Rory Gardiner's Webpage

29, Nov, 2013

November 2013 update

I am conscious Christmas is rapidly approaching and December is a busy month for us.  There are six birthdays in our extended family; Sam, Sean, cousin Mikayla, Colt, Grandad Gardiner and Auntie Teri, the wind up of school and work, and a rolling front of Christmas parties which culminate in Christmas Day which is at our house this year.  I have stolen some time to up-date the website in case I can only manage a few lines prior to Christmas.

Rory has recovered from the removal of his appendix.  He took the first week off school this term to allow the wound to heal (and the reaction to the dressings to settle) but it did little for his overall well being.  He was much happier and more robust at the end of the second week due to the normality of school and being around his friends.  He has had a suite of blood tests, an x-ray, and medical appointments.  We met with Starship Oncologist Dr Stephen.  Rory’s monitoring programme will now only consist of one MRI of his brain per year.  This is to detect secondary cancer and any changes to the blood vessels of his brain due to radiotherapy.  He will receive a full Neuro-psychological evaluation in early 2015 so we can ensure he is supported during his high school years.  We met with Endocrinologists Dr Yvonne and Dr Paul Hoffman from Greenlane Hospital.  Rory has not grown as well as they had hoped over the last six months on the growth hormone, and he has entered stage 2 of puberty.  In the middle of 2014 it is likely the doctors will block the progression of puberty (a stingy injection every 3 months) for up to two years.  This will allow Rory maximum growth in his spine so he will be taller.  I found this hard to hear even though children develop at different rates.  I know Rory considers entering puberty the yard-stick to becoming a ‘normal’ man.  To have to put a stop to that, albeit temporarily, is sad for him.  Sometimes I feel angry, that he has become a human guinea pig, and can never truly escape cancer and its effects.  Dr Hoffman also quadrupled the dose of thyroxine (the energy hormone) Rory is taking in an effort to combat his fatigue, and push his thyroid hormones into the upper quarter of the normal range.  Rory takes all this in his stride.  He and Sam have started swimming two nights a week with the Inglewood Club, Sam with the squad, and Rory receiving lessons (from Craig, Auntie Wendy’s brother).  They are both enjoying it.  Thank you to the Child Cancer Foundation who paid Rory’s fee.  Rory is very excited to have secured a place at Camp Quality’s Central Districts Summer Camp in Hawkes Bay in January.  The theme in 2014 is ‘Circus’ and Rory has a new companion.  Ironically his name is Mike, as Rory’s steadfast and much adored companion over the last three years has been Mike Long.  The new Mike will be attending Camp Quality for the first time, and is a website designer from Wellington.  We have been telling Rory to go easy on him!  Rory has received a visit at school from Anne Ferne the Deaf Advisor from the Ministry of Education.  She monitors how Rory is doing in the classroom with his hearing aids and the new sound system (which Anne secured a grant for).  Rory has had a third infection in his left ear due to the hearing aid rubbing even though we have had it refitted several times.  I have applied for a Scholarship from the Child Cancer Foundation for Rory for maths tuition in 2014 as he got a very low result in numeracy in the national PAT test he completed recently.

Colt is growing up too fast and will be 3 in three weeks.  One Sunday afternoon he rode two kilometres on his trike to the dairy and playground with Rory and I.  He is fully toilet trained, and is slowly reducing the number of days he needs a one hour sleep after lunch.  He has settled into ‘creche school’ and gives me a cuddle, kiss and hi-five when I leave.  He always waves me goodbye.  He often uses reading for comfort, settling himself with a story.  He enjoyed dressing up for the Halloween party at crèche; he went as Batman and Rory went as a ghost.  Colt has had a busy term at Playcentre on Mondays.  He loves exploring the warm slime dressed only in his undies, on Monday made ice-cream.  Last week we went on a mystery bus tour to Hollard Gardens in South Taranaki.  The Gardens have a big natural playground which the children loved, and a bbq so we could have sausages and bread afterwards.  Colt has had another breath holding spell where he lost consciousness after a bout of rough play which gave Sean and I a big fright.

