Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Tim asked a very good question:  does the current post feel like a hardship assignment?

To be honest, I am not sure that 'real life' wouldn't feel equally like hardship.  I've done this for what feels like so long (current stint 11 years) that I have forgotten what it might feel like to be settled. 

When I am home in Australia staying with my elderly parents, I have to guard against my impulse to buy groceries as if facing the siege.  Here, and on previous posts, groceries are problematical.  Things appear in the shop in reasonable quantities and then disappear, never to be seen again.   I remember once waiting for six months for worcestershire sauce to be restored to me.  Although the varierty has improved, one French chain of supermarkets has enormous shops the size of hangers, with whole aisles, from foot to ceiling, ten or more metres, of the same thing:  same brand, same size, same close-date-expiry.  The worst is the search for edible fruit and vegetables ... but oh that has to be another post.

Marius has a great job, satisfying, demanding, interesting:  world leading in his field.  We've past the nest egg stage, and really, we are not into a wardrobe of fast cars, gold bangles and designer everything.  We are very fortunate, financially, I know.  We can afford to go on nice holidays and stay at decent places, but again we don't do much of the 5-star stuff.

We pay, emtionally, through the nose, as you would have gathered.  The biggest external hardship though, is the medical system, and for me that is a real problem.  I have an exceedingly rare (1-10 in 1 million) disease that nobody knows how to treat, and I have been in more hospitals and seen more doctors than you can count.  The medical system here is good, virtually free and ...  oh god, impossible.  I have monthly infusions of immunoglobulin in a room that looks like a scene from a newscast about a suicide bombing, where they bring the dead and dying in on wheelbarrows, only without the blood and body parts.  There are twenty of us packed into a four-bed room, some on stretchers, the sick ones in hospital beds (lucky me), in arm chairs, in wheel chairs and waiting room type chairs.  I share a drip stand ...  strangely, the room is mixed, with a dividing curtain.  I have been promoted now and I usually get to be with the ladies.  Waiting rooms for clinics, pathology, emergency, are all segregated, so if my husband brings me, we either stand together in a corridor, or he has to wait outside.  If he ever has to bring me to emergency, we haven't worked out what we will do, because men are not allowed in to the ladies' emergency, at all.

Sorry, I'm ranting.

Yes, I guess you would call it a hardship posting, but there are much worse ones that I will never try:  we have an agreement.



Shaista said...

Immuno-globulins every month?? I love IVIg treatment :) I never have any side effects with them. Always make me feel better. Definitely curious about where you are, that makes these treatments available! But twenty to a room??
Do hope the Unseen Hardship is bearable, although the answer to that question really depends on the day doesn't it?

jabblog said...

You are a stoic, obviously - and more, a survivor with a sense of humour. I doubt I would find it amusing to have the 'choice' you find in the supermarket.

Tim Jones said...

I'm glad my little comment inspired a post! I can see that, with such a disease, anywhere might feel like a hardship assignment...

I found the "hardship assignment" concept in Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars":

... it made him realize, all of a sudden, that Mars could be just another version of the hardship assignment ...

In the course of KSR's Mars trilogy, Deimos is launched out of Mars orbit, while Phobos is launched on a collision cause with the planet itself. Dread driven away and Fear vanquished - a psychological triumph!

Isabel Doyle said...

I wasn't going to mention the illness, and probably won't again, unless it comes up in ravings about the medical dramas ... I actually think in many ways it is the least of the problems being here. My biggest challenges are the clash of values and ethics - rich pickings for a future post or posts, no doubt.

but I like the comparison with Mars - I have often thought about us being on the backside of the moon.

susan t. landry said...

i dont read much science fiction...but some of your descriptions are so other-world-like, parallel universe-like....i find it all ominous, and fascinating. thank you for posting this adjunct blog, with your riveting descriptions. i am sorry, tho, to hear of your illness.
all best,