Staying alive

No matter what the word ascribes, we all take drugs at some stage of our lives, from the day we are born to the day that we leave this mortal coil.

Somehow I was born a sickly child. My first encounter with drugs was when I was rushed seven hundred kilometres along a road which was mainly gravel in those days, to Groote Schuur Hospital, in Cape Town, South Africa. I had Diphtheria. I must have received an Epidural injection, as there is a scar on my lower back. My mother never told me about this episode in my life but my Birth Nurse, told me that she sat in the back of the car with my mother nursing me and the only sign of life was that my nostrils were moving as I breathed. I survived that one. I was six months old.

Between the ages of two and ten I had all the normal common illnesses that kids get including Colds, Flu, Whooping Cough, Measles, German measles, Chicken Pox, Mumps, Tonsillitis, Middle Ear Infection. I also had Eczema and Asthma. Apart from the usual commercial mixtures I had to take to stay healthy I do remember taking Ephedrine for asthma and a variety of potions for Eczema.

Then I had allergies, which manifested themselves at various stages throughout my life. I ended up being allergic to Penicillin, Codeine, Fish, Eggs, Nuts, Mustard and Mono Sodium Glutamate. Somehow I escaped being allergic to Crustaceans. These allergies have stayed in my system for my whole life.

When I had asthma I had to inhale the burning contents of some leafy drug. I would sit with a towel or blanket over my head. The dried leaves were burnt in a bottle producing a smoke, which I would inhale. This effected me getting very light headed and woozy. It also opened up the ventricles in my lungs and I could breathe again. As it transpired, many years later, I found out that the dried leaves were marijuana. In the late Nineteen Fifties the cultivation and sale of this drug was banned worldwide.

I was also allergic to going to school and would try and wag whenever I could. My mother, however, got wise to my antics, and threatened me with a tablespoon of Castor Oil. The latter was a thick tasteless oil, which would rid your stomach of all the goodness you had been pouring in to it over the past times. You ended up spending a considerable amount of time sitting on the toilet until your system had rid itself of all its contents and you had been purged!

At the age of twelve I had outgrown my Eczema and most of my Asthma. I was sent away to Boarding School. The journey there was some five hundred kilometres by train. Here I was introduced to the ‘Gentle Art of Smoking’ as one Peter Stuyvesant advertisement had put it. My Mother and Father had always been light smokers and gave up from time to time. My Uncle and Aunt smoked heavily. I had had the odd puff now and then and had received my due punishment for pinching a cigarette. But once I was free from the constraints placed upon in the home environment I could do as I pleased, to a point. Smoking at school was banned to students up to the final year. During your senior year, if you were inclined to smoke, you could do so in the House Smoking Room. Needless to say I started smoking at the age of 12 in the boathouse beneath the Assembly Hall.

Life moved on and like everyone else I went through adolescence experimenting with all types of recreational drugs. First there was alcohol, which I tasted when I was fifteen. There were many a drunken party where we youngsters ran around out of control. But living at home presented problems and one had to sober up before sneaking in to the house just in case Mom or Dad were waiting in the passageway. This mainly happened during school holidays, as at boarding school there was very little chance of obtaining booze. I tried marijuana twice in my life and hashish once. On every occasion I became violently ill with a pounding headache and throwing up all over the place. It was not for me and I stayed with wine, beer and cigarettes. One sunny afternoon in a crowded smoke-filled room, someone was dealing out LSD pills and encouraged by the rest of the gang I swallowed one. I am not sure how long it took to react but I remember all kinds of changing colours in the room. Someone mentioned a bird and jumping on to the open windowsill I said, “Look, I am a bird, I can fly!”. Luckily for me the room was on the ground level or else I might have come to grief. That was my one and only experiment with hard drugs.

At times in my life I smoked and drank as if there was no tomorrow. My wife smoked, my mother smoked, my aunt smoked and I smoked more than them. Stress from business activities added impetus to my smoking and by the time I had reached the age of thirty one I was smoking seventy five cigarettes a day!

Then one day we were having a get together on the farm. We were having a good time smoking and drinking. Just before lunch I felt a great sideways pressure on my chest and lungs and for a moment I thought that I was going to have a heart attack. I started to cough and went outside into the garden. The coughing got worse and suddenly I coughed up some phlegm, which was blood red. I had coughed up blood! This really scared me. After I had recovered my composure I went back inside and picked up my packet of Texan cigarettes, held it in my hands and squashed it and declared that I would never smoke again. And I never did. I went Cold Turkey!

My family laughed at me, my friends mocked me and tried to get me to smoke again but I steadfastly refused and they eventually got the message and gave up their taunts.

That however, was the start of a life of living with asthma with episodes of anxiety and extreme deprivation of oxygen, which at times brought me to the brink of death, or so it seemed.

The young doctor who had set up a general practice in our town was at a loss as what to give me so I was fed cortisone in large quantities. In no time at all I went from a person weighing in at eighty-five kilos to weighing one hundred and thirty five kilos. I was sent to Tygerberg Hospital at Bellville, near Cape Town where the doctors put me in a sealed chamber and sucked all the air out of the chamber whilst asking me how I felt. Then they would let in a mixture of air and ask me questions again. I was glad to get out of that chamber! Then they did a variety of allergy tests and other test where I swallowed a thick fluid while they took X-rays. But in the end I was sent home again with the same medicines that they normally give to asthmatics.

I have found over the years that I seem to be affected by variables in climate and smoke from bush or campfires. I also have to make sure that I do not get a chest infection. I have been able to treat my asthma successfully up in to my mid sixties by using preventative medicines and cortisone when needed.

After spending a lifetime drinking beer, wine and spirits I was nabbed by a Random Breath Test Police Unit one night. I blew .126 in the bag. I lost my Drivers Licence for 6 months and was fined $300. It was such a shock to the system that I went off alcohol for nigh on 5 years. When I started again I only imbibed occasionally and I cut my consumption right back to minimal levels.

When I first started having annual medical check-ups by my GP I found out that I was prone to gout. This did not trouble me often but it was there and bit me when I was not looking. Tablets normally cured the attack and for a short while I would watch what I ate. Unfortunately, like with most things in life, one tends to forget what you should or should not do and gout would return at the most unexpected time.

