Tuesday, 6 December 2022

April/May/June 2022 - That Was The Week That Was

NOTE: It seems I wrote these notes for my blog months ago, then promptly forgot all about them! D'oh! Can I just blame the MS for the memory lapse? Sure, why not?! [laffs] 

Life happens in the most surreal ways sometimes, huh? Normally nothing at all is pending in the diary, then I have a few weeks in a row like the following when it's all go-go-go!

➽ 22 April 2022 - Friday night

My bestie, Keith, picked me up and we went to watch our old jazz band "Pengopuss" playing in the open air, in one of the main public parks downtown. They started at the stroke of 5.30, as the sun was setting, and the Carillion Belltower started its every-fifteen-minute chimes! Sure it was pretty cold - I even managed to relocate my old long heavy woollen Navy overcoat - perfect. Thank goodness my walker has a chair, too.


The band played well, but during the break (when we all happily managed to catch up together), they were confessing that it was pretty difficult playing in the open in pretty-cold Bathurst early-evening weather; Henry's (the bass player) back was so cold that he was suffering spasms, poor guy! Tho they soldiered on. Why the Local Council decided to put on a public concert at that time of day and year was beyond us all. Nevertheless, there was a good crowd of c.50 people sitting around with picnic lunches watching and enjoying... we're a hardy bunch, we Bathurstians!

SYDNEY - Libby and Drew

➽  23 April 2022 - Saturday (the next day)

Libby, Drew and I go back to the late 1980s, and they now live in Canada. So when they generously offered for me to stay overnight in the same hotel in Sydney as them, while they were visiting Australia, I quickly accepted. I hadn't seen them in so long.

Drew, Libby, Mal
Grace Bros, Warringah Mall, Brookvale (Sydney)
Xmas 1988

I don't normally anticipate a long travel journey these days; not because of the MS. No, it's the "UC"... having the unexpected urgency to 'go' mid-travel is NOT a pleasant prospect, especially when travelling on my own using public transport. This was my first good distance journey (c. 200 km/125 miles one-way) in quite a few years, so I normally love to travel. But having no car makes it rather... hmmm. Needless to say, I took enough "anti-poop pills" with me [lol], and all was well, thankfully.

Using my walker, I strolled to our local train station easily, giving me plenty of time to enjoy the morning sunshine and fresh air. The bus trip to Lithgow Station (c.1 hour) was uneventful; everything looked so good and lushly green, after much welcome Autumn rain.

I had about a 40-minute wait at Lithgow Train Station for the connecting train into Sydney; no dramas, as my walker has a nice comfy seat. I had an easy chat with a dad and his autistic young son who had a fascination with trains. We do that in the country: talk to strangers in public!

I love the train trip between Lithgow into Sydney... love the "Ten Tunnels Deviation", an impressive engineering railway feat.

Click on the photos for a larger view)

I grew up on Sydney's Northern Beaches and had no trains, so it's still a fun experience for me. πŸš‚

Due to trackwork, they'd organized busses to travel between Blacktown into Sydney City Central Station. Now, with all the new freeways and tunnels in the city, I was at Central before I realized it. It was funny the change between country and city travellers... on this bus, no one talked! 🚌

Twas an easy access up an elevator to street level, turned left, and practically straight into the Wynyard Travelodge Hotel (York St), which had been pre-booked for me (yah and phew!)

(Random comment: I just found out that this particular hotel is now closed! It was absolutely perfect for me, tho.)

Most importantly for me - I had no "overwhelming sudden urge" (ie. UC) during the journey, which was my main worry, to be honest.

Drew had left a welcome message at the front desk reception 20 minutes before I'd arrived (good timing!)

We all met up in my room, after making the phone call. It was like nothing had changed between us in 30 years! We all decided we just wanted some fast simple food for dinner, a nice quiet place to just sit and catch up; Drew chose the closest Chinese food place via the internet, this place looked good... we had NO idea what we were about to stumble upon!

Drew managed to grab a Taxi on the street outside the hotel, yet the traffic was crazy for like 3 blocks! When the taxi dropped us off, there was no Chinese Takeaway anywhere to be seen... Drew had to ask at an open nearby Optometrist where it was. No wonder we couldn't find it at first... it was down a lane, and this (below pics) was the only sign advertising it...

Walking down this old Sydney lane just after sunset was like being transported back to (to me) an awesomely-atmospheric old warehouse Soho lane in the 1950's1950s or something... but still, we couldn't see this restaurant...

