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"Geoff's Ramblings"


Prologue
Introduction to Geoff's Rambles

By Sankey

This collection is a continuation of my life, I guess as a substitute for an erstwhile "Addendum" to my life story, recently completed and yet to be published called:
"The Little Dog That Wouldn't Let Go!" Subtitled "GOD NEVER LETS GO!"

A fellow writer friend said...
"If you keep adding more, you will never finish."
- always feeling like you want to add something else. We always feel like, even after a "work" or project is completed, we need to add more.

VOILA! This collection of Rambles, an idea of a friend who has written her own bunch of Rambles. I hope you will enjoy the journeyand there may be even more in the near future. We previously attempted, elsewhere to make the HTML links LIVE to go directly to chapters. I have since seen another FS'er place the HTML links in her index for readers to copy and place in their "URL" bars to go to whatever chapter you wish to read. Note I have done the same, below the chapter names for you to copy and paste in the appropriate place to go to that connected chapter.

INDEX: (So Far!)
 
1.Last Time Op-
This Time Cream App.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=898859
 
2. More Trials
and Tribulations.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=898885
 
3. Thtop Thinning -
A Kind Of Spiritual Joke.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=900971

4. A-Tissue, A-Tissue,
We All Fall Down.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=901868
 
5. The End Of An Era -
A Sad Parting.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=900719

6. Coping With Change.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=903684
 
7. As We Grow Older, More Happens.
Further Developments.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=908631

8.Trams, Medical Changes & So On.
Mixed Ramble - Part 2
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=934719

9. Just Another Of Geoff's Rambles.
Humidity.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=915158

10. Christmas Not The Same For Everyone.
You Don't Understand - You Have Kids.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=920331

11. Anxiety In The Rain.
Another Geoff's Ramble.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=921509

12. A Recipe Ramble - Geoff's Pizza.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=936379

13. Jay And Other Kinds Of Walkers.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=937160

14.More Adventures In Diet.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=954805

15. Joy In Walking - When You Can.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=954806

16. Walks & Wobbles & Movies. - More Recent Happenings.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=965422

17.Australia Compared To USA. Another Ramble- A bit Different.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=969535

18,Ramble 1 for 2020. Update & General Whinge/Whine.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=968632

19.Ramble 2- 2020. Moon Crater Reruns
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=968061

20.Ramble 3 -2020. Things Are Improving- Back to Walks.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=971149

21,Ramble 4 - 2020.Diet Rotation, Head Healed and more.
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=983823

22.First Geoff's Mixed Ramble for 2021
A chapter in the book Geoff's Ramblings
A Lot Going On!
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=1008650

23. Into Our City, Some Firsts for Louise
A chapter in the book Geoff's Ramblings
Geoff's Ramble No 2, 2021
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=1014449

Author Notes I decided on this way of adding more to my book "The Little Dog That Wouldn't Let Go" I just got finished, so as not to leave things "up in the air" and me still feeling I had to add more to my story.


Chapter 1
1st Time Op, 2nd Cream,3rd Op-2

By Sankey

 I recently put up some old poems on Writer's Block etc. Some of you made some excellent suggestions for a cure.

One of those was to just write anything that comes into my head. I can't think why I never thought of that, myself as my wife assures me I always have plenty to go on about or write on.

I don't really have any rules for my ramblings. I doubt I will need to place any warnings on these, except for this one if ugly possible cancers put you off, then I apologize.

Many of you have been aware of my ravings about my many and varied illnesses and blights. You will also remember if you have been following me in any roundabout way my adventures with skin cancers, real or imaginary.

First, there was the wart on my head that turned into a Squamous Cell Carcinoma after my GP had frozen it a couple of times and it would viciously return. Then there was another blot on my forehead we thought might be another carcinoma. It turned out to be just a benign sweat pimple. 

Both of the above received a lot of attention. The first had 16 eyes looking at it in the operating theatre. I called them "The United Nations" as they represented, pretty well, a large contingent of all member countries. The Theatre nurse or one of was from Canada. The anaesthetist was from India and the Surgeon was from either Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. Perhaps there were one or two Aussie-born participants as well.

These first 2 ops were performed under local anaesthetic so I heard most of the movements noises and discussions taking place.

In the pictures, you can see the results of the first op. It got named initially a volcano. Following this, it became a moon crater and finally the "Glenbrook Jelly Bean Pool." I have been there, many years ago. It is located in our lower Blue Mountains only half an hour from the operation location and about an hour from our place which is situaterd in the East of the City of Penrith.

Now for the big or um ah...finale.

Another pre-cancerous thing has now appeared on my head. The plastic surgeon has decided it has the makings of yet another Squamous Cell Carcinoma. However, this time he has decided a rather expensive cream will probably heal it, with a twice-daily application by Nurse Moore, over the next 5 or 6 weeks.  This cream comes at the enormous cost of $AUD60 something. I guess that is a lot less trouble than another Pre-Admission Clinic and arranging friends to drop me off for very early hospital admissions, picking me up later the same day.

A friend I have met on Facebook's husband died from a Squamous Cell carcinoma that managed to get through most of his body having been treated way too late. It makes my treatment so important as the surgeons have said the same could have happened to me if left untreated. 

                                                                                                       *
Following up to the above and down the road, as the calendar goes, we have to report yet another of these awful things on my head. We have, very carefully, applied the cream as before, for 5 weeks. Alas, as the surgeon predicted, if the cream did not work; this time I will again have to be admitted to, as he said it, have it cut out. 

And so it goes. as we come through for another edit in November 2019, I was admitted, yesterday, as a matter of fact for day surgery to evict this latest presence off my head. 

As you will have read in precious "Rambles" I am on, amongst other things, Hydrocortisone for Adrenaline Insufficiency. At the Pre-Admission Clinic, it was expressed that because of this problem, it would be too dangerous to put me under a General Anaesthetic. Local Anaesthetic was the planned route.

For the very first time in all operations I have ever had...and most of you that read my autobiography "The Little Dog That Wouldn't Let Go" will know I have had a LOT of operations. I was asked to walk into the theatre from the "ante-room." I think it was because of my weight, they were not keen to transfer me from the bed to the operating table, physically. There was no need to be transferred as I was fully awake, then!

Once I got up on the operating table, the preparation began. Funnily enough, whether because of something they did to me in the "ante-room" or I was just tired, I went completely to sleep! Next thing I knew, I was in the Recovery room.

Author Notes This is an updated version of the chapter, seeing we have added the recent operation. We have also updated the pictures. Pictures are: 1. The Volcano.2. The first graft site off my leg to fill in the hole on my head. 3.The healing first graft site. 4. New blemish faithfully treated, alas to no avail.5. Second cancer cut out. So glad no excess bleeding or return to Emergency needed this time. 6. New graft site same leg as before slightly different place and not looking as gross as the first one. Someone wanted me to stay on Fanstory. Thank you to whoever you are.

I had intended to go back and write an "Addendum" about some newer happenings after I ostensibly completed my book. Some of you wisely suggested if we kept going back to add more we would be doing it forever. Hence this further offering of a cure for writer's block. Here is a link to my book on FS with more of my Medical Adventures should you be inclined to visit. Particularly Chapters 34 and 35.

The Little Dog That Wouldn't Let Go


Chapter 2
More Trials and Tribulations

By Sankey

My new Endocrinologist requested I have a Colonoscopy and Gastroscopy. You see I had recently been taking Iron tablets for an apparent deficiency in same, Prof Hobart's offsider (one of her students I guess) had suggested this treatment seeing the low readings in recent blood tests.

It appears unbeknownst to me the prof suspected an underlying reason for the low Iron in my system. However, her suspicions were not shared with me. I guess she did not want to cause me unnecessary alarm. Besides this, it was up to the new Gastroenterologist, Dr Green to make the decision after the procedure, which he did, later.

I was so pleased to meet Dr Green. He was a refreshing change from my former Gastro, Dr Elmer who, thankfully has retired. Maybe a story on Dr Elmer later.

As we have mentioned in other places, there was the necessary Pre-Admission Clinic, which Louise accompanied me to, in the wheelchair taxi also written about elsewhere. Once again the co-opting of a dear friend from church to later take me for that usual VERY EARLY in the morning Admission.

What would we do without friends, especially in our peculiar/particular situation, where neither of us drives anymore. There you go for all of you that read my book and wondered what the follow up might be, to my loss of License.

Louise could still drive, it is just she cannot get in or out of our car anymore. As an aside: does anyone in America want a reasonable condition pre-loved Mitsubishi Magna Solara Station Wagon, 17 years old but with less than 130,000kms on it...Right Hand Drive of course? I guess you need your own ship to transport it, never mind conversion to left-hand drive, hehe. The bonus is, Hand controls included for Disabled drivers.

OK, back to the story, Geoff.

The operation proceeded without any problems. a month or two later the diagnosis was as they all suspected but never even hinted...Coeliac Disease.

This would necessitate me going on a "Gluten-Free" diet which mainly means cutting out wheat and all wheat derivatives. Even stuff like ice cream that they use wheat in manufacture. Not only having to forsake all my favourite, yummy foods, there has to be the big throw out and give away of all these goodies and replace them with enormously costly Gluten-Free products.

I already knew of Coeliac Disease as my father-in-law, my sister's daughter and at least one Great Niece has the disease. Back in 2011, we had a gathering for my 60th birthday and Louise's 51st. Seeing we knew then several of the guests were Coeliac sufferers we were able to arrange for our entire party at the Chinese restaurant to receive "Gluten-Free" Menus. None of the other non-Coeliac guests except for me and Louise and my sister were aware of what we had done. There were no complaints about the food from anyone.

Coeliac Disease is a result of what wheat does to the small intestine. It makes it so our digestion does not absorb nutrients our body so strongly needs. I will post a link to more on this disease, below.

An old friend whose ex-wife is also a Coeliac sufferer said some time ago...."Gluten -Free"...means "Taste Free" too. At the information session, we attended just yesterday (Saturday Down Under) at Coeliac NSW Office, we were assured that the old friend's saying is no longer true. Thank God for that!

Author Notes The picture is my sweetheart and protector from the wicked Gluten in coming days, "Nurse" Louise, taking note of all the naughty products we have to dispose of asap. Bless her for going all the way with me on Gluten Free as they say it will not harm her. (Not true in some cases...non-Coeliac sufferers may not always be ok on this strict diet.) Thankfully, we can make the changes gradually. All names have been changed of any living persons mentioned in this story.

Coeliac Disease Definition- thanks to Coeliac Australia


Chapter 3
Thtop Thinning!

By Sankey

My own version of a long-standing funny.

A man was looking for work. The local preacher provided the paint and accessories for the guy to paint the church. Time went on and there was some rain. The preacher noticed how the paintwork on the church was running really badly. It seemed the "painter " had been putting too much thinner in the paint. So he got him back to do the job again with the following almost recognizable "spiritual" injunction...
REPAINT AND THIN NO MORE!

Author Notes Picture (I know irrelevant but, oh well..)is my wife Louise painting the panel that replaced the old window a/c that was upgraded to the split system Inverter. You can see the compressor under her paint tin.


Chapter 4
A-Tissue, A-Tissue We All Fall Down.

By Sankey

This is one of my Rambles inspired by the chief Rambler, Sasha. Thanks mate!

We always find, in our house that there is a cycle on most things.

One of those is our tissue boxes.

There is a tissue box on our dining table. One in our Loungeroom, one in my study and two in our bedroom.

