Rory Gardiner's Webpage

13, Oct, 2013

October 2013 update

In 2009 while Sam was at school at Ronald McDonald House in Auckland he wrote a poem about Rory who was receiving chemotherapy at Starship for cancer.


He is as cheeky as a monkey

He is a boxer fighting off any virus that comes his way

He is a sparrow that hardly eats anything

He is like a lion that never gives in

He is my brother

Sam’s assessment was accurate, Rory is indeed a lion.  I was reminded this week when he was hospitalised with supperative appendix.  Last Friday we headed north to spend the second week of the school holidays with Grannie and Granded Gardiner in Whangarei.  The first three days were fantastic.  On Saturday we walked the Puriri track at Mimiwhangata, stopping to feed a large eel in one of the streams, and finishing the day with a swim at the beach.  When we were walking back to the van Rory and I discovered a NZ dotterel scrape in the sand which contained two camouflaged eggs.  On Sunday we drove west to Kai Iwi lakes, passing our old house at Waihue.  We walked around Lake Taharoa, stopping for a picnic lunch and a swim at the bombing spot.  We discovered three new sections of track which allowed us to circuit the lake without having to go up onto the road.  We also caught up with two special ladies, Trudi and Brenda, who supported us during Rory’s treatment.  Sam filled himself up with Brenda’s tasty scones, and when I growled him for yet another his response was ‘but I touched it’.  On Sunday we drove east to Ngunguru and visited a local jewellery artist, Maggie Churcher, whose work I had seen on the Felt website Sean bought me a lovely bronze kowhai necklace for my birthday.  We had fish and chips for lunch and then drove to Matapouri.  We walked around the Matapouri headland, stopping for a swim in the Mermaid Pool, and afternoon tea at Whale Bay under the pohutukawa trees.  When we got home Rory complained about feeling very tired, ate little dinner, and went to bed early but couldn’t get to sleep.  I put it down to general fatigue from all the activity.  The following day we took it quieter, driving north to Kerikeri.  We had a look around the Stone Store, and crossed the new pedestrian bridge over the Kerikeri River, stopping for lunch at the Bakehouse.  We showed Sam the DoC house where he had lived as a baby, and drove out to Sean’s uncles farm hoping to catch up with extended family but they weren’t home.  Rory was quiet and tired, and from 11am complained of pain in his right hand side so I gave him Pamol.  Again before dinner he needed pain relief.  He ate little dinner and lay on the couch with a hot water bottle.  He went to bed as usual but started to stir at 9pm.  When he didn’t settle and the pain got worse I decided to take him to Whangarei Hospital.  We got to the Emergency Department at 10.45pm and by then the pain was strong.  The Doctors gave him pain relief, ran some tests and monitored him.  The pain subsided by 1am but they decided to admit him as the cause was unknown.  We went up to the Children’s Ward at 3.45am.  Rory started vomiting at 5am.  It increased in frequency, and the pain returned, focused in the lower-middle of his tummy.  It intensified, and he was whimpering and crying out.  The nurse gave him morphine but it only made a small difference.  We saw many Doctors who finally confirmed appendicitis, and Rory was placed on the acute surgery list.  He was first into the operating theatre on Wednesday morning.  Sean went in when they put him to sleep, while I stood at the door.  It was a place I have stood many times, and it doesn’t get easier.  Rory has endured so much during his 11 years yet bolts of lightning continue to strike from out in the dark.  It is heart breaking.  Rory stoically rides over the bumps, rarely complaining, and showing strength beyond his years.  I am incredibly proud of him, and steel myself to be strong so I can do the best for him I possibly can.  The operation went well.  The surgeons said Rory’s appendix was massive but they managed to remove it before it perforated.  There was no sign of infection or waste in his abdomen, and the coil of his shunt looked fine.  Rory spent the next day and a half in the hospital on iv fluids and antibiotics to reduce the potential for infection.  He returned to Grannie and Grandad Gardiners on Thursday afternoon, sore, slow and shocked.  We made it home to Inglewood yesterday.  Thank you to those of you who sent texts or calls of love and support.  It helped a lot.

On a sad note, we would like to send our condolences and love to the families of Mia Cornes, Adam Clegg and David Medway, all of whom passed away recently.  We know they all got as much as they possibly could out of life.

It has been two months since my last blog.  I haven’t found the time or energy to put my fingers on the keys so I am playing catch up.  The appendicitis aside it has been a worrying time for me.  Rory has taken a couple of blows at soccer, one to the left side of his head and neck where the shunt cable is, and one to the stomach which really hurt but he played on as there were no subs.  During a wrestling session with Sam he hit his head hard on the lounge floor.  There was swelling, problems with his vision, and he kept asking “what happened?” over and over.  His vision has been playing, one day in the van I saw his pupils flicker back and forth.  He had nystagmus when he was diagnosed and after his brain surgeries.  I was concerned enough to bring his MRI forward a month.  On the 12th of September he had an MRI of his brain at Taranaki Base Hospital.  Sean went in with him.  It was four long days before we got the results, which I was sure were going to be frightening.  Dr Stephen called and I almost broke down when he said the MRI was clear, and there had been no change since February.  Rory is fine.  His next MRI is scheduled for March 2014, which will be five years since his diagnosis.  There have been many great happenings.  A new sound system is being trialled in Rory’s class, with a speaker for surround sound and microphones for the teachers and students.  Rory had new molds fitted to his hearing aids.  His hearing appears largely stable, although there has been a small decline at the high frequency.  The Audiologist has been teaching us techniques to help Rory to hear.  Rory ran in the school cross country with the 11 year old boys.  He ran the first lap, and ran/walked the second lap.  He only walked a little when he needed to and then started running again.  I was proud of him.  He is fit, capable and determined, but let down from finishing near the front by his disabilities.  He competed with his team in a Taranaki-wide soccer tournament with 900 other children as the soccer season ended.  Sam’s team came second in the Taranaki U15 league.  At the Inglewood Football Club breakup both boys received certificates.  There was a parents vs kids soccer game and the parents beat the kids on Sam’s team 4-2, and were fairly victorious!  Rory was the first Senior at Inglewood Primary to make it into the 100s club (points for positive behaviour and actions).  He has featured in the Taranaki Daily News as an ambassador for Camp Quality during their annual appeal ‘Odd shoe day’ on Friday the 13th of September.  A reporter came to our house and interviewed Rory.

Rory and Inglewood Primary raised $140, and Uncle Guy at Sport Taranaki raised $110, for the appeal.  Rory has completed his application for Camp Quality 2014 in January, and we are waiting to hear the outcome.  Unfortunately work commitments mean Rory’s beloved companion Mike isn’t able to make it.  Rory has had a Molemap.  He has a number of moles, and is likely to develop more due to our family history.  The high dose radiotherapy he received puts him at higher risk of secondary cancer, and we spend a lot of time in the outdoors.  When I contacted Molemap the Office Manager offered to cover the cost of Rory’s Molemap and keep the clinic open later so he could attend at a time which fitted in.  He has offered to sponsor all Rory’s follow up visits which we are very appreciative of.  If Rory develops skin cancer we will now be able to detect it early.

Sam continues to be busy with Canteen and sports.  At the completion of the soccer season he assisted with the refereeing of a 7-aside soccer tournament for the schools in the Inglewood cluster.  He has taken up indoor soccer/futsal at Inglewood High on a Monday night.  One afternoon Colt and I took a van load of boys from the high school to the TSSA Road Relay at Brooklands Park in New Plymouth, and Sam ran in a team of Year 9 boys.  As part of the Taranaki Festival of the Arts Sam painted a coconut and bamboo wind chime for an exhibition by Tiffany Singh, ‘What is the colour is the breeze?’  We visited the exhibition in a vacant lot in the New Plymouth CBD.  1001 wind chimes painted by Taranaki kids were swaying and tinkling in the breeze.  As you moved through it was a symphony of colour and sound.  There have been many activities for Canteen.  Sam has been attending meetings and working bees, and had his first turn at producing the monthly newsletter.  One evening he participated in the yarn bombing of the iconic structures in the New Plymouth CBD.  He distributed boxes of bandanas to sell in Inglewood, and he and Taylor took the last day off school to shake the bucket and sell bandanas in New Plymouth for Canteen’s annual appeal.  Thanks Taylor.  Sam even roped his cousin Logan into some work.  Logan is a great artist and produced a pencil drawing ‘Hercules vs Hydra’ for the Canteen Art Exhibition in November.  Thanks heaps Logan.  We would also like to send a big thank you to Mandy and Smokeylemon Website Design for sponsoring a tablet for Sam to use at high school next year.

