- April 2010
- 21 - Introduction To Volumes ...
- June 2010
- 20 - BLOODY SUNDAY: A ...
- July 2010
- 14 - Some Reading During ...
- 19 - Introduction to My ...
- August 2010
- 18 - House of Sand
- December 2010
- 16 - David Puttnam
- 16 - Hegemony
- February 2011
- 14 - SEARCH FOR MEANING
- 14 - MIA FARROW AND THE ...
- August 2011
- 15 - ALFRED KAZIN: Some ...
- November 2011
- 14 - SECRET DIARIES: MORE ...
- December 2011
- 02 - Annual Email for ...
- January 2012
- 12 - THE DIARIES OF ANNE ...
- 20 - Snippets
- May 2012
- 20 - FUNNIES UPLIFTINGS ...
- 20 - JULIAN, VIDAL AND ME
- 20 - LOVE AND LUST AND ...
- 20 - SUSAN SARANDON AND ME
- 20 - Mr JONES and ME
- 20 - THE UNIVERSE: And then ...
- July 2012
- 06 - Samuel Pepys and Me: A ...
- November 2012
- 03 - PAINTED WITH WORDS: Who ...
- 03 - SOME LIKE IT HOT
- 03 - THE LANGUAGE OF THERE
- 03 - JACKIE: I HARDLY KNEW ...
- 03 - MAKING SENSE OF OUR ...
- 03 - ROBERT HUGHES: GOING ...
- 03 - HERMANN HESSE and ME
- 03 - THE OLD TESTAMENT and ME
- 03 - BREAKING POINTS AND ...
- December 2012
- 29 - An EBOOK READER and a ...
- 29 - Annual Email for ...
- 31 - Annual Email for ...
- January 2013
- 27 - SOME FACTS OF HISTORY: ...
- 27 - One of Twenty-Six ...
- 27 - THANKS AND ...
- 27 - Reflections on a ...
- 27 - OCCASIONS OF GRACE: An ...
- 27 - MIGRANTS: Letter Writing
- 27 - A Gift to the National ...
- 27 - CLIVE JAMES AND ME
- 27 - The Telephone and the ...
- March 2013
- 28 - SHAKESPEARE UNCOVERED
- May 2013
- 28 - IBSEN: His Assumptions ...
- November 2013
- 25 - TAKING BUSES OVER FOUR ...
- December 2013
- 20 - Annual Email for ...
- February 2014
- 18 - Some Thoughts on ...
- April 2014
- 20 - SOLITUDE: And The ...
- June 2014
- 20 - SHAKESPEARE: SOME ...
- August 2014
- 20 - Stuart Hall: Some ...
- October 2014
- 09 - Monty Python: A ...
- December 2014
- 08 - Annual Letter for ...
- 14 - Introduction To Volumes ...
- 18 - Ron Price's Annual ...
- August 2015
- 16 - Frank Kermode: ...
- September 2015
- 20 - Ron Price's Present ...
- December 2015
- 10 - Ron Price's Health: ...
- January 2016
- 25 - Ron Price's Health: ...
- 31 - Ron Price's Health: ...
- February 2016
- 25 - Ron's Health: ...
- 27 - My Family: ...
- March 2016
- 28 - Ron's Health: ...
- April 2016
- 05 - Ron's Health Today
- May 2016
- 13 - Ron's passing
Ron Price's Annual Letter To Family and Friends:7/'15 to 1/'16Preamble:
This annual letter to family and friends, friends known and unknown, this online post or statement, is for the months 7/'15 to 1/'16. This is the first & the last edition. Future commentaries on my health will come out as Australia goes through its summer, and autumn seasons in the months ahead. The years 2016 and 2017 will progress little by little and day by day and this annual letter will be updated from time to time on other posts at this online diary. The updates on my affinal family here in Tasmania ceased on 15/11/'15 and will now take place only with and for those making the requests.
As I also go through the several stages of what is now quite clearly a terminal illness, pancreatic cancer, readers will always be able to find here at this online diary-site an update on my progress or lack of it in relation to this particular disease/illness updated to the present weeek. Readers with a serious interest in my health are advised to read the most recent update entitled: (i) "Ron Price's Health: Retrospect and Prospect to 11/'15"; and (ii) "Ron Price's Health 15/11/'15 to 11/1/'16."
It has been my experience over the years that friends are often in the dark about the various quite serious problems that their friends, even those quite close to them, are going through both in life and especially as they approach their deaths. To some extent I have countered this reality, this experience, by providing my friends with a quite detailed picture of my current illness as well as some of the major battles in life that I have had over the decades, for their possible interest. We all have our own MO on what we say and how we say it, as well as to whom, when and why.
Some prefer to keep everything hidden and some prefer to let it 'all hang out' as they say. I trust I have found some middle path in the paragraphs and links below. Still, I am sure some will find what I write to be over-the-top to put it colloquially, far too much information and, to such readers, I simply suggest they skim or scan or stop reading now. I have written this lengthy account to save me reinventing the wheel, so to speak, and to provide an information base for all those who take any interest at all in my health.
