Archive for the ‘auckland’ Category

We’re off

September 26, 2017

Oops, sorry to those who received a half written blog entry yesterday, it was a slip of the finger on the screen.

Bags are packed, passports are at the ready, currency exchanged, what else can there be to do? Yes, we’re off tonight, I can hardly believe that the time has finally arrived for us to step onto the plane for the loooong flights ahead of us.

We finished our housesitting duties last week when Jack & Chris arrived home on Thursday. We really enjoyed our housesitting stint as we were able to catch up with lots of friends and family, plus it was a nice change for us. On Friday we headed to the van, quickly got sorted and made our way down to Papakura for a couple of nights. We caught up with friends Bill & Linda for dinner at the Papakura Club on Friday evening which was lovely to see them and catch up on all their news. Saturday we exercised our democratic right to vote, watching the results come in later that evening but gave up watching after 30minutes or so, pretty unexciting viewing. Sunday we headed off to Kopu to where the van is having some R&M done on it whilst we are away, we stayed the night before returning to Antony’s on Monday. Today has been doing all those last minute chores before we head away, getting the last of the washing done, repacking the bags and taking out what we don’t really need, plus Roy had an appointment with the specialist for his final injection ready for treatment to begin next year when we return.

So that’s about it folks, we fly out later this evening (actually in the early hours just after midnight) for Singapore where we have a short 2hr stopover before the flight to London. We shall endeavour to update the blog on a reasonably regular basis where and when we can. In the meantime, stay safe and well out there!

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It’s been a while

August 4, 2017

I know, I know, I've been slack, I have not been posting recently and I have no excuses either. A quick update and summary of what we've been up to and where since the last blog.

Roy had a checkup appointment with the cardiologist in Auckland a few weeks ago so we headed down from Uretiti and stayed with Steve & Les for the night. Roy got the all clear from the cardiologist, so much so that he has taken him off cholesterol tablets as he says "your arteries are clear, valves good and heart is strong so why are you on cholesterol tablets?". Apart from the Atrial Fibrillation which is now under control, all is well. We returned to the van at Uretiti, staying another few days before heading north.

Next stop was Kerikeri where we managed a quick catch up with Roy's second cousin Stuart. We had a lovely dinner out in Kerikeri at the Jerusalem Cafe with Stuart where we shared a lovely Meze platter of Israeli food, and delicious it was too and the company, as always, was very good.

From there we headed up to Tokerau Beach, a particular favourite spot of ours, and where we have been for the past week camped on friends Gary & Marg's spare section behind their house. Here we have not only enjoyed their company, but we have shared meals, the odd drink or two, been out fishing a couple of times – the catching has been a different matter though with only a couple of fish landed – and generally having a very relaxing time. We only have another week left before we take up our house sitting duties at Whakapirau for a month which will then lead nicely into our upcoming 'holiday'.

Speaking of which we have finally sorted our upcoming trip and we are all booked and ready to go. We leave NZ on 27th September for London via Singapore with just a few hours stopover. We then leave London on the 17th January, this time with a three day stopover in Singapore on the journey home to arrive back in NZ on the 20th January at just before midnight. Other plans are still being formulated whilst we are away but we will be in Belgium for the 4th October Passchendaele commemoration, at some stage we will be heading to Switzerland and the Italian border to the town of Mendrisio which is where Roy's family is from originally. We then plan to meander our way back across France into Spain and Portugal. Somewhere in between we are fitting in a trip away with Alexandra & Ian, and Ian's parents, and it looks like we will be heading to the Canary Island of Lanzarote for a week of R&R in a villa on the coast. We shall be back in London ready for a white Christmas when Antony will be joining us all for the festive season. There will be tripping around the UK as well, catching up with a few of my relations and filling in the gaps on a few places we missed last time. All in all we shall be away for 4 months – I know, it's a tough job but someone has to do it!

So there we have it, a quick catch up.