When my arthritis condition became apparent I tried many of the remedies such as Sharks Cartilage, Glucosamine, Celebrex and even a small amount of Vioxx. Nothing worked, and I gave up trying to find an answer. When pain became too severe I would rub a bit of Tiger Balm in to the affected areas and that would relieve pain for a while.

From the age of 58, and over a 6 year period, I went through the process of having both my knees replaced with Titanium Alloy prostheses.

At first the GP said, “You have osteo-arthritis” and sent me to the X-ray department at a regional hospital 110km away from our town. My first appointment with an orthopaedic specialist was a disaster. I was in his office for nine minutes. A man of short stature, he had a brusque manner and dismissed me with a wave of his hand when I asked a question. On top of that he charged me $65 for the nine minutes. I was unimpressed to say the least.

I have to go back to the beginning of my trouble with knees, however. It was 1966 and I was performing my National Service duties in South Africa and was inducted in to the Infantry Division. During our Basic Training Course one day, we were performing jumps off the back of a slow moving truck. Kitted out with 60 pounds of gear on our back and carrying an assault rifle, we had to jump off the truck, be stationary for a split second and roll in a forward motion to rise on to our feet and then run. On my second attempt that afternoon I experienced a sharp searing pain in my right knee and was unable to get up off the ground. Suddenly I had unsympathetic instructors, yelling abuse at me, and telling me to get up and to get on with it. I struggled to rise but eventually made it up and limped off to the road verge and sat down again. My knee was swollen but I still had to walk to our transport vehicle for the trip back to our quarters. The following day the swelling had gone down and I had received no medical attention. Whilst doing our daily parade and marching my knee gave way and I fell over. The excruciating pain was back and I could not walk. I was eventually sent to see a doctor at the army hospital. He gave me some pain killer tablets and made an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist at the General Hospital in the city we were in. The upshot of this was that I was told that I had damaged the cartilage in my knee and that I would have to have an operation. I do remember that the specialist told me what the procedure was but that did not sound nice and so I opted to wait a while. The hierarchy at the Army camp were unimpressed with me, told me that I was ‘Swinging Lead’ and promptly transferred me to Army Headquarters one thousand kilometres to the north. I had left the infantry within a week.

Over the years, after I had completed 12 months of military service, I had stiffness in my knee from time to time but nothing untoward. I went about my life as normal, being active, but not partaking in sport. I left South Africa and settled in Australia.

Thirty years had elapsed after arriving in Australia when my both my knees started giving me trouble. I had not noticed that my right knee had been giving me pain and had instinctively shifted my weight to my left knee. This knee had then borne the brunt of my weight and was the worst off in cartilage disintegration.

I sourced another GP in a neighbouring town and he suggested a different orthopaedic surgeon in another regional centre. By 2002 I was in wheelchair as walking was too painful. I then had a double Arthroscopy performed on my knees. An epidural injection in my lower back kept me lucid throughout the whole procedure and I could see by means of a TV monitor what process was being undertaken to clean my knees of unwanted broken cartilage bits. I was able to walk for a short while after the procedure but within a month I was back in the wheelchair again for mobility. My orthopaedic specialist then decided to retire and I had to look for a new specialist.

I found a new visiting specialist in yet another regional centre and he performed the Total Knee Replacement of my left knee in June 2003. This prosthesis was fixed on with screws. It took about 12 weeks before I regained full mobility of the knee. We had to have special rails fitted in the shower and toilet areas of our house to facilitate bending and sitting. I used the wheel chair for a while and then put it away in a cupboard. Later I managed to walk about 50 metres at a time but had to have regular rests stops if attempting to walk any further. It took 12 months to fully recover from the operation.

My name went down on the list to have a Total Knee Replacement to my right knee. Then my specialist stopped coming to the regional centre and I had to find yet another specialist. Finally I had my right knee replaced in September 2005. I was on the mend!

I still had arthritis in my neck and spine as well as in my thumbs, wrists and elbows. The arthritis in my neck was the result of a Rugby injury sustained when I was in my 20’s. My collarbone got broken and my neck dislocated all in one fell swoop. By 2004 I had had scans and was told that my lower neck vertebrae were disintegrating and there wasn’t much to be done about it. My back pains were the result of two car crashes in successive years, 1980 and 1981, both times being hospitalised for a short period.

In 2006 I was walking much better and without the aid of a walking stick. I took our dog for a walk, most mornings. Most of the soft tissue pains had gone. Balance was still a problem on uneven terrain.

My asthma condition had became extreme and one morning in November of 2007 it got so bad that when I got up in the morning to go to the bathroom I could not get back to my room. My doctor was in the throes of leaving his practise and moving away and so I picked another doctor at our local clinic as my physician. On 5 December 2007 my doctor prescribed Seretide Powder for Inhalation as a Preventative Medicine and it had immediate effect. My asthma disappeared on that day and now at the end of 2016, it is still absent. It is definitely a miracle to be rid of my asthma!

I struggled through 2008 with arthritis trying to maintain Mind over Matter. Pain killers don’t seem to work and some cremes give temporary relief but not enough. I just put up with the pain!

At the start of 2009 I started feeling a real twinge in my lower back. Later CT Scans revealed that I have compression of the last four vertebrae in my lower back and bone lesions in two of those vertebrae which touch the spinal cord from time to time. The pain is excrutiating. I saw an Orthopaedic Specialist who told me what I already knew at $11 per minute for ten minutes. In the mean time I was fortunate to see an Orthopaedic Specialist whom I knew, and he confirmed that my spinal problem is bone degeneration and that I had Spinal Stenosis. He advised against a back operation to try and rectify the degeneration as it could lead to complications at my age. The good news was that the spinal cord was not being touched.

I had a Carpal Tunnel operation to my right hand in April of 2009 and that has healed well and the numbness has dissipated and the neck pain has ceased as well. I have had an Ultrasound Injection to my right shoulder which has had the immediate effect of taking away 99% of shoulder pain.

