20 years old since Bill was elected?

Naturally, I'll take the camera with me tomorrow. I've got a few hours to kill before the trip back so I'll see what I can find. But I won't be walking far, else I might never get back! The legs are still a bit wobbly and I'm not sure how long that's gonna last. I find if I start walking straight after standing, I get wobbly, but if I stand and wait a few minutes for my equalibrium to settle, I'm not too bad. Anyway, I'll catch you on Wednesday! Gary

January 22, 2012.  Mid January and mid summer, and what do we get? Thunderstorms and 19C. What kinda global warming is that?

TX Greg wrote: NC Art had sympathy pains, and guess what I get, a sympathy dream with you in it! For some reason after you passed out on the train they stuck you on a flight here and you called in a panic because they couldn't get you back home for a couple of days. I remember picking you up at the airport and you were talking fairly good despite the swollen tongue. The only thing on your mind was getting that glass of WINE so we headed up to the town of Grapevine for Grape Fest.........

That wasn't a sympathy dream, Greg, that was a nightmare. Actually, I've hardly touched a drop since I've been back from Sydney... lost interest in a lotta things... too tired to be bothered with much. I reckon it's gonna be some months before I'm back to normal. 

Greg also mentioned... Other news, our Texas Rangers Baseball team just signed Japanese Yu Darvish to a $60 million contract. He's even done some nude modeling. Wonder if I could fake a press pass and sneak into the locker room, hehe. $60m? How do you figure that? That's way more than Barack Obama gets paid. I don't get it. I think Obama gets $400,000 per annum. Even Julia Gillard, Aussie PM, gets a bit more than that. What a cheek! Anyway, when a baseballer can command that kinda dough, sumthin's wrong.

Beeb time: Counting is under way in South Carolina's primary, the latest leg of the battle for the Republican candidacy in the US presidential election.Opinion polls suggest a tight race between frontrunner Mitt Romney and former House speaker Newt Gingrich. Latest is that Newt has won. A series of bombings by Nigerian Islamist militants Boko Haram kills about 150 people in the city of Kano, in the group's deadliest attack to date. Murder in the name of Allah. The final results in Egypt's first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections confirm an overwhelming victory for Islamist parties. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won the largest number of seats under Egypt's complex electoral system. The hardline Salafist Nour party came second. The liberal New Wafd and the secular Egyptian Bloc coalition are some way behind them. The overall results mean that Islamist parties control around two-thirds of the seats in the assembly, though the final share out of seats is not yet known. I'm glad I don't live over there. A Dutch teenager who set out to become the youngest solo around-the-world sailor has completed her voyage. Laura Dekker, 16, was greeted by a cheering crowd as she sailed into the St Maarten harbour in the Caribbean after a year at sea. Ms Dekker was born on a yacht off the coast of New Zealand during a seven-year world trip. Don't ask me why she did it cos I don't have the faintest idea. The body of a woman has been found on board the Italian cruise ship that ran aground and capsized a week ago, bringing the known death toll to 12. The woman, who was wearing a life jacket, was found by divers on the fourth deck of the Costa Concordia. Twenty people are still missing after the ship, with 4,200 people on board, struck a rock in shallow waters on 13 January off Tuscany's Geiglio island. The captain is being investigated for manslaughter, which he denies. He altered course and sailed into dangerous waters. What's there to be denied? Twenty Airbus A380s will have to undergo checks for cracks in their wings, the safety regulator has said. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said the planes, a third of the current fleet, would undergo a "visual inspection" for cracks. A few planes, which have carried out more than 1,800 flights, will need inspections within four days, it said. Airbus said the cracks were not an immediate threat to safety. If cracks are found it will carry out repairs. Flying is the safest way to travel, so they say. But you can keep it. A suburban Chicago man accidentally shot a 3.25in (8.25cm) nail into his skull but is recovering after doctors successfully removed it from the centre of his brain. Dante Autullo, 34, was in his workshop when a nail gun recoiled near his head. But he had no idea the nail had entered his brain until the next day, when he began feeling nauseous. Doctors told Mr Autullo that the nail came within millimetres of the area used for motor function. Ouch! I've heard of hitting your thumb with a hammer but that's ridiculous! Australian PM Julia Gillard's minority government has lost the support of an independent MP, leaving her with control of just 75 out of 150 seats. Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie withdrew his backing after the prime minister broke her promise to bring in new controls on slot machines or "pokies". Ms Gillard's Labor Party does still have a one-seat buffer as the non-voting speaker is an opposition MP. The prime minister was able to form a government after tight elections in 2010 with the backing of a Green MP and three independents, one of them Mr Wilkie. All those independents were traitors to the conservative cause for which the majority of Australians voted, and the sooner they as well as Gillard get the flick the better.

Just had an invalid shower, complete with plastic chair. I can't believe how stiff and weak I am... unable to reach all the usual spots, and finding it difficult to wash my hair let alone dry it. I sure hope this ain't permanent. I'll be glad to get rid of this beard as well... too damn scruffy and spikey, and it takes a while to dry after a shower. However, my tongue is improving a little, and swallowing is becoming a bit easier.

I seem to spend most of my time here at the computer in a trance... going off into day dreams. Apparently my mental energy is at a low level and I'm not in the least inspired to think or write much. Remember those blank faces of inmates at WWII concentration camps? I look like one of those. Or have you seen an alzheimer's patient being spoon fed? A bit like that. I just crushed my medication and sprinkled it into a cup of custard.

Well, one thing I don't have any trouble with is sleeping at night. Out like a light for at least 10 hours. Gary

January 21, 2012. SF Bill wrote: Tube in stomach, OUCH!  But I guess you have to do what you have to do.  Best of wishes to you in your ongoing fight back to good health. Can't say I'm looking forward to that, Bill, but apparently the radiation affects the throat and swallowing so there's not much of an alternative if I wanna stay out of a box. I just hope the damn hole heals up again after this is all over. Not a good look in McDonalds, that. But I agree with Bill about doing what you have to do. I figure it's pointless complaining or bitching or wishing things were different. Ya just gotta roll with the flow and get it over and done with.

I finished the Journal entry today about my 2 weeks in Sydney and posted the photo album. Meeting John Devine, former president of the Cronulla Rebels Bikie Gang was probably the highlight.

It's been a quiet day here at home, and Lindsay seems to enjoy being chief shopper. He walks up to the shops every day to get the things I need, and the things he and Sue need. I do the cooking. In fact his attitude towards me has changed for the better since he's accepted new responsibilities. I guess he feels useful. I'm gonna have to educate him about some food items though... like there's a nutritional difference between "drink" and "juice", and instant powdered soups just ain't got no food value! But I'll save the criticism in case he spits the dummy.

Okay, that's it for today, gotta rustle up some dinner for the zoo and pop a health drink for myself. Gary

January 20, 2012. I spent most of today writing the journal about my time in Sydney and the operation, but I haven't finished yet. I'll complete it tomorrow and post the few pics I took while I was in Royal Prince Alfred. Port Macquarie hospital phoned today. I have to be there next Friday to have the surgery to implant a feeding tube into my stomach. Sounds like fun. Then on the 13th of February I start the radiation program (which will also include some chemo), which will run through to the end of March. See you tomorrow when I finish the journal. Gary

January 19, 2012. People are funny ya know. Averil just phoned to ask how I was. "Okay, but I can't talk." So there she is saying how sorry she is that I can't talk but keeps asking questions anyway hehe. She's gonna have to ask Lindsay questions like that. I can't stand for long periods, either, which makes shopping a bit difficult. Lindsay got me a few things today which was cool. As to meals, I can't eat anything but soups, juice and health drinks, etc, so I'll get my stuff and he can get his own stuff, which I'll cook. Actually, I quite like those creamy soups like potato, pea and ham, pumpkin, cream of chicken, etc. Good tucker. I like those health drinks too... you can actually feel them doing you good, and they taste nice.

