Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The good news

December 10, 2018

We have both been back to our respective surgeons this past week, actually on the same day but on the opposite sides of Auckland. Roy headed off to Ascot Hospital Greenlane in the morning for his post op check up, which went well, his PSA levels are almost zero and everything else is healing fine.

My appointment was at Southern Cross Hospital in Wairau Road, and Keith came to the rescue and did his best “Driving Miss Daisy” impression and we were there in no time. I also got a good review, the allergic reaction has settled, the wound is healing nicely, so well in fact that instead of seeing the surgeon in a couple of weeks time for the post op X-rays and checkup, we have delayed it until next year as we both felt that it would be a better time frame and considering I am doing so well, there was no point in an early appointment.

But prior to our appointments we were spectators to an amazing thunder and lightning storm which also brought with it torrential rain.

the view from the door during the deluge.

The thunder and lightning was directly overhead, the noise was intense and I must admit I was a little concerned. What we didn’t find out until later in the day was that three sheep, up on the hill not 150metres from the van, were struck by lightning and killed.

The storm was over in a few short hours and was all clear by the time we needed to get away to our appointments.

The view from the door just a few hours after the storm departed. amazing really that the water was already disappearing from sight.

The following day was departure day for Keith & Debbie, we have been travelling together for the past few months and have enjoyed having their company and at various times assistance with bits and pieces especially as both Roy and I have been on light duties post surgeries. We’ve shared a few laughs, in fact a lot of laughs, and of course we have enjoyed the fishing exploits. We will meet up again next year when the freezers need filling up again with lots of lovely fresh fish.

So life for us is back to camp hosting duties, which is already proving to be interesting,, what with a terrible booking system to contend with from an end user perspective, tourists who cannot book in for whatever reason, the odd partying underage campers to deal with, campers arriving late and being noisy without regard for others and campers who arrive without essential items and come looking for assistance.

All in a days work.

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It was all going so well

December 2, 2018

My surgery and subsequent recovery had been going so well, I’m well ahead of expectations of range of motion and activity and all was great. The physio came out to see me on Monday, she was also impressed at where I was up to but she did say that she thought I should pop back to the hospital to get the dressing changed as it appeared the wound was oozing somewhat.

Instead I rang my surgeon and talked to his receptionist about what to do. She suggested I come in and let Hugh have a look but also to start the antibiotics I was given for a just-in-case situation like this. By late that afternoon I was at his office getting it looked at. It turns out that the wound itself was fine, but I had reacted to the glue on the dressing and it had formed blisters all around the wound. Ouch.

So he cleaned it up and put on a different dressing. This was Tuesday afternoon. Thursday the dressing was again soaked but also bit of an ugly shade of green.. so I again rang Nicki who suggested I send Hugh a photo of what it looked like. So I did. I mean how many surgeons give you their cell phone number?? He rang almost immediately and said remove the dressing clean it with the special wash I had been given and send him another picture.

Which we duly did. He rang back again, saying he thought the wound looked fine, it was just this allergic reaction, so sit in the sun with it exposed for a while, and then put on the Manuka Wound Gel he had told me about, redress and come and see him in the morning. Which we did on Friday for a dressing dressing change and some ointment for the blistery, itchy, hot, annoying rash that circumnavigates the long thin scar of the surgery.

I go back to him on Tuesday for another check up, I hope to goodness that the rash and blisters have cleared up by then otherwise I may be very annoyed!

There will be no pictures in this blog entry, I do not need to share the ugly side of my wound, it’s bad enough having it out in the sunshine for people to see.

Apart from that and a very swollen ankle and foot, all is well and I am well on the road to recovery..

Roy also has a post op checkup on Tuesday, let’s hope that it is also a good result.

