Rory Gardiner's Webpage

26, Sep, 2009

Saturday 26th September 2009


Returning to Whangarei was a surreal experience.  As I arrived with our gear it felt like the last three years in the Kaipara didn't exist, like it had all been something I had dreamed.  The saying 'you don't appreciate something til its gone' is true.  I experienced so much during my time in the Kaipara, good and bad, but not once did I regret moving there, or want to leave.  Practically we couldn't stay.  Leaving tore me to bits.  I can't help but feel it was the wrong thing to do.  I have been in Northland almost 14 years and lived in a lot of places, but I have never felt the sense of belonging, pride and joy I felt living in the Kaipara.  I wanted desperately to hold onto it tight with both hands and not let go. 

When I got into bed last night I had completely withdrawn into myself.  I think finally all my nerve endings had been cauterised.  There have been so many goodbyes this week.  Last night was a chance to say good bye to many of the people we care most about.  The tears flowed and the hugs lasted a long time.  I wished I could hold onto these special people, and have them hold me, forever.  Their strength has held me up and I wondered how I would cope without them.  Watching them drive off into the night I had a lump in my throat.  I thought during my last night under the roof at Waihue I would be thinking about our home, and the time we have spent there.  But all I could think about was the people who have been in my personal space over the last three years.  Memories flooded my mind for quite some time before I fell asleep. 

Today I started to say goodbye to our home.  As the gear emptied out the polished totara floors took on a new prominence and I could feel the memories contained within the walls.  I remembered how three years earlier I spent hours lifting the thick faded old salmon carpet and was rewarded with incredible floors which you would never find in a modern home.  I remembered the first time we saw the house.  It was during a storm, pouring with rain, and the ford was flooded, barely passable in the car.  It felt like we were in the back of beyond.  Then we saw this old homestead surrounded by a wild garden, solid, spacious, airy, warm and dry.  There were few neighbours, it was quiet, and there was nothing but open space.  I was sold.  I think the rest of our family thought we were crazy.  They approved of the house but not its location.  It was way too far from town, and up a metal road.  They were right about it taking time to re-sell, but we have loved living there.  The Waihue community is small close-knit, with a caring heart.  They welcomed us from day one.  We have been fortunate. 

The moving truck arrived an hour early at 9am this morning.  We still had work to do so were caught off guard.  The two movers kept us on the hop all day, pushing the move along.  It is hard work supervising the loading of the truck (it is better to be loaded with gear you need at the back, and gear you don't at the front), completing the packing, and cleaning as we went.  I couldn't believe how much gear still needed to be packed.  Everywhere I looked there was something else awkward to pack.  Grannie Gardiner arrived at 9.45am to watch the boys (and help with the clean up).  Mrs Wily arrived at 10am to collect Sparky.  He has been unsettled all week with the packing, and by this morning he was fairly freaked out.  It was hard for the boys and I to say goodbye to Spartacus as he has brought much love and joy into our home.  We know Mrs Willy is going to take good care of him.  Grannie took the boys, and a heap of gear, to Whakapara around lunchtime, while Sean and I followed the moving truck to the storage unit in Whangarei.  We helped the men unload the truck and load the storage unit.  We then took our loaded vehicles and trailer out to Whakapara to drop off the gear, then returned to the storage unit to collect and sort a few more things. 

Rory's chemo cycles are supposed to be 28 days apart but his immune system isn't recovering fast enough on its own between cycles.  His blood test yesterday (Friday) morning (he ended up getting two finger pricks instead of one as the Technician wasn't quick enough to get the blood) showed his neutrophils were only 0.8.  They need to be 1.5 before chemo can start.  I rang Starship and there was a bit of confusion and debate as Starship received a different result for Rory's neutrophils (by fax) than I had been given over the phone.  The result made a difference as to how Rory's treatment would proceed.  I argued I had the correct result, so Starship phoned the Dargaville Laboratory to discover they had been sent the wrong result.  It makes me angry when I have to get toey to advocate for what is right for Rory when it should already occur.  As the parent of a child with a life threatening illness I have had to learn a lot about his cancer, and his treatment.  I have learnt to ask plenty of questions, taken nothing as given, and insist on what I think is right for him.  As his neutrophils were too low Rory is receiving GCSF injections for the next three days (Fri-Sun) and will have a repeat blood test Monday morning.  If his results are high enough he will return to Starship for cycle three on Wednesday afternoon.  He receives his stem cell cells on day five of the chemo and it isn't done on weekends, so the earliest he can start chemo is Thursday after missing a Monday start.  Sean is administering the GCSF injections into Rory's leg.  The insuflon has been removed so the injections need to be given into Rory's flesh.  I don't have the stomach for it.  I know I could do it if I had to, but I'm happy to step aside for Sean.

We spent Friday packing and cleaning.  The Rural postie, Ross and Kath Gillespie, and Arkwrights left us with something to support Rory as he continues his fight (thank you very much).  We had the house largely in order when some of our friends started arriving at 5pm.  We put a thank you note in the Dargaville Primary School newsletter, and the Dargaville and Districts News, this week.  We invited our friends to the house for a bite to eat and say good bye.  Many people said their goodbyes to us during the week so it was a small gathering but it was many of the people closest to our hearts; Clive and Iris Fremlin, the Nichols and Rebecca, my special friend Heni, Tracey and the smaller Newmans (Freya (almost 14!), Nikau, Matai), Dargaville blonde bombshell Trudi Johnson with her husband Brian, Kody, Ben and Stella, the lovely Morrisons (Gordon, Katherine and Korie), and Mark from DoC Trounson with his boys Jamie and Thomas.  There were also lovely surprise gifts from Nana and Poppa Morrison, the Morrison/Johnson families, and the Newman-Horne's (thank you so much everyone).  Rory and Sam were so excited to have a party.  They are so sick of the packing.  It has dominated all week and is on the whole very boring.  Sam must have waited in the drive way for half an hour for people to arrive.  The boys, and Hannah and Rebecca, tore around the house playing for most of the night.  Rory kept up for a little while but tired quickly so found a spot in a cosy chair, and I connected his milkshake.  Trudi surprised me by making a delicious chocolate cookie chunk baked cheesecake for my birthday next week, complete with candles (Sean asked her if she had brought 40!).  Everyone gathered around the table and sang Happy Birthday.  I was chuffed and embarrassed (thank you Trudi for doing this for me).  It is now 9.30pm and Sean is scoffing the last of the cheesecake as I type.  The boys have settled into their beds at Grannie and Grandad Gardiner's, and I am finally trying to unwind.