If one is empty and needs replacing, you can bet all the other boxes are gonna run out, right on cue. I guess it is an unspoken rule the one to create the empty box should replace it. Trouble is in our house, I am the main one that can get around to doing it, most of the time, in our special situation.

The "runout thing" seems the same with batteries especially in tv and dvd remotes and air conditioner remotes, too.

Author Notes There is deep controversy over the numbers in this. Do we "word" it or "number" it? I have just re-edited again! Thanks to Renate-Bertodi for "Pressing My Lung."


Chapter 5
The End Of An Era

By Sankey

A sign of the times, as we age and our health deteriorates. So much so that neither of us can drive our car anymore. Louise could drive with no problems. Unfortunately, she is now unable to get into or out of our car. Her legs have "gone" on her and the only way she could enter or leave our car is with a hoist. Even with that assistance, it is too hard to manoeuvre her. Not forgetting that, while we might get her in on this end, how do they get her out at her destination?

As has been said in other places, I have lost my license due to health reasons and after four months I now have no further interest in attempting to get qualified to drive anymore. Lack of the necessary movement in my neck has precluded me from passing a driving test. Besides, at 67 in Australia, I would have to go for more testing more frequently as I get older. I just can't be bothered anymore.

We have loved our car and it has served us well these seventeen years. We have travelled many places in it on holidays in our retirement since we purchased it in 2001.

Author Notes I had a suggestion to add more photos so I have done that including one of my sweetheart at the wheel in better days. I think they explain themselves, except the last picture is Louise's power chair all folded and loaded up in the back - the reason we upgraded to the station wagon in the first place.


Chapter 6
Coping With Change

By Sankey

This is the second attempt at this as I started posting yesterday around 5pm my time which I thought was Tom's maintenance time on the site (Midnight "Up Over" pretty sure,) turns out I was wrong about maintenance time but it disappeared.

I have posted about the sale of our car and the loss of my license on medical grounds. I have decided not to attempt getting my driver's license again, as due to my age and medical problems I know I would have to take driving test after driving test even if I passed the next one. Fact is, I just can't be bothered.

The car sold yesterday. We just have to wait for Mal, the new owner, to come back with the rest of the money that was delayed due to the automatic teller machine swallowing his son's credit card. Don't worry the car is still here.

I think Mal is an old "Hippy" that missed that era about 50 years ago. It is evident his memory is not all that good as his son had to continually prompt him. Mal got confused between the radiator and the Windscreen Washer reserve under the bonnet, yesterday, too. Perhaps due to years of smoking pot or something worse.

So: To the subject of coping.

I have been approved for Group transport for shopping on a fortnightly basis for the cost of $AUD10.00 a trip. The same goes for personal transport for doctor's appointments and so on, as needed. So far I am managing between getting groceries home delivered or either bussing to the supermarket for small shopping lists. Sometimes Louise accompanies me, on one of my walks, in her power chair down to the local shops for urgent groceries in smaller lots.

I guess a story on my walks might be "on the cards" in this book of Ramblings soon, too.

In the early days of license loss, a dear friend from church was helping with transport as needed. He still comes once a month to take me to Men's Breakfast at church, or if I need his help at other times.

I have become used to getting around with Louise in the wheelchair taxi for church or for appointments and days out for either of us. Louise has also, on a couple of occasions, been out for some relief from the "Cabin Fever" from being indoors too long, with one of her favourite carers. She had one go at Bingo but with her hearing problems and other difficulties with the seasoned senior bingo players blocking the numbers, that was the first and last time for both she and the carer, in that activity.

Author Notes FanArt pic I had is gone, sadly.


Chapter 7
Further Developments - Part 1

By Sankey

It seems as we grow older more things get put on our plate.

I have been meaning to write some more on new developments in my declining health. Aging seems to be a big factor of course. I am 67. Things not really important don't start happening till we get "longer in the tooth."

I have written elsewhere about my Sleep Apnoea. Formerly known as "Obstructive  Sleep Apnoea," I am about to have my fourth Sleep test next week to actually determine if my Sleep Apnoea has degenerated to "Central Sleep Apnoea."

This means I will need a higher pressure CPAP* machine to aid better sleep if the tests come back positive for "Central Sleep Apnoea" diagnosis.  I am hoping  I get action on approved higher levels of "My Aged Care+" funding to help pay for the new machine, possibly costing as much as $AUD5,000. 

My wife recently got an upgrade of her adjustable bed and mattress, after ten years on the old one, same as I still have. Perhaps I can get an upgrade when the approved levels I am on are put into motion. Mine is still ok for now but the mattress looks like it might need replacement, soon.

Some have wondered how I came to be approved for a similar bed to my wife. For many years I was assisting Louise in and out of our double bed we had for ages.  I probably strained my left side in helping her up all those years. Then I had two bad falls in the bath which exacerbated my injury on that side as well. I went for months with these big black bruises on my left side.

Added to this is the "Restless Legs" syndrome also associated with my Sleep  Disorder. The Adjustable bed has been a real asset to me also for these ten years. I was so grateful Louise's Occupational Therapist and my Physiotherapy principal went to bat for me with the powers-that-be, in obtaining Government support for my bed.

Louise has had a Bed Cradle for some time. Located down the end, with the base placed under the mattress, it takes the pressure off her legs and allows better movement for turning over and so on. Up until recent times, I was experiencing terrible pressure on my feet. Particularly in the colder months with extra covers on to keep warm. I decided I could probably use a bed cradle myself. So I went and bought one and have never regretted the decision to do so. It is much more comfortable without heavy covers pressing on my feet during the night.

I used to think I was on a lot of Medication. Then I met someone on more than me. I have had some additions to the Medication Resume, recently and even one of longstanding, now withdrawn.

I was on a med for a middle ear problem I have had for years. Ostensibly, a middle ear infection that went untreated for too long. It caused continual problems for my hearing, only fixed by application of this particular drug. Funnily enough, this drug is also used for teenagers with acne problems and can also be applied to Upper Respiratory Tract Infections.

At one time, I reported to the doctor for the Upper respiratory thing and he mistakenly gave me the higher dose of the Doxycycline I was taking for the ear problem. The result being it ruined all the good work the other lower dose was doing on my hearing. I made sure the doc did not give me that same treatment again, the next time. Strange how the patient has to do a lot of self-diagnosis at times. I guess the doctors are all still "practising?" Haha.

Two more Meds added to the stable of pills I take, either morning or night or both. The major one is Hydrocortisone tablets. This has made a big change in my life. Also attributable to the aging process, it is for an "Insufficient Adrenaline" problem caused by a lack of "Cortisol" being produced from my already low acting Pituitary Gland, a problem I have had from birth and also causing infertility and hypothyroid conditions. However, this new drug is also something I cannot do without.

Should I vomit or have diarrhoea, the medication is ejected and brings about the need to be taken to Emergency immediately to be injected with the replacement medication. For this reason, I was signed up for the "MedicAlert" I am now required to wear at all times.

On the back is listed all my major medical issues with an emergency number to call, should I fall or pass out somewhere. Information is also included in my wallet and in my Mobile phone case with the same information if someone finds me for them to call.

 

Louise and I are nearly always together wherever we go, so it may not be too much of a problem, except if I am alone, as happens, occasionally.

The Hydrocortisone med has a side effect of raising Blood Sugar levels in the system. Being a Type 2 Diabetic I am always conscious of the need to keep the blood sugar level as low as possible. Now I am taking "Trajenta" in the mornings, as well, to aid in the lowering of the sugar levels in the blood.

The fact that I have also now been diagnosed Coeliac...yeah I know in America they spell it different... means I have to be on a Gluten-Free Diet. The thing about most "Gluten-Free" foods is; they are, a lot of the time FULL OF SUGAR! Being Type 2 Diabetic and Coeliac is no fun sometimes.  I am still learning how to cope with it all. I have also just learned that bad sleeping contributes to higher blood sugar levels.

This is part one of a continuing story,
more changes and new information having come to bear.

 

Author Notes I know a lot of my readers are aware, but for those of you I have not met before please remember this is in Australian English, including spelling. This is another ramble inspired by the Queen of FS Rambles Sasha, a top friend and splendid author, always worth reading.
Pictures:Top Left: Our Special beds; Louise's on the left has now been replaced with a new bed and mattress after 10 years. The lovely cover was made by her longtime friend Gail about the time we got our beds.
Top Right: A picture of a similar Bed Cradle to the ones we both have.
Middle: Some of the large collection of my weekly Medication resume.
Bottom Left: My MedicAlert to be worn at all times.
Bottom Right: Details on back of MedicAlert. *Continuous Positive Airways Pressure; +a programme for over 65yr olds funding in Australia for Medical and other assistance.


Chapter 8
Mixed Ramble - Part 2

By Sankey

In some ways, this is a continuation of the previous chapter, but first, a new diversion:

Since we no longer have a vehicle, I have been enjoying travels around our immediate area and further afield, northwest and up to our sister city, Newcastle, 100 miles North of Sydney.

I had been curious to check out the new "Light Rail" in Newcastle which replaced the old "heavy rail" consisting of a number of level crossings causing havoc with traffic flow around the inner city region.

Things have changed, drastically around Newcastle due to the cessation of a lot of industry there formerly providing work for thousands of employees. Part of the industry involved coal mining and the movement of the product of that industry.  I believe there might have been some shipbuilding there as well, at one time.

I would love to take Louise (my wife known to some of you as Tootsie55) up there, but it would be too long on the train to and from, and not comfortable for her that long period (3 hours there and back...total of 6 hours) stuck in her power chair. Unfortunately, we can only transfer her to and from her chair using the Ceiling Hoist I am pretty sure I have mentioned elsewhere, that is installed above her bed here at home.

We are, however, now getting her on the public bus in the specially fitted "wheelchair friendly" buses in the designated area. Probably the longest trip we will ever do together apart from the wheelchair taxi ones will be at the end of the month. 

We are going to go to the local railway station on one of our "wheelchair friendly*" buses and with assistance from rail staff board a train. We have one train change, where we will get assistance again from rail staff on and off. Once we reach the final railway station we again will be helped off and then board another *"wf" bus that will take us to within a mile of my wife's family home. I don't mind the walk.

Father-in-law lashed out and had a ramp made for their back door entry into their house so Louise could get in with her power chair for Christmas. Because of some changes in the family, the normal arrangements for Christmas were not to be utilized and mom-in-law was keen to still do something for Christmas at their house instead. Hence the new ramp for Louise's chair. We told them had he got the ramp organized sooner we could have visited a lot sooner instead of them having to come all the way out here to see us all the time. (Eastwood where they live, is around 10 miles North of the city or around 22 miles East of us.)

Coming in on my first edit; I did not talk about the Link in the author notes to my 2 visits into our city of Sydney. On the first visit, an old friend was my guide and host. On the second trip, earlier this month, I did it all on my own. I need to add a map of my walk for that trip. Come back again later.

Now some updating of information from my last chapter.

I spoke of a further Sleep test to determine if I had a more involved version of Sleep Apnoea, "Central" as opposed to "Obstructive."  The Central kind was said to be due to aging as well. Fortunately, the sleep test determined I do have some periods of the "Central" type Apnoea but there will be no need of the more expensive CPAP* machine.

In my last chapter, I spoke of Hydrocortisone Medication for the Adrenaline Insufficiency.  A side effect of this medication is increased weight. My Endocrinologist has reduced my dose of the Hydrocortisone to try and address the increased weight. However, I am also now on Insulin as mentioned in the poem I wrote and mentioned in the author notes. This, too, contributes to increased weight.

