GMHBA Lorne Pier to Pub Number 8

So here I in the dark getting ready for another Pier to Pub. From the club house the sea is gently sussurating on the sand. It is the office with the best view in the world but of course that view waits for the morning.

I am getting ready to run Pier to Pub number 8. Something that I am a bit proud of. Pier to Pub for those that don’t know is a 1.2km ocean swim at Lorne. This year we will have 5000 or thereabouts competitors complete the swim. And I run it.

Its Tuesday and the swim is on Thursday. Just two more events before the swim. Associates night. The anula knees up for the club’s associates and the Mountian to tSurf. A fun run for 2,000. I have lots to do with both events being responsible for the Associates night, and the run is part of the Pier to Pub weekend and has lots going on that I am intimatly involved with.

All I need now is time and compliant weather gods. Roll on Saturday

Created: 08/Jan/2013


Shortly after I came home from surgery my sister needed a photo taken FionaFiona and I got out my trusty 5D a Canon SLR. I could barely hold the camera up long enough to take a photo. This was a bit discouraging.


After five weeks I felt much stronger, so much so that one weekend I took my camera for a walk. I took a bunch of photos. They were all terrible but that was hardly the point. I had been out and about for most of a day, I had carried my camera and I had taken photos and enjoyed the process. Admittedly my back didn’t feel up to a full camera bag, nor did I take my tripod, but the camera alone was a great start.

I noticed when I was taking photos that I could now stand upright and that allowed me a much better view through the view-finder. Prior to surgery I had to look through at an angle as the plane of my face was not vertical. The upright stance made photography much more enjoyable.

I found that when I got back to work one of the teams had started a photo club with a regular photo competition. Cheese GraterCheese Grater Encouraged by my recent trips I got out and took some photos for the photo comp. The process was very encouraging, I could manage my camera and a spare lens. The first round of the comp was a little discouraging but my pic garnered a few votes.


A few weeks on and made my annual pilgrimage to the Melbourne Flower and garden show. Mainly to take pictures but also to enjoy the day. Handling a camera and a crowd was not a problem, in fact I came away with a few heavy purchases for the day.

Finally I took the tripod and a selection of my gear out for a few night photography jaunts. The results were most satisfying, and I got a second and a third in the photo comp.

ANZ Head officeANZ Head office Webb BridgeWebb Bridge

Enthused by all this I have brought some neutral density filters though as yet I have not had the opportunity to use them. Oh and I have started to bid for random things on e-bay. Things of a photographic persuasion. Currently I am looking at the 70-200 F2.8 USM lens. That should be a good though heavy alternative to my 70-200 F4.6.

Its all fun for the moment. Now if only the rain would stop and I could take my camera for another walk.

Created: 25/Apr/2012

Return to work

After my op one of my goals was to return to work. I had had a long discussion with my manager about what I would be able to do when I returned, and had consulted with HR at Sensis where I work. HR has a process for returning in this type of situation. Both my manager and HR were very supportive. It was agreed that I could ease back into the role, taking time off if that was required and possibly working some days a week and or shorter days.

I am a programmer so all I have to do is sit and type, though initially I knew that typing lots was going to be a challenge. My surgery has left me with some numbness in my hands particularly the index fingers and typing was a two finger proposition.

I felt I could manage working and so finally after a 6 week review I was given the OK to go back to work.
For my first week I fell a little short and needed some time off. This was supported by my manager who I really can’t speak highly enough of.

For the next few weeks work became easier, and easier. Then one day I noticed that I was back to ten fingered typing. There is still numbness in my index fingers but it is slowly but surely improving. Ten finger typing suggests that the whole hand has improved.

From the early shaky start a few weeks ago I am now fully operational in a work sense, and enjoying what I am doing.
The short days and time off in the end were not needed, I was able to manage the work load and the sitting typing and work stuff.

My manager and the HR team have been most supportive and I thank them for making what was a challenge so easy.

Created: 25/Apr/2012


MetalworkMetalwork More metal workMore metal work

I went to see the Dr today and got these cool pictures. They lack a little in resolution as I had to use my camera to photograph the monitor. Still it shows an impressive amount of metalwork.

I will be keeping these on my phone for airport scanners and the like.

But best of all I get to go back to work.

Created: 14/Mar/2012

Making Lasagne

I must be channeling my inner Garfield or watching too much daytime cooking shows. Whatever the reason I decided to make Lasagne.

First step was to make some pasta dough. Easy enough it is just flour eggs and a bit of olive oil and then a quick five minute kneading. Trouble is that since the operation my upper body strength equips me for a gentle fight with a sleepy kitten. I am to quote a friend “piss weak”. So a five minute needing took 10 minutes.

Then I got onto making a bolognese sauce. Chopping an onion is all my straw arms can manage. Something thaI I have done hundreds possibly thousands of times is almost beyond me. I became convinced that the cooks knife must somehow be uber blunt so sharpened it again with a struggle and still no dice; did you see what I did there no dice as in no diced onion. I slay myself.

