As of this morning I had not been to the gym for about 11 or 12 days, primarily due to a combination of fasting and irregular night-time sleep affecting my routine. Today I decided I would go. I mainly did some resistance exercises with my back muscles as well as some treadmilling, burning an amount of calories so pitiful that I am too ashamed to report it here.
Afterwards I decided I would go to the 24h highway McDonalds to get myself a Choc-whirl Frappe. I am somewhat addicted to these and the only reason I haven’t been consuming them daily is because it would require a 14km round trip.
As I was about to cross the Manning River bridge I saw a guy on the side of the road with his arm out, indicating that he wanted a lift. I pulled over about 30m past and he came towards the car. I was a bit apprehensive about picking up a hitch-hiker because the last time I did it the guy claimed he worked as a stripper, and had a generally strange demeanour. I blogged it at the time but I can’t find the post. Maybe I deleted it out of shame.
The current hitch-hiker opened the door and thanked me for stopping. I asked him where he was going, and he said Forster, a town about 40km south. I told him I was just going to the Maccas, and that he was welcome to come that far, and he said that was fine.
Normally I keep some sort of bladed implement in the door-side pocket of my car, in case I do pick up a random person and they end up being inappropriately crazy. I didn’t have one with me this time, but it turned out this guy was okay.
He told me he had just come back from hospital in Sydney, and that his train had been late getting to the station, and so he had missed his bus. I asked him if he had anyone he could call, and he said no but he would eventually get home. I offered to take him there, and he offered me $10 in petrol, which was probably more than adequate. While at the petrol station he asked me where I was from, and before I answered he guessed Sri Lanka, which I think is the first time that has happened. He said he had been surfing many times in Arugam Bay, back in the day.
His story was that around the 1990′s or 80′s he started having episodes of unconsciousness a couple of times a year, sometimes they would last days or sometimes weeks. His doctors had initially had difficulty pinpointing the cause and diagnosed him with epilepsy and put him on an anti-epileptic which did little for him.
Years later he came across a thesis by someone from a university in Brisbane about a parasite that lived in a type of sea anemone, that could also infect people and had a ’90 day cycle’ of some sort (possibly reproductive), which he said correlated with the frequency of his episodes of unconsciousness. The researcher had been studying something about this in Sumatra. My passenger said he used to surf in Sumatra (about 10 years before his first episode), and tried to tell his doctors about this but they were dismissive. Eventually he contacted someone from the Marine Biology department at the university and they offered to help him with this, and now he had found some doctors who are interested in pursuing that hypothesis, and he is awaiting the results of some tests. He was very excited about being taken seriously about this hypothesis as these episodes had a major impact on how he lived his life; he had ended up losing his job and house and marriage from when he lived in Sydney.
When we got to his place he showed me his paperwork and assorted files. He mentioned Dr Wickremesinghe, one of our physicians, and said he owed his life to him. I have a memory of a patient calling out to Dr Wickremesinghe in hospital, saying that he owed him his life, but that was about 2 months ago and I can’t remember if it was this same guy.
He also had a Chihuahua in his house, and I was amazed at how small it was considering that dogs are descended from wolves. It was probably around the size of a large rat, maybe equivalent to a large Gambian pouched rat.