As regards the Insulin, there have been a few changes. After a lot of testing and trials on different levels, I am now on 24 units before breakfast of a longer acting Insulin and 50 units with the evening meal. At lunchtime, I am on a shorter acting Insulin at 4 units. 

There was some "tooing and froing" over the large insulin dose and the smaller one. Finally, we have settled on the regime as above except when we are out for the day and I have a large main meal at lunchtime.  The Diabetic Educator had suggested I do the large Insulin dose at the same time as the large meal, whether in the middle of the day or at home at night. The smaller dose would be exchanged, accordingly. It took the Endocrinologist a while to agree to this arrangement. She was pretty set on the large INsulin always being at night before the evening meal.

We go out a lot for appointments and Louise has to accompany me to assist with hearing the doctors and so on. This is especially so for initial new specialist appointments which seem to be on the increase as I age.

Another issue of the Hydrocortisone med is increased blood pressure. My GP has now increased one of my blood pressure meds to try and get the blood pressure down a little. I have done a few blood pressure reading on my own machine and I detect some lowering in that area since the change in the bp meds. For years, on my previous dose before the Hydrocortisone, my blood pressure was perfect, all the time.

Again, for my first edit; I omitted to talk about the yellow "sharps" container. Seeing I am on a lot more blood sugar readings, and the insulin injections, the "sharps" are on the increase. I recently needed to get rid of a full bottle of sharps I thought the chemist would take. Alas, not so.  I decided to take the full bottle with me to the hospital on the next visit to the dietitian, to leave them at the hospital. What did I do?  I brought them all the way home again by accident. Thankfully I had a fasting blood test next morning here at home and the pathology collector kindly offered to take the sharps bottle away.

I had mentioned in my poem about Urinary Tract Infections# being another regular side effect of the Hydrocortisone. I am now pleased to report that following an appointment with a Urologist, there had been a big change. At my second appointment with the Urologist, he proposed I have a "Flow" test done. After that test that determined my bladder was not emptying completely, hence resulting in the UTI from urine remaining in the bladder. My #UTI was not of the usual kind with the burning symptom that comes with passing urine. It turns out it was associated with the Prostate gland. In this case, there is no normal burning symptom. It only showed up on a blood test.

Months after the second Urologist appointment he saw me again. I have to tell you, for a hearing-impaired person it was most difficult. The Urologist, a lovely Indian man (from the subcontinent, not a Native American) had a strong accent and spoke at about 100 miles an hour. It was just as well I had Louise along to help me. He discussed the flow test and said I could either have some meds to correct it or he could do a small procedure. He also gave me the option of working it out myself by waiting after urination for a few minutes, then complete the exercise until my bladder was cleared.  I have been doing this for some time, now and there have been no more UTI. This, I was pleased to report to the Urologist on what I hope will be my last appointment for a long time to come.  

Lastly, I want to talk about a rash I got on both my legs.  Many years ago I had a blood test that determined I was allergic to Grass and Weed. Joking ok...so I knew I had to give up the "Mary Anna" as my Dad called the dope weed.

Recently, on noticing the rash on both my legs I wondered if it had come from the grass on a reserve I was traversing to get to the bus stop, about a half-mile from our house.  I consulted the doctor who, thankfully, diagnosed it as a virus.   I am so glad it has gone now. Hope you enjoy the pictures and links in the notes.

 

Author Notes I suggest readers might like to check out the previous chapter so you can see some things have changed in this one. Also the following link to a poem I wrote for a now passed contest, related to this and the last chapter, as well.

The Rage Of Age



I also understand it might be possible for even those of my FS followers who are not Facebook Friends to check out the Album I made on my Facebook of the trips into our city in November last year and again earlier in April this year. Some of the photos I have included are also in the album link below.

City visits first time in 20yrs, November 2018 and again in April 2019


*CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airways Pressure.

Index to photos on this chapter:
Top 1.Newcastle tram 2 & 3 George Street in Sydney CBD with new tram lines going in.
2nd row:1.More George Street tramlines 2. Disabled seat designation on the bus.
3. Sharps container
3rd row:1.Rash on my legs. 2.Blood Sugar Levels (I understand they are indicated differently in USA.)
4th Rom 1. Medic Alert Medallion.


Chapter 9
Just another of Geoff's Rambles

By Sankey

Humidity does funny things. It makes you feel hotter and that the climate has become decidedly muggier. In Australia where Summer runs from December to February, it gets muggy and humid even through March.

Some years back we visited Broken Hill on our state's northwest. Broken Hill actually goes on Central Time with South Australia seeing it is right on the border of SA. You can actually take a not-too-distant drive from Broken Hill to where the borders of our northern state, Queensland, our state New South Wales in the East and South Australia in the south converge. One good thing about Broken Hill is, in the Summer, the heat is dry, no humidity and you can get out of the sun in the shade and be much cooler than in, say, our state where humidity is more evident.

I guess you are wondering? Why the Salt and Pepper shakers?

For years we were using some quite ornate glass Salt and Pepper Shakers with silver tin tops. They looked nice on the table but the only problem was, especially for the salt...it would clog up in the shaker due to the humidity. Some have suggested putting some rice in with the salt to keep it drier in the shaker.

However, we discovered these little plastic shakers seem to do the job much better. So as undressy as they are, we find them far more functional and no salt clogging in the shaker anymore.

Author Notes Picture is the stand-in Salt and Pepper shakers.


Chapter 10
Christmas Not The Same For Everyone.

By Sankey

Yes! This is probably just another of Geoff's Rambles.

Christmas is really just for the kids. Apart from the real meaning of Christmas that many are not interested in nor have a clue about, there are a lot of us out there without children. Spare a thought for those of us that Christmas is not the big deal and while some out there worship Christmas and Easter...not for any of the real reasons of these seasons - it is not the BIG DEAL for some of us. We may not want to be "making up the numbers" at a family gathering or we may not
want to do what everyone else wants us to do to make THEM the centre of attention. The old saying can be used in reverse..."You don't understand because YOU HAVE KIDS!" I am posting this for a friend who wrote to us recently and also lost her Mum not all that long ago, so now her older sister wants to take charge and for everyone to do what she wants...seeing she is also a Mum and a Grandmother this year. So spare a thought for the childless at Christmas.

Author Notes Photo of my wife's half Aunties at 11 yrs of age with Santa.


Chapter 11
Anxiety In The Rain

By Sankey

I think one of our wheelchair taxi drivers gets anxiety attacks in the rain. The first time he drove us it was raining hard that day and a couple of lightning strikes knocked the traffic lights out at 2 intersections on the way home. Geoff and I prayed for the rain to stop so I could get out in my power chair at home. Just as we arrived home and the driver backed up the drive to get nearer the house, the rain stopped and you should have seen the big grin on the driver's face when the sun came out. A couple of other drivers confirmed he was nervous in the rain.
 

Author Notes I meant to post this in Tootsie55 account (now long gone) so Louise is speaking ok. The picture is a similar vehicle to our Wheelchair taxis we use constantly.


Chapter 12
A Recipe Ramble - Geoff's Pizza.

By Sankey

Having a chat about Gluten Free options today with Joan E, fellow FS'er and all-around encourager. She was keen for me to share my recipe for Gluten Free Pizza.  As I began to write it all down for her and prior to posting. I decided I may as well do another of my "Rambles" ...rambling idea also from another favourite FS'er, Sasha.

Having recently been diagnosed "Coeliac" (Celiac US spelling) meaning allergic to Gluten or mainly wheat and all products containing wheat, I am working on learning how to cook "Gluten-Free." I will do another post later on yet another of my ventures into gluten-free cooking. For now, it is the subject of Pizza.

OK, so here we go.

Starting with Gluten Free Pizza Bases, there are a couple of different kinds. One I like has an Italian name and cooks quicker (15 to 20 minutes) than the other one, a Supermarket brand. (Recommended a half hour cooking which probably means I would do a tad longer on that one as well.)

I recommend baking the pizza base for a few minutes in a moderate oven, prior to preparing the base with the pizza sauce, shredded cheese and finally toppings however you like.

So - on the base cover it in a light layer of pizza tomato pizza sauce. There are various brands and styles of these in the supermarket. Nepolitana or similar -  NOT Tomato Paste that you might normally use with Spaghetti Bolognaise or Pasta Bolognaise. Follow with a cover of shredded Mozzarella cheese.

I do topping consisting of shredded ham, Pepperoni, shredded Bacon, Shredded Chicken and cut up Capsicum...I think you call them Bell Peppers in the USA, the red one, not hot, adding Pineapple pieces and corn kernels. I recommend not overdoing the topping as I have done in the past. I have finally got to the right level of topping now, after much trial and error.

Cooking time varies according to instructions on most of the Pizza bases. As I said above my favourite is an Italian brand we have here in Australia that cooks much faster. (Fifteen Minutes or even up to twenty.)
 
 

Author Notes My pictures of earlier efforts of pizza cooking show more overdone topped versions. Alas I have since given up cooking my own Gluten-Free Pizzas. Too hard! Now I get them in the freezer section of the Supermarket.


Chapter 13
Jay and other kind of walkers.

By Sankey

This is yet another useless piece of information you can choose to read or just plain MOVE ON! HEHE! Thanking my constant source of information and fellow rambler, Sasha, for once again reminding me of another subject that has been a bee in my bonnet for a long time.

I realize in America and maybe even in Mexico, folks are meant to keep to the RIGHT. Just as you folks all drive on the WRONG hehe side of the road...well at least as far as us "Down Under" folks are concerned. Now back to South of the Hemispheres.

I was so grateful and pleased to see the sign in the photo at one of our City stations recently, on my most recent visit thence. If you are interested in the photos from either of my city adventures there is a link in a previous Ramble (Chapter 8) to my Facebook Album that is possibly accessible even if you are not friends on Facebook.

It bothers me constantly, in the shopping centres and other places, how folks will continually walk on the wrong side.  Admittedly, with multiculturalism in all our lands these days, it would also be the fact that folks that have come from other countries, may become conditioned to "keeping to the right!" The practice of walking contrary to the normal direction, or against regulations and red traffic lights and so on, is known as "Jay Walking."

That said, I can't help feeling it is just plain inconsiderate and laziness on the part of a lot of folks, too preoccupied with their Mobiles or Cells to watch where they are going!

That brings me to another subject. There was even talk in  Sydney, Capital of the first State in Australia, New South Wales, of a plan to put the traffic light signals down in the ground, in the crossing for all the Mobile and Cell users too lazy or preoccupied to look up at the lights at the pedestrian crossings! Sigh! What a thought!

In this busier and busier world, it is time for folks to get more organized and follow traditions and norms that have been around for centuries. I am all for change and modernization if it helps but this is an area too set in concrete not to be messed around.

Author Notes Photo is of a great sign in one of our city stations, I was pleased to see, recently.


Chapter 14
More Adventures In Diet

By Sankey

This is a follow-up ramble or chapter on Gluten-Free goodies and baddies in the diet.

Having now been on my new lifestyle and diet of a Gluten-Free structure for more than 18 months, as we do this new take on things, I am still learning more of the good and bad about Coeliac Disease.

It might be good to read some previous chapters in this "tome" on the same subject. The Links to the other chapters are in the notes.
This would bring you up to date for this new foray into what a lot of Americans have "gotten" (terrible American word) into and various ones claim is another "fad" diet. You do wonder how long it will be before these "faddists" if I can use the label, who are not diagnosed as needing to be on a gluten-free diet, get themselves into trouble. You see, it is not recommended for those who don't have the need to give up gluten in their diets, to do so.

