Thursday, May 03, 2018

Fainting goat

Unlike the famous myotonic goats that eventually learn to brace all four legs so they don’t fall over when they faint, this one has just the two. Thus he’s now falling over with tiresome but unpredictable regularity.

The other two limbs come with opposable thumbs, meaning that playing a musical instrument is an option – presumably whilst not falling over with a fainting episode. Except for his hearing.

The Goat has basically been deaf in his right ear for most of his life, and has learned to live with -60dB on one side. He has a rather basic hearing aid, but stopped using it when he arrived in the Gulf and discovered that it amplifies everything without discrimination: car horns, air conditioning, screaming brats, all background conversations.

So suddenly to be rendered very deaf in the good side is an alarming inconvenience. Going more deaf in the side that is already damaged is of course too much to ask for. Brain scans have revealed nothing wrong, the Goat’s hearing was unaffected by a course of steroids and anti-virus pills, and if anything it has stabilised at a nicely level -120dB across the entire audible spectrum. The technical term is “as a post.”

So with random fainting episodes the Goat isn’t driving. He’s certainly off motorbikes for now. The Road Trip is currently on the back burner. In order to get outside at all without falling over at random and making a urine-stained spectacle of himself in Dubai Mall, he’s now using a wheelchair that Beloved Wife is obliged to push. If he’s not standing up, he can’t fall over, right?

And the Goat cannot really communicate, sing, play any of his instruments (at all, as opposed to merely at mediocre skill). He cannot use a telephone, can understand no dialogue in the cinema, and relies entirely on subtitled Netflix for entertainment.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

I must need my head examining

The long list of side-effects makes we wonder why anyone would choose to take opioids for fun. I've been prescribed the minimum level for pain management and, long story short, have been having all sorts of amazing things go wrong with me. And they're all on the 'possible side-effects' list for oxycodone.

Everything, aside from the backache that drove me to a doctor in the first place, followed on from chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and pain management drugs.

The dizzy spells I've been putting down to positional hypotension. My low blood pressure drops as I stand up, blood drains out of my brain, and until my heart bumps up the pressure I feel a bit woozy. Sometimes I have to sit down again. This only happens when I rise, so is not an issue during periods of sitting: driving is not affected, but getting out of the car can be.

But the said dizzy spells have been getting more frequent over the past month or so, and have occasionally been more spectacular. I collapsed, or at least slid down the wall outside my oncologist's office, and she put me in hospital overnight for observation. To nobody's surprise, I came up normal in all tests. I spent to following 24 hours wearing a Holter apparatus. This recorded my heart's behaviour and proved beyond reasonable doubt that my cardiac function is completely normal.

Other than my heart being two sizes too small, that is.
So off I was sent. I suspect that the cardiac move was little more than an arse-covering exercise to ensure that if I dropped dead it wasn't in Oncology.

But the dizzy spells occasionally get worse, coming with cold sweats and the occasional loss of,erm, control of natural functions. And I had what looked like a full-blown seizure last Friday. Again, one of the possible side-effects of oxycodone. I made an appointment with my pain-management doctor as early as possible. She says it's extremely unlikely to be such a tiny opioid dose, and has referred my to a neurologist.

I spent yesterday awaiting insurance approval for a brain CT scan, and everything appears normal. But tomorrow I'm due back for a MRI scan and some wires to be put on my head to make wavy lines on long rolls of paper. They won't be happy, it seems, until I'm confirmed as having a brain tumour. Grump, grump, grump.

Further grump is being caused by a sudden deafness on my left ear in addition to my normal right-ear hearing loss. Again, "...profound bilateral hearing loss..." is listed as a side-effect of oxycodone.

Long story short: If I have developed epilepsy from whatever cause, I'm banned from driving. If I go deaf I can no longer enjoy music. And those two things seem calculated to fuck up what remains of my life.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Good news, everyone

According to my oncologist, there is now no evidence of bone cancer.

I had a PET-CT scan at the very end of December, which revealed that my large bones, notably my spine and pelvis, were riddled with cancer that had evidently metastasised from the gastric cancer that is the source of these oncological blues.

One course of ten radiation therapy sessions and six sessions of FOLFOX chemo later, and last week's follow-up PET-CT scan shows no evidence of bone cancer. I have 'responded very well' to the treatment. The oncologist has kindly pointed out the the holes in my bones are probably there for life and I'm forever banned from heavy lifting, but these holes in my bones are now not filled with anything malignant.

She fell short of using the words 'cured' or even 'remission', and was cautious in being unable to advise how long the current situation would prevail. I have another six chemo sessions to go, and there will inevitably be further tests at the end of that. FOLFOX doesn 't really care what cancer it attacks, so I hope it's giving the stomach tumour a good kicking.

