A day in hospital

Admission into hospital for my colonoscopy was scheduled for 7am this morning, so I had to get up at 6, so my wife could drive me there. After she had breakfast, and I took Scully out, since I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything. It was very cold out there this morning.

I was checked into the hospital on time at 7:00. I had to prepare and wait around until about 8:30 when they wheeled me in for the procedure and the anaesthetist put a cannula into my arm…. and next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery and the time was 9:15. The doctor told me it went fine, but he’s sent a bit of tissue off for biopsy just to make sure it’s not a problem. My wife picked me up and I was home in time to celebrate being able to eat again by walking up the street to get some pies!

This afternoon I worked on some Darths & Droids scripts.

And had a conversation (online) with friends that basically went like this:

Friend 1: I’m excited about the game show Only Connect coming to SBS Viceland. [It’s a British show that hasn’t been televised in Australia before.]
Friend 2: Why is a game show on a channel called “Viceland”? I assumed it was all crime dramas and stuff like that.
Me: There are other game shows on it. I always assumed the “Vice” referred to TV shows that are “guilty pleasures”.

I turned and asked my wife, “What do you think the Vice in SBS Viceland refers to?” I was thinking she’d support one or other of the aforementioned theories, and then we could do some statistics.

She said, “It’s the second SBS channel. So Vice… second… you know, like Vice-President.”

🤔

So I turned to the trusty Internet and tried to find out what the “Vice” in SBS Viceland means. It turns out it’s none of those theories. Viceland used to be named SBS 2, but was rebranded to Viceland in partnership with the Canadian media company named Vice Media, which originally began in 1994 as a magazine named Voice of Montreal, which aimed at an alternative punk youth audience. The magazine changed owners in 1996, and the new owners renamed it which changed its name to Vice. Although Wikipedia doesn’t say why, I’m guessing because the word is similar to “voice”, but just sounds more edgy.

So, ultimately, SBS Viceland is named that for no good reason whatsoever. It’s almost a shame to learn that.

New content today:

Clear fluids and human rights

Today I’m fasting on clear fluids only, in preparation for tomorrow’s colonoscopy. I’ve been drinking lots of water, as well as some vegetable stock in hot water, and eating lime jelly (i.e. gelatine dessert). From midnight it’s not even water, until after the procedure tomorrow. Fortunately I’m booked in first thing in the morning, so should be able to eat by lunch time.

This morning I had my Ethics class. I managed to go around the students and name them all correctly as I marked off the roll, so that was a good achievement for me. Although truthfully a couple I only got by a process of elimination rather than remembering them explicitly.

We talked today about various human rights, and what life would be like if we didn’t have them, such as the right to medical care, or the right to vote. Generally the kids had good things to say, but the class was a bit disruptive today with lots of kids talking over the top of one another (and me). It was more difficult to get them back under control than it has been, and after the class I had a word with the teacher who normally has that room, and he said he’d chat to the offenders who I named. Hopefully next week will be a bit more smooth.

New content today:

Late Games Night post

It’s Saturday morning already and this is a catch-up post for last night, when it was our fortnightly board games night. Again we played virtually, using Board Game Arena to begin with. I played games of Kingdomino, Downforce, 7 Wonders (several games), and 6 Nimmt, before we moved on to skribbl.io, which is essentially an online version of Pictionary. I didn’t win any of the games – which is pretty usual for me as some of my friends are much more competitive and thus motivated to be a lot more careful with their strategy. I did come second in one game of 7 Wonders, which I’m happy with.

On Friday morning I had a Zoom meeting with Standards Australia for the follow-up to the ISO Photography meeting I had back in June. This is to brief the Australian photography experts on what happened during the (virtual) New York meeting, as well as to deal with some local Australian photography standards business (such as officially adopting recent ISO amendments, etc).

After that I took Scully for a walk to the fish & chips shop, to get myself some fish & chips for lunch. Then I spent the afternoon cleaning the car after last weekend’s road trip. Since it rained heavily, and we had Scully in and out of the car, it was pretty dirty, with mud in various places inside the car, as well as on the exterior. For the first time I actually removed the floor mats and washed them with detergent and hosed them off.

