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16 December 2009

Nothing says romance like ZOMBIES!!

Rob and I just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary on Monday, Dec 14. And long ago (I think around our 6th anniversary or so) we gave ourselves permission to do (or not do) anything we wanted to commemorate the date. That means we are not stuck to any expectations of anything. Rob brought home roses, which is actually not the norm (I like flowers on occasion, but really don't need or demand them). Brownie points for Rob anyway! This year we went out to "our" Boston Pizza for supper. It became ours while we were still living on 124th street. We used to walk down to have drinks on the patio in summer, or watch the Oilers play in the lounge over pizza and a beer during the winter. Then we could walk home along the older streets with Victorian remodeled homes, or along 124th, and peer in the closed shop windows, hand in hand. Yup, it was our place. So it seemed a natural choice for the evening. After a nice dinner, we roamed Candy Cane Lane (148th Street), and then the Royal Museum and the Legislature for the Christmas lights. Last we took in Zombieland. Oh yes, it was a fun ride, and seeing as it was Monday night at the cheap theatre at -32oC, we had the theatre almost to ourselves. A great evening.
Edmonton has now had the dubious honour of being the coldest place in North America, and the 2nd coldest in the world Sunday night.
"Edmonton was the coldest place in North America yesterday morning and the second chilliest in the world. The Edmonton International Airport saw a record low of -46.1 C and -58.4 C with the windchill, outfreezing even the Arctic. 'The cold high pressure has been moving down from the Arctic over the Prairies,' said Environment Canada meteorologist John McIntyre, adding British Columbia and Saskatchewan also experienced plummeting temperatures. 'We are right now in the centre of the heaviest, coldest air.' Only Dzalinda, Siberia, appeared to be colder, with a weather station there recording temperatures of -48 C. But the coldest day ever recorded in Edmonton remains unbeaten at -48.3 C with a windchill of -61 C on Jan. 26, 1972. http://www.edmontonsun.com/news/edmonton/2009/12/13/12141366.htm.
So nice of everybody to order up the strongest dose of winter possible to remind me why I will be laughing all the way back to Brisbane in January....

01 December 2009

Home -ish

My flight took off the morning of Tues, Nov 24th. My flight landed about 10:30 p.m. Tues, Nov 24th. In between was 22 hours in the air, and about 8 hours in airports in Brisbane-Auckland-LA-Calgary-Edmonton (and crossing the international dateline, which made the takeoff-landing in the same day possible).
I am back in Edmonton, back with my soulmate, back with my friends who share significant chunks of history with me. It feels great to revive "In-jokes" with people who actually get it because they were there. Now the really odd part- I now miss my Aussie mates. Friends who may not have the length of time between us; rather we have been melded together in a crucible of intense experience. It is no doubt refreshing to have non-Med buddies with actual lives around, but I do miss the sheer bio-geek-fest that is medical school. And I miss my cat already. Stupid, expensive cat.
And I am tired. It's almost 1 a.m. as I am typing. I am WIDE AWAKE.....Nuts. My brain is s...l...o...w...l...y adjusting to Mountain Standard Time, and Rob is helping by not allowing sleeping in during the week. Most of the week has just been chilling at home with jaunts out to look at the new construction around the city, which is everywhere, and to work on my new computer's case mod (I will allow Rob to expound on that some other time, as he is better at telling that kind of stuff). So nice to just hang out with my honey.
There are some flavours you just can't duplicate outside of Canada. We went out for BP's pizza and Molson Canadian Beer Tuesday night (Carlton Draft in Aus comes close, but not quite). Tim Horton's was the first stop Wednesday morning, where 2 XL coffees warmed my insides. Gee, I missed my Timmy's. And Burger King on Saturday, for "Celebratory Whoppers". So I've had my quota for starch, fat, salt and sugar until next week now.
Rob (the introvert) obviously loves me a whole bunch, as he planned a party for me (the extrovert) on Sunday afternoon. About 25 people dropped by throughout the afternoon to welcome me back and enjoy some time hanging out at Barbra D's place (also introvert, and I am grateful for her willingness to host). Through the process, Rob has perfected the Pina Colada (with Bundaberg Rum, of course). Yum!
So we are ecstatically happy to be in the same place at the same time, as well as re-learning how to live like a functional couple again. Thanks again for reading, and all your support for us over the last year.

22 November 2009

Elective Week Four and Eddie is Destroyed

I am almost finished my elective here in Bundaberg. Both Rob and I are counting down the hours...70 to go.....
I have finished working with the Palliative Care team, and I spent a week in the Emergency Department. Most of what you see in emergency is NON-Emergencies. But some of the cases are quite exciting. We've had a few car crash victims, a few drug overdoses, and more than a few alcohol intoxications. They have a very slick system to bring people in from all over the Wide Bay area (it would take 3-4 hours to drive from one end to the other of the area this hospital services). They have a helicopter pad right next to the emergency department, and the Royal Flying Doctors uses the airstrip next door.
A lot of people have the same problem they have back in Alberta- no family doc, or can't get in to be seen in a timely manner. So we deal with a number of things that could be taken care of by a GP, but if ignored could become very serious, like bladder infections, debris in eyeballs, stitches, etc. Today I learned to use a slit lamp (to look for things stuck to the surface of the eye. We had 5 cases Thursday morning of sore left eyes. Weird.) I have had a good run here, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to stay in the moment. I just want to be off that plane and back with my sweetie and family and friends.

I arrived back in Brisbane on Friday. I ran a few errands and gave myself the night off. Saturday had a few more errands to run: pick up some ebay purchases, pick up my lost mobile phone, drop the cat off at the kennel in Logan (about 30 km away) and get down to packing. Life had other plans. Rounding the corner from Ann St to Brunswick street, I braked to meet the red light. Nothing happened. NOTHING! Eddie's brakes had failed. I did not want to hit the car in front of me and give him or myself whiplash. The sidewalk next to me was clear, so I figured jumping the curb and hitting the signpost would slow me down, as I reefed on the handbrake for dear life. Scariest 10 seconds ever. The car did stop, with no one hurt, and the only casualties being Eddie's driver's side light and a flattened no parking sign. The irony. Royal Auto Club of Queensland (RACQ) to the rescue again. The tow truck driver agreed with my conclusion that there were no brakes when he loaded the car up. I found out that it is only illegal to leave the scene of an accident if someone is hurt. If no one is hurt, and they come to the scene of your accident, they charge you a $370 on the spot fine, 3 points against your licence, charge you the towing to their holding facility and $44 a day to keep the vehicle there. Hence the tow truck driver got me out of there as soon as possible. Then I told him that I had just had the front and back brakes redone before I left for Bundy. At this he became irate on my behalf at the mechanic, and insisted on towing the car there, and that the mechanic reimburse me the Q transport fine of $272, fix the car and the damage free. He was very convincing to the garage staff....He also then gave me a free lift back to my flat. Very kind of him!
So on to the next problem: cat to the kennel. I phoned Translink to see if I could take her caged on the train. No dice. So I had to call a cab. The driver got lost twice (for which he still charged me) and by the time we got to the kennel the fee was $100. YIKES!! I didn't have another $100 to go home with, and he was being a jerk, so I just asked him to drop me off at the nearest bus stop. I was now sans cat, so it was a much cheaper, friendlier option. So he dropped me off at a shelter on the side of the road. Turned out it was merely a sun shelter, and had nothing to do with transit. Great- I'm now in the country (I can hear the sheep and cows) in the middle of nowhere, not even sure where I am. So I start walking in the general direction of Brisbane, in 30 degree weather with no hat or water. About 5 km later, I came to a school zone. I figured a cab could probably now find me. Whipped out the Vodaphone. got on the line with the cab company..and the prepay ran out! AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! OK, calm down, just use your credit card to buy more time. Except it would not accept a credit card that had not already been set up, and as it was Saturday, no one was available to do this for me until Monday. I have to admit, at this point I had an arm flailing, screaming tantrum in the middle of nowhere. Once that tension had been released, I started walking again, until I found a house, where a nice person let me borrow their phone and call a cab. The cab took me to the nearest REAL bus stop. And I was on my way back into the city. I was supposed to meet my friend Anne at LaDolceVita (again, the irony) at 7 pm. I thought this place was on the 199 bus route, so I switched buses at the appropriate spot and was only a smidgen late. LaDolceVita is not on the 199 route. At this point, I was holding back tears as the driver came to the end of his route and stopped the bus to wait before turning around. So I just rode the bus home. I felt like all I needed now was to find a poisonous snake in the toilet to make the misery complete. Once at home, I grabbed my (now charged) Optus phone to see Anne had called 5 times. I felt like a heel, and called her back. She had had an equally challenging day, with her car being hit on Brunswick Street that afternoon. So I invited her over for supper, with (Bundaberg) Rum and Cokes. We talked geek about our electives and commiserated on the day. She agrees My day wins. But we had such a good conversation, the time flew until midnight. Aaaahhhhh, thank goodness for friends. And thank you, friends, for letting me rant online about it.

16 November 2009

Elective Week Three

The days are passing...only 9 more sleeps until I get on that plane!
This week I spent with the Palliative Care group, as I can help ease the burden while Jenny Crane (one of the docs) is away, and I still felt I had more I could get out of it. A highlight was sitting in with Dr. Melissa Eastgate, an oncologist who comes to Bundaberg once a month from Brisbane. I also got to connect with a number of my palliative care patients again. Over the last three weeks, I have walked with ten people who finished their journey during my time there. Very special.
On Wednesday, after rounds, I jumped in my car and ran back to Brisbane (~4.5 hr drive) to view a potential place for Rob and myself once we get back in January. I spent the night in my old flat, and was up and on the road at 3:30 am to make it back in time for Thursday's rounds. Ugh. Not recommended.
I also went to Mon Repos turtle rookery on Saturday night, and watched a gigantic loggerhead turtle lay 155 eggs. Also pretty cool. The pictures are on my facebook page.
This next week will be spent in the emergency department. I'm hoping for some interesting cases, and it would be nice to suture someone up, or start puncturing people (for therapeutic reasons only). I'll let you know!

