Saturday, 31 March 2012

101 Things Update - March 2012

Ahoy-hoy! It's been a couple of months since my last update, and what a last couple of months it has been! Not so much in terms of ticking things off my 101 Things list (although that was certainly a factor), but because I've been on my arse for the last 3 weeks after having a pacemaker implanted. And you'd think that with all that time off work, I would have had more time to blog. But as it turns out, there are more important things to do than blogging. Like taking strong painkillers. And sleeping. Not that I'm promoting prescription drug abuse or slothful behaviour! Just sayin'...

To the update!

#1 - Year of the Cupcake: Two further cupcakes were made; gluten free vanilla cupcakes filled with whipped chocolate ganache, and Irish soda bread cupcakes with whiskey frosting for St Patrick's Day (no link as post is sheduled, but click on "cake" and you should find it easily enough)

#17 - Make croquembouche: Easy peasy Japanesey (and when I think about it, that's a really dumb saying because the Japanese are well known for their technological prowess and there's nothing easy peasy about that at all...)! Done and dusted, eaten, delicious.

#24 - Blog at least twice a month for a year. Well I've blown that one out of the water, with 77 posts since I committed to that! Mind you, I think two or three of them are unfinished drafts and 3 or 4 are scheduled posts, but for all intents and purposes I can say I have at least tripled my goal. Go me!

#26 - Research camera lenses - & #27 - Buy said camera lens: Done. I have a 60mm f/2 macro lens. The kind people at Camera House on Elizabeth Street gave me $114 off the lens, $5 off a filter and 1000 free prints over the next year (note: this is an unsponsored plug. I was happy with their service so I'm telling you about it! And it's probably worth mentioning I was happy with their service before they gave me free stuff, not because they did). It was odd because I'd decided that day that I would be parting company with approximately $500 of hard-earned cash, but it took three shops to prise it loose from me. Both Michael's and Ted's Cameras offered disappointing service; the salespeople were very much just salespeople, and not at all interested in educating me or reassuring me that I was making the right choice, or even letting me try the lens out. That's a sure-fire way to lose my custom.

#64 - Read all my unread books. I've polished off a few more, including Possession, The Rings of Saturn and Bombproof. I haven't written about them all yet, though. Watch this space.

#67 - Watch Gone With The Wind: Loved it. Have a tiny little crush on Clark Gable - I always did have a thing for men with mischievous smiles and a bit of life about them! Not sure about the moustache, mind you. If you have a spare three and a half hours, watch it. It didn't feel like it was that long to me, although that may have been because I was watching it with friends and we would chat occasionally... oh yeah, plus we were eating the whole time! Actually, let's call it feasting. It makes it sound more leisurely and less gluttonous. There were also some parts that were quite unexpectedly funny, usually involving Clark Gable and his eyebrows.

#77 - Print great photos and frame them: Partial credit. Thanks to the free prints from Camera House I have started sorting my photos out and printing them. Framing won't happen any time soon, but it's a work in progress.

And that's about it for this month.  Catch you next month (or, more likely, the one after)!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Year of the Cupcake #9 - St Patrick's Day Irish Soda Bread Cupcakes

I learnt a few things whilst making these cupcakes - one, sometimes savoury flavours can work surprisingly well to balance out sweetness; two, the smell of Johnny Walker in your buttercream frosting is a little unexpected and overpowering until you get used to it, but it's okay in the end with the relatively plain cake; and three, gel colours seem to darken/intensify as they dry, which I wish I'd figured out sooner! Nonetheless, I was quite pleased with the outcome.

I made these for St Patrick's Day, when two friends came over to watch Gone With The Wind with me (thus knocking out two 101 Things challenges in one hit. Whoohoo!). I thought it was quite fitting that the O'Hara family was Irish, that Scarlett's favourite colour was green... and so were the cupcakes. So green, in fact, that you probably wouldn't want your kid to eat that amount of food dye shortly before bedtime!

This recipe is from Gail Wagman's Cupcakes Galore, which is quite an interesting book as it gives you a bit of insight into the science behind baking that had never before been explained to me. Of course, this may be just because I've never read a cookbook from start to finish before, recipes included, but I'm starting to realise that it's quite a valuable (if time-consuming) exercise. It contains other gems such as Beer & Peanuts cupcakes, Apple-Cranberry cupcakes, Brownie cupcakes, Courgette Pine Nut cupcakes, Chocolate Malted Milk cupcakes, Pina Colada cupcakes and Peach Melba cupakes. Quite a mixed bag, mostly inspired by existing foods and drinks. I'm not entirely sure but I think it was bought at QBD books, a discount book seller. One presumes it is also available online.