Now that I'm back home, I'm no longer bored, which means I'm happy to sleep and rest a lot. In other words, I don't have a lot of incentive to write this Waffle page... or a lot of energy, for that matter. I guess that's the way it'll be for a while. I've never slept so soundly in my life... 10 hours or more, which I suppose is good for the healing process. I take a couple of naps during the day as well. They weren't kidding when they described the surgery as "major"... I feel completely drained. But it ain't over yet, folks!

NC Art wrote: After reading the description of your tortured head  my tongue swelled and my throat closed up in sympathy. Jeez what a misery that must be. My only advice is to keep shoving what you can get down a little at a time, and often. It is so easy to lose strength and muscle tone on meager food intake. Flavored diet stuff such as Ensure are heavy on protein, minerals, and vitamins  and can be slurped thru big straws. Guess you know all that by now.

Dunno about misery. I think misery is a state of mind (or a pop song by the Beatles), and I'm aware of what's at stake here. Also, there's no point in bitching about a situation over which you have little control. I just tried to down some pea and ham soup. I thought it was smooth but it ain't, and I had to give up on trying to send the little peas and the small bits of ham down the screech. No trouble with the creamy soups with no lumps... just gotta be more careful when I buy.

I missed a couple of your blogs cause my pesky com equipment decided to die. First my big, bright, hi-res monitor just gave up and went black. A repair chap lent me a smaller used device, and before I could try it out, the wireless mouse blew a circuit. Shit. Today I got a mouse that roars, but the monitor image is tres lousay and 25% smaller than the dead Log-e monster. Will need to make decision about many $$$$ pretty soon.

Actually, I think I'd be more upset with your problems than I am with mine. Which reminds me, I saw quite a few peeps in hospital with their laptops, cell phones, smartphones or tablets.

Just keep on keeping on until all this discomfort is behind you. Yeh, easy to say...

That's the plan. As OR Richie says, keep your eyes on the prize, which for me is when all this is over. By early April I should be there. And speaking of Richie, he and friend are in South Africa right now, going on Safaris and checking out the native fauna. Cody actually lived there and never once mentioned so much as a lizard (except the one that Wingnut put in Mark's sleeping bag). All Cody had was a Staffordshire terrier in his backyard. Funny huh? I lived in Sydney for umpteen years and never took a pic of the Harbor Bridge, and only one of the Opera House when it was being built.

Here's part of what OR Richie wrote: Yes, I am writing from the guesthouse in Krugersdorp, and we "finally" made it here. One full damn day late, after an entire afternoon and night in Seattle.  The departing aircraft had troubles, resulting in a cascade-effect of missed flight, numerous royal foul-ups by Delta airline, and was a near intolerable experience.  They had two alternate routings "arranged" for same day departure then the local agent said nope; no rebookings, and little help with affiliate carriers was investigated by them, and... well, yeah.  A full missed day here.  Two days of great excursions, though.... to the Pilansberg NP and "Rhino and Lion" park today; Wonder Caves, etc... and will leave in the morning southwards on the train.

So there ya go, Richie's got his problems too. Haven't we all? Anyway, it's time to cook dinner for the troops, watch a little telly and call it a day... another day behind me and another day closer to getting back to normal. Actually, the past two weeks seemed to drag at the time but now they seem quite distant. Gary

January 18, 2012. Well, the radiation doc in Port Macquarie certainly make it clear this morning that I've undergone surgery for "a very nasty" cancer. He said cancers of the head and neck areas are very problematical and often difficult to treat. He painted a pretty horrific picture of what's in store for me once I start the radiation course in about 4 weeks - the middle of next month through to the end of March. He said the first two weeks will be a breeze but then the side effects will start to kick in... dryness of the mouth, sore thoat, lower jaw/neck feeling like severe sunburn, ulcers in the mouth, general feeling of tiredness and irritability. Swallowing will become increasingly difficult so I'll be mostly fed through a tube in my stomach to make sure I get sufficient nourishment to help the body cope with all the stress and heal. After the six-week course, it'll take another two weeks before I'm fully recovered. 

Although the surgery removed all of the tumor and traces of cancer, there's a danger that some potentially cancerous cells are still lurking in the area. A second operation like the one I had is virturally out of the question, so the possibility of the cancer returning has to be eliminated. It's mainly a precautionary measure. Not fun, but necessary.

I had my introduction to the system this morning and my first radiation, which maps various points around my jaw and neck where specific areas are consistently targeted. I had a face mask molded and shaped to my head to keep it in the same spot each time I visit. Sometime during the following six months, I'll have all my teeth removed, and dentures made hehe. The teeth I have left are too old and shabby to bother keeping.

The doc (a New Zealander and quite young) warned me that things might get tough and frustrating so I'll need courage and persistence to see the program through to the end. It ain't for wimps. So there ya go... who woulda thunk that a little rough patch of skin in my mouth would lead to all this?

The Ute went problems... smooth as a baby's bum. It uses about 13 liters per 100 km so I figure the cost of getting there and back each week will be about $30 a day or $150 a week. That's a fair chunk out of the pension so I'll have to check if there's a subsidy or rebate.

FL Dave wrote: Well, glad to hear you made it back from Sydney in one piece, even with all the drama attached.  I really wonder whether you were carrying a load of bricks in that backpack, or what. It certainly felt like it. I took way too much with me not thinking I'd be so weak after the operation that I could hardly handle it. I don't expect there to be a next time but if there is, I won't be carrying anything but the bare minimum. Dave says he's surprised at the extent of my cancer and the treatment still required. Me too, mate. I had no idea it was gonna be anywhere this complicated or extensive. Actually, it scares me a little to think that the first doc to whom I was referred, the Indian one in Taree, told me the biospy samples were negative. Sorry, darling, you were dead wrong. Luckily, the next doc in line - the one who was supposed to remove the lesion here in Taree - recognized how serious it was and referred me to Dr Clark in Sydney.

Anyway, I'm buggered after today, and I expect to be similarly buggered for quite some time yet. Still gotta cook dinner for the troops though. They reckon the last 2 weeks of frozen micro meals was more than enough, and they're glad to be back to home cooking. Gary

January 17, 2012. Didn't get a chance to Waffle yesterday. Checked out of the hospital at about 10am after saying goodbye to the other guys. Neville had a similar operation (except his included a tracheostomy) and he was still there for his 31st day. They were thinking about sending him home the following day but wanted to be sure about his nutrition intake. They should have checked mine. They assumed I was eating all my meals but I wasn't. I barely had the strength to get me and my back-pack downstairs to the Main Foyer and then out into the street where, thankfully, I hailed a cab. Actually, he hailed me. He delivered me to within a short walking distance of the railway station platforms but it was still to far for me. I had to rest half way. Lugging that backpack around was way too difficult and heavy.

About half way home on the train, I walked to the dining car about 1 1/2  cars ahead and when I got there I collapsed to the floor, dizzy and exhausted. I thought a small bottle of white wine might ease the boredom of the trip but they refused to sell me even one glass. Probably thought I was drunk. Anyway, I made my way back to my seat unassisted. 

When the train arrived at Taree, I carried my bag to the open door and made my way to the nearest platform bench to rest again, before finally getting a cab out front. Once home, Lindsay made a remark but remained on the couch watching TV with Sue. Shortly afterwards, I drove up the road to get fruit juices, soups, health drinks, etc, to do me for the next week or so. I could hardly get around the supermarket and had to lean on the trolly handle to stay upright. The trip to the car took two stages, and it was parked right out front in the street instead of the undercover car park which is a longer walk. By the time I got home, I was too weak to carry the bag from the car to the house, so I got Lindsay to do it. I had a health drink for dinner and that was it. I hit the sack and slept like a log all night, which was a pleasant change from sleeping (or trying to) in a room full of noisy patients and constantly toing and froing nurses. This morning I had to wait for the tea to cool before I could drink some through a straw, and then it took about an hour to eat a little cup of fruit puree with my medication. So I sure hope things improve soon... this kinda bullshit is driving me nuts. There's no pain with the tongue or mouth - just inconvience - but there are two blisters inside my bottom lip that sting when I eat.