08 November 2009

Elective Week Two

Everyone with us last Friday was still here on Monday. Plus some new admits. So I am kept hopping. Dr. Crane has gone to Ipswich, and Dr. Chapman can only be on 12 hours per week. This means I look in on all the patients that he cannot get to in his 2 1/2 hours every morning. As such I am learning lots. We always conference on everybody, so it's not like I'm high and dry. Tuesday we went to GinGin and Mount Perry (1 hr and 1 1/2 hours away from Bundaberg, respectively)to do home visits. I went with Dr. Whan, a Palliative Specialist who does outreach from Brisbane, and Carolyn a clinical nurse. I have his contact details, and so will be harassing him next year. He is fine with that, as he informs me there is (of course!) a shortage in Palliative Care specialists.
My 1st year colleagues in Emerg and Paeds unfortunately got to share an experience. There was a highway crash near Childers, leaving a mother dead, and 2 yr old in critical, and 4 yr old less seriously injured. So they are decompressing from that. The helicopter pictures I got were of the chopper leaving for Brisbane with the 2 yr old and his father, who was not in the vehicle at the time. I feel so bad for that poor man right now.... (I am not divulging anything more than was already reported in the local paper, and thus I am not breaching confidentiality, just in case anyone was concerned).
Wednesday afternoon I began to feel very tired. So much so that when I was give two hours off during their admin meeting, I chose to go home and nap, returning to check up on the last of my patients. Thursday morning I was full blown sick. So Thursday and Friday were spent recovering, and staying away from the immunocompromised cancer and palliative patients. It is not advisable to hasten the inevitable, especially by being too boneheaded to know when to stay home!

05 November 2009

Updated website

I've started a update to the website. You can see the new look at www.eh-team.net.  Enjoy.

My life is just continuing on as normal.   I'm now living at our friend Barbra's house.  The place I was at only had a single bed which wouldn't work well when Barb gets here.  BTW, Barb is now less than three weeks away.

It's almost midnight here, so I really should be going to bed.  'Night all folks

02 November 2009

Elective Week One

I have now finished my first week at Bundaberg hospital. I am under Drs. Jenny Crane and John Chapman. We have had what they describe as a heavier than normal week. We've had a few departures, and a lot of getting to know some great people. These Docs also cover the oncology ward, so that has been thrown in serendipitously. I have some experience with my work at the Breast Centre on the diagnosis side of cancer. This is more the management side. Most patients have already seen an oncologist in Brisbane, and are having the treatments in Bundy, as it is closer to their homes. I have been impressed by the staff here, as they are all very generous with their time and willingness to explain things. I also keep a little notebook by my side at all times, and write down unfamiliar things to look up later. So my evenings are spent in AccessMedicine and MDConsult (the Dr.'s versions of Wikipedia). Thankfully the rate of trying to push things into my brain has slowed, and instead I am getting practice actually examining patients and taking histories. It is very gratifying when my observations are taken seriously during team meetings. I might actually end up GOOD at this!!!
Then again, 2 weeks in ED are coming up. Time to prepare to be wrong a lot....
This morning, I woke up at 3:30, which is usually when my bladder pokes me awake. However, I decided to stay up and go watch the sunrise over the ocean. It was beautiful, and I had the beach to myself. I left at 5:45, and headed back into town for the Shalom Market, which runs every Sunday at 6 am- noon. After picking up some fresh bananas and mangoes and just enjoying the energy of it, I drove back to my room and went back to bed. What a great way to spend a morning!

28 October 2009

Queensland Ambulance and Boo-Ya! Boots

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for me, and I haven't logged it, so this is a long post. The first adventure was riding with the Queensland Ambulance Service on a Friday night. Since our territory was downtown and the Valley (think Whyte Ave in Edmonton), we saw an awful lot of intoxicated/drugged people, and lots of vomit. Only one broken ankle, also brought on by inebriation. It was a busy night, and the attendant I was with allowed me to do blood sugars, blood pressures and ECG leads. qassmall.jpg
I also allowed myself to fulfill a desire of 19 years, and bought myself knee high Doc Martens black boots. They are fantastic, and I always feel a little wicked when I wear them. They seem to have broken me in, starting with a blister that covered most of one heel. Now they are super comfy, and I love them as much as a woman can love a pair of boots (which I’ve heard is a lot)
The exam preparation was a crazy week of stuffing my head full of stuff. Lots of caffeine and chocolate went into it. And a little wailing and gnashing of teeth. The exam itself was spread over two days, and was mentally exhausting. After it ended, I gave myself the best present possible, and had an hour long massage. Heaven! Then packing up began. I am putting all my things in storage over the Christmas break, and Rob and I will find a new place to live in January.
I am now doing my elective placement in Bundaberg for 4 weeks. I start off with two weeks of Palliative Care, and the 2 weeks of Emergency. I drove the 4 hours north of Brisbane on Saturday, and took Apollyon with me, as I found a place that would let me keep her. She was distressed to be in the car at first, but then found her favorite spot was on my lap, co-piloting. So cute. My first day on the wards was definitely interesting: psychosis, uncontrolled cancer pain, dysfunctional family dynamics and Cheyne- Stokes breathing. I was paired up with a Dr. John Chapman, and we had what he would call a hectic day. We had 4 admissions from home, via the ER. They were all terminal cancer patients having breakthrough pain that was not being controlled, and 1 had difficulty breathing because the cancer in his lungs were squeezing his windpipe shut. One lady thought she was in India and that people were trying to poison her and begged us to take her to the hospital....
We are expecting a few departures this week. I have learned an awful lot about morphine and all its opioid equivalent friends. And that terminal cancer pain requires a LOT of morphine. For example, one patient is getting 300 mg of morphine per day, plus Fentanyl patches worth 450 morphine mg equivalents. The average ER visit type trauma pain would get you 2.5 mg of morphine. And unfortunately, when they land in ER, that's ALL THEY GET. Can you imagine the suffering if you were at those levels and then bumped down like that??? Unfortunately, these palliative patients are sometimes dismissed as drug seekers, or worse, subjected to rafts of tests and scans and probes to heroically find out the problem and "fix" them. The problem is they are dying, their bodies are changing in preparation, and it's just not fixable. The palliative care area has evolved to help make the last months, weeks and days as comfortable and the least distressing for the patient as possible. That does not include stuffing them full of IV fluid which ends up swelling their legs and bellies (i.e. not in their blood vessels), and subjecting them to painful and invasive tests that will not change the course of their disease or its management. So we spent a fair amount of time in ER rescuing patients from earnest doctors.
The end of the first day was good, satisfying, but I was exhausted. I went home at 7pm, put on my jammies and went to bed. The second day was also a lot of running around, but I don't feel nearly as tired. I guess it's just the transition from sitting on my butt studying all day to actively seeing patients. I am LOVING every minute of finally getting to interact with real people!!!

16 October 2009

Car freedom

For the first time since 1998, we don't have a car payment.  As of Sept 22, the Matrix is paid for.  And for the first time ever, I had a car warranty expire on time rather than distance.  The 5yr/200,000km warranty expired at 5 years and 198,000km.  Last Saturday the Matrix did roll over to 200,000km or 0.2 gigameters on the way to visiting Mom at the bird sale in Innisfail.

Toyota Matrix hits 200,000km

The bird sale was cold this year, even colder than usual.  The sale was slow too, so Mom packed up early and spent more time visiting her friends Helen & Paul.

30 September 2009

The big news!!!

Barb's Facebook status caused a flurry of comments, so I guess I should fill in the details.

As you may or may not know; Barb is in Australia studying medicine while I am still in Canada waiting for my working visa (GSM subclass 175).  When I applied processing time was about six months.  I had applied in July 2008 with Barb starting in Jan 2009.  We then found out it was taking a bit longer because of backlog from a rule change in 2007.  Then more months passed.  Then in May 2009, the Aus Immigration department cut back the number of people they were letting and changing the priority the were processing the visas in.  Then just last week the changed the rules again.  The estimated time of processing moved to 2012.  That's right, four years to process a visa application.

We began experimenting with a few other possibilities.  We thought of me coming to Australia and then applying in-country because processing is much faster.  But, that doesn't work because Aus uses a points system and because I am now 40 years old, I get 5 less points than when I was 35-39.  This means I no longer have enough points.  I could have gone as a spouse on Barb's student visa, but I would only be allowed to work 20 hours a week.  It's pretty hard for two people to live on one part-time salary.  We were even toyed around with Barb coming back to Canada and try again to get into a Canadian med school.

Then out of the blue, my mother comes up with a plan.  She was planning to leave some of her farmland to each of her kids in her will.  She decided that the two quarter sections that I would be getting would be much more useful to me now than after she is gone.  Her plan was to sell the two quarters and give the proceeds to Barb and I.  With  money in the bank, plus me working part-time, we would be able to live TOGETHER until Barb graduates med school.

So, last Thursday she put the land up for sale.  By Sunday she had two offers, plus a third interested party.  She accepted the offer tonight with possession taking place October 16.  The offer was for the full listed amount. If nothing goes horribly wrong, this means that I will be able to fly back to Australia with Barb after her Christmas break in Canada.

HURRAY & PRAISE THE LORD!!!!  

For all of you praying for us, please continue to do so until the sale is final (and afterwards is good too) .

