Time Rolls Slowly in a Surgery Waiting Room

11:41am – We got the second update from the surgical assistant who said “everything looked great” but that there was no real new information.   I did get a chance to ask him if he was actually in the surgical room and he said, “Yes, I am standing in the surgical room.”  He let me know that he is not part of the surgical team and that no, he doesn’t have to leavHDU_hospitalboard_hooknamee the room to make the calls.  I did ask about whether the phone was covered up in plastic and he said, “No. I just use it regularly.”   Isn’t that wild?  I think it’s wonderful that hospitals even thought to have someone call family members because the waiting is agonizing.

12:19pm – A technician rolled in a trolley cart full of complimentary cheese & wine.  Okay, just kidding about the wine and cheese but the cart was piled high with healthy snacks, fun snacks, bottled water, and soda.

1:00pm-ish – The front desk check-in person who had been here since 5am stopped to ask us when our last call from the surgical assistant was and to reassure us that someone would probably be calling soon.   That was thoughtful of him to ask after us especially since he was on his way out and headed home for the day.  It makes me feel like we’re not forgotten.

1:45pm – Another technician rolled in a second trolley of freebies.   It may not seem like a big deal to have someone pushing a cart full of edibles in front of you, but when you’re spending too much time in a waiting room, a trolley of freebies is a nice touch.

It is about half past two right now and we have not had another call from the surgical assistant since the 11:41 call.   In the waiting room with me is my sister-in-law, Mary Joy.  I’ve since learned that anyone could have come to the surgery waiting room.  Who knew? 

I’m sure that third call is coming from the surgical assistant.   We knew this was going to be a long surgery and it’s only been five and a half hours.  I’m sure they don’t want to call until they can be specific with an update.

Thanks for waiting with me.

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It’s All About the Surgeon

At 9:12am, I received a phone call from the surgical assistant that Hook was anesthetized with all IVs running at full speed and that everything looked good.  Wow!  They call you from—what?—a medium clean room or maybe the cell is in a plastic bag and the surgical assistant is punching the numbers with a gloved hand.  I’ll have to ask him the next time he calls.

HDU_AllAboutTheSurgeonPoor Hook was so hungry when they rolled him away on the gurney this morning at 8am.  He was on a liquid diet all day yesterday with absolutely zero fluids after midnight last night.   When the surgeon came to see us this morning, he assured Hook he could have a juicy hot meal….in about a week.

I take back all the Facebook grief I gave our surgeon for his cell calls, and felt reassured once I saw him this morning looking rested and eager to get to work as he shook our hands.  When Hook got a little emotional just before we parted, I said, “I feel like you’re in good hands.  I think if anyone can do this, he can.”   The anesthesiologist and the surgical assistant were listening to us and piped in with their own feedback:  “He’s good.  He’s very good, and we don’t say that about all of them.  When we don’t say anything then it’s time to worry.”

The next scheduled update from the surgical assistant may be at the halfway mark of 2-ish or they could decide to wait until Hook goes into post-op which could be as early as 4-ish.

Room #:  Still Pending

I did find out that I will not know Hook’s private room number for a couple of days because after post-op, he will remain in ICU for one to two nights which means I won’t be allowed to spend the first night after all.   This also means only immediate family will be allowed in to see him today and tomorrow (Friday).

On Friday/Saturday, the surgeon will determine whether Hook is fine to move out of ICU and into an Intermediate room.  Hook will stay in the Intermediate room until he can get up out of bed with help.  After the Intermediate room, Hook will be assigned his Private Room.

People have asked if there’s anything they can do, and yes, there is and I’ll be forever in your debt (choose 1 or all of the below):

–          Pray for Hook (if you believe in the power of prayer).

–          Follow this blog so updates are automatically pushed out to you.  This will help minimize calls, texts, emails.  I promise to make you chuckle from time to time.

