Tuesday 30 June 2020

Hurry up and wait!

I am just starting a new piece of work with the Dept of Conservation down in Hokitika - my favourite place! We were going to make our way down there, leaving home very early on Wednesday morning for the ferry departing at 0845. However on Monday afternoon we had a text and an email (comprehensive communication - lots of brownie points!) to let us know there were gale force winds forecast and it was likely the ferries on Wednesday and Thursday would be cancelled.


Our plan had been to wend our way to Stoke near Nelson and spend a few nights at Ann and Salvi's place, consuming their electricity, eating their food, basking in front of their fireplace and playing cards in person rather than by FaceTime (as we have been doing with much hilarity and pleasure since the beginning of lockdown back in late March).

So instead of waiting and seeing - see previous post which explains my impatience - ACP who is purportedly the one with patience (and obviously an endless capacity for uncertainty - that is sarcasm, by the way, in case you missed it in your outpouring of sympathy for said ACP!) that ACP (previously mentioned a couple of times in the same sentence) suggested I try to rebook when the weather was likely to have cleared. Dammit, almost every other passenger had the same idea but quicker than we did. All booked out on Friday and Saturday ... (Actually, it turns out it is the start of the school holidays - that's why they are all booked out.)

So we decided we ought to just suck it up and wait and see. Are you bloody kidding me?! Nah!! ACP gave it 5 minutes (that is the limit of his uncertainty tolerance timeframe [UTT]) then said he would try to book a passage on Sunday.

So we are booked at 0630 Sunday, with the latest check in at 0530. I think that means leaving home on Saturday afternoon and staying overnight at Plimmerton NZMCA camp so we do not have to be up quite so early.

Earlier that arvo, I had started setting out the clothing I will need while we are away - a bit hard on two counts:
* there is not much clothing space on board (remember that I did change the wardrobe into a pantry),
* I need casual clothing plus work stuff.

I hadn't taken it all out to the motorhome but had stacked it neatly on the bed.
  • x number of tops, 
  • x-4 skirts/work trousers, 
  • all of my jeans, lots of jerseys, plenty of socks
  • at least a week's worth of underwear
 Then the delay occurred. So did I put it all back on hangers and in drawers and do the exercise again in a few days' time? Nah. So, in between showers, some of it was stored in the motorhome and the rest was carefully stacked on the armchair in the bedroom.

Note to self, nothing has yet been identified as travelling clothes ...

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Reframing the impatience criticism ...

I read an article in the Washington Post this morning about a 69 year old man who recently died from COVID-19. He was obviously a well respected person.

Here is an excerpt:
Allen Lew ... built a generation of Washington landmarks as a hard-charging city administrator. From building the District's convention center to the Nationals Park baseball stadium and a massive rehab of the city's decrepit public schools, Mr Lew blasted through layers of bureaucracy, ignored rules that he said slowed progress and got big projects done in record time.

Clearly he was an amazing man with extraordinary talent in his field of endeavour.

One of the things that he was quoted as saying in a job interview was "I have a constructive level of impatience for getting things done." I am not saying that I am as talented as he was.

However I am saying that reframing ACP's criticism about my impatience has made me feel a whole lot better!

It is official and you read it here first:

I have a constructive level of impatience for getting things done!!