The radiation therapy place in Port Macquarie phoned this morning... they want to get me into the "system" as soon as poss, so my first appointment is tomorrow morning to speak with the doc at 9am. Regular radiation, 5 days a week for 6 weeks, should start early February. I figure it'll cost about $100 a week in petrol, but I'd rather that than spend 5 days a week for 6 weeks in Sydney.

Meanwhile, I'm totally buggered and only have enough energy to eat a little and sleep a lot. I'll write the Journal account of my stay at RPA later and post an album of a few pics... nothing terribly exciting because there weren't all that many opportunities. Anyway, at least I'm home which is better than a bloody hospital. Gary

January 15, 2012. 7am and things are stirring. The cleaning woman is wafting her big fluffy broom around and the nurses just starting their new shift are going about their rounds. They're pretty special people ya know, the ol' nurses... very dedicated people doing a job most of us would find repulsive in some respects. Soon I expect my doc to take a peek at my mouth and give me a yay or a nay as to whether I can return home tomorrow. And breakfast should arrive soon... I'm more interested in a cuppa than anything else.

One patient on this floor is a serious case, with no hair because of chemo, and wheeled around in a chair. I've often heard her pleading for a cigarette and being denied because she's had more than her quota already. She must be a desperate case to be craving a ciggie in her condition. Maybe she figures she's got nothing to lose. I'm doing okay in the craving stakes. The only thing I crave at the mo is getting outta here.

TX Greg wrote: I know you're going to enjoy getting home and crawling back into your own bed, even if Rodney is back. :) "Home again, home again, Jiggity jog!" Glad you're getting better. Yeah, well Rodney better not be back. There's not enough room in that house for the two of us.

I couldn't eat the scrambled eggs yesterday so what makes them think I can today? To get an idea of what it's like, inflate a small  balloon or condom in your mouth and then try eating and drinking. All I could manage was a few spoonfuls of creamy oats and a few sips of tea. That's it. Hardly enough to feed a sparrow, but I have a small juice and a small yoghurt which I'll have later. At least at home I'll be able to snack when I like and choose what I want. Spoons and drinking straws, that's the limit to my utensils. I figure creamy soups and health drinks will be the main diet until the tongue improves a little more in a week or so.

The doc was just here and checked out the mouth. Seems okay but she wants to take another look tomorrow before I leave. She also drained a little fluid from the wound on my neck. It's a biggie.... goes from one side to the other. Then I'll pop back to Sydney in about a week for the final check. The stitches by the way don't need to be removed because they dissolve. I mentioned the scrambled eggs to the doc and she asked why I ordered them. "I dont...I don't order anything." I don't think the doc realizes the nutritionist arranges everything and tells the kitchen what to serve me. The kitchen obviously doesn't tell the nutritionist that I leave it all. So much for communication between departments.

NC Art wrote an amusing anecdote about his times spent in hospital: Blue skies smiling on me/Nothing but blue skies do I see...

    An old song that popped to mind when I read Joao's dissertation on origins and meaning of blue. Azure skies, cerulean blue, cobalt blue and Prussian blue describe many shades and hues of blues. There are others, but what the hell. His history is pretty interesting also and timely for me as I have just read book reviews on the similarity of Roman empire and the rise of the West, a warning to America that power, arrogance, and sense of moral superiority are all ephemeral.
    Yep, institution food can be unnerving as well as unpalatable. While fighting off the staph infection I mentioned earlier I ate everything they threw at me and still lost weight during my impatience with patient status for three weeks. Then two years ago, over a month in a "skilled nursing and rehabilitation" center, I lost more weight because the food was inedible. [And the rehabilitation was a grim joke.] The food was probably decent before the cooks got hold of it, and between the kitchen and my room scramble eggs were either dried rock hard or had run off the plate. Ice cream was melted, fruit juice was frozen solid, chicken stoutly resisted all attempts to cut it or chew it. One morning I crawled into a wheel chair and sat in the hall where food cart was parked while the staff, laughed and talked for an hour before remembering how to roll the stuff to ailing prisoners.
    There are small ways to exact revenge. While getting shots to dissolve a suspected blood clot, I groaned and told the nurse she had stuck her needle all the way through my peritoneum instead of into stomach muscle. She almost shat a brick until she noticed I was laughing at her. Keep 'em guessing,

I'm sure the regular food here is okay. I tried it the night before the operation and it was fine. My prob is I can't eat regular food for a while. Speaking of which, lunch just arrived. Apple juice, pureed lamb and tomato casserole, beef and vegetable soup, mashed potato, pureed cauliflower in cheese sauce, pureed pumpkin, pureed tropical fruit and vanilla yoghurt. I'll eat the soup and have the yoghurt... the rest gets the flick. Apart from anything else, the blisters in my mouth sting. I'm at my most comfortable when I'm not eating, drinking or talking.

Thanks to OH Jace who sent a cute ecard wishing me well. He wonders how he would cope with my situation, stuck in a ward with a bunch of strangers plus the constant activity of the nurses and other hospital staff. Jace spends a lot of his time alone when not being raided by the neighbors who, he says, are all well... even the little bloke who manages to crawl a few feet before falling flat on his face. But undeterred, he gets up and has another go. And that's the secret of life, so they say, dust yourself off and start all over again.

Okies, tomorrow's train back to Taree is booked (on line). All I gotta do is be there at 11:30am. It arrives at Taree about 5:00pm. Getting a cab from here in the morning might be a bit tricky since I can't talk properly... and another from Taree station when I arrive as well. Ya know, all this treatment in hospital is free. The only costs I've incurred are transport. I've noticed how the Chinese here, and other nationalities, are quite westernized - quite different to those you see on TV news programs and documentaries back in their native lands. Some here are pretty dinky di Aussie, actually. Noworriesmate, owyagoin.

And that's dinner - soup and custard, but I've also got a health drink left over from this afternoon. That's enough. By this time tomorrow, all going well, I'll be back home. Gary

January 14, 2012. Can't wait for a hot cuppa to arrive - that's all I normally have first thing in the morning at home. A new bloke arrived overnight. He's about 30 and coughs a lot. I heard the nurse say something about pneumonia, and it seems he's destined for a private room. So am I... back in Taree. I think I've had enough of hospitals for a while. With respect to the other patients, sleeping in the same room with moaners, groaners and coughers ain't good for my sleep.

Joao from Brazil wrote to explain the significance of the link between the words 'patient' and 'patience'. I mentioned some of the origins of the word 'blue' a week or two ago, which prompted this comment from Joao: I could say that “vai ficar tudo azul” with you, what means literally “everything will be blue” with you, but in Portuguese has also the meaning of “everything will be alright”. Yes, I’m giving my contribution to your “research” on the meanings of the word “blue”. In Portuguese, blue has a positive meaning. “Azul”, or “blue” in Portuguese and in Spanish, doesn’t come from Latin, but from Arabian. It’s a heritage from the times when Iberian peninsula was under the Moor rule. This fact was very important to Europe, cause it was through the Moors that classic culture of Greece and Rome reenter Europe, then immersed in the cultural emptiness of Middle Age, caused by the Germanic invasions that destroyed the remains of Roman empire. And a fact constantly forgotten in present times, when to demonize Islam is an everyday practice of western media. When they conquered Alexandria and Asia Minor, “intolerant” muslims didn’t eliminate all the classic science and philosophy as Christians did in Europe. If today exists something called “Occident” it’s in part due to Arabian translations of classic texts that were in Renaissance re-translated to European languages. Italian “azzure” and French “azur” have the same Arabian origin, but in French the more common word to designate the color is “bleu”. This word has the same Germanic origin of English “blue” and also means sad sometimes. Sorry, I know a boring talk about etymology is everything a recovering patient doesn’t need. But I like the subject and liked to know the meanings of “blue” in Australian English. Take care and get well soon.

