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Monthly Archives: July 2004

>Yes! We got Mona home today. She’s convalescent for the next two months, then back to hospital for another test, and perhaps after that we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, it’s low-fibre diet gradually becoming high-fibre. I’ve been asking around, searching on-line, but there are very few credible sources that also could be considered practical. Anyhow, it’ll be scanning through all my cookbooks accompanied by a database of fibre mg/g for all foodstuffs. Dinner this evening turned out great: Japanese style teriyaki steamed salmon and (the right) vegetables and mashed potatoes. Beats the hospital food by a light year and a lot healthier.

Both our GP and I are quite unhappy with the lack of information provided by the hospital. In their release letter, they didn’t list what tests had been done, results, etc. Just an extremely brief diagnosis. How the hell do they think that the current model could work with division of labour and effectiveness by utilising distribution of load between primary and secondary care? On one hand, if you leave people in the dark they might not sue you; OTH, with the rights of the data protection act I think you, as a patient own your results. Also, if you provide people with full info, it might make it easier for them to adapt their life so that they can recover.

Still, a few walks down the field is probably better than walking the same hospital corridors each day. The photo below is Mona’s first dog-walk this afternoon.

>Like Ten Years After sang at Woodstock – “I’m coming Home”… Mona is likely to come home tomorrow, or rather, today Wednesday, after 3 weeks in hospital. So now I’m trying to find the right diet and to do my best to accommodate her recovery. If you happen to know any low residue, low-fibre cooking, please let me know. I can tell you one thing – Charlie will be delighted and so will I.

Still, I’m puzzled with these medics (no matter if they have a professors title). Asking them on what scientifical evidence they are basing their decision, they never answer. They pretend to be slightly insulted. We’re supposed to believe in these guys who has our lives in their hands. Don’t question. I’m not comfortable with that…

>How do they do it? I’m just amazed. I’ve spent the last 15 afternoons in the hospital with Mona. Around her, there are patients arriving and departing. There are a lot of people in serious trauma and pain. They vomit, shit, and feel outright and utterly bad. Still, the nurses are there, saying “come on, love”, “I’ll help you”, etc. And they come back the next day with the same energy. Most of them are young. They finished their nursing degrees a couple of years ago, some at UL. Now they are faced with the pale reality of life, when it’s not so good. They know a lot. They heard it in lectures, read it on books. They see and hear the doctors decide this or that. But, they are not allowed to decide. If a patient is in pain, it’s up to the doctor to decide morphine. They can’t make that decision. How do they cope? They always have a smile and compassion, even under severe stress…

>After receiving offers in the snailmail about broadband, both from Eircom and Esatbt, I phoned the freephone numbers. No, still no luck with my landline. I then tried to phone Eircom to ask what’s the case if I order a NEW line to my house. Still no luck. But, they now offer a wireless option, 512 k download, 64 k upload at a cost of:

Installation: about 550 euro.

Monthly cost: 45 euro.

This is, of course, outrageous. As far as I understand, they also have caveats that if it doesn’t work in reality, you still have to pay most of the installation cost.

So next, I’ll be looking for buying a good roll of fibre optics; get the shovel; and start digging from my house to UL.

I also had an encounter with Eircom’s new CTI (Computer-telephony Integration) system (dial 1901 and try it!). You’re now supposed to SAY your response to the voice prompts. What’s really ugly is that they’ve designed the system to mimic a human operator. At the end of my trial, their computer said:

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that. Transferring you to another operator”

This reminds me, somewhat, of HAL in 2001…

“I’m sorry, I cannot do that, Dave…”

We’re goosed.

Thinking about 2001 leads me to Stanley Kubrick. I watched Clockwork Orange this evening. It’s amazing how Kubrick’s scary vision has become reality in many societies around the planet. Even some of the brand names now exist – Milk Plus.

>It’s been a medic day. First I went to my GP and eventually got antibiotics, steroids and ephedrine to attempt to clear my sinusitis, tonsillitis and ear infection. It’ll take at least a fortnight. Mona is still in hospital and will probably remain there for the week.

So why the hell am I writing this? Well, I sat down to try to do some PhD writing but had too much on my mind. My way of dealing with this is to try to slowly force my brain on track.

Mikael (M): So, let’s try to write another few pages on the PhD.

Mikael’s Brain (MB): But, but, but – no – you have to think about what’s going on in your life right now. Priorities!

M: Yes, I want to complete my PhD thesis…

MB: No, no, no… your health is up shit creek, Mona is ill. What the hell are you going to do about that?

M: I don’t know. What can I do? Hey, you, brain, let’s at least do some writing.

MB: OK, but only if it’s about what matters…

M: You never know, we might drift into topic as we go…

(typing away into the sunset, trying not to think while typing)

>I made it. All way home. Started Thursday afternoon 14:20 in Sydney (05:20 GMT) to Kuala Lumpur 20:45 (13:45 GMT). I had severe pain in my ears after the last descent and tried to find an airport pharmacy. I found the shop but the pharmacist was out! So, I had a beer and searched through my bag (a.k.a. mobile pharmacy) for all anti-congestants. After having a second beer, I left Kuala Lumpur 23:40 (16:40 GMT) and landed eventually at Heathrow 05:50 (GMT) under severe pain again. Luckily, Anne had organised the last leg of my trip, which happened to be business class, hence I had access to the Gold Lounge (!), and took double doses of anti-congestants and Aspirin, until 11:20 (GMT) when I got the flight to Shannon and landed at 12:45 (GMT). No pain on the last part of the journey, only gurgling ears (I wonder if the concoction I had created resembled what might have inspired Douglas Adams’s Pangalactic Gurgleblaster).

Every time I come back to Shannon, I’m fascinated by the air. It smells the sea, and it smells Shannon (and I’m not talking about defunct sewage works). The wind is fresh and moist, unless it’s January and you’ve forgotten where you parked your car. Then the wind mostly contains cold water, sleet and small solid icicles. But, today the Atlantic wind was fresh, salty and mild.

>So finally I’m in the airport in Sydney and they have free Internet connections here. At the hotel and conference, there wasn’t any connections, but an open 802.11 if you stood at a window on the third floor.

I’m quite wobbly, as I have a really bad cold that was cultivated at 33000 feet on the way here and will get worse on my way back. I want to be home!

Many thanks to all of you that are minding Mona and Charlie in my absence! I should be back in Shannon in about 48 hours and I can’t wait to breath the fresh air coming in from the Atlantic again.

>I feel tired and not particularly well. I hope it’s just the stress and pressure, with the trip down-under ahead, Mona unwell, PhD…, life, money, the universe and everything. I’ve been trying to convince myself about positive things, e.g., seeing the stars from the southern hemisphere for the first time, different and interesting (sea) food, ozzie wine, the Sydney Opera House, meeting friends and fellow researchers. OK, Let’s do it!

>I’ve been preparing for the very long trip to Sydney… It’ll be a very interesting conference next week at ICAD 2004 and I’m really looking forward to meet friends and fellow researchers again.

Apart from these preparations it’s been mostly scribbling and some admin today, despite the fact that I’ve been working at home (which is wonderful!).

UL went off-line again this afternoon. Take a look at the traffic data at HEA-net. I still don’t know what happened but it’s really annoying when I can’t pull down my main email, access files on machines in my office, etc. It’s really amazing and crazy! The up-time for UL is magnitudes lower than for commercial servers and networks.