A long time between drinks

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted. Where does the time go?

Fig Tree Walk

A few weeks ago, we joined Julian and Shelley on an adventure up the coast. Julian had organised for us all to do the Fig Tree Walk, which starts just outside of Kenilworth. The guidebook had indicated that it was a “forty five minute walk, suitable for beginners”, however I think there must have been an error during the transcription – it should have read, a “four to five minute walk”. The longest component was the trail between the carpark and the start of the walk. Nonetheless, we were there for the company more than the scenery, and on that front we had nothing to complain about.

Exhausted after our walk, we had a late lunch at Monica’s Cafe in Maleny. The bacon and potato soup was a winner!

Our new Vacuum Cleaner

On a similar note, we are also now the proud owners of a new vacuum cleaner. I had always been convinced that buying a Dyson was like buying IBM, but the more I researched it the less convinced I became. It seems as though Dyson certainly do make impressive vacuum cleaners, but I couldn’t seem to find one that came recommended for our type of carpet (at a price I was willing to pay). Instead, we went with a Hoover 7010PH. Interestingly, it has lots of poor user reviews, but it does well in more agnostic “professional” reviews. I suspect this is because general users reviewers more often than not fall into one of two categories:

  1. They love the product and want the world to know what a great investment they made; or
  2. They hate the product and want to warn the world against making the same mistake.

I’m obviously hoping that in this case, the only people writing reviews are in the former camp – certainly my experience with the vacuum so far is that it does a fantastic (like, scarily fantastic) job of picking up dirt from the carpets, and at the end of the day, isn’t that the main thing you buy a vacuum for? Anyway, it has a three year warranty, so there’s some peace of mind if anything goes wrong. Plus, in the UK, vacuuming is called “Hoovering”, so I figure the brand has to be worth something.

Cliffe n Chips bike ride

Last Saturday, we did our second cycle from Boondall to Redcliffe. Once again we scored with sensational weather – perfect blue skies and barely any wind. Brother Jason joined us for the journey this year, and he recommended we opted for The Red Dolphin over Seafood Lover’s Cafe. I hadn’t been to “The Dolph” since the last time they stuffed up our order, but I’m pleased to report that everything came out as ordered, and it was delicious. They’re back in the good books!

Posted in life in australia

Solids

Leo had his four month birthday about a week ago, which meant he was given the green light for solid foods. Truth be told, he’s actually been having (a very limited amount of) solids since he got his CF diagnosis, since he needs to take his medicine in a little bit of fruit gel. So, I’m not sure if having that little bit of a head-start helped, or if its the fact he’s always seemed pretty keen for almost any food he’s offered – but he took to solid food like a pope takes to kissing concrete.

Leo on first solids

Actually, you might even argue that he took to them a little too well.

Leo loving his food

Quite a contrast to how his big brother enjoyed his first solid food, really.

Oscar v Leo on solids

Posted in food, leo

Four days at Currimundi

Its been a long start to the year, so over the Mother’s Day we headed to Currimundi for a four day weekend after deciding that we were well overdue for some downtime. We’d never stayed at Currimundi before, only visited briefly and found the lake to be an excellent spot for kids to play. So we took our chances with Surfside One, Unit 1 on Stayz, and headed up on Thursday night after I’d finished work.

Well – the photos on their website really do not do the place justice. It’s brand new, super spacious, and you couldn’t ask for a better location! Here’s the view we were welcomed with on Mother’s Day morning.

View from Surfside One at Currimundi

Since accessing the lake simply meant walking downstairs and across the park, it understandably played a huge role in our recreation time. We had a mix of sunny then overcast days at the start of our trip, but nothing we weren’t willing to brave to spend some time by the water. Oscar and I spent a long time digging hole after hole, each one grander than the last, and always with more and more features – tunnels through the walls being the feature of choice.

