January 2014

Um, yeah. Happy New Year. After nearly 30 hours on the move, we’re home. Signed: Tired & Cranky. No prizes for guessing who is which.

Julie drove out the gate to go to work on her first day back, and ran smack into a flock of sheep being moved. Oh the joys of living in the country. She did manage to grab some pictures.

Good girl! Just move up slowly and wait for them to do something.

Meanwhile, this year at least, I did manage to fill in some of the days that we are obliged to take off under the mandatory stand-down from before Christmas Day until after News Years Day. In late November, I started an intensive (and expensive) coaching course on how to make a living from the Internet. It started with selling on eBay, a few things around the house, as well as anything I could acquire elsewhere. I had already had my eye on a Chinese company who drop ship products direct to my customers. Already in December, I achieved my target of $1,000 of gross sales on eBay in the first month. A very long time ago, I installed an online shop and then had no clue as to what to do with it. Now I knew! This is the value of this course – it puts all the bits of information I already knew into a coherent body of knowledge. And as I have already seen for myself on the eBay sales, it works.

Meanwhile back at the cottage, Angel, cleverly disguised as a door, has been slammed by Buddy, cleverly disguised as Angel. He pounces on her pretty heavily sometimes and she occasionally buckles temporarily under the weight. Although, to her credit, she occasionally gives him a hard time when she has the motivation to do so, or when she really wants to play and he does lies there and does his “cat” thing. The video for this month is testament to their new interaction. Buddy had flopped down on top of her Marrowbone treat (not to be confused with the Dentastick in the foreground) and she wants it back!

 

I also picked up a horrible lurgie which has me coughing uncontrollably some of the time. I managed to get back to work for 3 days of the new year before I was confined to quarters. Which turned out for the best, because I could put more effort into all of the above. Really strange, because I finally went to the doctor on about Day 4 and there was no infection. Then just 2 days later, there was all manner of colourful gunk coming out and I went in on the weekend to the place where Julie works. The good part about this is that because she works there, I went to the front of the queue, and hardly had time to sit down before I was called. Still no chest infection, but I’m still coughing up half a lung sometimes. Weird.

My comment got published in the Bungendore Mirror!

A chance conversation with a work colleague about my coughing, after she mentioned that I was constantly coughing or clearing my throat, got around to my grief phase from nearly 10 years ago, and I suddenly realised that my lungs had been working overtime for that whole time, because I was subconsciously trying to breathe for Doris. Followed a day later by the realisation that I was also trying to deal with the tube down her throat! And just when I thought I had processed enough, I was right back in it again. Still working on it a few weeks later, but most of the symptoms have gone away. Doris assured me that these two were the last issues I had to deal with. Phew!

And we have just survived the first really stinking hot spell for the Summer. It sort of ended yesterday with a blast from the South-West, but the weather coming in from the North-West. This resulted in a weird looking aerial fog all around. It looked like smoke, but there was no smoke smell. Strange.

About the same time, Julie showed me some little lumps and a sore spot on her back where her bra strap had been rubbing on something. After due consideration, she decided to get a doctor at work to have a look at it. Said doctor poked around for a bit and then went off to get something, which she used to dig out whatever was in there – a tick! Now I certainly didn’t see THAT one coming. Apparently, it was the size of a pin head. For quite a while, we were totally stumped as to where she could have picked up a tick. Eventually, we thought back to when she might have felt her back itching and went right back to the weekend before Christmas, when we were delivering the Gundaroo Gazette and locked the keys in the car. While I spoke to the NRMA, she went with the guy who stopped to loan me his phone, to stand under a tree. Aha! According to our neighbour Kara, it would have been a common brown tick, not the paralysis ones that are so dangerous at the coast. Amazing, it had been in there for nearly 4 weeks. The picture of the small red dot is cropped directly from the original and you still can’t see much!

Earlier in the month, I was on the phone to Dorothy when Julie called out that there was a frog in the toilet (again). Dorothy’s response was, “Only one?” And again, by the time I got there, it was gone. The other night, Julie woke me, saying, “Can you please come and do something about the frog in the bathroom.” It was there alright! I captured it and we put it in a container to keep it safe from Buddy. You can see the toilet in the background of the picture. Twice that night, I was woken by a froggy screeching sound, indicating that the little bugger had escaped and was being molested. I finally put the lid right down on the container and it survived until morning, to be dropped off at the dam on my way out to work.

To add to her tick woes, Julie got bitten by something, probably a spider (later edit, probably a white tail), yesterday morning. By the time I saw her arm, it had an oval shaped hard patch about 5cm by 2cm, with an obvious bite mark in the middle. This morning, she had the hard lump spreading up and down her arm, took my advice to see a doctor before work and was sent home with antibiotics and antihistamine. She was still in bed when I got home, with alternating chills and fever. Such fun living in the country! And the fun continues. Today, I was both exhausted and aware that she might need my help, so I advised work that I wouldn’t be in. Took Julie to the doctor (again) at her work and he sent us off to the hospital. By now the swelling was up to the elbow and down past the wrist, and working its way up the inside into the lymph node under the armpit. The hospital hit her up with more powerful antibiotics and she is staying in tonight. They have switched to one that can be preceded by a tablet that enhances the shot to make it last for 24 hours. So she is on those already and after she comes home tomorrow, we will have a daily visit from a HITH (Hospital In The Home) nurse, to give us the warning to take the tablet as she leaves Canberra and then arrive to put the shot into the cannula. And this to be repeated until it clears up. Fun indeed!

Update. She is home again, but we have to go in to the hospital each day for her to get the shot, because the nurses would probably get lost trying to find us. With my detailed directions, I don’t think so! Edit: they are just too busy with not enough staff. At least it will get us out of the house each day! We have done 3 visits into the hospital. The first took ages, because we had to wait for the doctor, who ordered another blood test. The second one was just in and out, and because the cannula has already been in for 3 days, it was taken out, much to Julie’s relief. The third visit was delayed to the afternoon, so that we could see the doctor after she came on shift. Julie’s CRP level, which measures the body’s response to stress, was down from 350 to 80 in just a few days, so she didn’t need any more antibiotics via the vein, and therefore didn’t need another poke with a needle. Relief! She is now on a week’s worth of oral antibiotics and her arm looks SOOO much better. And she has been discharged from the hospital and off work until Thursday.

What I have learned from this episode is that it’s not the poison from the bite that spreads. The bite introduces a bacterial infection under the skin, which causes cellulitis. The area just under the skin doesn’t have much blood flow to it, and consequently allows infections to spread quickly, and requires major doses of antibiotic to hit it properly. If you’re really unlucky the infection goes straight into the bloodstream, which causes the bright red lines up the limb, which of course is VERY dangerous. In this case, it spread rapidly under the skin and by the time she saw the second doctor, it had already got into the lymph node in the armpit. She was only a matter of hours away from needing some very serious Intensive Care.