26 September 2009

The “Oh, S%#t trees” are blooming!

jacaranda.jpgUniversity of Queensland is covered with Jacaranda trees, along with gums, tulip trees, sausage trees, bunya pines and more. But the Jacaranda has a special place with students. It's known as the "Oh s%#t tree", because it's blooming signifies that exams are near, and one had better be getting catching up on studying. It is actually superstition on campus that getting hit with a falling blossom is bad luck for exams!
They are apparently blooming early this year, because of early rains and warmer weather than usual. The story can be viewed at:


I think it's just for us med students, who have our two day finals on October 20 and 21. Oh, s%#t.
In other news, Brisbane got hit with a whopper of a dust storm, the worst in 70 years. It blew up from Sydney (where planes were being rerouted to Brisbane because of visibility), and covered everything in an orange haze. Brutal for anybody who has lung problems, such as asthmatics. For the whole day, I felt gritty, tasted grit and smelled grit. Inside and outside. It apparently even made international news! My flatmate Brady got some amazing pictures:Story bridge in the dust storm
Jacarandas in the dust
And the next day, just like that, it was gone, and we are back to regularly scheduled beautiful weather. Freaky.

19 September 2009

Help! I’m being Aussified!!!

On the drive to school today, I said out loud, "I hope I can find a park...." And stopped myself. It came out without thinking, and it is exactly how the Aussies would say they hope they find a parking spot. So I am absorbing (or being absorbed) into the Aussie culture. Some other things I have caught myself saying or thinking:
How ya going?= How are you?
Sunnies= Sunglasses
Togs=swimsuit
Arvo= afternoon
Esky= Cooler (as in Colemans)
Brilliant!= Awesome!
Beyond the Black Stump= the Boondocks
Bogan= Trailer trash
Bottle Shop= Liquor store
Winge= whine
Macca's= McDonald's
Chippie=Carpenter
Sparkie= Electrician
Tradie=tradesperson
Postie= Mail Carrier, or the dirtbikes they ride on the sidewalks
Truckie= Truck driver
Bull bar=Moose rack
Ute= think the old "el Camino" half truck-half car. For some reason they are popular here.
Try= Goal in a game
Panel beaters= (car) body shop
Uni= University
Sister= Nurse (I still don't know what they call male nurses yet)
Feeling crook= feeling sick
bub= baby/toddler
dunny= toilet or (more usually)outhouse
Panadol=Tylenol
stuffed= broken
petrol=gas
hire=rent (unless it's a place, then it's still rent)
lollies=candy (including chocolate)
TimTams= fabulousness incarnate!!!

In other news, the cat, Apollyon, has had a growth on the inside of her cheek since June. I thought it had to do with losing her baby teeth and getting her adult teeth in. The growth persisted, however, and when I did some PubMed searching (how researchers Google), I found that most oral growths in cats are malignant. Yikes! So I took her to the vet, who after examining her thought it was very strange, and didn't look like a cancer or anything else he had ever seen. So he pumped Polly full of antibiotics and an antiinflamatory to see if it would reduce. It didn't, and so today Apollyon had mouth surgery. I just got back with her. She is doped up on morphine and feeling NO PAIN.........
My wallet, on the other hand, is in pain. $400 worth. Ooog. Expensive cats should come with a warranty...

17 September 2009

Wow.

I just came back from a talk by Dr. Richard Deichmann, who is the chief of Medicine at Memorial Hospital, In New Orleans, Louisiana. He recounted the crisis of the Katrina Hurricane and what happened at his hospital, where 2000 people came to shelter at the 350 bed facility. After a few days the generators supplying emergency power failed, and people began dying. The dead were left in their rooms, as the basement morgue was underwater. I cannot imagine the smell, combined with the human and animal waste in a Louisiana summer. They somehow managed to evacuate the survivors to a field hospital and safety. Not only was that an amazing story, but he also detailed the aftermath- friends and colleagues committing suicide due to Post Traumatic Stress, and the emergency preparedness plans that have now been put in place.
The comment that stuck out at me the most was from his colleague: "It was both the most difficult and yet most rewarding time to be a physician. Totally unencumbered by getting paid or area of specialty, we were just HELPING people." Awesome. cover_import.jpg

15 September 2009

The Countdown is On!

So..... 4 weeks left of classes. Aii-ya!!!!!
The last couple of weeks have been fairly uneventful. Studying, avoidance of studying, too much facebooking (the noun that INSISTS on being verbed! English will never recover!!!! Oh, wait. It's been doing this for centuries. I highly recommend Howard Richler's "A Bawdy Language: How a Second Rate Language Slept its Way to the Top" for an amusing exploration of English's evolution.)
Last week, some group decided it was a fantastic idea to have a rock concert in the parking lot behind the flat. The dishes were vibrating until well after midnight Wednesday and Thursday nights. They were pulling cats backwards through vacuum cleaners at one point, I'm sure. Makes me feel like a grumpy fist-shaking old codger ("You kids get off my lawn!"). But really. People do like to sleep at night sometimes, as it makes getting up 7 hours later that much easier. To go to jobs. and stuff. Ah well, that's the Valley for you. And I'm getting too old, I guess. It's too loud.
This past Saturday was the opening of the Brisbane Festival, with a half hour fireworks show called Riverfire. The Roulettes (the Aussie equivalent of the Snowbirds) performed, and an F1-11 did a dump and burn over the river. Amazing show!
Riverfire from Brady Bouchard on Vimeo.

Riverfire from Brady Bouchard on Vimeo.


More Fireworks from Brady Bouchard on Vimeo.

More Fireworks from Brady Bouchard on Vimeo.



Our musculoskeletal block is coming to a close with a drunk idiot who destroys his radial nerve. No delusions about what most ED calls will be for. Alcohol is only second to "Hey guys, watch this!" in precipitating an acute medical problem.
Lastly, I have decided to run for the VP spot in next year's TROHPIQ club (Towards Rural and Outback Health Professions in Queensland) This is mainly motivated by my keen-ness for what they do, but partially strategic too. Just like in undergrad, those waiting at the end of graduation want to see that you can do more than just study. So hopefully that works out.
Thanks for reading guys!

Barb

26 August 2009

Spring is here…Gimme my AC!!!

  Spring has arrived in Brisbane, and the temperature is regularly climbing over the 30 mark. Nights are still very pleasant (20 ish). I have broken out my shorts again, and started to use the AC. Makes for a bigger electrical bill, but the ability to sleep at night is totally worth it.
  Last weekend I joined the TROHPIQ (Towards Rural and Outback Health Professions in Queensland)club again for a roadtrip to Cherbourg and Kingaroy. It was a very enlightening trip, especially with regards to Aboriginal Health. At the turn of the century, people from 26 different tribes and territories were rounded up and dumped in Cherbourg, with the hopes that they would either become "civilized" or quietly die and go away. This resulted in huge hardships, conflicts within the community and dismal health outcomes. Even as late as 1986, residents required a permit to shop in the neighbouring town, and to this day, no one is allowed to operate a shop. The government has also declared Cherbourg a "Dry" town, meaning no alcohol is allowed anywhere within a certain radius. Cherbourg is still struggling to become a functional community. The town has a health plan instigated by the people who live there, which takes into account the spiritual and cultural health of the people it serves. We toured the health facilities and heard about the town's history. They were well prepared for us, and were almost desperate to make us understand where they were coming from. I learned more in 3 hours there than I had the previous 8 months of program, with regards to Indigenous health care.
  Then we went on to Captain's Paddock winery for a wine tasting. This area is known as the South Burnett region, and apparently is studded with orchards and wineries. Lovely area and a great time was enjoyed. We spent the night in Kingaroy, and the next day toured the Kingaroy hospital, and practiced out suturing and plastering skills. Plaster of Paris drys quickly in the sun, and pretty soon all 16 of us had solid casts on our arms. So we were herded to the Emergency Department to play with the cast saw to remove them. I know for sure that this would be a great place to work, as the staff and doctors were heartily amused, and not annoyed, by our presence and disturbance. A good experience all around.
  Last stop was the "Peanut Van", a landmark in Kingaroy. this area also produces most of Australia's peanuts, and fresh nuts are sold from a caravan, in about 40 different flavours. Yummy! We then headed back home and back to reality.
We are now working full throttle on musculoskeletal block, with impending neuro-psych as a last stop. So we have dealt with a case of Osgood Schlatter's syndrome (bones grow faster than the tendons of the leg, and start to pull bits of bone away from the tibia, and this week we are talking about Osteoporosis with respect to a hip fracture. The "case" also seems to have dementia so introducing psych unit a bit early. There are only 7 weeks left in this semester. Yikes!

11 August 2009

New Niece

WOOT!!!:  My new niece,  Hunter, was at 2:09 on the afternoon of August 9th, 2009.  Congrats to Rick and Tracy.

I haven't written for a while, so I beter get my butt in gear.  The weekend before last I went to Deadwood to visit Mom.  We had a lovely visit.  Sunday I went to the Manning museum pancake breakfas with Barb (my sister) and Jim. I then went to church with Tavia and Micheal.  At church I met up with the whole Nelson clan.  Tana, Collin and Anita were all home with their respective spouses.  I went out to lunch at their place and then supper at Tavia & Micheal's.  We ended up hanging out until well after midnight.

This week I took Friday off to have my one year Lasic eye exam.  Apparently the laser eye surgery went very well.  Each eye by itself has 20/20 vision and, to prove thing are beter together, both eyes are 20/15.  On the way home afterwards I drove by the theatre in St Albert.  Suddenly I though, "It's Friday afternoon, I'm not at work, I should go to a movie."  I saw "GI Joe".  Cool special effects and stuff, but I've come to the realization that they just went way too far beyond the bounds of believability.  The ice blocks falling through the water to crush underwater fortress was a bit much.