Oscar through the tunnel

Kristy and Leo came down too, when nap time (for both of them) permitted. Truth be told, there were a number of times where nap time and beach time conflicted on Leo’s schedule, but thankfully, he’s a resourceful little thing.

Leo napping in the tent

In fact, his napping ability is so good that even when the tent completely blew over, causing him to be wrapped up somewhere between the floor and a window, he barely even stirred! After that though, we started actually burying the legs of the tent into the sand for a bit more support. It was a rookie mistake, really.

For Mother’s Day proper, asides from plenty more beach time, we headed out for morning tea at Izba Espresso. Its a very interesting establishment – basically, its a decked-out shipping container next to a petrol station – but our coffee and cakes were great. We’d definitely go back.

Mother's Day at Izba Espresso

We also found another gem of a coffee shop at Moffet Beach called The Pocket Espresso. They use Guru beans which I hadn’t heard of before, but both Kristy and I thoroughly enjoyed them. And, being located right next to the ever popular “Boat Park” (as named by the Dahls) means that I’m sure we’ll be back pretty much every time we go up the coast from now on.

The park at Moffet Beach

As is always the way, its only by the end of the holiday that you start winding down and relaxing, and as such, we were none-too-pleased to be driving back to reality on Monday. But, it was a fantastic little recharge, and some downtime from life was just what we all needed. Hopefully it won’t be long before our next mini (or even better – “maxi”!) vacation!

Lots of photos from our time away at Google+ or Facebook.

Posted in life in australia

Central line removal

A few weeks ago, after a routine clean of Leo’s central line at a hospital clinic, he spiked a fever of 38.5 degrees Celsius. Since the fever occurred within about two hours of line being cleaned, it all seemed rather coincidental, so we rushed him back to the ER to get checked out. They confirmed that he had a fever (since they didn’t trust our thermometer) and immediately took some blood samples.

His fever didn’t come down while we were there, so he and Kristy (by extension) were admitted for overnight observation.

Within 24 hours, the blood samples had confirmed that there was an infection in his central line, and his surgeon decided that the best course of action was for it to come out. This meant another round of surgery – which is starting to feel very routine at this point, sadly – and thankfully, he once again came through with flying colours after only about an hour.

Leo in hospital

The worst thing was not knowing exactly what the infection was caused by, which meant there was no definite plan for how to treat it. Early indications were that it was something quite serious, and that it would require five to seven days of IV antibiotics. However, the exact bacteria was identified overnight, and it turned out to be something fairly common – to the point that if an adult contracted the infection, they wouldn’t use any antibiotics to treat it. So in Leo’s case, he was given two days of IV antibiotics, and was then discharged.

So all up it was “only” about five days in hospital, which is really quite a decent outcome given that at one point we were told the worst case was four to six weeks of IV antibiotics!

Consequently, Leo is now free of his central line, which on one hand is sad – it feels like we cared for it for weeks, and all for nothing. But on the upside, his overall cares are much simpler without it – it means he can bath, for example – so I guess we just have to take the bad with the good.

Posted in cystic fibrosis

Fuel consumption

I’m convinced the fuel consumption computer on my Swift is wrong.

I’ve been tracking this since the day I bought the car, and for the most part, the type of driving I do is pretty consistent (mainly commuting to/from work, with various bits of running around on weekends). Likewise, I try to use the same type of petrol each time, and I’m the only one who fills the car so I’d think that my technique is also pretty consistent. As such, I believe that the average that I’ve calculated is a fair representation of what the car’s consumption actually is.

By my calculation, on average, the car uses around eight litres of petrol per 100km. However, the car’s consumption computer always tells me that the average is closer to six litres per 100km. If the figures were with a respectable margin of error (say, under 10%) then I’d be willing to let it go, but given that every time I’ve filled the car, the figures have been out by 20% – 30%, something seems wrong to me.