To the recipe! Makes about 16 cupcakes (I halved the mix)

300g plain flour
1tbsp oatmeal (I used quick oats as they're smaller; I imagine you could finely chop rolled oats)
2tsp baking powder
2tsp bicarbonate of soda (apparently this is used where acidic ingredients such as buttermilk are present)
1tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g sugar
2 eggs
180mL buttermilk (can substitute normal milk with a dash of white vinegar to make it go chunky... which, eeuw...).
75g dried currents or raisins (if you use raisins, chop them. Or use sultanas)
1tbsp caraway seeds (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180oC
2. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside
3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk. Fold in currents and caraway seeds.
4. 2/3 fill cupcake papers. Bake for 25mins or until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean (consider baking for a couple of minutes less as mine were a little dry... but then, I did leave them on the bench for quite a while before decorating...). Remove from the oven and cool. Marvel at how they kind of do resemble soda bread.

60g unsalted butter, room temperature
300g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
2tbsp Irish Whiskey or Bailey's Irish Cream (I ended up using Johnny Walker as it was the only suitable-ish thing my local bottle-o had in a flash, and there was no way I was buying an entire bottle of good whiskey (which I don't drink) to use 2tbsp!)
Green food colouring and green sugar/sprinkles/whatever for decorating (I made shamrocks out of royal icing. Go me!)

Cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Slowly add whiskey (and food colouring, if using) and beat until frosting is of good spreading consistency. Frost cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired.

Royal icing (which I make from 2 eggwhites and approx. 2c sifted icing sugar, but I don't know if that's the right ratio, it's just how I do it! Best you Google it...)
Green food dye

Make royal icing with green food dye - whip until stiff peaks form. I have no idea about the science of this!

Line a tray with baking paper. Using a large plain writing tip, pipe a short line and three blobs as below. It's best if you pipe the top leaf last and drag the tip back towards the middle a little to make it look more like a leaf.

Dry overnight. If possible, flip them over once the top is solid to give the undersides a chance to dry off. They're quite bulky so they may take a couple of days to dry completely (which is only important if you plan on making a surplus of them and storing them - as long as they're solid enough to move they're okay for immediate consumption).

You will need quite a bit of practice to get your hand in at piping. At least, I did, but that may be in part because I haven't done a great deal of piping before, and also because I was still recovering from surgery and didn't have the complete use of my right arm or the ability to raise it above my shoulder or hold my hand on certain angles. All in all I think I did okay! Anyway, I guess it's just testimony to my speshul piping skills but it took this many shamrocks to get eight that turned out well enough to decorate with.

Some turned out quite well.

Others turned out quite... inappropriate for putting on cupcakes. This shape seems to happen to me a lot. I wonder if that means anything...

Decorate as you please. I tried out a few different things but in the end, the simple shamrock and some gold edible glitter (to represent the pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow, of course!) looked the best. Enjoy with a cup of tea to attenuate the effects of the food dye.

Belated St Patrick's Day wishes to ye!

Friday, 23 March 2012


This evening I went to my BFF Ness' house for tea, and I decided that today was the day to pull out the big guns and mark another one off my 101 Things list by making croquembouche for dessert.

First up, I just want to say that I have no idea what all the fuss is about. It might be because I'm starting to get the hang of various cooking techniques or because I am comparing it to some much more complicated recipes that I have attempted in the last year (like consumme for the Daring Cooks), but, whilst time consuming, there was nothing particularly mind-bendingly complicated about the recipe. Croquembouche is not difficult to make.

Secondly, I acknowledge that the croquembouche I made was quite small because that was the yield of the recipe, but I have no idea how the Master Chef contestants bollocksed it up so badly last year! Maybe it's because I have a bit of a grasp on how to build stuff that doesn't fall over, but I made it without the assistance of any sort of mould at all. I just stacked it like a pyramid and glued it with toffee. Seemed like a no-brainer to me...

To the recipe! From AWW Cook - Makes 24 quite small profiteroles, i.e., nowhere near as big as the ones you would get from a professional bakery

20g butter
1/4c (60mL) water
1/4c (35g) plain flour
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 220oC. Lightly grease 2 trays/line with baking paper
2. Place butter and water in small saucepan; bring to boil. Add flour, beat with wooden spoon over heat until mixture comes away from base and sides of saucepan and forms a smooth ball.

