Doing it himself

My husband is home at last from sea and resting up for a few days before he decides what kind of work he will be doing around the yard for the next few weeks. I have been informed that we are to have a water feature in the front yard, and various other complimentary bits and pieces to go with it.

I am waiting anxiously with one eye on my favourite plants and the other on the bank balance.

I know he works hard out there, he drives ships and is the authority that maintains the decks, so I often wonder when he finds the time in his busy schedule to plan out in meticulous detail what is going to occupy his time during every waking hour that he spends inside his front gate.

The impending project this time is a water feature, followed up by a bit of fancy cementing to compliment the job. I might even be lucky enough to get the veranda fixed up a bit if he can fit it in, or so he says.

I’m not a fan of water features. As relaxing and  as appealing as they claim to be, they also have a tendency to attract the creatures that are looking for other smaller creatures that will be living in the water.  As far as I’m concerned, there are too many creatures living in our immediate vicinity already. I believe we should be focusing on controlling the chaos rather than attracting it to our door. So shoot me and call me a creepy-crawly party crasher.  I’m not a bushie and I don’t like to rough it. My ideal of island living, is to live in harmony with our native neighbours at a safe viewing distance. Everybody remains happy and nobody gets hurt.

In every house we have ever lived in, my husband builds a water feature. They have steadily gotten more elaborate and expensive over a period of time and this one threatens to be his best effort yet. By the time he is finished, I fear we will almost be eligible for shares in the local hardware industry.

This brings to mind our last water feature, of course. He quickly discovered the merit of a decent and expensive mesh that goes over the surface of the water, or the local moggies would quickly make a meal out of the live catch at night, and the rest would be dive-bombed by our meat-eating feathered friends during the day. I have to say that I developed a whole new respect for precision flying while watching my husband trying to save his goldfish from getting picked off.

Then there were the pump filters and motors to worry about, and the wiring that went with it. He’s not taking any chances with that one this time, he’s already had the local electrician in a few months ago installing the low voltage wiring necessary to run not only the pumps, but the lights that are going to surround it.

I’m sure it will look fantastic when he is finished, and I’m sure he will love coming home to look at it, but I’m hoping he makes it service free and self cleaning, because there is no way I’m sticking my hands into four feet of unchartered water to check that the bits and pieces are okay.

One of the good things about this impending project is that the next door neighbour’s overhanging tree will soon be a thing of the past. If you have checked out my previous post on ‘neighbours’, you will know why I am going meekly into the mouth of the lion without a whimper. We all have our agendas.

Live and let live I say. I intend to sit back and watch the show.


revisiting the MT wannabee

Well, I’ve been back into it again today. Another day in the MT-in-training trenches and I’m up to my armpits in grammar corrections, medical misspellings, bad verb tense matchings, and muffled mumblings.

I’ve managed to do another ‘end of block’ test and begin another block. It never ends. And its getting harder. I’m thinking about avoiding hospital scenarios altogether and just going for specialist consultation dictation instead. That is, of course, if I get the choice. I didn’t realise that there were so many different names for forceps, sutures, gauze, scissors, cauterizers, dressings, and clamps. And they are apparently only just getting started. Just when you learn a medical word for something, you realise that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Medical terminology is full of names, numbers, terms, groups, listings, and things that are named after the person that invented the object or the procedure. I won’t name any names here, but some are a little more than eccentric in their undertaking.

I have learned a few interesting words during this course, but the standout for this week would be ‘Pfannenstiel’, which put simply is ‘a surgical incision that allows access to the abdomen.’ Enough said. Or too much in this case.

There is a medical name for almost any bodily function that you can think of. Epistaxis is a nosebleed. Esotropia means ‘cross-eyed.’ Hyperhidrosis means ‘excessive sweating.’ Eructation means ‘burping.’ If you could commit enough of these to memory it would make for an interesting conversation around the dinner table, and maybe even get rid of a few unwanted guests.