A direct copy from Micky Savage re the wonderful Ashley Bloomfield

I decided to copy and paste this blogpost that my friend Sarah posted in Facebook early this morning (I think she has trouble sleeping, so clearly I am not working her hard enough ...)
The person who wrote this, Micky Savage, has said what I have been thinking over the last week or so - however Micky says it much more articulately than I would. 
So here you go: 
In Defense of Ashley Bloomfield
Well the last week has been a real roller coaster.
Aotearoa New Zealand has gone from the ecstasy of we have no Covid to the agony that we, at the time of writing, have eight cases of Covid and the first two went on a road trip from Auckland to Wellington, hugged someone who went to a gym and who the f*ck knows where we are now.  So far there is no evidence of community transmission.  Long may it stay that way.
As I previously noted National went to town on the issue.  Michael Woodhouse chose to hold back releasing information about the road trip until the time that it would be of the most political damage.  Sure elements of the Ministry of Health may have also known it but letting the Minister know it immediately would have meant that Wellington could have put its foot down, insisted that the quarantine regime improves its performance, and hopefully reduced the risk of the virus spreading.  Delaying meant he had a great Gotcha moment but the risk of the spread of the virus has now been increased.
But Labour would have done the same I hear you wail.  They also seek to maximise political advantage over contributing to the public good.
I doubt it.
There is this example from 2015 when Andrew Little chose to go to John Key’s office to tell him that there was something remiss with National MP Mike Sabin.  No publicity, no point scoring, just a suggestion he sorts things out.  From my post at the time:
If you ever needed to see the difference between Labour and National then Labour’s handling of the issues surrounding Mike Sabin provides a perfect example.
One of the issues of significance is when did John Key learn about Mike Sabin’s difficulties.  If he knew before the election the question will be why was Sabin reselected and why he was offered the chair of the Law and Order select committee.  After all the media knew about an allegation of assault before the election and had asked questions of Key’s office.
Initially Key declined to say when he first knew of Sabin’s difficulties.  When asked on Friday January 30 he declined to answer this question.  Then on Monday he said that he knew Sabin was “facing personal and family issues” in mid December.  Then he said it was “early December“.  Then on February 3 he said he found out about the “issues” on December 1.
Andrew Little said yesterday morning that he had heard about the issues in late  November, shortly after he became leader.  He was confirmed leader on November 18.  When interviewed he was at a Labour Caucus retreat and did not have the details  with him.  He said that he was received from two sources information that a National MP was under Police investigation and made the decision to alert the Prime Minister’s office.  Little was confident that it was at the end of November, within 10 days of his taking up the role as leader.  By contrast Key had maintained that his office had been informed on December 3, and he made aware of the issue on December 1.  He also maintained that his office already knew about the issue before the time Labour had informed it.
This all turned to shyte for National after Labour supplied a phone log showing that a conversation between McCarten and Eagleson happened on November 26, 8 days after Little became leader and well before the dates Key initially maintained National knew about the issue.
Little also said that Labour did not intend to take the matter further, and they would not be telling anyone else.
Last week Labour chose to go on the counter offensive and said in Parliament that Chris Bishop had advocated for the two women to be released early.
Can I respectfully suggest this was a mistake.  Electorate MPs should be free to advocate on behalf of constituents or their families.  Political links should not be drawn.  I have spent a career advocating for drunk drivers, robbers, burglars, wife beaters and drug addicts.  This does not mean that I approve of their behaviour.
It does however add in a further time point.  It appears that these two women were on National’s radar for quite a few days.  I almost get the impression National wants the quarantine system to fail.
Woodhouse’s source of information appears to be from within the Ministry of Health.  It is a shame they have not put as much effort into doing their job as they have into the leaking of information.
Is Bloomfield to blame?  He feels like part of my extended family.  He has been at the centre of a public service attempt to do what no other nation in the Western World has done and that is give us an insulated but normal life.  In the near future it appears there will be no foreign travel except possibly to the Pacific but at least our communities will be normal and our hospitals and morgues not overrun by people dying from the virus.
Did Bloomfield personally stuff up last week?  Well no.  Auckland’s Health management of the detention areas has been appalling.  But unlike Superman Bloomfield cannot be expected to be everywhere at all times.
Further infections have appeared over the past few days.  But they are all infections from overseas and, apart from the two road trippers, detected while in quarantine.  Last week there were 3,567 people in quarantine or managed isolation so new cases are almost inevitable.
The usual cheerleaders in the media are complaining that things are too strict AND not strict enough.  Please make up your mind.
And hotel guests have expressed frustration.  With the greatest of respect, the world is facing a pandemic and we want to as far as possible keep it out.  Your personal discomfort is the price of maintaining this as best as we can.
Meanwhile we continue to have no detected cases of community spread.  Long may it last.
And to be frank the chances of New Zealand staying disease free are very low.  The virus is a bastard, easily spread and hard to detect.
When you compare what is happening in New Zealand to overseas you still have to marvel at what we have achieved.  The number of cases in the world continues to increase. (graph from Johns Hopkins).
And the US, China, Germany and Australia, the country National was previously cheer leading, have all had increases in their daily infection rates.
Paul Goldsmith’s claim this morning that it is the Government’s fault that because of problems at the border trade cannot resume is a joke.  Just look at the rates for China and India in particular.  Do we really want to resume trade with those countries.  And even Germany, who up to now have handled the outbreak with typical determination is facing a second wave of infections.
There is a legitimate expectation that New Zealand is as close to perfection in terms of its response to the Covid pandemic.  So far we are going pretty well.  Ashley Bloomfield deserves much of the praise.  And yes we as a country need to do even better.  There are a lot of kiwis returning home and some of them have the virus.
Can we do better?  Certainly.  Road trips by Covid infected recent arrivals should not happen.  But so far we can still be very grateful that we are doing as well as we are.
I for one continue to be very grateful of the efforts of Ashley Bloomfield.