The good thing about the "fad diet" crowd that has, all being fair, been good for us who must be gluten-free abiders in our eating, is the extra choices we have been able to make in what we eat, seeing there has been a wider interest in coming up with more Gluten-Free choices.

My father-in-law, as is a niece and possibly one Great Niece also suffer Coeliac Disease. The latter great-niece may just be "gluten-intolerant" as many are, also. We wrote somewhere else about an occasion for my 60th birthday where we arranged for the Chinese Restaurant where the event was to take place, to do Coeliac or Gluten-Free for the entire party. Noone in the group, except my father-in-law and my niece, knew what we had organized and not one consumer in all the "Gluten" clan picked up any difference in the menu offerings on eating same. In those days I had not been diagnosed Coeliac so maybe that night's fare was doing me good, even though I never knew it at the time.

I still "contaminate*" in my choices of meals from time to time. Sometimes, because of where I am at a particular mealtime, with the unavailability of the kind of food I should have, or just plain being naughty and wanting something different, or from my bad old "Gluten" days.

Unfortunately, in more recent times, there has been a decline in suppliers prepared to continue bringing Gluten-Free products to the market. In one case, my favourite gluten-free rice porridge that in one run had become contaminated by gluten in some rolled oats that had somehow got into the manufacturing process. Sadly, after the extreme loss, the company must have suffered in the contamination issue, they decided it was not financially viable to continue manufacturing the rice porridge. I write more about this, later in this chapter.

I know, in America, there has been controversy as to whether oats contain gluten. Here in Australia, our "Coeliac Australia" medical teams have ruled against oats for gluten-free consumption. Some in various places have even claimed the possibility of being able to remove gluten from oats. I guess we will see what happens with that issue.

Another company, very big on their gluten-free range, actually sold "gluten-free" porridge that turned out to also be contaminated, also with oats! I had noticed one of the supermarkets known to be a good supplier of gluten-free products only had one pack of "FF+" brand supposedly gluten-free porridge. When I cooked it up, I did sense it was a lot like my old favourite rolled oats porridge in taste and texture. Only later I learned it too had been withdrawn from sale. Included in the company's lineup of Gluten-Free cereals is "Maple Crunch." Very nice but as with a lot of Gluten-Free products it is loaded with sugar. Being also a Type 2 Diabetic makes it harder still, getting in between Gluten-Free and low, or no - sugar.

I have known for some time of some Maple Syrup in a range of the product that actually, unlike all the others, contained no sugar. I proposed to F.F. they might want to consider their diabetic clientele and skip the sugar in the delightful Maple Crunch, substituting "Queen" brand's Sugar-Free Maple Syrup. I can't tell whether they took me up on my suggestion, yet.

Now, about the pictures and before I start. I want to talk about Cadbury Eclairs.

There are not too many special treats I have in life but Cadbury or "Pascall" as they come up, on the checkout docket - seeing they were made by Pascall that is now owned by Cadbury - Eclairs are a real favourite. On the good side, they are also Gluten-Free. However, on the bad side, they are full of sugar and some carbohydrates. Both enemies of diabetics. I try really hard to limit my intake of these delightful, yummy chocolate syrup-filled caramel covered delights. After all, I don't smoke nor do I drink alcohol. Surely a man is entitled to one pleasure in life?

Now for a rundown on the pictures. Skipping some already mentioned.
I first tried KIC (Keep It Cleaner)Porridge after my wife and I attended the "Coeliac Australia" members' meeting for the first time in one of our Northern suburbs. Fortunately, we were still driving back then so the trip to our North Shore suburb of Waitara was not all that hard. Louise came with me as my hearing was particularly bad at the time and I needed her help to translate anything I missed.

KIC porridge is based on rice with some coconut flakes. It comes in packs of 5 sachets, 2 of which I use for each serve. I am pleased I have worked out my own special way of preparing it, including a cup of Almond milk in the cooking with a small teaspoon of salt and adding some sultanas. It is them microwaved on High for 2.5 minutes. Stir it, and microwave for a further 2 mins 20 seconds. I use "Logicane" a low GI (Glucose Index) sugar and Light milk when eating the porridge. 

I miss, greatly, the other option I had in LOWAN's Rice Porridge with fruit, I referred to earlier in this chapter. KIC is, unfortunately, my only option now the other porridge has been withdrawn.

New China Meals come in great variety and are a real pleasure to eat. The picture below is just one of about half a dozen different meals using chicken, beef or pork. I am still mastering the art of cooking these in our very sensitive stove-top frypan that can heat up quite quickly so that you risk having "charred ruins" for your meal if not careful. All the components of each New China meal come in separate packs you keep frozen until you want to cook and eat them. Some come with rice or you can add rice yourself if you so desire.

I used to love the prepared, frozen Butter Chicken meals. I was so relieved when I recently discovered Gluten-Free Butter Chicken meals in the local supermarket freezer. So easy to prepare and a real pleasure to eat.

 Chocolate, Coffee and Honey bars are a great snack for morning or afternoon teas with your coffee or tea. Recently, these all came out under the Coles Supermarket brand but they have now reverted to their source company labelling. Seeing I am also on Insulin and doing the walking to keep my Blood Sugar levels down, these Gluten-Free Snacks are also carb friendly and low sugar as well. Being a Coeliac sufferer I have to keep reading Ingredients on labels in the stores, to ensure they are Gluten-Free or that they contain no wheat or any contents made from wheat. This is a must when I come across new products for the first time.

Other cereal options include Gluten-Free Corn Flakes and Gluten-Free Weetbix. (Not pictured.) The Weet-bix, in this case, made from Sorghum an alternate grain. It comes in three varieties. I like the one with Coconut and Cinnamon added to the biscuits. I also like Kelloggs Breakfast Biscuits. Apple and Date variety is my favourite. Served with warm milk as is the Weet-bix. I use Stevia Sweetener on the Weet-Bix and Corn Flakes, another calorie-free sweetener.

The Coles brand frozen Australian Royal Potatoes in the "Gem" variety...small fat fries, was recommended by a friend with similar dietary issues as myself. While not officially eligible to be in the Gluten-Free section of the freezer area, they in fact contain no Gluten. I love them! The reason they are not presented in the Gluten-Free area is that they were cooked on the same equipment as a product containing gluten. The queer thing about this range of frozen chips. fries and so on is that there is only ONE item in the range that does contain gluten, according to the ingredients on the pack. The "Beer Battered Fries" is the one.

It has been a real battle keeping up with some of my favourite Gluten-Free products. Included in my battle is the Gluten-Free Factory's Apple Pies. I pictured a couple of different varieties of apple or apple and rhubarb pies but my favourite apple pie is the GF Factory's one and I have only managed to catch supply of that one a couple of times this year.

Another one hard to nail down is the Tutto Pasta Spaghetti and Chicken Meat Balls frozen meal. Am I  the only person that loves that meal. Several others in that range are always available but I only get lucky occasionally in obtaining this particular delight of mine.

There is this strange practice in Australia, and maybe some readers will tell me it goes on all over the world. I am sure it is accepted practice in supermarkets universally for suppliers to pay more for a better position on the shelf and I guess supermarkets only want to make available products that sell and move out of their stores, quickly. However, it amazes me how certain products are only available in certain chains and even in some case only available at certain stores within particular chains.

Fortunately, we have some independent supermarket groups that are not tied down to the "chain" mentality. Sadly these outlets charge a little more for those hard to find items you can't get anywhere else.

Another recent discovery, as far as Gluten-Free products are concerned, is the fact that Gluten Free products mostly contain NO fibre. Being a Type 2 diabetic as well, I have to take it easy on the fruit (a good source of fibre) because of the natural sugar AND carbohydrate content. I remembered back some years ago we used husk to increase our fibre intake. So back to the future with that as well.


 

Author Notes *contaminate is the expression we Gluten-Free folk use when we are diverting from the normal choices, for our allergy, in eating.
+F.F. is "Freedom Foods" Company.
"Coeliac" is the English spelling of the disease. I think in America it is spelled Celiac.

Picture Description: (Gf means Gluten-free as are all the following anyway.)
Row 1- a)KIC Porridge; b)New China Meal;c) Gf Butter Chicken; d)Choc bars.
Row 2-a)Gf Coles Brand Corn Flakes; b)Gf Choc Eclairs (an addiction); c)Apple and Rhubarb Pies; d)Kelloggs Gf Breakfast biscuits.
Row 3:a)Aus Royal Potato Gems; b)Gf Apple Pies; c)Amy's Rice Macaroni.
Row 4:a)Lowan's Rice Porridge(withdrawn)...b)Tutto Spaghetti & Chicken Meatballs; c) Gf Chocolate Eclairs from the Netherlands. (withdrawn sadly in Australia due to poor selling.)

Links to other chapters related to this subject follow:
Copy the URL and place it in your URL bar in the browser, should take you to that chapter.
More Trials and Tribs.

https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=898885

Recipe Ramble re Gluten-Free
https://www.fanstory.com/displaystory.jsp?id=936379


Chapter 15
Joy In Walking - When You Can.

By Sankey

For quite some time, now I have enjoyed my walks. I was so thrilled when my brother-in-law, last Christmas introduced me to "Strava." Strava is a much better way of recording all my walks, than the silly old wheely thing I bought ages ago to push along in front of me to measure the distance of my walks. Thank God for modern technology. Here is a Link to Strava should readers be interested in obtaining the facility.
 

Strava

It has been an interesting debate between my Endocrinologist, her Registrar and other underlings, together with my Local Doctor and the physiotherapist over how much walking I should do. On one hand, the Endocrinologist and her staff have encouraged me to do as much walking as possible. My Local Doctor is of the same mind as well.

However, due to problems with my left leg, left hip and more recently an injury to my left calf muscle from stepping into a hole accidentally, during one of my tram videoing opportunities, there is even more reason to cut down on the walking. This is recommended by the physiotherapist. So you can see, in some ways, I am most definitely the "meat in the sandwich" between these two lines of direction.

I contacted the local council about the hole and my injury because of it. They were very quick to "pass the buck" on responsibility for the said hole. It seems because of the new "Light Rail" or tram service that will be commencing in December right opposite the bus stop and hole I nearly fell over, responsibility for the region has been taken over by our government transport department. 

I have now passed on the bills for three physiotherapy treatments on the calf and photo evidence of the hole and location of same to the transport authority's insurance company for assessment and hopefully reimbursement of $AU210. I have noticed, even after these three treatments, the calf muscle injury still makes itself known at times. Who knows? I may still need more treatment on it down the road.

My wife was worried, for a time, I was becoming rather reclusive and not wanting to go out much. Since she now goes out with the carers and to bible study, it now gives me more time to get out and I love going into the city to check out the trams and even some train routes around the place that I have not been on for years. Since we married and more so since Louise had her shoulder injury, we have only been driving everywhere in our car for nearly 30 years.

In the first few weeks on the trains again after all these years, it was surprising the number of times the ticket inspectors came through. I don't mind and am glad to see fare evaders are not getting so much opportunity to ride free while those of us of limited means are still paying our way.

Last week I got to go on a historical trip that involved some hard work towards the end. Especially seeing I have injured myself as above, recently. I wanted to take a ride on the soon to close Carlingford line. I understand it is one of Sydney's earliest railway lines between Carlingford in the North West of Sydney and Clyde, the junction with, amongst others, the main western line. At the end of the Carlingford - Clyde journey, I had to deal with something that is not necessary on a lot of stations around Sydney these days.