It is mind boggling really, the amount of thought and effort that has gone into the medical language. Some of the reasons that the layman finds it so bewildering is the fact that medical terminology has an extensive history in the Latin and Greek languages. It was created to identify the various anatomical structures, treatments, equipment, procedures, and the like. The layman, ie myself, is left dazed and confused in its wake.

I’m feeling mildly relieved that I didn’t invest in that expensive French course that I was thinking of taking up a couple of years ago, because it would have done me little good right now. By the time this is over I’m hoping to have moved on from my ‘beginner medical Latin’ status and can recognise a duodenum from a sternum, hypothysis from hypothesis, claustrum from colostrum, and cystitome from cystotome – all of which, and more, could get me into trouble if I don’t know the difference.

Hippocrates might well be the ‘father of medicine,’ but he has helped create a ‘mother’ of a medical language that is the epitome of ‘what the?’

Just another day

I went out today. This was more of an achievement than an actual social event, considering that I live on an island and there is a lot of precision planning involved in getting ready in time to get out the door to drive the car to the ferry, catch the ferry and walk to the other car on the mainland to get to my actual destination. I find that it is just as well that I am studying a course online at home, and not actually committing myself by commuting to and from work each day, because I don’t know how I would survive it.

I also forgot to mention that my necessary outing was hampered by rain. Not just any rain mind you, but torrential rain and near cyclonic winds. My precision planning became even more regimental as I went about outfitting myself in the necessary wet-weather gear and equipment suitable for what was now turning out to be an epic journey.

I managed to amble from my house to my car as best as I could, geared up in wet-weather overalls, my husband’s cyclone coat, gumboots, plastic wrapping around my carry-bags, and a giant umbrella given to me by my mother. It was hard-going getting from the car to the ferry, but I managed it without getting blown off the jetty and poking a fellow passenger’s eye out with my giant umbrella.

On the mainland the wind changed direction, and my 5-minute walk to the car became approximately 20 minutes, as my giant umbrella wrapped itself around me and then a nearby tree,  scuttling off into the distance and nearly taking out a motorcyclist as he rounded the corner. I beat a hasty retreat before I could become the victim of a near-miss litigation case, and headed for the car.

I made it to the car in reasonably good shape. At least I was dry from the head down.

I managed to make it to my destination unscathed too, considering I was nearly run off the road by a woman trying to evade some other poor soul’s giant umbrella as it rolled erratically by us and into the mist. I felt a pang of remorse and stifled the urge to give her the bird as I darted past her and into the shopping centre carpark.

I loaded myself up with the essentials, and then some, and prepared myself for the elements once again. Outside I was greeted with a slight breeze and the sun making a surprise appearance through the clouds. Not wanting to take any chances, I made a beeline for the carpark and the ferry terminal, where I was presented with a new dilemma. Die of heat exhaustion wearing kilos of wet-weather gear, or find a suitable places to cram it all, in order to get it all back to the island.

I made it, but it wasn’t pretty. I was a blithering, bitching, muddy mess by the time I got to the front door. I promised myself in that last half hour that I was never doing this again. Hang it all, I was moving back to the mainland with or without my husband, and I was taking the dogs too. I’d had enough. He could survive on his own without me.

A moment after my mental rantings, the sun’s rays poked through the clouds in a final run towards the horizon. Brilliant pinks and oranges dotted through the blue-gray cloud, birds sang, and the trees were still. I looked around me, and I remembered why I was here. The peace, the tranquility was all here. The madness was on the mainland. Sometimes I just have to grit my teeth in order to reach the other side and appreciate it all over again.

My new car

I’m not one that generally likes to drive around a lot, especially lately with more cars on the road now than the infrastructure can cope with, but  I have been lucky enough to acquire a new set of wheels recently, which has been enough to pique my interest again.

My husband, bless him, decided that it was time to say goodbye to my poor old clunker, and negotiate a good price on a new car. He’s not one to pay full price for anything though, and is king haggler in a Scottish family who probably still have their first earned farthing stashed in a hanky somewhere for a rainy day.

