Thursday, September 27, 2007

I can quit any time I want to...

And a variety of small thoughts today, interspersed with bits of me banging on about my life - no great themes here.

Tomorrow we pack up and leave for the coast, a brief family and friends visit. Tonight Sarah is stuffing cats into boxes and ensuring that all of her cat-show paraphernalia is packed (combs, claw-clippers and cornflour) in her Doctor Who suitcase. I am travelling light (leaving space for books and plunder). I am hiring a car and driving down to the south coast, seeing my sister and my mother and travelling close to the area where I grew up - something I have been wanting to do for more than ten years. It should be wonderful.

And I have tidied up at work as much as possible. I have a co-worker - Dr Suresh, a deeply pleasant man whom I fear may perhaps be a little too courteous for this area of medicine. He is a competent and clever man, one who may end up as a renal specialist or a consultant endocrinologist, and he has access to that vast amount of data they somehow shove into your head in some of the Indian medical schools. However, I suspect he has some difficulty with some of our patients.

Case in point - I received a urine drug screen result from Mr Gouger the other day. This showed that, aside from the prescribed medications, Mr Gouger (squat, bull-necked, seven years for armed robbery) had been using a traditional plant-based herbal remedy (probably about three hundred dollars worth of heroin a day), and had been caught by the pharmacist diverting his anti-heroin medication (spitting it out of his mouth, either to inject it into his own arm or sell it to another person for that purpose). I had written Mr Gouger a letter, via his pharmacist, telling him to come in and see us, and explaining that we would be changing both the type and amount of his medication. He saw Dr Suresh. Dr Suresh documented the following in the case-notes:

"Mr Gouger has indicated that he would prefer not to change to buprenorphine-naloxone and that he feels he would rather stay on 6mg than increase his dose to the suggested 16mg."

A few days later the pharmacist rang and asked me what was going on. I looked in the notes and was momentarily dumbfounded. In a similarly genial vein, Dr Suresh had agreed that the recent request of Mr Grote (tall, thin, eight years for attempted murder and four for assault occasioning grievous bodily harm) for a week's worth of morphine tablets that he could just pick up at the pharmacist would be less irksome than having to turn up every day and swallow the methadone in front of our new pharmacist, and would save both petrol and bother.

Anyhow. I wish Dr Suresh well, and suspect he is destined for great things, but I suspect perhaps not these things.

The other day, as part of my wondrous new post-shift-work life, I went to the gym. First step was a fitness assessment, which is like something out of the Inferno:

Midway upon the journey of my life
I found myself within a small room, nude
For my once-limber body had been lost.

And as I stood upon the trembling scale
A woman, slim and stern, with burning eye
And abs on which a walnut could be crack'd

Assailed me with a caliper and pinch'd
My handles d'amour until I hid
My face...

And so on. Anyway, the striking part of the assessment (besides how many times she used the phrase "...for someone your age") was the readout of body fat percentage and so on. They measure all this by putting electrodes on you and measuring impedance, etc. I learned that not only was my percentage of extracellular fluid below average (the shame!), but there, written down by a machine in scientific looking text was my body weight (ninety five kilos), my lean body weight (seventy one) and my total body fat (twenty four kilos).

Striking mental image, isn't it. It's hard to get the image out of your head that somewhere in me is that seventy kilo man I used to be, embalmed and presumably suffocating under the twenty four kilos (that's close on thirty litres, almost eight American gallons) of fat.

God. It's good to know what you're dealing with and everything, but you can see that this is how those disorders start.

I don't know. I have deeply ambiguous feelings about the whole gym thing. One the one hand I love it - I know my mood is directly correlated to how much physical activity I do - the morer the betterer. And I love being able to hit the punching bag - to be able to go out there and jolt it with a gwa sau combination, or a jab-cross-hook. I love being able to do things.

But the Southern Mental Health division could do a sweep throught the place on a weekday about ten AM and fill the inpatient psych beds for the State in an hour. I think many elite sports-people are a little bit mad, but I have yet to meet a professional bodybuilder who was not all that and then some.

Anyway. I am filling up the time I previously spent studying with reading - currently this, pick it up, it's a hoot. I am able to go into the lounge, wander from book-case to book-case and inhale, picking out handfuls of books, each one potentially too wonderful to be left any longer. Currently we have Borges - Complete Fiction, and A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. Next is Cold Mountain, and then this and then I'm going to try and hunt down this atlas I saw - I feel very self-conscious talking about this - of hominid evolution, and then I am going to try again to read some of the books I have been unable to finish - 1984 (too terrible) and the Shipping News (just too damn good - I kept reading bits out, or just closing the book and sitting there lost for words).

Somewhere in there maybe my anatomy book, but to be honest, maybe not. To be honest, life beckons.

Anyway. I suspect I am now on the borderline between bibiliophile and bibliomaniac. I do fit some of the criteria for dependence - I have found myself having to have a book first thing in the morning as an eye opener, people have angered me by suggesting I read too much, and so on. Like the secret drinker I have books hidden in various places around the house - the desk, the dinner table, the bench where I stand and eat my breakfast in the morning - anywhere I can sit or stand or lie for any period of time. I have several small books I can carry with me, like hip flasks.

Anyway, off to read. I will leave you with this mediaeval curse against book-stealers - sorry if you've heard it before:

For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand & rend him.

Let him be struck with palsy, & all his members blasted.

Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy, & let there be no surcease to his agony till he sing in dissolution.

Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, & when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him forever.

I'm doomed, sad to say, but it's been worth it.

Thanks for listening, post again Tuesday,


Blogger Camilla said...

BJ, I hope you and Sarah have a wonderful time! May Sarah's cats conquer all who stand in their path, returning home triumphantly adorned with ribbons, cups and other shiny things. Enjoy your trip down south, it'll be gorgeous at this time of year with the wildflowers and spring weather. Give my love to your family! I hope they're all well.

I know what you mean about books - I have about four on the go at the moment, each stationed in a different place around the house so I'm never far from a page or two of something interesting. And now...I'm going to pinch and post that mediaeval curse against book stealers in my blog - it's too good not to pass on!

*hogs* to you both,

ps it may interest or horrify you to know that at present I weigh quite a bit more than you. Actually, more than I've ever weighed before 0_0 Ok, I know that a lot of this is water and baby, and I'll be losing a chunk of it all at once in the coming weeks, but still...argh :P

pps "vxmjtq" - secret formula for an Australian condiment viewed overseas with considerable suspicion by those who haven't been brought up on the stuff?

2:08 AM  
Blogger Benedict 16th said...

You Luddite, you antidiluvian, are you thick or what, paper is just so passé, c'mon it's just gotta be a podcast, or an IM or something...


PS Don't forget my Black Angel!!!!
PPS Go The Power

2:13 AM  
Blogger jenblanck said...

Oh no! I just scheduled my own "health assessment" which will include all the pinching and calipering to which you refer. Now I'm frightened. Very, very frightened.

10:00 AM  

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