Sunday, 26 December 2021

A slightly odd Christmas ...

The last few years, we've eschewed driving stupid distances in holiday traffic to visit family and opted for a more relaxed version at home where we listen to jazz, drink champagne, and try and catch up on our reading.

Gentler, slower, but just as much fun, and given these times, perhaps safer.

And this year, that was what we had planned.

Now you might recall we'd managed a few days R&R at the start of December down at Yanakie, and also a couple of days with J's nephew to see his and his partner's new and slightly stunning house, and just hang out with them. We then planned to go on and stay in the city for a couple of nights for some Christmas shopping.

Well we managed the first two. The third one, not so much.

J likes to paint at a traditional stand up easel. Recently she's been getting pain in her right shoulder, and a scan showed some damage to the muscle tissue but no arthritis. The next step would normally have been a referral to a consultant at a local hospital for a more detailed assessment, but because they suspended a lot of non life threatening surgery last year due to the pandemic, there's currently a backlog, which means J couldn't even get an assessment locally until March or April.

Now, earlier this year, J had managed to get a labral tear fixed at a big city hospital, as a lot of people had been cancelling procedures, not wanting to be stuck in a hospital during lockdown.

So we called the surgeon's office in Melbourne, and explained the problem and asked if there was anyone they could suggest.

They came back with the name of a specialist shoulder surgeon and suggested we give him a call.

Fortunately, he said he could see J the day we were driving from J's nephew's place to the city, so we had a little detour.

He looked at the scans, looked at her shoulder, and said 'surgery'. The damage was fixable, but would require surgery to reattach damaged ligaments.

So we took a deep breath, said when could he do it, and to our utter amazement he said 'Next Tuesday morning, I've had someone pull out at the last minute'.

So we said yes. You don't knock back a chance like this, especially now.

This buggered our planned day shopping in the city, especially as the surgeon needed some additional pre-operation tests and scans. To be fair, his staff did the legwork for us booking us in for the various tests the next day, but as it was last minute we ended up crisscrossing the city between various hospitals, as they couldn't all be done at short notice at a single hospital.

Then home, and then our next task was to find somewhere to stay near the hospital - one of the complications of these Covid times was that J had to have a PCR test the Friday prior to the surgery and then self isolate to avoid bringing Covid into the hospital, which of course meant I had to self isolate as well - fortunately we found a nice serviced apartment within walking distance of the hospital that fitted the bill.

The surgery went well. 

The hospital didn't allow visitors due to Covid precautions, but they were happy for J to chat using FaceTime, so I could see how she looked.

Again, the next day when I picked her up, I couldn't go into the building but had to wait in the car park while they wheeled her out, followed by a fairly straightforward drive up the freeway in pouring rain.

This was ten days before Christmas, and we had done nothing by way of preparation.

That, and I had to be a full time carer for the first few days, helping J shower and dress, and cut up her food as she only had one working hand, the other one being strapped up with her arm.

In the event it wasn't too bad and we managed a decent if quiet Christmas.

We managed to squeak in just before the cutoff date for an online order from our local fish merchant, and get an online order for booze - even though I had to collect it as they couldn't deliver - and one for all the standard groceries. 

I also managed to get an organic chicken (missed the boat I'm afraid  on ordering a turkey breast), and all the fresh fruit and veg we needed locally, not to mention all the other domestic tasks, including cutting the grass which was up to the cats' navels.

Busy, chaotic, but we got there.  We got out our old Christmas tree just because we could, but I didn't get as far as putting up any fairy lights on the back deck, so things looked a bit less Christmassy than normal, but that's just window dressing. We had each other, and that's what mattered.

We roasted the chicken on the morning of Christmas eve, and had Balmain bugs, potato salad and a bottle of champagne that evening, and a day listening to jazz and reading on Christmas day itself, with cold roast chicken, salad and more champagne on Christmas evening, followed by a movie on Netflix.

All very low key, but very relaxing after the chaos of the run up to Christmas.

The next milestone is having them take the stitches out at the local medical centre on Wednesday, followed by a trip back to Melbourne for a post surgical check up in the new year.

I've prawns and a lobster in the freezer for new year's day, champagne in the fridge, and some friends have invited us to a socially distanced picnic on New Year's Eve, so Omicron permitting, we should be fine ...

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