Thanks, Joao, but I'm afraid getting well will take its own good time. Scrambled egg, which I love, was served this morning for breakfast but anything that breaks up in the mouth that I can't round up again with my tongue and funnel down my throat is all too hard. I reckon I'll have to stick to liquids and mousse type foods until this damn swollen tongue gets back to fairly normal, which could be some weeks away. The doc was here and agrees. She's also against anything that pulls the tongue back, causing the new skin to stretch.  The current situation is the same as yesterday's, which means if it's the same again tomorrow I can leave Monday.

Stew from Michigan also wrote to wish me well and mentioned that he's reading Green Room, so that cheered me up. I'm back to commenting on Justin's blog and he and the other Dunes Boiz are sending their regards. So it's kinda like getting visitors, even in the middle of the night if I can't sleep. I don't care for real live visitors anyway because it's a pain trying to think of smalltalk and, more importantly, my tongue hurts. I'd rather let my fingers do the talking.

If I'm any example at this hospital, there's an  enormous wastage of food here. I've had two nutritionists advise me as to what I should be eating and how often. So the kitchen supplies me with 3 meals a day according to the experts, plus morning and afternoon extras. Breakfast this morning was cereal, scrambled eggs, milk, fruit juice, fruit puree and hot tea. I had the hot tea and sent everything else back untouched. Lunch was pea and ham soup, pureed meat and 3 pureed veg, fruit juice, custard and Sustogen. I had the soup, Sustogen and saved the custard for later, otherwise everything else went back untouched. For dinner it'll be the same... I'll eat just a fraction of it and send the rest back. And what do the highly paid nutritionists think about this? They're not aware of it. They happily take their pay home and plan more renovations to their trendy houses in trendy suburbs. The speech therapists are the same. They spend about 10 minutes with you, then leave a list of recommended exercises. Do I do them? No. Does she know? No, she doesn't bother to check. Even if she did, I still wouldn't do them. As to the nutritionist's list of suggestions, I'll ignore them. I know what I can eat, and what I want to eat, and how much I want to eat. It ain't rocket science. I overheard one visitor talking to his friend about a woman he knew who had a similar operation and lived almost exclusively on Sustogen until her tongue could handle a more varied diet. There's nothing wrong with the appetite or eating ability of old James next door but even he bitches that they provide him with way too much food, much more than he could possibly eat. I guess the nutritionists (and in my case the speech therapists) have to be seen to be doing their thing and justifying their existence.

Earlier, James' son arrived and spent a bit of time phoning people to tell them how his old man was. "He's a bit cranky because he's not sleeping well... getting all choked up with snot." Tell me about it. I'm right next door listening to that bloody racket all night but nobody considers it also causes me sleepless nights. However, I don't comment. Exacerbating the situation, old James is constantly buzzing the nurses during the middle of the night. There's nothing but a flimsy curtain between us.

Lindsay phoned earlier today... nothing much to say but probably wondering when they can ditch the frozen microwaveable dinners for a bit of home cooking. 

One thing I'm missing is The Ute - I've grown rather fond of that old bus. BTW, if I'm gonna be using it daily to drive to Port Macquarie and back for the radiation therapy, it'll be at least 6 weeks before I can get the new floor carpet fitted. Oh well... 

And another thing I've noticed here...the doctors are quite young, late 20s or early 30s. The bloke who will be looking after old James' radiation therapy looked about mid-twenties to me - quite a handsome chap, Asian with an Aussie accent. My doc is probably hovering around 30, Asian with a slight Chinese accent. Neville's doc is an Aussie, late 20s, male. Quite a lot of them get around in jeans and joggers and tees... all very casual. Actually, there's nothing stiff or formal about this place at all.

Well, one more inspection by the doc tomorrow and hopfully the tongue/stitches situation will not have changed and I'll be free to leave the next day. I'll return again in one week for a final inspection and that'll be it for Sydney. I'd say by early to mid March, the whole damn radiation thing will be over as well. Gary

January 13, 2012. Friday the 13th started out okay. The doc arrived to check progress and decided to keep me here until Monday. It's a bit of a relief really. I didn't feel quite ready to depart Saturday (tomorrow). Apparently the new flap of skin in my mouth is contracting as it heals and pulls against the stitches. The doc wants to check the condition over the next few days. If it doesn't worsen, I'll return home Monday. If it does, I'll need an extra stitch or two. In any case, I'll need to return to Sydney in about a week for another check by the doc. And that should be it apart from the radiation treatment at Port Macquarie.

Driving to and from Port Macquarie during the summer should provide a few extra benefits, like taking a few detours occasionally for a few pics of the local attractions which are dotted up and down the coast and hinterland. And it'll do the old Ute a bit of good instead of being stuck for long periods in the garage.

The hospital dietician just arrived to let me know I'm going on a puree diet for the next two weeks. How thrilling! A week ago I couldn't have imagined
all this rigmarole. I had absolutely no idea this bloody cancer was so serious, or that its cure required so much detailed attention and fuss. It goes to show how important it is to keep an eye on everything about your body, and to be suspicious of anthing unusual no matter how seemingly insignificant. This lesion had been bothering me to an extent for quite some months and it was only after it refused to go away, and actually began to get a little worse, that I finally mentioned it to my GP. If I had mentioned it when it first appeared, it may have been a much simpler procedure to get rid of it. But you know how it is; we figure if we ignore it it'll go away.

Bloody Averil! I just phoned her to let know the latest...if you want the whole of Taree to know what the story is, tell Averill. So I had to explain that I needed to talk very slowly in order to be understood. So what does she do? SHE starts talking slowly. "No, ya bloody dill, ME not YOU!" Then she asked me if I was still in hospital. "No, Av, I'm standing in the middle of Pitt St during the peak hour rush... OF COURSE I'm still in hospital!" Anyway, she knows the score and is expecting me home on Monday, early afternoon. Naturally, she's worried about me having to drive back and forth to Port Macquarie for 6 weeks but she needs to understand that's my best option.

I'm not shaving because there are still too many fresh scars, so I'm looking more like the forgetful professor every day. However, the whites of my eyes are clearer than they've ever been - probably because of all the energy drinks and healthy food, and no junk. Speaking of which, lunch has just arrived...lots of purees. The pumpkin soup was okay but I wasn't too impressed with the pureed turkey. Eeek! And I'll save the pureed peaches and yoghurt for later. Anyway, it's a lot more than I normally have for lunch... I hardly eat enough to keep a sparrow alive.

Robert left today but he has more radiation and surgery down the track, so it ain't over yet. But he's doing okay. When in Sydney, he and his wife stay with friends who live close to the hospital. Otherwise, they have a house in Goulburn which is about half way between here and Canberra. And speaking of hospitals, I've heard a couple of comments here - if you got cancer, there's only one place to be - the RPA.

The Aussie doctors and nurses are outnumbered by foreigners though. There's long been a shortage of doctors and nurses in Oz and even now, with so many qualified medicos from other lands arriving, demand still outstrips supply - doctors are often required to work long days and even through the night. Anyway, you wouldn't wanna be a racist and sick in Oz hehe. Dozen bother me at all... I reckon all the staff here are first class, and some of the nurses are real characters. The other interesting thing about the staff here is that they all get along like one big happy family, always laughing and joking or being very helpful to each other. They create a wonderful atmosphere which makes a patient's stay here all the more bearable.

Caterers and nutritionists here must think we're all elephants... so much food! I've eaten less than a quarter of what they've served today, and I normally eat even less than that at home!

One of the blokes in this room is listening to the cricket on radio, and I can hear one of the commentators has a South African accent. That's where Oregon Richie is headed with his partner for a couple of weeks. One adventure for him and quite another for me. Anyway, that's the latest, dear Breth. More tomorrow. Gary

January 12, 2012. A bit of drama last night. One nurse did the regular inspection of my mouth and noticed a little variation in color, so she called another nurse for a confab. They weren't prepared to be responsible for a decision so they sought the advice of a resident doctor who also decided to get the advice of a second doctor. Then a third doctor got involved. Sheesh! Finally, all was proclaimed normal... just a bit of slough (sluff) that will be rinsed away with mouth washes. I could have done without the initial alarm though.