–          Mail a Get Well card if you feel so inclined.  I only mention the Get Well cards because I think Dr. No told people not to send anything, didn’t have time to read darn cards, etc.  Well, yes he will have time and yes, it will mean a lot to him to see cards.   Address:  Allan W. Hook, c/o St. David’s Medical Center, Room #: pending, 919 E 32nd St. Austin, TX 78705 … OR…to our P.O. Box 151240, Austin, TX 78715-1240

Some folks have asked for our physical, home address, and I’m reluctant to give that because a) I will not be at home, and b) If it’s something that can fit into our mailbox then it can fit into our P. O. box which is pretty huge.   If it cannot fit in our home mailbox, then the post office will put a note in our mailbox and I’ll have to go wait in a line to pick it up.  Can you hear me whining about that already?

I appreciate your kind thoughts and desires to send stuff but I beg of you to please resist the urge to send anything more than a card unless you can hand deliver it.   #Thankyoufromthebottomofmyheart

Medical Details

I won’t be sharing any of the gory details of Hook’s surgery because, well, ick.  Plus, some of you may be eating like I am right now.  I can share that Hook is not having a Whipple procedure which is the most common type of pancreatic surgery.  Hook’s tumor resides in a most inconvenient place on the pancreas, and our surgeon in his Plan A will remove the tumor and leave the entire pancreas intact.  Plan B is to perform the Whipple.  Plan C is to save what he can of the pancreas.

Yes, You Can Survive Without a Pancreas

I didn’t know that either but yes you can live without a pancreas.  If you remove the pancreas, though, you’ll have to become a diabetic and inject insulin into your body for the rest of your life.  That’s not a result we want to have, but it was reassuring to know that it’s possible to live without a pancreas if we had to.  We.

Medical advancements amaze me yet we still don’t know the big purpose of tonsils and the appendix.   I’m sure hundreds of years from now when we are all long gone, some doctor or scientist will have an Aha moment and all the mysteries of tonsils, appendices, and pancreata will be revealed.

Visiting Hours / Estimated Time in Hospital

There are no visiting hours, ever.   This is what Hook would have me tell you because, bless his heart, he doesn’t want people to see him when he’s not 100%.  Since only family members will be allowed into ICU, those of you who are determined to see Hook in the hospital should plan on waiting until Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Once Hook moves from ICU into an Intermediate room, he’ll still be in a drug-induced, quasi-lucid state via a self-medicating finger clicker.  (If that were me, I’d be clicking that thing into oblivion.)  But when he does move from the Intermediate room into a Private room, Hook will be more open to visitors.

Estimated time in the hospital:  10 days.  It sounds long, I know, but the surgeon said this is normal for this type of surgery.   Hook has to be mobile and a few bodily functions have to be working before he’ll be released.   TMI?  I’m so exhausted I can no longer determine what’s appropriate to share and not to share anymore. Have to take a nap now and will post another update in a few hours.

It’s all about the surgeon right now and I mean exactly right now so pray, pray for that surgeon, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for reading.  It makes me feel less alone to know people are reading this and waiting for an update.

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Just How Exciting is Surgery Anyway?

Exciting might be the wrong adjective.  Intense, queasy-filling, thought-vomiting … should I continue?   I had no idea the amount of preparation that goes into even the siHDU_SugeryPreOpPaperworkmplest of surgeries let alone the super duper we-are-going-to-cut-you-MEGAWIDE-open ones.   I had major surgery 15 years ago, so specialized in nature I still can’t pronounce or spell what it was called, but I don’t remember the masochistic surgical paperwork and day long visit to the surgical center before ever checking in.

When the Complex Becomes Even More Complex

In today’s world of surgical pre-op, there are appointments and paper galore, and the telling and re-telling and then telling some more of your medical history.  Has this industry never heard of streamlining the information?  A day full of meeting with surgical internists on what’s going to happen in the surgery room was unenlightening.  In fact, Hook and I probably should have invited them to have appointments with us because it seemed we were correcting their information more than we were being educated.

