Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


The fly.

It's the time of year.

Last weekend we had a picnic way down there in the valley by the Tarago River in deepest Gippsland where the black and white cows live; and the flies came along, just to be sociable.

It was Sunday afternoon and we barbecued my mother-in-law's Lorne sausage, which is a highly spiced combination of minced beef and pork and you eat it on fresh buttered bread with Lea and Perrins sauce and sip a scotch and imagine you're back in the Highlands; except the temperature is thirty degrees celsius. Well, it was last Sunday, in Gippsland, before that gale came over and whipped the treetops so that they looked like streamers at a Grand Final. After the gale, the temperature dropped and the flies went away.

Later in the week, another fly came along. I could see it. It wasn't buzzing and flicking like the Gippsland flies, but it was kind of swimming backwards and forwards in front of me, as if in jelly. The funny thing about the fly was, I could only see it with my right eye.


The lady behind the desk at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital was one of those unflappable middle-aged medical receptionists you see at every public hospital in the world. She had cropped hair, funky purple glasses with those wide arms that stop your peripheral vision and a black knitted top with a skull and crossbones in chrome studs across the chest. I didn't ask her if she was wearing it ironically, I just told her my name and my date of birth and about the fly.

She tapped all of that into a computer and directed me to a waiting room where I waited for ten minutes, and then a nurse came out and took me to another room and asked me a few questions - no, I'm not allergic to anything - and then we walked along a few corridors and around a few corners to another waiting room, a larger one with about ten people waiting and a television chattering away in the corner. I sat down on a chair and read all of a Harvey Norman homewares catalogue, most of a 2004 TV Week magazine and half of a September 2007 Time magazine. Then I watched the TV in the corner for a while. Huey's Cooking Adventures was on and Huey was pushing around some snow peas in a pan and grilling some salmon in another pan, and the salmon broke in two and Huey said bugger! in that New Zealand accent he still has and then the doctor came out.

The doctor was a sandy-haired, happy type in his early thirties: long enough out of medical school to have seen it all but not long enough to be tired and bitter and over it. We went into a dark room and I sat in the chair and he poked a light into my eye and, after a few minutes of small talk during which he told me about his sixteen-hour shift coming up tomorrow, he said 'Good news!'

I love the way they say 'good news' first, because then you don't have a heart attack when they tell you what the condition is, because while they know the condition, you don't. Any condition you don't know about always sounds fatal when they tell you you've got it.

My fly was a 'posterior vitreous detachment', and it was moving around inside my eye and the doctor said it would move around inside my eye for the rest of my life and not to worry about it. He said that I wouldn't even see it after six weeks, because my brain would get sick of pointing it out to me. That was the good news, or that it wasn't a completely detached retina, which probably looks like an African elephant galloping around in your eye instead of a fly, but the doctor didn't say.

Six weeks? I might give my fly a name. How about Huey? It's as good as any.


jo said...

Oooo luv, not fun. But I assure you that it will indeed disappear, at least as far as you seeing it.
I get migraines with visuals and I had one badly enough a few years ago to make me see permanent black areas.
After a boat load of test, they agreed that there was permanent damage, but assured me that eventually my brain would just get used to it and I wouldn't be bothered by it and alas....they were correct.
Cold and freezing rain here...winter as we know it is on the way.

kitchen hand said...

Thank you, Jo. I am lucky enough never to have suffered a migraine; from what I have heard they are hell on earth. Spring here right now, and every day changes its mind. Today is cold and wet, but that is good for the tomato seedlings that have just gone in.

Dr. Alice said...

I like your doctor's "Good news" idea KH, I will have to remember it. Not that I start off speaking to a patient by saying "bad news" or anything, but you know what I mean.

I agree with your doc, it's amazing what your brain can learn to ignore over time. For instance, we all have a "blind spot" in each visual field where the optic nerve cuts out of the eye to join the brain - but we never notice it because our brain has learned to fill that bit in.

kitchen hand said...

Now I want to know where my blind spot is, Dr A.!

neil said...

How about Louie the fly, he's a wee bit smaller, so you should be able to see more? Trouble is, you'll probably never feel the same way about a can of Mortein again, if indeed you can pick one up...

kitchen hand said...

I might have to use the name, Neil. Huey seems to have gained a companion.

Dr. Alice said...

Here's a link to a blind spot!

This shows you how it works.

neil said...

You might need to trade your runners for a bicycle.

kitchen hand said...

Thanks Dr. A.: I remember that test now from schooldays, had forgotten all about it.

Neil, I have a old Peugeot racer; I'll have to haul it out of the shed.