Do you ever feel sorry for yourself?

To answer the question above, sometimes I do. My knees are giving me ‘hell’ today. I had my knee surgery a good few years ago and they were good for a while.

This was the first day the dressings were taken down. They healed well and I was able to be on a plane back to Ethiopia within a couple of months to help with the first group of year 4 medical students as they came into our hospital there.

They were good for a couple of years then something went wrong and although I am constantly reassured that it has nothing to do with the prostheses going bad, now every step hurts. So today I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. and decided to look at a few photos of those who really did have something to complain about.

I have chosen a handful from more than a hundred leg shots, and cut out the really nasty ones but you choose if you want to read on.

Continue reading “Do you ever feel sorry for yourself?”

Surprise problems.

I’ve written before about our sheep. During WWII I, while dad was away at the war, I lived with my mother and brother with our grandparents on a sheep farm. So we often had bottle fed pet lambs which had been orphaned or were neglected by their mothers. So, I’m comfortable with sheep. The soil where we now live is not excellent and the weather is pretty warm, with long, sometimes up to nine months, without rain. 

But we are trying to get a hobby farm with dorper sheep off the ground. The advantages of dorper sheep are that you don’t need to shear them, they lamb twice a year, and they produce good meat.

In some ways we are trying to convert a small property which we bought on the edge of the city hoping to subdivide it, as it was gazetted in the city planning office. But the rules were changed and that is no longer possible.

We planned to have small paddocks to rotate the animals and hopefully allow re-growth if/when it rains. But we now have an extra reason to keep them in small areas. We have to put them into a secure high walled area every night.

Our temporary dingo proof shelter

In the last few days between us and our two neighbours we have lost 27 sheep and 2 goats to dingoes. Bad for all of us but, fortunately for us, we only lost two sheep and our first lamb of the season. Sunday after church we took a trip to Bunnings and bought sheets of 2.4 X 1.2 metre ply wood and now, as a temporary measure, there is a high fence around the yards. Using sheep nuts as bribery our sheep are now putting themselves under lockdown every evening. We’ve had to extend the small lock up for our 8 lambs from last breeding season. It is near our home so is not as extensive or in fact not as dingo proof, but they haven’t come that close.

It is no problems getting the lambs in by rattling a container with sheep nuts in it!

Our other problem animal is the wallaby. There are literally hundreds in the area and they are protected. They dig up the roots of the grass. Annoyingly they prefer green grass, which is around the house where we water. This frustrates the gardening member of our family, my wife.

Some of last night’s holes in our lawn.

I can’t get an exact figure but in my reading I conclude that three wallabies eat about as much as one sheep, so they numerically but not practically increase the size of our flock.

Dominic Cartier

Taking things out of context.

I don’t know if you know much about the Bible, but there was once a man, so the story goes, who used to daily read some of it. (Apparently G K Chesterton did,) One morning the reader in the possibly apocryphal story was in a hurry and he said ‘today I’m just going to, with my eyes closed, open the book and point with my finger to a spot’. He had thought that this would be God’s word to him for the day. Opening his eyes he read ‘Judas went out and hanged himself’. ‘God would never say that to me’, so he did the same thing a second time, only to read ‘Go thou and do likewise’.

He learnt to look at things in context after that.

I have often heard the saying ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none.’ It apparently came initially from Italy, but was made popular in English in the days when you had to be a member of a guild to get a position. Often very capable people were not admitted to the appropriate guild because of lack of family connections etc. There is another third phrase to the above. Maybe, it be would be better fully quoted with the third line. I like that very much but I couldn’t find who added it.

‘Jack of all trades, but master of none, yet often better than the master of one!’

The third phrase gives the saying a very different meaning. I knew several teachers who were doing an excellent job teaching in a primary school in Ethiopia. The requirement was put out from the USA’s Education committee, that if American teachers, teaching at a foreign school, were to maintain their USA accreditation all teachers in the school had to be accredited in an appropriate country. Three of their teachers, some of whom I knew personally, and were extremely good and loved by their pupils lost their jobs. Not to deny the need of accreditation, but…. maybe experience and even ‘grandparent’ clauses should be listened to, obviously with good backing evidence.

Several times I have had patients on whom I operated upon tell me that after I had spoken with them in a preoperative consultation they came into the hospital very happy for surgery. I always used to end my talk about potential complications by saying this occurs (for example) once in every five hundred operations but you realize that in your case it is either zero or one hundred percent of a chance. I can only assure you that I will seek for it not to happen to you. Postoperatively they occasionally told me that after a particular anaesthetist had spoken to them they almost cancelled and went home. Obviously he was not my favourite anaesthetist, but the way things are said makes a whole difference.

Just last week I had someone tell me that he had changed from surgery to radiotherapy, because some one told him that the operation was a lot of blood in a dark deep hole. His radiotherapy (which was a reasonable choice) left him with four years of a very significant complication. There is excellent lighting in Australian operating rooms. Blood loss is manageable by auto transfusion or simple transfusion. So I’m not saying that he made the wrong choice, but he made it on the wrong evidence and suffered one of those 1% or 100% complications. For him 100%.

Dominic Cartier.

Cheaper by the dozens!

By the normal, enjoyable, route God graciously gave us five children, then we adopted two more and have been blessed by a couple of dozen either living with us for a while, making our home away from home or with us developing a close relationship with them as we helped them get reasonable educations.

They are such a good looking mob that I would love to be able to show you pictures of them all, but that apparently is not a good idea. I will just number them and tell a story about a few.