Transfer to small bowl; beat in egg with electric mixer until glossy.

Spoon into piping bag fitted with 1cm tube.

3. Pipe small dollops of pastry 5cm apart onto tray (these dollops were ever so slightly too big, because they were much smaller on the second tray, and I didn't get the full 24 out of it. On the plus side, having some smaller ones made it easier to fit them all together).

Bake, uncovered, 7mins. Reduce oven temperature to 180oC; bake, uncovered, 10mins or until profiteroles are crisp. Cut small opening in side of each profiterole; bake further 5mins or until dried out. Cool. (They will be quite obviously light and dry when they're ready.)

PASTRY CREAM (creme patisserie):
1c (250mL) milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split (I used 1/2tsp vanilla bean paste instead)
3 egg yolks
1/3c (75g) castor sugar
2tbsp cornflour

Combine milk and vanilla bean in small saucepan; bring to boil (I kept stirring mine as vanilla bean paste has a little sugar in it (I think!) and I didn't want a blob of it to stick to the bottom of the saucepan and burn). Discard vanilla bean (if used). Beat egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until thick.

With motor operating, gradually beat in hot milk mixture. Return custard to saucepan; stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens. Cover with plastic wrap (on surface of custard) and cool to room temperature.

1c (220g) castor sugar
1/2c (125mL) water

Combine sugar and water in medium heavy based frypan/saucepan (I imagine using a frypan causes it to caramelise much more quickly). Stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, without stirring, until mixture is golden brown in colour. (You may need to clean the sides of the saucepan of sugar crystals from time to time using a pastry brush and some water. That wasn't in the recipe but it's something I've picked up. Just don't use too much water or your syrup will come off the boil.)

Fill piping bag fitted with large plain/star tip/whatever will fit into the slits you made in the profiteroles with the pastry creme. Pipe pastry cream into slits in profiteroles until filled. If possible do this while toffee is boiling, otherwise it will be quite time consuming... but keep a close eye on the toffee!

(This part is terribly scientific) Dip profiteroles into toffee so that they are at least half covered and arrange on serving plate. Note that the toffee is VERY hot and WILL burn you if you accidentally dip your finger in it (and for once, I didn't injure myself. Hurrah!). I suppose it would be wise to use a skewer or a fork to do that but I just used my fingers (bearing in mind that my nails are long enough to grip the little piece of undipped pastry and retrieve it!).

The first layer I made a square, 3 profiteroles wide with a gap in the middle (thereby using 8). The second layer I intended to use 2 on each side, but ended up using fewer because they wouldn't fit. Anyway, just keep layering them and glueing them together with toffee, ensuring that each layer is at least half overlapping the one below to ensure it is stable (mind you, the toffee is like araldyte so there is little risk of collapse!).

Finish by drizzling the remaining toffee over the croquembouche, then use a spoon to drag stringy bits around the place. I belive the official method is using two forks, back to back, to "spin" the toffee, but I didn't want the totally spun look.

Verdict: delicious!

Things you should know about croquembouche:

1. There is no need to freak out about choux pastry, pastry creme, profiteroles or croquembouche. All they require is a little patience and a will to follow the recipe. This is not normally something I do well, but the recipe was so simple and uses only ingredients that I would consider to be household staples (although I concede my pantry is better stocked than many).

2. The recipe said 10mins prep time and 30mins cooking time, plus cooling time. The recipe lied to me through song! I hate when people do that... By which I mean, it's true that the profiteroles themselves take that period of time to make, but unless you're crazy-prepared it's going to take a darned site longer than that to assemble the entire croquembouche.

You have to cool not just the profiteroles (which is a relatively quick process), but also the pastry creme, which holds its heat for quite some time. If you were more organised than I, you would probably get onto making it the second the profiteroles went in the oven. But because I followed the original recipe which said to cool the profiteroles and then went on to talk about the pastry creme, it didn't occur to me to start it any sooner.

The toffee took longer to reach that golden-brown colour than I expected it to (more than ten minutes, I think, although I was tired and bored so it may not have been so long!), so I probably could have started that before I even got to the point of filling the profiteroles.

3. The original recipe specified using a 1cm tip to pipe the pastry creme. Using a tip that size will cause your profiteroles to explode/collapse/implode/disintegrate. I used a large-ish star tip, and feel that it may have still been too big as you have to poke it into the slits you cut, and slits are, by nature, quite narrow. Your largest plain writing tip would probaby do the job (provided it is actually quite large, and that your pastry creme isn't too lumpy). If not, try a smaller star tip.

