The weather outside is delightful

April 5, 2020

Well, we cannot complain about the weather can we? It has just been glorious the past week or so with clear blue skies, warm sunshine and just a gentle breeze. It really does make being in lockdown oh so much easier and more pleasant. Not that we mind, it is honestly no hassle for us to be in our lockdown bubble of two, I guess after living in close confines for a few years now it’s not really a problem for us to each to do our own thing most of the time and not get in each other’s way.

I must be starting to feel better, I am cooking most evenings now as well as getting out and going for a wee walk each day, just for 10-15minutes at a time but I can tell you that is a huge achievement in itself.

Shopping online has become a hassle, I just cannot get a time slot at all for click n collect so I’ve now made a new challenge for myself, make do with what we do have (an extensive pantry, dry goods, fridge and freezer full of supplies) and see how long we can go without a trip to the supermarket!! Apart from milk and eggs, which are kindly being picked up for us, I think we could comfortably survive for another three or four weeks easily! However, I’m sure we will relent at some stage.

Breaking news, I managed to get a click n collect slot for Monday for which I have put in my order, mainly fresh produce and fridge staples so we should be good for a while now.

I’ve even got the sourdough starter out of his hibernation from the fridge, and will kick start him over the next few days. And yes, I have flour, even managed to get some in the last couple of shops so we should be Ok for bread making again. Although I have been trying not to use the oven as it runs on gas, and we have a large built in gas cylinder which means to fill up we have to pack up the van and travel a fair way to get it filled. I knew we should have had a fitting made so we could also use refillable bottles!

Life seems to tick on by, we manage to amuse ourselves most of the time but don’t ask me what we do all day but all of a sudden it’s the end of the day and time to start thinking about cooking dinner. I think I may have to start writing some job lists as I can see that very little of what we planned to achieve will actually get done.

Daylight saving ended on Saturday night and it will take us a few days to get used to the change, it just means that winter is closing in on us. Although the temperatures are still very warm for this time of the year. Of course I take full responsibility for the warmer weather, it is because I put our winter duvet on the bed a couple of weeks ago and since then, the weather has been glorious and it has been rather warm in bed at night so I spend the night with covers on, covers off.

And to brighten up your day, here is a picture of Callum getting ready for nursery.

Cutie

We hope you are all enjoying life in your respective “bubbles”, stay safe, stay well….stay the *@#& at home!

When things get tough

March 31, 2020

It is in adversity that you find out just who your friends (and family) really are. Over the past month, things haven’t quite gone to plan as regular readers will know, in fact, things have been pretty damn tough. But, when things do get tough it’s amazing the cream that rises to the top, with friends and family coming to the fore in whatever way they can, be it a message, a visit or a phone call. I cannot thank each and every one of you enough, every little bit has helped brighten my day when things have been really rough. You know who you are; old friends and new (some I haven’t even met in person but who are regular blog readers), my 2 brothers and sisters in law, children (and grandchildren), acquaintances, colleagues, relations both here and overseas, cousins, nieces and nephews, and of course Roy.

FaceTime chats to Alex, Callum and Ian in London every other day have been a saving grace, by the time we get to go over there again Callum will definitely know who we are. Antony has been a rock for us, helping out when and where he can but also being very sensible about our safety as well as his.

Then to top it all off we all have of course the Covid-19 pandemic. Talk about making life even more interesting however we make the best of what we have. We are parked in a rural location, surrounded by nature, we rarely see anyone else, and that just suits us fine. Stay home people, don’t go looking for loopholes, just stay home! That way we can all get back to some semblance of normality sooner rather than later.

We have to go out once a week to get my PICC line dressing changed as well as getting blood tests, and just the act of going out is daunting. You just don’t know if others are being as vigilant as you are or who has been there before you. Being medical facilities we trust that they are being careful, however you never know. Roy is my driver and he gets to sit in the car to wait for me, we carry gloves, masks and hand sanitiser with us so that I don’t bring anything back to the car.

And speaking of PICC lines, a number of people have asked how it all works, so here is my explanation to the best of my limited knowledge.

The other day I showed a diagram of where and how the line is inserted into the body, for those who missed it, here it is again.

PICC line

The PICC line enters though my upper arm into a vein that then continues through the vein to the top of my heart, scary thoughts that! There is a dressing on my arm which covers the clip where it enters my body, with a small line exiting the special dressing where a port and extension line is attached. Each week the dressing and port have to be cleaned and changed…..I’ll save you from showing a picture of this! Besides, it’s too hard to try and take a picture of it.

There is an extension line attached to the port near the dressing on my arm which has another port at the end to which I attach the antibiotic infusor to. In between there is a clamp on the line which enables me to shut off the line in between changing bottles.

