Thursday, January 18, 2007

Imogen's 5th

That's 5th birthday, not 5th symphony, of course.

Last night Imogen uttered the previously unheard phrase "Can I go to bed now?"

She was up with Emily and Charlotte at 5:45am and we all opened her presents together. As a result of her presents she will be able to knit, sew and read complex 100 year old novels (The Wind in the Willows, if you're wondering. Alright, so it's only 99 years old. Surprised? I was!)

This evening we were fed at Jo's mum's with birthday cake and everything.

And what about the previous week? Well. My suggestion would be to start reading the following paragraph, and if you think it's really really boring, go back to one of the old posts and pretend we're on Thursday Island again. Ready?

We cleared out the garage.

What? Still here?

On Saturday we are having a party for Imogen and a small select group of friends and family where the house will be out of bounds. Much of the party will be in the garage. The forecast is for 38C heat, so we might be slightly mad. But the garage does have air conditioning. And a couple of fans. And it will have cake in. What more could you want?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Back on the Mainland

I've been prodded into action by discovering that a few observant readers checked the blog yesterday to see if I really was continuing to post on Thursdays. And I haven't. Until now.

So hello again, and happy new year.

This week we have all been trying to get back into out usual routine. I'm back working at Wentwest and Tharawal. Jo is preparing for her new job at ambulatory care in Campbelltown.

Imogen is revelling in seeing her friends Jem, Abbi, Emila, James, Kate and everyone else I may have missed. Emily and Charlotte have become addicted to pushing their dolls around in their buggies.

The garden is looking lovely, as there has been rain while we've been away - the first in about 400 years, and we've been eating home-grown cherry tomatoes.

On our arrival back at the house, April and Ethan had put up a big Welcome Home sign and left us with food. Having all the rest of the Picton gang visit that night made us feel very welcome.

Our next project is the visit of my parents, my sister and their twins in March. Could anyone lend us a caravan...?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

We treated today, the first day of 2007, like a seaside holiday, that just happened to be on Thursday Island. We walked to the jetty and enjoyed the clear turquoise water, watching the boats and the fish, looked back at the island as if we were looking at it for the first time. We noticed the bright flashed of pink and red flowers in the trees against the bright green of the island and the deep blue of the sky, and all was beautiful.

The rest of the day was spent with water, too - the paddling pool back on our balcony and the sea as the tide went out. High tide now comes up to the road, removing the beaches almost entirely.

Last night we had a barbecue by the beach for New Year's Eve, and several of the other doctors and their families came along. It was early, though, and we never came close to being awake when the New Year arrived. Earlier in the day, Nathan, Jess, Innes, Ziggy and Felix left to go back home. We'd had an impromptu meal on the shared lawn outside our houses the night before. We all cooked up the food we were trying to get rid of, and shared a feast - stir fry, roast vegies and fresh-caught fish. The strangest part of the evening was seeing a huge cruise ship park at the jetty and then sail out of the bay into the sunset. Apparently, our on call doctor had been contacted by the ship's doctor as they had someone ill on board. The patient had a look at the hospital to see whether they wanted to get off and be looked after here, and decided the hospital wasn't good enough, and got back on the boat! If the story is true....

The day before Imogen went out on Maryanne's boat (she's one of the hospital administrators, and very friendly) with Nathan and the boys. She was gone all day (about half a day more than we were expecting) but caught a fish, snorkelled, met up accidentally with the Arnold-Notts, who were camping on another island and came back exhausted but very happy. She's really looking forward to getting home now though. She's missing her friends.

We leave the day after tomorrow, so we are in the midst of packing now. And what will happen to the blog? Well, I've enjoyed writing it, and some of you have been kind enough to let me know you enjoy reading it, so I might continue it. So the title is not misleading, I'd probably update it every week, on a Thursday, of course.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jo's Go

I (JO) has begun to really enjoy the medicine here, just as I am finishing up. I have got to know the system, and a few recent challenges have gone O.K.! Two Caesarean section anaesthetics in the last week and even some people getting better under my care on the ward; very rewarding! However, there was no a/c in theatre yesterday afternoon and that was appalling!
A couple of funny remarks from Emily and Charlotte; on pushing them up the hill in the buggy to the unit, I often pant and groan a bit under the load, and their favourite two comments are: "Hard work, is it?" and "Tired, are you?" At that point I often say "Right, get out, you are both walking the rest of the way!!"
Emily also said to Charlotte today as the latter was trying to climb onto the former's bit of play equipment " Don't you ever, ever, ever, EVER do that!".
Charlotte said to me today as I was cooking the turkey risotto with them on the kitchen counter and listening to Pulp rather loudly, "Mummy, I don't actually like this noise!". I had to turn it down.

I know Tim mentioned it, but Imi can now really truly swim; no snorkel, no aids, nothing. Fantastic!
I shall miss this place; especially some of the lovely people we have met. It is a real meeting point for doctors who care about issues such as climate change, logging in the Amazon, raisning their children without too much stuff or tele or junk food, etc. However, I must say that my children have gorged somewhat on chocolate and jelly-beans during this adventure!
Anyway, we are off down the the breezy courtyard now to drink Cointreau and eat chocolates with our neighbours!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

That Slideshow...