I had imagined from some information I received that Clyde station was one of the last stations to be modernised. A lot of Sydney Stations now have lifts or elevators for those in the Northern Hemisphere. Clyde station only had a portable Chair lift, that was claimed to not be very reliable. Perhaps the patronage of this station has  not warranted the lifts/elevators a lot of others now present. It is strange as up till now, Clyde has been the junction for a number of lines.

I had set my mind on the fact that I would have to struggle up the stairs from the Carlingford train and down on another platform for the train to get me to Parramatta where I would have lunch before getting the train home, later on. It appears the staff had set the chair on the steps I was to descend to the platform for the Parramatta train without my noticing what they had done. I just went ahead and struggled down the stairs to the other platform. After I got down I looked up the top of those stairs to see the portable chairlift in place on the rail to bring me down.

I know I paid for the extra work getting up and down those accursed steps for days afterwards. But! I made it!

There is a video on Facebook of this trip for anyone interested, even if not friends of mine on Facebook I can give you a link to it.

This is Sianara if that is spelled right from Sankey to all my friends on Fansatory that are still here and to those who have left and may look in or have passed on such as Charley Lewis, Dean Kuch and especially my first friend on Fanstory; now with the Lord, Michael Cahill. Still here on sankey and Tootsie55 till Mid November. After that, Goodbye and God Bless. I will be watching you all from Pinny2 account. Fan me on there if you have not already so I get notified of your posts.

 

Author Notes Photos are Google Earth Sattelite pictures with artwork added of some of my walks I have done. Also a Strava view of the area around Randwick where I acquired my calf injury - BEFORE the big walk indicated. I have added a link to the records of my walks in Facebook as well. let me know if you have trouble accessing I can send the actual pictures of the walks if interested.

October Strava Records.

For anyone who is on Facebook and you don't have to be friends I can share the Links to Albums I have made of the tram movements - all still in Testing Mode till mid-December. We do have one tram service operating already between parts of the city. There is video of that too, if interested.
I am nearing the end of my time on paid accounts here in FS. I have set up a FREE account for those who want to keep in touch. I can't review from the new account but I can still read your stuff and let you know of errors and what I think if you wish.


Chapter 16
More Recent Happenings.

By Sankey

Just another Ramble. (A reminder the idea of Rambles was inspired by our primary rambler in this place, none other than dear Sasha down there or up there, from my perspective anyway, in Mekiko.)

I know I have been quiet for a while but I felt that seeing someone wanted me to stick around this place a bit longer, I should update folks on all that has been going on in my life lately.

For quite a while I have enjoyed getting around our city on trains and more recently our new trams in the City of Sydney. After a lot of controversies and ruffled feathers of businesspeople in our CBD or Central Business District, due to the new tram infrastructure taking so long to get going and at blow out budget levels, it finally got up and running mid-December 2019. During the construction and final testing and training of drivers, I made a few trips into "town" to photograph and video all that was going on.

By March 2020, we will have three services running in our city. Circular Quay to Randwick; Central to Dulwich Hill, and lastly, for now, we hope, Circular Quay to Kingsford. Eventually, it is envisaged the Kingsford line will be extended down through Maroubra, along what was originally a great tram service that was removed in 1961. I still remember the old trams. I was 10 when they were taken off, thanks to oil companies and vehicle manufacturers.

My trips into town have also involved some quite long walks, for me anyhow. I think my longest walk has been a little more than 3 kilometres. For someone who never did much walking for years, that is a real achievement. I was so pleased at Christmas in 2018 when my brother-in-law Stuart set up "Strava" on my mobile phone for me. I had bought one of those "wheely" things to run along on my walks with to measure my distances.  It would have been so awkward trying to push that thing along in front of me together with my walking stick and bags I might be carrying. Strava is so much better and more modern technology to make getting a record of my walking so much simpler.

In other rambles, you will have read about my skin cancer adventures. I just had operation number three on skin cancer on my head. I have chosen not to share the picture of my latest "Moon Crater!" If you look in other chapters, you can get an idea of what this one looks like now, but it is a lot worse than the last one. For the next four to six weeks I am to return to the Outpatients' Department Plastics Clinic to have the wound inspected and re-dressed. Unlike the previous Squamous Cell Carcinoma operated on, a graft of skin from one of my legs was not taken to be put over the wound. Instead, they used a disc made of a silver compound called BTM (Biodegradable Temporising Matrix) I have placed a link to an article on it in Author notes.

After the 4 to 6 weeks, I have to go back into hospital for a day to get the wound covered more permanently. At that time another graft will be taken, hopefully from my other leg. I have heard of people having grafts taken from their butts. I would hate that. Very uncomfortable to sit on.

The sad side effect of grafts being taken from my legs is it messes up my outings and walks I have enjoyed for such a long time.  It gets very uncomfortable if I try to walk much. We are hoping they won't find any more skin cancers. Louise reminded me, the other day, it may not only have been my music drawing on the beach as a six-year-old with no head covering that caused these skin cancers. I have written in my autobiography about my one single mountain climbing adventure on the Belougery Split Rock in our Warrumbungles National Park in the '70s, again uncovered on my head on a very hot day in November (remember I am in Australia!) I not only got baked from the reflected sun off the rocks but from the hot sun beating down on me from above.

I do believe Louise was right to remind me of that added occasion that may have been responsible for these skin cancers. I just pray there won't be any more cancers found.

Author Notes Pictures are of the Strava records of my walks. Just a few for you, for now. There are a lot more!

Information on a BTM


Here follows a link to the chapter in my book including a Youtube Video link to my amateur attempts at movie-making in the old Super 8 days, of the Warrumbingles National Park and Belougery Split Rock mentioned in this ramble.

A New Car and Big Trip



Here is a link to the earlier chapter with me doing my music on the beach at about 6 yrs of age.

Our Weekender and My Early Music Days.



For Facebook friends and others who may not be friends with me on Facebook you can still view these videos of my tram adventures even the one of me and Louise in town on the trams the other week. Her first time.

My Tram Adventures.




Louise's Day out on Trams.




Chapter 17
Another Ramble - A bit different

By Sankey

An American friend who runs a Ministry to the Deaf here in Australia recently posted a photo comparing Australia to the USA. In the geographical area, both our nations are almost identical that way.

I heard a story one time of a visitor to Australia planning on popping over to Perth from Sydney for afternoon tea with a friend. They had it in their minds that the journey would be kind of "across town!" The distance from Sydney on the East Coast to Perth on our West Coast is around 3,500 km a 4.5 hr plane trip heading west and a little less on return due to the tailwind.

Of course, America's population is more than ten times that of Australia. In a recent Census, Australia came up with a population of in the vicinity of 20,000,000, that's twenty million. The USA is home to more than 200 million inhabitants.

In recent times there have been more efforts, due to some awful school massacres that have taken place in the USA, to cut back on personal, private possession of arms. A fairly recent big campaign in Australia, under a well known former Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, was to buy back weapons. It was a quite successful campaign and a lot of guns were surrendered for applicable compensation.

Australia has not been without its own massacres. The Port Arthur Massacre in our island state of Tasmania, south of the mainland, is the most recent. 

I have come to a decision about the issue of private possession of weapons in the USA. Seeing the population is so much larger in America, I can't discount the need for people to have some protection for themselves. Having such a large makeup of all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds, one can't ignore the perceived necessity of individual security in possession of personal protection.

Perhaps, rather than a big buyback campaign in the USA similar to what we had in Australia, there should be more stringent conditions for licensing of people who want to have their own weapons. The types of weapons people wish to own and more information on the records of why they want to own particular kinds of weapons? Maybe more analysis of the personalities and history of the individuals could be good as well.

Well, that's my ramble for today. I have been thinking about these things for a long time and every time there is another massacre in the USA it comes to mind again.

Author Notes Picture is a comparison of Australia's area to that of the USA. You can see there is not much difference in area


Chapter 18
Mixed Ramble No 1 For 2020

By Sankey

 I am writing to update my readers on several points of news in regards to myself.

Continuing on the Skin Cancer trail, I wanted to update my friends on what has been going on.  This morning (Monday in Australia) I had my head wound checked and re-dressed. The doctor and nurse also looked at the graft site from whence they took the graft for my latest SCC wound. There have been some big limitations to my walking programme from the graft injury. The injury made it so much harder to walk as much as I would like to. The pictures I have included are not completely up to date as I took some more this morning we will share later.

Some time ago, prior to the recent operation, we had attempted to get what has been known for a long time as Domicilliary Nursing to come and re-dress my post-cancer wounds.at home.  Initially, we were fobbed off to the local GP's nurse to show Louise how to re-dress my head wound every couple of days. She did it very well, back then but I need more of this now I have had another operation on the area.

We are not sure how the nurse at the hospital achieved it, this time but we finally have been called to arrange for the nurse to come every couple of days to our home to re-dress my head wound! Possibly the hospital nurse told the service I could not walk very far, so I was not able to use public transport to get to the doctor's surgery as that involved 600 meters walk, twice; to and from the bus on both ends. (Totalling more than 2kms all up.) Also a shorter walk from the bus on the other end to the doctor's rooms. We did not let on that Louise had been managing to fix me up before but from her power chair, it was too hard to do any more of this hard work. 

After this all heals up, I will commence the 4 times a week for 4 weeks of Radiotherapy, due to the aggressive nature of cancer that has been removed and might return.

Being a Type 2 Diabetic my Dietitian wanted to help me with some weight loss and recommended some meal substitution. Optifast made by the Nestle company is a collection of shakes, soups and desserts that are low joule and Gluten-Free. These will help me get the weight off as I usurp them for most lunches when I am home. It is just a pity that my walking has been stymied because of the graft injury to my leg, hindering the walks that I love. I have had to increase the Insulin doses to try and get my blood sugar levels down replacing the lowering of same I also achieved by walking. 

The Optifast is not cheap and it was a real relief to learn I was qualified for Government support for my meal replacement. I appreciate the government funding of the meal replacement under our "My Aged Care*" programme. However, while I get the funding, I would still like to manage the said funding the best way possible but there is not much difference between bulk buying pricing and "over- the - counter" individual packet pricing. I could still try and get a better price over the counter on the different elements of Optifast and get reimbursed through my *MAC Service provider. Funny thing is I can get bulk cartons of mixed shakes and so on but they won't do bulk mixed soups which would be nice.

The shakes come in Vanilla, Strawberry, Banana, Mocha and Coffee. There are Desserts as well in Lemon and Chocolate and I am not sure what other options they come in. The Soups come in Vegetable, Chicken and Tomato.

I am interested to know if things happen in other countries the way they do in Australia regarding queer practises of different Supermarket chains. I realize the competition is more prevalent in the USA seeing you have probably ten times Australia's population to provide more options for the public in supermarkets.

I have recently become more aware of the restriction of particular brands of groceries to different chains of supermarkets in Australia. Apart from their "store" brands of course. Another thing that goes on, is that, even amongst particular chains, not all of their stores carry the same lines in the individual stores. I will accept that in different parts of our city and state, certain products sell more in some places than others and I guess retailers don't want space taken up on their shelves with products that are not selling. Of course, there is that other theory about wholesalers paying higher fees to supermarkets for better positions on the shelves as well. Never mind stores moving stock around to different parts of the store so the poor old customer has to hunt them down and in the process get to see other products they might decide to buy, A marketing ploy, of course.