4. This recipe makes 24 very small profiteroles. Next time I will probably double the recipe and make bigger ones. I'm not sure what that will do to the cooking time but I guess I can wing it!

5. I believe it would be relatively simple to make a chocolate custard filling - one assumes that you would add some good quality drinking chocolate powder to the milk, or some cocoa and maybe sugar. You could also dip the profiteroles in ganache instead of toffee. I think there may be a chocolate croquembouche in my future...

Anyway, I hope I've inspired you to try something that's a little outside of your comfort zone. It will be well worth your effort, as, now that I've eaten super-fresh profiteroles, I realise what an inferior product the ones a couple of days old are! The new ones are crispy and firm, not chewy, which offsets the custard wonderfully. Yum.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Upgrading Your Pacemaker; Sliced n Diced; or, The Adventures of Zappy the Second

As I mentioned recently, following my little ride in a helicopter and subsequent hospitalisation over New Years, I was brought under the care of a new electrophysiologist. He decided that, although his battery had not yet depleted, it was time to replace Zappy with a newer model that had an enhanced ability to pace my heart and therefore, hopefully, reduce the number of cardiac episodes. As luck would have it, I landed in the care of the doctor that my specialist in Adelaide had recommended (and who had also trained my Adelaide doctor, so I was off to a good start).

On Wednesday last week I was admitted to Melbourne Private Hospital. I opted to go in as a private patient because you have a little more control over when your surgery is, and plus I have private cover, so why not use it? I was out of pocket by $250 which I will only have to pay once this year, which I don't think is too bad for 5 nights plus surgery. I also did the maths and determined that in the last ten weeks, my health insurance has covered approximately ten years' worth of premiums in benefits, if not more. How's that for value for money!

Mum and Dad and Rex Wombat, Defender of the Infirm, came along for the ride.

There's a bit of a story to Rexie, but the people involved may be embarassed for it to be shared with all of the interwebs, so we'll just leave it as saying that Rexie was there to look after his girl.

"You lookin' at me?? I'll take ya!"

He sure looks tough... I wouldn't take him on...

Anyway, admission went swimmingly, besides a little freak-out when I met my nurse who was perfectly sweet but also quite green (she was about 2 weeks into her graduate rotation). I know I taught her a couple of things, which scared me at first, but after a couple of days I realised that she does listen, and takes things on board, and isn't afraid to ask questions. All of these are good things!

Once mum and dad left me at the lift, though, I started to get a teensy, tiny bit terrified. There may have been a wobbly lip and a crack in my otherwise calm facade that lasted about twenty seconds before I talked myself out of making an ass of myself.

I met the surgeon - this time around, because they were implanting the new Zappy more deeply than they had the old one, they called in the services of a cardiothoracic surgeon in addition to my normal doctor (another perk of being in a private hospital is the ability for your doctor to request assistance from whichever medical professionals he chooses). He was quite lovely and straightfoward and between him, my specialist and the anaesthetist, they had me settled down in no time at all. They even agreed to my somewhat whacky request to take photos of the operation!

I'm serious.

(Nobody is particularly surprised by that, are they...)

Unfortunately, I had a crack at dying on the table as they put me under, so they opted to restart my heart instead of taking photos, dangit. Oh well, fair call I guess! So I have no photos of the operation to share with you. Better luck next time.

I actually walked into the operating theatre and climbed onto the table myself. I suppose they eyed me up and decided they didn't much fancy lifting someone nearly 6'2" onto the table themselves! In memory it's sort of like a surreal dream sequence, and it will be interesting to see whether it ever pops up in my dreams/nightmares. I remember commenting on how narrow the operating table is (and yet, how long - I swear you could fit nearly 2 (short) people on it), and asking how on earth they got seriously overweight people to stay on the table - didn't they sort of, like, hang off the edges and overbalance?? They just laughed but I was serious!!! I'm not overweight anymore, but I didn't have much room to spare. I have the same question in regards to fitting people in to MRI chambers but I don't suppose anyone will ever answer that one for me, either :(

When I came to, things looked a bit like this (although it was more like the upper right hand corner of this picture):

The anaesthetist was basically a bright blue blob with no distinct edges who sounded a lot further away than just standing by my feet (although, to be fair, that is further away from my head than it is on most people...). I heard him say something about me going into VF (ventricular fibrillation, aka Dancing with Death), and I'm not sure whether he said it to me or to someone else in the room, but when I asked the Purple Recovery Nurse about it she denied it. Then again, my question probably sounded like "mmnmfgoiumdpolfg?" so it's entirely possible she had no idea what I was asking. My parents later told me that the surgeon had told them that what the anaesthetist had said was true.

