After my well man check, we took a holiday. I can recall a romantic, open top sports car tour heading South along the Big Sur in California, that Katy and I enjoyed for our honeymoon. Alighting from a helicopter on the floor of the Grand Canyon, and cracking open an ice cold bottle of Lanson, before being whisked off to the heady nights in the casinos of Las Vegas, the opulence of Beverly Hills, the poverty of Venice, hip Santa Monica, playing like children at Disneyland. The foggy San Francisco bay area, and the eerie Alcatraz. It was the best holiday ever. Cancer makes you reminisce. Makes me reminisce, I should say. Counting your blessings, preparing your soul for the worse, or just trying to find the good in the world. Feelings that you can control, but have no control of either. Thoughts come and go of what could have been. What still can be. A reckoning. The nurse in me is able to keep the lid on feelings, to control the bottle top of the shook up drink, to open it gently and let it out a bit at a time. The child in me wants the top off, and the fizz everywhere. Feelings blasted out in a tumultuous, turbulent torrent, in order to get release, empty my mind. Relax. Move on. Writing has become my release. It might be my only release post op!
Here we are in Australia and the notion of an Australian road trip sounded appealing. Cruising along, in the 4×4, along dusty, cracked, red earth tracks, desperate for rain. Stopping at small townships and cattle stations, sharing a VB with Crocodile Dundee type larrikins, in pubs with iron roofs. Having a barbie in the open air and then sitting arms round each other watching the sunset over the scorched land whilst sampling a local grown Sangiovese. Bliss. We booked.
The trip got off to a rather poor start. Tropical Cyclone Debbie made landfall on the north Queensland coast as a category 4 system, decimated the local area, causing $3.5 billion of damage, and travelled South along the coast to Brisbane and the Northern rivers region of New South Wales, before disappearing off to sea. Over 600mm of rain fell in 24 hours on the Gold Coast, which to put it into perspective, is about the same as London receives in a year. Debbie came and left Thursday, we left Friday. All good.
Now, Katy and I are not meteorologists, or geographers, and so I feel that we, along with most people, would not really consider where all that water went after it fell from the sky. Well, I know now. It drained into all the local rivers and streams, and made it’s way to the sea, flooding everything on the way. Including the motorway we were on. The only motorway from the Gold Coast to NSW. After driving around for several hours down a never ending series of country roads that ended like this:
We thought we had better call it a day. About 500kms travelled and we were only an hour or so from home. No-one wanted to go home, so we set about finding some accommodation for the night. The radio said the waters wouldn’t recede for another 24 hours.
Another thing that I learned that day, was that a seemingly huge number of people commute from northern NSW to the Gold Coast for work. They were similarly trapped. All the hotels were booked. The only remaining options were swanky or wanky- literally. We were on holiday, and so I was forced, by the family, to fork out for the lavish, opulent 3 bedroom apartment, in the big tower, rather than a more down to earth B&B that had hourly rates, and extra for sheets. Check in was busy, men in suits and ladies in stiletto heels and pencil skirts, all innocently on the phone to their significant others, explaining how they wouldn’t be home until tomorrow. The barman arrives, a harbinger of lust. The opening of the bar a portent of passion. We returned after our meal and it didn’t go unnoticed that some of the commuters were a lot more acquainted than before we left. We may as well have gone to the B&B.
A couple of days later, I had a phone call from the practice nurse and was informed that I would need to come and see the GP.
Nurse “Did you have some tests?”
Me “Yes, you know I did, you were there”
Nurse “Oh, of course, well the doctor needs you to come in and discuss them”
Nurse “Because you had some tests”
Me “I know I had some tests, but why do I need to see the GP?”
Nurse “To discuss the results.”
Nurse “that’s what she wants you to do”
Me “What is wrong with the results?”
Nurse “I can’t tell you on the phone”
Nurse “for confidentiality reasons”
Me “Eh? You do know who you are talking to?
Me “So tell me now”
Nurse “I’m not allowed”
Me “But you know who I am!”
Nurse “I know. By the way, did you have a nice holiday?”
Me “I’m still on it”
Nurse “Oh, I see. So you can’t come in then?”
Me “Erm, no. Tell me now.”
Nurse “I can’t”
Me “Well is it good or bad news?”
Nurse “The doctor will tell you”
Me “That doesn’t sound good”
Nurse “Well, we get everyone to come in and discuss their results with the doctor, good or bad”
Me “What? You phone people up and tell them they have to come and see the doctor, even if they are perfectly well?
Nurse “to discuss their results”
Me “Yes but half of them are fine.”
Nurse “I know”
Me “So the ones who really need to come can’t get an appointment, because the doc is busy with all the others who, according to scientific method and empirical evidence, are proven to have nothing wrong with them”
Nurse “Stefan. Please make an appointment when you get back”