Explanation for council absence

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

A FEW years ago I bought a small boat.

It was a Savage Safari with an outboard motor (two-stroke).

Some years later, I replaced it with a 40 horsepower Suzuki motor (four-stroke).

I subsequently sold this boat.

My last year has seen my conversion to two-stroke and I am Savage too.

The closest to a Safari has been several ambulance trips between the Sale hospital and the Austin.

My conversion to two-stroke was involuntary and resulted in a loss of power, down my left side.

In particular, I can see no good reason for me to go to four-stroke.

For each of the four summers previous to last summer, I was a fire lookout operator at the Pinnacles fire tower.

I was surrounded by much radio equipment.

On my second last summer a nearby transmission antenna was replaced so that it could handle more powerful transmissions.

During my last summer, my iPhones were regularly ‘out of service’.

I considered it to be due to this new transmitter.

On a visit to my local GP, I was given an ECG.

It indicated that I had an irregular heartbeat (AF)and I was put onto the anti-blood clotting agency, rat poison, also known as strychnine, or Warfarin to the medical fraternity.

This drug is to reduce the clotting of blood and to discourage you from twitching your nose like a rat.

They decided to administer a day procedure which involved turning me off and putting on ‘jumper leads’ and giving me a charge. Jumper leads on a two-stroke is uncommon.

The motor started immediately, but the irregularity remained.

Here’s how it happened from then on.

Early in the evening of Friday, November 23, 2013, Pauline and I had just finished a bottle of wine (one only).

I got up from my chair to get some dessert.

There was a distinct lack of co-ordination between my legs and my body that resulted in my legs giving in and me crashing to the tiled floor.

This left me with a stiff neck, a sore head where it had hit the floor and a sore back (it seemed no worse than other back injuries I had had).

On the following Monday, I attempted to visit my GP.

He was unavailable, so I went to the local chiropractor, who worked on my sore spine.

My GP was available the next week.

I suggested that my diabetes may have caused a kidney problem.

He booked me in for a scan for that afternoon.

Afterwards the radiologist came up to me and said “Mr Duncan did you know that you had a fractured vertebra?”

I was admitted to the Sale hospital that evening.

I did not return home until just recently, more than six month later.

On Monday, December 2, I was admitted to Sale hospital with a fractured L1 vertebra and on December 4, transferred to the Austin Hospital spinal ward.

The Austin orthopaedics considered two alternative treatments, one being surgery involving metal straps on each side of my spine and the other being holding the bits in place using a brace and letting nature heal it.

Surgery appealed as it seemed to be the quicker solution.

The surgical team stopped the Warfarin and warned me that this action might bring on a stroke.

That night, as predicted, I had a serious stroke in the right side of my brain.

I still have a deficiency in my left side.

The surgery was not discussed any more, so the orthopaedic crew made a brace.

It was a Boston Orthopaedic Brace (BOB).

It went from neck to bum and fastened across my chest like a straight jacket.

I had to wear it at all times that I was out of bed, including in the shower.

This brace made me resemble a turtle.

After about two weeks I returned to the Sale hospital with my brace BOB.

The fracture was described to me as a “carrot slice fracture”.

On December 24, I was transported back to the Sale hospital with BOB, and the fracture was a multiple fracture of the L1 vertebra. BOB’s job was to protect the spinal cord while the bone pieces were kept in place for natural healing.

The turtle was put back onto the rat poison.

One morning I was told that I was going to have another scan of my head.

They found evidence of more bleeding in the same region, so my two-stroke conversion was complete. Bugger, four-stroke!

Hospital life involved some physiotherapy and occupational therapy and lots of riding around in a wheelchair and eating sometimes.

I found the food to be unappealing, hence I lost 23kg in three months.

The solution was that at about dinner time Pauline would turn up with some take-away stuff.

I developed a liking for Chiko Rolls.

In early May, I was transferred to the Maffra hospital, about 1km from home.

I was granted some day release and occasionally was allowed to stay overnight.

My circumstances caused me to take some leave from the Wellington Shire Council.

I recently attended several meetings and I believe that I am on track to continue to attend regularly.

Council colleagues have kept me up to date with business.

I have been most appreciative of all the staff at the Sale and Maffra hospitals and for the support from my family and friends for all their visits, lawn cutting and so on.

I don’t think that my neighbours would accept the vision of a turtle driving a ride-on mower.

Currently I am surveying the wheelchair access in Maffra and Sale.