And in other news, a COVID alert was issued for my local supermarket, for anyone who shopped there between 10:30 and 11am on Monday. I shopped there on Monday morning, and I was there around 10:30, although I can’t remember if I’d left before 10:30 or was there for a few minutes afterwards. So it’s possible I was there at the same time as someone who has since tested positive. Official advice is that the risk of transmission is low, and to monitor for symptoms, but not to self-isolate and test immediately. Still, it’s too close to home, and a bit scary.

New content today:

Running improvement

Today I mailed off some original artwork from Planet of Hats to a reader who was keen to buy one of the comics. Thanks to that reader!

At lunch time I forced myself to go do another 5k run, having managed it on the last three Thursdays. This time I started at a bit of a faster pace for a couple of laps before settling into a steady rhythm. I’m still really having to push myself to keep going around the halfway mark and the second half is a real struggle, but I managed to finish and recorded a time of 27:01, 51 seconds faster than last week!

5k run times

I plotted my times for the past 4 weeks on a graph and showed my friends. One of them, who has been doing all sorts of curve fitting to local COVID data lately, analysed the trend and told me that in another 8 months I should be able to run 5 kilometres in zero time. I’m really looking forward to after that point, when if I need some extra time to do things I can go for a run and gain some time back.

Hmm… I just learnt now, as I was typing this, that a COVID positive person visited my local supermarket on Monday, between 10:30 and 11am, and an alert has been issued for anyone shopping there during this time to monitor for symptoms. I went shopping there on Monday morning – although I’m pretty sure I’d left by 10:30. Yikes! They’re saying the risk is low – they have not issued a “self-isolate and get tested” order.

New content today:

Un-catching up on sleep

I was hoping for another good night’s sleep last night.

On the weekend I bought a small bottle of chocolate liqueur, to flavour interesting cocktails. I decided to try it last night, duplicating a drink that my wife had a while back at a restaurant, called a “winter negroni”. It’s a standard negroni (equal parts gin, Campari, and red vermouth), with a splash of chocolate liqueur, to give it a chocolate-orange flavour. My wife liked it, and so I thought it would be a good drink to try mixing at home. So last night I had one, and it was indeed delicious.

I went to bed a few hours later. I could not fall asleep. I laid there in bed, unable to switch off my mind, and tossed and turned… all night. Until the sun came up. I did not get a single minute’s sleep. I was trying to figure out why, and went through everything I ate and drank, and there was nothing out of the ordinary… except that chocolate liqueur. And I realised that it probably has some caffeine in it. That would explain it.

I gave up caffeine about 25 years ago. I used to enjoy black tea, and Coca-Cola, but I realised through struggling with disrupted sleep that any caffeine after about 10am would result in me being unable to fall asleep that night. So at one point I decided it wasn’t worth it any more and just quit completely.

Not having had caffeinated drinks for so long, I think I’ve become more sensitive to it. I’ve cut way back on chocolate as well, because some years ago I noticed a strong correlation between eating chocolate in the afternoon and sleeping poorly at night. I love chocolate, but I basically only have it in the mornings now, and much much less than I used to eat.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally accidentally eaten something with caffeine in it, and suffered a restless night. I think that’s what happened last night. I had a yummy chocolate flavoured drink, and lost an entire night’s sleep. So… I guess that’s no more chocolate negronis for me. At least my wife can drink them.

In other news, today I took Scully for a morning play and exercise in the park across the road. At one point she got interested in something in the grass, and I walked over to see what it was. She was sniffing… a huge piece of steak! I gave her the “Leave it!” command and she obediently turned away from it. Thank goodness for training her with that command. I got a poo bag and picked up the meat. It was about the size of a coaster, and a centimetre or two thick – a good cut of meat, like you’d cook for dinner.

Now… A chunk of steak is not the sort of thing that somebody accidentally and innocently drops in a grassy park where dogs hang out. There have been several incidents of people in Sydney laying poisoned baits for dogs over the past few years, with several dogs killed. So I took this suspicious chunk of meat home and called the local council to report it. I asked if they wanted me to bring the meat in for testing. They said as it’s so far an isolated incident, that I should just dispose of the meat, but if I see any more, to report it again and they will launch an investigation.

I contacted my apartment block owners’ corporation and they’re going to notify all residents with dogs. I also posted a warning on a local social media site. And I went back to the park later in the day (without Scully) to look around to see if I could find any more chunks of meat – I didn’t find any.