Sam will be 14 in a couple of days.  He now has his own room.  Sam’s life continues to be filled with school, sports, his friends and Canteen.  He received an excellent mark on one of his Science projects recently and wrote a great speech about what it was like being a 13 year old boy in Grandad’s day (both of which fried a few of my brain cells).  He is playing Futsal on Monday nights in addition to swimming squad, and competed in the Taranaki Secondary Schools competition for 3-3 basketball and Futsal.  He continues to attend Canteen meetings, and activities.  Tonight he is out for dinner with the new Taranaki Co-ordinator Katrina Angelo and the Committee.

Our family adventures continue.  We walked the new Ridgeline walkway at Rotokare Scenic Reserve and completed the circuit of the lake.  Sean rescued a large weta trapped on the top wire of the predator proof fence.  The wind blows through the fence with an almost constant hum.  The smaller clematis was flowing, and a female robin followed us along the track.  As the weather has been fine we have hit Mt Taranaki.  We walked the Tahurangi Lodge circuit, returning via the Maketawa Hut.  It was cold and clouded-in when we had lunch at the Lodge, but sunny as we made our way down through the bush where tall mountain totara stand guard on either side of the track.  We climbed to Henry Peak on the Pouakai Range via the Kaiauai Track.  There is an exciting mesh swing bridge suspended over the Waiwhakaiho River, which was running red with iron oxide.  It is an easy walk to Kaiauai shelter where we had morning tea.  There is a board walk through a swamp, ladders, and three stream crossings with new bridges.  We could hear and see Whitehead and Rifleman as we walked along.  It is a steady climb to Henry Peak and we had lunch on the viewing platform.  You can see all the way from North Taranaki to South Taranaki across Ahukawakawa Swamp.  Sean and Rory had a very quick dip in a stream on our way back to the car.  We bagged another peak climbing to Pouakai summit.  We walked to the hut for morning tea, hearing two long-tailed cuckoo.  We climbed and crossed through red tussock grassland to scale a spur to the summit.  We didn’t get a view as it was clouded-in but it was warm and dry at the trig.  As we ate our lunch thousands of small brown beetles and weevils were hanging on the grass like Christmas decorations, and making their way on to us!  We made a visit to Whitecliffs to walk our favourite short loop.  There had been two substantial slips/washouts, one on the north side of the swing bridge, and the other part the way west along Waipingao Stream to the coast.  There was thick deep mud and diversions along the track.  We couldn’t return to the car along the beach, even though it wasn’t long after low tide.  The past couple of months the low tide hasn’t been very low, and westerlies and low pressure have pushed storm surges up the beach.  We saw a small group of people trapped against the cliff almost at the southern exit.  They were obviously waiting for an opportunity to run the last section and stay as dry as possible.  We had to beat a retreat back the way we had come.  It wasn’t safe for the boys, and there is always another day.  We had a less strenuous afternoon at Pukekura Park when Colt tried out the new playground, and Sean and Sam rowed us around the lake in one of the old wooden boats.  We could see goldfish and eels, ducks with their ducklings, and Canada geese on a nest on an island.

I made a break from the family for a couple of days to attend the Conservation Inc Conference in Dunedin.  It has been 14 years since I had been to my old stomping ground.  I enjoyed wandering around the university, CBD, and St Claire beach reacquainting myself with a city I used to call home.  I also caught up with my good friends Kerron and Tim who I studied the Diploma of Wildlife Management with in 1994.  It was a very bumpy flight home, and the landing in Wellington was frightening.  We couldn’t fly to New Plymouth so Dave from TRC and I drove north.  It was 12.30am when I arrived in Inglewood.  It has been a busy month work wise.  I organised the 20 year celebration of the Taranaki Tree Trust, and there was a feature in the Taranaki Daily News.  We launched a book I had produced ‘Restoration Planting in Taranaki – A guide to Egmont Ecological District’ with the help of Professor Bruce Clarkson and Janet Hunt .  Sean and I continue to run, and he puts away an amazing number of kilometres easily.  One Sunday morning when I went for a ride (to rest) I found a freshly killed NZ falcon Karearea on the side of one of the country roads.  NZ falcon are endemic to New Zealand and nationally threatened.  In Taranaki we have the bush falcon form (smallest and darkest) and they are rare.  To see the life of one of these incredible birds wasted was very sad.

And last but not least Happy Birthday to Nana Honnor, cousin Logan, and Alex Phillips.