All done and dusted

November 23, 2018

Yay, I’m going home. I did try and convince my surgeon to keep me in and do the other knee on Monday but apparently he’s a bit busy! This experience of knee replacement surgery has so far been a relatively painless one, hence I have no hesitation in having the other knee done. I have to say that I was prepared for the worst, everyone had told me that hips were a doddle compared to knees, that the pain would be terrible and the physio daunting. Hugh, my surgeon, was at pains to tell me how hard it was going to be and how it wasn’t going to be pleasant etc. I can remember Mum telling me that she would rather have ten hips done rather than one knee, I wish I could tell her than the opposite is true for me. Perhaps I was really prepared for it to be relay really bad, but my expectations haven’t been met.

I have been totally surprised at the lack of pain, it has been well managed by staff and I don’t think I’m on any different painkillers to last time either. I have been really well cared for by all of the friendly nursing as well as ancillary staff at Southern Cross Hospital.

Today was time to remove the dressing….look away now if you are squeamish!!!…yeah right, I am the worst one for not wanting to know or see what is going on.

this is what the dressing post op looks like. It is called a Pico dressing which has a little sucky motor attached to it to ensure everything is airtight.

According to the blurb

PICO represents a unique way of treating patients who would benefit from the application of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT). PICO has been shown to provide positive patient outcomes when applied to open wounds, closed surgical incisions and skin grafts.  

The PICO system is canister-free which means the pump is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. This makes the system very discreet and portable for the patient to wear.

The PICO pump generates an effective negative pressure of -80mmHg and provides therapy for up to 7 days.

The PICO pump is connected to a conformable, innovatively designed dressing which:

  1. Is easily applied and removed, minimising skin trauma and delivers the negative pressure across the wound bed or closed incision
  2. Is designed to reduce the risk of pressure points and supports patient comfort.
  3. Manages the fluid away from the wound or closed incision through a unique combination of absorbency and evaporation.

Very clever stuff they have these days.

once the dressing was removed, this is all there is to see,

Still got that lovely pink stuff on my skin.

And redressed ready to go home.

Now I am just waiting for the final discharge notes and prescriptions to be delivered and then we will be off home. One knee done, one to go.

Back to Shakespear

November 17, 2018

We arrived late Sunday afternoon in glorious sunshine, we were set up fairly quickly and just as well because no sooner had we finished when the skies opened and the rained poured down. But not before I managed to take a picture of us all set up.

It’s lovely to be back although it sounds as though we could be in for an interesting summer as the booking system has been completely changed. Before it was just plain terrible, now it’s diabolical! It has obviously been set up by someone who has a) never made a booking before, for anything….and b) has never been on the working end of a booking system especially from the end user perspective. It should not be so difficult or convoluted, in fact it should be very simple. We have complained about the previous system for years (along with just about every end user) and now somehow they have managed to make it even worse. I bet someone was paid a lot of money to make it such a shambles. Getting off soap box now.

This last week was a week of appointments and checkups, culminating with me (Bernice) having one of my knees replaced on Monday the 19th. Interesting wee aside though, as part of the pre Op checks and tests, I was measured and guess what? Since I had my hip replaced I am exactly one whole centimetre taller!!! Every little bit helps.

The surgery and subsequent recovery is not something I am particularly looking forward to but I am looking forward to one day being pain free and much more mobile.

Since we have been back here at Shakespear though we have been amazed at the proliferation of bird life, we have some saddlebacks here in the campground with two new chicks that are making their presence heard and kiwi can be heard most nights. In fact tonight I could have sworn that the kiwi was just outside the door it sounded so close. I went out looking with my red torchlight (red so it doesn’t hurt their eyes) but I could not see it anywhere. The Tuis are amazing not just for their call but also their flying antics. I watched them chase away a mynah and a magpie yesterday. The pukekos are everywhere, there are robins and fantails and yellow heads and whiteheads and we have a thrush that seems to particularly like us as well.

All the hard work that the rangers and volunteers put in are really paying off with the bush line extending every year, it really is a huge asset for Auckland along with the other regional parks.