As I close, I wanted to talk about one other thing that my international readers may not have been aware of. That is the tussle between one of our Supermarket chains, Woolworths and the Apple Computer company. If you look at the pictures of the two major supermarkets, you will see how much similar the Woolworth's newest Logo looks to the Apple Logo. The W of Woolworths (see the green card picture)is so similar to the Apple Logo there was a big legal fight for quite a while over it. I think Woolowroths won their case to continue using their logo as Woolworths, while also being into poker or slot machine manufacture, sadly, has nothing to do with the computer industry.
 

Author Notes Pictures:1 and 2 Our 2 major Supermarket Web sites Coles and Woolworths. 3. My head, latest photo.4. The fourth graft site on my right leg again. 5.Optifast meal replacement cover.

Collection of my and my friend's, with my camera -Videos merged by Avinash Pandey in India thanks mate. Includes Circular Quay to Randwick from the rear in places and front coming back.

Randwick to Circular Quay.


Another video returning from Randwick to Circular Quay from front.


Chapter 19
Moon Crater Rtrns-2020 Ramble 2

By Sankey

I know I previously spared you all of the most recent gross pictures of my resulting "Moon Crater" from the latest Skin Cancer removal operation in January. So apologies if it is a bit much for you all. I felt I had to share it as there is a lot more to the story than just the awful picture. If you look right near the big new "workings" you can see the other Squamous Cell Carcinoma site nearby which confirms the newer one is a lot bigger than the last one.

One really frustrating thing about all this "head stuff" has been the fact that for months, now, I have not been able to wash whatever hair I have left on my head due to the dressings covering the operation site. Add the time for the previous op dressing preventing washing to the question and you know how annoying it has been that no shampoo has been on my head for all this time! I recently discovered a layer of dandruff sitting on my head for so long for the same reason.

Louise has tried washing around the dressing for me but it has been so difficult.

The time has now arrived for the close up of the wound. I was spared of a graft from my leg for this last surgery as explained in the last chapter. This time a graft will again be taken from one of the old graft sites off the same leg (right) as the two previous grafts. We will manage the healing process of this graft better than we did the last one.

You know what they say...

"When all else fails...' READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!' "

We made a mistake with the previous graft in that we had the local doctor's nurse change the dressing way too early. Apart from it being a very painful process for me, we learned it should not have been changed so soon.  We discovered this on the post-op instructions that we should have read more closely! It would not have been such a painful exercise, had we left the dressing in place, longer.

The hospital had told us to contact a Domiciliary (home) Nursing service to change my head dressing on a 2 or 3-day basis. Due to money-saving antics, there was no "domiciliary" service offered. Instead, the "service" directed us to get assistance from the nurse at our local Doctor's office to show Louise (known to a lot of you as "Tootsie55" in here for a long time) what to do here at home. That is what we did.

After the nurse did the initial re-dressing of my head wound prior to this last operation, we acquired all the necessary bandages and stuff for Louise to do all the re-dressing here at home, every two or three days. At the follow-ups at the hospital Out Patients' clinic, the staff were impressed with Louise's work, looking after me.

One interesting thing happened in the follow-up process. We actually met a girl, now in her thirties and a nurse who was four years old when her parents and she lived next door to us. Small world, ha. I remembered her Mum and she looked exactly like her mother.

The creepy neighbours I have written about elsewhere were living in that house, later on.

Yesterday, we got the call from the hospital for me to go in on Monday. Normally, there would be a Pre-Admission Clinic but it seems they are keen to get me in there and close up the wound for healing so I can proceed to the Radiotherapy sessions. These will be half-hour sessions, daily over four days, for four weeks.

As I have written before, we hope this is the end of the Skin Cancer story for me.

Author Notes The picture is of my uncovered current "Moon Crater" wound.

Here is a link to the other chapter on my previous Skin Cancer trials.

More Recent Happenings


Chapter 20
Mixed 2020 Ramble Number 3!

By Sankey

I noticed I did another ramble before the one I called Number 1 for 2020. So this might be the third one for 2020, already. Thanks to Sasha for the idea of Rambles. I started these as an addition to my autobiography and perhaps when the biography gets published I might add this little collection as a bonus gift.

I am so pleased that the cancer wound is healing up pretty well on my head. That goes for the graft site off my right leg as well. I will go for the first appointment at the Radiotherapy Clinic on March 11th. (10th in the USA.) Louise is coming with me in her Powerchair and we are going to try out the brand new lifts that have been added to Kingswood railway station. We are trying to save money on the wheelchair taxi and the bus we normally catch to the hospital does not come anywhere near the Radiotherapy Clinic. Thankfully, it will not be much of a walk from Kingswood Station to the clinic.

After some hassles getting a nurse to come to the house to re-dress my head wound, (seeing I don't drive anymore) we are so grateful that is now sorted. Between the nurse coming Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to do my head wound and the Radiotherapy schedule I will find out about on the 11th, it may mean I don't get many opportunities to be "out and about" again at least until they have no need to re-dress my head anymore. Radiotherapy will be four times a week for four weeks and as we have now learned, will involve bus both ways and the train in between both ways for the sixteen sessions, taking up a lot of time and not really allowing me any "self" time for a while.

We have talked about my Gluten-Free dietary pathway a few times. One of my particular delights in Gluten-Free cereals is the Keep It Cleaner Rice Porridge. While the cost is enormous and I only get 2 breakfasts out of each pack of four sachets. it is still a favourite breakfast since I quit Gluten cereals. Many years ago in the old Rolled Oats porridge days, I used brown sugar on my porridge. As a Type 2 Diabetic as well as Coeliac (Aussie spelling) it is a real battle these days, seeing a lot of Gluten-Free cereal is also full of sugar.

I now use a new product called "Logicane" sugar. Explained further it is Low Glucose Index or Low GI meaning much better than ordinary sugar for diabetics, especially. Another pleasure I have is adding sultanas to my Gluten-Free rice porridge. I never ever thought I would be adding any fruit to porridge, in all the years I have been a porridge lover. But the sultanas just finish everything off, including almond milk in the preparation of the porridge. Not forgetting that little bit of salt to bring out the flavour even more.

I mention all this to make a final point. Sugar in whatever form and sultanas even in the boxes attract ANTS! We have had a real problem with ants in our house for ages. Even recent spreading of ant-killer powder around the outside of the house has not achieved a whole lot in the removal department. We have taken to putting the Logicane (see the green plastic bag inside) and the packets of sultanas in ziplock bags to keep the ants away. So far so good.

Author Notes Pictures detail:1. My latest Skin Cancer wound on my head, healing up nicely.
2. Old and new graft site on my leg, the latter healing up nicely now and no longer needing dressing, just Vitamin E or Sorbolene Cream, applied twice daily.
3. Sultanas and Logicane in ziplock bags to keep the ants away.
4. and 5. more walks now I am back at it.


Chapter 21
Mixed Ramble 2020 No 4.

By Sankey

    
A lot of you have been interested in following my various dramas and life changes. We are all trying to move on from the Corona Virus or COVID-19 thing. I have spoken about the Radiation treatment on my head following the skin cancer or Squamous Cell Carcinoma (second one on my head) removal, recently. I pointed out the fact, also that the radiation treatment commenced just before our State of NSW on the East Coast of Australia went into Lockdown due to COVID-19.

I was pretty nervous they might cease my Radiation treatment till after corona but Praise God the sensible decision was made to continue the treatment. I figure once it was started it would have been a backward step to stop it. They originally said it would be twenty days of treatment.  I am glad it ended up to be only ten days. Following the radiation, I had to have my head re-dressed every couple of days. Originally to be done at home by a District Nurse, it turned out my dear wife had to do the re-dress due to, once again COVID-19 and the need for the ever-present distancing.

It was a good idea for both ourselves and the nurse. After all, we had no idea of all the people she might come in contact with and who amongst all those was dishonest about possible spreaders of the coronavirus. At one of my Cancer Clinic visits, where every day a fellow was at the door to check everyone and provide sanitising, a woman said "No" to all the questions we are all aware of during these times. When she got inside to the Clinic, she then comes out with...
"I think, I have a fever!"

Pretty dumb of her really, not to mention inconsiderate of all she had come in contact with, had she been actually infected. Fortunately, she was tested and cleared. But what of the possible risk to the nurse seeing her and the necessity if she was positive, for the Nurse's family and so on to go into isolation! The stupid woman had said all the "no's" at the front entrance then came out with her dumb admission, later! 

Seeing I don't drive anymore and we were keeping clear of public transport for the aforementioned reasons, it was a blessing to have  some people from church (actually one man for one day only and a lady for the other nine treatments) to take me to the clinic each day.

I have mentioned before about my Coeliac Disease necessitating.a diet of Gluten-Free cereals in particular. I have now invented a "Rotator" that lets me set up to know what cereal I have eaten each day, seeing I am getting old and forgetful. There is a Gluten-Free porridge I love and I rotate between it and other cereals each day.

I made another Rotator for my Optifast Meal Substitutions I think I have mentioned elsewhere as well. As a Diabetic (added to the Coeliac Disease)  the Meal Substitution helps with weight and so on. The Rotator I have invented for these tells me whether I had either a Soup a Shake or a Dessert for lunch the previous day. (On a Slide that goes up and down.) Then on a wheel there are all the flavours whether for the Shakes or the Soups or the Desserts.

We have just managed to get back on the trams, trains and buses after we were cleared to resume following Corona shutdowns etc but we are not sure another lockdown might be in the wings real soon. I have to forgive a chap at Penrith the other day. It was not his fault we were stuck in the V's vestibule from Penrith to Central. Someone said on one of the train groups when V's were designed 50 years ago there was no thought people in wheelchairs would be wanting to get on trains. Fair enough I guess.

We have been catching up with a couple of friends whom we had not seen in months for the obvious reasons talked about already. One place we went had all the public seating roped off because of the virus. One wonders how the aged and infirm get on in these places if they need to sit down somewhere. From now on I have to carry my little stool around with me, in case I need to sit down.

Author Notes Photos are of the Rotators and of me and Louise getting "out and about" again. Top: a & b Gluten-Free Cereal Rotator "KIC" is the Gluten-Free Porridge I love. c. First of my Optifast Rotator invention.
Row 2: a. Another Optifast rotator setting. b.Us all done up in our winter gear ready to go out. c. A V-set train (soon to be taken off-line in retirement)coming into Penrith Station.
Row 3. a.Louise being assisted onto a train on another occasion. b. The wheelchair area on another "V-set" not our priviledge to access on this trip, sadly. Not ALL "V's" had the wheelchair section. c.Louise in the vestible on this trip. She was glad of her chair "suspension" it was a rough trip! (over the wheels of course!)

Row 4. a. Louise just off the "V" at Central Station. b.Louise at the City Terminus of the Light Rail(trams.) c. Juniors' (Rugy Leagues Club)Kingsford Light Rail Terminus. We anticipate the Light Rail being extended some day further to the coast. This is number 3 of new Light Rail routes (Circular Quay to Randwick and Kingsford and Central to Dulwich Hill) in Sydney after 50 years since all our old tram services were ripped out for the oil companies and motor vehicles' benefit. As it says in the Book of Ecclesiastes (thanks Roy Owens for the correction) in the bible "nothing new under the sun." History repeating itself.

I undserstand even those of you not friends with me on Facebook can view this page(my page with the Videos and stuff underneath. Let me know ow how you go.

Link to more photos and Videos in Facebook of the catch up day.


Chapter 22
A Lot Going On!

By Sankey

I have been meaning to share another Ramble for a while. So much to share, from a "plethora" of areas.

