Saturday, October 20, 2012


Dad eating chocolate with his twin sister Florence, about seventy years ago. Chocolate consumption was to become a lifelong hobby.

My dad's heart operation went okay and he has been transported from Geelong to a hospital in Ballarat. But we now have another problem. Dad managed to get a stroke (just like me), so now we can talk with each other about the experience. I think that, generally, dads get strokes long before their sons, so this is an interesting inversion. He felt very sick in the middle of the week and when I learned the symptoms, I actually knew what was wrong. (I know so few things about the world that I am delighted and staggered when I can offer some advice borne of experience.) Dad's on the same bloodpressure-lowering drug that am. It's called Karvea, and I found that it made me feel sick and incredibly sleepy, because my dosage was too high and my blood pressure had dropped below a hundred, where it had been just over two hundred, prior to treatment. Dad was experiencing exactly the same thing as I did, and I suspected for the same reason. I wonder what the correct protocol is, when you are pretty sure you know what is wrong with a patient but have had no medical training? Should you seek the attention of a nurse and tell them what you think is wrong with the patient and why? From experience, medical staff hate this sort of intervention, as much as a writer would hate someone telling him what's wrong with the words he has written, by someone who hasn't ever written a book in their life. But hang on, that's how my life works. And if the critic is wrong (they usually are) all that happens is I feel miserable for a few hours. I don't actually die. So why be a coward?

In the end, my little sister (who's had quite a lot of experience with medical staffwas brave enough to inform the ward sister that she had a fair idea of what was wrong with Dad, since her stupid and neurotic big brother had just suffered a similar experience. Sniffily, they reduced the dosage of Karvea and Dad felt well again.

Dad can't drive or talk properly and he's always sleepy, but can't sleep. He also finds it hard to read and work.  My father and I have more in common than ever. I already love him, but perhaps the
shared stroke will bring us closer together?

Here is my dad fishing with his dad, a long time ago. Both are probably thinking they will never get cancer or strokes. Both, I regret, are wrong.

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