Besides that whole nearly dying thing, which, let's face it, is a bit old hat for me, the operation went quite well.

Not too much later I was wheeled back to my room where Rex Wombat and my parents awaited me. The next thing I looked at was the television screen, and I was deeply struck by the irony of the brand of television considering I could barely see the label!

I didn't laugh on the outside, but inside it was hiLARious! It was so funny I kept repeating it to myself and thinking I had to tell the bloggy world about it (which I have now done... it was way funnier in my drugged-up head... sorry!)

After my vision had cleared and I had vomited up a whole lot of nothing (tasted like saline, not like spew, which I presume is what it was), my dad had to feed me my dinner, one tiny spoonfull at a time, because I was to groggy to do it myself, and I couldn't move my right arm anyway (it's still not really up to snuff). I made it through half a bowl of soup and a quarter of sandwich before calling it quits.

That first night I remembered how hard it is to get comfortable following surgery. This is the most invasive surgey I have had by a country mile. It not only involved removing the original device, but also replacing it - much deeper - with a new one. This meant teasing out layers of pectoral muscle to slide the sucker into place. It was my choice to have it implanted more deeply, mainly because I'm incredibly vain and because I don't want it to physically effect me in terms of carrying packs etc, but boy oh boy will I be rethinking the deep implant option next time. I guess I'll have more of an idea if it's worth the extra pain once I'm all healed up and fully functional again.

The first night is also the night where I came to realise that nurses in private hospitals are much more generous with time and resources than those in public ones - they'll stay for a chat, and pat you reassuringly on the back of the hand, and are more free (possibly as they have more time?) with helping you to the toilet and/or shower, and they'll fetch you sandwiches or icecream or cheese and biscuits (or painkillers and ice packs!) or whatever your defective heart desires in the night.

Thursday, I settled into my rhythm of eat-drugs-sleep-eat-drugs-sleep. Dad came and sat with me for a few hours and I don't remember much else about the day. I don't think I ate a great deal.

Friday I spewed up my lunch and only ate part of my dinner as I feared a repeat of lunchtime. There aren't many more painful things than vomiting with a swollen chest wound. You also wouldn't believe how intricately the muscles in your torso are connected with one another, or what colour lettuce is when it comes up again.

Nice :)

Thursday night (or was it Friday? Can't remember) was just awful. I have never been in pain like that, ever. And that includes the time I broke my right arm into an S-bend sort of shape. I think part of it was that I was more or less neglected for 2 or so hours as the shift changed over, so the ice pack I had asked for never showed up, and the pain killers hadn't shown up, and I was lonely and sore and so when I woke with a start from a wee snooze I was having and jerked the wound, it felt like the world was ending. Pain (and pain killers, for that matter) does funny things to your brain. I cried, partly from the pain and partly because I was scared it wouldn't stop.

I had plenty of visitors on Friday, including my brother. I was so stoked to see him cos I know how much he hates hospitals! I had visitors over the weekend, too, so my routine changed a little to sleep-eat-visitors-eat-drugs-sleep-visitors-eat-drugs-sleep. I didn't have a great deal of time to watch TV and I didn't read anything I brought with me - that's how much sleeping I did!

Shortly I will share with you my X-Rays and a couple of pictures of my wound, but before that I will share some pics of both the Royal Melbourne Hospital (where I stayed at Christmas) and Melbourne Private (which is next door) so you can see the difference.

The view from my first room at the RMH was pretty awesome. It was the best room in the ward because I was the sickest patient there, which meant that I got this view but with THREE LOTS OF FIREWORKS on New Year's Eve - one just this side of the city, one to the right over near the Bolte Bridge, and some way down between the buildings. It was very pretty.

But then they moved me to a submarine, occupied by a snorer, which I wasn't terribly happy about. I suppose that was their way of moving me along. Note also that this was the only window, and it was beside my bed, so I had to actually sit backwards on the foot of my bed to see out the window. But at least there was a tree!

Conversely, this was the view from my room at Melbourne Private. I would say it's an equally good view, or perhaps a little better on account of there being a sportsground down there, so at certain times of day I could hop out of bed and ogle watch the college boys training and playing soccer.

