Friday, October 21, 2016

Plating up

I've lived in a few different cities and states now that I am an old man and, prone to reverie as I am, I find that sometimes it takes only a tiny push to send me spiralling into reminiscence.  The most common is license plates on the cars in front of me as I drive.

When I see out-of-state plates on the car in front of me it transports me to a time when those plates were all around me and were the ones I saw every day.  The day-to-day thoughts and feelings I was having when I frequently saw plates from that state come washing over me.  It's like time travel.

Queensland plates, from my sub-tropical early adulthood, always imbue me with a feeling of relaxation.  I am wearing shorts and t-shirt in winter, I am dripping sweat onto a physic exam paper, I am drinking too much bourbon on a sultry midnight wander, I am daydreaming on a deck amidst emerald fronds and dark trunks.

Plates from the ACT, where I took my first real job, tighten me up. I can feel the tie around my neck like a horse's tack.  People are watching me, judging me. I need to conform, buckle down, get on with it. I feel the wind's chill in my spine.

Now that I have left South Australia, those too take me back.  I am walking along the beach in autumn watching the seals. I am struggling with my pager as the weight of work breaks my back. I am going on a meth-fueled rampage, stealing a police car and driving it the wrong way down the freeway before crashing it off an overpass and fleeing on foot, leaving the mangled corpses wrapped in rugs on the back seat. I am strapped to a hospital bed, sedated, as I thrash and writhe.

Happy memories, all these, even those which are dysphoric.  They remind me where I've been, what I've done, who I am, who I'm not, who I might have been had I not been the who that I am right now.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Only plastic surgeons should

I had a mandatory training review today, involving a fairly tedious 30 minute phone conversation with an Authority Figure to make sure I am Ticking All The Boxes.  It got off to an awkward start when the first thing he said to me was, "How was your morning?", to which I replied, "Pretty good, I spent half an hour BLANK". (BLANK, of course, replacing what I actually said, for reasons soon to be apparent.) He made a Concerned Noise and said, "I was once told by a plastic surgeon that only plastic surgeons should BLANK", causing me to execute a series of daring evasive manoeuvres to throw him off my tail.

But it made me think that you could write a good exam question about it.  Here goes:

Q314. Only plastic surgeons should:
(a) Wear shoes with such pointy toes that you are mistaken for an elf.
(b) Remove large sebaceous cysts from the face.
(c) Buy a Lamborghini rather than lease it.
(d) Sexually harass a subordinate.
(e) All of the above.

Feel free to leave a comment below with your guess as to correct answer, or to suggest a better alternative.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Tonight I cleaned out my manbag.  No, that is not a euphemism for sexual intercourse.  I just figured that I looked like a bit of dill walking down the street towards work holding my stethoscope in one hand and balancing a sandwich, an apple, and a carrot in the other.  Well, to tell the truth, I had been thinking that for several months now, but I finally got around to cleaning out my manbag because my Smaller Half strongly advised* me to do it.

Which is nice, because as of tomorrow I will be able to put my stethoscope, sandwich, apple and carrot into my bag before I leave the house and my apple won't roll off the front seat of my car and onto the floor either, which can only be a good thing health-wise.  But, as I've already mentioned, first I had to clean it out.

My manbag management protocol is pretty much the same as the way my brain works.  I just jam into the top whatever seems useful or surprising that I've come across, and slowly things work their way down into the darkness below where they are forgotten or else take on a strange life of their own.
I found stuff in the bottom of my manbag going back to February 2013, which sounds bad but there is stuff in the bottom of my brain going back to the mid-70's.  Here's a highlist list:
  • 8 pens
  • 3 torches
  • 1 tourniquet
  • 1 butterfly needle
  • 3 paperclips
  • a document telling me that I officially don't have tuberculosis
  • almost 50 pages of patient lists, notes and discharge summaries
  • identification badges and access cards from 3 different hospitals, none of which I actually work at anymore
  • notes and summaries I had scribbled about such diverse topics as sudden cardiac death, management of diabetic ketoacidosis, differences between atypical antipsychotic medications, and "cultural safety toolboxes"
  • about a dozen phone bills, electricity bills, reminder notices, final notices, and termination notices
  • 20 or so payslips, unopened
  • "Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang", by Kate Wilhelm - winner of the 1977 Hugo Award
  • A nice stripy blue wool scarf
  • an empty shopping bag
  • several used-looking tissues (shudder)
  • a partridge in a pear tree.
About a third of it I kept, about a third of it needs to be shredded as its mere existence grossly breaches just about every confidentiality requirement I can imagine, and the other third I just ate with a nice chianti.

So tomorrow I will be able to transport my lunch in a snug, marginally hygienic bag.  It's exciting.  And I will start to fill it up all over again.


Monday, April 25, 2016

We're all in this together

Well my friends, I see your face so clearly
Little bit tired, little worn through the years
You sound nervous, you seem alone
I hardly recognize your voice on the telephone

In between I remember
Just before bound-up, broken-down
We drive out to the edge of the highway
Follow that lonesome dead-end roadside south

We're all in this thing together
Walkin' the line between faith and fear
This life don't last forever
When you cry I taste the salt in your tears

Well my friend, let's put this thing together
And walk the path with worn out feet of trial
'Cause if you wanted we can go home forever
Give up your jaded ways, spell your name to God

We're all in this thing together
Walkin' the line between faith and fear
This life don't last forever
When you cry I taste the salt in your tears

All the hour there's a picture in a mirror 
Fancy shoes to grace our feet 
All there is is a slow road to freedom 
Heaven above and the devil beneath 

We're all in this thing together 
Walkin' the line between faith and fear 
This life don't last forever 
When you cry I taste the salt in your tears

- Old Crow Medicine Show

Friday, April 22, 2016

One dollar - the untellable story

Once again I am back, the turmoil of life having started to abate.  We moved to a new house, in a new city, in a new state, and started new jobs, and the Hatchling started school, and I had an enormous mechanical claw grafted to my spine which appears to have developed a habit of shoplifting fruit.

So I thought to myself tonight - "Self," I thought, "- Self, why not do a bit of blogging?"  So I opened up one of my old notebooks where I keep ideas and found this one:

One Dollar
"Hey! Come back you bitch!"

Clearly at the time I wrote this I was under the impression that this would remind me of some sort of concrete event or thought, but sadly this is not the case.  I have no idea whatsoever what I might have been thinking of writing.  Sorry you. Sorry self. Sorry bitch.  Your tale remains untold.

However, in the interests of not entirely wasting your time, here's a segue .., see if you can figure out the theme:

Last week we went out to dinner to a fancy-schpanzy restaurant with some old friends.  I came out of the bedroom wearing a tweed jacket, because old people dig that kind of shit.  The Hatchling looked at me and said, "Hey! Come back you bitch!"

No, of course she did not.  She actually said, "Dadda, you look very curious." I thought she meant that I looked odd or peculiar so I did my best offended act and instructed her to clarify herself, to which replied, "You look like you are going to solve a mystery!"

Thursday, March 3, 2016


So this patient has a blood pressure of 175/115. Is that high or low? Anyone? High or low? High? Anyone else? You all agree? High or low? This patient, big fat bloke in fact. Is that a problem? Actually he's a Pacific Islander. Is his blood pressure a problem? Anyone? What do you think? Does he need tablets? Anyone? Anyone else? What about that table up the back there, you haven't said much. What? What? Sorry I can't hear you, say again? Yes, that's a good thought, although phaechromocytomas are rare. What else?