Anyway, on top of a no-sleep night, that was a pretty crummy day.

New content today:

Improving my handicap

This morning I played golf for the first time since injuring my hand. I met a friend for a round at the “par 3 pitch and putt” course we’ve played several times. Last time we played match play with me having a relative handicap of 17, and I won, so this time we reduced my handicap to 16. It was a tight contest, and my friend could have tied the round and forced us into a play-off hole by winning the 18th, but we halved the hole, and so I ended up on slightly more points, winning again. Next time we’ll reduce my handicap another stroke to 15.

My putting wasn’t great, but I made up for it with some good tee shots. One tee shot landed on the green and rolled gently past the hole, maybe 10 centimetres away, although it didn’t stop until a couple of metres past the hole – but it had been darn close to going in.

And the good news is that my left hand held up well. I was able to play all the strokes with as much strength as I wanted, without any problem or pain.

Tonight I have to stay up until 2am, because I have an online meeting for ISO photography standards. This meeting was scheduled for New York City this week, but obviously with the COVID-19 situation I’m not able to travel there, nor are most of the other delegates. ISO is holding all meetings virtually at the moment, currently until at least the end of September. Which means it affects our next meeting as well, which was scheduled for Tampere in Finland in September. The meeting after that I am actually supposed to be hosting right here in Sydney, in February, but it remains to be seen whether that will go ahead face-to-face or virtually.

Anyway, because this week’s meeting is notionally hosted in New York City, the agenda schedule is on New York time. Normally it would be 9-5, which corresponds to 11pm to 7am for me – just about maximally awful. Especially given I am not in any way a night owl – I work best in the morning and start getting too tired to do much of anything by about 9pm. But fortunately the organiser decided that the meetings could be compressed into 9-12 New York time, meaning 11pm to 2am for me. Which is better (both for me and the numerous Japanese delegates), but it means we have to extend into an extra day, so I have these hours Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday, and Friday night (normally the meeting would go over just three days).

So… honestly I’m not looking forward to having to concentrate on highly technical content in an online meeting lasting until 2am, four nights in a row. But I’m just going to have to knuckle down and power through it, and hopefully catch up on sleep on the weekend.

New content today:

Getting back to normal

Yesterday I tested my hand with driving by taking Scully to the dog park, with my wife in the passenger seat in case I decided I couldn’t continue with my injured hand and she had to take over. But it was okay, just a tiny bit sore.

So today I drove out by myself to the supermarket to do a weekly shopping. My wife’s been doing small grocery shops a few times a week while I’ve been incapacitated, and we figure with COVID still possibly out there it’s good to restrict it back down to one big weekly shop. I managed fine, although I tried not to carry the heaviest bags of stuff in my recovering hand.

Also today I modified the bicycle light that I’d bought to attach to Scully during night time walks. I put about 5 layers of masking tape over it, but the lights still shone through pretty brightly. So I peeled that off and used two layers of grey electrical insulation tape. Even through two layers of that, you could see the lights, but they were suitably dimmed. So we tried it out tonight went we walked up the street for dinner at a local Greek restaurant. It worked really well! You could see Scully nicely, even in the darkest shadows on dark streets.

And I completed the second last conversion of Imgur album to web page for another of my Sydney walking photo essays: The Coal Loader and Balls Head.

New content today:

Hardware and an unexpected acquaintance

I took a longish walk with Scully this morning, to the hardware store (Bunnings), which is a few kilometres away. I had a couple of things I wanted to buy, so it was a good excuse to take her for a long walk.

When I got there, there were police, an ambulance, and a fire engine, attending a crash that happened on the intersection right outside Bunnings. It’s a T-junction with the streets, with the Bunnings car park driveway forming it into a four-way crossroad intersection. Traffic lights control cars coming out of Bunnings, and there’s a pedestrian light controlling pedestrians crossing the driveway. I was waiting to cross at the pedestrian light to get across the driveway to the pedestrian entrance to Bunnings. The green “walk” signal came on and the “walk now” beeps went off, I stepped out into the driveway…. and a van waiting to go revved up and came right at me, screeching to a stop before it hit me….

Only then did I realise that police were actively controlling the intersection for car traffic, signalling them to ignore the traffic lights and go when waved ahead. Not driving a car at the time, I hadn’t been watching what the police were doing – rather I was concentrating on the pedestrian signal at the crossing so that I could cross safely. The police just happened to wave the cars in the driveway to go right at the moment that the pedestrian light went green! Fortunately there was no accident, and I scurried across with Scully safely.