Thanks to Hook’s surgeon (cell phone manners aside), I can visualize with clarity what’s going to happen in the surgical room.  I know what Hook’s pancreas looks like, I know what it’s supposed to look like, and I know all the different options the surgeon and his surgical co-pilot plan to use.  A good surgeon has a back-up plan going into surgery.   Our surgeon has a plan, a back-up plan, and a back-up to the back-up.  Let’s pray he can execute.

Get Well Cards:  Hospital or Home

For those thinking, ‘Give us details we can use!’ please feel free to send Get Well Dammit cards to:

Allan W. Hook
c/o St. David’s Medical Center
Room #:   pending
919 E 32nd St.
Austin, TX 78705


Allan Hook
P.O. Box 151240
Austin, TX 78715-1240

(Yes, we live in a P.O. Box and there’s not much room for new furniture.)

As soon as I know Hook’s hospital room number, I will update the blog along with some visiting hours information.  I know he will be touched to see get well cards no matter what he may have told folks.   My ornery, old fool can be quite sentimental behind closed doors.

Our schedule tomorrow will look like this:

6:00am:  Check in for surgery

7:00am:  Fawn over Hook and plant quick kisses all over his little curmudgeonly face

8:00am:  Surgery begins

9:00am:  Begin fretting and avoiding contact with the general public and flare my nostrils at every person who answers their cell phone in the waiting room.  Please spare me my phone ringing.  It would be embarrassing to spend an entire morning giving others the evil eye for talking on their cells only to have mine start ringing. 😀

10:00am:  Post blog about how the waiting room needs to be updated ASAP to meet my needs

Surgery exciting?  No, but it is excitable and not the good kind either.  Oh man do I wish I were a crying sort of woman.

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The Beginning of Thanks not the End of It

I didn’t miss posting about Thanksgiving in Australia simply because there is no Thanksgiving in Australia at least not in the month of November.   Thanksgiving is one of the few U.S. holidays that is unique to Americans and oddly enough not grossly over commercialized.   We’re too busy giving thanks I guess.

Australia’s Thanksgiving

Australians have what some rumors call a National Day of Thanksgiving in the month of May.  It sounds like it was something conjured up by a Christian network in the mid-2000s and maybe (or maybe not) recognized by the Australian government.   But do Aussies actually celebrate this National Day of Thanksgiving?  I can only wonder without some Aussie input.

It doesn’t bother me that other countries might create their own day of thanks. Maybe your thanks will override our thanks since I’m sure everyone is not thankful enough.   I can already hear people saying out loud (mostly Americans probably), “I’m thankful, I am!”   Be more thankful.   If you’re healthy and you know it, clap your hands and be so very, very thankful.

No Thanks, Scary Thanks & Real Thanks

There is inner turmoil between my bethankful woman and my I’mpissedandscared woman and since this is not a Thanksgiving blog but only sounds like one, let me share my lists of No Thanks, Scary Thanks, and Real Thanks.

  • I give no thanks, nothing, nada, zilch to the doctors who have been treating Hook for the past six months but do not see him as a person.   Do I expect too much?  Maybe.  Except Hook represents for these doctors one of very few patients who is likely to become candy-free.   He’s not just a statistic so stop treating him like a number!
  • No thanks to– I have to say it: cancer.  That disgusting blob of killjoy which attaches itself to healthy cells and feeds off organs like a parasite.  With all the fat floating around in the universe, why couldn’t cancer attach itself to cellulite? We’d all sign up for it then.
  • More no thanks to a healthcare system that didn’t allow for a nurse practitioner to help Hook and me navigate the healthcare process until …wait for it…six months after we’d been navigating the system on our own.   In fact, I’ve been so upset about this for the past week that I couldn’t even post a blog.  (Yes, I’m blaming healthcare for my lack of writing!  Genius, no?)  No thanks for the added layer of bureaucracy.
  • A big fat no thanks to Hook’s oncologist who loves to answer a question with a question.  When I asked, “Should we get a second opinion?”  He answered, “Why do you feel you need a second opinion?” and I said, “Let me ask that another way.  Would you recommend we get a second opinion?”   His answer, “You could.”    Thanks for nothing, but shhhh, don’t tell Hook I wrote this.  He likes his fist-bumping oncologist.
  • Finally, I am not at all thankful for mastering the art of living-in-limbo in a constant state of ‘wait and see.’  It sucks.

