Archive for February, 2020

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.