Four Seasons in One Day

Neil and Tim Flynn, of Crowded House, wrote a song with this title in 1992 (I was very young at the time..) about the weather in Melbourne..which, apparently, can change very rapidly. This may be a Southern Hemisphere thing…since in Dunedin we experience the same thing. A lot.

A clamshell resting on the sand at the Taieri River Mouth

For example, just this week we went from a relatively warm winter day (see the picture above)…to just hours later (back at my house) experiencing temperatures dipping into the 40s (F) and this….

The Otago Harbor, on a misty and cold winter afternoon

Weather in Dunedin is often a topic of conversation, and the weather here is also renown around New Zealand. If, for example, I was talking with someone from Auckland (the capital is in the Northern part of the Northern Island of New Zealand), they might (ok…many of them do) say, “The weather is crap down there in Dunedin…why do you want to live there?”

You might ask…many questions when reading this sign…

This is not the reason I live in Dunedin. Full disclosure…I have never eaten at Sal’s. It is highly likely they serve an amazing pizza slice. I will satisfy both my curiosity and my appetite at some point and eat there…but it’s still on the ‘to do’ list.

I have been working quite a bit lately (this was my third week of working 6 days a week), and that makes it challenging to have much of a life outside the hospital. Inside the hospital, the experience remains much as I have described before, and in particular, it’s been impossible to not walk away from the hospital at the end of the day, astonished at just how nice all the patients are. For example, this week I saw a patient who likely had Total Global Amnesia (or, TGA as we call it, since ‘we’ like to use letters more than whole words). This is a very uncommon condition in which you suddenly lose the ability to form short term memories. Yes, that could come in handy (“Honey, yes, I forgot today was our anniversary…but I had a sudden attack of TGA!!!”), but mostly it’s a very scary event. I took care of a patient a few years ago…he was an attorney who left his office at the end of the day (I’ll try to refrain from saying it was 3pm) and then his wife called the office several hours later when he did not arrive at home. She was told he left the office hours ago. He was found by the Highway Patrol, 200 miles away, driving in circles in a parking lot. He had no idea how it got there.

The patient I cared for this week was athletic and highly functional; I explained the theories (since no one really knows) about how this happens. We could do an MRI, which might show some characteristic abnormalities…but our MRI scanner isn’t currently operational (the word we use instead of ‘broken’) ..I said.

Above is an example of what we might have seen…if the MRI scanner was working.

There is no treatment for this condition, however, and thus there is no necessity to rush to do an MR scan if the diagnosis seems certain.

But imagine you’re the patient…How difficult it must be to hear all the things we don’t know about this condition. We discussed what my tentative diagnosis was….though the patient had already Googled the condition and knew a lot about it. This sort of scenario happens a lot in California, but not as much here…despite the excellent WiFi connection in the hospital. So, I continued with our bedside discussion, “Here is what our theories are about how this happen (emphasize the word, “theories”)”. “There is no certain way to diagnose this problem” (Especially since our MR scanner isn’t working). “There is no treatment for this problem.” “Although most people don’t have a recurrence, it can happen again.”

The response of the patient was classic Kiwi. “Fair enough.”

And in the practical way that most Kiwis deal with life, the questions asked at the bedside were very pragmatic…’what do you recommend I do to avoid this coming back?’ ‘When can I exercise again?’ ‘What would you do if this was you?’ Poignantly, there was never a demand for certainty.

There is no certainty in the weather here…you just take what you get. Maybe that’s why I see people jogging, riding their bike, and kayaking in the matter what the weather. And maybe that ability to just roll with the punches transcends to all aspects of life…

A Cave at the North End of Tomahawk Beach. Filling up with water…and me learning to just ‘go with it’.

So I will continue to try and adapt. To get out of my bike even in the rain and 30mph winds. To go fish, even if the weather is a little tenuous. Who knows, I might get rewarded.

Sea-run Brown Trout, for dinner tonight!
Reflecting a very nice winter sky…Taieri River Mouth. 20 km from Dunedin.

Kia Ora


Published by dave clarke

I am different things to different people. Husband, father, doctor, teacher, friend, or if you're a fish, a fly fisherman. But really, I'm just a guy trying to learn about life, and if I'm lucky, maybe teach a little bit along the way. If I were a golfer (I'm not) I would be on the back nine of my life, or if I were a book, there would be more pages turned than not. Any yet, I'm far from finished creating chapters of my life. The goal of Next Chapters is inspiration, and I'm hopeful the traffic goes in both directions.

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