An extreme gout attack at the end of August 2010 saw me give up drinking any alcohol for a while and diversifying my diet away from those foods which are rich in purines. Over the next two years however the mind slipped and though I have kept away from rich foods I have had the tendency to snack out on biscuits and sweet stuff. Building a ‘wine cellar’ in an disused fireplace in the house saw to the increase of wine drinking and the nett result being more weight gain.

Whilst in Arnhem Land in 2012 I was standing on the rear wheel of our 4×4 tying down gear to the roof rack when the rope gave way. I fell back, hit my head on the door which knocked me out for a few seconds and then dropped down to the ground and landed on my elbow. I dusted myself and got up after a little while and forgot about it. On our way home I developed Bursitis or Tennis Elbow when a sack of fluid hung off the end of my elbow. I had the sack drained twice and had a cortisone injection into the elbow and it was fine until November 2016 when it made its appearance again. Putting up with it for the time being.

My alarm bells rang when my weight gain reached 121.5kgs on 1st February 2013. Worried about the possible onset of diabetes, I resolved to cut out certain foods to try and regulate my weight. So I  ceased eating snacks, biscuits and sweets and cut out adding sugar to tea, coffee or breakfast cereals. I stopped 95% of my alcohol intake and only rarely will I enjoy a glass of wine with a meal. The result to date is that I shed 13kgs by 1st May and my target was to reach 100kg by 7th June.

My 70th birthday was coming up the next month and so I just kept my mind busy and my body active. I was feeling better though the pain was still there and extreme at times, which, without taking NSAIDS can be debilitating but I put up with the cards that have fallen my way.

Ankle Bone Spurs: I have had them from time to time. The last one was in May 2009 and in May 2013 and I had another one. Methinks it may be a seasonal thing. One goes on to the Internet to look for possible cures but many of those just don’t work. The last time I had one an occasion arose where I was repairing a flat tyre on the Canning Stock Route in Western Australia. I had two friends helping. One of them was being mischievous and hit me on the ankle with a dumpy hammer when I wasn’t looking. The pain was excrutiating but when that subsided I found that the Spur Pain had eased. The next morning I hit the Spur one more time with the hammer and the Spur and pain dissolved! I had broken the spur off by all accounts.

I was out camping in the Gibson Desert in 2013 and went to pick up the frying pan off the fire. I found that I could hardly lift it with my left hand. I was at a loss to know why this had happened virtually out of the blue. This condition persisted and I was taking Diclofenac (Voltaren) as a pain killer for my back troubles. I think though that the pills might have had some negative effect to my system and I  stopped taking them. During August and September of 2013 I have either tripped or have lost my balance and have fallen quite hard on the ground. I  noticed that I am sometimes unstable when getting up from the bed, chair or when getting out of the car. So I am watching what I do carefully. My toes and the front pads of my feet have also been effected by my back pain. I find it uncomfortable walking barefoot outside, an event which I have enjoyed for many years each summer. I was visiting a Physiotherapist twice a month in late 2013 and although the massages were good my condition reverted back by the afternoon after a massage. I had lost a total of 21 kilograms in my weight-loss endeavour by November 2013.

My condition for my back and neck deteriorated and I went to see a local GP in January of 2014. What followed was a 7 month saga of seeing a different Locum every time I went to the clinic and getting nowhere near the correct medicines. I had a Cat-scan done and the principal doctor of our clinic reluctantly referred me to nerve specialist in Adelaide. On 4th July 2014 I was put on a waiting list at the Royal Adelaide Hospital for an appointment with a spinal specialist, which, by all accounts, is 3 years of waiting ones turn. November 2016 am I am still on the list.

I battled on with what medicines I had been given. The pinched nerve in my neck caused my whole upper body to feel as if I had sunburn. I carried on going about my business of getting around and doing things but life was uncomfortable.

By January 2015 I had had enough and checked in at the Outpatients Unit and our local Hospital as I couldn’t trust going to the clinic only to wait for a month or so. A young doctor looked after me and over three months went where no other doctor had gone before with high increases of medicine intake and very soon I was on medication that relieved 90% of the discomfort. I still have my falls but I try hard not to. The Clinic has improved its practice since that time. My left leg has swelled up to twice its normal size. Deep vein scan produced nil result.

I am managing my condition but it isn’t easy. I use a 4 wheeled walker to get around.

I had a fall whilst out camping in May 2015 and to protect my fall I put my right hand out to break the fall and bent it back hard. The result from that is a swollen wrist gland called a Ganglion. It rose up quite high and I went to see a specialist at the RAH. He was keen to take it out but would not guarantee that it would not reappear. I said No and he walked off in a huff. Since then the Ganglion has settled down and is normally hard to see

I have circumvented the Waiting List system by default. Whilst on a visit to Melbourne a Doctor friend of ours kindly organised for me to have a MRI scan. We then went on holiday to Tasmania and three months later on our return he helped me see a Neurosurgeon in Melbourne. This young fellow is a kindly and caring person and he asked his friend, a Neurologist in Adelaide, to see me and this happened in September of 2016. Hopefully I will have answers soon after a MRI Brain scan, special urine sampling and a nerve conductivity test.

I May 2016 I discovered blood in my urine. I rang the Clinic and I saw a doctor immediately.  I gave urine samples and a short time later my doctor called me in to the clinic and told me bluntly that I had cancer. I was stunned. I was then referred to a Urologist in Adelaide who saw me within two weeks and he concluded that I had to see another specialist at the Lyell McEwin Hospital in Elizabethvale. He told me he would mark it Urgent. I asked how quick Urgent may be and he answered, two to thee months.

So we went to Queensland on holiday for three months. In September 2016 I saw the specialist and a few weeks later I had a Cystoscopy whereby a camera is inserted into the bladder via the penis canal. I was able to see the tumor in my bladder. It is the size of my thumb. I am having a bladder procedure and the tumor removed in December of 2016.

By November of 2016 I had regained the weight I had shed in 2013. I am trying to lose it again. My eyes are getting weaker and I am now taking eye drops to fight Glaucoma

Nerve issues now really bad with constant burning sensation all over body including my face. Walking is difficult even with a Walker. But I manage somehow…….