Okay.  The no thanks is off my chest.   That was my fear and frustration talking.   Now let’s hear from my heart.

Scary Thanks

Scary thanks are those thanks I give because I know it could be worse (way worse).  I know I’ve somehow skated by and I’m not quite sure why I get to be part of the lucky group.  Scary thanks are those cosmic chuckles we all give from time to time when Good Blessings aren’t checking I.D.s at the door because not all of us would be admitted:

  • I give thanks that my life’s circumstances aren’t worse or worse than yours whoever you are whose life is worse than mine.
  • I give thanks that my husband is who he is, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.  If things get worse, please remind me that I wrote this.
  • I give thanks for those nurses who do answer our questions, who give us frank advice when it’s not always in their best, political interest to do so.  God bless all nurses always.

Real Thanks

  • For our families.
  • For our wealth of friends.
  • For our lack of debt because we like to live like monks.
  • For my work-from-home business.
  • For my stupid cat.

I’ll always be thankful that life in Australia was even a possibility, is still a possibility, and who knows maybe next May when some Australians celebrate a Day of Thanks, the Hooks will be celebrating with them.  It’s the beginning of thanks, not the end of it.  Sing it with me people!

Hook’s Surgery is Dec 6th  I’ll probably post twice that day.   I’ll either post or spontaneously combust and you can read about it on Twitter.  😦

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Where a Pancreas and Halloween Collide

Is it kosher to get excited about a pancreas?

We’re not frying it up in a pan or planning to serve it for Thanksgiving or anything, but we are pretty jazzed about Hook’s pancreas right now.   (Those are jazz hands on that tumor by the way.)  And just so you know how excited, this morning’s grocery list looked like this:

  • bananas
  • tequila
  • body lotion

Bananas are our breakfast of choice, the body lotion is for Hook because of the radiation, and the tequila is for momma.  🙂

Last week, Hook and I met with the oncologist and learned that the mass on his pancreas has shrunk and that “everything looks great, better than we expected.” Then yesterday, Hook and I met with the surgeon to hear whether he and his pancreatic posse believed Hook’s pancreas was good enough to be operated on.  The answer was “Yes,” and surgery has been tentatively set for Thursday, December 6th.  We’ll know more after meeting with the oncologist after Thanksgiving.

When we showed up for the appointment with the surgeon, he looked at us both and asked, “So how are things going?”

I answered truthfully, “Well, there’s been some nausea, increasing hair loss, and not much sleep.”

The surgeon replied, “I hadn’t realized he had those side effects.”

“No, no, no,” I said, “Hook hasn’t had any side effects.  I was talking about me.”

Between tossing and turning and waking up regularly at 3:14am in a panic, I would expect to have little to no appetite.  Instead, I keep eating and eating and eating.  It’s the overeating that’s making me nauseated I think.  And my hair, oh sweet Jesus, my hair strands are falling out in such great numbers that one might wonder if I’m the one going through chemo instead of Hook.   It’s the known unknown that’s weighing on me.  I have known something was going to happen (recovery, surgery, decline) but not when or what it would be.  It’s been that looming question mark hanging over our lives that has kept me on edge.   For the first time in my life, I wish I were a woman prone to tears, something, anything to release the stress out of my mind instead of pulling it into my body.

The survival rate for pancreatic candy is something low and not good.  I actually don’t know.  I don’t want to know.  I don’t think I can stand knowing too much.   It’s an odd place to find myself, openly choosing to be ignorant, fearing the unknown.  That’s why I’m counting on you …

Whatever You’ve Been Doing, Keep Doing It!!!