The summer season in Australia began on 21/12/'15. As I write this update to my annual missive on 11/1/'16 the summer season is 3 weeks old. Readers with the interest in the weather can Google its details here in Tasmania or back in Canada where I spent the first 26 years of my life. Annual letters in the history of peoples' epistolary life were once replete with details about the weather, but this is not necessary now that we have the internet. Details about the weather can be found for virtually any part of the developed world, and even much of the developing world with a few clicks of your mouse to take you into cyberspace. The equinoxes and solstices in Launceston can easily be accessed.
This annual statement contains: (i) updates on some of the significant individuals in my life(wife, son, 2 step-daughters, 3 step-grand-children, 1 grandchild, as well as a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law); (ii) an outline, but not as detailed as the main post on my health in this online diary, of my medical condition up until 15/11/'15, and (iii) my commentary on life, liberty and pursuit of happiness both in my own life and in the life of society.
I suggest to all those who come to this annual email written during the last half of 2015 and, eventually to be written in the first half of 2016 on another post at this site that---if they are interested in those significant individuals in my life---and in my thoughts about society, they can: (a) read the previous annual emails going back four years to 2011 at this online diary site, and/or (b) go to any one or more of the 100 sub-sections of my website which can be accessed at: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/----and especially the autobiography sub-section.
My health has deteriorated to such an extent in the last 3 months (15/8/'15 to 15/11/'15) that:(i) I no longer write long emails to those who write to me; and (ii) I do not wish others to: (a) visit me or (b) call me on the telephone. I hope others will not call and talk to my wife to get updates. My wife, Chris, is already on 'all-ahead-full' just to keep-up with the demands of life, of her family and current friendship portfolio, of her 96 year old mother, and she is doing her best to cope without the need for yet another half hour chat on the phone to explain "the whole thing again." Most people follow this advice, but there are always the few for whom the telephone is their main MO for human contact, and they are difficult to keep away from telephoning and, in some cases, visiting.
If you really want to express your commiserations and well-wishes, send me an email, or a get-well-card, as some have already done. There are, of course, several special and particular exceptions of the above framework, and I leave it to readers to work out if, in fact, they are among those exceptions. With a list of some 200 people with whom I have come to correspond in recent years, this annual letter here at this online site will save me having to reinvent the wheel so to speak. This one post will cover anyone and everyone who, for some reason or another, I have decided to send this email. It will also save my few energies to carry on with other aspects of my life which will continue to enrich my life on the one hand, and demand close attention to my health on the other hand, until that 'roll-is-called-up yonder', as they say.
For many of the recipients of this annual letter this post will be all-too-much-reading. The Facebook-Twitter age is one which generally prefers the short, the sweet, and the succinct, to lengthy emails-letters like this one. To people with such preferences for the pithy, I simply say: read as much or as little of what follows as you want. If you ever want to get an update on the condition of my health, you will find it here as I go through the remaining months and years of my life. This will save both me and you---and my wife--- having to discuss the subject over the phone or, indeed, in person again and again. All that you need to know is found below and, perhaps, much that you don't need to know is also found below.
The autobiography sub-section of my website has a detailed information base about my life and the members of my family; my annual letters for 2015 and 2014 should bring any person with the interest in my life up-to-speed, as they say these days. This is especially true of my health information which is found updated to 15/11/'15 in this my annual letter below. Given the sharp deterioration in my health, especially in the last 3 months(15/8/'15 to 15/11/'15), I felt the need to provide readers with "a general statement about the present state of my health." This statement can be found below with a skim or a scan, a search or a slide, to the parts of this letter, parts concerned with the details of my health. It can also be found at another post in this diary, a post entitled: "Ron Price's Health: Retrospect and Prospect To 15/11/'15," and "Ron Price's Health to 11/1/'16."
Among my several illnesses is pancreatic cancer. This gives me only a 5% chance of living beyond 5 years, that is, beyond September 2020 according to the latest information I have. The details of my experience in those last three months are both complex and labyrinthine. For readers, I only provide a summary.
On 17/9 I had what is known as a PET scan in Hobart, and on 19/9/'15 I had a follow-up consultation with my GP here in George Town discussing the results of the PET scan. Then, information obtained from 6 days in the George Town hospital(23/9/'15 to 29/9/'15), and from attending a specialist clinic at the LGH on 1/10/'15 added to the picture. I had a visit to two of my GPs in George Town on the 7th and 8th of October. The results of these visits are below.
Firstly, I began to take haloperidol, the active ingredient of this drug and also largactil is chlorpromazine hydrochloride, one of a group of medicines called phenothiazines. It is used to treat the nausea, vomiting and anxiety I am suffering from.
The stage and the grade of my pancreatic cancer have yet to be determined; a CT-scan is intended to determine this. The survival rate, the observed survival rate, of my cancer is 5% beyond 5 years. On 1 October 2015 and 15/10/'15 I attended a specialist surgical clinic at LGH. This answered the several questions my wife and I had about this disease. It was an opportunity for both of us to ask many questions and, thus, flesh-out the details of how my cancer is likely to unfold. We were also able to discuss the options I had in relation to how to deal with this invasive cancer.
As of early September 2015 when I came out of the LGH, Launceston's major hospital, I had little energy to deal with daily life. I no longer responded to incoming emails in the kind of detail I once did. My replies are now short and, hopefully, sweet. I have not answered the telephone for the last five years after 60 years of extensive telephone use, 1950 to 2010. But I can be relied on, at least for the forseeable future, to respond to incoming emails. That response will be, just to reiterate, short, sweet, succinct and, hopefully, not too sharp in its tone and manner, mode and style.
