Just when everyone had either assumed my demise or lost interest, here I am again after what seems to be turning into Last Django's customary spring break!
As I dolefully predicted in January, my much-loved mother-in-law steadily declined and messages urging us to go and see her "as soon as possible" piled up from the family. Mrs Byard duly went out ahead of us leaving me to trail in behind her (and stay on afterwards, to cover more possibilities). This meant I had all the fun of keeping the two-year old Guthlac happy during a 20-hour flight. Lucky me.
As it turned out we were too late - she passed away two days before my wife arrived, although at least Mrs Byard could attend the funeral (something she'd happily have passed up for five minutes with her mother, of course). Anyway, we duly trailed in and had to visit graves and carry out the ceremonies demanded by Chinese tradition, the highlight of which was Guthlac picking up a packet of cigarettes that had been acquired for offering on his grandfather's grave to be told forcefully "Just take one!"
Mrs Byard and Guthlac then trailed off back to blighty, leaving me and Djangolina to go round and do some things that can't really be done with toddlers in tow. The first day of this odyssey I had a few abdominal pains and took an immodium figuring it was just the normal travel bug-type thing. The next night the pain was getting worse and I took some painkillers. By noon the third day I couldn't stand up and could no longer urinate properly. At this point I was rushed to hospital, where an ultrasound scan revealed that my urethra was blocked by a kidney stone the size of a Glaswegian's liver and that my right kidney was swollen to double its proper size. After a day of extreme pain and discomfort, an x-ray revealed the bloody thing was stuck and refusing to come the normal way, so and endoscope was inserted, and the offending mass removed. (Lest anyone think this is a play for sympathy, let me assure you that a) I know my readers better than that, and b) kidney stones are eye-wateringly painful without being a serious health threat - they are the stuff of black comedy rather than tragedy).
This was followed by 72 hours on a hospital bed attached to assorted drips and catheters, at which point I found out misfortune number three - thanks to the Icelanders being as careless with their volcanoes as they were with their banks, I couldn't return home on time and was facing a further fortnight of enforced holiday in Indonesia. Frankly though, were I to choose any country to get stuck in through no fault of my own, it would be this one - so this stands as the tail-end sweetener to a catalogue of visits by the cock-up fairy. Onward and upward, eh?