Saturday was evening service at church.  I was running projection Saturday and video cueing Sunday.  Big changes are coming.  This week they are installing two side screens and projectors.  That is going to make things at bit more complicated. I guess I'll see how it goes.

In the afternoon, I saw "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" with some friends.  Enjoyed it.  The first 20 minutes where in 3D; not sure if that was worth it though.  The preview of "A Christmas Carol" was a better use of 3D.

After supper I went to bed early. I woke up in the middle of the night, which is why I am writting this at 3:35am.  Starting to get tired, so I'll go back to sleep soon.

Good night all.

08 August 2009

Of bodies and minds….

This week has had some surreal moments attached to it. We are learning about the mechanisms of cancer, using examples of a 5 year old with leukemia and a woman with an unexpected result on mammogram, ending with her death of metastatic disease. Cheery stuff. My friend Jorin's daughter has was diagnosed with the same type of leukemia (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL) at age 5, and is just to the maintenance phase of treatment. Their story has been blogged at www.jorin.net. The parallels were so eerie that I recommended Jorin's blog to the group (with permission) Even the drugs were the same, except now I know how they actually work.
the next strange moment was on Tuesday, during anatomy lab. Our group is dissecting an arm and shoulder section. As we finished cleaning up at the end, I walked by a large trolley bin, filled with skinned legs. The weird part was when I caught myself being blandly accepting of a bin full of cadaver (dead people) legs, as if it were a bin of potatoes at the store. Shouldn't I be somewhere between mildly nauseated to deeply disturbed? I am intrigued by my lack of emotional response. I'm pretty sure I'm not repressing.
Friday afternoon, I was invited by my mentor (from the Australian Medical Association), Dr. Chris Davis, to sit in on his geriatric dementia clinic. It turned out a colleague of his filled in at the last minute, but I was still allowed to observe. The first patient was experiencing memory loss, but was actually suffering with accompanying depression. The second was a patient with advanced Alzheimers disease who had exhausted most of the treatment avenues available. The drugs she was on caused Parkinson-like symptoms, and she is in the final stages of her struggle. The third was a patient diagnosed early with Alzheimers, but was responding extremely well to his medication. The disease was actually almost at a stand-still in it's progression. WOW. Even the consultant commented, "X is a poster patient for THAT drug company!" after the consultation. It IS good to see drugs actually working the way we hope, and people gain or at least keep their function as a result. Very encouraging. This afternoon DOES mean I need to do some serious reading and studying before the next time I sit in, in order to be able to understand more of what I am observing.

25 July 2009

Stuff happens

This past week brought home just how far away I am. My grandpa John passed away on Tuesday morning. I knew very well that having older relatives die while I am over here was a distinct probablility. But it's still horrid when it happens. John was a "step-grandad", as my Grandma Klassen remarried after my grandpa passed away. He was a gentle, content man, stubborn to the core (isn't that a prerequisite for being Mennonite?), and loved a good game of Rook or Tile Rummy and dessert in any form it showed up. He had one of the greenest thumbs I've ever seen. He even put up with the crazy Klassen clan that came with marrying my Grandma, and was grandpa to my generation of kids for 21 years. He hadn't been well since Easter, and slowly just ....deccelerated until he stopped. I'll miss him.
I feel like I can't be there for my dad and grandma. I feel pretty helpless- at least there's the Vonage and email. The funeral is this Friday, and Rob will be attending.
Medicine marches on- we are starting to transition from repro block to cancer, this week we have the case of a potential prostate cancer. Turns out the fellow just had benign hyperplasia. Fortunately, we won't have to learn how to do a digital rectal exam until next year.....
Other bum- related news: I am currently part of an experiment to see how best to train future colonoscopists.
“the hard way”Fun with fake colons!
So I am practicing threading a scope up a dummy's anus. The experiment runs for 9 weeks. I can definitely say I have new respect for a good gastroenterologist. The point of the study is this: state of Queensland is attempting to impliment a massive colorectal screening program, and thus will need a lot more qualified people to do the scoping. They want to see how they can provide these people in the best/fastest way possible. So they are attempting to see how untrained monkeys (1st year med students) do with the learning process. It IS kind of fun, and I can now say all those hours Julie and I spent playing Nintendo as kids is not wasted. First question everyone asks is: "Do you do it on real people?" No. "Do you have to have it done to you?" No. It's a training model with a rubber "colon" which has been lubricated to act and look like the real thing. The photo below give an idea of what I see on the screen:
darm2.jpg
I have now been matched up with a mentor through the Australian Medical Association (AMA), with Dr. Chris Davis, who also happens to be the former president of the AMA. Handy. He has invited me to sit in on his clinic at the Prince Charles Hospital. So that seems like a positive thing already. It's nice to know that I'm not just student #21381289, or just a cash cow to the finance office. Well, back to Robbins (my pathology textbook). Have a great week, folks!

18 July 2009

July, the depths of winter (in Australia)

I am on the other side of crazy-time at the moment. I just finished a major assignment and did a critical-pass evaluation (i.e. you don't pass this, you don't pass the year. No Pressure...), and I 'm trying to catch up from the week- long convention I attended. So I am having a slightly more relaxed weekend. Still studying, just with less intensity.
The convention was the Australian Medical Student Association convention, the 50th anniversary, and in Brisbane this year, which made it convenient! We had a great line up of speakers for the academic program, including the authors of two different textbooks used all over the world. The photo is of me and Vinay Kumar, the author of Robbins Pathology.
img_0939small.JPGWe also heard from Lincoln Hall (who died on Everest and survived to tell the tale...weird), leaders in stem cell research, and Ian Frazer, the guy who developed Gardasil vaccine against cervical cancer caused by HPV. The social evenings were very alcohol fuelled (the Aussies can be very enthusiastic drinkers) and they all had a costume theme (another thing about the Aussies- they LOVE dressing up). I only went to the first and last nights. The last night was a gala ball at Movieworld, a cousin to Universal Studios theme park. They let us on all the freaky rides in our fancy get-ups, but stipulated only one drink per hour if you wanted to ride all the vomit inducing contraptions. Probably wise. It was a good time, and one of the good things was that I had to stay sober as a judge because I was driving....I can't think of a better excuse! The pics are on my Facebook, if you want the pictoral gory details.
In some ways I am glad Rob isn't around right at the moment. During each block, something related has happened to each of my friends (not just medical school syndrome, where you think you have what you're studying) During respiratory block, I had a raging chest infection. L's mom had a heart attack during cardio block. Another friend acquired an ascending bladder infection during urinary. So all us girls are nervous during reproduction block. Fortunately I had postive proof of infertility after Rob left. HAHA!! It's not gonna be meeeeeee!!!!!
Anyway, other than that, life's not too exciting..... reading and studying.... playing with knees and shoulders. My favourite(not) test so far is the "Apprehension test" where your hand manipulation threatens to dislocate a knee or shoulder, and you watch for the patient's reaction-- Cheez! Can you think of a meaner thing to do???? (Speaking as a 3 time knee dislocator!!)
Well, Anatomy beckons.....

07 July 2009

More “great” news from Australian Immigration

Got some news from the Australian Immigration department and I quote
"Based on current application rates for Groups 1-3, it is unlikely at this stage that applications which fall in Groups 1-3 will be exhausted in the 2009-10 Migration Program year and processing of Groups 4 and 5 will be delayed until this has occurred."

I am in Group 4, hurray for me.

Barb & I are looking into alternate ways of me getting there.  I might be able to get state sponsorship(Group 2), but that is a bit of a long shot.  I might also be able to go under Barb's student visa and then get a bridging visa that would allow me to work until I get my permanent visa.   The working on the government website is a bit unclear exactly how that works.

This is becoming very frustrating.  It's been a whole year since I applied and the Australian government keeps retroactively changing the rules.  I still have no idea when I'm actually moving there.  It would be really nice to actually live in thesame country as my wife.

Read all the full Immigration letter.

03 July 2009

Back to work (wht-chhhhhh..whip noise)

Rob has been back to his first day of work, and I have been in classes again since Monday. It's entirely amazing how fast information leaks out the back of my mind when I'm not continually stuffing it in the front. It's depressing actually. My exam turned out satisfactory, and I ended up ahead of the cohort by about 10%. So that's a relief. We have moved on from kidneys and the joys they bring, on to reproductive block. Starting way back with good ol' DNA. One. more. time. At least I can remember my cell cycle and how mitosis/meiosis works. So I've been reading up on the wilder stuff like Robinsonian translocations and chromosomes that get confused and become rings instead of linear. Crazy. And crazier yet is that your chromosomes can be really messed up ,and you can look and act normal. Or you can have the tiniest deletion, and be horribly disfigured or not even make it to birth. Wow.
Rob and I parted ways in Auckland on Sunday night, and I only cried a little on the plane. Having him around was wonderful, but makes it hurt a little more to let go again. On Wednesday I had a little crisis over it, which involved a little too much chocolate ice cream: heartaches hurt less when you have an accompanying stomacheache. My hips remain unappreciative.
The Immigration folks in Adelaide have sent Rob a note to let him know that his application is on hold INDEFINITELY. This is due to the current economic situation. They will only be processing state and employer sponsored- and while Rob met with some enthusiastic potential employers while he was here, none of the companies have a policy of sponsorship. Rob is too old for a working holiday visa, so we are a bit stuck. I have met with the local Senator's aide for our area, and he bothered to listen to the whole story, and will be looking into this for us. Cross your fingers, people. 'Cuz otherwise this may take YEARS.
Brisbane is lovely this time of year, with daytime highs of 21-25 oC, and nightime temps of 10ish. However, no central heating means 10 degrees outside= 12 degrees inside. Thus, I have a new favorite invention: the electric blanket. It fits on the bed like a sheet, and you turn it on about 20 minutes before going to bed. So toasty! My icicle toes are loving it. This inovation proved itself most brilliantly while we were in Waitomo, NZ. It actually froze that night- but the bed was wonderfully warm. Now they just need an electric nose warmer.