I’ve been exercising and massaging my hand again today. The pain seems to be fading slowly, and the hand is getting stronger and more flexible again. I took a golf club (a wedge) and some balls over to a nearby park and hit a few shots to test out how the hand would hold up playing golf. It was a little sore, but I felt like I could hit fairly well. I might try a round with my friend next week.

The other notable thing today happened at another park a short drive away, where I take Scully for exercise and to socialise with other dogs. There’s a regular group of dog owners who assemble there around 4pm every day – mostly retired people, but a few younger owners. I’ve been going there for over a year and know all the regular dogs and their owners, although only in a casual manner.

Today I was walking with one of them and chatting, and they mentioned something about James. I didn’t know who they were referring to, so I said, “Sorry, James who?”

“James Wood, the Supreme Court Judge. You know, with Pippa.” (Pippa is a cream coloured poodle)

Me: “Ohhh! Jim! … He’s a judge??”

Not just any judge. New South Wales Supreme Court Judge James Wood, OA, QC, chair of both the NSW Law Reform Commission and NSW Sentencing Council, and Royal Commissioner of the NSW Police Royal Commission.

Wow, I had no idea.

New content today:

Making the hand better

My hand was a lot better overnight, as in easier to sleep without being uncomfortable because of the bandages. But it’s still very bruised and sore today, and I’ve been spending some time massaging it firmly as the doctor advised, which just makes it feel more sore. But there’s definite improvements in strength and flexibility since yesterday, so that’s good. I can do almost anything I could before, except things that require significant left hand strength, such as opening difficult jars.

I made some Darths & Droids comics today, and converted another Sydney Walk photo essay into a web page, this one titled: Artarmon, Naremburn, St Leonards grunge.

In the mail today I received a small bicycle light which I bought to try attaching to Scully at night, so we can see her. It turns out that the light is way too bright. Your eyes adjust to the light and it’s not possible to see Scully herself at all. I might try covering the lights with tape to filter it down a bit.

New content today:

Stitches are out

I had my appointment this morning to inspect my healing hand and have the stitches out. I went to the hospital for 08:15 and was seen to after a short wait. First a hand physiotherapist saw me and removed the bandage. He checked the fingers for sensation and range of motion, and that the wound had closed properly.

Next a doctor saw me and inspected the wound. She determined the stitches could e taken out. She also told me to begin a program of massaging and exercising the hand as often as possible, to break up the scar tissues and adhesions and improve the range of movement. She said to massage it firmly, even though it hurts, as much as I can stand before it gets too painful.

I took this opportunity to ask her, “So, can I play the piano now?”

She said, “Yes.”

I said, “Great! I couldn’t play before.”

She completely ignored that and turned the conversation to something else. She may have been trying to suppress an eyeroll.

Now… sure, she’s a hand doctor, and she’s probably heard people attempt that joke a hundred or more times, but for me it’s (hopefully) the only chance I’ll ever get to use that joke in my whole life. The least she can do is politely pretend to laugh. Heck, if I was training hand doctors, reacting to that joke would be part of the bedside manner that they’d have to nail to pass their final exams.

After the doctor, a younger guy took over and removed the stitches carefully with tweezers and a scalpel. It was a bit tricky with a few of them, as the knot was embedded under a protruding fold of skin, but he got there in the end. It turned out I had a total of twelve stitches, not the ten that I’d heard stated on the day of the operation. He also gave me advice on how to massage the hand and stretch it to improve the mobility and strength over the next few weeks, advising again to do as much as possible within my pain threshold.

I was out of the hospital by just after 9 o’clock. To celebrate having the bandages off, I had a pie on the way home. 😄

At home, I worked on converting another of my Sydney photo walks to a web page, and this was a very long one. I also added a lot of historical research. This should be an interesting one because it illustrates the walk most of the way from where I live to the Sydney Opera House.

And I’ve also been studiously massaging my hand muscles to reduce the scar tissue. It hurts like hell when I’m doing it, and takes several minutes to calm down afterwards. But already I can see an improvement in the range of motion, so that’s positive. Now to keep it up for the next few weeks…

New content today: