Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bowel Cancer Screening - FOBT and Colonoscopy

The waiting is over. The results were all clear.

No haemmoroids.

No polyps.

And, no cancer.

I guess my wait was short in the grand scheme of things, but not in my mind. From mid-November to 23rd January.

The weight that builds up is tremendous. And it is mostly carried singularly, and silently.

For, really, what is there to talk about?

No facts. Just fears.
The gastroenterologist was Sarah Cho, who was straight-forward and to the point, as am I. She was Sarah. I was Julie. I would not hesitate to have her again.

I guess I will learn the name of the anaesthetist when I receive his invoice for services rendered. I was told that neither charged a Gap for Day Surgery. Let's see if they walk that talk. My excess to my insurer, Medibank Private, was $150. I pay $164 per month for my "Top Hospital" medical insurance. I understand from the press, that this will increase by 7% in the autumn.
The hospital was North Shore Private, located adjacent to Royal North Shore which is a public (government) hospital. Hospitals in Sydney are a bit like McDonalds, and Kentucky Fried. They come in pairs, on a campus. I guess it makes it easier for medicos to double-shuffle.

In June 2013, I spent 5 days in the public hospital with pneumonia. In June 2014, I spent 2 days in the public hospital with heart symptoms. In January 2015 I spent 4 hours in the private hospital for a minor procedure. Too much of a bloody pattern for mine! The private hospital was nice, but then so was the public one. It cost me nothing to go to the public hospital, even when I am delivered by ambulance.

Yesterday, I took a taxi in each direction, costing about $22 each way. I have a booklet of 50% discount vouchers from the government due to my disability, so none of this is crippling ... mmm ... wrong choice of words, Jools.

I am sitting back taking it easy this weekend. My intestines were absolutely voided, and it is painful to fill them up, trying to push out all the air they inflated them with to get their camera around the multitude of s-bends (now I understand what that s really stands for). I am also having trouble with my balance, more strife than usual. I thought I could just traipse into the city today to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I honestly believe I would have fainted with the effort.

I asked both the nurse and the anaesthetist not to use Gentamicin. He was a bit taken-aback, saying one would only use that if the patient had some sort of patch in their body. I then told him about the teflon in my heart. And, BANG. I woke up in recovery.

I have the Fecal Occult Bloods done again in two years, and if positive, have another Colonoscopy. I am not irritated by the false positives one little bit.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Water Diviner - good try, but no cigar

I enjoyed this film, which I saw at Dendy Opera Quays at 9:30 Saturday morning. At that time there were very few people in the cinema, even though I'd had to queue for my ticket, so something was popular.

Yes, I enjoyed the film, even though it is not even bordering on a classic. I suspect that both "The Imitation Game", and "Mr Turner" well and truly have the edge on it. This, however, is a ripping good yarn. Just like McCullough's "Thorn Birds" is a ripping good yarn - just don't read it after "Anna Karenina", which I did once, eons ago.

There is mysticism in this film. Divining water with either a forked stick, or a pair of wire rods (Connors implement of choce) is pretty other worldly. When I lived on a farm as a wee slip of a thing, my father had a water diviner come in. Desperation will do that to one. His name was Charlie Asimus, and he stepped it out with his forked stick, much to our delighted sniggers. Dad had a machine did a hole, and found water. But it was brackish, and only of use to the veggie patch, not the house.

But, Connor's mysticism extended further than just finding water. He had flashes of life "appear" to him. This happened while he was on the Gallipoli cliffs. I thought this to be one of the better parts of the film. However, once he realises one of his boys did not perish, the story gets away from Crowe. Crowe doesn't have much range in his facial expressions.

There are many hints of Indiana Jones in this story, from the outfit that appears glued to Connor (sans whip), to the wild chase through the markets, to the scenes around Istanbul in general. The portrayal of another culture is fascinating, even though it is only the more wealthy parts of that culture that pervades the second half of the film. The scene in Istanbul's blue mosque, although gratuitous, is awesome, in the classical meanining of that word.

Check for me please, but I think, right at the beginning of the film, the Turkish Major comes out of a tent, ready for the final charge in December 1915, sipping coffee. I felt certain he was sipping it from one of those modern cardboard cups, instead of whatever the Turks drank out of at that time.

Joshua Connor (Crowe's character), had three boys who were at Gallipoli - Lone Pine actually, on 7th August, 1915. This, of course, is only early in the war, and the Army was still insisting that recruits be of full age. So, let's say Crowe's sons were 21, 23, and 25. This would make their father 50, give or take. Joshua is a water divineer, and well digger. He is a big bear of a man, but he is not battered enough. The part in his hair is bloody immaculate! Yes, yes. I know Crowe himself is 50. But the two lives could not be more different.

It is in the chasing down of his still-surviving, elder son, that Crowe becomes unstuck. The shooting up of the train, and the mad chase by the marauding Greeks, down to the bullying of the British attache. Then the chase up the mountain, and jumping into the well to escape down the rushing mountain stream. Give me a break. The jump down the well nicely links back to the well Connor dug in western Victoria, but this, for mine, served to emphasise how far-fetched the story was becoming.

Which leaves us with the boarding house in Istanbul. There didn't need to be a romantic interest. The little boy is important. The fact that many Turks did not like Australians is important. But introducing the woman detracts from the other meanings that Crowe might have been tying to tease out. And the final scene ... yetch! Crowe smiling his beautiful smile, with his gleaming pearly whites. He was a hard-scrabble farmer from the Wimmera area. Read some of the poems of John Shaw Neilsen for the complexity of this sort of life.

I have an issue with the thick, sludge coffe at the end, too. When the woman "read" his empty cup, earlier in the story, Connor had had to swirl the coffee and gulp it down before giving her the cup, which she promptly turned upsidedowm. No sludge there. Yet, the sludge appeared at the end, even though its meaning eluded me. A host of little issues where Crowe was fashioning scenes on the fly.

I would give this a 2.5 to 3. My next film will be "Still Alice". I have seen four films thus far this summer, so my next film at Dendy will be free.
Summer Cinema

My Old Lady (22 Nov ****)
Mr Turner (21 Dec ****)
The Imitation Game (3 Jan ***)
The Water Diviner (10 Jan **^)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Imitation Game lacks guts!

Being a film viewer, rather than a film maker, I hesitate to pan my second film in so many weeks. I am not an expert, but I do have opinions, and they must be given an out. So here goes ...

This film lacks structure and it lacks purpose. The creative folk scriptwriters, producers, director) had not bitten the bullet of the true enigma they were dealing with. The name of the film tells us that much. Talk about being hit in the face by a wet fish!

This film would not have been made if Alan Turing had not been a homosexual. The Dam Busters was made in 1955. So there can have been few state secrets involved with that one. But it was a straight forward action film. This one would have been harder to mould because it is about a bunch of geeks in a hut, working on a whirring machine. Turing's life-style and death, make the story interesting, give it a moral core. But they did not grasp this nettle.

There are two tweaks with linear time. We are given the back story of Turing's first love at school: a boy named Christopher, who mysteriously died. This is done with a number of cumulative scenes. But all limp-wristed. Sex doesn't get a guernsey during the entire film.

Turing's eventual arrest sort of book-ends the film. But Cumberbatch is not degraded enough, especially in the first book-end. Here is a man being chemically castrated, yet we only see the effects (both physical and psychological) in the final scenes. Life doesn't have book-ends. He needed to be under pressure in BOTH bookend scenes. The film is poor for these reasons. There are other issues, too.

The creative team does not respect either its subject, or its audience. Beating around the bush about homosexuality is one aspect of disrespect. Another massive aspect is the filmic treatment of Joan Clarke. The way she is introduced is cringe-worthy, and bought guffaws from women in the audience. The worst scene of the entire film is where the moral crevasse yawns before them, of knowing the German's next move, and realising they cannot/shouldnot do anything to stop the slaughter of the innocents. So childish, and amateurish.

And the two leads: Benedict Cumberbatch, and Keira Knightley. Cumberbatch I have not seen in action before. Not once, be it on big screen, or small. He looks like a geek, and acted like a geek. Even when he gave out the apples. When he told the story of the bear, though, his sullen face creased momentarily with a cheeky smirk. Naughty, and should have done the scene again. When he degraded at the end, it was only his actor's face that dehgraded. He still was clean, with combed hair. No grime under his fingernails. This is not the fault of the actor, but of the creative team.

And Knightly? I have seen her in a few other things, but here she was KK dressed dowdy. She still had that wiggle in her walk, and crack in her voice. Joan Clarke was a geek of a woman under the iron press of insular, provincial parents.

Golly, I could only give this one 3 ...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The year ahead for "the girls"

As we enter 2015, Alannah is 4 years, and 5 months; Juliet is 1 year, and 3 months.