Time to go home

July 18, 2017

It was soon time for Alex to head back to her home in London, not that we wanted to visit to end as it was rather lovely having her with us.  We left Jacky & Chris’ on Friday after a wonderful few days stay with them, their hospitality is always wonderful and their generosity boundless and we cannot thank them enough for it all. 

 We started our journey back to Auckland in the early afternoon, stopping at the Cider Shed for lunch along the way.  This reminded Alex of her ‘cider fridays’ when she worked in Cromwell during university holidays.  She, Antony, Claire and a couple of other friends would apparently treat themselves on a Friday night with a pizza and a cider or three after working hard in the orchards all week. 

We arrived at Antony’s late afternoon and it wasn’t long before we all were at the train station catching a train into Britomart.  Here, eldest son Simon met us for a drink before he was due out for the evening but it gave him a chance to catch up with Alex and say hooray before she left.  I forgot to take a picture of us all together but I did take a picture of the bar with its interesting lights

Macs Brew Bar in the old Northern Steamship Company Building.

Claire and her husband Matt arrived to join us for the rest of the evening, first they all had a cocktail or two Alex and Antony enjoying a cocktail.

It was time to move on and we all walked to a nearby restaurant,  passing through the lovely lit up dining and bar areas at Britomart.  They really have done a great job in sprucing up this area, we can remember not so long ago really when it was not the best area of town to be in, especially at night.

We went to the Hanoi Cafe, a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner where we had a fantastic evening, with great food, excellent service, wonderful company, oh and a few more cocktails! 

 The menu is very good and extensive making a decision on what to have difficult so we ended up asking our excellent waitress if she would choose a selection of plates for us all to share which turned out to be the best way to go.  The food was fresh, tasty and came with delicious sides as well.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

L-R Antony, Roy, Bernice, Alexandra, Matt and Claire.
All too soon it was time for us to catch the train back to Papakura.  Have we mentioned before how we love travelling by train?  it makes life so much easier and for the senior person of this touring party of course the train trip is at no cost as those over a certain age can travel outside peak times for free on public transport.  

The following morning we had to get to the airport so that we could reluctantly allow Alexandra to travel back to London. Some of us are not very good at saying goodbye, with just a few tears shed.  She arrived home safely on Sunday evening NZ time. 

We are now looking forward to our trip to the UK and Europe which is less that 2 months away, and for Antony to join us all for Christmas in London.  

D Day

July 11, 2017

Thursday was D Day, yes, Daughter Day.  Alex arrived from London  for a fleeting visit to check up on her Dad after all the excitement he has been giving us recently ….oh and to see Mum too!  The distance between the two countries seeemed larger and larger and a bit of homesickness started to creep in, so she hopped on a plane to come for a weeks visit.  

We waited patiently at the entrance gates for her to appear

The airport was very quiet with very few people around, we presume they were all in town cheering home the Americas Cup and parade.

Three other flights had also recently landed so we thought we may be in for a bit of a wait, but no, she appeared through the gates quite quickly

I’m home!!

A few tears were shed on arrival, but we were soon on our way back to Antony’s place.   A quiet afternoon was spent, with someone having the odd nap and catching up on sleep.

The next few days were spent tripping around Auckland catching up with friends and family

My pathetic attempt at a selfie!

On Saturday we caught the train into town, and very pleasant it was travelling on the train surrounded by very jovial Lions supporters.  We were meeting up with Alex and her friend Claire and friends Colin & Edwina for lunch.  Again, we were met with a sea of red, Lions supporters in town for the final test against the All Blacks.

Colin very kindly took this photo as again, my attempts at selfies were dismal. Antony, Roy, Edwina, Bernice, Alex and Claire.
It was a fabulous lunch at Ortolana, and we all enjoyed a very relaxed meal together.  Then it was back to Antony’s and prepare to watch the game, although someone had a wee pre game nap on the couch.