I reported this when I last had the car serviced (at Zupps at Aspley), and the guy at the desk told me he’d look into it. When I picked up the car, I was instructed that Suzuki had requested I do a more “controlled” test the next time the car needed fuel:

  1. Go to a bowser, and fill the car to the first “click”
  2. Drive exactly 100kms, concluding at the same bowser
  3. Again fill the car to the first “click”, and record the usage.

So, I ran their little test.

Swift Consumption Test Receipts

Guess what? My average fuel consumption for the 100km came to exactly what my long term average had predicted it would – 8.07 litres per 100km (or 12.4 km/L). The car, however, reported that my average fuel consumption was only 6.17 litres for the 100km (or 16.2 km/L) – a difference of about 23%.

Car statistics

I took this information back to Zupps and asked them to chase up with Suzuki.

Seemingly, they were dissatisfied with my result, as they then requested I take the car back to Zupps so they could perform the test themselves. The methodology that Zupps used (or at least, purported to use) differed significantly from mine. My test was done over five days, at different times of the day, in different amounts of traffic, and at all different speeds. That is – my test accurately reflected the type of driving that I typically do. Not so for Zupps, where the guy drove the car 50km up the highway and back, changing gears at under 2,000rpm (seriously?!), and keeping the speed as constant as possible the whole way.

Unsurprisingly, the car’s fuel consumption was way better when Mr Zupps was driving it, given that he was testing it under (close to) ideal conditions. What was surprising, however, was that the car’s reported fuel consumption was almost precisely what the “actual” fuel consumption was! Its “almost” as if Mr Zupps read the consumption computer to see how much petrol the car had used, and then put exactly that amount of fuel back into the car before taking a photo of the bowser! Surely an ethical car salesman wouldn’t do that, though?

As you may have guessed, I am not sold on the idea that this one test – which I did not witness, and was performed under ideal conditions – means that the car’s fuel consumption computer is correct. As such, I’m chasing it up further with Suzuki directly. Hopefully they’ll get back to me soon with an outcome!

Posted in life in australia

Recovery

With two long weekends in a row, its felt like a bit of a missed opportunity to not go away somewhere and do something crazy fun. But we’ve none-the-less enjoyed having some downtime based at home, and we had plenty of social engagements keeping us busy – plus, we’ve planned some away time in the coming weeks to make up for it all.

Recovery from surgery has been surprisingly pain-free. The only pain management I was given was a gigantic pack of Panamax (i.e. generic Panadol), and some [blah] (i.e. generic Panadeine Forte) in case the pain reached a new level – which it never did. Even the Panamax – which I could have taken eight of per day – was largely unnecessary. In general, my nose was relatively pain free – albeit extremely blocked up!

The were really only two bad parts of the recovery. The first was my throat, which was so swollen up (likely from the breathing tube) that it was at times difficult to swollow. My uvula became so swollen and inflammed that the tip went white – be thankful I’m sparing you a photo. The second was the tiredness/lethargy. I was not expecting this at all, even though its apparently very common after general anaesthetic. Weirdly, the first two days after surgery were find – it was only at day three that it really kicked in. Eventually it was so bad that simply walking from the couch to the kitchen and back was enough to be exhausting. Frequent micro-naps ensued!

Regardless, as mentioned, we still had plenty of social engagements to keep us busy. John, Crystal and their two girls (aka “The Woos”) were in Brisbane on holiday, so we had everyone over to our house for Easter Sunday lunch. I blame the lethargy for my lack of photos of the event, so instead, I’m shamelessly pilfering John and Crystal’s photo, even though it makes me look like I’m only half-awake. Hey, at least its accurate.

Easter Breakfast

We also joined Mom, Dad and The Woos for fish and chips at Margate one day, and the kids all loved a bit of playtime on the sand. That same night, John and Crystal cooked dinner for us all, and it was fantastic! I’m totally going to steal their preparation of broccoli (lightly fried with some salt, olive oil, and garlic)!

The other half of Team Barbeque Chicken have recently moved into some new digs near the Story Bridge, so we rolled over for breakfast one morning – including some freshly roasted coffee, courtesy of Julian’s popcorn maker. It’s quite a location – the view from their roof is spectacular!