Now these bottles of antibiotics are made up especially for each patient, with their specific medication in each bottle. I say bottle, but the medication is actually inside a pressurised balloon inside the bottle, and somehow magically drip feeds about 10mls of medication per hour.

A full bottle

And after 24hours it looks like this

After 24 hours

A side by side comparison

Before and after

Of course it’s not just as simple as swapping the bottles over, there are a whole lot of steps and protocols to go through, it takes me about 10-15minutes to do the changeover procedure, with washing hands and sanitising everything in sight many, many times throughout the process, flushing the line with saline solution and cleansing, sanitising and more cleaning.

The full bottle is then placed into a very fashionable (not) insulated bumbag which sits around my waist for the day. At night, the bumbag gets placed on the little shelf beside my bed (it can’t go under the bedcovers as it would get too warm), and I try not to move too much through the night so there are no kinks in the line. And there is a special bag to put it in for showering and I place that on a shelf away from water. My arm gets wrapped up in plastic to keep the dressing dry, and so does my knee.

Whoever came up with this clever device is a genius. I mean, who thinks up these things? I am forever grateful though as it would otherwise have meant I would have had to stay in hospital for at least another 6 weeks and in today’s climate I feel a whole lot safer here in our van than I do anywhere else.

I am reliably told that in times such as we have now, people come up with the most incredible inventions and theories. Isaac Newton developed his theories of gravity, optics and calculus whilst quarantined during the great plague of London. William Shakespeare, also social distancing during the plague, wrote King Lear, Macbeth and Anthony & Cleopatra in the year of the plague pandemic.

So folks, here is your chance to do something amazing whilst you are at home, big or small, aim to make a difference somewhere, to someone, somehow.

PS. It’s been over 2 months since my last haircut, my new talent may be learning to give myself a haircut 😱.

Life as we know it…

March 26, 2020

Who would have thought that world events would have such an impact on all of our lives. A lot, and I mean a lot, has happened over the past week since I was discharged from Auckland hospital.

The District Nurse visited last Friday to oversee the changing of my infusor (yes, that is the correct spelling) bottle of antibiotics and to ensure I have procedures, hygiene etc down. She was really happy with what I am doing and I went solo from Saturday onwards. However, she did pick up the fact that where the PICC line was located, that every time I bent my arm, I kinked the line, so I wasn’t getting the full daily dose. So we agreed that I would go in on Monday and they would reposition it for me, in the meantime, could I fashion a splint so that at least whilst I slept, my arm would be kept straight. A proper splint was found in the first aid kit, a malleable foam covered aluminium device that ended up working really well. However, it wasn’t pleasant to sleep with and I woke frequently through the nights.

Monday morning and events changing rapidly in NZ, we are at Level 2 Alert on the new Covid-19 system, with the prospect of going to full scale level 4 in a few days. I have my appointment with the District Nurse and she repositions the PICC line, changes the dressing and ports, and send me on my way, it’s so much more comfortable now. Meanwhile, Roy waits in the car for me…..he’s in isolation being over 70! Then I have to go for blood tests, the local Lab is closed so we have to go further afield, again, Roy waits in the car and I distance myself from everyone else. That done, we are on our way home again.

Once we get back we are told that the park is closing and everyone has to be out by midday tomorrow. Oh dear, what are we to do.

A very stressful rest of the day is spent sorting us out, and I can admit to a few tears shed by moi (in the privacy of the van) along the way, with my stress levels going through the roof. A lot of hard work, phone calls and talking ensues. But by early evening and we are sorted. We are parked up safely, in total isolation, and very happy where we are.

Tuesday morning I have to be at a Greenlane Hospital to see the surgeon and get the staples removed from my knee (ouch) plus get further instructions on what to do/not to do. I am basically told to rest as much as possible and let everything heal. With developments over the past 24hrs with emergency levels going to level 3 and level 4 coming into effect Wednesday evening, we tie everything up so I don’t have to go back to see him until 21st April, as they will do a once stop shop for me and remove the PICC line, check my knee, give me scripts for the course of oral antibiotics and anything else that needs doing. In these crazy times it’s sensible. Meanwhile I still have to go out once a week to get PICC line dressing and ports changed and to have blood tests but we can do both of these on the one day, Roy can stay in the car and I will sanitise, sanitise and sanitise before getting back into the car to protect carrying any germs with me.

As for me? I am slowly recovering, every day I feel a little better and a little stronger, Thursday was my first day of staying awake all day without having a nap or two. Tiny steps folks, tiny steps. Roy is well although I worry that he’s getting worn out as he’s also busy with his work and then running around after me. I’m trying not to be too demanding but I do need help with some things still.