Tunnel

July 5, 2017

Today we ventured down to Auckland and thought we would try out the newly opened, and very expensive at $1.4billion, Waterview Tunnel.

 Here it is

Getting closer

Inside the 2.4km long tunnel

And the exit

It certainly was much quicker for us to skirt around the central city as we were heading to Papakura to stay with Antony for a couple of nights.  As you can see, there was very little traffic and it was an easy run through.  We shall certainly be travelling the Western Ring Route, as it is called, in future rather than over the Harbour Bridge.  Well done to those responsible. 

Heart throb

June 24, 2017

Just a quick update folks, we have just been to the cardiologist where he is happy with how Roy is tracking and just wants him to continue on meds and he will see him again in three weeks time.  By then he will have discussed with the Urologist the pros and cons of the various types of surgery and options from his perspective and we can move on from there.  

It looks as though the Atrial Fibrillation may have been around for longer than we knew about it and is probably something that Roy will have forever but hopefully it will be kept under control by medication.  It is just getting the balance right, and fingers crossed it appears to be under control now. 

This hiccup is well and truly behind us, and we can move on with more positive things.  

Last weekend I snuck out for a few hours of fishing with Steve in his boat.  It was a glorious day. 

Launching the boat off the beach
We whizzed across to Rangitoto 

Captain Pugwash!
Where we happily fished in the sun for a few hours, and yes we caught lots of baby snapper and only a couple of reasonable size 

You may be able to see the Auckland Sky Tower in the  background, with Rangitoto lighthouse on the left.

As you can see it was a perfect day, Rangitoto island 

Life can now return to some semblance of normality as we head back to the van tomorrow -Sunday. 


Are you ready for the next episode?

June 22, 2017

Yes indeed, there is a next installment! Just a day after the angiogram, Tuesday afternoon to be precise, Roy says, “I’m having chest pains, we need to get to a doctor…..now!”

 Into the car we get,  luckily I remember that there is a White Cross Clinic just along the road, probably less than a kilometre away.  With hazard lights flashing, I overtake the long queue of traffic banked up from the lights (yes, it’s just after the 3o’clock school rush) and drive the last 100metres along the wrong side of the road and into the car park at the A&E. We get Roy inside and they immediately spring into action, taking him straight into an emergency room, hooking him up to an ECG where I can see that his heart is racing and blood pressure is very high, the Doctor looks at all the readouts, listens to his history and what’s been happenening over the past few days and says he’s calling an ambulance. 

The ambulance arrives, Roy is loaded aboard and I’m in the passenger seat in the back with one of the ambulance crew.  They professionally go about their work quietly and efficiently, all the time talking to us whilst we start on our way to the hospital. 

We strive at North Shore hospital where we are handed over to the lovely staff there.

Roy in A&E waiting to see what happens next

Over the next hour or three or five, tests are done, bloods taken, lines put in, X-rays taken,  information  is gathered, and yes, you guessed it, he is staying in overnight for observation as they cannot figure out what is going on.

By the time Leslie arrived to pick me up, his pain was nearly gone, and he was looking very comfortable.  

He remained in hospital until later Wednesday afternoon, and the result? Well, your guess is as goood as anyone’s, it could have been a spasm in one of the arteries as a result of the angio, it could have been a reaction to the new meds he had started the previous day, it could have been something as simple indigestion. 

We are due back to the cardiologist on Friday to see what changes, if any,  the new meds have made.  Hopefully the AF is under control and we can then reschedule the prostate surgery and get on with recovery.  Fingers crossed.

Angiogram Day

June 19, 2017

A relatively uneventful drive across the harbour for the mornings appointment at Ascot for Roy’s angiogram and we arrived in plenty of time.  Next came the waiting……and waiting……

Roy all dressed up with nowhere to go!

First the check of the blood pressure, temperature etc and an ECG, and guess what? 

Yes, his heart was back in Atrial Fibrillation …bugger! But still the angiogram is going ahead.