It had the added bonus of some local impromptu street art/sculpture thoughtfully added by - one assumes - school children, but given the aerial perspective it could also have been constructed by friends of a patient, or perhaps nurses (who are well known for having a filthy sense of humour):

Having trouble spotting it? Perhaps you need to look a bit harder *giggles*

Then of course there are the inevitable menu errors. The one at the RMH was all the more amusing because I'm not **really** supposed to drink coffee (the form requests tea. It also requests low fat, and I'm not sure whether I ought to be offended by that...)

but the one from MPH is definitely not fruit toast, which is what the form requests (not that you'd know it, cos my phone's camera won't focus on anything closer than about 3' from it).

Ahh, first world problems!

We're in the home straight now, and the next few photos may gross you out so if you're squeamish, best you look away.

First up, meet Zappy the Second. And also the ribs on the right hand side of my body.

He's about the size of a Zippo lighter, perhaps a little larger. I estimate that I could lie two of him, side by side, along my palm from its heel to the base of my fingers. I have quite small hands. And yep, that big bundle of wires and metal is inside me. The fatter wire that crosses down to the left of the picture is not - that's just the lead from the telemetry they had me on - but the two finer wires are still there. The model sounds very futuristic - the St Jude Medical Pacemaker 7000.

Second, this is what my surgical site looks like. I won't give you the close-up right away so you don't get too grossed out too soon. It's stuck together with Contact!

Thirdly, here is my whole chest X-Ray. You can see the two little leads that terminate in my heart (which is on the right side of the picture, and therefore the left side of my body). The lead that ends to the left is in my atrium and is the new one; the one to the right is in my ventricle and is the one that has been there since last time. I didn't realise how far the (or, my!) heart sits on its side until I saw this X-Ray and realised that, although your atria are above your ventricles in all the diagrams, in reality mine are kind of angular. I have no idea whether that's normal. Or whether I'm interpreting the X-Ray correctly. You know, with my non-existent medical science degree and all ;)

Okay, I just realised that it's not particularly obvious what I meant by the above, so at some point when my head is less foggy I'll play with the contrast on the picture and draw some lines to explain what I mean.

Fourth is a bit of perspective on the location of the incision. Once it's healed I'll find an old photo and do a before-and-after. As you may be able to imagine, it's kind of a big deal for a young woman to have such an ugly wound on her chest, which is why my incision is vertical - to make it easier to hide. As I said - vanity. The bulge will also be far less prevalent now as it is tucked under my pectoral muscle and not just under the skin (you could see pretty much the shape of the whole unit before, and could feel the lead terminals at the top. Gross, hey?).

And lastly is the gross one, taken 6 days after surgery, that reminds me of the plastic wrapper around corned beef, and all the goop that it contains. Plus some bruising. Plus some pink antiseptic stuff (which looks suspciously like the stuff they mark lamb with). Plus the more I look at it the more I wonder whether there are actually two incisions, side by side. I guess it would make sense, given that they had to take old Zappy out and put new Zappy in, in a slightly different spot. Oh well, I'll find out in a few days when I peel the dressing off. Not looking forward to it. I'm not geneally squeamish - opting instead for a certain level of fascination about the human body - but I suspect that if it does actually resemble that corned beef wrapper, that I will in fact gag a little. As long as it doesn't scar as badly this time I'll be happy. And the new surgeon explained what the old dropkick at the Austin didn't - that it scarred because my skin stretched, and the scar added fibres to itself to compensate. But if I keep it taped for 3-6 months, which the old surgeon never told me, I should get quite a fine scar out of it instead of something 5mm across like last time! Grr to incompetence, and may I never again encounter it...

So... I hope you weren't about to eat...

My experience at Melbourne Private was altogether a positive one, with staff who listened, and who I felt gave me a certain degree of control over the treatment of my pain and over my comfort in general, which is always good.

I'm not used to the different sensations in my chest just yet, but that will change soon, I guess. I still don't know what the new normal is. Hopefully my new normal involves the words AWESOME, and, as a good friend suggested, INVINCIBLE :)

Oh, but one awesome final note - the new model has this kickass function whereby it vibrates to warn you when it's running out of juice, or that it has detected that a lead is faulty, or that it needs attention in general. It feels like a mobile phone going off, only pressed really hard against your chest. How cool is that! (And yet, I'll probably positively sh!t myself if and when it ever goes off!).

Well that's it from me. In case you couldn't tell by my ramblings I'm well overdue for my afternoon nap, and even more overdue for painkillers. Sweet dreams to me, and thanks to everyone who called/dropped by/wished me well in general!