Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

Ear, hear, ‘ere.

May 12, 2017

A few weeks ago Roy was out fishing with Steve when whilst trying to retrieve a fish off the line with the net, one of Roy’s hearing aids got flicked out and was duly deposited into the sea.  Oh no!   But more importantly they got the fish, a decent sized one at that too!! 

Over the next few days came the task of phone calls to insurance companies, then the hearing specialists with appointments made to have the aid replaced.  After a week or two of waiting to hear from the insurance company we were finally notified that all was ok and to go ahead to have the aid replaced so off we went to the Audiology centre.  Of course regular readers will know what is coming next…….. in true Vannini fashion, it wasn’t going to be that easy.

Roy went to his appointment expecting to be given a new hearing aid but no…apparently the old aids are no longer available as they have been superseded and as well they are “paired”  to each other so a replacement was out of the question instead he now needed a complete new set.  Eeek, this is turning into an expensive fishing expedition!  However, between the audiology centre and the insurance company they came to a mutual agreement, unbeknown to us, that  a complete new set of hearing aids was essential and should be covered by our policy.  Hence a new set of aids had to be prepared and set up which meant another appointment was made to have them fitted.

A week later we trundled back across the bridge to have the new hearing aids fitted.

Roy having the new aids tested and set up correctly….all done by computer!  

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Just like his old aids, they are pretty hard to see when he is wearing them as all you can see is a fine, clear tube going into his ear, it almost looks like a piece of fishing line….or a grey hair! with a very small piece which is fitted over the back of his ear and is only obvious if you are looking for it.  

Very close up view of the fine wire disappearing inside the ear.

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The new aids are really flash and are very, very, clever.  They are bluetoothed to any or all of our iOS devices which means Roy can have his phone and iPad linked directly to the aids.  The controls for the aids are on his phone as well via an app he has downloaded.  Each hearing aid has individual volume controls for each ear, which can be controlled either by the controls on the aids themselves or via his phone, as well as adjusting bass, treble etc.   This technology also enables him to stream movies/podcasts directly to his hearing aids. He can also change programs and  they have a sound enhancer so he can adjust them for when he is in a crowd, he can alter them specifically for speech by focussing the direction, they have a wind noise adjustment, and even a tinnitus manager!! and a white noise input with noise cancelling ability.  As well he can have it so that when his phone rings,  it rings straight out the hearing aids.  BUT the best thing of all is they have a finder-search function for each individual aid and a last location finder!!!  That will be a godsend particularly when one gets lost as he did in this instance.    I tell you, they are pretty damn clever and his hearing will of course be better too.

His old hearing aids were bluetoothed to a device which was attached to the TV but these days we don’t use the TV.  Rather, we have been watching most things on the iPads by using a splitter plug, with Roy’s headphones plugged into one connection and a small external speaker in the other port for me.   However, this is all about to change.   Currently one device at a time can be attached via Bluetooth to any one device so for instance Roy can listen to something via his hearing aids but I cannot connect to the same device with my wireless headphones.  However, help is on its way as we can get a Bluetooth splitter device.  This has been ordered and is on its way and should arrive any day.  With the splitter Roy can have his hearing aids tuned in and I can use my wireless headphones and we can each have the volume adjusted to our own preferences.  Clever eh?! 

He has had them for a few weeks now with just one return visit  to the audiologist in Auckland to have one of the aid levels adjusted as it was creating a bit of feedback noise.    We have since been at Uretiti enjoying the sunny north when one day Roy decided he needed to change the grommet on the aids.  The grommet is the very small, black, rubberlike device that sits in the ear canal and I do mean small. Combined with large fingers the outcome was not going to be great. 

Yep, you guessed it, next minute we are crawling around the floor to try and find a dropped piece.  And yes, our flooring is black, and no we could not find it.  We even resorted to vacuuming the entire floor and then seiving through the detritus to try and find the elusive little thing.  However, we had no luck in finding it.  This whole scenario repeated itself a couple of days later with the same result.  Obviously he was doing something wrong so as we were heading into Whangarei the following day we thought we would call into the local branch of Bay Audiology to see if they could help.  Besides, he was having a bit of trouble with one of the aids sitting uncomfortably in the ear so they could sort that out as well.