So now we hunker down, I managed to get a click n collect slot for the supermarket this weekend and we have someone who has offered to pick up our “normal” grocery shopping……..with not a toilet roll on the list either!!! The shops will be open for the duration, we have plenty of good food supply lines in NZ so there is no need to panic folks!

We hope people will take this opportunity to learn a new skill or two; a new cooking skill, language, change a tap washer, knit, sew, garden, learn some handyman skills, get fit, read or whatever takes your fancy and connect with those who live in your “bubble”.

If we all do our bit, it will be over soon enough, but I am picking that this will last much longer than 4 weeks as there will be some *@#&$* out there who will muck it up for the majority of us.

Be kind, be nice, be strong, be safe. Stay Home!

Never a dull moment

March 20, 2020

I apologise now for the long wordy post, however make yourself a cuppa, sit back in a comfy chair, and enjoy the read!

They say that life in hospital is quite boring and that time seems to go by very slowly, but not for me. Looking back, I don’t think I realised just how ill I was as days blurred into one another and I seemed to want to do nothing but sleep. Eating was not high on my priority list and I don’t think I really ate anything much for at least the first four or five days, besides, the food at the hospital is worse than bad, it’s terrible, not what should be fed to very ill people who are in need of nutrient rich food, however, I have been very fortunate for friends and family to come to the rescue with delicious food parcels for me.

Excitement does occur occasionally and that happened on Monday morning when on my return from a bathroom visit, a dodgy looking, scruffy couple came into my room, scouted around the others cubicles ( I’m in a four bed room), so I asked “can I help you, are you looking for someone?” The reply was ” oh no, just looking for a pen”. Hmmm I thought, that doesn’t sound right, as I was trying to get back into my bed the girl asked ” do you need help?” No I do not” I replied, given with one of those stern looks of you’d better get out now before I beat you with one of my crutches looks! “Oh” she said, “oh right, I suppose we should go and put our uniforms on”. With that they left the room and I could see them wandering up and down the corridor. I thought to myself, nope, this doesn’t feel right, so I rang the bell for the nurse and told them what had just occurred. Soon, I hear the nurse came back into our room to tell the other nurse who was with me that there was a code Orange alert and security were on their way. Shortly, we heard that the security cornered this couple, who apparently were going from room to room stealing patients belongings. Police were called and arrived very quickly, they were arrested and removed. All this was done in probably less than 15minutes from my first encounter with them. But how low can you go, stealing from very ill people, on an orthopaedic ward where they probably knew how immobile most patients are. All rather dramatic.

On Tuesday the excitement was to ramp up a little. I mentioned in my last blog about the ungrateful, rude American woman in the next bed to me. Mrs P we shall call her. Mrs P (in her early 80’s, very fit and mentally onto it) had broken her upper femur whilst on a tour of NZ. Well, her daughter (Miss A) arrived from the US on the Sunday morning having independently booked some sort of cycling tour which just so happened to cross over time wise by a few days of Mrs P’s trip. Miss A had been up to the hospital visiting many times, always wearing a mask, and never coming too close to any of the rest of us although I did engage in conversations with her as she seemed a little more amenable than her cantankerous mother. Well, Tuesday evening after Miss A had left, and other visitors had left Mrs P was visited by the charge nurse and was told that with the way things are, Mrs P needed to be removed to a single, isolated room, tested for Covid-19 and Miss A was no longer able to visit the hospital and should go into self isolation. Mrs P was not impressed and threw a hissy fit….her daughter had arrived before the cut off time albeit by a few hours, why wasn’t she Mrs P being removed back to the US now, her insurance company was saying one thing, her son in the US another, the medical team at AKL hospital something else, airlines were all against her…blah blah blah blah. Nothing about putting others at potential risk.

Well, that sent us all into a mild panic, to say the least. I really really felt for one of my other room mates who not only had surgery for fractured bones but is also undergoing chemotherapy so her immunity is seriously compromised. Mrs P was removed from our room without a thank you or good bye from her as she was wheeled out. The stripping and cleaning of the room began….all this was now after midnight.

Meanwhile I was keeping my family up to date with what was going on. Antony had been in to visit that same evening and he was here when Miss A was visiting, and sat in the chair next to my bed on the side which Mrs P was, albeit behind the dividing curtain. Antony immediately rang his boss and put himself into self isolation because as he said he did not want to become “patient 31”. Yes, I know, I didn’t know what that meant either until a quick google search. As a brief explanation “Patient 31upended South Korea’s coronavirus-containment efforts, Patient 31 Caused 80% of Coronavirus Infections in South Korea, showcasing the importance of testing and social distancing.