Alannah could have gone to "big school" in 2015, but she is one week older than the cut-off, which is end-July. Her parents have opted for her to spend another year at her Kindergarten-Union Pre-school. She will attend three days per week (up from the two days during 2014), with the majority of the children she spent 2014 with. On Thursdays she will continue to spend the day with Grandad. On Fridays, she will continue to spend the day at the same day-care cottage as Juliet, albeit in a separate building. She will spend most afternoons with me - from 3:30 onwards that is. One afternoon each term week, she is attending gymnastic classes, instead of the ballet she attended during 2014. Ballet was too free-form for Alannah, who thrives on knowing the rules and working within them.

Juliet has a big change ahead of her, but as a second child, she is up for it. During 2014, she spent Fridays in long-day-care, and Wednesdays with Grandad. In 2015, she will spend three days (Wed/Thurs/Fri) in LDC. She will spend Tuesdays with Grandad, and Mondays home with me. We now have an Art House, but more on that when the project is completed next week.

My daughter will be working 5 days per week, with an early morning start, and home by 5:30pm. My SiL will have a later morning start, and a later evening finish. Effectively, Darren does the morning shift, and Kirsten does the evening shift.

My child-care has decreased markedly. However, I am available for sick days, and for Alannah's term breaks. I have two non-home-based activities in mind which I will check out early in the year. My resolutions for 2015 are (read Peter Martin's article here):
  • get all my Family Tree documents in order
  • collect and file my family history images
  • read fiction for an hour each evening
  • listen to more music
  • see a film either in the cinema, or at home, each week.
These resolutions, of course, are in addition to the "things" that I already manage to fit into my neurodegenerative head-space.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mr Turner: more grist to the mill



A brush with Mr Turner - Why can't films about artists get the painting right? [An article by Andrew Wilton, chairman of The Turner Trust]

I read The Guardian a lot. I also read a lot of other online 'papers'. I stumbled upon this essay this morning. It is worth reflection. Prior to this film, I knew very little about J.M.W. Turner, the man. Nor about Turner, the artist. Now, I need to get a glossy book of his works and see if detail was his thing, or whether he just splattered and spluttered the paint across the canvas as Mike Leigh's film led me to believe.

Last year, or the year before, I was asked if I "believed in climate change". Bit like being asked about God, or if one is a "progressive" or a "conservative". My response to the climate-change challenge (for that is what it was, not simply an innocent query), was that I put my trust in those who work in that field. I have no personal knowledge, but if 99% of the world's scientists with some qualification in a relevant discipline believe that the climate is changing, and that man's impact is causing that change, then that is worth taking seriously.

It is the same with this film, which is an interpretation of a man's life, but presented in a matter which has a massive impact. The film leads me to believe that Turner was a beast who painted like a beast. Now, I have to reassess. The author of this article would appear to have experience and knowledge to backup his claims as to Turner's technique.

If Mike Leigh and his team got this wrong, what else did they get wrong? Perhaps Turner was not a beast at all ...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mr Turner: "The sun is God"



This is not an easy film. This is not a film to everyone's taste. Mr Turner was an oaf. Mr Turner was emotionally stunted; an egotist, who thought exclusively of his own wants, and needs. Many people walked out of this film. At 150 minutes, it is longer than most other films. I saw it at Dendy Opera Quays, and they, in their wisdom, kicked off with 30 minutes of adverts, and trailers. I went in at 10:30am and came out at 1:30pm. It is a very dense, challenging film, but it is never, not for an instant, boring.

Tmothy Spall portrays Turner as repulsive, and ugly; with few social graces, except the knowledge of when to sit there and shut up. He grunts, and spits, and fucks his way around his London studio; around Nrs Booth's Margate boarding-house, and through the corridors and exhibition spaces of the Royal Academy. In comparison with a most earthy Turner, John Constable comes off as a nervous mannered middle-brow; John Ruskin is shown to be a prig, with an inflated sense of his own genius.

And Mike Leigh does not explain why Turner is as he is. Leigh is not, never was, a preacher. He treats the viewers with respect, and leaves it to us to figure out. The story is linear, no flashbacks, no "Pulp Fiction" denseness. Everysooften, Spall utters a line about an event in his past. And with that we have to run. He mentions the death of his sister, and the madness, and death, of his mother. His London house-keeper fits in somewhere, as does the woman who asserts Turner sired her two children. The house-keeper degrades wonderfully from what appears to be VD. But this does not seem to affect Turner, who died of heart failure in his 70s. When one of the unacknowledged daughters drowns, Turner's first (and only) instinct is to grab his sketch-book. No idea why this scene is included; we already knew this about the man. And why does it end the way it does? Mrs Booth cleans the panes of her window, smiling in rembrance. The wizened house-keeper slouches around the London studio with its bounty of masterpieces.