Off we went into Whangarei and straight to Bay Audiology, where on inspection they said, wait a minute, there is a grommet stuck in your ear! No wonder things were not feeling comfortable!  We then had to go to another specialist hearing place to have the offending grommet removed safely.  Luckily they had a free appointment later in the morning so we made our way there.  Yes, he had a grommet stuck in his ear which was easily retrieved with a specialised tool, but hello? What’s this? Yep, you guessed it, there was not one, but two grommets stuck in there!!! No wonder the hearing wasn’t the best in that ear with two stuck grommets and a third in the actual hearing aid making things sound decidedly muffled!  I told you things were never straight forward with the Vannini’s!  

In between all of this, he had to have an MRI on one ear to make sure that there is nothing sinister making the hearing in one ear  deteriorate much more rapidly than the other.  The MRI has cleared that up with the hearing loss being put down to natural deterioration.  However, the specialist has sent us away with brochures on cochlear implants as apparently that is the next step.  But at this stage we shall just wait and see how things go as his hearing as it is much better now with the new aids.

So no longer will you see Roy going off on his walks with his headphones on connected via a wire to his iPhone whilst he is listening to podcasts, you will just see him wandering along……just don’t try to talk to him as he will probably be intently listening to a podcast. 

Canoe polo

May 9, 2017

In between appointments the other day we had a couple of hours to spare, and right outside the Audiology clinic in Takapuna they told us that the Master Canoe Polo event had just started and suggested we wander along to have a look.


We watched for some time, it is a very fast and very competitive sport, with five team members participating at any one time with a referee on each side of the playing area, you can see in the photos the refs walking along the floating board walk alongside the playing area.  The goal nets are suspended a few feet above the water at each end.

It was at times fast and furious with lots of jockeying for position and possession and seemed like a lot of fun.  The sport is akin to water polo and basketball played in kayaks, which can be played indoors or outdoors in a pool. The aim is to try and pass or block the ball to score into a suspended goal. It is suited to people who like rough and aggressive games and players are allowed to ram into each other’s kayaks. The ball can be blocked or flicked with the paddle, but by in large the ball is usually picked up and thrown. People assume that it is a kayaking sport, but it is a ball sport with kayaking thrown in.

There were teams playing from all over the world and it appeared to us that apart from the competitive side of things there was also lots of fun and friendship going on.  On checking the results, New Zealand did rather well as they were on the winning platform  in all classes and won gold in most.  

Little Spotted Kiwi

April 30, 2017

Last Saturday, the little Spotted Kiwi were returned to Shakespear Park.  These are the first Little Spotted Kiwi to be brought back to the greater Auckland Region, the second group to have a habitat on mainland New Zealand and are the second rarest Kiwi so it was with great ceremony that they were delivered to the Park.  Roy and I were privileged to be invited to view the proceedings and it was good timing as we had returned to Auckland for a few appointments the previous couple of days and were staying at our second “home” with my brother Steve & sister-in-law Leslie before heading back to the van at Uretiti. But back to the main event.

According to Wikipedia the little spotted kiwi or little grey kiwi, Apteryx owenii, is a small species of kiwi that in pre-European times occurred in both main islands of New Zealand. Around 1900, a population was trans-located to Kapiti Island for conservation purposes. Little spotted kiwis are the smallest species of kiwi, at about 0.9 to 1.9 kg (2.0–4.2 lb), about the size of a bantam. After they were released on Kapiti Island, they were also moved to Red Mercury Island, Hen Island, Tiritiri Matangi Island, and Long Island in the Queen Charlotte Sound. In 2000, about 20 little spotted kiwis were released into Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. This was the first time since about 1900 that little spotted kiwis could be found on the mainland of New Zealand. Now they have a second Mainland home ie. Shakespear Regional Park.

 The Kiwi were delivered to the ceremony site by selected personnel with the kiwi transported in specially made boxes which had been lovingly made by SOSSI (Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society Incorporated) volunteers over the previous few months. 

Kiwi being delivered in their special carry boxes

The Kiwi and guests were welcomed by local iwi with a powhiri.

Iwi representative delivering welcome speech. 

Then came the welcoming speeches from various dignitaries inlcuding Auckland mayor Phil Goff


SOSSI chairman Peter Jackson


 NZ Defence Force representative

The Defence Force, namely the Navy, share some of the headland and fence line with the Park and work together with park staff  in enhancing the area.

