Monday, July 30, 2007


Last night Jessica and I had another life-experience and another chance to enjoy the hospitality of RPA.

While driving home from church around 9.30 pm, we were coming down Booth St in Annandale towards the intersection with Wigram Rd at the bottom of the hill where Booth curves around to the right. A taxi was turning right out of Wigram and obviously didn't see us but proceeded to coast into our front left side. Thankfully, he hit our front wheel rather than the passenger door a metre or so further back. Jess and I were both able to get out straight away. After we had checked that the three of us were OK, he apologised.

The next vehicle to appear around the corner five seconds later was a police car containing two constables, who immediately took charge of the situation. Jessica was complaining of neck pain, so was taken to RPA in an ambulance and a neck brace while I stayed with the police and taxi driver to give a statement. The police investigation quickly decided that the taxi driver was at fault for failing to give way. His defence was that he was not at fault because he hadn't seen us. On the one hand, I'm sad that this will probably have implications for his job, but on the other, if this was more than an isolated error of judgement, it may be best for him to do something else.

RPA again
The police gave me a lift to RPA, where I found that Jess was waiting for an x-ray of her spine. By this time, my neck was also sore, so I joined the queue in emergency (it was a busy night). After I'd seen a doctor a few hours later (who had cleared me of anything more than muscle pain), I found that Jessica's x-rays had also cleared her. They kept her under observation until about 2 am when we could finally walk the few hundred metres home.

We slept in this morning (thankfully, Jess didn't have to work. She has accepted a new job a few days ago and is winding down in her old position) and woke up bruised and stiff, but better than we'd expected to feel.

Our faithful old '84 Corolla had to be towed away and is almost certainly written off. With only months of registration left, it had been unlikely to survive another year anyway. I tried to take some photos on my phone but there wasn't much light and they didn't work. The police took a number of shots, but I'm not sure whether I'll get to see them. Jess has to go down to the Glebe station tonight to give a statement (they decided not to interview her in emergency). This is the only image of the car I could find, from a holiday about a year ago.

We thank God for his protection. When one of the constables found that I work for a church, he asked whether 'the big fella' had let me down. I thought not. Things could have been much, much worse.
Map from Where Is. The crosshairs show where the accident occurred. We live down and to the right, on the corner of Parramatta and Missenden Rds. RPA (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) is a few hundred metres down Missenden Rd, just off the bottom of the map.

Monday, July 16, 2007

PET scan clear

My PET scan at RPA today confirmed the CT scan from a week or so ago in showing no new cancerous activity.

Some people really don't like PET scans because you get strapped in place and can't move at all for about twenty minutes while you lie encased within a cylindrical machine that measures your radioactivity (after you've been injected with radioactive sugar). If you're claustrophobic, I imagine it could be quite distressing. I don't mind it (apart from getting an itchy nose) - an extra chance for a nap.

I discovered just a minute ago that contrary to what I said in my previous post, Prof Tattersal had not been planning on my having this PET scan until he noted a tenderness in a lymph node near my clavicle. I think I had just forgotten how uncomfortable a lymph node palpitation can be and flinched when he stuck his fingers into my neck. This also happened the first time he did it, but on subsequent times I was ready for it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Yet another scan

I wasn't sure when I went to have my recent CT scan last Friday whether I would also need to have a PET scan (the second paragraph of this post explains what a PET scan is). I thought this would only be necessary if there was bad news, but having seen Professor Tattersal (my oncologist) on Tuesday, I found that he was planing a PET scan in any case. So I've just arranged to have it first thing Monday morning. I presume I will continue to have both scans every few months for the next couple of years.

Speaking of Professor Tattersal, I've really appreciated my times with him. He is always understated, has a sharp wit and a strong desire to make it into the Guiness Book of Records. He is also very geneous with his time and has made himself very easy to contact when needed.

At my Tuesday appointment, I asked how to minimise the chances of a relapse and he made three suggestions: (a) don't lose lots of weight, (b) exercise well (Jessica and I started a new exercise program a couple of weeks ago and are - amazingly - being quite consistent with it. We're starting slowly since I've lost a lot of stamina and strength) and (c) think positively.

As I was leaving, he also asked me to have a blood test "because you're here". It was disconcerting to go back into the chemo suite, even for a few minutes. There is so much pain and anxiety in that space. Even just sitting in a chair, I began to feel a little queasy in memory of past experiences. The nurses are very caring and competent, though the one taking my blood had trouble finding a vein (which didn't help my queasiness). Unfortunately, yesterday I received a call to ask me to come back in, since my blood had been misplaced. I'm just heading off there now. Another day, another needle.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Good scan!

My CT scan yesterday was fairly painless (no fiddling round to find a vein only to give up after too many attempts like last time) and even better, there was 'no suggestion of tumour recurrence seen'! In fact, the remaining mass has continued to shrink (they didn't give any measurements). So that was all good news. Thanks to those whom I know were praying (and to those who might have been doing so secretly) - and once again, an even bigger thanks to God!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Scan and voice

Tomorrow I will have my next CT scan to see whether anything has happened since the last one. If it is different, I assume I get the privilege of another PET scan. I'm not sure whether I will get the results tomorrow or Monday. Please pray that Jessica and I will continue to trust God as we await the outcome - and that it's a good one!

I also saw the speech therapist again yesterday and learned a few more things. First, I found that my left vocal cord is paralysed in a paramedial position (partially 'on', rather than fully 'off' as I had thought) and this is why my voice has returned to the level that it has (i.e. more than nothing, less than it was). Second, she very kindly invited me to a workshop she is organising for speech therapists to watch a world-famous voice teacher work with some of her patiences (one of whom will be me!). So I get a free consultation with a lady who normally charges over $200. The only price is that I'll have twenty therapists watching me as I do so. And third, I found that if I do end up having surgery on my larynx, this would involve the insertion of a bioplastic wedge to jam my left chord more fully on (rather than a collagen injection as I had previously thought). Compared to the injection, this sounds like a more uncomfortable procedure (a local anathestic while they cut your neck open; they need you awake so you can be testing your voice as they do it!); however, the injection needs to be repeated every few months, while this procedure would be permanent. Either option might only have a marginal effect on my voice (or none at all), though if I'm going to use my voice for a living, this could be worth it.