Bursitis has appeared on my right elbow again. My Doctor say she will sucking it out next time we meet and then give me a cortisone injection

Had an Ultrasound and Cortisone injection to my left shoulder. I fell against the back wall of the house in 2015 and my arm has hurt from time to time plus my shoulder felt like it slipped out of joint fro time to time. This is the 2nd Cortisone injection the shoulder has had. Last one was about 10 years ago. Injection has not worked for arm pain as the medico said.

I am going for a pre-operation consultation soon. Paper states that it could take 4 hours. Result: Wasn’t much to it. Drive 230km, Go to Outpatients, See a Nurse, See another Nurse, See an Anaesthetist, See a Nurse, Go home 230km

24 November and I notice that the swelling of my left leg has gone down back to normal. Who knows? I stubbed my toe the other day…maybe the air got out    ha!

I have two falls, a day apart, and they were heavy falls. Suddenly I seem to have less nerve pain in my upper body.

6th December and I have a Nerve Conductivity Study done in Adelaide whereby electrodes are placed on various areas of your body and you are subjected to electrical shocks. Soon after I see the specialist and he tells me that I did not have a stroke but that my neck suffered some trauma in 2013. Then I remember falling on the smooth new floor at Bill’s place in Alice Springs and banging my head. I show that my left leg is no longer swollen but the specialist just shrugs his shoulders.

He tells me I have to be back in March for yet another MRI and a consultation. So no result here yet.

7th December I am wheeled in to the Operating Theatre after waiting in a queue, to have the cancer removed from my bladder. I had elected to have an epidural injection into my lower back which leaves me conscious but deadens the area affected. The Anaethetist, with a heavy South African accent (from Johannesburg) cannot find the nerve he has to deaden due to the arthritic calcifications on my back. I can feel that he tries 7 times and gives up. They put me out the normal way
I wake up with a catheter inserted and the Doctor says that he had scraped the bladder clear of any cancerous cells but that a biopsy had been taken of the cancer and he will let me know. He says that they are going to keep me in overnight for observation. I cruise through the night in a busy ward with 3 other beds. Blood pressure, oxygen levels, antibiotics, saline drip. Later the doctor advises me that my cancer is of the aggressive kind and that cells still remain withing the wall of my bladder. There is no cancer elsewhere in close proximity to the bladder. So it has not spread, yet.

The next morning two nurses come to remove the catheter and they are rough in their execution thereof. It hurts. I have a shower and get dressed and Judith arrives and we are waiting for the Doctor to give me the all clear. I lean on my walker and it tips backwards and I fall off the chair. I black out and wake up hours later being told that I have a bladder infection, kidney infection and some other things and they pump me so full of drugs I cannot even remember Judith coming to visit me. I have a rough few days what with being drugged with Endone and Oxicontin. I have the Catheter in again. By Sunday I start coming out of the haze. Then suddenly a decision is made that I need a Chest Xray. So my bed gets wheeled out of the ward, along the corridor for a long distance then down in a lift and into a dark space where the XRAYs are taken. Then back to the ward. They say I might have pneumonia as there are dark lesions showing on my lungs. I said That’s old news. That is scarring I did to my lungs when I smoked 40 years ago. I asked why the Xray? But you have been coughing! I insist that I have not coughed for the past 6 months. Then I hear one of the nurses coughing and point that out to them. They went away red faced.

I ask to be transferred to Peterborough Hospital and the Doctor agrees and by Monday morning I am feeling better and I push for this to happen. I get up and have a shower and all and get dressed and pack my belongings in my bag. An ambulance is ordered at 10.30am to transfer me to Peterborough Hospital. By 3pm still nothing and so I ask at the Nurses Station what happening? No Ambulance available. Sorry. Yeah but where do I sleep tonight? I have given up my bed! Oh! Umm! Would you mind going in a hired car instead? I said No, not at all. They make some phone calls and after about 20minutes say that the transport is arranged and that it will be here at 4.30pm. Yeah….4.45pm, 5.00pm, 5.10pm and a smooth looking gentleman in a dark business suit walks straight up to me and says. Mr Kempen? My apologies but I got held up in traffic. I am taking you to Peterborough and he wheels the wheelchair with me in it and my walker off through the corridors, down the lift and out to the foyer and to an idling, stretched, black BMW all leather plus. I am in Heaven! We have lots to talk about as this limousine cruises through the wheat lands of our state and deposits me at the hospital at around 8pm. It is still light of course due to Daylight Saving. Judith and Blaise are there to welcome me home and I am soon in my bed and resting.

The nurses fuss over me and I am well looked after. I relax and the stress levels go down and everything returns to normal.
By Wednesday I have the Catheter taken out. I ask when can I go home. The duty Doctor says they are still worried about my oxygen levels and my kidney function. Blood was taken and sent away and the results are back in the afternoon. I am advised that if I can Pee 200ml into a bottle I can go home. So I Pee 100ml and 120ml and call the nurse. Good! You can go! I ring Jude and she collects me and I am back home soon after 5pm. Blaise the Kelpie goes nuts!

So now I am back in my own room. I have a chemical toilet in here which saves a lot of dribbles down the hallway to the toilet.  In the New Year I will be having some sort of treatment to see if we can kill the cancer cells still in the bladder wall. If that doesn’t work then the bladder may have to come out but that is not an option that I cherish

So this is my life now at age 73 and 6 months. I have outlived Wilhelmus Kemper (1765-1838) aka Willem Kempen ‘s age, the progenitor of our South African family, by one month .

Christmas  2016: I am moving about much more slowly. The old burning sensations around my shoulders and lower legs are back again and my medications hardly cover them. My bladder is working back to to pre-operation time. Life has taken a much slower pace. I sometimes feel as if my heart is beating irregularly. But that may only last for a few minutes. So I sit down and take it easy.The summer heat is knocking me about but we turn the air-conditioning when needed to cool the house down.

Old age isn’t fun…………………….

Facebook post: 28 November 2016

Mobility is a precious thing and we sometimes take it for granted.

I used to run through the low scrub and jump from rock to rock on the farm.