Unfortunately I missed taking a picture of the very moving and powerful powhiri and karakia given by the Kapiti Island iwi representatives as I was too busy listening.   And why were Kapiti Island Iwi present?  The 10 female birds being introduced were from Kapiti Island just off the Wellington Coast, and the 10 male Kiwi were from Tiritiri Matangi Island which is an island in the Hauraki Gulf just 3kms offshore from Shakespear.  The mixing of the birds ensures there will be genetic diversity in future offspring.

After all of the speeches the birds were returned to their shelter.  We were then told that a few of the birds would be brought out for us to be able to see close up, whilst ensuring they would be carefully handled we were asked to be very quiet so as not to frighten the nocturnal creatures.  We had presumed that the birds would be brought out in the boxes as we knew that perspex lids had also been made for the boxes.  

What a pleasant surprise we had when we saw that the birds were being carefully brought out by handlers, cradling them in their arms like they would a newborn baby.

Each bird had a handler, a volunteer umbrella holder and a Ranger to bring them out to see us.

This bird was brought out by Ginnie.  Ginnie is the organiser for the Junior Ranger programme run at the Park which we are very involved with over the summer months. 


The Kiwi were released into their new habitat later in the afternoon, away from the glare of onlookers.   We look forward to hearing their calls in the night next time we return. 

A flying visit

April 22, 2017

When we get a call from friends Barry & Sandra asking if we will be around to join them for morning tea, we know that it will be a flying visit – literally!

As we are currently parked at the motorhome parking area at Ardmore Airport it was an opportune time for Sandra & Barry to visit from their home at Taupo Airport.  You see they have a plane with which they hop into to make their visits and sure enough just before 10am they landed at the airstrip in front of us!


We wandered down to greet them and spent the next couple of hours at the Airport Cafe catching up on all each other’s news before putting the world to rights.

It’s not the first time that they have visited, there was the time when we were in Takaka, Kaitaia and in Thames.  As well as us visiting them at their base in Taupo and here.

We were interrupted from our chatting by the roar of engines, sure enough there were 5  Harvard planes lined up ready for a takeoff.   These are part of the Warbirds collection that regularly fly at air shows and events around the country.  And with a roar they were all off in quick succession and were soon flying in formation over the city, we presumed as practise for ANZAC Day commemorations next week. 



Soon it was time for Sandra and Barry to head back home to Taupo.  It’s always great to catch up with them and we look forward to the next time.

Sandra, Roy & Barry

Auckland stranglehold

April 19, 2017

We finally managed to escape from the North Shore when the brakes were finally sorted with the new calipers fitted and everything finally completed and tested.  We made it as far as Papakura where we stayed at the Club for a few nights before heading to the NZMCA park at Ardmore.  Roy had an appointment at Ascot Hospital so we thought it would be convenient being here for a few days before we head north.   

Whilst we were at the club Simon called in with Maria for a visit…

Grandad and Maria
Antony only lives around the corner so he called in as well to catch up although I’m not so sure that Maria was impressed!Simon, Antony and Maria

Things seem to be conspiring against us at the moment as we now have a new issue.  There is a stone chip or two in the windscreen, very small ones mind you, however one is in the drivers sightline  and as part of the COF which is due at the end of the month, we needed to get them repaired.  The chips in question are only the size of my little fingernai.  We organised to have the windscreen looked at and hopefully get the chips fixed but guess what?  Yep, the stone chips cannot be successful repaired so we have to have a new windscreen which of course means it has to be ordered and shipped from the USA.  We are told that it will be a matter of just 10 days before it arrives into the country.  Meanwhile we are stuck at Ardmore until that arrives.  Of course to complicate matters there is Easter weekend and ANZAC day in amongst the time frame which equates to lots of public holidays but hopefully it will not hold things up too much. Meanwhile we wait…..patiently?! 

Both Antony and Roy have had birthdays in the past few days which the three of us have celebrated quietly with a meal or two out.  The years keep rolling around and the numbers inevitably keep getting larger, not that we are complaining!

The weather seems to have finally settled although last week we had the predicted storm Cyclone Cook bearing down on an already soaked landscape.  Fortunately the Cyclone deviated eastwards from its projected path and apart from the odd downpour or two we came off lightly.

Plans?  Well we are not making too many as as soon as we do, something seems to come along to scupper them so stay tuned folks.