Colt is making progress at ‘creche school’.  He waved goodbye to me for the first time on the 25th of September.  He still runs to me for a big hug when I pick him up, and rubs my back while I rub his.  In the mornings he settles by going to one of the teachers for a story.  He is starting to dress himself, and we are encouraging him to speak up when he needs help.  He continues to enjoy Playcentre, and is fascinated with mixing and pouring.  At a recent trip to Stoney Oaks farm park he enjoyed holding a rabbit and a guinea pig.  He has accompanied me on a couple of field visits for work, inspecting planting projects, planting, and to the celebration of the Eltham Soldier’s Park Walkway.  His favourite day of the week is ‘Town day’ with me.  Kelly at New World Supermarket spoils him with cuddles and a lollipop, and freebie giveaways.  Colt has kept reasonably good health over winter, he and Sam both had chest infections, and he had a bike accident on the driveway which caused a bleeding mouth and nose (but he didn’t pass out!).  He was lucky to avoid the violent vomiting and diarrhea which Sam had on my birthday.

There has been a lot of variety to our family time.  We have made a couple of visits to Whitecliffs.  Colt loves searching for ‘Hobbit holes’ in the cliffs, and new waterfalls have been formed.  One trip we came across a live seal resting on the beach, and a sow (pig) with suckers in the stream.  We introduced the walk to the girls and their families.  It was a day of extremes.  There were big storm surges from the sea rolling up the beach so even though it was low tide we got wet to the thighs.  At Mt Davidson it was so windy we had to hold onto Colt so he didn’t blow away.  It was wonderful to see the kids free and enchanted with ‘the wild’.  Rory and Finn teamed up together and there was a constant stream of chatter.  We attended the Living Legends Planting project for the Rugby World Cup.  Approximately 1800 plants were planted north of the Te Rewarewa Bridge on the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway for Year 3 of the programme.  The family divided to take sides for the Taranaki Child Cancer Foundation (CCF) vs Canteen annual 10-pin bowling competition.  Sam and Taylor bowled for Canteen who won, although we can’t rule out cheating.  Colt bowled but was distracted by the arcade games.  The night finished with drinks and pizza.  We walked the Te Henui walkway with Nana, Uncle Guy, Sacha and Corbyn and were caught out by the pouring rain, and walked the Mangati walkway in Bellblock on a very windy day.  We bravely ventured out with the kids on the Taranaki Botany Group field trip to Mimi Estuary.  We saw the nationally endangered plant Brachyglottis turneri growing on the wet papa cliffs, and salt marsh ribbonwood at the estuary, along with a Royal Spoonbill.  The pace of botanising is too slow for the kids and they get restless so I’m not sure we’ll try it again!  One morning Sean and I were woken at 3.30am by an earthquake (2.7) centred only one street away from our house.  During the first couple of days in the holidays the big boys, then Colt, spent time with Nana.  They saw the movie Turbo (thank you CCF for the movie voucher) and went 10-pin bowling.  Colt went to the Aquatic Centre for a swim, to Chipmunks for a play, and to Lake Mangamahoe to feed the ducks.  To keep fit over winter we have been running and bike riding as much as we can, although Rory is now on four weeks rest and recuperation

There have been a number of celebrations; Happy Birthday to Grannie Gardiner, Uncle Jason, Janine and Mandy, Sharon, Miss Alana, Luke, and Reagan.  Happy Fathers Day to Poppa, Grandad Gardiner, and Sean, and Congratulations to Uncle Guy for his award for 25 years service to Surf Life Saving NZ.