During military training in 1966 my right knee gave way and I was transferred to a desk job and told that I will not be able to walk by the time I was 40

Life went on and I arrived in Australia in 1968. I did a lot of manual work including being a builders labourer, brickies labourer (for a short time), doing roofing, digging trenches, creating gardens, and even loading cement bags off the train. In 1977 I was knocking down cyclone damaged houses in Darwin

In the year 1998 at the age of 55 I started getting knife edge pain in both my knees. By 2002 I was in a wheelchair unable to walk properly. Two knee replacements later I was up and about again by 2006.

In 2009 I started to get twinge pains in my hip specialist told me “Your back is fucked”…True….My back got injured in a car crash in Darwin in 1981 when a Roadtrain slammed into the back of my bus. I walked away from the accident but a blood bruise the size of a dinner plate appeared in my lower back. I had to wait six weeks before a Physiotherapist could manipulate me

I was good with my back until 2001 when I had to go on a disability pension. Then the knee operations and then the trouble with my back. But I soldiered on doing stuff and travelling when I could.

In 2013 I lost all of my strength on my left side whilst 4×4-ing in the Great Sandy Desert.  And so things have gone slowly downhill from that time. My Neurology Specialist advised me that I had a trauma to my neck in 2013. I then remembered slipping on Bill and Lizzie’s new floor covering in their lounge in Alice Springs and hitting my head on the floor quite hard

I tend to fall over a lot and end up with bruises on my arms and stomach. I can walk 5 metres without the walker but then I have to hang on to something. I trip very easily. So I have had to adapt to my new circumstances.

However, something else came along to bite me in May 2016 when I was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. I had the tumour removed Wednesday 7th December. There is no pain now. . Its all a new ballgame from here onwards

So if you have good health, nurture it and take care of it and remember that you are not infallible. I get around, drive myself to the shops, chemist, clinic but it is a PITA loading the walker and dragging it in and out of the car. Still, one has to do it

A letter from my Nurologist Specialist all but writes me off as a bad case study and suggests that my GP experiment with drugs. Now taking Lyrica 750 morning and night, Proxen 1000 morning, Sozol, every 2nd day, Tramadol 100 morning and night and this seems to have knocked the pain on its head’ I am still struggling with walking and have to sit down every so often. I now have a Tilt chair for the lounge and makes getting out of the chair a breeze

16th January 2017 received assessment from Urology Specialists. There are four lesions of cancer on my bladder wall and roof. The discussion will be centrered on removing the bladder but will also include tackling the cancer with chemoradiotherapy. This will happen within 2 weeks of this notice. Lots to think about !

Went up to the Peterborough Hospital on 19th January to have a Biopsy done on a suspicious looking wart on my left arm. Wart was cut out and taken to pathology and I received two stitches. Pathology returned that the wart is malignant but a further biopsy is needed on the skin of my arm. It is my left arm and not my right arm which used to hang out of the car window in my early days of driving. Overall I have been very aware of exposing my skin to the rays of the sun

Will be meeting with specialist to discuss the plan of action for my bladder cancer on 21st February in Adelaide

My optometrist sent  me to and Eye Specialist for a Glaucoma test but Dr said my Macula looked OK though he needed a further Field Test which will happen on 15th February in Port Pirie

Sunday evening 19th February 2917 and I am trying to remember what happened this week. I slept a lot, I know. As I don’t (can’t) do any exercise I keep on putting on weight it seems

Balance is becoming a real problem and I can’t go anywhere without my walker. My knees hurt too when I get up off low chairs. My tilt chair in the lounge is wonderful

I seem to bleed a lot as my skin is paper thin and I am forever doing things in the shed or falling over in the house

We went to Port Pirie mid week for a Field Test on my eyes where they test the depth and peripheral vision. Left eye is good but right eye is starting to weaken. Will see specialist in two weeks time. There are specialists everywhere feeding off us oldies !

State of health update: 21st February 2017
I saw Doctor zHoffmann,  the Registrar, Urology Department, Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide today.
My bladder cancer is aggressive and in the wall of my bladder and also possibly in the fat lining of my stomach
There are three options I can follow
1. Have bladder removed. It is a 5 hour operation. Complications are probable but not definite. It is a very traumatic operation to endure. Then that will be followed up by Radiation therapy. Outcome possible extension of life for 5 years but nothing is certain. I will also need to get around with a bag strapped to my body for urine excretion.
2. No operation but Radiation Therapy Treatment over the next 12 months. Outcome possible extension of life for 5 years or more but it depends on many factors and so nothing is certain. Chemotherapy os nit an option as explained to me
3. Do nothing. Outcome possible extension of life for 24 months maximum. Life will become very uncomfortable after 12 months and further on.
I have chosen Number 2 for a number of reasons but most of all that I do not relish the trauma I will have to endure at my age for numbers 1 and 3
I shall behaving a consultation with the Radiation Specialists within 2-4 weeks. That is the way it works here
So while there is nothing to cheer about, I feel happy now that I have chosen a path into the unknown future
Update 22nd February 2017. Doctor Hoffmann, the Registrar Urology Department, at Lyell McEwin Hospital, rang me in the afternoon a bit apologetic stating that I will need to have Chemo Therapy after all most likely by way of injection. This will be to combat the cancer coming back again. This again is a different department so I will need two separate appointments

Here is my story about my Cancer Treatment and its outcome. Go back to my website and look for Living with Cancer where I have written down everything.

I can’t say it is absolute but I feel as if the Tramadol is interfering with my Lyrica and Naproxyn as I have the burning sensation back again

12th  November 2017

I had a reasonable day after I had taken my pills. I worked up enough energy to wash Jude’s car after lunch. After we had something to eat in the evening we watched a cooking show and then a TV tale. I got up and walked to do my evening stuff such as brushing teeth etc. Then I walked to my room and was preparing to get into my desk chair (it is a wheelchair).

Then the nerves in my back gave way and I collapsed like a bag of potatoes hitting my desk cup-holder with my am on the way down and inflicting some wounds. Jude was around quickly to attend to her patient and I am bandaged with all the right stuff.