Friday 19 June 2020


The ACP still has ACP and is very much looking forward to it being removed on Tuesday.

The anaesthetic is still working its way out of his system and a nap is required each day. I am requiring a nap each day too, but I am not sure what my excuse is ... Age, probably.

Apart from that, and some pretty spectacular bruising across his belly, he is doing really well. For some reason, he does seem very pleased that he cannot do vacuuming and lawns for six weeks.

I can manage the lawns, but the vacuuming is a right pain - I may have to do a room a day so I can avoid wrecking my back!

We have been being quite social lately which has been lovely.

On Monday, Janneke and Nico called in briefly on their way home to Hastings, and as they arrived so did Bruce and Gary. The latter two stayed for lunch, but J&N were keen to get home, so they didn't even stop for a cup of tea, but once satisfied that David was doing well, they headed away.

Cards over FaceTime with Ann and Salvi on Tuesday, and again on Thursday.
Ann and I thrashed them in the team event ...
And on Wednesday I invited us to lunch at Joy and Grahame's - I did take some sourdough bread and cheese scones as part of the fare though. Cards with them (I lost big time!) before I took David home for a nap.

On Thursday my lovely sister Dee came to visit - she had chores to do or be done while Murray was at the hospital. Her chore was to complete their GST return at ours because the internet at the Airbnb is a bit flaky, mine was to apply the hair dye to her roots ...

And yesterday we had a small gathering of some of our Neighbourhood Watch group here for drinks and nibbles. David discovered that one of our neighbours also used to work at The Times Age newspaper in Masterton - she was there some years earlier than David, but the connection was lovely. And she knew David's dad.

Tonight we are going to Bruce and Gary's for dinner, so a nap is required. And before we go there is at least one game of cards with Ann and Salvi, and I have to make an orange syrup cake for dessert.

Sunday 14 June 2020

ACP with ACP

Let me elucidate: A Certain Person has A Cathetered P_n_s

OK, OK, TMI, I know. But this is part of the process and nothing to be kept quiet about as if it is shameful, now is it?

So a catch up:
David's operation was successful - apparently the surgeon got the prostate out without cutting into any of it and the cancer had not breached the walls of the prostate. He was able to save the nerves on the left side (the continence nerves) and some on the right side (the potency nerves). See how informative I am, and how open ACP is about sharing this biology lesson?
From the window of the Hotel Intercontinental late on Wednesday afternoon. You may be able to see the thousands of birds circling and swooping before roosting for the night near the harbour in the city's trees.

Me - my best side ...

The tug

It is rather a beautiful harbour.
At 6am in the reception area at Wakefield Hospital. David had been told by the anaesthetist the previous evening that he needed to be warm. So he had 4 layers on his top, including a possum and merino jacket, plus possum and merino gloves and beanie.

I had planned to be fully occupied throughout the morning by
  • having breakfast with a friend - I breakfasted alone as said friend wasn't available until 9.30 and I was really hungry by 7.45am when I got back from seeing ACP be wheeled off to theatre
  • going to the osteopath - cancelled the previous day as the osteopath had a sniffle ...
  • doing some shopping - track pants for David that were roomier and softer than jeans - more difficult than you'd think as most track pants have large brand names all over them which is not the ACP's style, but plain and slightly larger than usually required track pants were purchased
  • finishing packing up stuff that seemed to have exploded out of ACP's overnight bag - always does for some reason, and gets distributed far and wide ...
  • checking out of the hotel
  • dropping my overnight stuff at the AirBnB that my sister Dee and her husband are staying at during his treatment at Wellington Hospital, and having a cup of tea with them, 
  • then I headed up to Wakefield Hospital to wait in David's room just after noon.
The operation did take far longer than I was expecting though, so instead of having a wait of about half an hour (expected and already longer than I wanted to be waiting) I was getting very worried when I hadn't heard from the surgeon by 3pm - slightly under 8 hours since I'd seen David being wheeled off to theatre!