Neville, the bloke who hasn't said a word since I've been in this room, came over to my bed with a handwritten note wanting to know when I had the op. It was one week ago today. His was done on the 16th December - 27 days ago now and the swelling still hasn't gone down. In fact, his is much worse than mine. He reckons it'll be another week before he gets to eat anything normally. However, he's looking on the poz side and says it'll be good to tell the girls the swelling has gone down. Hehe. He sits in a chair all day... never uses the bed. I think he's still got serious breathing probs. So I guess, compared to Neville, I ain't doin' too badly. BTW, Neville's condition is so bad, at first I thought his tongue problem was a birth defect but no, no,'s the result of the same operation I had, except his also included a tracheostomy.

Mind you, with all the coughing and wheezing and whatever going on in this room overnight, it's impossible for me to sleep. Robert has no problem though... it's almost 7am and he's still snoring.

Several docs descended on me first thing this morning, including a newbie who starts at the hospital next week. My surgeon gave permission for my 'elephant's trunk' to be removed (which has already been  done, and I celebrated by blowing my nose PROPERLY for the first time in a week) and the remaining drains to be removed. Later today, the radiology people will be discussing future treatment. The surgeon is satisfied that the tumor has been fully eliminated, including an extra lymph gland she found to be suspect. However there are around 80 or 90 lymph glands in the neck area and to be sure the cancer doesn't return, she recommends radiation treatment for a 6-week period, 5 days a week. Whoa! That's gonna upset the applecart...lots of questions to be asked and answered about accommodation, travel and even my "job" as Sue's carer. The doc reckons the effects of radiation treatment will render me useless to look after myself let alone anyone else. 

Meanwhile, I can leave hospital on Saturday and return home, not that I'll be of much use to anyone for a while. My tongue will remain swollen for several weeks, which will restrict my diet to soft foods and liquids, and my attempts at oral communication to garbled noises. I'll try to organize radiation closer to Taree but I think Newcastle is about the closest, which is about 3 hours each way by bus or about 2 each way by car, but maybe it's not a good idea to drive. The alternative is to spend 5 days a week in accommodation arranged by this hospital in Sydney and return home on weekends. Sounds a bit goofy though...returning home for just 2 days before I've gotta head back to Sydney all over again. I think I prefer the Newcastle/drive option - home for 19 hours a day weekdays and all weekend for the 6-week treatment period, but whether or not it's safe to drive long distances after a dose of radiation is another matter.

Good news. There's an oncology facility at Port Macquarie, just one hour's drive north of Taree. A rep from the radiation place was here and we chatted about it being far more convenient than the other centers. That's only 2.5 hours each weekday for 6 weeks. Too easy! And it means my current carer situation with L&S will remain as it is.

My nurse happened to ask about the radio stations I worked for and whaddaya know...Robert, in the bed opposite mine, overheard the convo. He ran a radio station in Goulburn (where he and his wife live) for many years. He's more on the technical side of things than I am and actually built the joint. So we've been enjoying a bit of a chinwag for the past hour about the "good old days". He still takes an active interest in all things technical, and keeps up to date with whatever innovations are happening. He's a Vietnam vet and blames his current cancer (as well as his prostate cancer op back in '98) on Agent Orange.

My appetite is improving... yoghurt today plus some sort of broth, and now I'm munching away on a vanilla custard. Still restricted to the soft stuff but that's okay. I can wait. Just now another nurse, who has started her evening shift and taken my vitals, asked me if she would be on my blog. "Of course!" So she asked what I was gonna call her and I said, "The Chick with the Tatts". Then came an offer too good to refuse... "You can take my photo if you like." I grabbed the camera and whammo...instant Mikela. She's a bit of a character with an armful (almost) of tatts, but she's also got plans for the remaining few vacant spots. And the other arm? It's only a matter of time before there'll be no spare room there either. Why? "You're only young once." I'll post all the pics when I get back to Taree.

Roite, time to send this and relax. It's been a pretty eventful day! Gary

January 11, 2012. Another day! This time last week I was bouncing around in a bus taking the back country roads from Taree to Newcastle, where I changed over to the intercity train to Sydney. Little did I appreciate then what lay in store, or how I would be looking and feeling a week later.

Dave from Ormond Beach wrote. He said I hadn't mentioned how L&S are getting along without me. Officially, I'm Sue's carer, not Lindsay's. He's not the full quid but not that bad that he can't manage the basic tasks like a bit of shopping. He can't cook but he can at least microwave ready frozen meals, so that will be their daily menu until I get back in the kitchen. They've both been off the booze for quite a few years now so hopefully they're behaving themselves. Household bills aren't a problem because I can take care of that stuff on line.

Dave also asked about the anaesthetic. I was totally zonked for the entire 10 hours and for some time after that. I eventually woke at about 2am, completely disoriented, but gradually returned to reality. The first night after the op, a nurse was permanently stationed in my room. I see them less frequently now, maybe every couple of hours. Speak of the devil... time to check the vitals, then she's gonna shower me. She's a nice girl this one... tall... a basketballer of Italian heritage, and she loves to cook. She was the one who removed my cast yesterday. She's a bit bossy though... doesn't let me get away with any crap.

NC Art wrote: Happy to get a progress report. Hang in there and don't piss off the staff. They have ways to retaliate that you won't appreciate.

    I've had a battery of medicos with knives hacking on me, one of whom quit knee surgery in disgust. The operation was fine, but I got a staph infection and damned near lost a leg. I mentioned to him that an English doctor advised his colleagues to wash their hands before dabbling around inside us poor wretches, and he was so shocked I assured him I was not planning to sue. Two years later he was watching me at a dance one night and I asked if he was surprised to see me wheeling around a dance floor. My turn to be shocked when he said he was surprised I could even walk again.

Yes, we take so much for granted during most of our lives, and it's only when something goes bung that we fully appreciate being whole and healthy. You often hear people say that good health is our most important asset, but when you've got it you tend to dismiss it in favor of something else, such as power or money or whatever. Anyway, I appreciate the email, chaps... it's like getting visitors but without the pressure of small talk. Besides, my tongue is still swollen. And now, ladies and genitals, my bossy nurse says it's time for a shower.

Things are looking up. The surgeon was here just now and said I'll be on liquids through the mouth. Matter of fact, the nurse is making me a cuppa right now. Good thing I drink mine black because I'm not allowed dairy foods yet. They're gonnna leave the 'elephant's trunk' in my nose for a while in case I need to return to being tube-fed but that's unlikely. Then from liquids, I'll graduate to soft foods and home. The doc says it'll take about 6 weeks for the tongue to return completely to normal. Oh well... if that's how it is, that's how it is. At least I should be home by the weekend or shortly thereafter.

No shortage of attention though... just had two nurses attacking me, one on each side... one pumping stuff in and one taking stuff out. Apparently, my heart rate was a little high last night and they're checking my blood. Earlier, the nurse gave me an ECG. Oh, what fun! But I'm not complaining about my first cuppa in a week (except for trying to drink from a cup with a tube stuck in my nose).