There are, of course, a small handful of people from the first 8 decades of my life, who still write to me in some detail about their lives and, although I was always happy to respond to those emails and letters within 24 hours in some detail, that is no longer the case due to my medical condition. My responses are now, and just to reiterate, short and pithy.
Readers should not see making a written response to what they read here as part of some sense of obligation, though; just reply to what you read here, if you so desire. If, of course, readers would like to have a detailed correspondence in some shape and form for whatever length of time seems necessary or desired, that is still possible, but my replies will be, as I say above, short and succinct as long as I am still alive and ticking, as they say, and as long as I am capable to writing emails of any length at all.
As I point out at several places on my website, my guesstimation of the total number of hits that my 5 annual letters to family and friends have received in the five year period, 2011 to 2015, is some 25,000. Most people who write to me now do so at various internet sites, some 8000, at which I am registered. I still get over 200 emails everyday into my computer email-in-box, but most of these require no response. My son, Daniel, suggested I set up a box for "internet garbage", but it takes less than a minute to delete the garbage without my setting-up a special box for this type of incoming "garbage" post.
Those who want to send me detailed responses about their lives do so either before, or after, reading my annual letters. Most people who read my annual letters have no interest in updating me about the details of their lives. Most people are happy with the Facebook-Twitter type exchanges, if they want to communicate at all. I have not been on Facebook and engaged in the short and snappy, succinct and swift exchanges for more than one year. Those who want to contact me do so now by email. Those who want to contact my wife send her emails or call her on the telephone but, as I say above, it is best for readers to simply write to me by email if they feel they must offer their commiserations and well wishings.
Most correspondence, online or snail-mail, has its own individual lifeline. As I say, in these Facebook-Twitter days, lengthy letters/emails over a long period of time are now rare events.
Section A below of this annual email deals with self-and-family, and Section B with other, mainly literary, interests. I should add that I have permission from nearly all my family members to write about them, about their lives and activities; readers here should not be concerned about issues in relation to confidentiality and privacy, insofar as the information I convey is concerned.
There is much in the lives of both myself and my family members, those significant individuals in my life as they say in psychology, that I keep private since there is much that is best left unsaid. As the famous Russian poet and novelist, Boris Pasternak, once wrote: "a life without secrets is simply unimaginable." Those not interested in the significant individuals in my life, but are interested in my health, can skim or scan, search or slide down to the condition of my health and my wife's below.
Section 4.A.1:(only updated to 15/11/'15: I leave it to readers with the interest to request information after that date)
Angela, my 44 year old-step-daughter(45 in December 2015), has done a little travelling at various times in the last 9 months: January to November 2015. In early January 2015 she returned from her 16 day holiday in Bali with her son George; she and George and Angela's new man/partner went to Bali again in late September 2015 for a ten day holiday. She and George will settle-in to the spring season of job and school, family-life and the routines associated with their several interests. Angela lived for a few years in Bali, worked there and has a coterie of friends whom she likes to visit from time to time. As I write this update, she and George have just arrived back in Sydney and are ensconced in their lives in Launceston.
She also has friends across the Bass Strait in Melbourne, and friends in Sydney and Perth whom she now visits from time to time. She spent a week in the Easter season with friends in Melbourne, several days in July in Sydney, and a weekend in Melbourne in August; she also spent another 10 days in Bali beginning in late September, and she and George will be back home in early October. As her travels continue, from November to December 2015 and into 2016, I will report them at at another post of this my online diary.
Angela is a "get-up-and-go" sort of person, and I will report on her galivanting hither and yon, as I have reported on her galivanting in the last several years, from time to time in these annual letters. She is, as I say, back to her job in Launceston, a job I have described in detail in my last annual letter, the letter for 2014. George is back at the Launceston Church Grammar School in its pre-school program for 5 year old children. This is the same school Angela went to when she lived with her father in her teens; her father also attended LCG school, as it is sometimes called.
The routines of Angela's little family are back to normal as Australia goes through this 2nd month of the spring season. The life of a single working mother is not an easy one. Since beginning her current PT job last September 2014, Angela is now working about 5/8th of a 37 and 1/2 hour working-week after starting at half-time some 14 months ago as I write, and supplementing her income through various online consultancy jobs in marketing and communication, her specialist fields.
Angela gets some financial help from her father in Launceston, and her X-partner who lives in Brazil, but the exercise of being financially comfortable, and independent if possible, is no easy road for her, and for millions now in our complex global society. As I point-out both above and below, though, Angela has begun a quite serious relationship with a Qantus pilot and, who knows, she may finally be headed for wedlock! After 3 months into this relationship, the prospects are bright with promise.
Someone asked me recently why we talk about a 37 and 1/2 hour working week. I answered as follows: five 30-minute lunches = 2.5 hours; 40 minus 2.5 = 37.5 hours. In a 40 hr week, at 8 hours/day, a person isn’t getting paid to eat lunch. That was the best answer I could think of...
Angela joined Rural Business Tasmania in September 2014. Angela is a specialist marketing, and communications strategy practitioner, recognised for her senior consulting work. Her work includes projects and event delivery spanning a range of industries. Over the last eighteen years Angela has run successful consultancy services both domestically and abroad and has held executive management, leadership and project roles focusing on building business performance through innovative and creative campaign development and implementation.