I'm now experimenting with reduced pain medication in an attempt to wean myself off opiates. A desirable side-effect of being off the drugs means that celebratory drinks become possible.

I am sure that my oncologist simply hates motorcycles, but I now have clearance to ride my Kawasaki 1400, subject to No Heavy Lifting. Fair enough. She says that the riding isn't a problem, and I can use the sidestand more and the centrestand less. Some riders never use the centrestand, and there are many bikes out there that only have a sidestand. I have to be big-bike fit by July in order to undertake my road trip.

Here's a shoutout to all those who have sent me their messages of goodwill and now congratulations and 'likes' on social media. This has been a source enormous psychological support to know that there are people rooting for me. Positive Mental Attitude must surely have helped, even though FOLFOX has probably been of greatest benefit. Thank you all.


Thursday, March 08, 2018

Bike flight fright

Motorcycles do not fly. At least mine doesn't.

My speculative plans  to ship my GTR over to the USA for this summer's Great American Bucket List Road Trip have come to a resounding phutt. This is because I have received a grand total of two responses from my dozen or so enquiring emails to specialist "We ship motorbikes internationally" companies. Ten have failed to see fit to respond at all to my emails or follow-up emails, and one responded with "We don't ship from the middle east."

So that leaves one.

Twenty days after enquiring I got an email response to my reminder.

"We'll get back to you in a few hours."

Some 300 hours and several further reminders later, I got my quote. Eight Thousand Dollars. That's approaching what the bike's worth. And, lest we forget, the quote excludes the costs of a vast pile of known unknowns: Door delivery using a TSA vetted trucker; VAT; other unspecified tax; Customs duty; import duty; loading and offloading; crating; airport storage.

The fact that rather a lot of these listed charges should only apply in the case of permanent import rather suggests that the shipper hasn't thought this thing through.

Temporary import requires a Carnet de Passage. This is essentially a passport for the vehicle, and basically says that it is considered road legal in the country it's visiting, and it'll be taken out of the country again. So it is an utter nonsense that the UAE authorities would charge 5% of the value of the bike upon its return to the UAE as if it's a foreign bike being imported. It would be like driving to Muscat for the weekend and being charged 5% of the value by Oman authorites and then 5% by the UAE authorities on the way back. Nonsense. The shipping company has no knowledge of the Carnet de Passage.

Compare with testimonials on websites from which I never received a response.

"We arrived at the airport and rode away on our bikes an hour later..."

The bottom line, however, is this: $8000 is prohibitive. I could buy a decent used one out of the US small ads and throw it away a month later, still saving a great wad of cash. Always assuming I could get it registered; not necessarily a given, what with me being an alien and all that.

So it looks like I'll be solving the matter by throwing money at the problem. Bike rental is around $100-$120 a day, and I've always wondered what it'd be like to spend some time on a Gold Wing.


Sunday, March 04, 2018

Plato's Cave

Like most of the people I know, I seem to get a high proportion of my outside experience from social media. Notably Facebook. Yes, like some prisoner in the Allegory of Plato's Cave, I'm getting all my information about the world from a little glowing screen and very little from real life. It's The Matrix.  From time to time something from this manufactured reality really hits home.

One such item was posted by George Takei, linking to an article possibly from the Knowable emporium of clickbaitery. In summary, one anecdote under "Unexpected Things The Doctor Said":

 "I went to the doctor with backache and came out with cancer."

 Oh yes; very familiar indeed.

Another meme, and this time quite independent of the above, was a panel that said something like:

"I weather major crises, 
and then break down 
when I can't find a teaspoon."

This too is happening to me.

DOCTOR:  "You've got incurable Stage IV cancer. We can control it, but you'll need medical intervention for the rest of your life."

ME: "I see. With treatment, can I lead a reasonably normal life?"

DOCTOR:  "Reasonably, yes."


ME: *Destructive temper tantrum because the new DVD is cracked out of the box and won't play.*

Still later...

ME:  *Massive yelling and throwing things because I'm getting no responses to my email enquiries.*

I am basically a dangerous and paranoid menace to society. Not a nice person at all. Most of the time I am just about able to keep a lid on it, but my life has been one crisis after another since 2010. See old blog posts for the litany.

2010 - Made redundant.
2011 - Made redundant (Constructively dismissed for refusing to commit fraud, actually.)
2011 - 2012  Job from Hell in Qatar Resigned after a year.
2012 - 2014  Banned from Qatar because no NOC from Job from Hell 
2014 - 2016  Job from Hell II in Qatar. Was supposed to be for six months. Contract ended after two years.
2017 - Incurable Stage IV cancer. Unable to take up new job.
2018 - With the clock ticking and, let's be frank, not much time to go, being jerked around by Officialdom over my bucket list.