Haven't done a Beeb for a while so let's go: The US and France condemn a speech by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad which blamed a foreign plot for the 10-month uprising against his rule. The silly games despots play. Who does he think he's kidding? Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney aims to build his momentum, even as his rivals turn up the heat, as New Hampshire hosts the first primary of this year's US election season. Doesn't seem all that long ago that Obama and Hillary were having a major Barney. A US drone attack has killed at least three militants in Pakistan's tribal area, local intelligence officials say. They say missiles hit a house just outside the town of Miranshah in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border. The US military has not publicly commented on the claim. If confirmed, it would be the first US air raid since November's Nato helicopter strike on the Afghan border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, straining ties between Washington and Islamabad. Not so long ago, this drone business was science fiction. Now it's everyday news. Gunmen in Nigeria have opened fire in a bar in the north of the country, killing eight people including several police officers. The attack in Yobe state is the latest in a series that officials blame on the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram. Earlier, at least five people died when a mosque and Islamic school were set alight in Benin city, in the mainly Christian south. Southerners, who are mostly Christians or animists, have recently been the targets of attacks by Boko Haram, which operates in the mainly Muslim north. Tit for tat, and so it rages on with no one winning. Draft legislation in Israel would make it a crime in the country to use the word "Nazi" or symbols of the Holocaust for purposes other than teaching. There will be a preliminary hearing in parliament on Wednesday for the bill, which would impose penalties of up to six months in jail and a $25,000 fine. The move comes a week after ultra-Orthodox Jews dressed in concentration camp uniforms to protest against alleged incitement against them. The incident sparked outrage in Israel. The national Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial denounced the use of Nazi imagery as "disgraceful", and several survivors' groups condemned it. Sensitive issue, I agree, but I really don't have any comment to make. A US ship has picked up Iranians in trouble at sea, in the second such rescue in less than a week, the Pentagon has said. US Coast Guard cutter Monomoy rescued six Iranian mariners after their vessel broke down in the Gulf. One of the six had suffered burns and is receiving treatment, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.The US Navy rescued 13 Iranian fishermen last Thursday after they were captured by Somali pirates. Bit like removing the thorn from the lion's foot but I'm not so sure this particular lion is all that appreciative. General Motors and Ford reported record car sales in China for 2011, despite a slowdown in the market in that country. GM said sales of its vehicles and those of its Chinese partners rose 8.3% during the year to a record high of 2.5 million cars. Ford saw sales rise by 7% to 519,390 vehicles. GM and Ford are doing a lot better in China than they are here in Oz. Ford says it can only guarantee a local manufacturing presence here until 2016

Incidentally, the top-selling car in Oz is a Mazda, just pipping the (GM) Holden Commmodore. I think the Ford Falcon is 9th.

Well, before I finished doing the Beeb, I was bed #32. Now I'm #49. They need the private room for a new patient who has something contageous. Bugger. Now I'm in a room with 3 other old blokes. Actually, I'm listening to the lady who takes orders for the daily meals, and the menu sounds pretty good... with far more per meal than I could possibly eat. In any case, I'm restricted to liquids and jelly for a while. Bleh.

It's a weird feeling... my mouth feels full of tongue and I think it's because I have no feeling in the mouth immediately above or below the jaw line, including the tongue itself. I'll have to ask the doc if that's normal. When I take a little sip of something, it feels like I have a whole mouthful - actually, it feels like I have a mouthful anyway, even if there's nothing extra in there - so it's difficult to tell when or if I've swallowed everything.

I've been in this 4-bed room a couple of hours now and can tell the obvious differences already... the staff are different (at least so far) and not quite as friendly. They also don't attend to the patients as regularly as they do in the private room, and naturally I have to share the loo and shower. Oh well... as one of the nurses said, "You must be getting better."

Looks like all the other guys in this room are undergoing radiation therapy... they don't have outward signs of having been beaten to a pulp like I do. Incidentally, I was wrong yesterday about no external incision under the chin... it's further down the neck area near the collar line under a long bandage. No wonder just about everything north of that is numb... and I was just informed that the loss of feeling is normal at this stage, but that it will return in good time. Meanwhile, the elephant's trunk will be removed tomorrow together with two more drainage tubes. I'll be virtually tubeless and 100% mobile.

I'm getting to know the other blokes here and we've all had a good natter for the past hour or so. James is 86 and pretty fit for an old guy. He lives with 2 of his 4 sons who are in their 60s but James does all the shopping and cooking. He has a tumor which needs radiation and some chemo. He's had surgery already (including a trache) but it wasn't 100% successful. Earlier, our nurse for the night, Rauel, waltzed in and introduced himself. Lovely young guy, Filipino with an American accent, and about as effeminate as you can get. James honestly thought Rauel was a young girl hehe, so I had to set him straight. I think Rauel is gonna be a hoot.

Robert is from Goulburn, a bloke about my age. He's in the optical fiber biz. His wife was here most of the day keeping him company...a lovely lady named Lorraine with a Danish background. Robert is undergoing a combo of radio and chemo, and watches the nurses like a hawk when they're dispensing chemo (being a technical and detail person). Both he and Lorraine find Rauel pleasantly amusing. 

And there's Neville, a middle age bloke who can't speak. He had a visitor earlier and used written notes to communicate. He has an enlarged exposed tongue but I suspect it's a birth thing rather than the result of an operation. He spends all day at his computer checking out the form guide. Obviously a betting man.

Dinner will be served shortly... for me that means something boring but at least I'm off the tube stuff. It was giving me diarrhea anyway. Actually, it just arrived - fruit juice, jelly, tea and chicken broth (made from the skinniest chicken ever). And so goes another day. Gary

January 10, 2012. The doc arrived this morning to say the cast will be removed from my right arm today, but for the moment I'm still typing one fingered. How boring! To exacerbate matters, my tongue is still swollen and I sound like someone trying to speak underwater with a mouthful of marbles. I hope it goes down a bit before I order a cab to Central Station in a few days or I could end up in Woop Woop.

Tomorrow, two of the drains from my neck will be disconnected, giving me extra mobility. I'm tired of carting all these damn tubes around everywhere I go. AND I'm now drinking iced water with the aid of a straw. How exciting! I'd forgotten what water tastes like, and I'd be happy to again. What dreadful stuff. No wonder Jesus turned the damn stuff into wine.

This hospital is like a small city - people busy everywhere - cleaners, caterers, nurses, visitors, patients, doctors, orderlies, reception and various other medical staff. Check out the RPA web page. The main entrance foyer is impressive late nineteenth century architectural grandeur. I'll take a pic or 2 when I leave.

SF Bill wrote: First of all congrats for getting through the first part of your treatments and and continued good luck for the rest.  Personally, I hate hospitals after an 8 week stay in one caused by a motorcycle accident back in 1971.  Which leads to why I would never do this kind of stuff today.

My net connection is too slow to watch the vid but I read the text. Scary stuff! As to spending 8 weeks in hospital, I'm stir crazy after only one!

Francois wrote: happy for you! 10 hours? piece of cake! mine was 16h, just today 14 years ago: and I'm still alive and runing everywhere (as an old man)
I hope to have good news soon
best wishes

After 14 years, I guess surgery techniques have improved, but the staff here still refer to it as a major procedure. I had no idea of its seriousness before I was wheeled in, which is probably just as well. TX Greg wrote to say he was having Fossil withdrawals; OR Richie and NC Art also sent their best wishes, along with Justin and the Dunes Boiz. Thanks to y'all for lifting my spirits. Averil phoned last night and said I sounded worse than the day after the op. What does she expect? I've got a swollen tongue, masses of spaghetti restricting my movement and a bloody tube jammed down my throat. In fact, I rolled over to grab the hospital phone and caused the tube down my throat to move and make me gag. Apart from all that, I'm not supposed to be talking until the stitches are removed. Women!

Yesterday, my nurse showered me... a woman! Eeeek! Today a younger nurse offered but I couldn't be bothered going through all that rigmarole again... I'll wait for the cast to be removed. I haven't shaved for a week and look like a hobo. BTW, I expected an incision under my chin to remove the lymph gland but it seems all the cancerous flesh has been eliminated from the floor of the mouth from the inside. The only exterior incisions are drain holes, which means I'll soon get back to looking gorgeous. Another thing I should mention, the surgeon said before the op that they may need to perform a tracheostomy to assist breathing during the procedure, but luckily it wasn't necessary. I've already got sufficient orifices, thank you, and I'm quite content with those.

I was just about to bitch about the plaster still being on when the girls arrived with their tools (not a chainsaw, thankfully), and did the dirty deed. Eeek! I look like the man who swallowed half his arm. They took a fair bit to replace the flesh removed from my mouth. Anyway, it's a relief to have that freedom of movement again and to be able to type with both hands. Slowly but surely, it's all coming together. Patrick, one of the blokes who shared the first ward I was in before the op, left Saturday for home but is back again with breathing problems. He was here in my private room when the nurse was taking my vitals and he commented, "Not a bad set of numbers". He reckons he's been in this hospital so many times and for so long, he's now an honorary member of the nursing staff. He had radiation treatment on two tumors in his neck. Pretty serious stuff.