29 June 2009

It’s over…

My three weeks with Barb are now at an end.  She flew out of the Auckland airport a couple hours ago for Brisbane.  I'm sitting here waiting for my flight to Vancouver and then Edmonton. It was really great to be with Barb again even if it is only for a few weeks.

PS.  If you want to see the photos from the trip they are at http://www.eh-team.net/photos/ .

21 June 2009

Almost done Australia

Only 1 1/2 days left is Oz.  Then it is off to New Zealand for 6 days and finally back "home" to Canada.  I really hope I can move here soon, but the Aussie government is still dragging their heals.

Today we were supposed to go whale watching, but the weather turn rough. There is a small possibility we might be able to go tomorrow if the weather at sea clears.  In the city it was just overcast with light rain.  We went up Mt Coot-tha instead and got a stunning look at the city.

18 June 2009

Back in Brissie

Well we are back in Brisbane after a few days traveling north to the Rockhampton and back.  All the pictures are up on the website. We went to Bundaberg to the ginger beer factory, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, drove north to the Tropic of Capricorn, went through Banana Shire where they don't grow bananas, and saw the Outback. Awesome trip!!

Tomorrow I plan to do a bit of job hunting for when I acually move here.  Wish me luck.

Rob

09 June 2009

I’m in a land down under…

Well, here I am in Australia again.  We have two weeks here,  one week in New Zealand and then back home to Canada to wait for my Australian visa.

The flight left Thursday afternoon and went through San Fransisco, Los Angeles and Auckland.  Arriving in Brisbane Saturday morning.  It was really great to see Barb again.

Saturday we basically recovered from jet lag.

Sunday we went to St John's Anglican Catherderal for church.Next was an afternoon nap, aahhhh.  Sunday night Barb organized a "Meet the Rob" party where several of her friends came to mee the this "Rob" guy she keeps talking about.  Mom came along and this was her first time ever at a pub.  It will also probably be here last time ever at a pub.  It was cool to actually meet the people I've seen pictures of and heard Barb talk about.

Monday  we went to Lone Pine Koala sanctuary and say, you guesses it, koalas.  We also saw kangaroos, walabes, crocodiles, and a whole bunch of other stuff.  I'll try to get some pictures online asap.

06 June 2009

No sense crying over every mistake, you just keep on trying ’till you run out of cake…

...And the science gets done, and you make a neat gun, for the people who are Still Alive....

WHEW! Mid year exam is over! We had a week to prepare, and prepare I did. And drank a lot of coffee.
And JUST because I bothered to memorize it AND it wasn't asked on the exam, I am going to spit out this equation for you:

PAO2= PiO2-PACO2/0.8.

Don't get it? Yah, I don't blame you. This is the lovely equation for the pressure of Oxygen at the alveoli of the lungs, which you then must compare with the aterial blood gas reading of PaO2. The norm is a ratio of less than 10mmHg. See? I DID study. Even better was a mention of Bare Lymphocyte Syndrome, an extremely rare immune condtion where no antibodies are produced. Glad I paid attention in Immin 452 during undergrad, even if I will NEVER see this in real life practice. I promise.
Rob is in the air somewhere as I type. It is currently 1 in the morning, and I am too excited to sleep. YAY!! Can't wait to see that man!!
The majority of the medical class ended up going to the bar afterwards. I went, but the Red Room (UQ's campus bar) is not my thing, and the service was the slowest on the planet. So a good friend of mine, Lynette and I headed for RE, a pub in Toowong. We then walked back into the city, and enjoyed an impromptu Latin dance party right outside the coffee shop where we were having desserts and tea. Sometimes i love this city!
The plane lands at 10:55 am, and I have no idea what happens after that. A lot depends on how beat Mom B and Rob are after 37 hours in airports and planes. Or they may be revved and ready to explore Brissie. Whatev.

30 May 2009

One week

In exactly seven days from now I will be at Los Angeles International Airport wait for an Air Zealand 747 to Auckland.  There is a bit of a convoluted route to visit my honey.  Starting 2:45pm in Edmonton, Mom & I fly to Denver, LA, Auckland and finally arrive in Brisbane Saturday morning.  I can't believe how much stuff I have to get done before then, and how little motivation I have to get it done.

20 May 2009

At least it’s not raining here.

Snow - May 9This is the lovely sight that greeted me this morning.  There has been snow for two days running now. By Saturday it is supposed to be nice again- sunny and 20 degrees. This just proves the old adage, "If you don't like the weather in Alberta, wait five minutes"

(The house in the background of the picture is the one that I am house-sitting).

I think this cold is better than the flooding problem that Barb is having.  (Check out her latest post).

That's about all the exciting news for today.  I'm going to bed early so it will be a little easier dragging my butt out of the bed tomorrow morning.

Noah just called, he’s gonna pick me up in 10 minutes….

funny-pictures-cats-umbrella-rain-flood.jpg
rain, Rain, RAIN!!! Currently it's raining buckets here. 32mm yesterday, 47 today, and expected 53 mm tomorrow. I am continually surprised at how ineffectual umbrellas are in this weather. And I have a waterfall in my kitchen, coming in from the ceiling because of the downpour. With a small lake on the kitchen floor. Makes me glad I rent, I'd hate to be responsible for fixing it. But waiting for my landlord to arrive means I am missing Clinical Coaching, and we were going to be on the ward, too....poop.
Being wet when I don't plan on it makes me kinda crabby. I waited 1/2 hour for the bus from St.Lucia to home. My shoes are now spongy puddles, and the rest of me required a full change to dry clothes. The bridge at UQ lakes is almost underwater, and will probably not be passable on foot tomorrow.
This week we are discussing kidneys, acid-base balance and urine production. I have never peed so much on the power of suggestion!
And in other news, Rob mailed me a tin of TIM HORTON'S COFFEE and two flavoured CoffeeMates!!!! Have I mentioned how much I love that man? Also included was two running room shirts (make the bike ride to school a lot less soggy from the inside out.)

Victoria Day

The May long weekend is traditionally when people start their gardens in Canada.  Unfortunately, this year that isn't working so well.  It snowed today: Snow on flowers

I spend my day indoors though.  Barb's parents are finishing their basement, so Peter Martin and I were there putting up the drywall. We were able to finishall the boarding except for the the finicky little bit around the windows sills.  Peter will be going back later to finish those bits plus all the taping and mudding.

(Just FYI, Peter now has a company website at http://www.lightrocktaping.com/)

Afterwards Vicki and the boys came over
for supper.  I had to leave a bit early to get back to the house to give Fido his injection.

I did laundry and now it's beddy by time.

19 May 2009

Ahhhhhhh….

I guess it is about time for a new update.  Barbra Doiron left for Europe for two weeks and I'm house sitting for her.  I also have to give her cat Fido insulin injections twice a day.  So far I have been enjoying having my own place again.

I didn't do much today, but that will be changing.  Tomorrow Peter & I will be drywalling Barb's parent's place.  Over the next two weeks I have to go through the boxes in the basement and decide what things I will be taking to Australia with me when I go in June.  I also have to pack for that trip as well.

Still haven't heard anything from Australian Immigration.  Barb did go to an immigration seminar in Brisbane to find out more information.  She did at least find out that they use the age you apply rather than your current age when they assign points.  Being between 35-39 gives you 5 point and being 40 is zero.

That's right, I'm 40 years old now.  When in the heck did that happen?  High school was only a few years back.  My birthday was on Mother's Day this year.  I went up to Deadwood for the weekend.  I picked up some flowers for Mom in Peace River on the way up.  I also got my Mother-in-law some flowers too.  Rick came by Saturday night after work for supper.  On Sunday, Mom, Cathy & I went to the pancake breakfast at Notiekiwin Hall.  The next few hours of my birthday were spent driving back to Edmonton.   That evening Barbra, Tash, Tom & I went and saw "X-Men Origins: Wolverine".

I enjoyed "Wolverine", but it just didn't compare to "Star Trek" which we saw on Thursday night.   They were able to nail the characters and their interplay, which is what I liked best about the original Star Trek TV shows & books.  The special effects were cool except for the whole bouncy camera thingy.  What wrong with a good SteadiCam?  It was kinda fun that Barb & I saw both movie at about the same time in two very different locations.

18 May 2009

Countdowns

pressure.jpg
Yup, there's only 18 more days until our midyear exam...and 19 more days until Rob arrives.
The general ethos among the first year meds ranges from all out panic to paralysis. Students are starting to literally LIVE in our study rooms. They should really install showers. No, seriously. Those rooms start to smell pretty rank after too many bodies spend too much time in them with substances sometimes identified as "food".
For the most part, I am not selling out to the panic, although I have moments when the sheer volume of random factoids that I must regurgitate is a little overwhelming. I comfort myself by discussing said random factoids with others- they can't remember pathways and other minutae any better than I can. We are all sunk together. Or not. Another thing I remind myself of is that in 20 years, when I'm well into my career and treating patients, NOBODY will ask me what all the intermediates of the TCA cycle are. And if they do, I WILL LOOK IT UP, the way any sane working person does.
But, in the meantime, the head stuffing continues. I am dealing with it well, on average- exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating properly. And pulling out my eyebrows and eyelashes. Oh, wait, that's maladaptive. Unfortunately the hair around my eyes always takes the first hit when I am stressed. At the moment, I have eyelashes only on the lateral edges of both eyes. And a growing hairless patch on my right eyebrow. It even has a name: trichillomania. It could be worse.
Brady and I have gone to see Star Trek and Wolverine, and it's nice to escape into a good story every once in a while. In classes, we have been learning to read ECG's, and ABG's, learn about spirometry and how to deal with high blood pressure (apropos, don't you think?). All interesting stuff. Well, I should go and figure out what FEV1 looks like in an asthmatic.....