Showing off his shaved chest post surgery!!

Results? 

Angiogram done and no stents required but no idea why AF is still in play so a new lot of drugs and another check on Friday.  Fingers x.

The next exciting installment

June 17, 2017

We were up at the crack of dawn, well, to be fair it was even before the crack of dawn. We had to travel across the city from Torbay to Ellerslie for Roy’s appointments as we had to be there by 6.45am and you just never know what the traffic is going to be like.  We arrived with plenty of time to spare.  

We were quickly escorted into the procedure room where two nurses were waiting to prep Roy ready for the Drs arrival, they do the usual checks; temperature, blood pressure, pulse, a cardiogram, you know the usual, and yes Roy’s blood pressure was very high (for him) as was his heart rate, which is to be expected I suppose.

First on the schedule was the  T.O.E. (transoesohageal echocardiogram) which is a scope (or should I say a very long, mean looking piece of pipe) shoved down carefully inserted down Roy’s  throat so that an internal scan of his heart can be performed to look for any clots particularly in the back of the heart.  If there are any clots, then they would not be able to do the next procedure.  And yes he would be sedated for the process, but not for the chest shaving that was part of the prep!!   When I left to go to the waiting room at 7.20 the anaethestist and specialist had arrived and introduced themselves.  Soon they were starting to put the needles in ready to administer  sedation drugs….time for me to exit! By this time Antony had arrived to keep me company.

 By 7.45 the anaesthetist was out saying it had all gone well and they had not found any clots so they could then go on to do the CV (shock to the heart) with that process being successful with the heart restored back to normal rhythm. The specialist who did the procedures then came out to say all was good and that the cardiologist would see us once Roy was up and about in an hour or two. Which is exactly what happened.   Roy came out an hour or so later to join us in the waiting room.   They served  him a light breakfast, to make sure he could swallow OK, and said to relax as he needed  time for everything to settle.  

We saw the cardiologist later in the morning, who went thru everything from the days tests, and then went on to explain the procedure scheduled for Monday.   This will be an angiogram which is used to check to see if the arteries are ok and if necessary they put in stents at that point. The cardiologist did say that Roy’s  heart valves and the heart itself appeared ok, so this just the final check to rule out the physical anomalies that can result in Atrial Fibrillation……. otherwise we put it down to the fact that it’s  just one of those things that happen. Hopefully this has fixed it, but apparently it can recur in some cases.  

 Once Mondays procedures are done with they will then reschedule the prostate surgery for 4 weeks time. The cardiologist and Urologist have been communicating, and as the cancer is minuscule and it is the size of the prostate that is the real problem, then another 4 weeks to wait is not an issue and we are still well on schedule for our trip.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment.

A glitch or two…

June 9, 2017

Life for the Vanninis ticks along nicely most of the time with only the odd minor hiccup along the way, you know, things like the odd flood, slips, high wind, brakes needing repair, parts for the van, the little things in life.  But occasionally life throws us a bit of a curve ball.  Some of you may have picked up on the fact that recently Roy has been having a number of appointments to attend all around Auckland.   Well, make a cuppa, take a seat and read on…

It started a month or two ago when Roy went for his annual check up with the Urology specialist.  Previously he had a hiccup with his kidneys, which you can recap that story here.  As part of the checkup the specialist does the usual blood tests, flow tests etc, and he said hmmmmm, Roy, your PSA levels have gone up a bit, lets check things out further. So off he went for an ultrasound scan. The scan showed that his prostate was very enlarged and warranted further investigation. So off for a full MRI to see what is happening.  I have to add in here that in between all this Roy also had hearing tests, scans, an auditory MRI, more tests and hearing specialists, as well as eye tests, eye specialists, more visits, laser surgery, checkups.  It’s been a busy old time with lots of appointments all around Auckland.

