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Writing and writers

Oct 31, 2010

Andrew McMillan - we have a man down, but definitely not out...

If, in the Crowd, there's one who's not forgot me, If there's one, perhaps who asks how I am, Say I'm alive, but deny that I am well: That I'm even alive is a gift from a God. (Ovid, thanks to Paul Kelly via Chips Mackinolty)

Andrew McMillan. Larrimah, NT 2010. Photo: Glenn Campbell
Andrew McMillan. Larrimah, NT 2010. Photo: Glenn Campbell
This is a quick note to bring friends of Andrew up to speed on what has been happening in his life over the past few weeks.

I’ve posted notes on Andrew’s Facebook page and a few at mine but this is where he is up to right now…well a couple of hours ago when I last saw him in the Intensive Care Unit at Royal Darwin Hospital. My heartfelt thanks go out to the staff on ward 2A and on the ICU for all that they have done for my friend over the past few weeks.

If you want to read more about Andrew’s life and works see his personal website here.

For those who don’t know Andrew here is a brief attempt at a biography:

Andrew McMillan, author of An Intruder’s Guide To East Arnhem Land, is a Darwin-based writer who was born in Melbourne in 1957. As a teenager in Brisbane he started freelancing for the rock magazine RAM. During the next eleven years in Sydney his work appeared in The Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Sunday Telegraph, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Penthouse and numerous other publications. He also wrote and produced radio specials for various networks. He retired to the Northern Territory at the age of thirty. The author of Strict Rules (1988) and Death In Dili (1992), he’s won literary awards in the NT in recent years for history and poetry. Since 1992 he’s been (acting) Chief of Staff for the occasional typewriter band Darwin’s 4th Estate. He barracks for Collingwood in the Dry and breeds frogs in the Wet. His fourth book, Catalina Dreaming, was published by Duffy & Snellgrove in April 2002. In 2008 he wrote the text for a book on football on the Tiwi islands, Tiwi Footy.

Andrew McMillan - In the Bunker, Westralia Street, Stuart Park. Photo: Glenn Campbell
Andrew McMillan - In the Bunker, Westralia Street, Stuart Park. Photo: Glenn Campbell

Here are the updates that I’ve posted so far – most recent at the bottom…

Update on Andrew McMillan’s condition – evening of Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If, in the Crowd, there’s one who’s not forgot me,

If there’s one, perhaps who asks how I am,

Say I’m alive, but deny that I am well: That I’m even alive is a gift from a God.

(Ovid, thanks to Paul Kelly via Chips Mackinolty)

A week or so after Collingwood won the 2nd Grand Final in early October Andrew checked himself into Royal Darwin Hospital and on Tuesday 19th was operated on to remove a tumor in his bowel.

By the following Saturday he was recovering well and looking forward to finishing his first novel but by Sunday, in his own words, “It all went to shit” and he went back under the knife to undergo a Hartmann’s procedure.

He was told that if he did not do so he would have a quick and painful death within 3 days. Andrew initially resisted that further operation, saying that he’d “…had a good life, had seen his beloved Collingwood win two flags, had written five books and had loved and been loved by many beautiful women.

His friends persuaded him that he still had a lot of unfinished business to attend to and he agreed to the operation.

After a day or so back on the general ward he developed post-operative complications and returned to the Intensive Care Unit late on Sunday night.

Andrew is still in ICU where they have stabilised him in a respirator and he is under sedation.

On Wednesday last week I posted the following update on Andrew’s condition:

Update on Andrew’s condition – Wednesday 27th

I’ve just spoken to Murray McLaughlin who visited Andrew today.

He says: Andrew was at the end of his second day of full sedation and is being treated with Morphine & Midazolam, a strong sedative that is keeping him rested and effectively unconscious. He is on a respirator, has a mild lung infection that is not considered threatening.

Murray says that his colour looks better than it has done for some days. Nursing staff cannot provide any estimate of how long this treatment is expected to continue but his condition is described as “stable.

Murray advises that the ICU staff have been swamped with calls from around the country and beyond from friends concerned at his condition but that due to the volume of those calls they have ceased taking them.

We suggest that if you have a query about Andrew’s condition you call either Murray McLaughlin on 0429153363 or me (Bob Gosford) on 0447024968.

Please do NOT call the ICU at Royal Darwin Hospital.

Finally – for now – Murray advises that last night Witiyana Marika – a long-term friend of Andrew’s and member of Yothu Yindi, went to the hospital and sat by his bed and sang a few traditional songs for and to him. Apparently the nursing staff, Witiyana himself and other visitors were moved to tears…

This is a brief note from Thursday:

Dear all, Murray has just advised me that Andrew is making small improvements, that the medical staff are planning to slowly wean him off the respirator – Andrew is doing some of the work of that machine himself – and that at present they plan to have him off the respirator later today or tomorrow. Murray and I plan to visit Andrew later this afternoon

And this from Friday 29th:

Update on Andrew – Friday 29th, evening

I went out and sat with Andrew for an hour or so this evening…well yesterday really, I just got back from a great Swamp Jockey’s reunion gig at the railway Club in Parap…but more on that later.

They have taken Andrew off the respirator and the heavy sedation and he is now breathing unassisted. The staff are waiting for him to wake up, and they expect him to do so sooner or later – he is still on IV morphine and is receiving food in fluid form.

His colour looks much better than it did earlier in the week and his blood pressure has stabilised – around 150/70. I have the Swamp Jockey set-list and some pix that I’ll take out to show him what he missed earlier this evening.

Again, please do NOT call ICU as they will not take any further calls re Andrew – see earlier posts for contacts etc and of course leave a message here.

I’ll do a further update as soon as a I can after I get back from RDH in the morning.