ME: *Considers reasons to keep trying at all.*


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I still aten't dead

The blog and its author remain alive and kicking.

Four chemotherapy sessions down and eight to go, together with 10mg oxycontin a day, and the Goat is now, startlingly, feeling healthy and happy. The latter may possibly be because he's permanently slightly stoned on the pain medication. Or not.

Anyway, he felt so great yesterday that he took the Kawasaki out rather than the Vespa. A few errands later, including a trip to the oncology department to be unplugged from his portable drug pump, and he discovered himself in Bad Odour with Beloved Wife. Apparently he should have cleared everything with his oncologist, with particular emphasis on getting permission to ride a big bike.

Now, the Goat fully appreciates that the consequences of falling off a 1400cc Kawasaki may include broken bones. And in his current state, broken bones would be extra painful and take a long time to heal. But surely at similar speeds this applies equally to a scooter. And, come to that, tripping over a cat and plummeting down a flight of stairs might have a similar effect too.

Not that there is any intent to do any falling off. The big issue with a 305kg Kawasaki is in manoeuvring it at low speed, and this always takes care and attention. This is where pain management comes in, for any aches, twinges, or searing agonies will inevitably imperil the bike's verticality and plastic. So Zero Pain is mandatory before riding big bikes can even be considered.

Anyway, the Goat has promised Beloved Wife that he will discuss the matter at his next oncology consultation. He suspects that the doctor hates motorcycles, but must be led to understand quite how important riding is to the Goat.

On his errands yesterday, and in keeping with a remark above regarding verticality and plastic, the Goat may have scored some inexpensive rear crash bars to protect the panniers in case of a drop. They come from a police bike that was apparently thrown up the road at 80km/h, and one of them is slightly bent. The Kawasaki workshop has procured new bars for the police, and as the Goat is the only one to have expressed an interest, he might be getting the old ones. It should be possible to straighten the bar, and after polishing and powder coating it'll be all good. And a lot less than $250 from the USA plus the frightening cost of shipping several kilogrammes of scrap iron halfway around the planet.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Coming to America

My bucket list includes the Great American Road Trip by motorcycle, this being a follow-up to the 2012 epic with Beloved Wife.

Unfortunately, bone cancer (or more specifically my oncologist) has forbidden the use of large motorcycles for the near future. Fundamentally, lack of bone mass and basic body strength makes it too difficult for me to wheel a big bike around. That actually riding it would be no problem is of little relevance when you consider what happens at red traffic lights, gas stations, and overnight stops.

Actually, it came to pass a couple of days ago that I had to move my Kawasaki from the front yard to the side of the Crumbling Villa so it would be parked in a less inconvenient spot. Just wheeling it about five metres was pushing the limit of what I could manage.

None of this has stopped me planning a summer of touring the USA. The overriding assumption has to be that I'll be fit enough to ride every day for a month or so. I floated the idea on a Kawasaki Concours/1400GTR Facebook group with a basic request for opinions on options:-

  • Rent a bike commercially.  Probably at $100 a day, I'd be looking at $3000 or so. It'd not be a Concours, but someone suggested I should go large and rent a Gold Wing.
  • Buy a used one, ride it, sell it.  I'd doubtless have to get my brother-in-law to own the thing because I'm not a US resident, but assuming say $6000 purchase price, it should be easy to sell at less than $3000 loss.
  • Ship my own bike to the US and then back again.  I have no idea what this would cost, nor what administrative hoops I'd have to jump through. But if UAE-registered Ferraris can spend summer in Knightsbridge, the principle is at least feasible. I've asked a shipper for cost and details.

Responses from the Facebook group where overwhelmingly positive, with offers of help, temporary accommodation, and one guy even offering to lend me his bike. "Get yourself to Texas with a license and insurance."

There were also many messages of support regarding the cancer. It seems surprising how many people have been or are are going through similar to me. This trip, if I can pull it off, might conceivably turn into a "Route 66 Defiant Cancer-Surviving Old Gits tour"

Back to Dubai and reality for a moment, and a note that I disgraced myself with Beloved Wife's Vespa yesterday. For the first time ever in my life, I dropped a motorcycle away from myself while attempting to put it on the centre stand, and fell over on top of it. Angry and embarrassed, I now have an exceptionally painful shoulder. The scooter's fine, but the incident serves to illustrate that I am currently in no fit state to be aboard anything heavy.


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.