25 April 2009

What’s with the weather?

Welcome to Alberta.  Tuesday the weather was warm and sunny and 20degrees.  Then Wednesday rolls a round, the temperature drops and tonight we are getting snow. I guess that is the way it is.

I've spent most of the last week not feeling so good.  I stayed home from work on Friday and Monday, and spend the weekend lying in bed.  I am feeling better now, but my voice still sounds like I'm smoking a carton of cigarette's a day.  And I'm still trying to hack up a lung occasionally.

On Tuesday, Barbra and I went to see the Canadian movie "One Week".  It is about a man who finds out he has cancer and then goes on a road trip.  (Okay, it is more involved than that).  I liked the movie, a bit odd, but well worth going to see.  That makes two Canadian movies in the last six months; "One Week" and "Paschendale".  Of the two I preferred "One Week".

Spring Time in Alberta:


13 April 2009

12 April 2009

The Easter Bilby

Apparently we have been deceived in North America. The Easter Bunny is an evil hoax.  The credit for the chocolate instead belongs to a native, endangered marsupial known as the Bilby. haha!  This makes sense here, as rabbits have ravaged good chunks of the countryside as an invasive species. Check out http://www.easterbilby.com.au/save_bilby/chocolate.asp for the story.  So I did my part and bought and consumed one! There. My conscience is cleansed!  Happy Easter to all our friends!

I have this coming week off, somewhat like a reading week.  And I am actually reading! (what a keener!)  So are most of my classmates.  there is just no point at which you can be comfortable with your level of understanding when it comes to med.  there is simply too much, about too many things.  So you catch as much as you can, and pray that you won't be endangering patients with the gaps in your knowledge.  The other problem is that the knowledge base is changing almost daily.  So what I learn this week may not be true by the end of the year.  I guess that's why they have second year, and 3rd, and 4th, and internship...and the rest of your career.   The learning just doesn't stop- perfect for a professional student like me!!!  Please don't take this as whining- it's just the way it is.  I am super grateful for a little pause in the flood, and hope to be rarin' to go again by the 20th of April, when classes resume.

This Easter is, like all my holidays so far in the last 5 months, is strange.  Easter usually entails going to Innisfail, to visit with my mother-in-law at the Spring craft show.  There's also the time with the Klassen clan and celebrating Christ's resurrection with our church family.  None of these things happened for me, and Easter is a fall holiday here.  One day I'll get used to the new way of doing things!

So, Easter blessings on you all.... I hear a textbook calling me... gotta go!

31 March 2009

Life Continues

I now have been at my new job for 4 weeks now.  Everything is going fairly well.  Pretty good place to work.  For the first two weeks it was really busy, but it has slowed down in the last two weeks.  I think some of the old customers were a nervous about the change over and were ordering extra toners and servicing.

The lastest news from Australian Immigration is that they will start processing my class of visa application after May 30.  Hopefully mine should be fairly close to the top of the list because I have been on the list since last July.  If all goes well I should be in Australia by August.  I guess we will see.

This has been an odd adventure.  Barb & my latest catch phrase is "It is what it is".  We could be terrible upset about waiting six month (or more) but it is what it is.  We have to just live through it.

Well that's all I have to say.  God bless.

Rob

19 March 2009

When the mouse is full, the grain IS sour!

"Wan daut Mustje saut ess, ess daut Kuarntje betta" This is a quote my Grandpa Klassen used to say.  It is basically used to refuse yet more (fabulous Mennonite) food. Translated, it means "when the Mouse is full, the grain is sour".  Who knew that he was right? I found a paper demonstrating that leptin, the hormone which indicates "uncle" to the brain and tells it to stop eating, actually dampens nerve impulses from sweet receptors in the tongue (in mice)!! Here is the Abstract:

Kirio Kawai et al.  Leptin as a modulator of sweet taste sensitivities in mice.  2000 PNAS.
"Leptin acts as a potent inhibitory factor against obesity by regulating energy expenditure, food intake, and adiposity. The obese diabetic db/db mouse, which has defects in leptin receptor, displays enhanced neural responses and elevated behavioral preference to sweet stimuli. Here, we show the effects of leptin on the peripheral taste system. An administration of leptin into lean mice suppressed responses of peripheral taste nerves (chorda tympani and glossopharyngeal) to sweet substances (sucrose and saccharin) without affecting responses to sour, salty, and bitter substances. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of activities of taste receptor cells isolated from circumvallate papillae (innervated by the glossopharyngeal nerve) demonstrated that leptin activated outward K+ currents, which resulted in hyperpolarization of taste cells. The db/db mouse with impaired leptin receptors showed no such leptin suppression. Taste tissue (circumvallate papilla) of lean mice expressed leptin-receptor mRNA and some of the taste cells exhibited immunoreactivities to antibodies of the leptin receptor. Taken together, these observations suggest that the taste organ is a peripheral target for leptin, and that leptin may be a sweet-sensing modulator (suppressor) that may take part in regulation of food intake. Defects in this leptin suppression system in db/db mice may lead to their enhanced peripheral neural responses and enhanced behavioral preferences for sweet substances."

so, w00t!  Grampa didn't even know he was on to something!
We are in the midst of studying metabolism and nutrition, in the context of cases of Enzyme deficiency, Anorexia Nervosa, and juvenile diabetes. And my partner in crime, Brady and I, are currently attempting a low/slow carb diet.  So that gives me a good excuse to read up from both directions.  There is an amazing amount of conflicting nutrition information published. And I don't mean just on the lunatic fringe of cyberspace, but in published journals on PubMed. Everybody's got a theory, but nobody knows for sure. All I know is that I've tried everything from Jenny Craig to Weightwatchers to Nutrisystem(lost my gallbladder over that one) to the Cabbage Soup diet to Xenical to lose the pounds, and they just seem to roll right back on. But I can't give up yet, I'm not dead! Either the fat or the diets will kill me. Stay tuned.

08 March 2009

Saturdays Rock

small-intubation-pic.jpgToday I did a skills learning day. I learned to cannuate (stick honking needles into a big fake rubber arm with Kool-Aid running through its veins- to set up an IV drip), venipuncture (how to take blood with smaller needles for lab tests), suturing (the medicalese term for sewing), plastering a wrist fracture and intubating (a very "HouseMD" moment). Fun to the extreme level. If learning medicine was like this everyday, I would explode with happy. But usually there's a lot more reading and a lot less sticking things into people. Oh well. Those days will come.  Then again, it's propbably far easier working on patients who don't smell funny, won't wiggle, aren't drunk or argumentative, and don't complain if you don't get it on first try.  Those days, too are coming....The pics are on Facebook, and Rob might upload them to our site too.

Rob and I celebrated the condo possession date with "Celebratory Whoppers", a tradition we've had for a while now. In Australia, Burger King is called "Hungry Jack's"  but they still have Whoppers by the same name.  We webcammed (Hey! I just verbed a noun!)  so we could do it together (3 pm my time, 10:00pm his time).  Rob will upload his side of the story soon. YAY! Condo is gone!!!! Thanks, Jesus!

Lastly on the news front, There is a cyclone winding down the coast of Queenland.  Brisbane is so far unaffected. But about 3 hours north us is going to get wacked pretty good.  It actually hit Category 5, which is as bad as they come.  However, by the time it hits land, it should downgrade to a Cat 3.  Which is still bad, and they are estimating there may be up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage.  Part of me wants to see a cyclone in action.  Which probably only proves I have no idea how scary they can be.  Yikes.

02 March 2009

Happy Fall! (in the Southern Hemisphere)


Well, February rushed by like a freight train.  And still, the story of my life is “I’m not ready!!”


Thanks to everyone who expressed their condolences on my crummy week last post.  Update: The cat lives($100 later), the car lives ($350 later), the parking tickets are paid. And my outlook is up.  I have been reading Psalms: " I don't trust my bow, and don't count on my sword to save me- You are the one who decrees victory for your people." (Ps. 44).  thanks for the prayers and thoughts.  I am part of a good group of folks here that meet on Thursday afternoons for prayer and support.  It's gonna be OK.  And I got a real bed on Friday. no more sleeping on pull-out couch cushions. YAY!! That by itself is enough to chase the grumpies.  Rob even posted my photo of it.  The only catch is that I need new sheets, as we bought double sized in November.  I can live with that.


           Actually, I have to admit, at the moment I am merely ‘whelmed’, not over or under.  We finally got past most of the introductory lectures, and began the real meat.  Lucky for me, the first system on the menu was Immunology.  The trick with this module was to scale back on detailed explanations and just cover the basics.  I guess if they wanted it at the level I understand, it would take another 4 years! I’m sure my colleagues who specialized in GI are in the same situation now. 


I am in a Problem Based Learning group of 10 students, and we are given a weekly problem to wander through. The point is not to find out what is ailing the patient (as in real life), but to show us what we don’t know, and then go dig it up.  And then hopefully figure out what is ailing our poor patient.  So far we have dealt with severe Acne, a baby with Severe Combined Immuno-Deficiency (SCIDS), An MVA with hemothorax and lacerated femoral artery, going into shock, Giardiasis (The Canadians proclaimed : “Beaver fever!”  The Aussies had no clue what we meant),  and Hep A.  Luckily, they schedule our anatomy, microbiology, physiology and histology labs to cover what we are dealing with in group session.  So for this week dealing with Giardiasis, we did a micro prac on parasites. And yes, among things that can kill you, they have venomous ticks here.  Good grief.  A gal on the micro bench next to mine had a relative die of a toxic tick bite only 2 weeks earlier.  It makes our ticks and Lyme disease look like patty-cake.