There has been some talk about doing a fund-raiser for Andrew – he will need some time when he gets out in a clean and comfortable space – a hotel room with a view would be a good start. Not that there is too much… wrong with the bunker but it is not really a suitable place for post-op recovery – particularly in the impending Darwin wet-season – which looks like it’ll be a cracker.

So if you have any ideas about a fund-raiser – another Swamp Jockey gig?, maybe there are a few musos etc – several come readily to mind – who might want to donate their services for a very good cause…send them in!

And thanks to all of you for showing how much you love the man…and scroll down over at his FB page to see some lovely shots that Glenn Campbell took of Andrew at his favourite Territory town, Larrimah – population 13.

And this from my visit earlier today:

Update on Andrew’s progress – Sunday 31 October

Dear all, I’m just back from visiting Andrew and have some very good news on his progress – apologies for no update yesterday but I’ll fold news from then into this note.

Yesterday it was most pleasing to see Andrew opening his eyes and responding to the kind words of friends and the wonderful staff looking after him.

In the afternoon we got a comprehensive briefing from the doctor supervising his care and that gave us all a lot of comfort.

He is making good progress but as the doctor advised, in ICU “..all progress in measured in small steps…and sometimes Andrew will take a few steps backwards and then a few more forward.

And overnight it looks like Andrew has made yet more steady progress. He now responds quickly to the messages of love, support and care from his friends and is moving his arms and legs freely. He even attempts a wan smile from time to time.

Of course he is still a long way from recovery and as he comes around he is being treated with morphine for pain and a sedative to keep him calm.

His blood pressure is still elevated and his breathing is faster that the staff would like. His colour is very good and his renal system – which had a lot of work to do to process the morphine and other drugs he was receiving – is fine.

Again I would ask that people do not contact the RDH or ICU directly. Of you have a query please contact anyone on the list below. Also feel free to leave a note for Andrew in response to this post or over at Andrew’s FB page.

Murray McLaughlin: mclaughlin.murray@abc.net.au

Bob Gosford: bgosford@gmail.com

Chips Mackinolty: chips.mackinolty@amsant.org.au

Alan James: arjmail@bigpond.com 

Or you can call either Murray McLaughlin on 0429153363 or me (Bob Gosford) on 0447024968.

Thanks for getting this far. Please leave a comment or thought that you might want to send out to Andrew here or use the email addresses or phone numbers above.

I’ll provide any updates on Andrew’s condition as soon as they come to hand.

Please also visit Andrew’s Facebook page and leave your thoughts there – he will get them sooner or later – hopefully sooner!

And finally here is Andrew in his prime – in First Class on a plane over Indonesia, Bir Bintang at hand and reading a copy of the Jakarta Post.

Bir Bintang, a blue shirt and the Jakarta Post
Bir Bintang, a blue shirt and the Jakarta Post



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8 comments

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8 thoughts on “Andrew McMillan – we have a man down, but definitely not out…

  1. Vale Andrew McMillan, Darwin-based journalist and author: 1957-2012 at Andrew McMillen

    […] man, this well-known writer with whom I share more than a few parallels. I knew that he was ill, first with bowel cancer, and now with liver cancer. On November 25, 2011, I emailed him for the first time: […]

  2. Vale Andrew McMillan, 1957 – 2012 | The Northern Myth

    […] can see a little more about Andrew here. Comments (0) | […]

  3. NT Writers Centre opens a fund raiser for our mate Andrew McMillan – The Northern Myth

    […] to this report earlier in the week that provided some updates on Andrew McMillan’s progress in Royal Darwin […]

  4. Yuwalk

    An Intruders Guide to Arnhem Land is an excellent book and I wish Andrew a speedy recovery.

  5. seankav

    Great news. Thanks for keeping us posted, Bob. All the best to Andrew.
    Sean Kavanagh

  6. Bob Gosford

    Dear all – an update on Andrew’s condition – Monday 1 November, 2pm NT time.

    I’ve just returned from visiting Andrew. After leaving him yesterday afternoon when he was acknowledging friendly voices with his eyes but was unable to speak it was an enormous surprise today to walk in and see him sitting up and with a few less tubes running in and out of him.

    I didn’t speak to his treating Doctor but Andrew is reasonably comfortable and speaking – a little too much and a little slurry – and is still on oxygen enrichment. The catheter has been removed as has the breathing tube. He is receiving IV morphine and antibiotics. His blood pressure is still elevated and his respiration is occasionally too fast but is settling.

    They plan to move him from the ICU this afternoon – initially to the High Dependency Unit and eventually back to the general ward.
    Staff I spoke to were very happy with his progress. Andrew tried to write some notes but still has a little difficulty with his fine motor skills as yet.

    The staff advised that they will do some further tests on his heart – he had a mild infarction while he was being treated – but overall are very pleased with his condition.

    I’ll post more updates as they come to hand. As before of you wish to pass a message see the contact details and arrangements above.

    The NT Writers Centre will be establishing a fund into which you will be able to make tax-deductible donations for Andrew’s post-release care. I will advise of further details as they come to hand,

    Cheers and thanks to all of you who have shown concern and interest in Andrew’s well-being,

    Bob

  7. “Oh Humpty Doo…” The Swamp Jockeys – live at the Darwin Railway Club – The Northern Myth

    […] Skip to content « Andrew McMillan – we have a man down, but definitely not out… […]

  8. Tweets that mention Andrew McMillan – we have a man down, but definitely NOT out… – The Northern Myth -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Gosford, Top End Tweets. Top End Tweets said: The Northern Myth: Andrew McMillan – we have a man down, but definitely NOT out… http://bit.ly/dz0iaX #topend […]