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Choose Happiness

This week I had to travel 400 km each way to see a specialist doctor. For some time, I have had a problem with the ring finger on my right hand. For some months it would trigger at random, and it might take several minutes of massaging my hand to release it. A few months ago, it stopped triggering, but now I could not close it or the adjacent fingers, and often it was sore unless I held it at exactly the right angle. None of this was hugely problematic as I am left handed, but it is amazing the number of things you use your non-dominant hand for.

Before Christmas, I saw my GP who referred me to a very good hand specialist who is based in Newcastle. I obtained an appointment for 4 pm yesterday.

A minor complication was that a week ago, the electricity suppliers had notified us that the power would be off at home and at the church all day from 8 am. On a hot day with no air conditioning, the fridges might have struggled. Margaret emptied the freezers of the vulnerable stuff that must not be thawed and refrozen, and put them into No. 6, the residence the church owns that is currently devoid of tenants. By 9.30 am the power had not gone off, so Margaret rang Essential Energy. They told her that the contractors had cancelled the outage, but had only just notified them. Margaret told the representative that we are running a business and we need timely information about such things. Tim had been hanging around ready to start a generator to keep the IT gear running, but had basically wasted his time.

So off we went to Newcastle. We found our way to John Hunter Hospital and to the Medical Specialists suite. The doctor was running about 20 minutes late. I saw him for about 10 minutes (15 would be a generous estimate), in which he decided that the best treatment option was a cortisone injection, and maybe surgery as a next step if necessary.

I discovered just how painful cortisone injections are. By the time he was done, I was sweating profusely and quite close to entering shock. It was no fun at all. The finger remained sore for over an hour, but it eventually got better.

Then came the really painful part- paying for the doctor. $300 for 10 minutes work in a round trip of 800 km, taking 12 hours. I really don’t ever complain about the fees doctors, especially specialists, charge. Their knowledge and skills are beyond monetary prices.

As we travelled home, I had a choice to make. I could focus on the negatives of the experience, which is my old nature.

Alternatively I could choose to thank God for all the blessings.-

  • We do have good access to quality medical care in Australia even when we have to travel big distances to get it.

  • We own a car that travels well and in comfort- praise God for air conditioning!

  • We have roads that allow speedy travel

  • We have the resources to both finance the trip and the doctor’s fee

  • There are good services along the way- food, coffee and toilets

  • I didn’t have to have surgery. I have to check in with the doctor in 6 weeks to let him know how I am progressing, but the injection may be sufficient

  • The weather was warm but beautiful

  • We have a quality electricity supply, despite the best intentions of politicians to wreck it. Generally it is there 24/7, whenever you need it.

  • I had Margaret to share the driving with me. That first couple of hours after the injection might have been uncomfortable for driving

  • God kept us safe from inconsiderate and foolish drivers and from wildlife

  • Despite our advancing years, Margaret and I enjoy good health.

We can all choose to be happy or grumpy in every situation. We can focus on the inconveniences or on the blessings.

I am writing this on Australia Day, when the professional grievance mongers come out to whinge. These are people who generally are tertiary trained (I was going to write “university educated”, but these days universities are about indoctrination rather than education), have well-paid government funded jobs and they tell us how bad it is to be “indigenous” (used to be “aboriginal” but that changed a few years back), how their people are suffering from institutionalised racism and the genocides by white people back in the past.

But I know many indigenous people who are happy and productive. They see the progress that has been made in recent decades to challenge racism, the attempts to overcome the disadvantages of aboriginal communities in remote places, the educational and employment opportunities that abound for people of indigenous ancestry, and the benefits of living in a modern nation.

We can all focus on the good and the bad. The choice for joy or bitterness lies with us.