Do you like Polynesian music? I'd never really thought about it much... until now. The bloke in the next room is Tahitian/Fijian and he absolutely LOVES Polynesian music... LOUD. Nuff said.

Well, I suppose I'd better call it a day on the net. It's 5 pm and time to post this update, then maybe watch the news or whatever and try to sleep most  of the night away to make it go faster. Things are improving but not fast enough! Gary

January 9, 2012. Yes, folks, I survived, and just now my ex neighbor delivered my new wireless modem so I'm cookin' with gas. I've been looking forward to getting back on line ever since i got here. I had no idea floor of mouth surgery was such a big deal! The procedure took 10 hours and I'm a wreck. My right arm is still in plaster and I've got a million tubes and wires attaching me to a hatstand on wheels which means we go everywhere together. I'm in a private room at the mo getting pretty intensive treatment, but all the nurses tell me I'm doing very well - tickin' boxes, said one. According to the doc, the plaster should be removed tomorrow as well as some of the tubes so I'll be able to type normally and get around a bit better. I'll start updating the Waffle page regularly then. Gary

January 3, 2012. Time for a giggle. A couple of lunatic Aussies, Roy and H.G. talking about aliens.

And I absolutely adore this cartoon Justin posted on his blog.

Well, one more sleep before I board the coach for Sydney and another adventure. Bleh. But as I said to Oregon Richie, I have no choice if I want a stay of execution. With a bit of luck, I'll have an interesting tale to tell. Life would be pretty boring without stories. I wonder if they'll allow my camera into surgery. Probably not, but I'll ask anyway. I've got my scrap book to think about!

Roite. Bag's packed (almost) and I just phoned Dr Ch'ng. 12:15pm-ish at RPA, 7 East 1. "Just go to the main entrance and take the lift (elevator) to level 7. They're expecting you. See you tomorrow." So I don't have to go to admissions first. And the taxi to Taree railway station is booked for 6am tomorrow. All organized.

SF Bill wrote and wished me luck with the op. He's settling in after moving on Dec 31st. what fool schedules a move on new year's eve?  Arrrrrrg! TX Greg, Oregon Richie, Ohio Jace all sent their best wishes, and Justin is doing his prayer thing. Jimm says he hopes all the nurses are male hunks so I told him to go to his room. Hey, guys, it's an operation on my neck... not an amputation.

Beeb time: The Arab League calls for an end to shootings in Syria and warns snipers remain a threat, but says all signs of an army presence in cities have gone. Gone where? Tens of thousands of people have been protesting in Budapest over Hungary's controversial new constitution, a day after it came into force. The country's governing Fidesz party pushed the law through parliament in April after winning a two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections. Opponents say it threatens democracy by removing checks and balances set up in 1989 when Communism fell. The EU and US had also asked for the law to be withdrawn. More dissent. Just because we've moved on from bananas to pizza doesn't mean we're all that smart ya know. US Republican presidential candidates make a final push with voters in Iowa the day before its caucuses - the first major test of the 2012 election campaign. I saw Bachmann interviewed the other night and she said she needs a miracle, but also that she knows who works them. She's convinced she's God's chosen candidate. Hehe. Sheesh. Fancy having her as President of the United States of America. It's scary. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are due to meet in Jordan on Tuesday, after more than 15 months of deadlock in peace talks. I don't wanna be a party pooper but it's hard to see those two sides finding common ground. Iran says it has successfully test-fired three more missiles on the final day of naval exercises in the Gulf. State media reported Iran had fired a shore-to-sea Qader cruise missile, a shorter range Nasr and later, a surface-to surface Nour missile. Look, Mom! No hands! Aretha Franklin has become engaged to her long-term friend William "Willie" Wilkerson. The 69-year-old soul legend and Grammy award-winner said she was hoping to marry over the summer. She told AP that she and Mr Wilkerson were considering Miami Beach, Florida, as a possible location, followed by a reception on a private yacht. Franklin, whose latest album is called Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love, has been married twice before. "We're looking at June or July for our date, and no, I'm not pregnant, LOL!," she said in a statement. The legend of soul. I remember being totally blown away by that lady when I was in my 20s. Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol has topped the US box office chart for the second week running, according to studio estimates. The action movie made $31.3m (£20.1m), which brings its US total to $134.1m ($86.5m) since its release. It marks the first $100 million hit with Cruise in the lead role since 2006's Mission: Impossible III. And here's you and me trying to make a few extra bucks. We're in the wrong biz. Former Olympic fencer Bob Anderson, who staged fights in Star Wars films and From Russia With Love, has died at the age of 89. Anderson fought light sabre battles as Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, two of the original Star Wars films. In the non-fight scenes, Vader was played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones. The British Academy of Fencing confirmed Anderson died on 1 January. Good old fashioned swashbuckling scenes in a sci fi movie. How about that. I'm sure Errol Flynn and Zorro would approve.

Well, that's about it for a while. I'll have time for a quick peek in the morning before I catch the coach, and maybe a few short answers to emails but other than that I'll be kinda wrapped up in bandages for a few days. I did some shopping and paid a few bills for Averil earlier. But I waited until Sue (Stan the Lawn Man's wife) left. She does Averil's cleaning and washing. Then I went in to get Averil's shopping list. "Don't go yet," she insisted. "Sue will be back in a minute and she wants to wish you well." Yeah, right. I knew what was coming. I saw her car pull up outside and I was cornered. Then she launched into a long spiel about the operation and all the gory details (she apparently knows someone who went through the same procedure). "STOP!" I said. "I don't wanna know any more!" But she argued that I should know what to expect. Oh, really? She's a drama queen and loves an opportunity to be melodramatic. Sheesh. I knew I should have fled while I had the chance.

Anyway, I can expect to be a bit sore and sorry for some days after the op, with limited ability to eat and drink. No pizza for a while! Seeya when I'm back on line (and can type!). Gary

January 2, 2012. Oregon Richie commented on the fireworks pic of the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. Yeah, pretty spectacular. That arch is over half a mile long ya know, and the deck itself is about a mile. That's a lotta bloody crackers! Poor Melbourne had an accident with their fireworks... one perched high in a tower started a fire and the fire brigade had to be called. Oh dear...

Here's another pic of the Sydney fireworks taken from the western side of the Bridge. Click to get the larger version.

There's always been a lot of rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne. Melbournians like to think of themselves as more cultured than their crass northern neighbors hehe. They reckon Melbourne has better restaurants and a more sophisticated appreciation of theater. They also have Aussie Rules football which attracts a fanatical following. And they have the Melbourne Cup, "the race that stops a nation". I like their trams. Sydney used to have trams but some dickhead decided to scrap them in the '60s. I've only been to Melbourne a couple of times, and found the topography pretty dull... flat and monotonous. Port Phillip Bay is ho hum, and the Murray River... well, the less said about that the better... although its paddle steamers are a great attraction. For me, Sydney is more vibrant, energetic and cosmopolitan. Its harbor is one of the finest anywhere in the world, and its icons are more famous. Brisbane is coming of age. It used to be little more than a country town but is now quite sophisticated. The Gold Coast and Surfer's Paradise are not far away, and very popular with tourists. Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland are also well known around the world.

And Taree? Well, it's still a secret.

Roite. I phoned my ISP techie and asked a bunch of questions about wireless modems. I was gonna buy a cheapie from the comp store but there are problems with contracts and change-overs to my current ISP using SIM cards and whatever. So I've subscribed to Comcen for a 5GB wireless connection with a Huawei E173 3G USB modem and arranged to have the modem and SIM posted to my ex-neighbor's place in Glebe. He should receive it within a few days. He's happy to bring it around to the hospital. So there ya go, by the weekend, I should be back on line. I'll cancel my landline connection later.