I liked my old clunker though. She’d seen me through the good times and the bad, and was a queen in her day. Push button luxury with all the bells and whistles. It wasn’t hard to bring me around though. As soon as I caught a whiff of that new car upholstery, I was hooked. The iPod dock and Blue Tooth just sealed the deal, which was a disaster for my husband. It is difficult to look disinterested in an effort to get the upper hand, and therefore negotiate a lower price, when the wife is sizing up for the sheep skin covers and calling the insurance company on the mobile.

I tried to play it cool. I really did. But I was like a rabbit caught in the glare of the new car headlights. I was mesmerized by the digital glow of the cockpit, the luxury seats and the distinct lack of yesterday’s bells and whistles.  And you never know who just might be lurking, ready to buy my new car before the negotiating was over. Hang the expense.

I have been asked, as nicely as possible through gritted teeth, to stay away from any future negotiations that involve four wheels, bricks and mortar, and large sums of money.

Transcription 2012

Well, I’m back into it again. I’ve been slowly extricating myself from the Christmas and New Year festivities, and still feeling a tad lazy and in holiday mode.

I started to warm up my keyboard fingers for a week or two and then got a virus, so my big plans of achieving my goal of 50 percent of the second last module of my study course by now went down the veritable toilet.

I’m talking about my medical transcription certification course. I’ve talked about it before, and I will probably talk about it again, in an effort to blow off some steam and give y’all an idea of just what takes up most of my days, and keeps me up some nights. Nothing I have done in the past, university, Tafe or that horrible woman that I worked with a few years ago, has anything on what I am putting myself through in an effort to achieve my goal of working from home, and for myself.

I’m up to the transcription side of the course, and the theory side is an uncomfortable memory as I settle into the BAC module, better known as the ‘Basic Acute Care’ module. Let me tell you right now, there is nothing ‘basic’ about this module at all. I’m transcribing hospital reports of all kinds, clinic notes, radiology reports, complete medical histories, operation reports, and whatever else that comes my way from the hundreds of ‘real life’ reports that have been taken from clinics and hospitals from all over America, and possibly the world. Some of the jargon in the reports sounds like a foreign language, and that is without the aid of the foreign dictators that are thrown in just for extra pain, gain, and experience.

Just when I think I’m starting to get it, along comes a new dictator in a new setting to let me know that I shouldn’t be getting too comfortable or too smug in my newfound knowledge and experience.

So far I’ve typed well over 350 ‘real life’ reports, only the names and dates have been deleted to protect the privacy of those who participated or were talked about. So rest assured that even if I hear the worst of the worst, I won’t know if it’s you or your grandmother in the next suburb that is going under the knife, having a baby, or a bilateral salpingo-ophorectomy. As you can see, I’ve learned a few new words, and some, like the aforementioned, have been indelibly stamped into my brain for the rest of my life. Let’s face it, who could forget words like hepatosplenomegaly,  oronasopharyngeal or esophagogastroduodenoscopy?

I’m not even getting warmed up yet, and neither is this course. I’m about a third of the way through BAC, then comes AAC, or ‘Advanced Acute Care.’ I can’t imagine how much more advanced that I will need to be to get through the ‘Advanced’ version of it all.

Then after that we have the objective examination portion of all that we have learned in theory so far, of which I am hoping still resides somewhere in the corners of my unconsciousness. After I get through that, then there’s the practical, God help me.

If I manage to get through all of that, I would imagine that I will be more than capable of anything that any dictator can throw at me.

The world is enough

I’ve just managed to surface today after a few days of feeling less than bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, if I ever did, from a nasty little bug that laid me out like pizza base dough.

I’m still feeling a bit mashed and flattened after the whole ordeal, and am finding it difficult to rejoin the ‘human race’ thing that is going on outside my door. I’ve heard some horror stories about how these bugs can hang around for weeks, and I am left wondering what the aforementioned human race would do without me if I were to succumb to an even nastier little parasite anytime in the future.