Mr Wongs (webpage)

At the end of this amazingly atmospheric old city lane - there it was: "Mr Wong"!! Sure, we entered thru the wrong door, and were astounded to see it was totally packed! They gave us seats downstairs (hang on... it had two floors?!), where it was just as crowded and noisy. We thought it was a little takeaway... umm... nope! The owner served us and helped us with our awesomely delicious selections!

Catch-22... while we wanted a nice quiet place to sit and chat together, it was pretty bloody noisy, with a few birthday parties etc happening. Despite the limitations, we managed to hear ourselves OK. In one way, it was like we had only seen each other yesterday - it felt so comfortable and normal chatting away. Such great friends - I am forever so thankful for the sensual experience with them.

Did I mention the food was bloody amazing! There were even enough leftovers that we agreed that I take a 'doggy-bag' home with me for dinner the next day; just as well I'd packed into my overnight bag some sealable plastic bags for any situation that could've arisen, huh?? 

(The hairy bloke is Mal)

Drew and Libby

Thankfully, neither Libby or Drew saw me physically pull myself up the stairs by the railing, after we'd finished... no walking stick would've helped, either! (The whole "No, I'm not drunk! I have MS!" thought crossed my mind).

A Taxi happened to be driving up the lane as we left, looking for a pick-up - perfect timing! No traffic this time, only took about 2 minutes to get back to the hotel, in contrast to earlier in the evening. We all went back up to my hotel room and chatted some more, then agreed to meet again for brekkie, before we all fall asleep exhausted in our seperate rooms.

Laying down, I experienced the surreal sensation of laying in bed but still feeling the motion/pitch/sway of travelling on the train! MS? Who knows! Thankfully, I eventually slept well and awoke refreshed

➽  24 April 2022 - Sunday (Sydney)

Libby, Drew and I met in the Hotel Foyer Sunday morning at 9.15am and they immediately 'broke my Starbucks Virginity'... oh yes, as I don't drink coffee, I'd never been to a Starbucks before; tho I enjoyed a delightful white Earl Grey Tea.

Even tho we hadn't seen each other in a long time, with friends like this, it's like time is meaningless. Conversation and just hanging out together was effortless - just as it has always been.

We said our goodbyes, and I turned to return home via the train station, literally half a block walk away for me. I admit I cried on my way down the elevator to the train platform below, realistically knowing that we may not physically see each other again.

Catching the train from Wynyard to Central was easy πŸš‚; the connecting bus to Blacktown (because of the trackwork) was uneventful. I was quite happy to wait an hour for connecting train to Lithgow - I didn't want to miss that! I love my walker and its seat... able to stretch my legs by walking around the station platforms and concourses easily etc. I even managed a quick chat with one of the Security Guards... again, it's the 'Country V City' thing in me. 😏

Loved the train trip home to Lithgow - a gloriously sunny day with endless views across the Blue Mountains during the c. 2-hour trip.

The train terminated at Lithgow station, and I again said G'day to the autistic boy and his dad, who were there the other day.

Bus trip home went to Bathurst all well, feeling tired but happy. 🚌 Everything looked so lush and green after all the decent rain we'd had recently. Not bad, considering we were in the grip of a massive drought not too long ago.

Using my walker, I happily walked the five fairly-flat blocks home from the Train station (where the bus dropped me off). Arrived c. 5.45pm, just as it got dark. Tired by happy.

As my first long overnight journey in while (c. 400 kms / 250 mile round trip), I am extremely happy to report that there were NO POOP ACCIDENTS (TMI, I know...). πŸ˜‰

26-30 April 2022: Bathurst - COVID

Tuesday (two days later): Felt a bit of a scratchy throat, and a bit of a mild headache - thought not much of it. A few Strepsils seemed to help.

Just to make sure, I used one of my RAT kits on Wednesday morning at 6am, and yup: tested positive for having Covid; I immediately reported it to these guys. Over the next few hours, my voice disappeared to a croaky whisper. When my brother called to check up with me, at first he thought he had the wrong number, as he couldn't recognise my voice. I felt quite OK at that point, just a bit flu-ey, really.

I have no idea where I caught it from. I always wore a mask and used hand sanitiser etc the whole trip away to Sydney. Hmmm...

By Thursday night I was unable to swallow anything at all, not even water - my throat had practically swollen shut. What was awful was that I wasn't able to take any oral pain medication for it, either. I would try to lay down to rest, but because I couldn't swallow, I was dribbling like crazy (TMI, I know...).  At one point I got up after trying to lay down, and I thought I was drowning from choking. Momentary panic, but managed to calm myself down quickly. 

