Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except a cat and a collection of Australian parrots, finches, canaries and a dozen hens.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

One week later.

I've been posting a lot of stuff on my stitching blog (Patra's Place) this past week, because I've been doing a lot of craft work while Ken is at home. We had plans to go out and about in his last two weeks of sick leave/holiday leave, but he hasn't been very well, so we've spent most of our time at home or nearby, shopping or visiting friends. This coming week we will be busy running around doing last minute things before he goes back to work - having his car serviced, catching up with those we haven't yet seen, and I'll be at the Embroiderer's Guild all day Tuesday, so the week will be gone before we know it, and he'll be back at work. Providing he is well enough to return to work. I've been 'nagging' him to go and see our local GP to sort out the residual problems with his breathing, medications, etc. but he keeps saying he's fine. Duh. Men.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Too much too soon?

The cardiologist was happy with Ken's progress last Thursday, and said he didn't need to see Ken until September, when he will do an echo-cardiogram to check on how his heart is going. That's if Ken hasn't worn it out first. Yesterday he mowed the lawns, and used the petrol blower to clean up the front yard and back yard path. I found him sitting on the steps gasping. "You silly bugger, you're supposed to take things slowly", I said crossly. A friend of ours who had open heart surgery a few years ago, said it was good that Ken is out there doing stuff, even if he does get tired. "At least he isn't lying around the house doing nothing at all, which would be far worse". Mmm. I suppose so.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Bionic Man.

Ken went to the Repat. for his first ICD check today, and I went into the cardio. room with him. The cardio technicians sat him in a chair next to a computer, waved something over his chest, and then proceeded to punch info. into their machine. They would call out numbers and stuff, and a girl sitting at another computer across the room typed the info. into her keyboard.
The techies said to Ken "We are going to adjust the ICD. You might feel something". Ken was looking at me, and as I watched his face, he blinked and screwed up his face for a few seconds. There was absolutely NO PHYSICAL CONTACT. Afterwards I asked Ken what it felt like. He said it was weird - he felt a kind of flutter in his heart, and he felt 'strange' for a couple of hours after that. When I joking asked the techies if the ICD was solar powered they laughed and said "No, but it's wireless. As in a wireless computer." Which of course it is. A computer in Ken's chest. The bandage was taken off and there is hardly any scar tissue, but you can clearly see the ICD. It looks like a mobile phone has been stuffed under his skin.

As the hospital is just down the road from where Ken's Mum is living, we decided to drop in for a while. She was pleased to see us as always, and interested to hear about Ken's experience this morning. He showed her the ICD and said how wonderful the technology is today. To our horror she started crying and said "Oh but it should never have happened to you. I don't know what I've done". Ken said "Mum it is nothing to do with you - it was because of my smoking". She nodded, and calmed down, but was still a bit sad for the rest of our visit. You have to be so careful with what you say to people with any kind of dementia. There are things they can no longer comprehend, and it just upsets them...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Bird From Hitchcock!

Two weeks ago I posted a story here about the Noisy Miner bird that was attacking its reflection in one of our windows. I tried scaring him off with a water pistol, stuck paper on the window, and put treacle on the window sill. The treacle seemed to have got rid of him, but he came back a few days ago! When I put treacle out again, he simply touched down in it, then threw himself against the window, leaving treacly claw prints all over it!! So I cleaned everything up (again) and turned my computer on to Google 'nuisance birds'. Freda mentioned that they had a problem in Chicago with hundreds of birds killing themselves by flying into the windows of a big building there, but the people put up big black plastic cut-outs of birds on the windows and it scared the real ones away.

Unfortunately for us, our particular window is not just plain glass. It has a film on the inside surface, which blocks out sunlight and helps to keep the room cool in summer. We can see out, but you can't see inside - it is like a mirror. So the birds really can see themselves quite clearly. We've had other birds come and talk to themselves - the Lorikeets and galahs are unbelievably narcissistic, smooching up to their reflections and making little soft squeaks! But this Noisy Miner is something else. Google had thousands of references to the problem, and I wrote down some of the solutions people had come up with.

In the last four days I have done this:

Put a $5 rubber snake on the window sill to scare the bird off. Didn't work. It just pecked the snake and pushed it away.

Scribbled over the glass with kids' glass crayons (cost $5). Didn't work. Too many gaps between the scribbles and as you can see, the reflections of the trees are still visible.

Put clingwrap all over the windows (as far up as I could reach with the help of a broom handle) and hung balloons over the windows. The next morning I came out to find most of the cling wrap on the ground - GEEEEEEZZ, what is this bird??? The balloons were still intact. He just dodged them to continue pecking the glass. I wound the window out as far as it would go, and waited for the bird to return. When it did, I poked my arm out of the window and sprayed it with the most toxic pressurepack spray I could find in the kitchen (would you believe, Scotchguard fabric protector?). Birds can fly faster than I can spray, so all that happened was a sticky mess on the window which I had a helluva job cleaning off.