I have had a fall a day for the past 4 days and it is a worrying trend. I might have to see if I can find an electric wheel chair to get around in

I bought myself an electrically operated hospital bed and I now sleep like a baby. My bladder has also settled down and I am not passing a lot of water at night. Then I got the boys at the Men’s Shed to build me an office desk and now, together with new books for my book collection I have my whole office cum bedroom cum dogs kennel organised. Blaise the Kelpie spends he time sleeping on my bed during the day,

9th January 2018 I got the ALL CLEAR from my Cancer Oncologist. Next check-up is in September

I have restricted my falls by concentrating on what I am doing and have gone 21 days without a fall, Date 15th December 2017. The next record was 44 days without a fall and then I had three in a row in the High Country

20th February and I had a Sciatic attack on my right knee and lost all function in my legs. Taken by Ambulance to the Peterborough Hospital. They gave me two Panadol and sent me home. Nothing they can do. I am on maximum pain relief.

Having a problem swallowing. Had an endoscopy at Jamestown Hospital on 23rd February. My innards stomach and gut is clear of polyps and cancer cells. The muscles of my aesophagus are contracting  and receding intermittently and this is due to old age. Just cut your food finely and drink water with your food at each meal.

23rd February Getting used to using my wheelchair to get around in. We are all learning. Right leg is marginally better.

28th February:

I get up thinking that I will do this and that and then my knees give way and I have to grab hold of grab-handles or anything that is close by and then sit down and figure out just how I am going to do the next task

If I lock my legs back I can stand for some seconds. If I bend my knees I just sink down. It zaps one’s energy

Everything is a new ball game, from fitting the wheelchair through a doorway to reaching out to get something from a cupboard or table

I have not driven my car for a week but I am sure I will have no problem doing that as my foot still works up and down and sideways. Its getting into the car that is the problem

So what I was told in 2009 (that I will be wheelchair bound) has happened, nine years late, but it has still come as a shock

We are looking for an electric mobility scooter or an electric motor to fit to my wheelchair. If I sell my beloved Nissan (the Datto) we will be able to fund a decent scooter. In the mean time I am on the look out for a cheapie

7th March…….One has to be resilient

My computer has a habit of shutting itself down and then re-starting and then I have to sign in again. It only does it once during the day. The settings are for Never to shut down. Anyway I was in the middle of a tale when it happened and now I have to start again

This morning Jude was an hour early with my coffee. Fuzzy eyes could not read the time but the Kitchen Wall Clock was right and we had our coffees at five fifteen

Yesterday I was on my own as Jude was selling raffle tickets in the Main Street. I attempted to go to the Med’s Shed. After rising from my wheelchair, gingerly, I picked it up and attempted to put it in the rear of my Datto. The old fourby has a 75mm suspension lift and upon swinging the said wheelchair up, I lost my balance and fell backwards into the dusty driveway with the wheelchair landing on top of me. It made some holes through skin and I bled somewhat.

As I lay there in the dust contemplating my next move, Blaise the Kelpie barked at me and it sounded like ‘WTF you doing, Dad!?’

I was about to give up and go back inside but instead I rose wearily, propped myself up against the door and lifted the wheelchair into the rear of the Datto and then walked gingerly to open the driver’s door.

At the Men’s Shed the boys had been pre-warned and were attentive as I eased myself out of the driver’s seat, still bleeding and with a sore shoulder. Thanks Rex, Neville and Leo for your help in getting me inside and back out again, with the wheelchair of-course

I slept after lunch soothing my wounds and later in the afternoon we team-worked and washed the MUX, which was quite dirty. MKR took up our evening entertainment and then we started the cycle again by sleeping soundly between widdles

Fast forward some weeks and we went to Adelaide to see the Urologist, a Canadian Doctor this time. The following day we went looking for electric wheel chairs and after a search found one together with a special hoist to get the folded wheelchair into the back of the car. The staggering price of $4395.00 was paid for these two items. I must say that although these items were made in China they look as if they are constructed to a high standard.

And so I began my movement around town. Up to the Men’s Shed and down to the Art Centre and Town Hall mainly to do with the Art and Cultural Festival. One has to be careful but I have found the chair to be stable on my adventures along the dug up streets of our town (sewerage being installed). Inside the house the trials and tribulations of gettimg through

This last weekend I was without Pregbalin (Lyrica or Lypralin) which soothes my nerve endings. I missed 4 pill takings due to a glitch in our system and became as sick as a poisoned puppy yesterday(Monday 26th March 2018). It just goes to show how we become enslaved to painkillers. I would dearly like to give them all up but what is the alternative, as nerve pain will return. Two of the pills that I take are NSAIDS ( Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ) and one is an Opiate (a drug derived from the Opium Poppy ), a Narcotic. This drug has addictive potential, and studies in animals and humans have shown that it can produce a euphoric high similar to oxycodone and heroin. Concern is growing that tramadol may become the new opioid of choice for abusers. This drug has addictive potential, and studies in animals and humans have shown that it can produce a euphoric high similar to oxycodone and heroin.(lifted  from the internet).

Well, I sincerely hope I don’t get to that stage. I take 300mg per day which, according to my research, is the maximum one is allowed to take for someone of my vintage!

My left leg swelled up again and we were directed to a blood clot scanner in Port Pirie the same day. But it turned out negative. So then some antibiotics were applied and dehydrating water pills. The recovery is slow.

Some days my spirit feels ebullient as if it can take off and fly or rather walk out from my position but then reality bites. I got up from the toilet seat yesterday 1st of May 2018 and whilst I was adjusting my clothes the strength in my leg just gave way and I sank to the floor and eventually on to my knees. After a short while I regained my strength and got up and back in to my manual wheel chair which I am now using in the house whilst the electric one is used everywhere outside.

8th May 2018 My leg is back to normal. Wheel chair spat me out in the subway today. I think I had the speed settings wrong.

I am experiencing neck and lower brain pain at night. I think it has something to do with the way I sleep. Will need some experimenting.

I worry that I may be called a Hypochondriac, BUT

I woke up at with most excruciating pain in my neck caused by the arthritic condition and damage to it (rugby injury in 1964 and fall in 2013) so that tears were flowing

I immediately rubbed Deep Heat creme with some difficulty on to the affected part. After trying to sit in a comfortable position for half an hour I rang Judith to get her attention. These smartphones stop ringing after a short while and just as Jude picked the phone up. I called out through metre thick stone walls that it was me calling. She replied “Yes” but turned around and went back to bed in her deep sleep. Anyway I got told off later on for not using the right protocols.