Moving, fishing and a yacht

November 11, 2018

A night in Kerikeri on our way back towards Auckland meant that Roy could have a good catch up with Stuart to compare and swap genealogy notes. Whilst Roy was out, I noticed another vehicle in the Kerikeri NZMCA Park that looked familiar so I wandered along to meet up with Shellie. Shellie blogs and photographs her and David’s travels around New Zealand, her blog is here. Over a cuppa we talked for a good couple of hours about everything and nothing. Thanx for the catch up Shellie, sorry we didn’t get to say hooray, but enjoy your travels north, until next time.

Our next stop is Uretiti where Keith & Deb had arrived the day before us and sorted out a great position for themselves. We set ourselves up in a lovely spot just along from our usual position, which just so happened to be taken. However, I think I’ve just found our new favourite space!

Settled in

perfect positioning for the sun and privacy.

and another vehicle parked in our usual spot behind the tree.

We were settled into relax mode when the guys decided they might just try a fish off the beach after dinner. They were only away just over an hour before they were back with one rather large fish and another couple of good sized ones. They also thought it may be a good idea to have an early morning fish whilst some of us slumbered on, They did bring back another three for their early morning effort.

Lunch time they went for another fish, this time I wandered down to the beach with them. Whilst there, looking out to sea with the backdrop of the Hen & Chicken Islands was a very large yacht, which was moving very swiftly, along with four chase boats and at one stage a helicopter in tow.

Click on the picture to enlarge and on the left hand side of the island you should be able to pick out the sail and a splash of water from one of the chase boasts. Sorry, but only had my phone with me to take a picture.

We soon determined that this was one of the Russell Coutts/Larry Ellison catamarans on trial for their new racing competition set to rival the Americas Cup. It is a sailing league called SailGP that will be contested in an enhanced class of foiling 50-foot catamarans. Teams from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, France, Japan and China will compete starting in 2019 in highly advanced catamarans called F50s.

Gayle came to visit for a day, we met when we first hit the road, it was fabulous to catch up again and have a few laughs.

Shhhhh…..we are not telling!

November 6, 2018

Our next destination is a bit of a hidden gem, it’s not advertised anywhere, it’s not listed on any web sites and it’s not in any books. We came across it a couple of years https://brvannini.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/hidden-gem/ so decided to return. Luckily we still had the contact details of the guardian of the site so we rang before making the trek to book in, as well as make sure it was still ok to visit in exchange for a bit of Koha (donation).

We left Tokerau Beach in the rain, accompanied by a terrible gusty wind. We would usually chose not to travel in such wind but it seemed like it was easing, which it did further along in our journey.

We arrived to find that there was no one else here, yay, we can park where we like. We woke the following morning to thIs view from my bedroom window….

and yes, this was taken by me at 7am!

and a panoramic shot taken from the door of the van.

This was also where we saw the Blue whale two years ago, now long gone.

this is us all settled in.

Some people even went for a swim! A tad chilly yet for most of us though.

Well, he (Keith) was a tad warm after hiking out to the end of the point, an hour each way, so I guess cooling off in the sea is not a bad option.

Some of us prefer to sit in the sun and contemplate the world whilst taking in the views

Looking left

looking right, and with that sort of scenery, why wouldn’t you?

Not to be outdone, the following day Deb braved the water for a swim

that’s her swimming along the beach……brrrrrr. It will have to warm up a bit more before I venture in.

We have had a week here and as alluded to in my last post, we have managed to do very little but relax, take time out, go for the odd walk, chill out, fish, swim, relax…..you get the picture? Bliss!

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All good things…

October 31, 2018

They say that all good things must come to an end and in our case it was very true. It was time to move on, our time at Rarawa was finally up even though we were all very reluctant to leave but needs must and all that.

We were packed up and ready to head into Kaitaia for the day and to stay the night at the RSA. An uneventful drive down to Kaitaia where the first thing to do was a trip to the dump station and then to the petrol station to fill up with LPG. With laundry to be done, shopping to catch up on and a zillion other little jobs to do we also decided to spend some of our dollars in and around Kaitaia at various food places and to give us a night off cooking. First was a late lunch at the bakery, which just so happens to be next door to the laundromat.