Then came the results, he needed a biopsy so we went off to have that done at the specialists. 14 samples were taken for testing.  We only had to wait a few days before the results came back, and you hear those dreaded words …”sorry, but you have prostate cancer”.  Knock us down with a feather.  

Regather and press on, we need to discuss options and also get a better idea of what is happening. The next step is to have a Gallium PET scan, which shows if the cancer has spread anywhere else and gives a better idea of what we are dealing with. You can read about this amazing technology here.  Up until just over a year ago this scan was only available in Australia and we would have had to go there for one, but Mercy hospital in Auckland now has the only machine in NZ so off we went there for the scan last Thursday.  Thank goodness for medical insurance as these things are costly and as well as with all the specialist visits, MRI’s etc over the past few weeks we have had our monies worth from our medical insurance already this year. 

But back to the tests.  We came away from the Gallium PET scan with a copy of the CD and of course we just had to have a look at it ourselves….bad idea…..as we stared intently at the computer screen all we could see was that every organ appeared to be glowing and as far as we could tell things did not look good.  However, a bit of googling and research helped alleviate those fears, things were not as bad as what we thought. Best we wait for the experts to fill us in as give us the official report.

We were scheduled to get the results the following day on the Friday, however the specialist had been called away for urgent surgery so our appointment was deferred until the following Tuesday.  Meanwhile, we had already scheduled a visit to our GP for the Monday.   Our doctor has been a very good sounding board and we trust her advice and we wanted to discuss options with her from her perspective, in particular her experience with other patients and their aftercare specifically any problems associated with the different options available. She had the results from the PET scan and could finally put our minds to rest and tell us that Roy was all OK, apart from a very small spot of cancer in the prostate, obviously caught very early.  Phew.   Well that’s a relief.   We came away from our GP armed with lots of good questions for the Urologist.

The folllowing day, Tuesday,  we went off to the Urologist where he confirmed that there is indeed a small bit of cancer in one part of the prostate BUT the size of the prostate was more of an issue at more than twice the normal size.  What was good news was that the cancer is completely contained within the prostate AND the PET scan showed that apart from that he is all good.

I could bore you all here with the details of all of the various options for the next step i.e. do nothing, have radiotherapy, have radioactive seeds implanted or have surgery, all of which have their individual pros and cons but I will spare you all the details of each. However, if anyone wishes to know the ins and outs then give us a call. 

The best and only real option for Roy is to have the prostate removed which will be done on Thursday 8th June. Again, thank goodness for medical insurance as things wouldn’t have been happening this quickly I am sure. The surgery will be done via Robotic Keyhole  Surgery.

We rock up to Southern Cross Hospital yesterday morning at some ungodly hour ready for surgery.  Roy is prepped and tested and is soon ready to be wheeled off to theatre as he is first on the list.all ready to go!

I head off to get some breakfast and to do some shopping as he is scheduled to be in theatre for 4 hours.   However, I soon get a phone call from the anaesthetist saying that they will not be operating today as they found a bit of an irregular heartbeat so they need us to get that sorted.  Knock me over with a feather.  So back I go to pick him up.  By the time I get there they have arranged a cardiologist to see him over at Ascot Hospital, so we head straight on over. We are there by 10am.

Next comes a barrage of tests, upshot? Roy has Atrial Fibrulation which mean his heart beats irregularly and needs to be sorted as the consequences could be dire.  By midday we leave the cardiologist with our heads reeling full of information and with more appointments scheduled.  Next week he will be going in for a CV and a TOE.  What do these mean?  Well a CV is a Cardio Version  which restores the heart to its natural rhythm by shocking it, and a TOE is a transoesohageal echocardiogram whereby a fibre optic tube will be position in the osophegus allowing an ultrasound of the heart.  All will be done under sedation.  The following week he is booked in for an angiogram depending on the results from the previous two procedures will determine what is to be done.

So the next step is to get this sorted, then they will reschedule the prostate surgery and we can then look forward to our trip to the UK & Europe in September.  Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment.