Saturday, 5 August 2006


Getting catapulted off the bike has become a pain in the neck - literally. I woke up on Friday morning with the most excrutiating headache - the type where even your eyeballs hurt. It was all I could do to pop two strong pain killers and go back to sleep for a few hours to let them kick in. Just staggering to the medicine chest almost killed me.

After that, it was back to the quack. I was totally helpless - too zonked to drive thanks to the pain and the painkillers. Talk about out of it. I felt like I'd knocked off the better part of a bottle of vodka and just wanted nothing else but to pass out.

I couldn't make an appointment with the quack I wanted, so we just fronted up at the local clinic and went for the lucky dip. The receptionist offered me the same totally useless quack that spent no time at all on me on Wednesday. I told her "Any doctor but that one". Surprisingly, the receptionist got really upset about that and informed me that I'd have to wait considerably longer than half an hour for a consult.

"Fine", was my response, and we departed to a coffee and cake shop across the road.

I don't think she realised that I'd prefer to wait two hours to see someone that might actually treat me rather than half an hour for someone that will do no good whatsoever. What's the point of getting a useless diagnosis and no treatment and just going home no better than when you left?

The cake shop over the road is called something like The Strudel House - I forget. My head was swimming and I didn't grab a card on the way out. I have bought take-away vanilla slice from there before, but until Wednesday, had never sat in and had a coffee and nibbles.

It's a small place - seats maybe a dozen customers. Everytime I have dropped in for vanilla slice, most of the tables have been occupied. It seems to do a good trade, especially in take away cakes. As the name suggests, they do those sort of central European cake thingys - I would call it Austrian-inspired.

For some reason, their vanilla slice does not taste as good when eaten in as it does when eaten on the road. Normally, I'd pop in whilst walking home and scoff one as I walked. Walking seems to make them taste better. Wierd. I'll still pop in there for the odd vanilla slice from time to time, but the eat in experience has taken the edge off the place for me. It's gone from very good to merely good.

I think part of their problem is that they are too fussy with the custard. A vanilla slice needs custard that is rubbery - it needs crap custard in other words. Being Austrian types and very fussy, they make a proper custard - one that is quite gooey, and not rubbery at all. Trouble is, you need that awful packet custard to make a vanilla slice set properly. When you chomp down on the biscuit outer layers, it is ok if the custard squeezes out, but it should squeeze out as a blob and not fall off. Their custard squishes out and detaches. It is too good.

Therefore, the only way to eat one of their neatly is to take one home, turn the fridge temperature right down and leave it to set like concrete for a few hours.

I worked all this out whilst sampling a vanilla slice from a Vietnamese bakery recently. The Vietnamese version of the vanilla slice is generally inedible, and I swore after taking two bites of that one that I would never buy anything from a Vietnamese bakery again. The French might have introduced baguettes and things to Vietnam, but I don't think the Vietnamese ever really learnt anything about the passion of baking. Baking is not a mechanical thing - to do it properly, you can't just follow a recipe or a set of instructions - you need to understand the dough. With vanilla slice, you need to understand the custard, the icing and the pastry bits. You need to live the slice. You must have passion for the slice. The Vietnamese just don't have it - to them, it is just a shop where they can make a buck, not an establishment where they can make art.

If I am not getting through to you, think about how the wogs go on and on and on about coffee, pasta, Vespa scooters and those gay leather sandals that they wear. Oh, and soccer. You've got to hand it to the wogs - without their mad passion for these things, we'd be a sad lot. I just wish they'd lose some of their passion for stupid haircuts, idiotic cars, doof-doof and chunky jewellry. Boys - channel it into something useful, like pizza or chianti.

So we whiled away half an hour of so in the cake shop and I then returned for a once over by a much more competent Doc. This guy actually listened, and then gave me a once over with the rubber mallet. We've all seen quacks whacking guys on the knee cap with the rubber thing. Well, he did my ankles, knees, wrists and elbows. Never seen that done before. Apparently it is a good test for brain injury. I presume that it creates a feedback loop throught the brain, and if the brain is not responding, then your leg doesn't spasm.

My knees and ankles were fine, but the wrists seemed a bit dodgy - probably because I landed on them. My right wrist just goes floppy at certain angles. For instance, I have plenty of strength in my hands, but I went to pick up a chopping board this morning and couldn't grab it. At that angle, my wrist just failed to generate any traction. The same goes for when I wipe my bum - there is something about the angle that I just can't generate any pressure. Yee gads - I hope it gets better. Otherwise, I will have to invest in one of those horrible bidet things. It's just wierd, but as the physio later explained it, there are lots of muscles in the forearm etc, and one of them is just closing down because it is damaged. Hence when I go to pick up the monkey, I have to sit him on my forearm rather than holding him with my hand - otherwise my hand just goes all gay on me and I let go involuntarily.

After the knee poking thing, he did an eye exam and found that I have some light sensitivity on my right side. I could have told him that - my head was splitting on that side. He diagnosed whiplash and a possible concussion. Whiplash takes a few days to present, which is why I woke up in agony on Friday morning rather than Wednesday morning after the crash.

The quack told me to do a few things - keep on taking the anti-inflamatories, go to a physio for 6 treatments on the neck, and get a C/T scan of my head. The last one was in case I have any bleeding on the brain. Nasty. The chances are low, but I'd prefer to get it checked than to just go "she'll be right". So I had to trudge down to the local radiology mob to get my head read. Lying on the slab as the machine wound up, I felt like I was in an episode of "House". I'll find out on Tuesday whether there is any bleeding. Great. Nice to know that it takes four days to find out whether blood is pooling somewhere in my head.

If I get whacked again, I am simply going to call an ambulance and get carted in for a checkout. Simple as that.

The other screwy thing is that officialdom does have a really good form for recording crash data - it's just that the cops don't have it, the Motor Accident Authority has it. This form actually looks useful. I guess it is one of those cases of non-joined up government. Several government agencies need the same data, they all collect it but in different ways. None of them exchange data presumably. I can't see why the Plod can't use this form as well. Useless pubes.

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