The Dreaded Lurgy

Just about now, we should be headed down the runway of Charles De Gaulle en route for Detroit and later, Orlando. Tomorrow we had planned a morning by the pool before picking up a rental car and heading to Santa Anna Island. Dreams just dreams. Instead, we are sat at home with our 5-year old who is covered in the blisters of Chickenpox but is otherwise fine and, as usual, full of beans. We are all a bit disappointed to say the least but what will be will be.

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There was moment yesterday when I still believed this wasn’t chickenpox breaking out in front of our eyes. The hospital doctor soon put paid to that forlorn hope. Then there was the momentary temptation to follow the advice of many of our friends and go anyway. The spots weren’t obvious. But, chickenpox can be a killer to people with low immune systems and unborn babies whose mothers haven’t had it. Then what would we do if things got worse mid-Atlantic? Nope, the trip was off and so I started calling hotels, travel agents, car rentals etc. and trying to unwind the whole thing. So far, all but the hotel at Santa Anna has agreed to refund in full. I am also insured and on Monday morning will start the process of filing the claim.

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We are now looking at going on the 16th July albeit for a large fee with the airline (it’s peak period now…). So all will need to be re-booked – except that hotel in Santa Anna – if they don’t refund I am damned if I am going to stay there! Hopefully, we will actually make it next time.

Meanwhile, I am afraid for you all it means another 2+ weeks of spamming about my book and stuff…… sorry folks!

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Technology is Killing Us

I was reminiscing to myself last night as you do from time to time. I recall back in the early part of my career how there where no cell phones, no smart phones, no IPads, no PCs, no windows, no Google, no Facebook…… and wasn’t it great! If I went on a trip, I didn’t expect to keep in touch with people, no one called me looking for something. Occasionally, I’d get on a payphone and call home to check in but that was it. Back then, a holiday was a holiday.

On Sunday, we leave for two weeks in the USA. Sunday looks like being miserable with three flights and around 14 hours in the air. But I am looking forward to my vacation and going back to the US. I will of course dutifully take my iPhone and IPad. I will of course, take urgent business calls and respond to email periodically. In short, I am still connected, still on line and still working….. What a contrast to my early days of work.

Two years ago, I was in Houston, TX and we went to see a major gas company to see if we could get some business. As we waited in the hallway for our appointment, we were looking at the display of archaic computing equipment (we were after all, in the IT department of the company). Most of the equipment on display was Compaq equipment (A Houston company). Much to my amazement there was a huge PC complete with connected keyboard, huge screen all neatly wrapped up into a suitcase-size portable laptop. Only 15-years earlier, I had been lugging the exact same equipment around Europe trying to sell a piece of software we had developed and which was on this ‘laptop’ to demonstrate to prospective clients. Boy – did I suddenly feel old.

In the 30-years I have been in employment, the world has changed beyond belief. Tomorrow’s world is yesterday. The impact on each of us is immense and I suspect very stressful. God help our kids as they will likely never know a world where a holiday really was a holiday without email, Facebook and such. While we have gained something, I often feel that we have lost so much more.

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When I was a kid, we would play in the street with bits of wood, dustbin lids and our bikes. Endless hours of self-made fun. Many of the kids today are locked into living their lives through their IPads or PC’s. People are getting dumber because of all this reliance on technology I read. It’s true, I know because I will often listen to GPS instructions even when I know they seem wrong. How many times have I cursed the bloody thing knowing full well I KNEW it was wrong but decided it must be right because it knows better?

The art of living is observation. Reality is to be observed. We can’t observe if our heads are stuck into our phones, PCs and Ipads can we? I think we should all work at taking time everyday to look around us and become fascinated with the world as opposed to the technology that keeps us away from it. Easier said than done but it needs to be done.

Meanwhile, I don’t know if Einstein really said this but I find it rather apt anyway….

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A Spot of Colon Navigation???

Just under 2-years ago, a routine colonoscopy discovered a 5cm tumor in my colon. Although benign, the tumor was growing rapidly and would soon result in a large internal explosion. Apparently not good for life support. Much to my trepidation, it had to come out.

Can you imagine major surgery in a foreign country where your language skills rank maybe a 4 for comprehension and a 2.5 for speaking? Actually, the facility I had the surgery in was very good and it was keyhole surgery too performed especially by the top Doctor there. I recall being wheeled in for the surgery. The operating theater was huge and had an amazing view of Brno castle at least until they put the shades down. There must have been about 8 doctors and nurses working on me that day. After 6.5 hours, they resuscitated me. I was amazed, very little pain and absolutely no memory whatsoever of the missing time! After 4-weeks, I was back at work. Not bad for having had 10cm of my colon removed and the thing stitched back together, rewired and put back where it belongs……

Roll forward until say this Christmas. I was starting to feel some pain in my gut or was it my back? I was sent to the gastro specialist first as there was concern about the surgery of course. She confirmed I should have a colonscopy to be sure. Of course, this was my third but let me tell ya, they don’t get easier! It’s actually not so much the procedure itself (of which much more later) but the preparation.

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Preparation starts a week or three days out. You can’t eat fruit, nuts and a bunch of other foods that might have small seeds. Then, the day prior it begins. A small breakfast of yoghurt and restricted to clear drinks like black coffee or of course much better – water. Then, in the evening, the dreaded cleaner. It comes in two or three varieties all of which need to be consumed with gallons of water. They all taste dreadful and by the time you are on liter 2+, you really feel like dying. Your bowels start making gurgling noises and then, suddenly, its big white telephone time. And, once there, you may as well just stay there for 4-5 hours. It is horrific. Of course, you get virtually no sleep in between rushes to the little room all night long.

Finally, after some fitful sleep, you awake and start again. Yes, you drink more cleaning fluid and more gallons of water and sit on the toilet again feeling like the bottom has fallen out of your world (or maybe the other way around). Its around this time, you start to wonder just how you will make it to the doctors? 30 mins on public transport in this state? Somehow though you do make it.

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Last night, I was reading a few colonoscopy experiences on the web. I do so love to freak myself out. One woman actually said that she felt like she had been violated by the male doctor who did the procedure! I think this woman may have had some other problems because I don’t see how you can call a potentially life saving procedure violation. On the other hand, maybe I do.

I was asked to strip from the waist down and lie on my left side thrusting my behind out towards the female doctor. As she prepared her navigation kit, the nurse stuck me with some good stuff. I don’t know what it was but boy….. it was some good shit let me tell you. The next thing I know, doctor is putting the kit away and I am saying “What? Did you do it already?” Apparently she had. 18 minutes worth of violation in my case but I didn’t know anything about it. “Good news”, she said. ” Everything is fine and normal.” Whether you really think of having a camera shoved up your bum and navigated around your colon as violation or not, these few words make it all seem worthwhile…. until the next time.

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