When he finally called (at about 3.15pm after I had called his PA to get her to find out what was going on) he told me that David had been in the recovery ward for about 45 minutes already - AAARRRGGGHHH!!! And I had been worrying needlessly for 3/4 of an hour, dammit. I had attempted to take my mind off the wait by listening to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show and the Last Word with Laurence O'Donnell. The news from the US does have a way of making me realise how lucky we are here in NZ, that is for sure!

Anyway, back to the main event: ACP's prostatectomy was performed using a robot named Da Vinci, and it was only the third time the surgeon had used it, so he (and his two trainers) took it very slow. Not very slow, but very very slow ...

As I have noticed before, David takes a fair while to come around after anaesthetic, so it was over an hour from when I heard from the surgeon before David was wheeled on his bed into his room. He was awake but pretty spaced out. Not surprising as more than 6.5 hours of anaesthetic would take some recovering from; plus I think he was full of local anaesthetic around his belly too for the six wounds and muscle wall punctures where the robotic arms were inserted.
The first photo ...

I can smile, he said, and so he did. Hey, Mr Spaceman!

I left him after about 3/4 of an hour and walked back down to where Dee and Murray are staying. Dee had the chardonnay cooling and a yummy dinner was ready soon after I arrived. Only one glass of wine as I was exhausted - only about 4 hours of sleep the previous night, so the couch was pulled out, my foam topper pad unrolled and spread out and my yummy cuddly snuggly giant sleeping bag was so inviting I got into it and felt instantly relaxed.

Just as I was going to sleep my phone rang and it was David. But could I hear him speaking? No. about 4 calls between us, still with my not being able to hear him speak, and I gave up using his number and called the hospital reception, who put me through to the nurse on the ward, who put me through to the landline phone in David's room and then went in to answer it and hand it to him. We had a lovely chat and he was feeling pretty good and very chatty (still a bit spaced out I think), but he did not remember that I had been there when he came back from the recovery ward! He made me promise I wouldn't tell Kirsty, as she would organise for him to go straight to the home ...

He made me laugh by telling me that it was my turn for hospital next and that I would definitely be going to Wakefield as I deserved it. I know what he meant, but I am not planning on needing surgery any time soon.

Lunch on Friday - note the plastic container with cheese scones that Dee and I made that morning. We gave one to David's nurse that day.

He improved in leaps and bounds (metaphorically speaking) over the next 36 hours with multiple walks accompanied by the nurses, and went from feeling like he'd like to stay in hospital for a week, to feeling happy to come home yesterday. The surgeon and the nurse were both satisfied he was ready, so after I'd helped him shower and dress, and packed his gear, and we'd had the discharge briefing on how to change the catheter bag if needed, how to operate the night bag (attaching and emptying and removing) and how to clean it, it was time for a very slow walk along the corridor to the lift, then out to the car.

It was a gentle drive home and even though the prescriptions had been faxed through to the local pharmacy, the script wasn't ready, so it was home and into bed for both of us - I knew David would need a lie down. But I hadn't realised just how tired I was - emotionally drained, I think.

Today has been peaceful and restful. The trick now, given he is feeling so good, is to remember to take the paracetamol every 5 hours or so.

I did think we might go and see a couple of friends today but decided to take it very easy. So we played 5 Crowns and he thrashed me 23 - 112, bastard! There'll be no mercy next time, I tell you!

David did offer to take out the rubbish bins, but I had already done that job. He is off heavy tasks for a few weeks. It is a bugger that I didn't get him to do the vacuuming and lawns before the operation, dammit!

However he did get a platter of crackers and hummus ready for a dinner snack (we'd had dinner for lunch), and he cleared the kitchen bench and started the dishwasher, so he is clearly on the mend and ready for small tasks to be assigned. I am planning on him being on making the first cup of tea in the morning. Shall I warn him or just make the request at 7am?

By the way, it is so nice having him safe at home.

Monday 8 June 2020

In 3 hours it's Alert Level 1 for NZ

Yay!! Restrictions have ended and the only remaining constraint is that the border remains closed.

Well done, Team NZ and well done, Jacinda,  our wonderful leader!!