“How is Hook?” people ask.   If I keep telling you he’s great, you’re going to stop praying for him, thinking about him, wishing him well and I so need you to keep doing what you’re doing.  Keep sending blessings his way, good vibes, all your positive thoughts.  IT’S WORKING!!!!!

Writing that just made me want to cry.

Hook has had little to no side effects.  To look at him, you would never guess his body has been ravaged by chemo and radiation for the past five months.  He’s gained 10 pounds, his head looks like it might actually have grown hair, and his energy level has stayed more or less the same.   The only exception to this was toward the last month of treatments when a full work day was capable of tapping him out.

A colleague of Hook’s said he was like a cat with nine lives.   I like the idea of Hook as an alley cat, the kind who never seems to be starving but instead looks like he’s growing stronger, that cat who keeps showing up day after day and you know somehow they’ve figured out how to survive.  That’s my husband.

It helps that Hook takes care of himself.  He has swum five days a week for the last 25 years, and unless we have outside dinner plans, he sits down to a meal of a salad, a meat entrée, and a starch every evening at 6 o’clock.   It used to drive me crazy how programmed he was since I eat half my meals while staring at a laptop or while standing up.  Now, I’m thankful for his lifelong discipline, but I’m most thankful that he chose to bulk up on nutritional supplements especially since the doctors weren’t all that keen on him taking these in the first place.   I find it odd that western doctors are so unwilling to discuss nutrition when it’s so critical to the body’s ability to withstand the infusion of poison and laser beams.  But, Hook has been taking a basketful of supplements every single day for the past five months and I firmly believe that this is what will save his life.  That and your good thoughts.

Toward the end of our visit with the surgeon, the doctor took a long look at Hook and with amazement in his voice said, “Everyone here is bragging about you.  They’re counting on you to survive and look at you, you look great.”

Please, keep doing what you’re doing.   We’re counting on you.  I’m counting on you.  Hook is, too, even if he never says so.

Halloweenie in Australia

What?  I’m only 8 days late.   So I learned something about Australians and Halloween and how there’s been this terrible rumor going on for years and years in Oz that Halloween is a U.S. holiday and that the Aussies are sick and tired of Americans pushing their holidays off on them and yadayadayada.   The yadayada being that some not-so-nice-things were said by Australians about Americans.   To address this, I figured a formal letter was in order:

Dear Australians who detest Halloween,

Some of your fellow Aussies have told a bold-faced lie.   Halloween is not an American holiday.  U.S. employers are not giving their employees a paid day off to go trick or treating.  Halloween didn’t even originate in the U.S.   Someone said it had Celtic origins with the name derivation coming from something pagan, Hallow’s Eve I think, with All Saints for the Christians and dancing nuns or maybe it was dancing witches with autistic feet or autumn’s fest, yes, something to do with harvest and vegetables.  


Look, the reason Americans celebrate Halloween is because we like to have fun, and we understand, truly we do, that our idea of fun may not be your idea of fun.   For Americans, it’s fun to pass out candy that we know will give kids cavities that we don’t have to pay for.  It’s fun to watch heterosexual men put on make-up and panty hose and pretend it’s a costume.  And it’s fun to say hello to our neighbors with children whose existence we otherwise ignore. 

But gosh Oz, are you really that annoyed at carving pumpkins, hanging spiders, and baking skeleton cookies?  If we had known …

Look, if you don’t want to celebrate a made up, commercialized evening of goughlish fun then don’t.  It’s not a law to party and drink, not like how Cinco de Mayo is.  But to say Halloween is an American holiday just hurts.  We only made up the idea so we could have an excuse to buy more useless stuff and to overindulge.   How can something that feels so right be so wrong?   We always make stuff up.   We thought you knew this about us.   We thought you LIKED that about us.

Oz, we never meant for you to feel pressured into snorting Halloween with us, and believe it or not, there are some Americans who don’t even like Halloween.  Or, at least that’s what we’ve heard, but no one’s ever actually met these people so maybe that’s just a mean rumor, too. 