After reassessing my situation and observing the goings on around me, I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that the human race might be pretty much alright if I was out of action for anything from a day or two to an indefinite length of eternity, or pretty close to it.

Life as I know it would be going on at least, my husband, my son, my parents and my dogs would not be bracing themselves for a disaster of epic proportions and would  just be ‘getting on with it.’ As long as there was a steady supply of food, water, light and shelter, things would roll along. Admittedly, I would be missed while I was down and out, but accommodation would be made to work around the inconvenience of it all for a while, as life is full of adaptation. According to Charles Darwin, adaptation is necessary for survival. And so it goes on, with or without me.

Excuse me for feeling sorry for myself. One gets pretty pumped at their perceived view of being indispensable, and it can be somewhat deflating to find out otherwise.

Alternatively, it can be quite grounding, and even humbling, to discover that I am no more or less important than the next person, or bug, in the cog on the wheel. The world can live with me, and the world can live without me, but I can’t live without the world; my family, my pets, the ones that I love.



Neighbours. We’ve all got them. Some are good and some are not so good. Generally, it would be safe to say that I have the best neighbours. To the left side of me is a vacant block with a nice Italian family on the other side who have friendly family get togethers and smile and say hello occasionally. Across the road there are three vacation houses, which means I see the owners every other month when the mood and the weather suits. Behind me lives a quiet woman who does shift work, so our paths rarely cross. To the right side of me is another weekender that is the part-time home to two of the most self-righteous, unfriendly, impersonal people that I know.  Sadly it is at this time of the year that they decide to take their  sabbatical from parts unknown, possibly  a well manicured upmarket yuppy-ised residential area, where there are more BMWs and Mercedes than there are driveways.

They ignore me some of the time and the rest of their time is spent complaining about my dogs and their ‘constant barking’ that is interrupting the peace and solitude that they have apparently escaped the rat-race for.

Welcome to the real suburbia I say, where some dogs do their thing and bark to let you know that something new is going on in their neck of the woods, ie, strangers, intruders, and ill-doers afoot.

I forgot to mention that I live on an island, and it  is generally known for it’s idyllic beach and bushland settings, wildlife, naturalists, artists, tree-huggers, and animal lovers. Every other person on the island owns a pet, usually a dog or two, so we do get quite a bit of barking and carry-on at different times of the day, especially in the tourist season, when the holidaymakers and a heck of a lot of children come to play; all of whom are capable of making a significant amount of noise all on their own. It seems that even though there is a street full of screaming children and family functions, my dogs are the only things on the aggravation agenda.

I was cornered the other evening when I arrived home from a day of work and shopping, and eager for a rest. It was getting on dark, and they lay in wait for me as I made my way to the front porch. I hadn’t even made it to my front door before I was told all about the terrible day that they had had putting up with the endless rantings from my rabid fur-trio from the front veranda. Apparently is has gone on for a few days, but as I was here for most of the week I can only conclude that I must be going deaf, because I missed it all.

I was later told by a much kinder neighbour, and friend, that my dogs probably barked a half a dozen times during the day at tourists who were walking down the street and the children that were screaming in the swimming pool across the road. She also added that the complainants were out most of the day on a fishing expedition and didn’t arrive home until late in the afternoon. I therefore have to conclude that although my dogs do bark, as dogs do, it is obviously the fact that they are barking at all that is the problem, and that they are my dogs.

I am left wondering why my neighbours do not complain to the families having parties, or about the children screaming as they jump in and out of the swimming pool and run around their front yard. I think it is because they think that they can. They know my husband is away right now and there appears to be a pattern that is developing. Nothing is said while my husband is present and I have his support and backup.

It is a cowardly way of going about things, and although I will take their grievances on board and try to develop strategies to alleviate their ‘suffering’ while they are here, I refuse to stoop to their level and argue the point for the moment.

I will just wait until my husband gets home and chainsaws their tree that is overhanging our yard and causing our plants to die.