View from Julian and Shelley's roof

I know where we’ll be going for Riverfire this year! (Julian tells me that I’m not the first person to tell him that, so it sounds like it’s going to be quite the party!)

We also finally managed to catch up with Neal, Aimee, and Finn, to both introduce them to Leo, and to meet “baby” Ash. We met up for morning tea and a play at Oriel Park at Ascot. Neal and Aimee totally pranked us by returning our Bumbo in a bag saying “THE REJECT SHOP” in giant red and yellow writing. We then had to walk said bag with us back to our car. In the middle of Ascot. Well played, guys… well played.

Anyway… as it turns out, we did get a few random photos from the weekends, plus a few other random photos from around the house. Many thanks to Jason who was walking around with the camera whenever he was over. So I’ve put together an album for your viewing pleasure – if that’s the sort of thing you’re in to, of course.

Entertaining at Home on Google+

Posted in life in australia

My turn for surgery

Being the loving, caring guy that I am, I felt it wasn’t fair to be putting poor Leo through all this surgery without stepping up to the plate and having a burl myself. So yesterday, I trotted along to St Andrew’s Hospital in the city where I had an operation to correct my deviated septum.

As instructed, I fronted up at hospital bright and early at 6:30 AM, where I was checked in and soon taken down to the surgical waiting area. “Waiting” being the operative word there; I sat around for about two-and-a-half hours before being called through to get changed into a gown and then placed into the holding bay. Another two hours waiting there, and I was taken through to a bed. I thought for sure it must be almost my turn, given that I heard lots of other people around me being brought to a bed then taken almost immediately, but I ended up falling alseep and being woken almost two hours later!

Finally, at around 2:30 PM I was wheeled into the theatre. I have to admit that I was feeling a little bit nervous, having never been under a general anaesthetic before. The anaesthetist (which I’ve decided most people pronounce incorrectly by dropping the first ‘s’) put a cannula into my arm and said, “you may start feeling a bit dizzy soon”. Sure enough, the room soon started spinning, so I closed my eyes. Next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery ward, where a woman was very insistently asking me how I was feeling.

My memory is a bit blurry after that, but I know it was about 5:30 PM when I was wheeled to the ward, feeling a little worse for wear but overall not too bad. I had a headache, my throat was very sore (from having a breathing tube down there) but as it turns out my nose barely hurt at all. That didn’t stop it from bleeding quite a bit though, so I had to wear cold packs on my head and neck all night, plus a piece of green gauze under my nose to soak up the blood – somewhat like a terrible green moustache. It was not my finest hour.

Post surgery

After a fairly ordinary night’s sleep though, things started looking up. The headache had gone, the bleeding had subsided, and my throat was starting to feel better. The surgeon came through at about 9 AM to check up on me, then the pharmacist came and delivered my prescriptions, and by 10:30 AM, I was on my merry way!

So now I’m back at home, in recovery for a few days no doubt, but hopefully well on the way to being fully mended. The surgeon’s theory is that once all the swelling has gone done, I’ll once again be able to smell and breathe through my nose at the capacity I could when I was a kid, so I’m thoroughly looking forward to seeing if that’s true. My sense of smell is (/was?) shocking!

Posted in the sickness

King Island Walk

A while back, Kristy found an article on must do Brisbane about walking to an island at low tide. Intriguing! Sounded like something right up our alley! So we trundled over to Wellington Point on Saturday to check it out.

Oscar was particularly worried about getting stranded on the island as the tide came in (thanks, Fireman Sam) – so we started our journey as the tide was still on its way out. As it turns out, this was entirely unnecessary – even before low tide the path to the island was well exposed out of the water, and to be honest, the journey would have probably been more exciting had we have been walking in ankle deep water for at least part of the way. That said, I’ve no idea how quickly the tide turns around so for our first trip out it was probably good that we err’ed on the safe side!