I give up. Today, I cleaned everything off and resigned myself to cleaning bird dirt and blood from the windows every day until the wretched thing either knocks itself out, or finds somewhere else to roost. The most obvious solution would be to hang a screen of some kind - fabric, wire netting, whatever - over the windows, but as you can see in the photo below, it is practically impossible to do that. We can't put a ladder against the wall to get to the top of the window frame because of the steps. I thought of hanging something from the roof, but the edge of the roof comes over too far, and it would block the steps to the front door.

Good friends, update on Ken, and Topsy's throne.

I know I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again, but I can't fully express my gratitude and appreciation of my blogger friends who keep track of me and post encouraging comments on a regular basis. I love you all! I guess that sounds trite - 'love' is a word that is used too often and too lightly nowadays, but I'm hoping those of you reading this will take it in the spirit I intend it to be.

Ken is making good progress, sometimes set back only by his impatience to get back into his usual routine. Last Sunday he decided to clean the chook house out. I forestalled him by getting in there first, raking up and sweeping, but he still spent some time on his hands and knees, cleaning up what I didn't get to. When we'd finished that, he decided to go for a walk around the block. "They told me at the cardiology ward I should walk every day to get my strength back" he said. Yeah, but not after cleaning up the chook house...When we got home after our walk, he said he was tired, and lay down on the bed to rest. On Monday he was a mess. Sore, tired, and feeling ill, he spent the day in bed, and most of Tuesday as well. By Wednesday he was okay again, and I think it made him realise that he has to take things a bit slower.

Since then he has been feeling a bit better each day, and is looking forward to this week's visit to the hospital and his cardiologist, when they will be able to track the progress of what difference the ICD is making to his heart. He isn't allowed to drive until the cardiologist gives him the okay, and he is hoping it will be this week. He hates being a passenger in my little car!

I think Topsy has been looking over my shoulder at Isabelle's blog. Back in April, she posted a photo of one of her black cats lying on a stack of cushions that had been piled up temporarily while the sofa was being tidied up. I had brought the cushions from our outdoor furniture inside, and left them on a chair in the lounge. Guess who discovered them?

Friday, May 07, 2010

The MOTH is alive and kicking!

Ken is at home. Thank God that is over. We arrived at the hospital at 8 am on Thursday, and went through the various procedures and hours of waiting until he was taken to the operating theatre just after midday to have the ICD implanted. We thought he was going to have a pacemaker implanted, which usually takes about half an hour. But we were informed that Ken was going to be fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) which would take a bit longer…maybe an hour. It took two hours, and Ken was conscious the whole time. He can’t have a general anaesthetic because of his lungs, so they gave him a local anaesthetic in the shoulder where the ICD was to go. When he came out of the theatre, he was wide awake and quite pleased with himself, as he told me what took place. He said even though there was no pain, he could feel them pushing the unit under his skin, and felt the wires going through his veins into his heart, although the surgeon said that wasn’t possible, and it must have when they were poking around trying to place the wires in the heart. He was monitored for the next three hours with blood pressure checks, ECGs etc. and by the time I left to go home at 4 pm, the anaesthetic was starting to wear off. The nursing staff gave him pain killers and told me he would be okay from now on.

Last night was a nightmare for him. At 6 pm I got a message from the hospital saying he had been transferred to another building near the hospital, because they needed his bed in the ward, and he was no longer regarded as an ‘acute care’ patient. About 8 pm, Ken called me to say he was in agony, and wanted to come home because he couldn’t find anyone to look after him at this place. I phoned the hospital to ask what the hell was going on, and they put me through to the other building, where the nurse in charge assured me he was being monitored, and had been given some Panadol for the pain. I called again about 10 pm to find out if he was okay, and the nurse informed me she had taken Ken to the emergency ward in the hospital because he was getting worse. Well, I figured it was no use me going in there at that hour, and he was in a hospital after all, so I went to bed.

He was discharged this morning at 10 am, and looked like death warmed up when I saw him, although he said he was feeling a lot better. He told me that he sat in Emergency for over half an hour before anyone looked at him, and it was only when he said to a passing nurse that he thought he was having a heart attack, that everybody was suddenly interested in him and started doing Xrays, blood tests, ECGs etc. The tests all showed that the ICD was firmly in place and doing what it was supposed to do, i.e. keeping the heart beating at a regular rate. So they pumped some morphine into him, and sent him back to the other building, where he got a few hours sleep before he woke up and started throwing up! He was taken back to the cardiology unit and had more tests done, and after a while he started to recover.

