The Waiting – November – The holey path

Are the most annoying roads the ones that have corrugations stretching from edge to edge? Or is the most annoying road the one riddled with potholes that requires significant weaving around to avoid clunking into each hole?

Holes are definitely to be avoided on the road, unless you like truing wheels and replacing rims. And, of course, avoiding extra holes in your body is a healthy path to follow, also. In April 2020, a dog gave me two pretty deep holes in my calf muscle when he attacked me. In November 2021, it was a surgeon and associated medical staff that put eight holes in me.

But that was just a few days ago. What else did we get up to in October and November?

Sadly, there wasn’t much adventure. Six months into the pain and nausea and it had become incredibly debilitating. I could only stay upright for about 1.5 hours before I needed to lay down, such was the pain. My digestion was terrible and I could not eat more than a half cup of food at a time, and the only foods that were remotely safe to eat were bananas and lettuce. I was beyond miserable. Friends and family became increasingly concerned.

But in my upright hours I would spend time sipping hot water while looking at my ‘roads ridden’ map. I looked at the big green spaces that need to be ridden. I plotted potential routes for the future when all the pain is gone…. whenever that might be.

If you can’t go ride, you can at least hang out in front of the map and plot future routes.
All that green stuff is just waiting to be ridden. We’ll be wandering around all of that later next year. For sure. 100 percent.

On one low pain (hahahhahahaha!) day with the most perfect weather ever, I talked Nigel into helping me launch the floatilla. I’ve wanted to do this for several years but have not gotten around to it. We’ve had the fish boat for about a decade. And I bought all the little floaties I could find while inflatable drink holders were in fashion between 2017-2019, knowing that someday they would disappear. So I thought I’d get a big supply so Verne and Kermit would have back-ups and back-ups of back-ups. This also meant we could do a bit of an Australian Armada for fun. And it was fun!

The floatie floatilla or the Australian Armada. Yes, I’m not right in the head, but I don’t care. It’s a lot of fun!

Nigel had also booked to drive the race car again at Mt Panorama in Bathurst. I was in no condition to cycle tour there or back, as I had hoped. I felt terrible but still had fun supporting him in the things that make him happy. He improved substantially over last year, consistently going 15kph faster in every part of the track and managing to hit 212 kph on Conrad Straight (the pros in the real cars get top speeds close to 300kph). The instructor even let him use 4th gear over the top of the mountain even though they usually make you stay in third.

Nigel waving his arms so I know which car he will be in.

Take a ride around the track with him in the lap below. This track is one of the most challenging circuits in the world with some of the steepest grades of any circuit track. Believe me, the steep, curvy stuff he is doing at 100kph or more at the top of the track is pretty scary even at 60 kph (the track is a public road and he’s taken me for a lap before).

We used Dom’s Dine and Discover vouchers to go to the National Motor Museum at Mt Panorama, too. The state-sponsored vouchers include two $25 restaurant vouchers and two $25 vouchers for museums, art galleries etc. It’s a waste of COVID recovery money, as no one needs any incentive to head out and do stuff after being in long lockdowns! But thanks, Dom (NSW Premier), we ‘discovered’.

That’s a 1974 XA GT Falcon (I think!). Nigel’s pride and joy, a 1975 Landau, is the luxury version of this car.

On our way back from Bathurst, we did stop at the Ages of Fishes Museum in Canowindra for me. I’ve wanted to go there since 2006, so this was a tick off the Bucket List for me. The fossils here are of international significance and only about 1/5 of the deposit has been excavated. The density and diversity of the fish fossils was so fascinating. I was in nerd heaven!!!! Nigel found it very interesting, too, and we were lucky to be the only ones there (no school groups).

Just one of the slabs showing the fish fossils. The fossils are from the Devonian, and some of the fish are unknown anywhere else in the world. They have only pulled out about 1/5 of the fossils so far and already have over 400 tonnes of slabs on site in a big shed.

You can read more about this amazing but little known place here:

We also stopped and spent the night in Temora – hoping to go to the Chinese restaurant there so Nigel could get his favourite “Peking Pork Spareribs”. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed, but we were able to visit the Temora Aviation Museum.

The Temora Aviation Museum is built on the site of the biggest and longest lasting RAAF Elementary Flying Training School during World War II. 10 EFTS was established in May 1941 and training ceased in May 1945. A total of 2,527 pilots were trained in Tiger Moths at Temora with another 111 being partially trained.

This Tiger Moth is the oldest airworthy example in Australia. The Tiger Moth is an open tandem cockpit biplane that has a fuselage constructed from steel tubing and covered in a combination of fabric and thin plywood. The wings and tail plane are constructed of timber and covered with fabric. The Gypsy Major engine, fitted to VH-UVZ, was manufactured, under license, by General Motors Holden in Australia. De Havilland manufactured 8,811 DH 82 Tiger Moths between 1931 and 1945. A total of seven countries produced the Tiger Moth.
VH-UVZ was the second DH-82A imported from the UK into Australia and was registered on 12 August 1936 to Airflite Ltd at Mascot in Sydney.
(Text from Temora Aviation Museum website).

All of the historic military aircraft are kept in flying condition. Many of the planes are the only airworthy ones in Australia, or in some cases, the world. We had a guided tour and were impressed with the aircraft stories. They were getting ready for a flying weekend (where they take the planes out and demo them), so we were treated to a Blackhawk helicopter showing off as it flew in for the weekend.

You can read all about this really cool place here:

After all of the racing and museum ‘discovering’, it was home to lay around in pain and live out this year’s journal title for a bit longer…. just waiting…. on my gastroscopy follow-up appointment.

