Today was Kidney Specialist day. I decided the Silver Lady and I would have a day out. First I slept in until the time I usually start work, then had a leisurely shower. A good way to start a Monday. Coffee, then back to brush my teeth. Bike boots on. Wallet, glasses, bottle of water.
As I pulled the Lady out of the garage, there was a horrible scream abruptly cut off. I rolled the bike backwards, put the kickstand down and parked her on the gravel. I could see a horrific mess on the floor in the garage, right where the front wheel had been. It was twitching. A frog, its head crushed and intestines spilled. Shit. One of my frogs had struck up a relationship with the Silver Lady and had sheltered under her. I apologised profusely, then lovingly took the body out to the magpies for recycling. I filled a bucket with hot soapy water and swept out the gory guts.
A bad way to start the day.
I checked the oil. Looked like she needed some. at the servo I filled the gas tank, bought a litre of 20-50 and poured it into the engine. It disappeared down the hole. I bought another and poured it in. That disappeared too. This was a worry, I had put a litre in only a month or so ago. Or was it? I calculated. Maybe four months ago. Reminder to be more observant next time. My oil checks are obviously not reliable. The tyres were still at the right pressure but I was still worrying about the oil. I dropped by to ask Roy how I could tell if I had enough. “Check your oil light” We did and seemed to be working properly when we switched on the key, so the assumption is that the oil had been low but not yet too low. Ride on.
I had plenty of time so I stopped a Broomehill for a coffee, at Henry Jones, where we all ate on Saturday night, at a farewell meal for Michelle. I told Jim and Annabel that I had written a review on the net for them. I hoped it would bring them more custom.
I had not realised in all the visits I have made for coffee and a cookie on weekends, that Henry Jones was open evenings and serves an excellent meal. When I booked us in I told them to expect 8 to 12 people. They laid on a special evening for us. Looks as if they took on extra staff for the evening. 19 of us turned up. I had over-allowed for dropouts (very few, all with perfectly good reasons) and I had not counted in some partners. With the greatest of courtesy and efficiency they relaid the tables and coped with the extra orders. The entrees were superb. the little wait for the mains course was well worth while. I did not have one of the desserts but they looked good and those who partook reported them very good indeed. This place must be the best kept secret in the Great Southern. We were served the finest food many of us have eaten in a long while, accompanied by excellent wine. The service was friendly. The decor is fun. Did I mention the food was really good? Highly recommended!
I rode on. In Albany, with time still to kill, I had a late breakfast, which was actually lunch, at McDonalds. I did a little window shopping round town and had another coffee. I bought a pair of shoes at Rivers (40% off the already discounted price). On to the surgery half an hour early. I waited barely ten minutes before the Kidney specialist greeted me. “Come in Alan”.
“How are you?” I asked. ” Or, more to the point, how am I? I guess you have the results of last weeks test?”
He looked through my file for a while. “Your kidneys are still leaking protein. But it seems they are improving. Your urine protein should be 3”. (Three what: I wondered). “When you first came to me it was over 180. It took a while to get you down to 160, then to 130, but in the last month you have dropped to 100. It looks as if it is going down steadily now. We have the dosage right on. Keep taking the pills, and all the other pills too, especially norvasc, lipidil, accuretic, aspirin, he ticked them all off on his fingers. Fish oil too, I suppose. Won’t do any harm”. (Except to my wallet, I thought). “It is important you keep taking them, because of the increased risk of heart attack and stroke that comes with leaking kidneys”. He looked at my gut, and must have noticed it is a bit smaller than before, because he nodded approvingly. “I will write to your GP, telling him all that. I don’t need to see you again. But call me if you need me”. He shook my hand and released me. Seven minutes. I was done even before I was due to arrive. I wondered why we could not have done all that by teleconference. But I was relieved that at last I am seeing some results from all these bloody pills.
$110 to his receptionist. I shall get some of it back from Medicare. I still haven’t figured out why they don’t just charge me my share, and Medicare the rest.
At the Caltex station where I refueled, the attendant admired the bike and told me he was envious I was riding on such a beautiful day. “Living the dream mate!” I told him. “But back to work tomorrow.”
“Life’s a bitch”.
It was very hot so I decided to ride in my tee-shirt for a while. A few pings on the chest from insects that somehow got around the windscreen soon changed my mind. They sting. Also they splat. I realised why the front of my jacket looks as if I have dribbled meat pie down it and it has gone mouldy. I stopped to put it on again and rode on.
At the pink lake just north of Cranbrook I stopped for a drink from my bottle. The lake was empty, a dry bowl of shining white crystal salt. I thought it must have an albedo that can be seen from space. I climbed the fence and wandered on to the lake, thinking I should try to scrape a hieroglyph in the salt. It was rock hard and shone very bright in the sun, with just a trace of pink visible. I could not scuff it. After only a few minutes standing on the salt, I felt my eyes begin to burn, reminding me of being in the snow on Ruapehu, or out yachting in Hawkes Bay, or even back to the days when I was welding reinforcing rods at the Ceracrete Panel Company, and got arc flash. Time to move on. I think I did catch a bit too much UV. As I type this I feel my eyes burning. A cold shower and an early night tonight, I think.
But I digress.
South of Tambellup the road runs SE-NW for a way. I was heading home with the late afternoon sun sitting just over my left eyebrow. I was seeing strobing red flashes as the light came through the trees, and then occasional blasts of full-on sunstrike. I slowed right down. It was barely 4.30 so I had given no thought to the possibility of kangaroos being out yet. But here I was in Skippy Street. A red Triumph Spitfire was following me, and slowed down as I did. I got the feeling the driver would prefer to be driving faster. At least he was patient about it. Most people are pretty good here about not passing on the solid white lines. Unlike in NZ, where you can pass if you don’t cross the line during the manoeuvre, here in WA the no passing line means no passing. At all. I was down to around 70 by now. As soon as the solid line was replaced by a broken line I pulled over towards the shoulder and slowed a little more. As I expected, my follower roared by. I continued to tootle along until a few kilometres up the road, I came upon the red Spitfire, hazard lights flashing. On the road was smallish kangaroo. On the Spitfire was a kangaroo shaped dent and a broken headlight. The driver was a woman. She looked astonished rather than shocked. I stopped, parked safely and activated my hazard lights too. The woman got out of the car and looked at the damage. I asked if she was alright and she nodded. She said she had not been driving too fast, and indeed the damage did look minimal considering how badly some cars were pranged that I have seen after such a collision. the Kangaroo was well and truly deceased. Blood from its mouth was congealing on the road. It reminded me very powerfully of the dog in Fiji.
The woman did not seem to want to talk about it. She looked at me oddly, and I was not sure if it was because I was on a bike, or because she thought I was in some way responsible for this. I dragged the roo off the road. It was female, so I checked its pouch. I was relieved to find nothing. Not even loose change.
The woman looked at me even more oddly. Then she said “Thank you for stopping”, got into her car and drove away. As she left I noticed one of those Christian fish symbols on the back of the car. That explains her attitude. She must have seen my Jollyfish and FSM badges.
I thought about the ‘roo and decided the FSM must be looking after me. Good choice.