The remaining three of us were subsequently visited by management, at some ungodly hours of the morning, questions answered as best they could and reassurances, as such, were given. None of us had any contact with Miss A or Mrs P for that matter, Miss A did wear a mask whenever she was in the room, and was never within a metre of any of us, however, that niggling doubt sticks in the back of ones mind, and we wait for Mrs P’s test results to return, before we all panic too much.

But the thing that got me the most was the arrogant selfish attitude of Mrs P, she was not concerned about any one else at all, in fact all she was worried about was herself, and she kept going on about the fact that Miss A had arrived before the isolation cut off time time of midnight Sunday. And yes she did arrive before midnight but by only a few hours before the curfew was invoked and of course subsequently all tourist arriving 14 days prior to the official cut off time have been told now to self isolate. Miss A certainly hadn’t come to NZ to see her mother, no she was booked on an independent trip, which was subsequently cancelled as soon as she got here. The relationship between mother and daughter I would have called platonic at best and was not particularly warm or even amicable.

I really really feel for the amazing nurses that work at Auckland Hospital, they too are all worried as of course they had very close contact with Mrs P.

So we waited, and waited, for the test results to come in. This is when time really did seem to drag, meanwhile Antony was at his home, keeping out of physical contact with work, as he said, the last thing needed at this time was for a whole section of detectives to be taken out of action. We waited and waited. Meanwhile, I start to feel better and better each day. My “numbers” are reducing rapidly which means the antibiotics are working. I must add here, that I have always been of the understanding that I was allergic to penicillin, coming out in a rash, this from childhood, which let’s face it was a few years ago now! I was put on an antibiotic that was on the penicillin spectrum but which between the Infectious Diseases team and the Allergic reaction team agreed I should be able to tolerate. The type of infection that I apparently have responds really really well to a very specific narrow based type of penicillin, Benzylpenicillin, which I was keen to try as I did wonder about my supposed allergy. Again after much to-ing and fro-ing between my surgical team, the Infectious Diseases team and the allergic reaction team, and as I was seemingly tolerating the other drug very well, we decided to give one dose a go. Well, of course nothing happened, no rash, no anaphylactic reaction of any kind, so I’m on the Benzylpenicillin with no side effects at all plus of course it is really targeting the bug causing the infection.

As I need to be on the drug, given intravenously, for 6 weeks, the thought of being in hospital for 6 weeks was horrifying, I was told the best way of administering the drug and to get me out of hospital was if I had a PICC line inserted. Peripherally Inserted Central Cather, PICC, line is inserted into your arm under local anaesthetic, the line runs up the vein inside your arm and ends up in a large vein in your chest. It is often used for administering chemotherapy.

I had this procedure done on Tuesday morning, not without some angst on my part….well, I am a wuss. My dear friend Di came to visit that morning and was waiting for me when I returned from having the procedure done. She was brilliant, as I don’t like all the gory details of what is done, on my return to my room Di went off with the nurse to have explained to her out of my earshot about the line I had put in and how it’s all attached externally etc etc. Di could then relate all of this to Roy, and I don’t really want to know!

Apart from being a little uncomfortable once the local had worn off, it wasn’t too bad, just unpleasant. It now meant I could have the other IV needles removed, and also bloods can be taken from the line as well so no more being a pin cushion.

In hospital I was having the antibiotic administered every 4 hours, but it now meant I could go home and have a 24 hour infusion attached. This infusion method is changed once every 24 hours and can be done from home via a District Nurse visiting, and I can be taught how to do it myself.

Meanwhile, we still wait for test results.

The wonderful OPIVA Nurse (Outpatient Intravenous Antibiotics) came Wednesday afternoon to explain to me how it all works and to give a little demo. This was now getting exciting as it meant that I’m ever closer to being discharged and with the outside world going crazy with Covid-19 news I was looking forward to being at home. Thursday morning and my surgeon visits, he is really happy with the way things are looking, and if everything can be put into place, was I happy to be discharged this afternoon? Really? I’m ecstatic! Behind the scenes teams have been working hard at sorting out the realities of my life because of course we have no fixed address. We use Antony’s address as a nominal address but as we are staying at Shakespear for the duration of my treatment, I was actually causing problems by being under 3 different District Health Boards. With some fabulous team work, I am sorted, I get my OPIVA stuff all done under one DHB and I can continue under the care of my surgeon through another DHB rather than the one covered by Antony’s address which means I get continuity of care.

Thursday morning and I’m given another demo of administering the PICC line, with my first hook up to the system scheduled for 3pm and if Roy could come in at that time he could also become au fait with what is happening and once that is done I could be discharged.

Test results finally come in, Mrs P is negative, phew, we can all relax a little.

