Thursday, March 19, 2009

Way, the flu, the Earl, the spider bite and the GPS

I’ve had the man-flu this week. As any self respecting male will tell you the man flu is worse than the ordinary flu. I’ve suffered. No. Really, I woke up with it on Saturday morning, f.i.v.e. days ago.

Ready for another Way-story. New to Way-stories? There’s a few around these parts. Well, this is the point where I suggest you grab another coffee before reading on.

My boss gave it to me. The flu that is. He turned up to work last Monday week and promptly coughed away. I said to him, as others did, that he sounded terrible and he should go home, the poor thing. Which really meant “You’re going to gank us all up with your germs; get out of here!” But he didn’t take the hint. So, by Saturday, as I said, I had the flu.

It ruined my weekend. Ruined FarCry2 to because my eyes hurt with from the first person motion. It ruined the family’s weekend because I shared my bad temper and bad temperature with them. The sorry lot thought they were going to lose a husband and father.

Come Monday morning I was in no fit state to go to work, so I called the boss and let him know I had HIS flu and that I wouldn’t be in. And with the way I felt it might be the last time I speak… I could be dead from man flu. And it’d be his fault. As things would have it, my little firewall thingy at work died. I had logged on via logmein on Sunday night and done some work but by morning the HDD had failed. So he was more concerned about that. They spent most of the day getting the firewall up and running again. This meant I couldn’t log in from home so I rested.

It’s at this point, near death with man-flu, things started to go downhill. To find out why, we need to go back to Saturday morning.

The Earl of Hornsby, aged 11, has Saturday school cricket. I was sick so she who must be obeyed (SWMBO) offered to take him up. Very gracious of her, so I just moaned rolled over back to sleep. While he was playing, or sometime during the previous 12 hours (we think) The Earl was bitten by a spider (perhaps), on the top of his foot, (most definitely). The timing is fuzzy because he doesn’t recall being bitten but also The Earl is fuzzy about everything for about the first two hours of the morning.

On goes the Sting-goes. We thought he’d be right on Monday, sometime around noon.

By Sunday night, with father rolling in abject misery The Earl’s foot was swollen considerably which prevented him from walking. In fact he was hoping around the house. However, by Monday morning his foot was much better so off to school he went.
As mentioned, this was the day I was resting, but it was also an opportunity for SWMBO to stay back at work and for me to collect the offspring after school, which I duly did. When I reached The Earl, after a harrowing learner diver lesson with The Princess who managed to career though an intersection without looking, which in turn caused me to scream “Stop! No! Too late; Faster!” which resulted in her doing neither but kangaroo hopping instead. Had I remained silent we’d gotten across with a larger safety margin and The Princess wouldn’t have cried the remainder of the way to The Earl’s school.

Anyway, the minder at after school care rushes me inside to spy my son’s bad spider bite and that I should take him to the doctors straight away. The Earl is a drama queen. This guy falls over in football and it’s a major incident. Stop play! Rescue the kid in agony! Concerned parents hush, the kids hands on hips waiting for the all-clear. The drama queen rises, he hops, applause from the crowd, raised eye brows from his team mates and five minutes later no sign of a limp. Well, so I thought he had hammed it up with the carer, but as it turns out his foot was a lot worse. Where he had a swollen foot and a red mark he now had a pimple size spot and a lot more redness. So, off to the doctor it is. And a smile from The Princess. I am not sure if her smile was for her brother’s discomfort or for an opportunity for another driving lesson or both.

The doctor determines that the foot is infected and since we don’t have a hapless spider in a jar, one The Earl insists would have been a white-tailed spider, or seen any spider, or insect, bug or stick, nail, piece of glass or other nasty germy object then there’s nothing for him to do other than write a ‘script for antibiotics.
Ca-Ching! $80.00 later The Princess is harrowing her father, an infected foot and a bottle of medicine on their way home again.
It’s at that moment I remind The Earl he’s probably going to miss out on school camp tomorrow (Tuesday). Oddly, his foot started to feel better almost straight away, and by the time he reached bed, all packed for camp, he assured us his foot was much better.

Unlike my man-flu.