Angela's auditing and analysis capabilities, I am informed by her current employers, are beyond peer. She has the ability to embed herself in a business and identify issues and untapped opportunities. It is these qualities, I am also informed at that company's website, which are at the forefront of her professional success. You can access Angela's online information at several internet sites.
My wife and/or I occasionally see Angela: (i) when one of us baby-sits her five year old son, George, so that Angela can enjoy an evening out, (ii) when part of my wife's extended family takes part in some function like a birthday party for one of the family members, a wedding or a funeral, or (iii) when Angela visits us in George Town--a 50 km drive from her home in Launceston--with her son George, and sometimes with her sister Vivienne and other family members.
In the last six months, as I say, a new man has appeared in Angela's life. His name is Tony Powell. After he got a degree in mathematics and physics, he flew jet aircraft in the Australian airforce before becoming a pilot as he got older. He now flies with Qantus. He, George and Angela spend a good deal of time together and their relationship is more than a little serious. He is a man in his 40s and a person of considerable professional and life-experience.
He and Angela are already making plans to build a home at Low Head. Tony helps both Angela and her father, a Robert Armstrong, who is in a nursing home. I am Angela's step-father, FYI, and Tony has visited my wife(Angela's mother) and I with Angela and George on several occasions already. I will keep readers informed as this aspect of Angela's life develops in the months ahead, develops in some interesting and, as things now appear, going-the-distance sort of directions. Time will tell. Watch this space.
Vivienne, my oldest step-daughter, and her husband Andrew have now been separated for 18 months. Viv and Andrew will soon put their family home up-for-sale. Kelsey(19), their daughter, is ensconced in Hobart at the University of Tasmania, and Tobias(21), their one and only son, was a fork-lift driver for some 8 months. He was recently taken on a job in Queensland as a car salesman. Both Tobias and Kelsey have highly active lives which would fill a book if I attempted to record all their comings and goings.
This last 18 months have been a difficult period for Viv, but she has developed many coping-skills in her job as a nurse in the ICU, and the renal unit of the Launceston General Hospital over the last 25 years. Viv is very helpful since she now serves as "our inside man" at the LGH and she has been in a daily consultation with my wife for several weeks now in relation to my health. Andrew, too, seems to be coping with the separation. He has an interest in bike-riding which helps keep him fit and relatively free of anxiety.
The separation process has many twists and turns, and this is certainly true for Viv and Andrew as well as their two children. The details of their first 18 months of separation would make yet another book, but I will leave further details for a future time. I will also leave further details on all the other members of my affinal family here in Tasmania, a family about which a third volume could be written. All readers will find here is a brief summary of the lives of this family which came into my life over 40 years ago.
Daniel, my one and only son, began a new job in early January. It was in the same organization as his last job. This time he was on a five day a week schedule for the first time in several years. Four months ago now, as I write this update, he decided that the job was not for him and he handed-in his resignation. He had been giving some thought to resigning for many months; it was not a hasty decision. For the time being, and until he gets another job, he is and will be what some call these days a house-husband.
He enjoys most aspects of that role: husband and father. It is a demanding one in many ways, and a role that has been part of his life, off-and-on, since Grace, his daughter, was born more than 4 years ago as I write this update. He is now looking for either a FT, or a PT, job in Tasmania. Daniel was employed by Tas-Gas in the retail division of this gas-provider in Tasmania. I described that job in some detail in my last annual letter. He now runs-the-gauntlet of job interviews and, when he lands a job, I will report it here.(Note: Daniel began a new FT job with Tas-Water in January 2016 as a maintenance engineer)
Daniel's wife, Zuriash, completed her Certificate 3 in Child Care at Launceston's Tafe college in early 2015; this Certificate was added to her BA degree in Economics at the University of Addis Ababa and her Diploma in Business from that same university. Zuriash needs an Australian qualification to work in the child care, welfare and social work fields. In February 2015 Zuriash enrolled at the University of Tasmania in an M.A. program in social work. It is a two year internal program and her program is well underway(about 50% completed as I update this annual letter) to be completed by the end of 2016.
She and Dan are another busy little family in 2015 with Dan at home with their daughter, Grace, with Zuriash studying, and with life in a new Baha'i community. In January 2015 Daniel & Zuriash moved to another part of Launceston in northern Tasmania; it's the suburb of Trevallyn. They are now living just across the Launceston boundary, & just off the West Tamar Highway. They are living in the West Tamar municipality. Their weekly rent is far less than the rent they were paying, and their house overlooks the Tamar River; their new home is quite big enough for their purposes. They are surviving financially with: roof-over-head and food-on-the-table, as they say. My only son has been a source of pride over nearly 4 decades, and I look forward to his life-narrative as he will soon go through his 40s and 50s, middle age in the lifespan.
D, Z and G are now in a different Baha'i community, a community with 9 Baha'is, and so their responsibilities are different ones in the West Tamar Baha'i community which has an elected Baha'i executive or LSA as locally elected Baha'i groups are called. Daniel is the chairman of that Baha'i community. Daniel had been the secretary of the Launceston Baha'i community, some 30 Baha'is, for several years. Zuriash serves as an Assistant to the Auxiliary Board, an appointed position in Baha'i administration, in addition to her life as a mother and a wife, among her other roles in community life. Her several roles, and especially her study program, keep her very busy. Grace recently has been at a pre-school and so Dan's role as house-husband has altered yet again.
