Making progress

It’s now 3 weeks since my surgery and I’m healing well (mainly lol). I went for blood tests Tuesday then saw the Dr Wednesday. He wasn’t totally thrilled and sent me to A&E so they could re-x-ray my tummy to check for leaks, and redo the bloods. Dr Georgina and I had a long chat after the x-rays checked out ok, and decided I just wasn’t resting enough. It’s hard to rest with Tony so sick, but I’m working on it 😉

Speaking of work, tomorrow I am returning to work but only doing half days from home. I’m looking forward to it. I love my job, and miss my colleagues and staff. But I also know my brain is still a bit fuzzy and I tire easily, so will make sure I work to my own pace. This week I just need to clear a bazillion emails and do the quarterly financial reports.

Today Sandra came up from Whanganui and took Tony to Hawera. They went to Bunnings so he could buy Tulip bulbs then had lunch at Upside Down Cafe. I’m so grateful to her for taking him out, at his pace. They’ve always been good mates and getting out of the house is good for him. He’s worn out and has pretty much been asleep ever since, except for dinner of Instant Pudding and tinned peaches!

We’re fortunate to have people helping us in a variety of ways, and I’m grateful for the love and support we receive.

The value of art time

Some weekends, aside from cooking meals & basic things like washing etc, I spend both days at my art desk. This is one of those weekends. Tony is in more pain and sleepy so he’s sitting in the lazyboy, napping, while I play with my art supplies. Art is good for me – the movement of my hands, the meditative sense of slowed-down time when fussy cutting out images, and the chance to get my thoughts & feelings out of my head and into my art journals.

I’ve been working in my large Dina Wakley journal, and the large Dylusions journals. I’ve really enjoyed playing with Steampunk images for a change.

Some weeks are BIG

Some weeks are pretty ordinary, others are a bit more full on – last week was BIG. We had an appointment with the respiratory specialist on Tuesday. We were also seeing the Hospice Dr for advice about how much Tony sleeps sometimes and how incredibly drowsy he can be (sometimes he falls asleep while I’m talking to him and I don’t think I’m *that* boring!), and a wound specialist about his foot ulcer. Tuesday morning I phoned Breeda for additional advice about some stuff and she said to go in straight away, which we did.

I won’t bother going into the details but Tony was very sick; they decided straight away a night as an inpatient was needed to get things sorted. They suggested I stay, as he was having trouble answering questions, so I camped out on a sofa bed in his room. We had packed his hospital bag, but nothing for me, so I had to do an emergency run to The Warehouse. This weekend I’m packing an overnight bag for me for whenever we go to A&E or Hospice, just in case.

They changed him from Morphine to OxyContin because, although still an opioid, it has different side effects & will hopefully suit better. He’s certainly having less hallucinations, and the ones he does have are much less vivid. So far, he hasn’t been as drowsy either, except when he’s had a decent dose of OxyC. They also dropped the dose of some other meds, as the muscles in his thighs were getting weak and it seems to have helped.

On Wednesday they felt things were improving but suggested a second night and, somewhat reluctantly, he agreed after I pointed out that him insisting on going home puts a lot more pressure and responsibility on me rather than the experts. Good point! Wednesday evening was very rough, but he woke Thursday looking and sounding so much better. One of the nurses commented that she’d had no point of reference because he was so sick when we got there, and it was nice to meet the real Tony.

We headed home midday Thursday and, while things are not great, they’re a lot better. At their suggestion, I rang the DHB and from next week Tony will have a caregiver for 30 min every weekday lunchtimes to check on him, as well as the morning one.

He’s had some high pain times already and I’ve had to ring Hospice a few times for advice; I appreciate how supportive they are. I’ve got to ring tomorrow and speak to the Doctor because the nurses think the long-acting OxyC needs increasing so he gets less breakthrough pain. As always, I’m thankful to family and friends, and my Twitter pocket friends, for their support and love – this would be an even shittier journey without them.

We loved that the beds have beautiful quilts, and it all feels quite homely.
This is the semi-private courtyard outside Tony’s room at Hospice

Art and life

Last week had its ups and downs. The downs I’m not documenting… The ups included an amazing fishing trip for Tony, something that was on his very short bucket list.

Tomorrow we’re seeing the respiratory specialist, Dr Hicks, to get the details of his latest lung MRI, to confirm a few things. We’re supposed to see the Hospice Dr to look at his meds, but this might not happen due to COVID19 level 2 – Breeda is trying to sort it for us. Tied into that is a meeting with the Hospice wound nurse to have a look at the ulcer on his foot.

I continue to art out all the feelings. I’m so grateful for my art journals as I’ve been feeling a bit unwell, and my temper starts to fray far too easily. I’ve been playing on my huge Dina Wakley mixed media journal.

Rolling on

Early last week Tony’s car was picked up by our car dealer; we’ve been dealing with same car dealership for almost 30 years and they were happy to buy it back. On Tuesday Tony’s 2nd pre-loved scooter arrived – he took it out onto the road & back but that was all.

My sister Ailsa came down for the weekend and yesterday she went for a walk up town, so Tony went with her on his scooter. It seemed to go well and there’s okay crossings the whole way.

Ailsa gave me hand to do some of the household jobs I can’t manage, while I cleaned the kitchen windows, rangehood and took the stovetop apart for a good clean. I got up and down off a kitchen chair a few times and my knees have had enough. I’ll be taking it easy for the rest of the day and waiting for the Brufen to kick in.