The saving grace of this film, is the way that Leigh tries to include his audience in the vision of Turner. He helps us to see what Turner saw, in the way that Turner saw it. And then we accompany Turner as he transforms this vision into a canvas. On his death-bed, Turner is reputed to have declaimed: "The sun is God". But really, it is light which is God. Nitpicking, I know, but light bounces, is refracted, is diffused. Turner's genius, was this perception of light, and his remarkable ability to get it down on canvas. He was more than just a painter of boats bobbing on the Thames.

In a rambling response to Letty, I mentioned the daguerrotype made towards the end of Turner's life. I have found a painted reproduction og the photo that gives an idea of the physical appearance of the great p[ainter. The photo had been taken by Myall, who eventually twigged to who was sitting for him. I have seen other daguerrotypes of the same period, but not the original of this.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The bleeding obvious!

I was telling you about my Bowel Screening. It came back positive. They don't actually use that word, because they would also have to use the word "negative", and that is too much of a statement. Suffice to say, my screening result was "Blood was found". I hot-footed it up to my GP, and she got me an appointment with a gastroenterologist. I saw Dr Sarah Cho this Friday just gone, and she booked me in for a colonoscopy for Friday 23rd January. This will be at Royal North Shore Private (RNS-P) hospital. If push comes to shove, and surgery is required, Sarah will perform it at Royal North Shore Public (RNH) hospital for me. She has assured me that both she, and the anaesthetist, do not charge a GAP for Day Surgery. Medibank Private maintains that all I will have to pay is the $150 excess.
Sarah said that 30% of Bowel Screenings that detect blood, require further surgery. Not just surgery for bowel/rectum/colon cancer. It might be polyps that are bleeding. It might be internal haemmoroids. It might be Diverticulitis. If there are polyps, she will take them out during the colonoscopy. I will cross all these bridges at the end of January. The thing that looms large in my mind, is that right now my weight is hovering around the 41Kg mark I would like to think that at the end of January, my weight does not have a 3 at the front. Putting on weight is so difficult.
Now, there is another thing. To get my papers in order to see Dr Cho, I went through the papers for my Hysterectomy at Easter 2004. Prior to the hysterectomy, when they were trying to work out what was causing the back pain, the bloating and the vomiting, they ordered a colonoscopy. It didn't find much, just two small polyps, unformed and benign. They didn't find the 14x10x8 cyst, because that was attached to one of my ovaries, and looking up my rectum was not gonna find it, even though it was peachy-clean. I read the details of this Colonoscopy, and took a step backwards when I read that one of the medications administered was 160mg of Gentamycin. Now, Gentamycin is not only toxic to hearing, it is also toxic to the Vestibular System.
I cannot find anywhere on the paperwork I have in my files, where it lists the medications administered during the hysterectomy. It was a long-ish operation, where they suctioned the tumour, and also removed both ovaries, the uterus, and the head of the vagina. I was in Prince of Wales Hospital (Randwick) from Easter Thursday, until Easter Sunday. This is four days. I know I was on Morphine (never again!), but I have no idea what else was carousing through my veins.
This was Easter 2004. My walking into things started AFTER that. I remember walking up Bourke Street, Surry Hills at a fair clip-clop as me were bordering on late for a film at Academy Twin in Paddington. I was living at Waterloo at the time. My friend became fed-up with me as I keep diverging from the usual strsight line and smacking into her. This would have been late 2005 or early 2006. I'd had the Peripheral Neuropathy since the late '80s, and the dry cough a similar length of time. The tinnutus was already there when I went for hearing aids 2005. When I worked at University o Technology (UTS) during 2005, they sent selected categories of staff in for physical checkups, one of which was standing on a platform on a ball. We stood on the platform which straddled a ball. The usual time before tumbling was a count of 10. I did not last for a count of 2. The assessor said I should get myself checked. I never did.
Did the Gentamycin administered during my 2004 Colonoscopy affect my Vestibular System I must let my new neurologist know this new information. And I must request that Dr Sarah Cho not use Gentamycin during my 2015 Colonoscopy.