King Island Walk

The walk itself is fairly easy, though all the broken shells on the sand can be deceptively sharp. Those of us without footwear were certainly feeling a little worse for wear by the time we got back to shore – but nothing that a bit of a rest couldn’t fix. Its about 1 KM each way, which is about Oscar’s walking limit – he asked to be carried on a number of occasions on the journey back, but with enough encouragement (especially from Pa who kept challenging him to a race) he made it almost the entire way on his own.

Even though the island itself is nothing more than a circle of mangroves, it was still exciting in Oscar’s eyes at it was his first time in a “mangrove forest”. Plus, we got to see/collect lots of interesting things along the way, like sand crabs, and different shaped/textured rocks and shells – some of which even had little sea snails living inside!

Kristy and Oscar on King Island

But with an adventure like this, its definitely less about the destination than it is about the journey, so from that point of view it was a definite win.

Posted in life in australia

Scumbags

After a week of staying in hospital with Leo, I was pretty exhausted by the time it got to Friday night. Worse still, the TV over his cot didn’t pick up channel 9, so I couldn’t even watch the Broncos game as I tried to nurse him to sleep!

In the morning, Mom came up as usual to relieve my shift, and afterwards, I walked back to my car which had been parked overnight on Herston Road. Now, I know that you’re supposed to check your mirrors before you start driving, but when you’re the only one who drives the car, its easy to fall into the habit of presuming that your mirrors are going to be exactly where they should be. As such, it was only when I got about half-way home and needed to check my passenger-side mirror in order to change lanes, that I noticed that not only was the mirror not where it should have been, but actually, it wasn’t even visible!

I immediately pulled over to inspect the problem, only to find that someone had forced the mirror so far backwards that the back cover had actually snapped right off! I was not impressed. Thankfully though, the assembly itself seemed to be intact, so I managed to bend it back to where it should have been and once again had a functioning mirror.

Swift Mirror

I turned the car around and drove back to where I had parked and sure enough, there was the back cover sitting on the side of the road – also, thankfully, fully intact. In fact, as it turned out, even all of the clips which hold the various parts in place were still intact.

When I got home, I pushed all the clips back together and reattached the cover to the mirror, and everything was back to where it should have been. The mirror arm suffered some minor scratches where the assembly rubbed up against it, but on the whole the paintwork escaped mostly unscathed. So, I guess it could have been worse.

Still, not the nicest way to round out the week. Looking back at where the car was parked, there is no way it could have been accidental, so it baffles me as to why someone would randomly do that. Other than the fact that they’re a scumbag, that is.

Posted in gripes

Surgery, surgery, surgery

Ever since Leo had a stoma put in, it was on the cards that the stoma would be coming out. Our understanding was that it could happen anytime from about six weeks old onwards, and that the preferred option was to remove it sooner rather than later. Besides that, we were kind-of flying blind in terms of when the surgery would be, but we were very much looking forward to being stoma free!

tl;dr

After three rounds of surgery and a two week stay in hospital, Leo’s stoma is still in, and he now has a central line to boot. But at least he’s back home!

Read more ›

Posted in cystic fibrosis, leo

Recent Comments

  • Bill Foley (v.senior): Our Dyson was born in the Retrovision Hospital on 4/1/2007. Given a bit of a thrashing on DIY projects in addition to the house. New motor needed in 8/2013, parts and labour...
  • rich: Too right! Everything about phil and teds is annoying,,from where the valve is to chopping your fingers off trying to open it , to scraping it along the floor after your ve chopped your...
  • Jenni: OMG! I now know why you and Nathan were friends at school! Nathan has several spreadsheets dedicated to our solar production and when our solar wasn’t producing to the capacity it was...
  • viiviiviivii: Long time no writing ;) Fuel consumption is a fickle thing, another way is to try on reddit, or perhaps Today Tonight (if that is still on the air!). ;)
  • Ben: I’m in for river fire too.

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