What I wanted was a neck brace which I had acquired some time ago when my neck was hurting. Jude said she didn’t recall such a thing but she would look anyway. So she brought her kitchen steps and very gingerly peered in to the depths of my cupboards finding all sorts of stuff and getting hot under the collar which would be explainable having been woken from a deep sleep at that hour.

“You mean THIS” and handed me the neck-brace claiming she had no knowledge of it.

It is now and my pain is easing. “Thanks Jude” xxxxx
Need to find alternative medicine

And so, on my birthday 7th June the Urology Department of the Lyell McEwin Hospital, Elizabeth South, wheeled me in to a booth. A skinny doctor, who I remember from somewhere, told me to drop my strides and undies and get on to the table and with not much further to do pushed the camera up my penis channel. I was so shocked by the front on examination I forgot to have my PATS form signed and missed out or $150 rebate. There, where the tumor once was some stuff like fibre came up on the screen. I asked the Doctor “Whats that?” and he said “I don’t know.” After looking at thousands of bladders he did not know ! He told me I had to make another appointment like last time to have my bladder scraped. I had the camera removed, given a towel to wipe myself. Then I was helped off the table. The doctor had disappeared behind the curtains and was gone. I was then ushered in to another area and given a long form to fill out. When that was done I was shown to one more counter where I had to organise a booking for the Turst (as it is called). An immediate one was out of the question and we settled for October.

Back home and I have had other thoughts. I am NOT going to have my bladder scraped again. My Oncology dept at the Cancer Centre, MRI showed no cancer cells in January of 2018. So I doubt it has come back. What was shown in my bladder were remnants after chemotherapy and radiation. I will write to the hospital soon.

27th August 2018….Spinal stenosis. The neck pains turned out to be the way I slept. So I re-organised my pillows so that I sit in a more upright position to sleep and I have been sleeping well since and not experiencing any pain

My back is getting weaker and so are my legs. I am going to invest in a tricycle next month so that I can give my leg muscles and back muscles some exercise. Normally I feel good in the mornings and can stand for up to half a minute. Later in the day my back grows weaker and I can only stand for about 5 seconds before I have to sit again

Two incident where my knees gave way in the toilet and I had a jolly old time getting up again. We have decided to sell the caravan (again) as I find it weakens me too much getting in and moving around in it

On a trip to Melbourne we stayed at  motel which had an extremely soft bed. My vertebra must have rubbed together and pinched a nerve as I was in absolute agony. An additional Tramadol was taken and Ozhealth Arthritis Creme used to dull the pain

Back home on my hospital bed and the back settled down again. We have had two extra Grab Handles installed in the toilet and access in and out has made life a lot easier.

27th September 2018 and my Oncologist at the Northern Cancer Centre has given me the all clear on cancer on the outer walls of my bladder and innards of the lower intestines. I am going to have my bladder scraped again to clean out whatever residue there is from my treatment in 2017. Good health has been achieved by a sensible diet and only thinking positive thoughts of my affliction

I am still running into door jambs with my wheelchair and had a roll over in Railway Terrace when the chair slid down a steep driveway access and Blaise, who was on a lead, pulled me over. A local man, Kenny, who was walking nearby, came over to help me get back in the saddle again. Taking the dog for a walk has its moments.

I am getting very weak and my knees are sore and I feel more burning sensation. I must find something give me the exercise that it need, 11th October and the Specialist and I have come to an agreement that I am trying out a new treatment and that I agree to a Cystoscopy and Turbt in February of 2019, but upon reflection I am not going to have a Turbt(bladder scrape)


I had some ups and downs this week but its all OK now and I have less bruises and cuts than weeks in the past.
I am on my last 3 days of the 6 week purge diet and I have not deviated from it
Today was a nice 28C and I rode a little over 3km this afternoon. I am looking forward to buying a new broad seat for the bike on Friday when we will be in the city
I missed taking a painkilling pill during the week and 24 hours later in caught up with me. It is settling down now as I took an extra pill in the evening..
I suppose I had a thought that my freedom would be curtailed in my old age but it is difficult to do some of the simpler things and if I tarry in executing a movement my back pain forces me to sit for a few minutes to regain my strength.So I have to be somewhere near my wheelchair !
But it is better than the alternative so we carry on regardless 

The end of November and another week has passed and I am getting weaker in my back. I have been on painkiller tablets for 4 years now but the dull ache in my back is coming through. Every now and then I pinch the nerve and then the sharp pain HURTS

I am still getting exercise riding my tricycle when the weather allows me to. We have temperatures together with wind storms and light rain all week. Yesterday it reached 34 and today it might scrape in to 18
My left leg is back to normal after being swollen for nigh on 5 years. My left foot is still swollen though but is also less swollen than it used to be.
I have rejuvenated the way I sleep again. I have dumped the pillows for just 2 pillows and the headboard tilt on the bed. I will take all the pillows to the caravan should we not sell it by May 2019
December 2018. Pain from my spine is defined beyond intake of Lyrica, Proxon and Tramadol, by sharp contact between vertebra. Arthritis Cream helps soothe it. I am trying to ride my tricycle every day to get some exercise to keep my back muscles working but the summer weather, so far, has mainly been unkind. Still, I manage to get out there
BOXING DAY 26TH December 2018


We all say Merry Christmas and share the word around to bring goodwill and to share fellowship at the perceived ending of a Time Frame to give some meaning to our lives here on Earth or Gaia as others know it.

For others it has a religious connotation where, for everything that happens to them, they shift the responsibility on to God and declaring that Jesus Christ was the son of God, who was sent to earth to bring some order to things as it was perceived that people were becoming unruly.There is no mention of the Mother of God apart from Mary Magdalene who was his Birth-mother and Joseph, his Stepfather, So surrogacy was happening 2000 plus years ago

This religious movement has brought some order to the world but unfortunately fanatics have once again found ways to draw the peoples to clash with one another in a tribal or religious warfare.

So, over the last million years humans have multiplied to the order of 7 billion.. Animals and invertebrates have grown to multiples of millions in size only to die out and start again

Who are we and where do we come from? There is some resemblance between Humans and Animals and some specie of Sea Creatures. So the mechanism for life on this planet has been established.