I caught these two enjoying a late lunch.

After lunch and laundry it was back to the vans to put everything away before attending to other shopping. That evening we all went to the RSA for dinner where we were warmly welcomed and had a great meal.

Next morning it was breakfast at Gecko, another great little cafe in Kaitaia that does fantastic food as well as coffee. Once we all had had our fill of breakfast and coffee it was time to move on. This time we are heading to the NZMCA Park at Tokerau Beach.

Safely parked up the boys decided to was time for a fish off the beach and they were soon back with a nice fish. Whilst here we are catching up with Gary & Marg as they have sold their house and are moving to Waipu.

The weekend was spent hiding from the rain and wind, watching the rugby and for me it was a marathon netball watching weekend with the Fast Five Netball Champs on in Melbourne…and yes, we, I mean NZ, won in a heart-stoppingly close final.

We were only going to stay for the weekend as we have a secret gem of a place to show Keith & Deb where they can stay which is one of those unadvertised, not well known places to stay and we are heading there next for a week of doing some serious relaxing, with just a little bit of fishing thrown into the mix!

Labour weekend

October 23, 2018

We’ve seen them come, and we’ve seen them go. Who are they? People that live “normal” lives and only have weekends to get away. They started arriving here at Rarawa on Friday, setting up their camp sites with more friends and family joining their small groups over the weekend. It’s Monday morning and already over half of the people have left to go home, unpack, clean up and get themselves ready for their working week, which, as we sit here enjoying the warm sunshine with a flat white coffee in hand reminds us just how damn fortunate we are to be able to live this lifestyle.

We’ve been fishing a few times off 90mile beach, it’s a short drive from here and with the wind direction favourable for getting the kite out we have been taking advantage of it. Keith’s drone has had a bit of a malfunction with the release tab not working so we had to rely on the kites again.

With good success, plenty of snapper and one good sized Trevally (which we neglected to take any photos) we have enjoyed not only snapper for dinner but also the Trevally became sashimi and also some made into Ceviche/Kokoda/Ota Iki/Crudo aka raw fish salad by any of its other names.

this is yesterday’s fish off 90mile beach

And some of you have asked what on earth are we doing with all this fish. Well, apart from eating lots of it, we vacuum pack it and freeze it. We have perfected the method so that when we defrost it, it is just like fresh fish.

the top packet is just one fillet, weighing in at around 700gms!

We should have enough to last us a little while when we are tied to camp hosting at Shakespear when there isn’t the time or the lack of people and boats around to go fishing.

We have also shared the fish around with friends, family as well as the odd fellow camper benefitting from our efforts.

Earlier I mentioned that Keith’s drone had had a bit of a malfunction, and whilst it will be fixed next week we were not to let that get in the way or stop us using it. With a bit of help from Mr Google, along with some YouTube clips and some kiwi ingenuity, we came up with a solution. It required a wire coat hanger but neither of us had one, but wait…..I have part of one that I used to make the handle on my peg basket. The peg basket is now handleless until I come up with another plan but the drone now functions perfectly well for carrying the long line off shore.

Getting set up ready to launch, what a way to spend a Monday afternoon.

here’s the coat hanger attached to the underside of the drone with the line to be attached on the hook, the line stays in place when it flies out, when the drone stops where we want it to, the momentum of the line and sinker self launches the line off the wire. Ingenious!! I think we should patent it!

with line and sinker attached.

And just to prove that we both are on the beach enjoying the sunshine, here is photographic evidence.

Back in the groove

October 17, 2018

We are back into our groove again, you know, get up at a leisurely hour in the mornings, look at the day, quickly dispense with any chores and then go fishing!!!

The fellas went out for an early morning fish, whilst some of us slept on…

Waiting for the fish as well as sunrise, what a beautiful morning, I’m pleased you took a picture of it so I would know what it looks like!

