Road to Recovery – a diary of personal experience. 3

Once I had “moved on” from Bluff I experienced some more rather odd dreams. Most were all set way before my time, early in the 20th century. As time passes they become less clear but I do recall the earlier ones were in sepia colour and in each one I was trying to escape from the situation. Let me elaborate a little…

I was in a pre-WWI photo with my maternal grandfather, I think, and I was trying to get my grandfather and I and others out of the photo.  The men were all in army uniform and at one stage we were all sitting on tiered seats talking; another scene and we were trying to “escape” over a river. I remember being frustrated because I wasn’t able to get out of the picture. Maybe that was when I had to be tied down to stop me pulling out tubes!

In another dream I was fishing for eels on the Wanganui River some time in the distant past.  How do I know it was the Wanganui River? I don’t, but I do believe it was! I was sitting on the bank with some Maori women and they had dragonflies, I think, tied to what were probably strands of flax dangling over the water with which to ensnare the eels. This scene moved around quite a lot and, once again, I wasn’t comfortable being there, but there was nothing I could do about it as I went into several whare (Maori huts) for some reason.

A third vivid dream is also vague now, 6 weeks later. Here I was in a competition of sorts with people of various nationalities. The “competition” changed frequently and I couldn’t “win”. I was injured and eventually the scene (& dream?) changed to “escaping” in a small aircraft from the island on which I was being held to the coast of Australia somewhere. When I flew to this small coastal town, which I think became Christchurch (Sumner, even), or maybe Dunedin, I was dropped at a retirement village-cum-convalescent home. Once again, the scenarios changed many times as I tried to discover why I was in this place and what I should do about it.

Continuing from this dream I found myself in the setting of Christmas many years ago, before my time, but, apart from still being “trapped” I kept thinking what a lovely story this would make if I could remember it.  Quite vague now, in my memory, but it involved a church setting, a family and a Father Christmas who was a saintly old man. The story evolved over the years as I saw fashions change and children grow into adults with families of their own -but the lovely old man (Father Christmas) remained the same.

As I write this I recall one further dream that involved my son buying a house, a builder with a boat, a minor car accident, and people living during WW2. This was a real “Alice-in-Wonderland” dream  (switching from scene to scene very spasmodically) and I’m not going to attempt to explain it!

So, that’s all for dreams.  If anyone can enlighten me regarding these, I’d love to hear from you…





Road to Recovery – a diary of personal experience. 2

So what happened while physically I was in ICU and mentally I was in “The Land of Nod”? Well, physically I had goodness knows how many tubes and wires entering and exiting my body in various places; I was bloated with an excess of about 8 kilograms of fluid (quite normal); I was being tube fed what looked like chocolate milkshake and I was totally unaware of any of this. I had a nurse at the end of my bed watching all the pumps and dials and computer screens to monitor and effect any changes.

My friend arrived from Palmerston North but instead of looking after me she looked after Jim.  What  blessing that was – she cooked and cleaned and generally provided a listening and comforting ear when he needed it (& probably vice versa as well because she was very concerned for me too.)

Jim called in to see me on his way to work in the morning and returning home later in the day; my son, Brad, probably popped in each day and other family and friends came to visit and pray I believe.

But where was I in my mind? Well, first thing I remember is wondering why I had the operation in Bluff (a small town at the bottom of New Zealand about 8 hours from Christchurch) and why a particular surgeon (with a name I do remember but I have no idea if he is a surgeon or not) performed the operation when he was not the one I had been told would be in charge. The “operating theatre” was a large orange “tent” with tiered seating – I didn’t quite figure out why the seating. After the operation (in Bluff) I was moved to a pink table outside the “tent” to recover alongside other patients and went through various  vivid scenarios until Jim & my daughter arrived to drive me home in an SUV (not ours). I “remember” various people coming to “visit” me – Brenda (the friend from Palm Nth), Brad, Jim, Michelle (my daughter-in-law) and being told that I could go home as soon as they could find way to lie me down in the SUV.  Once I was loaded in that I just wanted to stop in Oamaru (a town between Bluff and Christchurch) to buy a “Goody-goody-gumdrops” ice-cream. And I remember thinking that I must ask Jim how I got to Bluff because I didn’t remember flying or driving there. I must have “heard” various conversations as I wondered how Jim would be able to go back to work (in Christchurch) and then come back and visit me later.  And similar for Brad as he was going to go home (to Chch) but Michelle would come and see me later.