The order in which our existence is established is to come in to this world as a helpless individual, go through the process of life in the order in which it has been set and then after a certain time your body stars to disintegrate, to suffer pain and or other things, you become dependent once again and then die.

Some of we humans leave a legacy and others leave none only passing through to perform certain functions to keep this specie going.We have not produced any offspring so there is hope for us to leave a legacy.

And that, my friends, is the way it is and one may only wonder HOW, WHEN and WHERE we fit in to the scheme of things.

The stupid thing at the moment is that I can ride my tricycle but I cannot stand or walk.


Here we go. I feel extraordinary good. I overindulged over the Christmas period and I seem to have gained 2 kilos again.

Riding my trike when I get the chance as the weather is VERY warm and even muggy. My back is still hurting a bit but not so much. I think that most of the pain is aroused by the way I lie at night.

I have shifted my bed to a different position hoping that it will help my back pain. In the dying week of February I felt my backbone go ‘Clunk’ as if something shifted. The pain following that was terrible. I don’t know how to lie down now. My pills seem absolutely useless and I will have to seek something different. Seeing my GP on 4th March. Funnily enough, once I am in the car and driving, the pain settles down.
I keep on hitting my knee on doors and door jambs. Must be more careful and keep the power on 1.

Johm Schofield has built me a new ramp in the kitchen and travel is now without a jarring bump.

I invested in a ‘Tiler’s Knee guard’ which I now wear on my left knee, together with a knee cover to protect my knee from injuries whilst riding in my electric chair.
Back pain is more than my medication can handle. My GP has let me have an extra 50mg of Tramadol when needed.

At my previous cystoscopy in June 2018 there were some ‘unknown things’ attached to the bladder wall and the then specialist, wanted to scrape my bladder and I refused as it had been done before and the thing I dread is them cutting the wall of the bladder and then I would have to wear a bag.
Instead I went on an extreme diet and cutting out added sugar from coffee and tea, and eating sugary items like jam etc This was on internet advice from a naturopathic doctor.

Yesterday’s invasion saw no sign of the ‘unknown things’ and there was only a small calcification bubble on the bladder wall. That is why a biopsy is needed. But I think that my special diet has assisted the disappearance of the ‘unknown things’.
On another note, I do not drink enough water. Years of driving around in the deserts taught me to survive on little water, but that may explain why the calcification in my bladder is there.

It used to be such a simple thing to do……….going to the toilet, that is.
That is the place where I fall the most. Well, it is not really falling just losing the use of my legs, sinking down, even if I park my chair right up to the door.
As it is I cannot stand for more than about 3 seconds before my knees give way. As I need both hands to pull my undies and shorts up I can only balance with my head against the wall. When movement is done I have to turn around, flush and move towards the door. I let go of the handle on the left wall and grab one of the two handles by the door.
By then however, I am weakening and if I am not quick enough my legs give way and I am down. Getting up presents its own problems as my legs won’t work especially when lying down. So I have wait on the floor while Blaise looks at me quizzically, for my strength to build up. Then I have to struggle to get into a kneeling position and on prosthetic knees it isn’t fun. At least I am able to use the chair as a crutch to raise myself up back into the seat of my chair.
Maybe I will have to resort to using my old Porta-potti in my room.

Yesterday, 4th May 2019, whilst on the road and being the driver, I got tired and to swap drivers over we need the wheelchair which is always in the back of the car. Once into the passenger seat, with some difficulty, we took off again. Later we stopped at Mt Bryan for some reason and I needed to straighten out my clothes, which were uncomfortable. I slid off the seat on to the ground, straightened my clothes and then could not get back in to the car no matter how I tried. So I rested on the seat with my torso until I had enough energy to be able to lift one leg up against the door pillar and then I was able to hoist myself up in to the seat. Phew!! What an effort!

[11 months ago the Specialist stuck a camera in to my Bladder for the first time since December 2016.

Although CT scans had shown me clear of cancer the Flexible Cystoscopy showed about 3cm of Necrotic Tissue on the Bladder Wall. I was awake and seeing the stuff on a screen and I asked the Specialist what that was and he said he did not know and that only a TURBT (letters for a scraping of the bladder wall) would be able to make sure that there was no cancer hiding in the bladder wall. After dillydallying about whether to or not to have a scrape I decided NO scrape and that I would try an alternative method. The Specialist became upset and called me a number of times by phone but I still refused the scrape fearing that if they did scrape and they cut through the bladder wall I would have to wear a pissbag for the rest of my life.

My cousin, Anita Immelman Upton, alerted me to a Page on Youtube, Natura lRemedies by Dr Barbara O’neill, Naturopath. She has a Healing Centre somewhere in NSW and also lectures in the USA.

Dr O’neill states that the body has been built to heal itself if you provide the right conditions and your immune system is in order. She states that cancer is a Fungus that thrives on sugar. In September 2018 I went on a 6 week purge of my dietary needs and after that a strict regime of No sugar intake and food that contains lots of sugar.

at the beginning of April I had a Cystoscopy again and the camera indicated that there was no Necrotic Tissue. What remained was a Salt encrusted bubble in the bladder wall where the original Tumour had been. A Biopsy has been ordered but I have not receive further instructions as yet. It proved to me however that diet has something to do with cancer and maybe we should be looking at what we eat and what junk we take in from’manufactured’ food

I have lost 25 kg since May 2017 and I am slowly getting back to my BMI of 90 kg

Billions of dollars have been collected for the Cancer Councils here in Australia. What have they found……NOTHING ! Fancy salaries and fancy cars and tons of pamphlets which tells you still Nothing!

Maybe they should all listen to Dr Barbara O’neill……………..]

Backbone goes click, click, click sometimes. I also get back pain. I have had 4 wheelchair crashes lately when the chair Spat Me Out! I don’t think that helps

We did a 5000km drive to Queensland and back but the car seats are quite comfortable and I pulled up OK after the event. I have additional pain killers……all I have to do is to remember to take them!
We have fitted new tyres to the Isuzu Mux and have dropped the size back to the original and this has made the ca a fraction lower and entry and exits have been improved.


To be continued…………………

Posted in Life Stories.