If you want to know about any of the Baha'i terms I use in these annual letters you can find out their meaning on Wikipedia. I will add up-dates to this annual letter for 2015 in the weeks and months ahead as we go through the winter season Downunder.
The visits of my wife and I with Daniel, Zuriash and Grace are similar to those with Angela. D,Z, and G come for visits about once a month. Chris and I go to Launceston, on average, also about once a month.(Note: I don't go after 8/15) From time to time we all go out to dinner at a local restaurant, or get a take-away. Daniel, Zuriash and Grace lived in George Town for a year or so before moving to Launceston, and so still have ties here.
Chris and I see them from time to time, therefore, when they visit George Town. In addition, Zuriash's brother, Getnet Adem, who is working on his PhD at the University of Tasmania in the field of agriculture, visits from time to time; on my family tree Getnet is my daughter-in-law's brother. Zuriash's family lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; I will leave further details about that part of my family tree to a future date since most people who read this annual letter will never meet any of Zuriash's family.
My wife and I, another little family, a dyad as is is called in sociology, a group of two people, is the smallest possible social group. As an adjective, "dyadic" describes the interaction of two people. I have described our dyadic relationship in some detail in previous annual letters, and so will not add much here. I have also provided a detailed picture of our health, updated to June 2015, in that last annual letter. Readers with an interest in our health should read on below in this my annual email for 7/'15 to 12/'15 as well as future posts for 2016 and beyond.
The George Town Baha'i Group(GTBG) still has just 4 members with no one under the age of 60. We get together, on average, twice a month. The other Baha'i couple lives in the little town of Weymouth a half hour drive from George Town; it is still part of the George Town municipality. Weymouth is also a town, like George Town, on the edge of the Bass Strait. The GTBG is also part of the northern Tasmanian Baha'i cluster and from time to time we see many of the 100 or so Baha'is.
Chris had been helping her Mother in various ways every Thursday from April 2014 to April 2015 because, at the age of 96, her mother needed assistance with shopping, with health problems, with gardening and household maintenance. Chris's mother has had what is often said to be "a good innings", but longevity brings with it a new set of problems, especially as a person gets close to 100!
Her mother has now been in an aged-care-facility here in George Town, and on a permanent basis, for 6 months as I write this update. This has eased my wife's sense of responsibility for her mother and the associated tasks and duties, at least to some extent. Chris now sees her mother 3 or 4 times a week in the aged-care facility; her mother will be a source of some concern to Chris probably until her mother dies. I often think Chris's mother, at the age of 96, provides a window for Chris and I into our own lives, at least to some extent. In another 25 years, say, about the year 2040 we will ourselves be in our 90s if, of course, we last that long! It does not look like I will survive until then, but Chris might.
All the other significant individuals as well as other members of this affinal family in this family circle require no more updates in addition: (i) to those I have already provided in my last annual letter for 2014 and (ii) to my comments above and below. I could write a page or two, as I say above, about my two step-daughters and their children since they are all busy people; there always seems to be something going on in their lives, and I could report on their comings-and-goings if I wanted to add to this annual letter in more detail.
I could write about: (i) their jobs, their relationships with family and friends, their interest-activity inventory, their health, and their plans & prospects; (ii) their celebration of events like Mother's and Father's Day, birthdays & anniversaries, Christmas and Easter, & (iii) their commemoration of funerals, and Anzac Day, among other tragedies and sad occasions in society past and present.
If I did write about all these aspects of their lives I could fill yet another of those books. Most readers who come to this annual letter will have little to no interest in these sorts of details; for the most part these would be details about people readers have never met and will never meet.
My children, my step-grandchildren, and my grandchild all have busy lives in all sorts of ways. For now, though, I shall leave further updates until later in the spring season Downunder. Spring has now completed its first 8 weeks as of 15/11/'15.(Note: some updates were made up to 11/1/'16)
Most people these days seem to prefer the Facebook-Twitter-style with communications short and sweet, pithy and succinct, as I say above. They also use texting, telephone, and personal visits in varying combinations. We all have our preferred MO for communicating. I am an email person. Long annual letters like mine, though, seem to be a dying art-form. Such is life! As the year 2015 goes from month to month in the spring and summer season in Australia, I will update this annual letter when the changes and chances of daily living require additions for these significant individuals in my life. Such are a few opening notes in the above paragraphs for the year 7/'15 to 12/'15 and, eventually, the first half of the year 2016 at other posts.
I'll cut-and-paste below the relevant part of a recent letter to a close friend in Canada, and add some details, to provide readers with a helpful picture of my current health due to its serious state, due its debilitating aspects; there follows, then, the details of what has become a terminal illness according to several GPs and specialists in the last month.
Part 1: Pancreatic Cancer: Symptoms: August-September 2015
I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the end of August 2015. I now have 3 supporting statements of its inevitable terminal nature by two GPs in George Town and specialists in Launceston. I am also now part of community nursing in Tasmania's palliative-care system known as "The Tasmanian Home and Community Care(HACC) Program)".
The following are the symptoms with which I have had to deal in the last 3 months, 15 July through 15 November 2015 and, to some extent for the previous four months depending, of course, on what particular symptom I had and which I have summarized below. Readers who would prefer to do their own reading can find plenty in cyberspace. Mine is just a summary which I hope is as relevant to readers as it is to me.
There are usually no symptoms attributable to the disease's early stages, and symptoms that are specific enough to suspect pancreatic cancer typically do not develop until the disease has reached an advanced stage. By the time of diagnosis, in my case in late August and early September, pancreatic cancer had spread to specific parts of my body. Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include: (i) tobacco smoking; but I smoked from 1964 to 1994 and, this risk factor is, therefore, not significant in my case after 20 years of not smoking; (ii) obesity(I was obese from 2010 to 2015), but I am now only 'slightly over-weight'. I was diagnosed in August 2015 with (iii)diabetes 2; this is a risk factor.
Pancreatic cancer can be treated with surgery, or palliative care and chemotherapy(aimed at keeping the cancer under control and not metastisizing or spreading) but not curing; chemotherapy/radiotherapy, palliative care, a combination of these is, for me, option #1. Treatment options are partly based on the cancer stage. I will report on these options as they unfold in the months ahead, and as the stage and grade of my cancer is defined in more detail than it is now. In 2012, pancreatic cancers of all types were the seventh most common cause of cancer deaths, resulting in 330,000 deaths globally. Survival beyond 5 years depends on the type of cancer. Wikipedia has a comprehensive outline of pancreatic cancer and I encourage readers to go to that site, if they have the interest.
Part 1.3: Symptoms
1. Yellowing of the skin and eyes are part of jaundice, a painless condition which commonly occurs in people with pancreatic cancer constricting their bile duct. It occurs when an increased level of bilirubin is in the blood. This can occur when a tumor completely or partially blocks a bile duct of the liver, slowing the flow of bile. I had jaundice for some 7 weeks. A stent was inserted in my bile duct while in hospital in late August 2015, and by 19/9/15 as I write this my jaundice has improved. Those who want to know more about jaundice can easily locate the information in cyberspace.
2. Unintended weight loss is also a symptom of pancreatic cancer. While losing weight without trying may be welcomed by many, it can indicate something is wrong. It is one of the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer a person usually notices. I have slowly lost some 60 pounds in the last two years, and at an increasing rate as the year 2015 has advanced. One advantage of this process, if there is any, is that I no longer have problems with obesity.
3. Nausea and/or vomiting is yet another symptom that is common in pancreatic cancer. These symptoms often result in a delay in a diagnosis as the patient tries to find out what is causing this nausea and or vomiting. These symptoms have been particularly present in my case in the last two months and are due to blockage of the pylorus and doudenum by the cancer. I am taking a medication to alleviate this nausea/vomiting until an operation to bypass these blockages is performed. For the most part my diet consists of fluids and soups.
4. Loss of appetite is a symptom of hundreds of diseases & conditions, including pancreatic cancer. It can signal something severe or even be related to something as small as a stomach virus. Medical procedures and scans, ultra-sound and tests of various kinds are necessary to make an accurate diagnosis of the various illnesses I now have.
The several weeks of loss of appetite and these other symptoms have been a difficult period. Although, on the positive side, and as I say above, I am no longer obese. Even if operations in the weeks and months ahead are successful, my life expectancy beyond five years is, as I say, only 5%.
5. Itchy skin was, perhaps, the most uncomfortable of all these symptoms. It is common symptom experienced by people with jaundice.Thankfully, though, I am the 1 in 10 who have this illness and experience no pain along with it (so far). That is, indeed, a blessing!
6. Unexpected onset of diabetes 2 is, yet, another symptom. In some cases, pancreatic cancer may impede the pancreas's ability to produce insulin, resulting in diabetes 2. It is important to remember that most people develop diabetes 2 because of reasons unrelated to pancreatic cancer but, in my case, my diabetes 2 is part-and-parcel of my pancreatic problem. This is according to: (i) my gastroenterologist and (ii) my pancreatic surgeon who will remove the present blockage in an operation while I am in the hospital in October for two weeks if, indeed, I decide to go ahead with this operation. I am not sure, at this point in time, if I want to go ahead with the operation. I had a PET scan on 17/9, and on 19/9 my wife and I discussed the results with my GP in George Town. On 1/10 my wife and I attended a special clinic at the LGH for people with my particular level and type of medical malady.
7. Changes in stool and urine color are two final symptoms. Urine may become much darker, while stools lose their brown color, becoming a pale, clay/light color. This is often due to the bile duct being blocked. Stools can also have a odd, strong smell. While in hospital for a week in August-September 2015, I had an operation on my bile duct in which a stent was inserted; my stools are now back to a normal dark brown, although my urine is far more dark than it was my entire life.
Some General Comments on My Health: 2014-2015
I have posted the above details due to the complexity of my present medical condition. Readers with an interest in its permutations and combinations can Google to their hearts' content. The paragraphs above in relation to pancreatic cancer, and those below provide the information required to outline the details of my general health.
I see my GP several times a year and, more frequently, in the last two months. I have two GPs here in George Town, one for a second opinion. I see a psychiatrist once every three years now, usually to help me deal with medication changes for my bipolar I disorder. I also see a renal physician, or nephrologist, once a year for my moderate chronic kidney disease phase 3, a mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the fine-tuning of my blood pressure. I also see a urological surgeon once a year for my enlarged prostate, & a gastroenterologist for several reasons: diverticulitis, blood loss in the gastrointestinal tract, a gastroscopy, and a periodic colonoscopy. In the last two months I also see a second gastroenterologist for diabetes2(D2), jaundice(J) and pancreatic cancer(PC) and, finally, a pancreatic surgeon(PS) for my ongoing pancreatic problems.
With a podiatrist for my foot fungus and various other foot problems, an optometrist/opthamologist for my cataracts, the side-effects of D2, and an annual update for my prescription glasses; with my dental work in the hands of 2 dentists and 2 dental technicians to help me take care of my two partial plates and my last 6 teeth; and, perhaps most importantly, with daily chats with my wife and with occasional chats with my son Daniel and my step-daughter Vivienne, who has been a nurse for 25 years, I am more than happy to pay tribute to the wonders of modern medicine in all its labyrinthine forms and sub-disciplines.
Whatever troubles the world is experiencing because of its ties with many outworn shibboleths in the fields of religion and politics, ethnic and nationalistic prejudices, failures to take science more seriously, problems associated with technology----the science of medicine among other sciences and technologies has transformed and continues to transform our world, at least for those like myself who have the advantage of being able to access medicine's several specializations and fields, and those of science and technology, especially the IT industry.
For those who are into the vast tracts of alternative medicine, I am happy that you NOT write to me with your concerns and your advice for my several medical problems. I am in VERY good medical hands, and am enjoying the pleasures of retirement as I go through my 70s. I have many local people who provide me with curative advice in the areas of alternative medicine, and several who provide me with: (i) supplements and aromas, (ii) medicines, and particular vitamins and minerals, and (iii) an assortment of meditation, yoga and mental hygiene techniques.
It must be said, though, that I now use the many forms of alternative medicine very rarely.
I also have access to: (a) homeopathy, (b) naturopathy, (c) chiropractic, (d) osteopathy, (e) energy medicine, (f) various forms of acupuncture, (g) traditional Chinese medicine, (h) Ayurvedic medicine, (i) Bowen therapy, and (j) a wide range of faith healing prescriptions. The internet, too, is full to overflowing with advice that I can access 24/7. I have benefited for decades, indeed, since my childhood, from advice in the many healing arts thanks to a mother for whom the subjects of healing and health were at the center of her religious proclivities, and a wife who takes more than a little interest in both science and medicine.
I now benefit on a daily basis, as I say, from having a wife who knows more about anatomy, physiology and general medicine(due to her interests in science and her own health problems) than I will ever know. She has proved a useful helpmate in our four decades of marriage(1975-2015).
The world of news, 24/7, always provides fodder for commentary. I have now written and published 100s of online pieces at 100s of internet sites. I see myself as a literary journalist & cultural analyst. I am one of the first or perhaps, now in this second decade of the 21st century, one of the second generation of online journalists/critics who are spreading their range of operations deep into the web.
This is a fascinating new development in the world's cultural and literary internationalism, fascinating at least to me. It answers the same impulse that led, say, some of the sixties generation in countries like Australia, Canada and the UK to book a passage to another country, or overseas on lumbering ships or, in the case of some of my more literary and academically inclined fellow Canadians, to head for: (i) the USA in their cars or on trains going south from Canada, or (ii) the UK or even Europe on a boat or(a few)in a plane where they could try and ply their literary and budding-journalism skills.
For this most recent crew, these new generations of online journalists of-the-internet, whose ranks I have joined in the last dozen years or so, all they have to do is to log on. I am only too aware, though, that the news media are seen by many to be in irreversible decline. Can journalists be trusted? Can quality journalism be saved with 100s, indeed, 1000s of people like me being added to the world of commentary and analysis. Many are now asking all sorts of questions about the new media. To read what several top thinkers said at a recent conference: "A Wake Up Call: Can Quality & Trust Save Journalism?" go to: http://restoringthetrust.org/
According to a survey conducted by YouGov for Prospect Magazine, there has been a noticeable slide in public trust of journalists in this 21st century. That distrust goes right across the board: TV & radio, newspapers & the internet. For an article at one of the blogs by one of the journalists of The Guardian on this subject go to: http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2010/sep/23/newspapers-dailytelegraph.
I was far too busy back in the 1960s, certainly far from confident enough, to ply my potential literary talents in journalism. I did not feel confident enough to earn my living by writing in any capacity, & so I went into teaching. That, of course, was not the only, or even the main, reason I went into teaching. Very few were able to earn a living then, or now, by writing and, so it was, that they went into fields like: (a) teaching or social work, (b) medicine or law, (c) engineering or science, (d) taxi-driving or any one of dozens of forms of business or commercial work, or, indeed, (e) anything to pay the bills and participate in the consumer society, so to speak.
Writing came later, if it came at all, in their lives as their careers developed or when they retired from paid employment, as I have done. In those 1960s I finished my university degree, and left the world of sport, playing games, and having as much fun as possible, activities and enthusiasms which characterized my adolescence and childhood. I started my teaching career and my first marriage in those 1960s, dealt with my first episodes of bipolar disorder, and began working-out my relationship with a religion which claimed to be the newest, the latest, of the Abrahamic Faiths.
This Faith was claiming my time and my energies increasingly as the '60s advanced and I went through my 20s. Teaching, consolidation, service & social activism in connection with all sorts of activities in the real world in Baha'i communities, and other groups in Ontario, were part of my social commitments back then. It seems like another lifetime some 50 years ago(1965-2015) and, in some ways, it was.