Don’t Make Me Send Hook’s Pancreas Down There

p.s.  We heard about how you put a balloon out to let trick-or-treaters know whether you’re a house that’s handing out “lollies.”  See?  Make it up as you go along, just like we did.

p.s.s. Can I get a Hallelujah for Hook?

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Australians Are Fun for a Reason

But First:  Vashon Island

I’m drinking coffee on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound while writing this blog post which I find amusing considering I made fun of Seattle in one of my previous posts.  I take back anything I wrote on the state of Washington and instead make claim that I confused it with some other place.

On Vashon, they have these cute little shops and people feed you when you walk in.  Or, I am making this up to hide the fact that I keep buying food wherever I go.  I’m delirious from all of the eating in stores, in the farmer’s market, on tables inside restaurants.

The thing about traveling is that everything looks better.  I bought a pair of black

Yes, I actually paid ca$h for these.

Yes, I actually paid ca$h for these.

sunglasses with pointy lenses and rhinestones outlining the frames which are likely only appropriate for Halloween or if I were to choose prostitution as my next career.   I also bought a handmade, wooden tasting spoon for $18.  Eighteen dollars!  Maybe the spoon cooks the meal for you, too, and then you taste.   I didn’t think to ask.   On Vashon, stores have handwritten signs that read:  We Prefer Cash.  I wish I had thought to leave behind little notes that read:  Me, too!   We have so much in common.  How will I ever leave this place?

While I’ve been stuffing my face on Vashon, Hook and his buddy, Kelly the Canadian, drove down to Port Aransas to do whatever it is that men do on the coast when women aren’t around:  fish, fish, and fish.  The perfect Hook relaxer until we meet with the radiologist on 10/25, the oncologist on 10/26, and the surgeon some time later to find out if and when surgery will be.

Editor’s Note:  I failed to mention where I stayed on Vashon Island  — Sylvan Sanctuary — a little slice of heaven with a gracious host.  Five star experience, three star pricing.  Beat that.  Adding to my failures is my omission of the original Seattle’s Best coffee house  which roasted the most perfect bean ever discovered in the universe.  I bought 20 lbs, some of which I packed in my suitcase, the rest I shipped to my extended family in Michigan.

From Outcasts to Outback

This blog was supposed to be about the history of Australia and an answer to the question:   Why are Australians so fun?    Instead of giving some long drawn out history, I can sum up everything with one word:  convicts.

Australia began as a penal colony when the British shipped off convicts to get them away from England.  And yet, isn’t it interesting that when we think of or speak of Australians, it is with affection.   Maybe all of that law-breaking background laid a  foundation for the Aussie wait awhile attitude.   They either had to get along, wait awhile to get along, or walk into the Outback and get eaten.   There was no where else for them to go.   That might also explain why Americans seem to have an affinity for Aussies.  Both cultures are experienced with learning how to make do with what they have.  A group full of puritans stuck on an icy coast is really no different than a group of convicts stuck on the outskirts of the wild.

We rarely hear anyone say, “That Australian was a jerk.”  We just never hear this.  Usually, the reference is something fun or nice or fun or comical or fun.  But I haven’t gone bonkers on the land down under.   They have their share of strange, too.

Weird Things About Aussies

Readers of the last blog voted, almost unanimously, to have me citizen report on Weird Things About Aussies.

I scoured other blogs and online sites and devoured as much information as I could in a 24-hour period.  Of all the weird things about Aussies that non-Aussies claim, there were really only three that stuck out:

1.  Vegemite:  Aussies slather the condiment, Vegemite, on everything.  Apparently, every single one of them every single day.   Truth?    I don’t know.   I don’t want to know.   Please make it stop.