You know after Christmas where you invite all your friends and family to look at the pictures you took? Well this is That Slideshow. Except you can skip this instead because you're your hair. Or dying the cat purple. Or... well, any old excuse, really. And I'd never know you hadn't come. Isn't Web 2.0 great?
So, the first photo is from a few days ago, when we sang on the wards, and here you see us in all our glory!
The next few photos show our Christmas. The more observant of you will notice that we are not on an island somewhere, but still at home. As it was, Emily and Charlotte (and therefore all of us) had disturbed nights and were a bit grumpy. It was windy onChristmas, so the sea would have been rough and we just didn't feel up to that sort of trip, so we stayed at home, and had a lovely day. E & C ended up sleeping for most of the morning, which was a bit odd! We decorated our table and ate the turkey sandwiches we were going to have anyway, together with a delicious pasta salad.

Imogen, Emily and Charlotte can be seen exhibiting their new clothes, badges, stick on Christmas tattoos and big friendly dogs in these photos, not to mention dressing up. I don't know who that man is, but doesn't he look ridiculous?

On boxing day, we went to breakfast at one of the other doctors houses, and went swimming at the pool in the afternoon. Imogen spent the morning over at Reuben, Gracie and Mimi's house, seen here today in the final photo, and when we arrived to meet them at the pool, she was swimming under her own steam in the deep end!

Today was a quiet day, though Jo is on call, and it hasn't been quiet for her yet. It did become louder when the Arnold-Knotts came over, and we had a home-made milk-shake and a quick game of football.

We're all starting to think about going home now and looking forward to seeing everyone again.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

I shall hopefully remember this Christmas Eve for a long time. All the churches in town held a joint Christmas Eve service at the hospital. Against the backdrop of a stunning sunset, the children danced in sillhouette, Imogen lost in her own world, as the congregation made up of locals and patients sang Christmas carols. Wonderful.
I hope it will be this that sticks in my memory. There were other moments that might: Imogen wandering out from behind the minister just as he started talking, holding her dress in her hand to reveal to the whole congregation her lack of underwear. Or perhaps Imogen asking during the rather tub-thumping sermon "Why is he shouting? Is he cross?"
The girls fell straight asleep on getting back home, which meant they miss putting the stockings up, and we'll save putting out the presents under the tree until tomorrow.

It's been a family day, just as Christmas should be. We were at the pool this afternoon and came back here, having a picnic at both places. Jo prepared turkey, salads, little mince pin-wheels and I made Damper with Imogen, which turned out very well. We were a bit surprised, after all this preparation to discover everyone else was ordering pizza! Still, we got kudos points for cooking above and beyond the call of duty.

So, as I believe you're supposed to say on "The night before Christmas," Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas is coming...

You may remember in my last post I said:
"Tomorrow there's a doctors breakfast, carols on the ward (as opposed to Carol's on the ward - I'm sure tomorrow is her day off), a Primary Health Care party serving up Dugong and Turtle and a little bit of work in between."

As it happened it was even stranger than that! Unfortunately, Imogen was unwell, up vomiting in the night and through the day. (She's better today.) Jo was called in to do an anaesthetic first thing in the morning, so I took the girls, all 3 in the buggy, to the doctors breakfast at a local Motel. Emily and Charlotte had a lovely time eating croissants and fruit. Charlotte is very fond of men, and is unable to resist John Vaughan, the Director of medical services here. Every time she sees him, she asks to cuddle him, and yesterday was no exception. Imogen, meanwhile, was feeling pretty ropey, but did ever so well, spending most of the time wishing she could go in the small pool. ("When can we go here? You have to promise").

I didn't let the junior doctors off teaching, though - we looked at the evidence on injecting steroid into people (mainly, joints, tendons, etc, and not sports-people, which is a different and illegal activity), and I used it to sneak in some EBM teaching!

That afternoon, was a short 2 hour stint at PHC, which wasn't busy - everyone wanted to finish early for the party that evening. I spent much of the time opening work e-mails rom people I'd never heard of sending powerpoint Christmas messages. Hands up now if you'd like one. We didn't get to the party because of Imogen being unwell. However, we did manage carols at the hospital.

The carols were great fun. We stood around on the ward, all the children wearing cardbaord wings, singing. Jo sang wonderfully, I croaked loudly. The children all sprinted to the other end of the ward when they heard a helicopter landing. The patients all thought it was great.

Today was much quieter, the main event being a football (ie proper English-style football aka soccer) game for whoever wanted to come. Whoever wanted to come turned out to be the same people (mainly) who were at carols. Interesting... The children joined in again, distracted not by helicopters, but by a passing Santa Claus throwing lollies out of the back of a ute! Emily and Charlotte cried again, but still think he's a very friendly man.

For an Englishman like myself, I'll never quite get used to the heat at Christmas time. I keep having to pinch myself, look at our home-made tree, put Christmas music on, look at Imi's advent calendar to remind myself that it's Christmas. (And I'm looking out for TV, radio or internet broadcasts of the King's College 9 lessons and carols!) And then I worry about poor Santa in his Ute - will he get heat exhaustion? And this year will be a most unusual Christmas, as we're going for a picnic on Goodes Island nearby, with stockings beforehand and present opening afterwards.

But unusual experiences? That's why we're here.

I'll hopefully post again before Christmas, but if you're reading this and you haven't heard anything more personal from us, rest assured we have been thinking about all our friends and family and colleagues. Happy Christmas to you all.