  1. The first was delivered by Caesarian Section, an operation requested by us. At a prenatal check up his heart was playing up pretty grossly and we were advised that he would almost certainly be mentally abnormal and that we should just allow the pregnancy to go to term (which was soon) and see what developed. We did not accept that. Truly he had an irregular heart for a while but that soon settled. If he is mentally defective, I’m glad, for otherwise he would be so far ahead of me that I would be surpassed by an absolute genius.
  2. His mother wanted a certain name for him. A name which I didn’t like, so as I was learning by then how to occasionally win an argument , I said nothing but just put my choice in the paper, as we did in those days, with my choice listed. We had agreed on his first name. He has been director of a Bible School in the Sudan, lecturer at a Bible College and director of a mission school in Ethiopia and is now a pastor of a moderate sized church. I’m not sure but I think that he has four degrees.
  3. He was probably one of the two most difficult of our natural kids as a teenager, but has grown into a man’s man and is great. Trained in science, education and theology, and having been a maths teacher for years, he now is training to be a worker amongst disadvantaged men. He and his lovely wife have plans to extend their ministry even wider in the future.
  4. Our fourth child was born in the midst of a cholera epidemic. Heavily jaundiced we think that he developed a mild case of cholera. He is also well educated with several degrees and is a Maths teacher. Proud of him for many reasons, I am tickled pink because he turned down a promotion so that he could still keep contact with kids as he was trained to do. He was given a title as a young teacher of ‘magpie poop’. He had a patch of white on the back of his hair where he had suffered an injury and his hair regrew white.
  5. Our only daughter is the spitting image of her mother and thus very beautiful. Having trained as a preschool teacher she is now personal assistant to the head of the secondary division of a moderately large Christian School. She is a great violinist (her teacher once said that she was Symphony Orchestra material) and a beautiful singer. Which, given her parents singing ability hints at a mutated gene.
  6. A double orphan, starved, protein wise, as a child, came to us as a teenager. Given his background, he has achieved as much as any of his older siblings and is qualified in geriatric care and has the drive to be setting himself up to provide services for the disabled. Personality wise he is a delight.
  7. As a child born out of time he became ours legally when we were seventy-ish. Again a near teenager when we ‘got’ him, he has turned out a gem. I guess, like all of us, time will tell but he is a keen and competent apprentice, good at IT. While we were still in Ethiopia he made money by fixing up many others computers and phones. He is very helpful for his IT backward parents!

Older than our oldest child, the first young man we brought to Australia to study has become head of a significant and quite large government organization in Australia. Offered the post of head of a diplomatic post in Africa, he rejected it for various reasons. He has a beautiful family and his oldest son was the first to give us a child who acknowledges us as great-grandparents.

We have been able to help over 20 young people through their education. A few have disappointed us, most of them have made us very proud. CEO’s, presidents of organizations, teachers, and although not helped by us financially a number with whom I’ve been involved in their training are top-notch doctors. I get the greatest joy from them when they write or message and thank me for my work ethic and even more when they talk about our role in their developing Christian faith. Thus several of them are now professors and heads of strategic medical units.

Maybe not financially, but cheaper by the dozen, and we luv ’em all.

Dominic Cartier.

TO my Grandkids….

I don’t know where I found it, but looking through old photos I came across this. For some reason it obviously impressed me.

I can’t imagine that it was when my first grandson was born about 30 years ago. And I have ten of them at any rate. I love my six grand daughters as much so it maybe should be titled ‘GRANDCHILDREN’. and I have 2 7/9 great grandchildren so I’ll include them in my thinking.

I got to think about it line by line today in the light of my eighty plus years of life experience. I’ve alredy added to the first but let me go on.

A nice thought but honestly I don’t believe it. Surely I believe that even if suffering from some physical, emotional or mental problem then you can still achieve a huge amount. If it ever occurred can you cure yourself of a stage four cancer when it is discovered late, I doubt it, maybe modern medicine or God may do so . If someone’s IQ is about 100 do I believe that, just by wishing it, they can become a professor of astrophysics. I doubt it, even if they are some type of appropriate idiot savant. Nevertheless they will be capable of a lot if they really put their mind to it. And I seek to remind you that a thorough cleaner is as important to a successful operation as a good surgeon. And if the anaesthetist makes a big mistake maybe the patient will die. I had a friend visit me in Ethiopia who queried how many geniuses there were laying on the grass watching a few cattle. It would be hard to imagine how they would travel to the moon!

Well I must say that you can lose. You should learn from failures surely, and it is much better to do so than to wallow in your losses. But you can lose – a marriage partner may die young or a child be taken by disease or an accident. That will be a shattering loss. Or maybe you will lose a parent early. Even at my old age if/ when my wife dies, if she dies before me, it will be a shattering loss.

Obviously this is a metaphor stressing the need to aim whole heartedly at what you want. A phase with lots of positivity about it. But I don’t want you to aim at being a successful con man or bank robber or abortionist. But there is a wide range of things with which if you desire I offer you my very best wishes. And it does say aim at the skies, I certainly would encourage you to think hard about sky (eternal) issues.

The loving under all circumstances may prove hard at time, but promising to love you is sincere. True love doesn’t stop you from being upset or even speaking your mind, but love can persist through those things. I hope that I could even love you if you declare that you hate me. Certainly I hope to die before you do, but I can’t even promise you that.

Which makes me wonder how much time do I have left here on earth to love you. And to wonder may it be possible for me to love you from the ‘skies’? I have a certain HOPE that it will be a possibility.

Dominic Cartier, your grandfather.