And so on Wednesday the 24th, I drove down to Wangaratta to get the gastroscopy results. The surgeon told me that everything came back okay, so he thought the next step would be to remove my gallbladder. We chatted a bit more about my intensifying pain, significant weight loss and other worsening symptoms (e.g. I can puke when I sneeze or breathe too deeply). He had me lay down on the table. He was concerned about how sore I was when he pushed around on my upper abdomen. (I did not puke on him, but it was a possibility).

And this is how “The Waiting” for help with 8 months of worsening symptoms became resolved.

He sent me across the street to the Emergency Department. He called over and told them to admit me to the hospital, and that he would do emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder the next day when he was on call.

24 hours later, at 3pm on Thanksgiving Day, I was gallbladder-less. Upon examination, the gallbladder was inflamed, contracted and adhered to my small intestine. It was at high risk of rupturing, so it needed to be gone.

As soon as I was back to the ward after the surgery, I noted that all that nausea, all that feeling like I could puke at any time for the last 8 months, all of that was gone. I had a lot of pain, but it was not the same pain I had pre-surgery. It was just pain from all those holes (2 blood test holes, 2 infusion site holes, 4 laparoscopic surgery holes).

Recovery is speeding along. Once back to the ward I looked about 8 months pregnant. By Friday afternoon, I only looked 6 months pregnant. By Saturday I could walk around the block. 70 hours post-surgery on Sunday I went for a 5km walk.

The pain is rapidly diminishing. The swelling, which is a combination of wound trauma, the CO2 gas they pump into you to expand the abdominal cavity, and constipation from the narcotics, is going down slowly.

72 hours post-surgery. Arms raised. 4 holes and a very bloated belly. I suppose a side view would have better shown how swollen my abdomen is, but I wanted to show where the holes were since my parents thought I would have 3 holes instead of 4. The swelling should subside over the next week. It’s a combo of trauma, the gas they pump into you to expand the abdominal cavity so they can see what they’re doing, and bloating/constipation from the narcotics. I’ve never felt so distended in my life!

They were confident I would have a trouble-free recovery and didn’t even send me home with prescription painkillers. I am allowed back to normal daily activities in one week (my 5km walk today might have been a bit early at 70 hours post-surgery!). I am allowed back on the bike for gentle rides in two weeks. I am allowed back to strenuous exercise in six weeks.

So, yeah, 2022 is in my sights. It is going to be a much better year! And I am FINALLY, after 4.5 years, going to reclaim my health!!!!!!!!

18 thoughts on “The Waiting – November – The holey path

  • FINALLY some good health news, which should mean some exciting adventures by gallbladder-less Emily for us to read about.

    You are right about holes, they’re almost never a good thing. Not for bicyclists, not for anybody. Nobody wants to have a hole in the head, a hole in one’s logic, or to go down a rabbit hole. But I think you’re wrong about the floatie flotilla you created. I think it demonstrates that you ARE right in the head.

    • Thank you for your support of the floatie floatilla. I would not be game to do that on a day with much wind, or out on the open waters of the dam, so that little inlet on a calm day was just perfect.

  • Hi Emily. That map will get a work over during the next week or two. I have to let you know that Ernie is jealous ‘cos he didn’t get to be in the flotilla with all his mates. Don’t worry – he will have adventures of his own in Tassie. Now, rest up, get well and, in a little while, get gently cycling!

    • Yes, Ernie’s personality is one that wants to be part of the action. I’m confident he’ll have lots of fun with you down in Tassie though, so I don’t feel guilty he missed out. The Ernie that lives in my car did get to join the floatilla. Off soon to go car camping up along the Murray River Road for the rest of the week. Might as well relax somewhere scenic, and I’m pretty confident I can work out a way to get in and out of the tent at this point.

  • Hello Em,
    Having missed you over at 365, I thought to check in here to see what has happened with you. So sorry you have been terribly sick, but it seems that this Thanksgiving has better news for your immediate future. I am glad to learn that you are on the mend and soon will be back on your saddle for at least a few short rides to start with. Take care (I know you do) and happy trails coming up.

    • Thank you, Nancy, for your well wishes and tracking me down. I’m recovering quickly from the surgery and even went car camping for four days this week. I should be healed just in time for all the heat and flies, lol! I have really cut back on my internet time since July and deleted all my social media accounts in an effort to help get my energy back – so this had cut into my Cycle 365 time… and then I just felt too terrible to do much there for a bit. I’ll get ’round to Cycle365 soon. I hope you are well and autumn has not been too rainy. I will check in soon!

  • Hi Em,
    Just checked your site. Glad you got that nasty gall bladder out in time and hope recovery is progressing as it should. It must have been a great relief to be rid of the constant nausea and to have at last gotten a diagnosis and treatment. Hope you get your energy back and can look in at Cycle365 sometime. All just as crazy as ever. Greg is being a good czar and his subjects are happy with his challenges. Take care!

    • Thanks, Suzanne. I’m feeling heaps and heaps better. My energy is slowly returning and has been over the past 6 months. That gallbladder made me really unwell there for awhile and I’m so relieved to have it gone. I’ve missed Cycle 365 and I’ll get back over there in the new year. I’ve been busy with a few other things and am just now starting to ride again. I’m hoping to take off on the bike for a few days starting Monday. Hope you are getting some okay winter weather for riding and are keeping up the tai chi and fitness classes. See you soon and Merry Christmas!

    • Thanks, Rich. I’ll get back to Cycle 365 in the new year. Since the gallbladder removal, I’ve been out camping, spent a week over on the coast visiting my old cycling neighbour, and taking time to finish up a course I’ve been working on the past 6 months.

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