I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad). The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.
1. I’m Australian and I’m bossy (if people aren’t doing things the way I believe is the best way I’m inclined to want to take over to make sure it gets done right). I'm opinionated (although you may not see this if we’re not good friends because I shut myself up to avoid offending anyone). I’m loud (I talk loud, laugh loud, sneeze loud – I’m always being told to “shhh” for some reason or other). I’m always nice and polite to everyone I meet, even if they don’t always bother to return the favour (especially those in retail or other service industries - I know that when I worked at my local supermarket it was always nice if the customers said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and smiled at me, so I make an effort to do the same for others). I have (IMHO) a great sense of humour (I’ll remember jokes, especially from Friends, days later and they’ll still crack me up). I believe Australia is the best country to live in, and I live in the best city in the best country (Melbourne) and most of the time I’m pretty proud of my country (most, not all, as there are some things we do as a country or our politicians do on behalf of the country that I don’t agree with).
2. I’m a type 1 diabetic who isn’t always well-behaved. I take my insulin and try to remember to do a blood test at least once a day (especially now, while I’m on a skiing holiday in Canada, as all that extra exercise can make my blood sugar go crazy), but I don’t follow a diabetic diet religiously (or sometimes at all). I’m not much of a between-meal snacker (because then I can’t eat my upcoming main meal, which is far more interesting than half a bag of chips) and although I enjoy dessert I’m not obsessed with it - I’ll get a tub of ice cream because it’s hot (or going to be hot), put it in the freezer and then forget about it for a week, and by that time it’s not hot anymore so I’ll leave it till it’s hot again and by that time someone else has already eaten it. Then when I ask what happened to that ice cream whoever ate it will say “Oh that? I ate that two weeks ago. Didn’t you notice?” and I’m like “No! I forgot it was there.” So, my main weakness and challenge with following a good diabetic diet is carbohydrate, cheese and butter, and portion control. My favourite meal of all-time is (good) fettuccine Carbonara (pasta, cheese, butter and a huge bowl of it – worst meal ever in terms of being a diabetic). I would be perfectly happy eating a pair of soft-poached eggs on buttered and lightly Marmite-d (New Zealand alternative to Vegemite) white toast and fettuccine Carbonara for the rest of my life – the only problem being how short that life would be on that diet.
On a funny note, I remember one day in year 8, I would have been about 14, our usual science teacher was sick so we had a substitute. For unknown reasons she decided to talk about diabetes. Without mentioning my status (which, while not being a secret wasn’t well-known), I answered her questions (posed to the class like a verbal quiz) in (for the teacher and most of the students, except for my friends) surprising detail. There was one boy, Dylan, who wasn’t well liked by the guys or the girls (but especially not the girls) who, after I’d answered one question too many stood up and yelled out “I know! She’s got diabetes!” No one said anything, not even the teacher, but I turned around, and, in my most sarcastic voice, said “It’s not like it’s contagious or anything.” The rest of the class laughed and Dylan went red and sat down. That was probably my proudest high school moment.
3. I’ve had multiple heart surgeries. When I was born it was almost immediately noticed that I couldn’t keep anything down and that I had a strange blue tinge. Unfortunately, in those days the doctors were determined not to do any (what they considered) unnecessary invasive tests on new-born babies. They did all the external tests they could, but they all came up normal. My mum hounded the doctors, insisting they did these more invasive tests and eventually the doctors threw up their hands in surrender and did what my mum asked. I believe that if she hadn’t fought to get them do those tests they would have worked out what was wrong too late, and I would have died before my first birthday. The invasive test they didn’t want to do was to insert a camera through my back, near the right shoulder blade, to see if they could see any abnormalities. This left me with a scar over the shoulder blade approximately 10 cm long, curving to almost come under my arm. The doctors found I had a hole in my heart. They did open heart surgery which, in 1984/85, involved taking my heart out of my chest and putting me on bypass while they patched what turned out to be two holes. I was six months old at the time. I was also lucky in that I managed to avoid being given AIDS infected blood during my surgery. Other children who had blood transfusions at the same hospital weren’t so lucky.