So that’s where we are now, I’m at home, back in the van, I am comfortable in changing the infuser full of antibiotics into my PICC line daily although the District Health Nurse will oversee my first changeover today and then I can just go to their hub once a week to get dressings and fittings changed. By administering it myself also means one less thing for stressed and stretched health worker resources to be under. I’m sure as things develop over the next few weeks/months they need as much help as they can get. I get my medication couriered to me once a week, of course it has to be kept refrigerated, but we are comfortable with managing this. I have to have weekly blood tests, visit the Nursing hub once a week, see my surgeon once a week (initially), enough to keep us busy.

I won’t be doing much as I am under strict instructions to rest, rest and rest. Hopefully next week I will be able to have the 35+ staples removed from my knee, and I’ll get into the swing of things generally. Here is where you can say thank you for not putting up the pictures of my knee with the staples in it!!!

As the weather cools, and with world events ever changing, we don’t expect too many campers will be coming in and certainly no more school, scout or guide groups in. So you could say we are self isolating.

The world has certainly changed, for the better? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, I don’t think we realise what is ahead of us. Stay safe with your families friends and neighbours. Look out for each other.

It was all going so well…

March 16, 2020

The second week post surgery was going brilliantly, I was walking around the van easily without crutches, and outside with one. My pain levels were almost negligible with just a few meds at night time to ensure a good sleep. It also seemed my role in the kitchen was quickly handed over to me as well!

Then on the Sunday evening, I felt cold, as in shivery cold, went to bed early with an extra duvet on shivering but apparently feeling hot, took my temperature but it was normal. I fell into a deep sleep to be woken at around 2am boiling hot and sweaty, oh well I thought, at least the fever has broken and I’ll be ok.

We had friends visiting Monday and it was fabulous to see them, I decided to start the antibiotics I had been given for such an instance, however at around lunch time I excused myself as I did not feel well at all and went for a lie down. After Glennis & Robin left I decided to ring my surgeon, yes, he says, good for getting onto the antibiotics and come and see him tomorrow, Tuesday, early afternoon,

By 3pm Roy was delivering me to Auckland hospital A&E with a covering note from my surgeon to be processed and put under the care of his team. The next couple of days continued into a blur, with IV antibiotics being given as well as pain meds with Hugh, the specialist due in Thursday morning to see me. It seems I have an infection, a serious, deep seated one.

Hugh came in at some ungodly hour and said I’d be going for surgery, I have to say that at this stage all the staff from all the different departments were brilliant at keeping me up with the play, being kind and caring, and most helpful. Also a quick thank you here to fellow blogger John, who turned up on Wednesday with a lovely coffee in hand. Hope your treatment goes well mate x.

By 9.30am I was in pre op and being told by the anaesthetists what they were about to do and what was best for my future care then wheeled through fairly quickly into theatre, I came to in recovery at sometime around 2pm. At first I was completely bamboozled and asked where the hell I was? When they said hospital, I said ok but what the hell for?! I could not figure out what I was doing there or why. I was totally disoriented.

I was back in my room sometime after 3pm where I was told everything that they had done……..hmmm, best wait for anaesthetic and pain drugs to wear off first!!!

Roy and Antony were at the end of my bed that afternoon, it just so happened that poor Roy had to undergo a Colonoscopy at another facility earlier the same day. Antony came to the rescue and picked Roy up from the facilty, thanx mate. Good news for Roy though, all good just a checkup in a couple of years time.

That night, Thursday remains a complete blur, I have no idea what.was said, done to me, whatever, but apparently the next day I was told that I did ask the night staff if I could get out of my clothes and into my nightie and get into bed? All the while being in bed in a hospital gown! I bet they have a right laugh sometimes at the things said to them. Another of the night staff the following night told me I told her that I loved her hair and another nurse that I loved her!! They did laugh whilst retelling me.

Lovely friends Helen & Don were up in Auckland for a day so they came to see me on Friday, I have no idea if I made any sense, sorry guys, it’s all a bit of a blur but it was great to see you both. Roy was back for a short visit to bring some essential items and of course to see me, as it was our 38th Wedding Anniversary after all. Happy Anniversary babe, not an anniversary to remember kindly!!

Saturday dawned and I wanted to get a clear head so let’s forget those awful drugs, I managed on paracetamol all day, got up and changed into my nightie, walked unaided with my crutches, a huge relief not to have to call for the dreaded bedpan, horrid things that they are.

Steve and Les came up to visit, what a lovely interlude as well, they came bringing a goodie bag which included, among other very thoughtful things, some much welcome fruit. You see, the food here is pretty much not what is good for nourishment of very ill people. Very small, appetising meals or soups are what is required. I enjoyed picking at grapes and raspberries and I particular enjoyed the feijoa. Thanx guys, love you all to bits.