Finally I had climbed onion mountain got the garlic minced and all I had to do was open a tin of tomatoes and some tomato paste. The grip strength in my thumb and forefinger is really limited so pull tabs are a challenge. I sort of worry up the ring, then put a spoon through it to make the grip easier, then its a sort of all in body grapple that if it works leaves the can open and the contents in the can. If not the can is not open and the contents are on my shirt. Foil pull tops are even worse. Several times I have almost given up on yoghurt as the manufacturers make it really hard to get into. Tomato paste is a bitch.

Why so much food is packaged so the mildly disabled can’t access it I don’t know. Stop telling me how bitching good your product is and make it so I can use it.

Finally the sauce was bubbling away. I added mushroom and zucchini and carrot to the sauce, all grated. Its a friend of mines idea. She does it to hide veges from her kids, I do it cause its delicious.

Then I just had to make bechamel sauce and grate some cheese. Should have brought the pre-grated as pipe cleaner armed man, me, found grating hard cheese, well hard. mixture of Mozzarella and Cheddar, was going to add Parmesan but i was all grated out.

Finally i just had to roll out the pasta dough, and there is a machine for that, and assemble. By the time I popped lasagne in the oven I was shattered, had to have a restorative shiraz, but the result was worth it.

Delicious lasagne.

Created: 05/Mar/2012

Pain Sleep and Scars

Gradually I am ScarScar getting used to the more upright forward looking me and i love it. What is harder to get used to is pain and sleep. Firstly The worst nights sleep at home has been better than the best night in hospital, but nights at home have been pretty rough. Broken, lots of ups and downs, difficult to find comfortable positions and the like. Gradually I am improving and learning what this new back likes. I am sleeping better each night though the Nanna nap in the afternoon is nightly attractive still. Last nights sleep was the best ever, only 3 wakes for drugs, exercise and a bit of walking around. Pain in general is being managed through panadol and is getting better for stretches at a time.

I goto my stitches out yesterday, only to discover that there were none, jus tape, and a long thin scar. It looks pretty cool.

What is harder is that the numbness and lack of control in hands and arms is being slow to leave. I want it gone now, but my body is just not cooperating, or rather it is cooperating more slowly than I want. I would like to go back to work, but have to wait I have been told at least 4 weeks and possibly 6 which looms large for me. I am sure I will cope.

Created: 14/Feb/2012

Mum and Dad

Oh just a note to anyone reading. I have chatted with Ma and Pa quite a bit, so if you want to talk with them about the surgery etc, then feel free.

Created: 09/Feb/2012


Felt slight naughty taking FiFi a tram down Brunswick St for breakfast. But I wanted to see if I could handle a tram and it turns out I can, though maybe the morning crush will be a bit different. Beautiful day, great to be sitting upright and taking it all in. Didn’t last that long before I needed to go home but still definite progress. I continue to be a two fingered typist which is a bit annoying, but I am beginning to think that I may be able to return to work next week or so, though possibly not for full days. How long the paralysis and pins and needles go on is anyones guess, I of course want it better now, my body has some other slower ideas. Will need to check if a return to work is advised or not.

Feeling fantastic and its a beautiful day.

Created: 09/Feb/2012

The recovery

I have been home a couple of days and feeling much better. Sleeping in your own bed is wonderful, so now starts the long process to full recovery.

My back hurts somewhat but relatively little when you consider what has happened to it. That pain is mostly being managed with panadol and the occasional stronger drug.

My hands don’t work as well as I would like, I have pins and needles in both hands, and my left hand won’t do what I tell it so I am forced to be a six-fingered typist. I had expected this, it may take a few weeks for these symptoms to resolve. My legs work well and getting up down and around is easy.

I am trying to pace myself both stretching me and not doing too much. It is a fine balance. I don’t want to do too much and risk crashing. I don’t want to do too little and slow down recovery.

It’s been fantastic having my sister Fiona here. She is making the first days at home very easy.

Created: 07/Feb/2012


Sunday Home from hospitalHome from hospital all packed up ready to go and waiting on a blood test. Hope I can leave. Comms with Fi not working my home phone has shat itself it’s VoIP and the phone part is old so it’s not surprising Fi has no mobile which makes it hard.

My numbness is going though my left hand still doesn’t work as well as I would like. Lots of practice required but both hands are steadily improving.

Trying to type on a real keyboard is a bit of a challenge. I say that cause I am home. Yay. A big thanks to Tina for the lift.

A bigger thanks to the nursing staff at 7SW and ICU for the superb care.

Created: 05/Feb/2012

Stuck in

Well I thought I was going to be leaving hospital today, but I have to stay till Sunday as my wound has misbehaved

Care at the Royal Melbourne is superb can’t speak highly enough.

The gory bits Awake Intubation. 7 hour surgery 30 centimeter wound

Created: 04/Feb/2012

Bring on tomorrow

It is the night before surgery. I have spent the day getting ready, visiting with people from work, rehashing what my surgery will be, listening patiently to others experiences, fielding lots of calls and well wishers. And all of this has made me feel both humble and loved, so many people in so many ways have shown they care, I am quite touched. From my friend Carol who offered to make me Gefilte fish to my friend Rob who said Hajolat ayyey which I eventually figured out was Dothraki for be strong always. Brilliant.

Thanks to everyone and all your kind thoughts.

So I am calm (well relatively) and ready again relatively.

Bring on tomorrow!

Created: 30/Jan/2012

Cervico Thoracic Osteotomy

The name of the rose

And for those like myself, who have to know all the geeky gory details I read this What I am hoping is there is video I can watch afterward. Otherwise I might miss all the fun.

Created: 29/Jan/2012


Well right this second I am still not quite at hospital but I will be soon, baring sudden delays.

Location Royal Melbourne Hospital City Campus Grattan St
Vistiors Yes Please
Op Date Tuesday 31/Jan/2012

Created: 27/Jan/2012

The first panic

I went off to buy pajamas, seems I need these for hospital. So there I was standing in Myer considering some mad coloured jim jams. Why must nightwear all be in such leery colours, is it to make you close your eyes and sleep? I mean red and blue pinstrips or paisley, anyway I was settling on the paisley. And as I am standing there I was getting all anxious. Now I know I don’t normally wear jamas but really the choice between paisley and strips was causing anxiety.
Not PaisleyNot Paisley
And then of course the penny dropped. PJs mean hospital, and that is where the operation will happen and that is why suddenly the choice between leery and horribly was making me anxious. So first panic out of the way. But there is still a week to go so what will I be like by operation day? A mess?

PS I turns out the jamas a really some sort of bastard check

Created: 24/Jan/2012

Major Surgery

Operation breakback

Well that’s not what my operation is called, it has some complicated Latin name that went in one ear and bounced around inside my skull for a little while before exiting as painlessly and leaving as little impression as when it came.
What I am having is an operation to correct a spinal deformity caused by arthritis. Basically my neck gets broken between C5 & C6 my spine realigned and rods put in my back to bold the whole thing together whist I heal up. To add extra points of interest there is a risk of spinal damage and to mitigate against this the process is to waken me part way through the operation so that I can move toes and fingers. All of this has been explained to me in some detail, but I wonder are here more questions I want to know the answer too and truth to tell I don’t know. To that end I am keeping the blog of the operation and what it might be like. It might not answer my questions but it may well answer other peoples

I am getting ready to have surgery on the 31st of January. So far that is still far enough away that I am not nervous though I expect that a time will come when I crap my pants. Hopefully only metaphorically.

After some debate I have decided not to tell my parents until afterward, as I fear that they will worry excessively and that at their age (mid 80s) this is not a good thing. So do me a favor if this blog and you and my parents intersect in an arc then just keep mum until after the day.

So far I have meet the surgeon Mr Peter Turner and been to a pre-admission clinic where a team of people each asked me the same questions and wrote down the same answers, though it seems each focusing on their specialty. Surgery nursing anesthesia etc.

So now its assembling the things I require for hospital and waiting for things to start.

Getting there

So how does one get to the decision to let someone break you neck and go yeah I could have me a piece of that. Well it was not a quick process. I have a specialist for my arthritis Dr Laurie Clemens and I see each other every six months or so. I have Ankylosing spondylitis which in my case has caused my spine to flex forward giving me a pronounced hump to my back.

The big effect from this is that I walk along looking at the pavement and peoples shoes. And in many social situations i have to either sit down to talk with people or back away so I can get an angle to look up at them.

So then how did I get to the decision cause that’s the point is it not. So about 3 years ago Dr Clemens suggested I consider an operation and I sort of went, “yeah maybe” and did noting. But the seed was planted, and I began to think what that might mean. Initially I had hoped that an operation could improve my neck mobility as my head rotation is really small. About 5 degrees each way. This is a major inconvenience as it makes it unsafe to drive and so I don’t. And not driving is a major inconvenience in this car centric world. And I hoped that the spinal correction could could improve my head uprightness. My head tilts to one side, not alarmingly so but it definitely does and really who wants a permenatly tilted head.

So at my next visit to Dr Clemens I got a reference to Mr Turner and finally after more prevarication on my part I went to see him.

My first impression was of a person I quite liked and from there trusted. He quickly explained what the operation was and could do, rather than what I had hoped it could do for me. Basically that was that my forward flexion could be improved though how much would depend on what correction could be achieved on the day of surgery. Basically what change my spinal cord could withstand/allow. As to correcting the tilt of my head, the more complex the spinal correction the more risky. So that kind of worked for me as I am a programer and therefore risk averse.

So I thought on that and visited with Mr Turner a couple of times over 8 months or so and during that time I thought through the risk reward, what I wanted and all of the variables that go into this type of decision. Obviously all this cogitation resulted in me deciding to go ahead with the op. Looking backward I can’t say exactly what tipped me into the yes column just that I have ended up here.

Created: 22/Jan/2012

Inside Glimpse

A montage of X-rays of my spine. I had some cooler CAT scan pics but I took those off to the hospital for a pre admission clinic.

Created: 22/Jan/2012