SWMBO took delight; I am sure, of waking me up early the next morning. She had to rise early to take The Earl to school to meet the bus.
“Have you made the lunches?”
“Err.. no I am dying, you know, man-flu, can’t you see?”
“Okay! I’ll make them”
Off she totters… like a bloody elephant… down the hall and starts with the fifty questions:
“Where’s the lunch bags”
“Where’s the plastic forks”
“Are any of my cookies left?”
“Does The Princess like apple or orange juice?”
I might be slow witted. I might be dying in my death bed, and it’s early in the morning but I can tell when I am being wifed. Twenty and a half years of wedded bliss can do that to even the thickest of us mere males.
So I stomp down the hallway like a bloody elephant and make the lunches. In my jimmyjams. With my man flu.
The Earl, in the meantime is showing all the signs of a healthy, fit, if a not little early-morning fuzzy, boy of 11 about to go on a 3 ½ day camp. Who, as it turns out, is presenting his sore foot as “no. look, it’s just fine” kind of foot. I suggest to all who’d listen that “the foot” is not fit for camp. I got that “you’re sick and delirious” look from both of them.

Off they go, including The Princess who’s NOT getting a driving lesson to school today.

I text the boss I won’t be in then go back to bed until 9:30,
I rise and spend the entire day logged on at work anyway.

I collect The Princess from school, she directs the car to the nearest shops, I park, and we pick up a half kilo of prawns. We ‘navigate’ a few roundabouts and “align” a few tight corners on the way home.
Log back on work. Cook pasta with olive oil, garlic and prawns and bum around until SWMBO wanders in from a night out with the dinner-mums from The Earl’s class.

The next morning, today, I rise, I’ve had two days off work, I can’t afford to take anymore time off and I am miraculously feeling better; not 100%, but seaworthy. I make the railway station just in time to ignore the arriving train so I can go back to the car park for my glasses. And that, dear reader was the beginning. I arrive at work, late, put out a few fires as well as suffer my concerned fellow workers covering me with sympathy that sounded suspiciously like “You’re going to gank us all up with your germs; get out of here!”
Before too long my mobile rings.
“Mr Wayfarer?”*
“It’s Michael** here, The Earl’s teacher.”*** He continued “His spider bite is really bad, I’m afraid you’ll have to come pick him up. He might need to see a Doctor”
“We don’t know it’s a spider bite”
“He says it’s a white tailed spider and you know what they’re like”
Uh oh, the drama queen has fallen again.
“Well, we didn’t see any spider but anyway what’s the address there?”
And on it goes.

I ring SWMBO who actually rang me while I was on the phone to Michael; she’d missed a call from him. She can’t leave work, so I finish up some lose ends, get back on the train to the car park. I plug in the address of the camp into Sally, my GPS navigator.

My trusty, efficient, never-go-wrong GPS navigator.

So let’s take a break here.
This is the area I am headed. Upper colo - Google Maps

Take note of the main road. The yellow one is the one I am expecting to go along. I checked that “loose end” at work. It’s called Putty Road. The place we’re going to is called Upper Colo. Not Colo. Not Central Colo. Not even Colo heights. I’m going to 411 Upper Colo Road, Upper Colo.
Like a mantra I repeat this address in my head on the train... because I’ve left my note on my desk at work.

I get to my car and plug in Sally. I type 211 Upper Colo Road, Colo Heights and we’re off.
Take a look at this next map. Upper colo - Google Maps You might have to click the "map" buton if it's stuck on "satellite".

See the little white road, that really wiggly and well sort of out of the way road? You might have to click the "map" buton if it's stuck on "satellite". It’s called Comleyroy Road.
That’s where Sally and I went.
Not in cooee of Putty Road.

You see, Sally wants to take me there by the most direct route. I don’t have a paper street directory in the car… because Sally knows how to get there. Even if I did I am off the street maps anyway.
Here are some photos I took with the phone. It was good for something because there’s no bloody reception out there!

I start thinking. Maybe I have given Sally the wrong address? Perhaps is 211 Upper Colo Road, or 411 or 211 Colo Heights road, or maybe 411 Putty road, Congo bloody Heights!

And there’s no reception for the phone for me to call Geoff at the office and ask him to read it out.
And no maps in the car.