Goldie has finally discovered, at 15, that getting onto our knee for a cuddle is actually ok. Until now she’s sat on the arm of the chair and put her front feet on your lap. Today she got onto Ailsa’s knee for a pat and was purring. Goldie was a semi-stray and it was Ailsa who rescued her as a kitten – we always say it’s Ailsa’s fault 😉

Accepting change

Change – sometimes we fight it, sometimes we accept it. Our lives are changing a lot at the moment and, for the most part, we’re accepting it with (fairly) good grace. That doesn’t mean we like it, but we know fighting it will only make it worse.

Oddly, for me, as Tony’s health has got worse over the last few months I haven’t said much on FB. Twitter is my late night support, so I’ve been more upfront there. Perhaps I haven’t wanted to deal with people who know me – know us – reading about it? I’ll come back to that thought. Twitter is more anonymous, despite being a group of people who provide me enormous support.

Since Tony’s last two stays in Base Hospital, including HDU, his health and quality of life have deteriorated. The list of medical issues we’re dealing with has got longer – as one Dr said “we’re dealing with multiple significant health issues and it’s a juggle”. Tony’s decided we won’t investigate anything new, we’ll just deal with existing issues, and I support his decision. As a result he’s cancelled some scheduled tests.

He’s on serious pain relief, and has some memory and cognition issues too as a result of his vascular problems. Tony doesn’t feel as confident driving any more – something he’s always loved – and, combined with the medical issues, has decided to sell his car. Next week he’ll be getting a wee red mobility scooter so he can zoom up town and buy milk etc.

It’s a big change for us. He can’t go and visits friends on his own. Vet trips with our ancient cat are up to me, as is buying the groceries and so on. On a good day he might decide to use my car, but I doubt it. And of course we’ll need to use Standby for all his out-of-town medical appointments.

So, lots of changes. And not great ones either. But it’s ok … and we’re ok.

And coming back to writing this for the people who know us personally. I now when I’m talking to people at work, like my boss, I am very matter of fact. It’s not that I’m not feeling it. It’s the opposite. I can’t afford to start talking about the emotional side most of the time – there are a few people I rely on, and everyone else gets “just the facts maam”.

Art, COVID-19, our household

New Zealand is now Alert level 2 with COVID-19. No community outbreaks yet but think it’s getting close if the overseas experience is anything to go by. People who are wilfully ignoring the protocols are endangering others. It’s not cute or funny or brave – it’s dangerous and should be criminal.

Tony is in the danger category – diabetic, over 70 etc so is choosing to self-isolate. Me going to work does put him at risk but we’re doing all we can to minimise it. Things like me washing my hands in the washhouse before coming inside.

I’m limiting the news I watch to the essentials for work and trying to make social media a safe place while sharing what I need to. It’s a fine line, because I don’t want to feel overwhelmed but do need to be well informed for my work.

So I have been doing plenty of art, partly because I’m not sleeping well. Penny and I are into our second month of Dr Vuong’s Leap Year Challenge and I’m learning so much. I’m recording some of it in my Dylusions journals because the mix of thinking and art helps embed it for me.

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As 2019 ends…

The end of another year, and the end of a decade. This year I’ve worked hard, actively relaxed, spent quality time with Tony, contributed to the wider profession, had an art exhibition with Dimmie at Lysaght Watt, visited Penny and Alan on the West Coast a couple of times, been to Punakaiki to the pancake rocks, gained a nephew-in-law and a great-nephew, kept my weight steady-but-slightly-heavier-than-I-want and increased my daily steps to 6,000. Not a bad year’s work all up…

And the decade? Hmm. Stepped up to my current role, gained a great-nephew in Australia, sat with Mum as she passed, had weight loss surgery, renewed old friendships, had a car accident, enjoyed endless hours of art & craft, and celebrated our silver wedding anniversary.

Looking back at my blog from December 2009 the following stood out:

Having passed my chest infection on to my husband (remember marriage vows – for better or worse – this is worse) and my mother (blast! at 85, it’s not a good thing) – I’m feeling a bit better. Although the house still sounds a bit like a TB ward really. Now that I have my coughing under control, and a wee bit of energy back, I need to get creating. I’m still the same – creating is my relaxation and my saviour.

This year I have some personal goals, which I am not sharing, but am internally visualizing instead. My word this year is intended solely for my art, although as I live with and use the word I have no doubt I will start to find it fits with the whole of life. Why? Because my art and the whole of my life are inseparable. So, what is the word? MAP. It’s amazing to think I have been doing #OneLittleWord for over a decade now.

And Faith wrote: Grandma has a chest infection, but the staff kept asking about the big bruise on her arm – and Grandma couldn’t remember how it happened. When we got home Mum and Grandma were laughing, saying that at this rate the Police will be round any day to accuse Mum of beating up Grandma. I remember this so well – I was really concerned they were going to report me for abuse, and I still remember how she got the bruise.

As 2019 draws to a close, I am grateful for Tony, Faith & Goldie, family, friends, work and art. Here’s to a great 2020.




My best friend Sandra is a Christmas baby. Yesterday she had lunch with her family, then came to us for birthday dinner & wines and spent the night. Her dog Bruno and Faith sort of ignore each other in a friendly way – Faith isn’t well socialised to put it bluntly. Today Tony took her to Hawera to visit a few family graves. This journal page, using some of my more recent supplies, is about our friendship.

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