When I was conscious I mentioned the bit about having the operation in Bluff and the hospital staff really didn’t know what to make of it… was I joking? did I make that up? and when I filled in a few details I think they decided I had weird sense of humour!

Enough of that for now… my next dream/hallucination/nightmare tomorrow…

Road to Recovery – a diary of personal experience

I went to the hospital prepared. I had read all the notes on what the operation involved, the recovery time-frame and what was required of me to make this as speedy and painless as possible. I packed my suitcase with clothes for three days, some toiletries, a novel, patience cards, a cryptic crossword puzzle book, notebooks for writing and diarying. After an MRI scan and yet another blood test I was escorted to my room. And what a lovely room – in a private hospital it was just like a hotel room.

Funny thing is, I don’t recall much after the occupational therapist came to see me.  I put some clothes in the wardrobe, laid toiletries on the dresser, sent a couple of texts, made a  phone call or two, believe I had some tea (no recollection of what I ate) watched a little TV and then the mind is a blank page!

I was first on the operating table the next morning but that day is erased from my memory. Obviously, I didn’t have breakfast but who dressed me? how did I get to the operating theatre? The only other time, many years ago, when I was put under general anaesthetic, I remember counting down from ten. This time the countdown must have begun the previous evening with a sedative I presume I was given to help me relax and sleep!

Apart from many dreams and hallucinations while under sedation, the next thing I remember is seeing my daughter standing in a fog by the end of my bed smiling and saying, “Hello, Mum, you can wake up now… Mum, it’s me, I love you… look, she’s smiling at me…” Then other voices… “Can you squeeze my hand?” (I thought I did.) “Audrey, squeeze my hand.” “Don’t call her Audrey! She’ll jump out of bed and bop you one! She’s called Judy.” “Hi, Mum, it’s me, Brad. I love you.”

But let me back-track a little… The operation to replace my aortic valve was successful and completed within three hours. The old valve was described by the surgeon as “tight” – in other words it was calcified and not working very efficiently. I was, most probably, born with a bi-cuspid rather than a tri-cuspid valve which caused  a heart murmur and was now leaving me quite breathless after much activity.  Until recently I have been playing tennis twice weekly and walking briskly other days, not to mention painting our house and living a varied and active life. I was advised to stop doing anything strenuous and next thing I know I am booked in for this operation!

After the operation my notes told me I would be in ICU for 24-48 hours and then transferred back to my room for three days before being sent home to 24-hour care for one to four weeks.  I had a friend booked to fly down from the North Island to be my “carer” for the first week or so.

Well, so much for well-laid plans! As happens, not infrequently apparently, things went ‘pear-shaped’ in ICU and I had my chest re-opened to stem internal bleeding, heart stoppage and fluid build-up in my lungs.  The actual details of what happened are a bit medical to go into in detail but the long-shot is that I was kept under sedation for eight days to allow the body to heal after serious trauma.

… and here I will leave this for today… 2nd instalment tomorrow as I must keep writing now I have begun…


Restoration 101 – 12 Revamped bedroom

Bedroom loft
Original bedroom showing window and wardrobe (black door).

Our bed lay under a window – an east-facing window, single-glazed and receiving the brunt of our cold easterly winds. On any night that this wind was blowing we would feel it on our heads when in bed. Tucking the curtains up on the window-sill to stop the cold air flowing down made some difference but that was definitely not a permanent fix!

The view from the bed was great looking to the right but, this too, I could see, could be improved.

A third factor was the wardrobe – an ugly affair with one black sliding door (the other we had removed before we moved in) and rails facing the wrong way making clothes difficult to access.

As I pondered these problems from my bed I came up with a solution…. build a false wall abut 600cm in front of the current wardrobe and place the bed against that wall. This solved all three problems at once. Firstly, the bed would no longer be under the window; secondly, the view ahead would look straight out to sea; and thirdly, we would have a walk-in wardrobe without the need for any doors.

Hubby agreed to this plan and away we went. Not a big job to a builder to construct a wall approximately 2 metres square. It sits on the floor, abuts the internal existing wall and is lined with plywood on both sides.

Next weekend we added three shelves for books and other minor things and it was ready to prepare for painting.  I filled any holes, sanded and undercoated.

The following weekend hubby attached reading lights to the new wall and I rolled on two top coats of paint.

New wall, matching bedspread…

Another weekend and hubby attached new wardrobe rails and garments were re-hung so they are now accessible. A new light was included in the wardrobe so we could actually see our clothes and all I needed now was a new bedspread to match the new wall.