I have to mention again the staff here, they are all outstandingly amazing people whom every single Manager CEO or whomever else gets paid BIG bucks and bonuses, they should hang their heads in shame, and give their salaries to these underfunded nurses, because, by crikey, they are the ones that deserve it. I’ve see first hand how they have to deal with obnoxious, demanding, ungrateful people…and that is just the American woman with her whiney, grating, loud voice that is in the bed next to me. In frustration last night, I called out “a please or thank you wouldn’t go amiss occasionally!’ The staff of course, treat her the same as everyone else, I don’t know how they don’t say something but they do roll their eyes as they leave.

So that’s just about up to date, days trickle by. However, I’m having a PICC line put in which is a permanent line to deliver intravenous antibiotics which will be administered over the next 6-8weeks. That should be able to be done from home with visits by the district nurse which we will work on the logistics of that shortly but we know we are able to stay on at Shakespear. Hopefully that will work then they will retest but I may have to be on antibiotics for months.

Every day is a moving feast, I see teams of Doctors from different teams the orthopaedic teams, Infectious disease team, Allergic reaction team and goodness knows who else but we are getting there.

Of course this scuppers our plans to go to the UK but world events also seem to be scuppering that as well with events changing hourly its seems. Who knows how this is all going to play out, we shall wait and see. I think our world is about to change, and who knows if it will be for the better. Let’s hope so.

First week post surgery

February 27, 2020

True to his word, my lovely surgeon allowed me to go home on the third day after surgery seeing as though I was doing so well. I’ve got good range of motion, can put full weight on my leg and can even take a couple of steps without crutches (shhh, don’t tell anyone that, I’ll get into trouble!!).

But before I left hospital, I had a surprise visit from some lovely friends. It was a great visit breaking up my day and catching up on news. It was certainly a huge and very unexpected but welcome surprise and really made my day. You know who you are, you are both treasures. As well, I had lots of phone calls and messages from special people, thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

We are now happily back in the campground and the weather is just stunning, although we could desperately do with some rain. The weekends are full in the camp, during the week it is very quiet, but Roy still dons his hi-vis vest and goes off to check people in.

Roy heading off to do his duties whilst wearing his new vest emblazoned with Camp Host

We settled back into the campground, and I’ve settled into a semblance of a routine by doing my exercises, walking a little, and putting my leg up to rest. The latter is important due to having a very swollen foot and ankle.

One left foot and ankle very swollen. Note the lovely ice pack on the knee – it’s hiding the bruising too!
Just a bit of bruising

Some of the bruising at the back of the knee

Bruising down the leg and onto the foot, I thought initially that I had stepped into something and it had left a dirty mark!!!

Not that it stops me doing much. Did you know you can still vacuum with one crutch! Shhhh, don’t tell a Roy what I’ve been up to.

Vacuum in one hand, crutch in the other!

Meanwhile, my garden is growing well, I just need a bit more flex in the knee before I can get out there and give it a good weed. And just so that I don’t get my hands too dirty, Rangers Bruce & Emma found this toy on the beach and thought that it would be perfect for me!

Toy rake

All in all, everything is going really well, with the best thing being that I am not in any pain at all, just a bit of tenderness over the surgery site and a bit uncomfortable with the bruising and swelling however I consider myself very fortunate indeed.Long may it continue.

Knees up

February 19, 2020

Well, I am writing this just 36hours post surgery and it has all gone really really well. I am truly thankful to have such a very good surgeon accompanied by an even better anaesthetist whose expertise is really the key to good recovery.

I was back in my room by just after 6pm on Monday evening, and at 8.30pm I was up and walking with crutches to the toilet. Not bad going eh? Had an ok nights sleep, just waking up when being checked on by nursing staff. Tuesday morning and I was allowed to shower so off I went to shower whilst the nurses waited outside the door in case I needed help. I was fine, and just needed help drying off my feet.

After showering it was time for the physio to visit, she checked my range of movement and already had 90 degree bend, which is pretty amazing, they hope to get you to 90 degrees by the time you leave so I’m well ahead of the game. Then it was a long walk through a myriad of corridors to the gym area and a set of steps, went up and down no problems, so it was the walk back to my room and I’m done for a while.

Me, a very unflattering photo just an hour after surgery

The food here is very appetising and there seems to be a constant stream of food…breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and then supper. All of the staff are wonderful from the cleaners to the ancillary staff to the nurses, physio, and specialists. Southern Cross North Harbour is a very nice place to be if you have to be in hospital at all.

A days selection

I’m walking quite well and once the swelling and bruising goes down things will improve even more.