I managed to call an ambulance with my almost-whisper voice, telling them the situation, as I was trying to laugh at how awful my voice sounded, but I couldn't physically laugh. I always have a pre-prepared "Hospital Bag" at the ready, in case of sudden emergencies like this; so when the Ambos arrived quickly, I could give them a list of all my medications and personal and medical details etc etc. (Must be because I'm an old "Cub/Boy Scout": "Be Prepared!" lol).

The Ambos were great, too. Of course, they were all decked out in their PPE safety anti-Covid gear... kinda looked like spacemen!

After being Triaged outside, sitting in a wheelchair, I was put into an isolation room in Emergency Dept at our local Hospital.

Their care, help and professionalism were First Class (Public Hospital and all). They gave me a special green gel/drink to gargle/swallow, to numb my throat; it took a little while to become effective, but when it did: oh wow! The joy to be able to actually swallow without choking painfully again was magic!

Later on, I managed to swallow a mouth-mooshed-up cheese and tomato sandwich... and it was heavenly!

All my Medications and anti-virals etc worked well, efficiently and effectively for me, thankfully.

I was admitted to the Hospital Medical Ward on the Thursday night - a single isolated room with its own shower etc (obviously, re. COVID Protocols etc). That first shower I had after feeling so yucky for a few days was truly wonderful! Oh, and being able to eat/drink again without the feeling of choking - ooooh! Thankfully I managed to chance a GOOD bed and mattress in the hospital.

My Android mobile phone and free hospital Internet were awesome (one of the reasons why I updated and got myself one); I was able to keep in touch with people - and (more importantly [kidding!]) listen to the footy (but... Manly lost! lol). My brother tried to ring while I was listening to the game, but he couldn't get thru... stoopid me... I'm still not used to these new-fangled Andriod phones [laffs].

(NB. Really interesting is the old section of the Hospital)

Great doctors, nurses, and support staff. No complaints at all from me - I was a public medicare patient for the whole of my stay.

I had to laff at the funny hole in the ceiling in my room for the A/C... it was an air duct, but uncompleted cosmetically.

The hospital supplied me with a whizz-bang hi-quality mask upon my release (after my three nights' stay), and after a simple taxi trip I was home by 6pm Saturday night. Putting on The Beatles as soon as I got back made me feel at 'home'.

Just as I walked in my door, one of the locals (he works at the nearby Petrol Station) was walking by; he saw me come home, and offered to drop in anything I needed! "The Power of Local Community" - I was happily blown away! It happens in the Country.

My goldfish must have become cats while I was away; their reaction to seeing me again after a few days absent was: "Yeah, whatever!" 😁 They were fine, of course... but became more excited when I fed them... what a surprise!

I amazingly slept the whole night thru (got down to zero degrees, too!) - both bloody rare. "There's nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed, is there?"

I stayed in Home Isolation until Wednesday. All good. Had my groceries home delivered and washing done etc. Kinda 'back to normality' (whatever that is)...

(Postscript: No lingering ill effects for the COVID, thankfully).
I know nobody will read this, but sometimes when I'm bored, I get wrapped up in my frilly pink tutu and put a giant horn on my head, lather sparkles all over myself, and slide around the wet kitchen floor pretending I'm a magical unicorn. Reply "Asparagus" if you read this. Thanks. πŸ˜ΈπŸ€­πŸ˜ΊπŸ˜€πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜„πŸ˜πŸ˜†πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ

➽ 17 May 2022

Thankfully, my local Employment Provider paid for my first Neurology appointment in a long time: $440!!! (Phew... there's no way I could have afforded that!) My brother (David) and I happily spent the day together, travelling to/from Orange (a c.45-minute car ride each way - thank you, David).

The appointment went well - the first time I'd met this guy, but seemed helpful and positive. He wants some tests done, just to see how things are going MS-wise for me.

Added bonus: David and I stopped at the local Pizza Buffet for lunch afterwards! [grins] πŸ˜‹

➽ 19 May 2022

I am so glad there is a disability mobility aid place here in town; just walking past, I dropped in - I got Brian's brakes tightened for free! Ongoing thanks to David and Nola!

After my MS Neurologist appointment the other day, he wanted me to have a complete eye test, as "Optic Neuritis" is something that can be affected due to MS. I checked an Optometrist here in Town - they were asking $200+... I rang one in Orange: $75! So: Orange appointment booked. (NB. Orange is a nearby town, and where my Neurologist rooms are).

Rather than bothering my brother again to drive me there (c. 50 kms), I booked and prepaid my Bus and Train trip (which was thankfully mega-cheap) --- I grew up without trains, so a train trip is still a complete novelty to me [grins] πŸšŒπŸš‚ Yeah yeah... I know... πŸ˜πŸ˜†

➽ 24 May 2022

A bus/train trip day-out to a neighbouring town (Orange) - all good - no 'UC incidents' - that's always one of my main concerns when travelling, unfortunately.