By the time we got back home, he was quite chirpy and wanted to sit down comfortably and tell me all about it. After an hour, he was getting tired, so he went to bed, and slept, while I went shopping, did a load of washing, and other domestic stuff. He woke about 5 pm and made a few phone calls before we had tea (scrambled eggs on toast). After tea, he had another snooze, took a few phone calls, and turned on the t.v. Now I KNOW he is feeling better! He walked downstairs to the garage and up again, and wasn’t puffing. The doctor did say it wouldn’t take long before the ICD took effect and the heart would start to pump more efficiently, but neither of us thought it would be as soon as this! He says he isn’t in much pain, just a bit uncomfortable...geez, he has a higher tolerance for pain than me!

Typical me – Bad Taste Bessie – took my camera into the hospital to record Ken’s progress. He knew what I was up to, and was chuckling, but the nurse looked a bit startled, and a man in the opposite bed sat up suddenly when I said the photos were for my blog. He wanted to talk about blogging with me, but the nurse turned around and said sharply “Just lie down! Never mind about blogs!” I beat a hasty retreat…

To wind up this lengthy post, I must say that Harry Potter and his wizard friends have nothing on state of the art 21st century technology. To put a mini computer inside a person, insert wires into veins and the heart muscle itself in order to keep the heart beating, and kickstart it if it stops, is nothing short of a miracle. Ken is acutely aware of the amount of work done by doctors and nurses over the past 8 years to keep him alive, and hospital staff often tell me he is one of the nicest patients they have treated, because he thanks them for every single thing they do, and apologises if he has to ask them for something as simple as a drink of water. I know he will be itching to drive his car and ride his bikes as soon as he feels okay, but he knows that he mustn’t do any of that until he’s got the OK from his cardiologist in two weeks’ time.
Thanks again from both of us for all your encouraging comments and emails.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Thanks to you all for your concern and good wishes for my Kenny. He is getting to know some of the names I bandy around when telling him who said what on their blogs, and when I told him about the messages you've left, he was touched to think that people around the world would say such nice things to someone they don't know and will never meet. Bloggers are like that though, aren't we? ;-)

The Austin Hospital is only a few blocks from the aged care hostel where Ken's mum is living. We visited her tonight and told her Ken will be at the hospital tomorrow, around the corner from her. She asked if she could come with me and sit at his bedside until he wakes up after the implant. We gently persuaded her not to do this, as much as we appreciated her concern, so she grabbed his hand and held on tightly until we left to go home. I promised I would come and see her as soon as I was sure Ken would be okay, and she was happy with that.

If you've read this far, you might be wondering what the OOPs is all about. Well, it was this:-

I decided to run a bath for myself last night, and turned the taps on while I finished what I was doing on here. I'm sure you can guess the rest...I got sidetracked on somebody's blog and forgot about the bath. When I remembered, it has just got to the very top, and would have started to overflow on to the floor if I hadn't turned off the taps right then. In years gone by when we weren't in a drought, I'd often run baths nearly full, and luxuriate in them for hours. Last night I think I must have emptied the whole bloody hot water tank in there, as it was far too hot to get into, so I had to wait another half hour for it to cool down enough to get in. Mind you, once I was in there, it was heaven!

And before I finish this post, I couldn't resist taking these photos of Topsy in her bed (the bed she sleeps in when she's not on OUR bed). Ken says she has outgrown this cushion, but she spends a lot of time up there, even though her paws overflow the edges!

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Noisy Miner and a Cold virus.

I haven't had much to write about on this blog since Anzac Day, but I was telling someone about our problem with one of our resident bird population, and it sounded so funny in the telling, I thought it was worth doing a post here.
We had a Noisy Miner (Aust. native bird) attacking its reflection in a window last week. It came back day after day, and we were going nuts with the tap tap tap on the glass all day. I tried rapping the window to scare it away, didn't work. I got a water pistol and sprayed it from the door, but it came back when I stopped. I taped paper on the window so it couldn't see its reflection - it tore the paper down, would you believe that??!! Finally, I poured treacle on the window sill. That worked! The first time he came back to perch on the ledge and peck his reflection, his feet got stuck. It was so funny. He finally got out of it and took off, and that was the last we saw of him!

Ken and I tend to get sick at the same time, which can be a nuisance, because it becomes a battle of wills when someone (usually me) eventually has to get out of bed and put the kettle on for a cup of tea. Ken started sniffing and coughing last week, and I started sneezing on Friday. He spent Saturday quietly at home while I went to the Quilt Expo. On Sunday we both spent most of the day in bed (at opposite ends of the house), but he is back at work today, and I am just keeping quiet. I've done three loads of washing though, as the weather forecast is for rain this week, and I wanted to get it all done and hung out while the sun is still shining.
I also want to get as much housework as possible done before Ken goes into hospital on Thursday for his pacemaker implant, because I have a feeling after that, I'll be doing the Carer bit full on!

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