Bruising on the side of my knee

The surgeon, anaesthetist and physio are so pleased with my progress that I am allowed home tomorrow rather than at the weekend, which is great news. I just have to keep up the hard work and make sure I continue getting better and better.

Thank you to all who have sent messages and well wishes, I really appreciate it. And thank especially to the lovely Rangers from Shakespear for the great send off.

Visitors, surgery and stuff!

February 14, 2020

We had another busy weekend with visitors as well as a campground full of people. Antony came up for the weekend with the drawcard being the Friday night poker with Roy and others. Niece Fran came to visit for the day on Saturday with her eldest daughter Bea and cousin Finn. The kids had a great time at the beach playing in the water, even though the tide was waaaaaay out.

Fran standing at the waters edge, coaxing Bea and Finn back into the shallows!!

Bea and Finn…butter wouldn’t melt in their darling wee mouths!

They also had fun sliding down the hill on their boogie boards in the campground, it kept them amused for some time.

Sliding down the grass bank.

We’ve had incredible weather over the past couple of months and we are now officially in drought conditions. The situation further north is really serious as we know that in some places public access to water taps has been cut off, and some campgrounds have had to close due to lack of water. There are restrictions in place for householders and in some towns, the situation is extremely serious.

Here, we have put out water in shallow containers for the birds, which we seem to have to refill a couple of times a day for them, but they are desperate for water. The bigger problem is of course that the ground is so hard that birds like Kiwi cannot dig into the baked earth for food, and we know that in some areas further north, Kiwi are dying because of the lack of food and/or water.

But back to our visitors. Friends Pat & Steve called in and stayed for a night in their caravan on their way south, it was great to catch up with them again whilst spending a couple of days with them. Another friend John came to stay with his 3 sons for a few days R&R. John also writes a blog which you can read here. Of course I forgot to take photos didn’t I?

I also got confirmation of my surgery plans for Monday and the diagnosis from the MRI. Apparently I have “mild canal stenosis at the L4/L5 level due to disc bulging and severe hypertrophic facet joint osteoarthritis, particularly on the left side”. Dr Google helped with the understanding of all this, plus the explanation of “the trochanteric Avulsion fracture, non-union, of the left hip”. In a nutshell, it means that I’m a crock of rubbish bones….shoulda got better genes! However, it does mean that the knee replacement can go ahead on Monday and as long as everything goes to plan and I recover as well as last time, we will be on our way to the UK in April as planned.

We can’t wait to see this wee happy fellow again.

Callum.

Back to being kneedy

February 9, 2020

It’s all happening very quickly. I went to see my surgeon on Tuesday as my hip is still very painful and keeping me awake at nights. Actually it’s sort of my upper thigh and bum that is very sore, and I thought it was probably referred pain from my knee radiating to my hip. This is the left hip that was replaced 18 months ago, then I had the Avulsion fracture at the top of the femur on the trochanter, the right knee was replaced a year ago.

The surgeon suggested that the pain was more likely coming from my back, possibly a trapped nerve or something similar but to make sure an MRI is needed. That was scheduled for Friday morning with a follow up appointment with him later in the day. In the meantime we scheduled a full knee replacement for the 17th February, which would go ahead if the MRI came back ok. Yes, I know, it’s very quick but he knows we want to go to the UK in April so the sooner he could do it the better.

Friday morning was an early start as I had to be at the MRI at the Southern Cross Hospital Wairau Road on the North Shore for 7.00am and with traffic the way that it is, who knows how long it could possibly take so we set off before 6am! I am NOT a morning person at the best of times so it was a struggle to drag myself out of bed at some ungodly hour. With Waitangi Day (Public Holiday) the previous day, we hoped that many people will have taken the Friday off work so that the traffic would not be quite so hectic.

The MRI was, as usual, a test of my ability to contain myself from panicking from within such a confined space for the hour long procedure, and for some reason I felt things heating up much more this time and I remained heated for some hours afterwards.

We had a few hours to chillout before my appointment with the specialist across town in Remuera, so we amused ourselves for as long as we could but we still managed to get to the specialist over an hour before my scheduled appointment. Luckily he managed to see me almost straight away, with the upshot being that I have some condition of my lower, the name of which was a very long sentence and I’ve now forgotten, but basically means I have arthritic type growths/spurs on the hook shaped bones of the lower spine (possibly called the transverse processes), which, when I move around they have a tendency to trap and pinch the nerves that run through them. The good news is that it is not in the central column where the spinal cord runs. After much discussion, we decided to leave well alone at this stage.