I figure it leads to somewhere on the Colo river so instead of turning around I follow this 25km dirt road up and over hills and across streams (all bridges but one did have about 4” of water over it)

It’s about half way I remember that last Thursday, during the rain, my left rear passenger tyre coped a flat. I hadn’t got it repaired yet. All I need is another flat out on this road and I’m stranded. I’ve not seen another car for miles and there’s no phone and I have a son with an infected foot needing a doctor and I am not a well person myself.

I persevere and thankfully I reach Upper Colo Road. Now I know it’s either 211 or 411 Upper Colo Road so all I have to do is let Sally take me to both if necessary. She asks me to turn left and if you’re still looking at that map then you can follow it for about 3kms like I did. But 411 Upper Colo Road was an empty paddock bar a few horses. So I turn around and head back in the other direction. I am looking for a school camp; it’s not small; it’ll have signs (which I’ve not seen yet) and they’ll be lots of land, canoes, horses, y’know, camp stuff. All I have to do is drive along until I find it. So I drive back east for a long time. I pass some campers with 4wd and camp stools having a cuppa by the road. I figure that’s not a good sign. They’re all khaki this and khaki that and people who dress seriously like that are serious about going places everyone else doesn’t. Still, I think to myself, this is a camp the boys are at and they tend to be in hard to reach places.
I keep driving but there’s no sign of camp Somerset. So I do a u-turn. I wave as I pass the tea drinking campers again and drive past 411 and beyond. I keep driving. I end up in a one lane dirt road that’s so narrow I realise the coaches with 150 kids can’t possible have cross these wooden bridges and narrow track.

I pull up outside someone’s shack which is “PRIVATE PROPERTY” in banjo letters if you get my drift. Do yet another u-turn and head back. If you follow the Google map to the far west along Upper Colo road until it ends… well that’s where we went, Sally and me.

I am driving back to point A when I think to myself, well maybe it is Colo Heights and not Upper Colo. And maybe it’s Colo Heights Road and not Upper Colo Road. So Sally and I turn left across the bridge and up the hill. I soon realise the road is too tight for coaches plus it’s too far from the river. I u-turn and head back down. Cross the bridge again. The water is crystal clear. Turn left, wave at the khaki campers and keep heading east. And on and on.

Finally I spot a scrum of boys in a paddock playing rugby and what looks like a couple of teachers. So I turn off and sure enough it’s our mob and the teacher is the new Irish sports teacher. He gives me directions back to the main house where he last saw The Earl, his foot the white tailed spider bit (“we don’t know it’s a spider”) and a book this thick he shows me with 3” of fingers.

I make it to the main grounds; The Earls teacher is just crossing the road as I arrive. We meet and he takes me into Angus. I again explain that we don’t know it’s a spider bit but yes it looks a lot worse.
He then asks me why I drove past. I cotton on to what he means so I said I came in the back way. He raised an eyebrow and I know he sneaked a look and my dust covered car.
A short while later after The Earl was all packed I asked Michael for directions out of here. His look made me explain Sally’s error in leading me the most direct route.

The round trip was just under 200kms and by the time we go home we had to leave shortly for the doctor’s appointment. The Earl’s “not a spider bite, maybe” was a lot worse. It was a small volcano shaped mound on the top of his foot with signs of weeping, redness and a little white skin around the wound. He changed the ‘script to a stronger antibiotic. I have to watch the foot over the next 24hrs to see if it gets worse. If it does then he’s off to hospital for nastier drugs and observation.

The Princess was happy about all of this because it meant another unscheduled driving lesson to the doctors. Unfortunately, while she’s picking up driving a manual car really well she’s not quite there yet. So, at the major intersection, on a hill, during peak hour, we took a few changes of lights to get across much to the annoyance of those horn-blowing drivers behinds us. Once flustered she lost all control of the clutch and had to settle before we could move off.
On the way home we approached a round about. I said “prepare to stop. They have right of way” She heard “They will stop you have right of way” and charged into the roundabout with me screaming “Stop! No! Too late; Faster!”

*Not my real name
**No; it’s his real name
***He’s not really an Earl.

Update the next day. The Earl's foot is much better so he avoided hospital,and we avoided the bills. My Man-flu lingers, but I returned to work today.