I think Keith was quite pleased with this catch!

The fishing gang on the beach, later in the day

somewhere in the blue shy is a little black dot, that is our kite!

Roy getting in his daily step count walking over to see Keith to discuss whose line we will bring in first (Roy is on light duties so Keith helps us to retrieve our line).

another good catch including this fantastic gurnard. We have never caught one as big before, I’m sure it will make good eating.

Roger the rooster is still here and becoming bolder and bolder, walking on the mat to the door to see if we will give him something to eat. I know what I’d really like to feed him!!!

Medical matters

October 14, 2018

We made our way down to Auckland as far as Whakapirau where we were staying with Jacky & Chris for the night. It’s a 5hr drive from Rarawa to Whakapirau, including a couple of comfort stops, and then a further 2 hrs to get to Auckland so it’s a good break point for us.

Roy was due at Ascot at midday ready for surgery at around 2pm. Antony came in to take me out to lunch whilst Roy was under the knife laser. Roy was having some remedial surgery of the prostate as some tissue had atrophied as a result of the hormone and radiation treatments and was causing a bit of an issue. Meanwhile Antony and I went out for a nice lunch and a bit of retail therapy returning to the hospital just as the surgeon rang to say all had gone well and he would be in his room within the next hour.

I was happy to wait for him in his room enjoying the view.

the view from his room overlooking Ellerslie Race course.

He was back pretty soon, wide awake and feeling ok after having an epidural and a sedative rather than a full anaesthetic, so good in fact that he was keen to have something to eat. I left him in the good care of the staff at Ascot in the early evening to retire to Antony’s place for the night.

The following day Roy had not had the best night, so the surgeon was checking in on him a couple of times and sorting out his pain relief before he would allow him out later in the day. Meanwhile Antony and I headed over to Southern Cross Hospital on the North Shore where I was to have an MRI done on my hip replacement due to an anomaly showing up on previous X-rays.

MRI’s are not my favourite thing, they can be very claustrophobic, especially as they tighten a special cage device over the hip area to make sure you stay still and also tie my feet together and onto the bed so nothing moves….eeeek……but I told myself it was just for an hour so just suck it up and deal with it. It was completed in around 45minutes, but then they said I had to have more done but this time with a dye injected. Breathe in…….and out……..relax, think of your happy place Bernice, all these thoughts were racing through my mind as I went back into the scanner. But it was soon over with, next came the wait to see the surgeon in a few hours time.

Again, Antony & I went out for a bite to eat and to do a few chores. I must say it was great to have him with me and we had a good chat about everything and anything. We were back at the surgeons office 45minutes early, fortunately he could see me early. And the upshot?

At the top of the trochanter (femur) has some stress fractures that appear to be healing, no wonder it’s been a bit sore! and there maybe very small bone fragments that have come away and irritating matters. As well it looks like there is a pocket of fluid which he was unsure what it was exactly.

What’s next? They want to do a biopsy on the fluid via a needle inserted into the hip area….eeeek! this is to be done under a general anaesthetic and what about having it done next week? Oh and we will also check for infection with some blood tests as well. After a bit of discussion, we agreed that I would have the blood tests straight away and see what they say and put off the needle biopsy and do it next month when I am having my knee replaced negating the need for two anaesthetics in a short period of time. That is presuming everything comes back clear with the blood tests, fingers crossed.

I did ask if I was being a wuss with regards to the pain I have but I was assured that I am not, so with new prescription in hand we were soon on our way.

Meanwhile Roy was being discharged so we could pick him up on the way home and head to Antony’s for the night. We were both feeling pretty good so we thought we would head back north, just as far as Whakapirau initially, just to be close enough to Auckland if we had to return for any reason. After a restful nights sleep, we were ready to head back home.

We were back at the van the following day, ready to take things easy for a bit as Roy is on strict light duties, and I am to rest as much as practicable. That being said, we are both feeling pretty good so hope to get back to some good fishing stories soon.