The pictures below are not in the same order as the subjects of this chapter.

I was cruising through Facebook some months ago and came across a fantastic idea for a Christmas present for my sweetheart, Louise.
Actually, it was a useful item for us both - a stove cover fashioned from wood and with handles.

For years we have been using plastic cutting boards placed on the stovetop as a base for the electric frypan. The boards were all different sizes and not really very stable. So imagine my delight when I discovered the beautifully fashioned timber stove cover.

Admittedly, a stove cover was probably only one purpose for these boards. All made to measure and with bevilled edges in a number of different designs, I could choose from. It also came with another plastic sheet that would protect it from the heat of the frypan, sitting on it during cooking.

Regular readers will be aware of different things Louise and I do, separately and together.  I had to choose one of Louise's days out, to have the special Christmas present delivered in her absence. After it came I wrapped it in "Chrissy" paper and hid it in a cupboard behind my out-of-season clothes.

She was impressed with the gift.

Our stovetop, as per the picture, is just a glass top with the hotplates inside. One thing we have to be careful of is not to accidentally turn on any of the hotplates when items are resting on the top, during non-cooking times. Brushing up against the stove-front can sometimes cause one or more of the hotplates to turn on.

This has occurred twice since we have had a new range.

In its early days, a friend was visiting and helping with cooking lunch. Prior to the commencement of cooking, we had one of those plastic cutting boards I mentioned earlier ON TOP OF THE STOVE! A hotplate was inadvertently activated and the plastic board began to be "welded" to the stovetop!.

Fortunately, we were able to disengage the melting cutting board from the hotplate without any damage resulting. You guessed it! The same thing happened to our precious, brand new stove cover. The plate underneath started to burn the bottom of the stovetop cover. We are so thankful it was not a major burn, only on a small part of the underside of the board.

Some might say, "why not have the controls at the head of the stove at the back?" Unfortunately, this would prevent Louise from reaching the controls from her power chair. Still very independent, my sweety does a good portion of the cooking for us. 

I recently acquired a "Walker."  Some of you have met my "Shillelagh" or Irish walking stick. It has been a great help to me getting around. I am not sure if I have told the story of the stick but maybe another time.

As good as the walking stick has been, the walker is so much better and much more supportive in my walking efforts. I had actually decided I needed to cut back on walking for several reasons. The walker has changed all that, as I can go back to more walking and I am able to stop and sit whenever I need to, now. I love it! 

At the Podiatrist, a few weeks ago I made a tremendous discovery. The "SOCK HELPER!"
For many years, due to Arthritis and aging, I have found it more and more difficult getting socks on. Imagine my delight at knowing there was such a thing I could use to assist me in getting my socks on! I recommend it to everyone. You pull each sock over the wide prongs and get it all the way on the sock helper but not over the top. You then insert each foot in, up to your toes, making sure the sock heel is in the right place. Then pull the attached cords on each side of your leg and voila! The sock is pulled up. Do the same with another sock. One less bend I have to do! Glory!

Our National Government has been giving some cash grants because of COVID-19 as an incentive to support the economy. I had been desirous of purchasing a new multi-purpose camera for more videoing and photography. After pricing various cameras I settled on a Nikon a1000 Coolpix Camera.  I got a good price and "Sco Mo" (a nickname for our Prime Minister's) grant money was a great help. I also needed a charger for the battery in the camera and I wanted spare batteries. The camera's battery charges quickly but I wanted spare batteries and to be able to charge them externally. The charger was quite unique in having the ability to be plugged into many different kinds of A/C outlets with a suitable plug depending on the country system.

Nikon is quite strict on the kind of outside adapters you attach to them and these may not work with the camera if not genuine "Nikon" brand. I had found that out when I was "out and about" one day and wanted to charge the camera battery. Alas, the lead or the external charger was not compatible and I was thankful I caused no permanent damage to the not-so-cheap camera. Hence the need for more compatible batteries that fortunately worked with the camera. After all, I think the battery in the camera is not even "genuine" Nikon brand as it only has a Nikon sticker on it.

We have had these special cups for a while that would fit in the cup holder in the car. Most of you know we no longer drive so Louise was using the cup here at home.  One night the carer had washed the cup up. Louise wanted a drink so I began to fill the cup. Shock, horror...it was leaking all over the place. For the very first time, I realized the cup had an inside part to it! The carer for the very first time had removed the inner cell from the cup. I won't make that mistake again!

Many have read the continuing dramas of the loss of my key labels from my computer keyboard. As posted recently I now have a solution to the problem. These wonderful Keyboard covers. From what I have been reading, I am not alone in the frustration of keys being wiped off. I am so glad that is finally over.


 

Author Notes Photos:1.Louise' cup. 2. Secret inside.
3.Keyboard Cover. 4.Sock Helper.
5.Walker. 6. Battery Charger.
7.Stove top.
8.Stove cover protector. 9. Stove Cover.


Chapter 23
Geoff's Ramble No 2, 2021

By Sankey

We got all ready and had a photo of us taken. On our way down to the bus in Bennett Road, we stopped to get a photo of myself with the sign I had laced on the bridge in Coonawarra Drive, letting folks know the new bus stops near that bridge was coming soon.

In our more than 30 years in St Clair, I have been successful in lobbying for various improvements. I got a new "roundabout" in a couple of places - one more than 20 years ago for a major "T" intersection that was always a problem for side street traffic getting out onto the main road. The other one I got us, is a more recent achievement. Since I no longer drive I was finding it most difficult getting across the main road to and from the bus service.

Since I have been doing more walking and prior to my new walker you see in the photo, I needed a place to rest in a local reserve. For some years there was a sandstone "Maze" of rocks at one end of this reserve. A chap in a wheelchair wanted it removed as he could not get around it. So I lost my spot for my mid-walk rest. I more recent times I also achieved the placement of a seat in the reserve. Needless to say, the graffiti gangs did not take long to "tag" the new seat. I told our local council they may as well not bother cleaning it up as the graffiti gangs would just "re-tag" it again! I wish I had room for a photo of the seat in here.

Our day out, on Thursday 11th February to the city was, for my wife, Louise a very first check out of the Queen Victoria Building.  I worked in that building prior to its renovation, my very first full-time job in a music store and was always thankful it was never torn down as the Government proposed back in the '60s. Jack Mundy the leader of the Builder's Labourer's Federation was the main force behind the preservation of this dear old building.

We had staff help in guiding us around to the Light Rail from the Randwick tram we had taken from Town Hall to Chalmers Street, up from Central station to the other Light Rail to Dulwich Hill. due to the major renovations being done for the Metro Driverless trains coming to Central. I wish I had turned Strava* on as it was quite a walk for me. After that, we did the Light  Rail trip to Dulwich Hill and return. 

With the "bouquets" there are always "buckets."

It was just as well we did not want to alight at Dulwich Hill. As is the case with most of the stops on the Dulwich Hill Light Rail line, planning has fallen short as to levels of platforms with tram entry and there were some large gaps between the trams and the platforms. There was a bit of a panic at Dulwich Hill when the Light Rail staff thought Louise wanted to get off there, as the platform was most un-obliging. I just got off and tapped her Opal Card off and on for her fare - being the carer I did not have to pay. 
Manual wheelchairs would be fine but either the Government must raise the platforms and correct gaps OR provide ramps as they do on Heavy Rail (main train services.)

On the Dulwich Hill journey, we were "invaded" by crowds of schoolboys on their way home from Sydney Grammar College. No "distancing" but most wore masks and all of them were very well behaved.

After the return from Dulwich Hill, we both agreed it was a better idea to get the much faster country train to Penrith, a few stations past ours and bus back home from there, avoiding a repeat of the necessary long walk back around to the suburban platforms.

Louise,  our "intrepid" cinematographer, did most of the video due to her being able to maintain a steadiness in the recording I cannot do, holding the camera and walking.! (You can see that in the other video if you care to watch that as well.)





 

Author Notes Strava is a great app on my Smartphone I use to measure the distances of my walks.
Pictures: Top Left: Us about to leave on our day out.
Top Right: Me with the sign I placed on the bridger some weeks before, letting folks know of the new bus stop coming soon.
Second Left:The "Masked Moores" on Mt Druitt Station.
Second Right: Queen Victoria Building, York St side.
Third Left: QVB interior me walking in the distance.
Third Right: Randwick Tram in George St.
Fourth Left: Rail Staffer guide (l) me(r)
Fourth right: building scenery as we walked around to the
main Central Concourse.
Fifth left: Main Central station Concourse.
Fifth Right: heading to the Dulwich Hill Light Rail.
Some of these photos have been clipped from the video Louise made. A link to the video on my Facebook is available on request...you don't have to be friends on facebook to view stuff on my pages. See if the following link works for you.

Town Visit Video-February 2021.



Here's another Facebook album I did of us going out before I knew I could do the videos and stuff outside the Albums. IN this one click on each photo and video as you like. We are heading to the bus stop I hope to get replaced down the bottom of the hill real soon.

Visting an old friend.


Chapter 24
Mixed Ramble No 3, 2021

By Sankey

Louise and I have enjoyed some trips out together, from time to time. You will have read of some others and if you are on Facebook I have shared some videos and photos there that can be accessed even if we are not friends.

This "ramble" is about our day out to Hornsby, located on the Northern fringe of Greater Sydney on the East Coast of Australia.

The reason for this visit was twofold.  We would catch up with our long time friend, Jim who actually uses Hornsby for his major shops seeing he only lives about half an hour north of Hornsby. I have known Jim since my childhood and he was the Best Man at our wedding in 1987.

You would understand that Hornsby has changed, drastically, in the almost 44 years since I worked there. Back in 1977 I was doing a year at Bible College and needed part-time work to support myself in that time. My regular readers would know I left a very secure, full-time position in an act of faith to undertake the year of college. More to that in other places.

God graciously got me the part-time music teaching position at Bob's Music in 1977, just ONE week following the resignation from my other job. See author notes for a link to the relevant chapter, elsewhere if interested. 

We all had a good time catching up and I was only sorry I had left it all these years to check out Hornsby I should have done much sooner.

We were not to know the very next day something would happen that would have caused serious problems for us, had it occurred on the Hornsby outing. However, we were not short of dramas on this day, either. But back to the story of the Hornsby day out.

Louise is permanently limited in the daytime, to a power chair. In more recent times we have enjoyed several trips together in the trains and buses and our new Metro driverless trains. The Metro network in Sydney is growing and we look forward to more adventures on new, different from the main rail, services and routes. I use a walker or also known as a "rollator" these days. I wrote a poem about "Wally"  the walker that I have linked below.

It is against the rules and not really very safe actually riding in public transport SITTING on the walker seat. Rail staff, most of the time are a great help and have been, solely for Louise up till now. Our local staff at Mount Druitt station have never made any mistakes in getting us on and off and making sure staff at the other end are ready with the ramp for us to be helped off the train.

We got off at Strathfield, an inner west suburb station to change trains for the Northern line to Hornsby. As a side comment, amongst all our various types of suburban rail services are a model known as "Tangara." The Tangara's in their younger days were quite fashionable double-deck trains. It gets a bit political with some about the design shortcomings these flashy Tangaras presented...again, depending on who you talk to.

Strathfield staff made a  big booboo. Remember I said I should not have ridden ON the walker seat, in transit to Hornsby. I should have spoken up but alas I didn't. We were loaded on ok BUT! The placement on the train was in the cabin behind one of, probably 4 driver's cabins on an 8 car train. THERE ARE NO SEATS IN MOST OF THESE AREAS! 