I was subjected to more heart surgery around the age of five when I began to have serious trouble breathing during any kind of exertion. I only remember one actual instance of this, when I was in prep on the hockey field for sport and found I couldn’t run more than a few steps before having to stop. I was quickly taken to our family GP, who was also a family friend and neighbour, who said he could hear a ‘whooshing’ sound when he listened to my chest. That meant I needed to have a camera inserted through an artery in my right groin up to the heart to have a look. That’s left me with a two or three cm scar right where the leg joins the pelvis (it’s so hard to see that I hardly even remember that it’s there anymore). What they saw, and what sent me into another open heart surgery, was a large growth that was blocking the flow of blood either to or from (I can’t remember which) the heart, which meant the heart had to pump ten times harder in order to push the blood around my body (no one’s sure whether the growth was there when they did my first surgery, just tiny, or if something they did during the surgery could have caused it to grow). Luckily for me they were able to use my previous scar to open me up again, so I only have one scar from the two most major of my operations, three altogether. My main scar is about 20 cm long and stretches from just below my collar bone down through the middle to where my abs would begin, if they weren’t invisible. I’m not bothered by any of my scars, at all. I remember in grade 5 swimming class getting teased because I had two “belly buttons” (at the base of the main scar there are two drain scars and one of them is slightly convex, giving it a ‘belly button’ appearance). After that I always changed in the toilet stalls. In year 12, when I was 18, somehow my English class got to talking about how babies and children who had open heart surgery in the 80s usually died, I stuck my hand up and said “I survived.” You could have heard a pin drop. It was actually quite funny, as it’s nothing special to me, but they obviously had no idea that they’d been going to school with a ‘miracle 80s infant heart surgery survivor’ (none of my friends were in that class).
4. I love to type. That’s why my comments can be a bit long-winded, and why this is going to end up being 3000 words (this is word number 1382 already). I’m trained as an audio medical transcriptionist which combines my two loves – typing and not going to an office for work. I tried working in a number of different offices, but no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried to get along with everyone and be as biddable as possible it never lasted more than three months. After the fourth office terminated my contract weeks before the three month probationary period was up I decided office work was not for me. I tried working in a supermarket and was there for four years, but it was really hard on my feet (and therefore my back) and my self-esteem. My front end (checkout) manager was constantly ‘talking’ to me about my speed on the checkout. She wanted me to go faster, but the customers wanted precision packing – I couldn’t do both, one would always suffer, and it was usually the speed. In the end I’d had enough and a few weeks before Christmas (she was always wanting me to work right up to Christmas, which made going with the family to the beach house a bit difficult) 2010 I handed in my notice. About two months later, after the family’s annual ski trip, I happened across a site that talked about a guaranteed medical transcription work from home job straight from the training (which they said could be finished in six months), which was done over the internet. It actually took me two years to do the course, but it was worth it. Now I spend my days typing up doctor’s reports (10-12 cents a line), for as long or as little time as I want (I’m working now, while I’m on holiday, just less hours than usual), and in my spare time reading books, writing reviews, reading comments, commenting on the comments and cooking.
5. I love to cook, which feeds into my number two, making it worse because I love to cook rich Italian food (cooking or eating, I don’t like steamed chicken, fish or vegetables). Pasta, roasts, casseroles, risotto, anything with cheese – it’s all good. I grew up cooking with my grandma (dad’s mother). She always cooked the Christmas cake and pudding and I remember helping her stir it in a giant mixing bowl or with her ancient electric mixer. When I was diagnosed with diabetes she was the one who made the effort to find diabetic recipes (not easy to do in 1992 without access to the internet) and cook them for me so I wouldn’t feel left out if everyone else was having cake. I went to a diabetes camp every January for years, and she would send me off each year with a little notebook and pencil so I could get all the details for the diabetic recipes that a camp for diabetics would surely have. She never realised that the camp leaders were almost invariably young-adult diabetics (18-25) and not the best role models. For breakfast we would have pancakes with lemon and sugar, we would have marshmallows around the campfire for supper; the one good thing I did learn at camp was how to do my own injections (before that I was too scared and my mum was doing them for me). I think the camp leaders were of the opinion that we should come to camp to have a good time, not to learn how to follow a diabetic diet (not sure of the intelligence of that opinion, but anyway). My favourite cookbooks are written by Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Lidia Bastianich and Ina Garten and I’m the proud owner of each chef’s entire collection (except for Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, which doesn’t really mesh with my idea of cooking – take your time and enjoy the process as well as the eating).
As I said, this is going to be a long one, so long that I’ve decided to make it a two-parter (also it’s getting late and I wanted to get what I’ve written so far posted before going to bed). So look out for part two, numbers six to ten, tomorrow or the next day (depending on my energy level post morning-ski). Good night.