Beeb time: Republican White House hopefuls are making their final pitches to voters as they enter a last day of campaigning ahead of Tuesday's Iowa caucus. An opinion poll on Sunday by the Des Moines Register newspaper suggests Mr Romney remains the most popular candidate in Iowa, with 25% support. Mr Paul was at 22%, while Mr Santorum scored 15% but rising. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich came in fourth with 12%, while Texas Governor Rick Perry got 11% and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann had 7% support. However, 41% of those polled said they could still change their minds. It's called a caucus but I can think of another word. The Korean peninsula is at a "turning point" and there are opportunities for change, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has said in a new year address. Yep, dad's gone, and it's an opportunity for the kids to play. An advisory body to the Arab League calls for the organisation's monitors to be withdrawn from Syria because of the continuing crackdown on protests. Yes, stop the crap and get serious. Iran has successfully test-fired a medium-range surface-to-air missile during military exercises in the Gulf, the official Irna news agency reports. Kids do the same thing. They throw a stone to test their parent's patience. Pope Benedict has appointed an American married priest to head the first US structure for Anglicans converting to Roman Catholicism. The Reverend Jeffrey Steenson, a former Episcopalian Bishop, will head the Personal Ordinariate based in Texas, the Vatican announced. The body was set up to allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church, whilst keeping some Anglican traditions. Didn't St Peter say "and upon this rock I will build my church"? One rock, one church. Oh well...

People will believe whatever they wanna believe ya know. Dozen madder how dumb it is. That's the way people are.

I listened to a bloke talking about blue on the radio as I shaved. If you're feeling blue, you're sad. If skies are blue, you're happy. If you're having a blue with your missus, she's yelling at you. If you're true blue, you're a fair dinkum Aussie. If you're black and blue, the missus won. If you watch a blue movie, you're watching porn. If you use blue language, you're swearing. If you're a redhead in Oz you're likely to be nicknamed Blue or Bluey. If you order your steak "blue" in a posh restaurant you'll be treated with respect because you understand the meaning of "rare". If you're a blue blood you're upper class. (Blue blood originated in Spain. People with light colored skin had veins that appeared blue. Dark colored people from North Africa, etc, had darker skin with veins that were not blue). Can you think of more meanings for blue? It's quite a fascinating subject.

Anyway, it's getting to THAT time again. Bacon, eggs and chips tonight. Gary

January 1, 2012. Well, well, well, lookie lookie, it's 2012. Last night, I watched Stephen Fry at the Opera House. He's an incredible speaker. He spoke on stage for 45 minutes and held the audience spellbound with the story of his life, and the influences that have shaped his personality and character. Then he was interviewed on stage for 45 minutes and revealed some remarkable things about himself. The show was a repeat - recorded in 2010 - but well worth watching. By the way, I stood on that very same stage back in 1975 when I compered 2KY's 50th Anniversary Concert.

I also watched last night's local fireworks from my very special vantage point... my bedroom window which is only about a block away from all the action. Not a bad show for a small town. Sydney's was HUGE, of course, and I saw highlights a little while ago on ABC News 24. You can't beat that old coathanger on the Harbor for a prop. Police said the crowd was overwhelmingly well-behaved with 84 arrests for relatively minor offences. That's pretty good considering over a million people lined the foreshores.


TX Greg commented on the death of Ben Breedlove: Ben was from Austin about 500 miles south of here. All the local news covered his story here. Out of all the years of seeing news anchors holding it together to cover tragic stories, this is the first time all were teary eyed. A vid Ben posted about himself early this year, even wanting to see Oz....

Ride a kangaroo? Yeah, right. Greg also wished me all the best for the op this week. Actually, it's not the op that concerns me, it's being in hospital for almost 2 weeks! I'm gonna be bored shitless. Although Oregon Richie says I might meet someone interesting sharing the same ward. Hehe. Yeah, well, ya never know.

Notice which side of the boat Ben is driving from? Yeah.

Beeb time: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declares a state of emergency in areas targeted by Islamist militants, who killed dozens on Christmas Day. Do these Islamist nutters honestly believe that Allah approves of what they're doing? How demented can you get? Arab League monitors in Syria give apparently conflicting accounts of an incident said to have involved government snipers in the restive city of Deraa. It's a joke. They're not monitoring anything. Revellers around the world celebrate the end of 2011 and herald in 2012 with fireworks and parties on New Year's Eve. That pic of the Opera House above was taken from the BBC site. Check out their other pics. The first of Nasa's Grail satellites goes into orbit around the Moon to map its gravity in unprecedented detail, revealing its internal structure. My older bro once said, "Without human eyes, the universe wouldn't exist". North Korea has called on the country to defend the new leader, Kim Jong-un, to the death, in a New Year message. The army, ruling party and people should be prepared to act as "human shields" for the son and successor of Kim Jong-il, the message released by state media said. It added that the nation must launch an "all-out drive" to achieve prosperity. Prosperity? Kim Jong-il dined on caviar while millions starved. Is that what they mean? US President Barack Obama has signed into law a major defence bill including tough new sanctions against Iran. The law cuts off from the US financial system foreign firms that do business with Iran's central bank. But Mr Obama stressed that he had concerns about parts of the legislation dealing with the handling of foreign terror suspects. "The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it," Mr Obama said. I have a feeling Iran doesn't agree with everything in it either. A man has been detained at an airport in the US state of Texas after he tried to carry explosives through security, officials say. The man was stopped at Midland International Airport when explosives in military wrapping were found in his carry-on baggage as it went through an X-ray machine. He is being held by the FBI. It's a bloody good thing farts are not considered explosive (although sometimes I wonder about Lindsay's).

Yes, my older bro doesn't often say anything profound but he's right about human eyes... more or less. What he meant was the universe might as well not exist without them. We are Nature observing itself. Weird, huh?

What's a curmudgeon? I had to look it up. Anyway, the reason I had to check the meaning of that word is because NC Art sent this lovely message: G'day Gary,
If I am not the first, then put me high on the "sincere roster" of fans wishing you a VERY DAMNED HAPPY NEW YEAR TO OUR OLD CURMUDGEON IN RESIDENCE! Add my fervent hopes for a very successful surgery and quick, complete recovery. Cheers, Art the NC Fart

Isn't that sweet? How am I supposed to react like a curmudgeon after that lot? Thanks a stack, Art. And all the best for 2012 to you too, and to everyone else reading this Waffle. 

Right... that's done. Now I can go back to being a curmudgeon. I love that example on Merriam-Webster about the grump with the hearing aid hehe. Reminds me of the deaf husband and wife having an argument in sign language, and the wife said, "if you don't stop yelling at me I'll turn off the light."

Jeez, look at the time... quarter past two already and I've gotta do some shopping to feed the zoo, and make sure I've got enough medication to last a couple of weeks in Sydney.

Back! Taree is deserted. How sensible. Hardly anyone at the mall, and lots of goodies were on spesh. I'll do Averil's on Tuesday... pay her rent and top up her groceries before I vanish.

Ohio Jace sent a New Year's e-card. He's smelling of sour milk and diaper pee. Hehe. Well, he will insist on looking after the kids. Little Ryan is sleeping on his shoulder, not feeling too well because of some bug. Jace said he hopes the little bloke wakes soon cos he needs a fresh T-shirt and Ryan needs a fresh diaper. Ew! As to the stay in hospital, Jace reckons I should think of it as Chapter 1 of the Odyssey. Thanks for the card, Jace, and the warning... stay away from little kids if you can't stand the smell of sour milk puke and diaper pee.

I won't be taking too much gear to Sydney with me... just the necessities like my little 5" TV, Acer netpad, mobile phone, portable radio, AND little Fuji compact camera. Can't go anywhere without a camera. I'll also need the usual boring things like changes of underwear, shaving/shower stuff, a towel, shirts and whatever.

Meanwhile, it's time for the usual domestic chores. Chicken crackles and chips! Gary


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