The bus trip was fun, as rather than taking the normal direct road route, it travelled via Blayney and Millthorpe, and all the small country stations along the way - what a great scenic countyside trip!

My eye tests came back 100% clear from any nasty MS effects, thankfully. Even my eyesight had not noticeably changed since my last Optometrists' appointment and new glasses c. 2 years ago - yay! Not bad for a 57-yo old fart.

It was relaxing being able to sit happily undisturbed in a sunny corner of a quiet pub in town, while I awaited my appointment, and then for the return train afterwards - laughing thru a favourite book I hadn't read in years.

I've been living in this town for 20+ years, and Tuesday was the first time I'd ever done that train trip between Orange and Bathurst  - loved it! So much wildlife was spotted on the way, and the scenic country views are incredible. πŸš‚

➽ 26 May 2022

Whilst I've used webcam calls before, tonight was my first Webinar meeting with my MS Neurology provider! There were about 15 of us online, and it was a very positive experience. Looks like I am all right and ready to join the 2010s, technology-wise huh? [laffs]

➽ 1 June 2022

I thought it was bloody cold out there! lol. (-3.3c = 26f) The snow fell just out of town, too. The wind-chill factor is... brrr! But with it comes a stark harsh beauty. πŸ₯Ά❄️

My third Covid Vacc Booster is all done. Ironic, as I caught Covid a month ago, but this was booked like 2 months ago! lol. It's all good. Back home into the warmth... I can see snow laying on those hilltops! πŸ₯Ά❄️

➽ 2 June

So glad my only brother popped in for a flying visit here today! πŸ™‚πŸ™‚πŸ™‚ Love him! We simply would not have been able to do that years ago; it's not that we hated each other or anything like that - we just had nothing in common (there's 10 years difference between us... always has been, actually [lol]). Now we're besties! YAY! 🀩🌟

I wondered why I felt a little 'off' ... it wasn't until nighttime that it twigged: these very mild flu symptoms were a reaction to the Covid Vaccine Booster I received yesterday! D'oh! All's back to [normal] now tho, thankfully.

➽ 6 June

Having my MS MRI this morning, here in Bathurst. There are no dramas for me - I find the process quite relaxing, actually. I appreciate that not everyone feels this way when they experience their MRIs.

(Later): MS MRI all done, with a bit of contrast as well, no problems at all. Loved they had me wear headphones with music playing this time. I even walked home (7 blocks!) - knackered tho... I needed the exercise to keep me warm (It's blinkin' cold in eastern Australia now tho - snow is falling somewhere, just not right here! πŸ₯Ά❄️ The wind chill -1c!). "All's Well".

➽ 8 June onwards

I'm loving this mid-winter sport: State of Origin (really, it's about the only football I watch all year tbh) and the Australia V Sri Lanka Cricket (I'm a cricket tragic!) πŸ‰πŸπŸ‡¦πŸ‡ΊπŸ¦˜πŸ¨

➽ 15 June

MS moments... stand-up too quickly, vertigo and legs go wobbly on me... thanks MS . No harm/damage done. I know it sounds stupid, but sometimes I forget - 50+ years of a living habit, you know...

➽ 16 June

Having Depression on top of MS can be a challenge when it kicks in some days, like most of today. Thankfully, sleep managed to drive it away. Wish it was always that easy, tho! 

Thank goodness for the smooth soothing vibes of ABCJazzRadio, when the 'Black Dog' starts yapping. It's helping to shut the barking down tho, thankfully. πŸŽΉπŸŽΊπŸŽ»πŸŽ€πŸŽΌπŸŽ™πŸ‘πŸ‘Œ‍

➽ 17 June

Had a dream when my MS Tinnitus was so loud I could not hear music properly... awoke and it was actually happening! It passed after a minute or so. BIZARRE!!! πŸ‘‚

Was *just* a little refreshing here this morning... "felt like -5.8c / 21f"... trust me to need to get up and need to 'go' at that time, huh?  πŸ₯Ά❄️🧊 No snow, tho.

All's well otherwise. Cricket on tonight [grins] 🏏 πŸ™‚ Thank goodness my MS seems to be OK when it's cold πŸ‘

Peas be with ewe 


  1. A great post of all sorts of interesting things. I am pleased you made the Sydney trip effort and it seems like it was well worth it.

    1. Thanks, Andrew. It may not sound like much, I guess, but it was a big positive for me.