Thursday, November 24, 2011

Special new post - bad-ass cockroaches


I'm sure you've been on a flight, when dinner arrives and there are little blister-packs of butter and salad dressing or UHT milk. The chances are, when you tried to open these, you ended up wearing some of the aforementioned foodstuffs. They're apparently hygienic, efficient and very  cumbersome. This is why I think it's rather ironic that meals in the stroke ward where I was staying often arrived with these little blister-packs. If you ordered a salad, you'd get two little plastic containers of salad oil and mayonnaise.  Now, one of the many things that stroke patients find difficult, is using fingers for any task that requires a fair amount of dexterity, so come dinner-time the nurses have their work cut out trying to open the packages for us patients. But since nurses quite rightly believe that their talents would be better employed helping people who have fallen or gone into cardiac arrest, they often place these food-opening tasks fairly low on their to-do list. And so we patients struggle away with these stupid portions of jam or salad dressing entombed in plastic. We try holding the packs with our teeth then using our 'good' hand to tear along the dotted line, or wherever we're supposed to tear. The result is usually messy - little explosions of condiment fly about the ward. Patients have pyjamas or bedclothes covered in splots of dislodged marmalade or projectiles of jam. And should the viscous liquids land on the floor, a patient, visitor or even a nurse is liable to slip and go arse over tit.

I decided after my stroke that I wouldn't do jokes about my time in the ward, because the nurses and doctors were so great that I didn't want to make their dedication the stuff of comedy, but I think it's probably more interesting than blogging about bloody daleks. And I'm almost fully recovered from my stroke so now I figure there's enough distance to make stroke jokes. Sometimes, when I'm having intense difficulty making myself understood (this usually happens when I'm on the phone) I tell the person gently that I've had a stroke and it would help if we could talk more slowly. Yesterday I rang Penguin in Sydney and managed to get past the recptionist, but I ended up with someone's personal assistant and she really couldn't understand a thing I was saying. I apologised and told her that I'd had a stroke. I was surprised when she replied that she had it too, the whole office did and so did her boyfriend and it was horrible and he really should be home in bed. I realised she thought I'd said that I had a cold, because that's what people usually say, and she went into automatic response mode which is to imply that her lot is much worse than yours. Or perhaps I'm wrong? Perhaps the entire Penguin staff had been struck down by a stroke pandemic? And perhaps the personal assistant and her boyfriend really did suffer a joint stroke, in which case they should most certainly have been in bed.

It's important to keep your brain active after the stroke, so when I'm not doing physiotherapy I'm doing crosswords. I've also been writing mash-ups, since I'm not yet able to tackle a full script, novel or even a short story.Here's one, I'll be putting awhole heao of them in my next special Christmas post.
Here is the cover that Penguin's Karen Scott designed for my next book. It may relieve you to know there isn't a joke in the whole thing and absolutely no mention of strokes. I did, however, do the first copy edit after 'the incident' so expect some rather bizarre renderings of the English language.

6 comments:

michaelgerardbauer said...

I don't know what's wrong with those people you've been talking to Doug. I understood every word of that. Loved the verse and especially that cover.

Megan Jackson said...

Love the new poems, but it is probably helpful to test them out on some children. Sadly I just ran out of the Children's Lit class until next year...

Maree Kimberley said...

I, for one, love your odd little poems. They cracked me up :) I'm also impressed that your new book cover has a cockroach on it. Especially as it looks like a mobster cockroach.

DougMacLeod said...

MAREE kimberley, you're right. This definitely is not a nice cockroach.

Kristin said...

hiya Doug. great idea to blog about your progress and its impact on your day to day activities...as scaled back as they are and all. i loved Shiny Guys...it is the most poignant story I have read from you...and the cover is brilliant! look forward to your next instalment on the blog. take care xx kg

DougMacLeod said...

HI Kristin, The Shiny Guys was a challenge to write because it's the first time I've set out to write a book that is deliberately not funny. I'm still not sure what to make of it, but I agree that it's a fantastic cover.