Now, most of my writing time is spent, in one way or another, giving a voice to Baha'i ideas and concepts, plans and programs that raise the profile of the Baha'i Faith in cyberspace. In the process I articulate a Baha'i approach to the tempest facing contemporary society. I also write about a range of subjects of personal interest, subjects that do not bear directly on the Baha'i Faith. The tempest that, one could argue, began with WWI, the war to end all wars, shows no signs of letting-up as we head through the second decade of this 21st century.
I was a member of the first generation of writers for whom a university education was the norm, the starting point, for their literary careers. There were also non-degree creative writing programs like the one at Stanford University where some writers would develop lifelong friendships with fellow writers. They are, though, names with whom I'm sure most readers here will not be familiar, and this does not matter. I am merely reflecting on my life back in the 1960s when I was starting out after leaving home in the mid-sixties, & entering the adult world with its responsibilities, its career-paths, and its pleasures and pains.
I did not seriously entertain enrolling in any creative writing program as I went through my tertiary studies from 1963 to 1967. By late 1965, as I was heading through my last year of a three year BA arts degree, it was becoming more important for me to chose a career, some line of work that was an improvement on all the summer jobs I had had for the previous 15 years, 1950 to 1965, the years of my childhood and adolescent life when summer jobs were crucial if one wanted some money to spend on personal wants and desires. Unless, of course, a kid had rich parents, summer and part-time jobs were the only way to get the goodies he or she wanted beyond the basics parents provided. I had to put myself through university in my early 20s, a lifetime ago. Government assistance for university education in Canada began in 1963 just as I began my tertiary education.
In October 1965 I decided to move to the Canadian Arctic, to leave the places where I had grown-up from childhood into early adulthood, and to teach primary school. In August 1967, with a BA and a BEd in my pocket, I moved from Ontario to the eastern Arctic with my first wife to spend a year teaching grade three in what was then the small town of Frobisher Bay, now called Iqaluit, on Baffin Island. I won't give readers here chapter and verse on all the years from 1967 to 2015 or prolixity would be the result.
I now write in a style and manner that I have used for decades, and in what I have come to define as: a thoughtful and somewhat scholarly, a firm & well-meaning didacticism that does not try to hit people over the head with my views. After more than half a century, 1949 to 2004, in classrooms and lecture-halls, school rooms and seminars as a: part-time or full-time student, a teacher or tutor, adult educator or lecturer, editor or researcher, reader or scholar; after another decade in cyberspace, 2005 to 2015, working in many of these same and several roles, I now possess a general instructional or teaching tone and style. At least that is one way I would put how I do about my literary efforts.
This style, of course, has been more acceptable in journalism's cultural pages for decades, because of the belief that arts & culture have formative and humanizing powers. Like each teacher, each person, who plies his or her literary trade, their work in journalism & cultural criticism, has their own tone and style, manner & mode. Inevitably, it does not appeal to everyone. I have many readers who enjoy my writing, many who don't, and a great multitude who never see it at all.
One way of maintaining relative intellectual independence is having the attitude of an amateur instead of a professional. This is a far better attitude and course to take. I thank Edward Said for serving as a model, and articulating this practical and personal stance which I take in cyberspace. Edward Said (1935-2003) was a Palestinian American literary theorist and public intellectual who helped found the critical-theory field of postcolonialism. For more on Said go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Said
"One is moved by causes and ideas that one can actually choose to support," wrote Said back in 1993, "because they conform to values & principles one believes in. I do not consider myself bound by my professional training, & academic expertise," he continued. Go to this link for more of his way of expressing his public stance: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-reith-lectures-speaking-truth.
I have been certified for nearly 50 years to teach many subjects at the primary level of the educational systems in both Canada and Australia. This also became true of secondary schools, at least in Australia, from the 1970s to 2000s, as well as in colleges of advanced education, universities, technical and further education institutions, and what are now called polytechnics in some places in Australia.
Because I was a generalist, and because I had neither an MA or a PhD, I was no longer qualified, by the 1990s, to teach in universities. Without a PhD, or at least an MA, I was not able to return to working in universities as I had been able to do in those far-off 1970s in that first decade after I graduated from four years of post-secondary education in Ontario Canada.
By 1999 that did not matter because I took an early retirement from all the teaching roles I had had since the 1960s. I took what is often called "a sea-change", as such an early retirement is sometimes called. In September 1999 I moved to a small town near the sea, near an extension of the Great Southern Ocean, the Bass Strait, & settled-in to a world of writing. I speak and write about many broad matters because, as a rank amateur, I am spurred on by commitments that go well beyond my professional career in the teaching profession and the many subjects I taught in humanities and social science programs.
I make a conscious effort now, in these years of my retirement from the teaching profession, and the reinvention of myself as a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, reader and scholar, online blogger and journalist, to acquire a new and wider audience for my views. In the decade from 2005 to 2015, I acquired a readership in the millions, something I would not have believed possible in those fin de siecle years of the 1990s or, indeed, at any other time in my adult life beginning as it did in the 1960s.
And so begins......my annual email for July 2015 to June 2016. I'll pop back here with updates as Australia goes through the rest of its winter season and heads into spring on 21/9/'15.
George Town Tasmania