            I am really enjoying the Anatomy pracs.  They have lots of specimens to handle and look at.  Two retired surgeons, 2 anatomists and a radiologist assist us, and it has been really helpful working with people who know what they are looking at and why it matters.  We also look at imaging in these labs (hence the radiologist).  I still find it somewhat difficult to convert the MRI slices into a 3-D person, but I enjoy looking at the xray films, and half a clue about what I am looking at in ultrasound pictures.  I think I need to make up a table of what happens at what vertebra, since everything seems to use those reference points.


            Regular classes have started for undergrad students, and the ghost town campus is now packed.  I have started swimming at the pool weekly (I met a very nice Dutch gal studying Sociology, and we keep each other accountable)  


            I have one elective in first year, and I have paired up with a Palliative care specialist.  I have been interested in this for years, and I would like to find out early in the game if I can and/or want to do this for a career.  The elective is a four week stretch in November.  I considered doing the elective in a rural or remote placement, or overseas, but at that point, we are still going to be weak on procedural skills.  I would rather wait until 3rd year when I can do more to be an asset to wherever I am going, and for longer (2 month placements).  Also, if Rob can only move here by that time, there’s no way I’m taking off for a month.

Oh, and of interest, express courier to Canada is $45, and takes FIVE days.  I found a lawyer who could halp me prove that I am who I think and say I am, and then got the Condo sale documents to the lawyer in Edmonton.  Hopefully the rest goes off without a hitch, as possession is March 6.

01 March 2009

That’s a wrap.

Well, today was the last day for the Panasonic Document Systems Direct - Edmonton branch.  It is a bit wierd closing down an operation.  Most of the copiers & stuff were shipped back to the Richmond BC branch, computers & stuff to Toronto, and the old ancient fax machines to the garbage bin.

We had a wrap up party.  Some of the former employees came back for one last hurra.  The photos are here. It was an odd day.  Dan, Saied, Lorie & I will all be going over to the new company and doingmostly the same thing, so this isn't really an end.  On the other hand, There are several people I'm not going to see much again.  Just wierd.

Because we got a good severence package, I now have money to blow on things like hair cuts & oil changes, and maybe a couple things for the computer.  The condo is now one week from being sold.  Hurray.  The new Job starts Monday morning at 8:00. That means I am only unemployed for 53 more hours.  Since it is almost 3:00am, I should probably go to bed now.

Good night all.

21 February 2009

Australia Bound… in 3 1/2 months.

Well, it is official.  I've booked the airline tickets for a trip to Australia. I get to go down under to visit my honey.  Hopefully by the time I get there it will be a one-way trip, but I do have a returned flight booked just in case.  I am traveling down with my Mom.  This should be pretty exciting for her as she has never left the country before (except for a couple of the northern United States).

We leave Edmonton the afternoon of June 4th and arrive in Brisbane the morning of June 6th. We do loose a day to the International Date Line, so that isn't as quite bad as it sounds.  It is about 22 hours and 9800km of flying though.  The flight down connects through Denver, Los Angeles and Auckland before arriving in Brisbane.  We booked the trip to coincide with the end of Barb's mid term exams and her three week winter break.

Once we get there, Mom wants to diving in the Great Barrier Reef and whale watching.  Since she's almost 70 and has just flown for 22 hours, she gets to do whatever she wants.  We are going to go back to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary again and maybe the Australia Zoo. We don't have much of the trip planned yet.  My main reason for going is to see Barb.  So basically we will go see whatever Mom wants.

To return, we leave Brisbane on the 22nd and fly to New Zealand.  We planned to stay a few days on the North Island, see the sights and then leave from Auckland on the morning of the 28th.  If the Australia Immigration department has played nice with me, Barb & I will send Mom off for the long flight back to Vancouver and Edmonton.  Then we will fly back to Brisbane.  If the visa hasn't come through, I will be flying back with Mom and Barb will fly back to Brisbane by herself.  Due to the Date Line again, we will arrive in Edmonton six minutes before we leave Auckland.  We actually arrive in Vancouver six hours before we leave Auckland.

For all you airplane geeks out there the following flights are on the following planes:

  • Edmonton -> Denver        Embraer Jet  (link)

  • Denver -> Los Angeles      Boeing 757-200  (link)

  • L.A. -> Auckland                Boeing 747   (link)

  • Auckland -> Brisbane       Boeing 777  (link)

  • Brisbane -> Auckland       Airbus A320  (link)

  • Auckland -> Vancouver    Boeing 747  (link)

  • Vancouver -> Edmonton  Airbus A320  (link)
In other news,  I have just one week left at Panasonic.  Apparently all our customers should be getting letter soon stating that CBS (link) has taken over the business and the Panasonic branch will no longer be around. Dan and Lorie have been pulling out their hair trying to get things closed down.  All our copier stock is slowly making it's way to either the Richmond or Toronto office.  Tomorrow we are having a pizza lunch.  We have some money in our social fund that we have to burn through before the end of next week. It will be an odd ending to job; half the staff is moving to the new company, I'll have the same customers and machines, the same paycheck but with a new logo in the corner. I also have about 80% of my box of business cards left. If any body wants one of may business cards, just contact me :-).
That's about all for now. God bless.
Rob

20 February 2009

If God ever forgives me for moving to Aus, I SWEAR I’ll never do it again!

This week has been cruddy.  I've gotten about $250 worth of parking tickets that I was unaware I had until the "We're about to take you to court" notices started showing up.  My fault, I failed to read the fine print on my residential permit- I can't park in a pay zone. Unfortunately, of the 3 streets I am allowed to park on, none of them has any NON-pay zones.  So I am parking the car in the next suburb over, New Farm, about a kilometer's walk away.  Last Saturday night, the Destroyer was broken into down there, and my camera and GPS power supply were stolen. NUTS!
On Wednesday night, the Destroyer died...AGAIN... but this time in the middle of downtown, in the middle of evening rush hour.  I waited an 40 minutes for a tow truck, and endured varying levels of verbal abuse from my fellow motorists. The car was towed to a garage, and I finally got home at 8 pm.  It is going to cost $350 to fix, as the fuel pump is to blame. DOUBLE NUTS!!
As I was down to $11 in the bank account, I have to dip into my tuition money for next semester. Not good.
The cat has also started having a bloody diahrrea, and needs to see a vet soon.  On top of it all, I am having a worse than average bout of PMS. (yes, you heard me) So everything seems blacker than it already is.  Rob is a zillion miles away, and it's starting to hurt.  And despite biking, walking and swimming, my clothes aren't getting any looser. TRIPLE NUTS!!!Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Click Image to Close I refer my dear readers to one of my favorite books as a kid, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  The story can be seen at:
http://www.kennedy-center.org/multimedia/storytimeonline/alexander.html.

On the bright side, the car CAN be fixed (not ready for the scrap yard yet),Rob is coming June 6th, and the house is sold.
God loves me, I'm doing what I've always wanted to do, and it's all going to be OK.  WHEW! Oh, yah.  Brady and I now have ADSL to the flat, which means the Vonage phone ACTUALLY works now. yay!
Thanks for the thoughts and prayers, everybody.

14 February 2009

Bushfires in Victoria

A few people have asked about the bushfires and if I'm anywhere near them.  No, I am at least a day and a half's hard drive from being anywhere close.  But these people DO need your prayer and support.  Many people have died trying to flee the fires, hospitals have run out of morphine to tend to burn victims' pain, and the land is black.  One car was found incinerated with 6 people inside.  Those that have managed to evacuate are without most basic supplies, as returning to the house usually meant you were added to the death toll.  It is estimated that over 180 have died, 2000 homes are destroyed and 7,000 people are displaced, so far.  What is the most sickening thing about it is that some of the bushfires were delibrately lit, and some were even RE-lit after firefighters had finally gotten an area under control.  So far one man has been arrested.  The Prime Minister describes it as "mass murder".  The fires were aggravated by the recent heat wave (up to 45 dgrees Celcius!) and whipped up by fierce winds.  Looking at pictures of the firefighters working on the blaze, many of them volunteers, I can only imagine how overheated they must be in their coveralls.  Very brave folks.


Donations can be made to your local Red Cross.  Any Aussies can also make blood donations, as they are in a state of critical need for blood for burn victims(especially O neg).   Queensland, on the other hand, is going through some major flooding, especially in the far north and central regions.  Again, Brisbane is not affected.  But let your thoughts be with the ones who are.  Thanks.

13 February 2009

For those Ultra, Plus, Plus Days

This weeks case was entitled "AstroBoy", about a 5 month old boy with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID).  You might know him as a Bubble boy, since he has no acquired immune system,and could easily be killed by a cold.  So in conjunction with the case, we are tackling the Immune System as a whole in our lectures and pracs.  At least they are starting with a system I know something about!  It's all to lull me into a false sense of security, I suspect. I have started going to a tutorial session on Thursday as well, which is taught by second year students.  Just to focus on what's important to remember (like the Cardiovascular System. Yawn.)
I happened to win a raffle from first week, resulting in me becoming the proud owner of an Ultrascope. My first thought was "what the heck is an Ultrascope?!!?"  I had to look it up on the internet.  Turns out it's a super sensitive stethoscope that works on pressure more than your average scope. And it works especially well for those who are hard of hearing (ahem. WHAT?)  So I had an appointment to pick it up from the med student union office (UQMS) on Tuesday afternoon.  I figured (correctly) that there would probably be a picture involved.  So I attempted to dress up a little nicer than usual.  I even wore nice sandals instead of my runners.  On the way up the hill to my Microbiology practical, I realized that they will not let you into the lab without closed shoes (with good reason). Nuts! I came up with a solution- I ran to the bookstore and purchased a disposable lab gown ($2.50).  They won't do a debit transaction under $10, so I grabbed yet another plush microbe (#26- Varicella- www.giantmicrobes.com). Chickenpox (Varicella-Zoster virus)Gah!  I ran back to the lab and went to work.  I ripped off the sleeves, and with some rubber bands fashioned booties!  Now my feet were covered.  Unfortunately, no dice. I was kicked out of lab! I have never been asked to leave a class before.  I felt like such a rebel.   Fortunately, I could make up the session the next day.  So I did.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.    