2.  Barefoot:  One blogger said that most Aussies walk around barefoot and drive barefoot “all the time.”  Surely businessmen are not walking around barefoot but maybe they are removing their shoes when they drive.   Who knows?  I drove barefoot immediately after reading that and thought:  Oh my gawd, this really is fantastic.  It’s almost perverted.  Aussies are convicts and perverts.  I can’t wait to get there!

3.  Estimate driving time in an interesting way.   Another blogger said Aussies estimate driving time by how many beers it takes to get somewhere:  “Was only two beers to get here,” or in Aussie-speak, “…only two beers to get ‘ere.”

Did I say three weird things?  I meant five:

4.  Aussie television stations only show Australian sports on television or will only show international sports if an Australian team is part of the game.  Quite frankly, that just sounds genius.

5.  Australians ride their bikes on the freeway.  This made me wonder if it’s legal to ride a bike on the freeway in Oz and then it made me wonder if it’s legal in the U.S. and it is not (usually).  Legal in Oz?  That I do not know.

Somewhere between drinking and driving and riding on the freeway, it’s a wonder the Australian lifespan isn’t shorter.   Some other less interesting weird facts were that Aussies put BBQ sauce on everything.  In Texas, this is practically a law (BBQ sauce or salsa) so I’m not sure how that is weird.   Another post mentioned how Aussies will wear sunglasses on even the greyest of days. Something about the distance to the sun blahblahblah.  Sunglasses all the time sounds like Hollywood and Hollywood is definitely weird.   Perhaps that should have made the list except it’s not special to Oz so I left it off.

One final Aussie weird is the Friday beer celebration where Friday afternoons are welcomed in with beer even in the workplace.   Are they talking about Australia or Austin?   Beer Fridays ought to be a law everywhere.

The Real Reason Australians Are Fun

They have a sense humor.  I found this snarky advertisement gave more insight into an Aussie’s sense of weird than any list ever could:

This is not a real Queensland Rail ad and it was never meant to be, but in 2010, Queensland Rail offered to let the general public create some new advertisements for them.   Big mistake.  Australian smart alecks like to have fun, too.

If I weren’t feeling so lazy on Vashon, I’d link who said what to which Weird Things Aussies Do, but all of my energy is floating in the water and I won’t be able to pick it up until I take the ferry back to the mainland.   And if you haven’t figured out just how lazy, look at the date:  October 20th.   This blog was supposed to hit October 14th and absolutely no one sent me a note to say:   hey dufus, where’s the blog?


Apparently Australians aren’t the only ones who enjoyed Beer Friday.   We all have our reasons and ways of being fun.  Oh, and there’s nothing to the rumor that they’re feeding babies to dingos.  Where did that come from?

References I was too lazy to link inside the blog:

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The Great Australian Exploration

When I started this blog back in April 2012, my purpose was to share with readers how the Hooks were preparing for a life overseas, what we were doing to get our lives in order, and how incredibly AWESOME this whole experience felt.

A few short months into it, the blog morphed into a How to Pretend You Are Somewhere Other Than Where You Really Are.  Lately, I’d been wondering whether to kill the blog altogether with a radiation zap instead of letting it stick around like a slow chemo drip.  But then I had a revelation — a three pints of Shiner Bock revelation.  I didn’t even know I had the capability … to drink that many pints in one sitting!

Where the Re-Exploring Began

Earlier this week, I hosted a series of career exploration workshops for a corporate client.  Talking about exploration energizes me because exploration is about discovery.  Exploration is about creating new possibilities.  Exploration is about having choices.

This is where I am, or this is where we are, Hook and I:  We’re creating new choices for ourselves.

Candy or no candy, we can still explore Australia.  Just because we’re not physically down under doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to learn about the Aussies and Oz and to find out why Australians are fun, fun, fun.  For me, learning is next to doing and doing is all that much closer to being.

And maybe, just maybe, sometime in the future, Hook will begin to contribute his own thoughts on this whole Hooks Down Under saga.  Until then, let me share a sense of who Hook is by asking you to click on this link:  Scroll to Page 2 or the 4th page in the link.

