Random Analytica

Random thoughts, charts, infographics & analysis. Not in that order

Tag: Random

Random Analytica: From China with Love

I have been blogging for 10-years now. My best year was back in 2014 as I followed the H7N9 outbreak which originated in China. That year I garnered almost 33,000 views of which just 20 came from mainland China. I then took a break from blogging between 2015 – 2018. In late 2019 I started to blog about some of my experiences in the Australian Army. Since then the hits from China have increased from <1% to 16.7% this year while my Hong Kong viewers have disappeared. It is all the more interesting because I only dwell on Twitter (banned in China) and WordPress via social media. I’ve reached out to some experts in the field including Stephen McDonell (via the BBC) who is reporting in Hong Kong tonight from the vigil on the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

5. Mefloquine Dispatches: @NAB, 20th March 2019

The ground is dirty. It is covered by cigarette butts and bottle tops. It is the remotest place in a very tidy hospital. Workers gather here to catch a few moments of peace. The patients have their own area. It is in another corner. Far enough from this place that no one has to cross pollinate or feel uncomfortable as they take a few moments for themselves. If staffer or patient still smokes these are the last places they can go. It has been banned everywhere else.

I gather what little I have. There isn’t much left. On Sunday I tell my former partner I’m glad I know. I tell her I’m ready to travel to Switzerland. A nice dinner and a pill sound wonderful. In reality I don’t know the sheer scale of it. At this stage I know just enough that it has finally tipped me over. I’m laughing a lot again. She talks me down. I agree to get some help.

My psychiatrist is moving heaven and earth to get me a hospital bed. He doesn’t believe me yet. In time he will. He just see’s someone who needs help. The DVA has introduced a white card. Apparently it’s for guys like me. Even though I’m not a veteran. How the world has moved on from 1999. It is Monday. The next bed is available on a Wednesday. I just need to lay-up for two days. The DVA white card is a life saver.

I go back to my Kaczinski Cabin. There is no hot running water. My hot shower and toilet are a walk away. It is messy which is unlike me. The year previously I was practising minimalism and people free days (PFDs). I love it here. It is so quiet.

I have to get my admin in order. I know how sick I am. Might be gone for months. I make calls, I visit only who I absolutely have to. I use the last $500 in my bank account to pay for three weeks rent. It is Tuesday now. Just two more calls tomorrow before admission. The DVA have organised me a car in the morning. I can finally get some kip after that.

As I stare at the cigarette butts and the bottle tops the Centrelink call comes in. I explain the situation. I am very heightened. They step me through the process. My voice rises and collapses but the girl who takes my call has had some training, might even have taken a call like mine before. I apologise at the end of it. She wishes me luck and hopes I get better.

My last call is to NAB. It might be my first call. Time has fragmented but I’m still staring at those cigarette butts as I make the call. I think it would have been the last call because it should have been so easy. All I need to do is postpone my payments on a small personal loan. I’m always paying ahead of time. In fact I’m a couple of weeks ahead.

I start to explain my story but when he hears what needs to be done he reverts to process. Questions must be asked and must be asked in an order. The calm I had when I hung up from Centrelink is gone now. The questions are just so fucking irrelevant and I have an excellent banking record. I ask for another person. He declines. I’m screaming down the phone until he adds a disclaimer. Something along the lines of postponing payments will hurt my credit score. I’m laughing now. For all the talk by the Bankers they don’t have any training in this. They are still worried about their Royal Commission.

“Like I could give a fucking shit”. I might be screaming this, I might just be laughing. It will be interesting to hear that call again.

I still get it done. I get a three-month breather. There is nothing left to do now. As I walk back to the hospital I tell myself that NAB was the worst call I had to make all that week. It really should have been easy.

It is around 10am on a Wednesday morning on the 20th March 2019 when I finally admit myself to hospital.


Image: NAB. They won’t own the blood


If you or someone you know needs help, please phone Lifeline on 131 114, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Open Arms on 1800 011 046.

2. Mefloquine Dispatches: My Daughter, 2016

Today, I’ve made a real effort. The boys are excited to see me. We might even go out somewhere later.

My daughter has her hands wrapped tightly around 11Ms leg. She stares at me with the child’s wariness of the stranger in her eyes. She is somewhere between two or three years of age at this stage and I might have held her a few times. I’ve been living in pubs or house-sitting or living rough for the past two years. She doesn’t know me.

Why should she really? When she was born I didn’t visit. When N* was ready to leave the hospital I organised the boys and drove down to Nambour hospital to pick her up. As N* packed up the last of the hospital swag she asked if I wanted to take her down to the car. I readily agreed. Carrying babies is easy. Tightly fit them to the curve of your body and start walking. For all intents and purposes it might have been a bag of shopping really. I get to the car and walk back and forth holding her until N* arrives. She puts my daughter in her brand new baby seat and gets the strapping sorted. After four children we both know that I can get highly stressed around baby seats in cars.

Two and a half years later I’m staring at this child thinking I really do have a daughter. N* and I have been working on me having the boys every two weeks. It’s been working out ok and she thinks I might be ready to take my daughter on. The raw anger of separation has faded away and it’s now about the kids.

“How about I pick you up and hold you”? I ask. I hold out my arms to her.

She tenses up. She holds on to 11M tighter. “T*…” she wails still in her baby voice. She doesn’t want to be held by a stranger. She has her brother. Her brother has kept her safe and warm for years now, consoled her when she cried and got her treats when she was hungry.

“Don’t worry Dad” 11M says. His voice has always been older/wiser than his years. “She just thinks I am her Dad, she’ll get used to you eventually”…




If you need help…

Thank you for your interest. More Mefloquine Dispatches can be found here.