Spectacular view from my bed – morning sun on snow-clad Kaikouras.

I now have no need to get out of bed in the morning… wonderful view out to sea and up the coast, plenty of light for reading, sun streaming in most of the year and no cold wind drifting down my back…. aaahhh… such is life!! What a pity there are other things to do apart from lying in bed reading a good novel!!

Return from “holiday”.

Hi there,

I have had a little “blog holiday”.  I found I had other things that needed my attention to complete within a time frame.  These tasks are now done – yay!!

But the great thing is that I learned that I could take a blog holiday. I do enjoy writing and posting blogs but, when I realised that no-one was going to suffer because I didn’t blog, I was more content concentrating on those tasks that were “must-do”s.

I also realised that blogging is more of a cooler weather activity.  The warmer weather beckons me outdoors to the garden (ha! ha! I wish!!), the beach, tennis and generally away from the computer. It is interesting what one learns about oneself when one is not in paid employment.

Of course, if I was making any money from blogging it might be a different story. This should be something I look into in more depth next year but in the meantime, if anyone has a must-succeed, really easy way to make many from blogging, I’d love to hear it!

So now, before I return to the next item on my “to-do” list I will try to post a blog every day (well, maybe not Christmas Day) until I have added one to each of my categories.

So, if I am privileged enough to have you read this, I wish you a very happy Christmas and prosperous and blessed 2016, Judy

Restoration 101 – 11 – Covering the black

Now the kitchen has been installed and making life so much less cluttered I thought it was time to cover the exposed black beams scattered throughout the house.  They are on every level and must have been a fashion statement back in the 1970s when the house was built.  But, for us, they definitely must go – the blackness of them, that is.

Black beams and trims
Black beams and trims

We hadn’t decided on colour schemes at this stage so all beams were just undercoated in white.  What a difference!  No longer was the eye immediately drawn upwards to these imposing black stripes across each ceiling.  The worst part of this job was masking the surrounding timber ceilings.  It had been suggested that we paint these also, but Jim & I are both fans of natural timber so that suggestion was quickly discarded. Being vertically challenged made the job just a little more difficult, also, as I had to climb one or two more rungs of the ladder many times while painting even one beam (other folk could have managed with saw horses!).  I have previously learned that I am “No. 1 messy painter” – I look at a paint pot and the paint jumps on to my hands (and arms and feet and hair…). And if the paint jumps on me then it only stands to reason that it will fall on the floor also… so, not only do I have to constantly move the ladder, but I must also drag drop sheets with me.

More black trims in bedroom.
More black trims in bedroom.

I set myself a beam or two to undercoat each evening while hubby cooks tea – not a bad deal!  And, when the beams are all undercoated, I begin on the window sills – also black to be covered in white! More masking and many more fiddly bits. I have never loved painting… I love it even less now!!

Oh well, a job must be done…but the top coats will wait until the major paint job gets tackled.

Black replaced with white in bedroom.
Black replaced with white in bedroom.

Restoration 101 – 10 – Tiles out, new kitchen in.

Progress 2Now the kitchen has been removed the old tiles had to be lifted. They were cracked  and we will replace all the floor coverings thoughout the house anyway. Guess who was given the job of lifting the tiles? Yep, yours truly! What a horrible job!!  Armed with spade, crow bar, ear muffs and some sort of jackhammer I was on to it!  Dust, noise, tiles flying everywhere (out the window as I tossed them on to the trailer)…

Lifting tiles.
Lifting tiles.

And when I had had enough of the noise and dust there was still gib to be removed from small spaces, more to be fitted on the ceiling, a couple of windows to be inserted and the space created from the removal of the old kitchen to be filled.

And yet another tool for me!
And yet another tool for me!

Eventually we were ready for the new kitchen…a bit of a mission getting it up one floor but the wide windows proved very beneficial!

Kitchen windows going in.
Kitchen windows going in.

It was all installed in one day ready for the electrical and plumbing the following. Then it was a matter of unpacking and arranging my cupboards and pantry.  It was like Christmas being able to remove things from boxes that have been stored for a year or more. So many cupboards… so much space!

New kitchen.
New kitchen.
New kitchen.
New kitchen.
New kitchen.
New kitchen.

And the placing of weatherboards outside on the new wall was completed… we’re ready for a break!

New weatherboards.
New weatherboards.