Spinal anatomy

What I did learn though was that the Avulsion fracture of the trochanter, the top of the femur, does not heal as such, it’s just a broken off piece of bone that just sits there. If it continues to cause problems I will probably have to have the piece of bone removed.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I am having my left knee replacement done, which also may help to alleviate the back issues by balancing out the way I walk. The surgery will take place in just a week away, on the 17th February, which will mean that we should still be on schedule to go to the UK in April. Yippee!

Oh and after an epic day of travelling around Auckland, we arrived back to the van to find this on the doorstep.

A lovely pot of succulents, set inside a kete with flax flowers

The card

How nice is that?

We have been so spoilt this year by campers, which puts the odd negative event or camper out of the hundreds we meet into perspective and we have made some great friends over the years we have been here. We look forward to camp hosting for however-many-more years to come.

Lots of visitors and new neighbours

February 3, 2020

Not only are we busy with a constant stream of campers here at Shakespear, we have also had lots of visitors of our own. My brother Steve & his wife Leslie came for lunch one day and ended up staying for dinner as well. Our son Antony was here as well, as he usually comes to stay if he has a day or two off work, usually at the weekends, and it’s always nice to have him come and stay and see him relax.

The following weekend Steve & Les’ eldest daughter Sarah along with her hubby Shaun and their three boys Ben, Asher and Finn came out for the day. They have just returned to NZ after living in Melbourne for two years so it was great to catch up with them and see how much the boys have grown…..not grown up enough as yet to reject a hug from Great Aunty Bernice though 😉.

You will note at this point that there are no pictures, yes, I’m doing my usual thing of not taking any pics as it just seems so wrong to bring out the camera in the midst of conversations.

Our dear friends Wade & Lindsay came to stay for a couple of nights mid week, and it’s always great to catch up with them and all their news. I did manage to take a very bad selfie as we had just opened a special bottle of wine. There is a back story to the wine, briefly, back in the day (as in through the 1970’s and 1980’s) we were known as having a very good wine cellar, in particular a favourite of ours was Nobilo’s Pinotage (vintage 1972), other Nobilos vintages and Matawhero wines. We still happen to have a couple of bottles of selected vintages with us so for old times sake we thought we should open one to see just how bad it was!

1983 Pinot Noir, prior to opening!

The first pour…yes, that brown looking sludge on the right is what came out of the bottle!!

The 1983 brown muddy version in the centre glass flanked by a 2018 Pinot Noir. Needless to say, after straining the brown sludge through gritted teeth, the bottle was “accidentally” knocked over and the contents soaked into the grass! NB. The grass is still alive a couple of days later.

And the very bad selfie I managed to take.

Bernice, Lindsay, Wade and Roy

Note to self….grow longer arms for better selfies!

In between visitors, I have again been out driving the mule whilst Ranger Bruce does the tracking cards, this time we went right around the whole park and got some lovely views.

Mule

Looking across to Little Barrier Island in the distance

View across to Rangitoto from near the fence separating the Defence Land from the Park.

Looking out to Rangitoto Island

Looking down into Te Haruhi Bay, the main campground is out of sight on the far right

Looking across to Auckland City, you may be able to just make out the sky tower on the horizon, with the Motorhome parking area in the foreground

I really enjoyed getting out and about to parts of the park I’ve never been to before, and to do something productive as well.

We’ve met up with friends Anne & Greg in Orewa for lunch, and we’ve had almost a continuous stream of visitors; from campers we’ve become friends with over the years to staff and other volunteers from the park, and other friends and family. The tea and coffee have had to be regularly replenished, as have the biscuit, cheese and wine & beer supplies. It’s all good though and we wouldn’t have it nay other way.

Antony has been back again for the weekends with us, I think the lure of Friday nights playing poker with Bruce and some of the Navy boys is more of a draw than anything else. And yes, Roy goes along to poker nights as well, I’ve been invited along many times but I have refused as an evening on my own is quite nice occasionally!

Now, onto the new neighbours. Some of you may have read in the news that the Navy base next to Shakespear is to become the quarantine centre for returning kiwis from the Wuhan district of China. In preparation, the rangers have been flat out getting all the trapping and tracking work done in a couple of days as the place will be in lockdown from Wednesday.

We’ve been kept fully up to date with what is going on. No we are not concerned, nor are we taking extra “precautions” but some people seem to think that it is the start of a zombie apocalypse! We will not be affected nor probably even know about our new neighbours apart from increased media presence around the entrance to the park.

However, today whilst I was on a mission to remove bottle tops hammered into bollard posts, I think I’ve found the source of the Coronavirus…

Bottle tops

I’ve managed to remove all bottle tops, all put on by one vandalous group in the last week, 303 tops later, I’ve done my good deed.

The start of my mission, 25 bollards and 303 bottle tops later, I’ve finished clearing them all.