Take the Australian Poll

Below is my Australian Topics list, a list of subjects I want to write about, a list which is subject to change as my cycle changes and as the wine supply in the house goes down:

Oct 14th:  Australians Are Fun for a Reason

Oct 28th: What is Halloween Like in Australia?

Nov 11th:  Muriel’s Wedding & More:  The 10 Most Known Australian Faces

Nov 25th: An Australian Thanksgiving

I wrote an entire year’s worth of topics and attached dates to them, but there’s no need for me to torture you with the entire list all at once.  I wrote this list down because in my exploration workshop, I asked all of the attendees to write down their next steps and to commit a date to each.  Then I had each participant shared what they wrote with the class – what next step were they committing to and by when – thus making their workshop mates an immediate accountability group.

It’s no secret that by writing something down, we not only increase the likelihood that we’ll actually do it, but we get clarity and confirmation of what we really want.  And by sharing this clarity with others, we strive harder to meet our goals than we would have if we were the only ones who knew of them.

You are my accountability group.  And to show you that I’m serious and not drinking while I’m writing, I’ve created a poll for you to use to vote.

Vote for the topic you like best or recommend your own topic.   Why?  Why not.  Srsly.   You get a chance to have some input which I may or may not take into consideration (remember:  the cycle) but more importantly, I’ll let others know what voters said (or, I think the poll will automatically show you but I really don’t know — I’ve never done this before.)   And to all those outside of the U.S. who are reading, don’t let us Americans be stingy with our suggested topics.  Have your say! 

Yes, more than just Americans are reading this.  We’ve had over 1000 hits to this blog from 15 different countries including the U.S.   Apparently the world loves the wounded.   Who knew?

This poll is a blatant ploy to get you to inspire me to remain connected, to remain on track of Australia, and to keep exploring.  It’s genius!  If you were trying to get me to coach you, I’d say, “Absolutely!  Let me send you my pricing schedule and you can tell me which option you’d like to start with!”

I need to keep Australia as tangible as possible and this is the only way I know how to do it.  I want Hook to recover and get his health back so we can explore Australia together.  As I wrote in a previous post, I have more time to research Australia before we ever get there but up until now, I haven’t researched anything.  I stopped reading all of my Australia books.  I stopped going to Aussie websites.  We stopped renting movies about Australia.  I don’t know that I’ve really believed it was still within our reach.  Hook believes it, and now he’s the one who talks about Oz all the time.  “When we’re in Australia …” he says, but I stopped saying that a long time ago.

God took my silver lining with him to Australia and now I’m going to recreate it.

The Hook Candy Update

All is well so far with Hook and his pancreas.   Radiation and chemo treatments will temporarily end this week so the oncologist and the surgeon can determine by way of CAT scan(s) whether Hook’s pancreas can be removed and is ready for removal.

If the CAT scan next week shows a shrunken pancreas, then the doctors will probably recommend that Hook’s body take a drug rest for the remainder of October.  No radiation zaps, no chemo drips, no chemo pills.  All of this would be in preparation for surgery in November.  If the scan reveals something other than what the surgeon would like to see, then, I don’t know.  We would go back into treatment I suppose.   We.

I remembered the other day, at the beginning of this medical journey, that our oncologist told Hook he could do his chemo treatments abroad.  The doctor said, “It’s an option.  But is that how you really want to remember Australia, strapped to a chair receiving chemo?”   For all we know, the Aussies might do that for fun, those crazy, cultural convicts.

How the Exploration Panned Out For My Clients

During one of the workshops, an attendee was so overcome with emotion, she left the room to compose herself.  This is not unusual, and in fact is quite common — the welling up of tears when we start talking about change, real change, real differences we want to make in our lives.  When we talk about dreams and desires that motivate us or circumstances that have altered our hopes, it’s a wonder we don’t all burst into tears every day.

What could have been is gone but what could be is still up to me, to you, to all of us.

Come explore Australia with the Hooks Down Under.   Be my accountability group.

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