11 February 2009

Hurray, boo, hurray

Well this has been an interesting month.

First, the condo is now sold (MLS listing - Agent listing). All the sale conditions are now fulfilled.  The possession date is now March 6th.  Hurray, it's finally sold.

Second, I've had an exciting career changes.  Panasonic decided to close our branch.  Apparently, they decided that wanted to change their business plan and closed Calgary as well.  The last day is February 27th.

But in a twist, the company that is taking over the service has hired me plus three other co-workers.  The pay and benefits will be pretty much the same.  They do know I will be leaving when I get my Australian visa.  I had to agree to a minimum of three months, but I think that is pretty reasonable.  In fact, the new company has been very good about everything.  It seems like it will be a good place to work.  On the plus side it is closer to home. On the downside I have to start work at 8:00 instead of 8:30.  I can hear all you 8 o'clock people saying "SHUT UP", but I will miss that 1/2 hour sleep in the morning.

So in the end this worked out pretty well.  Panasonic is paying a decent severance package, I keep working and I can leave in June if my visa is in.  Not a bad deal.

Talking about June.  Mom & I are planning to head to Australia for about 3 weeks round about June 5th.  Barb has a school break then.  Hopefully Mom will have to fly home by herself.

In completely unrelated news,  I had two fillings come loose.  The dentist glued one back in (with terrible tasting glue).  The other will need to be a crown or implant.  We will see what the insurance people say.

That's about it.  Some days I wish I had a nice quite life.  That's never gonna happen is it?

04 February 2009

Week 2/3


Australia Day happened to fall on the same day as Chinese New Year, January 26.  So there was no shortage of things to do on the holiday Monday.  Brady and I decided to take in the 26th annual Cockroach Races at the Story Bridge Hotel.  Over and over we heard “AussieAussieAussie! OiOiOi!” and “Waltzing Matilda” as the increasingly inebriated crowd enjoyed the dunk tank, the races and of course, the beer.  The race consists of people “buying” a numbered roach, which are then all put in a big glass jar.  The steward shakes them up and lifts the jar off them in the middle of a sheet painted with a circle.  The 1st, 2nd and 3rd roach to cross the line of the circle are winners, and their “owner” is given a trophy by a scantily clad woman on a podium. Again, Youtube can bring you this action if you want to see for yourself.  It’s really so disgusting, it’s fun.  (while you’re on YouTube, type in Funky towel and watch the result!)


I then stopped over in Chinatown, 2 blocks from my place, and took in the Lion dance and pole routines for ushering in the Year of the Ox.  Lots of people, colour and firecrackers!!!  Last event was the fireworks, which were launched from a boat in the Brisbane River around SouthBank.  A pleasant day altogether.


It is still raining, but no one seems unhappy about it, as Brisbane has been in a drought for a decade already.  There has been enough rain to warrant flood warnings on the Gold Coast.  Most of the areas around the city have already relaxed their water restrictions. 



            This has been a week of practical classes, or “pracs” as we call them.  I had histology, anatomy, physiology and microbiology.  So I finally got to work with cadavers!!!! Those that know me know that I’ve been wanting to do this for years.  The other pracs were useful, but not near as interesting.  I always wondered what my reaction would be to my first Gross Anatomy lab.  Would I faint? Throw up? Or some gruesome combination of the two?  Instead, I found myself utterly FASCINATED and loved everything about it but the smell.  The formaldehyde seeps into anything porous, which is great for preserving tissue.  But it also gets in your skin, clothes, hair…and well, you get the picture.  It comes home with you.  Yum, yum!  So that was definitely a highlight for me.  It also makes this med school experience very real.  People don’t let you play with thoraces and fully muscled thighs of the very generous departed unless you are going to be a health professional.  Wow!  I must say though, how red meat looks like red meat, no matter the source.  I’m just sayin’….

31 January 2009

Rock on Edmonton!!

Tonight Tom had a few people over to play Rock Band on his PS3.  I had never played before and it was a blast.  You can see some pictures of it here.

In more serious news, it looks pretty good that our condo is sold.  There is an offer on it now with sale date of Feb 20.  The buyer has been approved for financing, but he still has a bit of paperwork to do before it all becomes official.  Hurray.

25 January 2009

One Week Down, 33 to Go….

I have now finished my first week as a medical student. And no, it still doesn't feel quite real yet.  We had yet more "welcome to the program...blah, blah, blah".  But we actually got in about 5 real lectures as well.  Almost everything we take up in lectures and practical sessions springs from a learning "case" that is presented in small groups of about 10.  This week we are dealing with a drunk driver that has hit a tree and is spurting blood from his left thigh.  This brings up the anatomy of the femoral triangle and cardiovascular system, the physiology concepts of homeostasis and shock, and the legal aspects of duty of care, and lastly the treatment with IV fluids.  We are also into histology pracs which, so far, are dealing more with tissue types than anything else.  I'm sure they'll find a way to tie it into the case later.
We are generally out of the flat by shortly after 7 am, and get back by 5:30.  So a fairly long day by most undergrad standards, and then there is the expansion of concepts that has to happen after that at home.  But it's not all work.  Brady and I are currently caught up with BigBangTheory, and have moved on to Corner Gas, season 5.  I also bought a TREK 70 bike on Tuesday, and hope to be riding to classes regularly.  The last few days it has been raining wombats and 'roos, so I have been sticking to the bus.  Speaking of kangaroos, the gov't of Australia is actually encouraging people to eat more of them, as they have a lower grazing impact and methane production than cattle, and thus promote sustainability.  So we ate some this week, mainly out of curiosity.  Very good stuff.  tastes milder than beef, but close to that texture.  Also very lean, like bison. Here's the link if you think I'm making this up: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22562846-2,00.html.
Yes, I am a heartless wench.

17 January 2009

The Death and Resurrection of the Destroyer

Wednesday was the official orientation to Medicine for the international contingent.  There is about to be 430 people in our first year class- 88 from Canuckland, 23 from USA, 2 from Malaysia, 1 each from Singapore, Nigeria and Tobago.  Yikes!  The morning was mainly welcomes and then the school hosted a BBQ for us, followed by a trip to Mt (read:hill) Coot-tha.  The afternoon continued at the Regatta, a drinking establishment.  I wasn't in the financial or tummy mood for alcohol, so I went home at this point.  Then more waiting, as the real classes don't begin until Monday the 19th.
So on Thursday I went for a job interview and later had coffee with Gillian Moses, one of the ministers at the Cathedral I attend for church.  Friday Brady and I had been invited by J3 (James/Janet/Jacob) out to Ipswich to enjoy the pool and have supper.  We headed out about 2 pm in the hot sun.  About 20 km into the journey, on the M2 motorway.  The engine just stopped.  I pulled over (on the right side- some reactions die hard).  The engine would turn over, but would not engage. The Destroyer had died, he has ceased to be, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile! The Destroyer was an ex-car, for all practical purposes at that moment (for those that did not catch the reference: YouTube- "Ex parrot")
Hmmmm...this had never happened to me before.  I had no clue who I should be calling.  Fortunately for us, they were doing road work adjacent to us, and a kind fellow ran over and said "So, she's completely stuffed, then?"  He called a tow truck for us.  It was 35 degrees and the poor fellow was in coveralls, probably cooking from the inside out.  Shortly, a nice towtruck, not the appointed one, arrived to check out the scene, and stopped to pull us off the freeway (there were no shoulders, so we were effectively blocking the fast lane) From there, the driver recommended calling RACQ (Royal Auto Club of QLD)and gave us the number.  I can now report that I am the proud owner of a 2 year membership, as this was only reasonably more than the minimum for a tow and inspection for a nonmember. Oh Geez!  So we waited for the next tow truck.  We had failed to bring any waterbottles with us (as THAT would have been SMART), and the heat was pretty intense.  Our tow truck driver arrived about 20 minutes later, and hauled us off to "Larry's Pitstop" in Wachol.  There we met Maggie, who offered us an aircon space and a drink. Apparently cars had been expiring in the heat all day and arriving via a parade of tow trucks.  Larry hypothesized that the heat was enough to vapourize the fuel, which then was not making it into the combustion chambers.  He put some gas in the carborator, and the Destroyer revived! He said there was no electrical or other mechanical faults that he could see. On top of that, the shop didn't charge me for the work!
By this point it was 4:30, and starting to cool off a bit.  As we were half way in between home and our destination, we decided to continue on.  Narry a hiccup from the car. We had a lovely dinner and hung out in the pool until well past dark.

Brady has decided to stay on and share the house (and rent) with me until November.  It will be good to have company, somebody to cook for, and a study buddy.   Apparently in Australia, sharehouses are extremely common among working people as well as students, as rents in the city are fairly high.
Tonight we are having supper with a 2nd year student from Ontario who was matched up with us as a mentor.  Should be enlightening.  We are also marching through episodes of "Big Bang Theory" in the evenings.  Everyone I've talked to including me is just so eager to get going.....BRING IT!!!!!