You guessed it! The rail staff person was oblivious as to the fact he should not have put us in that area. Louise was fine in her power chair and fortunately, I managed to make the entire half-hour trip, sitting on the walker seat, ok.

Now to the second drama. Rail staff shortcoming again.

When we get loaded on the trains we inform the assistants where we want to get off so they can notify the alighting station which carriage we are in so they can find us to get us off. Hornsby staff messed up badly today. I am not sure they were concentrating on the job, properly?

We pulled into Strathfield station, on our way back, to change for the train home. The doors opened - but NOONE was waiting with the ramp to get, more importantly, Louise off the train. Without one of the other passenger's help, we would have been carried all the way into the city as there are no stops after Strathfiled, mostly, till almost in the big smoke. The lady yelled out for help and the staff turned up with the ramp.  The only good thing about Strathfield that day was, by the time they got us off the train, our train to Mount Druitt was nearly departing on the opposite side of the same platform. We were so thankful for the great staff at our local station getting us off, safely, as they always do.

So! You are waiting to read what happened the day after the dramas of the trip to Hornsby and back home. 

Louise's power chair BROKE DOWN! We were so thankful this never happened in all our adventures in Hornsby, the day before.
Her power chair is not all that old. She has only had this one for just over 12 months. Yes and out of warranty. Fortunately, we don't have to pay for her power chairs or their maintenance. I have written about NDIS* (for Louise) and MY AGED CARE* (for me) government organizations elsewhere as well. They look after us both for many things. Please ask if you want to know more.

After more than a week stuck in her backup manual wheelchair, nowhere near as comfortable as the regular chair, and more work for both of us getting her around...including the knock on the head of any independence she still had, they finally solved the power chair problem. She had to have a new battery, new charger and new controls installed on the chair. Even the suppliers were puzzled as to the problem initially. I guess you could say Louise was the "guinea pig" in that getting her unknown problem solved would be a big help with many other users of this particular chair.

We had hardly any problems with her previous chair she had been using and we even wondered if we should have been able to keep the old chair for emergencies like we were having. 

Now for the punch line!  The technician informed us, on one of his many visits, another patient's power chair had broken down IN THE MIDDLE OF A STREET! 

The motor can be disengaged (not by its occupant of course) and the chair pushed manually but they are extremely heavy and difficult in the manual position. You can see how thankful we were to God the chair held out for our trip to Hornsby.

Author Notes Pictures: Top Left Entrance to what was Hornby Music Studio in 1977.
Top Right: Louise being assisted onto the train by rail staff.
Second Left: Louise with me in the vestibule of a "V" Set... 50-year-old trains being taken off soon. It was just a pity there was no thought for wheelchair passenger allocated places in the seating areas. They have converted SOME of the "V's" for wheelchairs but they are hard to connect with.
Second Right: Louise at our main Central Station just off the "V" Set train.
Here is the link promised to my job before I left to go to Bible College.

Macquarie University Job


Link to "Wally" the Walker, Poem.

Wally The Walker.


Chapter 25
Mixed Ramble No 4 for 2021

By Sankey

This ramble is a two-part story.  Please read the Author Note first.

Now you have read the note, carry on...


Some time back, one of Louise's carers came up with the idea of hiring a special vehicle that the carer would drive and Louise would ride in back in her power chair. On that day Clair, the carer picked up the vehicle from the hire place and came to get Louise and take her out for the day. They drove an hour west of us up the Blue Mountains to Katoomba and an attraction called "Scenic World."  This includes a scenic railway that runs down a cliff on an old coal mining track. Quite steep in places. They skipped that ride! Apart from anything else, no provision for a power chair on the ride. Other attractions included the Skyway that ran across to near the "Three Sisters" rock formation,1000feet above the Jamison Valley and back. The other ride was the "Cable Way" a later addition to the Skyworld group. It is like a chair lift but a larger capacity for more people on a cable that goes down the side of the mountain. I have not even been on that one, myself, yet! 

In more recent times, Louise's brother offered to hire a similar vehicle to take Louise out. However, this time there was a catch. The plan was to go over to the Northern Beaches area of Sydney for some walking and a picnic lunch. Louise's brother had invited their folks along on the trip. I did not go with them that day.

I think Louise enjoyed the day out, however she would have preferred not having the extra company. I know her brother wanted to include their folks and help them get out more but they do get out far more than Louise does and being elderly and so on, held things up a bit that day.

I was off up to Kurrajong to check out what is now just a pathway following the route of the old railway line that, many years ago ran from Kurrajong to Richmond, North of where we live in St Clair. I am hoping, someday, to do the couple of kilometres walk with the historical society, along the trail of the old railway line that closed when I was only small in the 1950s. Several things have precluded my participation in that, but hopefully, next year!

Louise's brother visited one day as he quite often does to check on his big sister. He is to be commended for caring about her. Unlike the older brother who, for years, hardly ever darkened our doorstep. I am pleased to say that has improved now we cannot visit over the other side of Sydney for a number of reasons. Just one being her brother not keen to have her very heavy power chair on his "floating timber" floors. So her younger brother proposed taking her on another trip.

Louise was hesitant, because of all that happened on the last trip and her brother had to offer the opportunity a couple of times before he came around to asking just what was the reason she held back. He sensed he knew where she was coming from and when she explained she just wanted to go on a trip without their folks along, he was agreeable to that. It was only her brother and his wife and Louise who made the trip. An even more enjoyable time for her that day. 
This time down south to visit her best friend nearly 100km south. There is no public transport suitable for the power chair to that location. The wheelchair taxi fares would have nearly put our house under a mortgage. Kidding...but you get the idea.

                                                                            ******************************

Part 2.
 Regular readers will remember all my Medical dramas and dietary goings-on.

In recent months and yes I mean MONTHS, firstly I had the flu. I had the paramedics come to check me out at the initial onset of the flu and they were keen to put me into hospital which I refused. This was of course during our COVID-19 that is still around in some parts of Australia. Part of their consultation was to insist I be tested for COVID.  I had that done and was pronounced negative.

When I was "out-and-about", every time I coughed I would get that look from people around me. On the train, one day I coughed! A guy two seats in front, wearing a mask, moved further forward. Some time later, shock horror, I coughed again! The aforesaid guy got up and went downstairs.

For a long time "post-flu" I was still coughing. No infection indicated, same phlegm with infection not present. As most know, for some time I have been on a Coeliac (Gluten-Free) diet. This puts on weight, as does the Hydrocortisone I am on for Adrenaline Insufficiency. I recently also learned that I now have 2 "Auto-Immune" diseases. Coeliac as mentioned before and now the Adrenaline Insufficiency is slated as also an Auto-Immune Disease. 

The extra weight was pushing up on my chest causing the coughing. This syndrome is called the "Pickwickian" syndrome. It is named after the chubby gentleman (I forget his name) from Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers story.

Even more recently, there was a story on tv about a possible connection between this coughing and Thyroid problems. I had an ultrasound of my thyroid and thank God it came back clear. I am pleased to say the coughing has eased quite a bit, however, my absence in writing has been due to another Urinary Tract Infection. I understand this is connected to the Hydrocortisone Medication I have to take as above. I hope you are all still awake.



Some international readers might have heard of our mouse plague in the West of our state of New South Wales, here in Australia. Louise has ordered some big plastic boxes with lids ready to put goods in to protect us if the mice, as promised, move further East to our area, the outer western suburbs of Sydney. Stay tuned.

Author Notes A note For some of you, it might be a bit complex and hard to fathom why we feel the way we do about some things. Some of it is wonderful but full of hidden meanings. Pictures are of Louise and her brother with the special vehicle he hired for a day out in her power chair. The other picture is the cover of the Charles Dickens Video of "Pickwick Papers."
Here is a link to read more about the "Pickwickian Syndrome."

Pickwickian Syndrome


Chapter 26
Ramble No 5, 2021

By Sankey

Back in my younger years, I had a Glucose Tolerance test that determined I was Hypoglycaemiac or Low Blood Sugar. I was also informed, however, at that time, I would probably become diabetic someday, down the track. This prediction came true more than twenty years ago. I was subsequently diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic.

I probably brought it all on myself due to the terrible diet I continued to follow for many years. "Chips, Coke and Cherry Ripes*" were the order of most days. At about the same time as the type 2 diabetic diagnosis, I was also told I had gallstones. Undoubtedly related to my erroneous and totally disgusting "*3 c's" passion. The Coke was of course the sugar variety. And please don't get on me about the alternatives to sugar and how bad they are. I have now used sugar substitutes for years with no damage.

I am kind of glad I have taken so long to finally get this new "ramble" going. Seeing I have taken so long, I have learned a lot more about part of this story and the subject of the same.

I am speaking about a new weekly injection I am now on. It is called "Trulicity." For some time I had thought it was another kind of Insulin.

I have posted before about the dramas I initially had when I was first diagnosed as needing Insulin injections.

"Trulicity" is not another form of Insulin. It is a brand new invention possibly from the USA (I am in Australia) and it actually CREATES Insulin in our bodies from its weekly injection. My other Insulin regime has not been discontinued, just the amounts injected in the morning, lunch and dinner have been lowered due to the new weekly injection.

This new procedure has "buckets and bouquets" as to good and bad things about it. On the good side, I am noticing a reduction in appetite and perhaps because of that, I am finally getting some weight off I have wanted to do for ages. It became harder getting weight off, as we have talked about before, due to some new drugs I am on for other things spoken of, in previous rambles.

Now for the "bucket" side of things.

One side effect is to do with new things happening to my body and causing much discomfort as far as not knowing when things are going to hit and need taking care of. Sometimes I can go for hours without these things coming upon me, then, all of a sudden the big rush is on for the bathroom. I was promised I could get some nausea of which I have actually had very little. As to other places, I guess you can figure that out for yourself. 

As I said, the doctor has promised things should settle down eventually and I look forward to that with great enthusiasm.

                                                                                    *****************************

The second part of this ramble is about an associated topic to the above but on the other side of diabetes and to do with blood sugar reading equipment.

For years I have used an "Accu-Chek" meter and the associated tags and needles for my blood sugar readings all diabetics have to do sometimes several times a day. At one time the "pen" that contains the needle combo broke down. Fortunately, I was able to obtain a replacement as I really liked doing the blood sugar testing with the particular unit as I had done for years.

In the meantime, the local doctor had given me a replacement machine called "Care-Sens." I did not like this machine as, unlike the Accu-Chek machine with the six-needle combo pack, you had to insert a new needle for every single reading. I guess you know I was glad to get the replacement Accu-Chek "pen" back again.

I tried everywhere to get a replacement Accu-check Meter as I did not want to eventually be forced to go down the "single needle" path each time I needed to do a reading using the "Care-Sens" meter.  Alas, many places I tried did not carry the old machine. 

My previous Dietitian had moved to another hospital closer to her home in the Inner West of our city but we still kept in touch by e-mail as I really liked her and her advice. It was she who pointed me to  the Diabetic Educator I had been consulting in earlier times to supply me with the NEW Accu-Chek Guide (pictured.) I have been so glad to get that and have set it up ready to use, once all the tags and needles from the old Accu check machine run out. Naturally, the new machine has its own associated tags and needles etc so no carryover of the old ancillaries from the replaced machine. Wish me luck on the new "learning curve."

Author Notes Top picture is the new Accu-Chek Blood Sugar Guide.
Bottom picture is the "Truelicity" Weekly injection box.


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