Saturday, September 16, 2006

Shifting House

Welcome to my world! This morning I could avoid the joy of sorting through my mothers bedroom no longer. For the past three weeks or so I've been living in a state of perpetual avoidance, clearing a small path from the door to the bed and pretending that all those boxes of unsorted household memorabilia etc were just some bad dream.

Sorting through the kitchen, lounge, linen cupboard etc has been an adventure to say the least and necessary before I could unpack any of our stuff. If an item didn't quite "fit" into the three main categories (keep, toss or garage sale) then they have been assigned to the bedroom to be pondered on at a later date. The "later date" has sadly arrived and cleansak in hand with the promise of a chardy when I've finished, I have leapt into the unknown.

The boxes have been bad enough, the wardrobe a challenge but the "manrobe" ... now here we have reached the biggest battle. (The madcow's brother has raised the question this morning if "manrobe" is actually a word or is it just one of my mother's special little attempts to add to the Kiwi lexicon as in "hark-karks (sweeties) or cripsy chicken(chrispy chicken?)

Along with useful(?) boxes of typists carbon paper, Great Grandma Dryden's recipe book and the last edition of The Auckland Star newspaper, there was an envelope with the eulogies from my father's funeral.

This one was given by his long time work colleague & friend who read this letter he had received from my father some months before and which he felt best explained best their relationship and the man himself. Re-reading it now I can see so much of my brothers in it - my fathers legacy would appear to be a rather black sense of humour which always surfaces in times of stress. Anyway you may like to share it:

Dear Brian
I thought at this time of the year, being the festive season, I should try to relieve the tedium of a chartered accountant's year with some description of my own activites. You have been an accessory to the governments insatiable thirst for tax gathering for so long now you must need some cheering up.

Not long after I returned from Masterton my friendly GP informed me that I was free of Mediterranean Fruit Fly but I had bladder cancer.

So I was poked and prodded, underwent X-rays, a cardiograph and an ultra sound scan with little delay. I am surprised I have not been asked to go public. Perhaps the "Holmes" show? to tell New Zealand "This is how it is".

At any rate I was invited to take residence in the Urology ward at Auckland Hospital. I was told that they would examine me via the urethra. I was asked did I know what that was. I did. But I was tempted to ask if it had anything to do with that American singer Aretha Franklin.

The specialist told me, "We've found some small tumours and we will try to burn them out." I had a vision of some tiny Lilliputian task force creeping up the same old urethra with a bundle of old newspaper and a box of matches. But no. They send up some electronic device which when switched on must resemble those things called sparklers you give the littlies on Guy Fawkes night. Thank goodness sky rockets have now been banned. It must have been a gay old time inside my bladder that morning.

Back in the ward I found myself with a drip input via the wrist and an unattractive output via a catheter. My insensitive son suggested the devices might be interconnected and this was a new recycling programme courtesy of the health reforms. Nonsense of course, but I did have a quick look.

That was some months ago now. I was in hospital less than a week. However there were still problems and I was readmitted in September for a repitition of the same treatment. When I phoned for the appointment they put me on hold and I swear that the music playing was "Mack the Knife."

This time I experienced a lot of pain in the recovery room and I was quite disappointed with the morphine injections they gave me. Next time I want homebake - they say that's got much more kick.

Back in the ward one is reminded that in a urology department male dignity and modesty is summarily dispensed with. An adult male is accustomed to reserving access to more personal parts of his anatomy soley to himself , with of course certain carefully selected exceptions. But here it seems the whole staff can at any time make free with ones intimate equipment with the possible exception of the tea lady and I was never sure about her.

There comes a day of course when you are given the glad news - the catheter is to be removed. The nurse said kindly enough "this is going to hurt so I will do it quickly." Here I resist any temptation to make any embellisment to her remark other than to say she did so with deft tug which would have done credit to any wine waiter popping a cork.

And did it hurt? Oh my goodness yes. The sensation was what I imagine one would experience if one made water, ill advisedly, against a live electric fence.

Now it is December and the condition still persists. I am told it is not invasive and it is restricted to the bladder. I am to go next Wednesday for an assessment by a radio therapy doctor and I believe it is likely early in the new year I will have a 6 week ratio therapy treatment. Daily but not weekends. My medical condition obviously does not warrant penal time. (No pun intended). The aim I suppose is to reduce the tumours to the state of kettle fried chips. In spite of the foregoing I feel quite well and I am looking forward to the usual excesses at Christmas.

So there you are, I hope I've brought some Christmas cheer into the boring life of a poor old accountant.

Blessings from your old friend.

He died some 14 months after this was written and I'm grateful that Brian chose to share it with us. I have very few letters from my father - an aversion to putting pen to paper is a genetic failing he appears to have passed on to his children - but there is one he sent when I first left home, written in crayon on a scrap of paper: