Rory Gardiner's Webpage

23, Jul, 2009

Thursday 23rd July 2009


I took Rory out of school yesterday, to travel across to Whangarei with me, for a QE II Trust event at Matapouri.  I was a girly swot at school.  My parents (particularly dad) always placed great value on getting an education, even though he dropped out of school at 15 to be a builder (against Pop Honnor's wishes).  I enjoyed reading and writing, and could sit still for long periods, which meant it was easy to achieve in New Zealand's education system.  I have always emphasised to the boys how important it is to do well at school, ensured maximum attendance , and placed university squarely in their path (even though Sean dropped out of school at 16 to work for Telecom).  Being physically active and valuing the outdoors has always had equal importance in all our lives.  Rory's diagnosis, and spending time in the classroom with him, has softened my view of education somehow.  I can' help but look out the window today and think the whole world is going by, while Rory sits in class in front of the computer with Hugo.  So yesterday when the opportunity to be part of something real and important came up I took it.  I took Rory out to give him something to hold on to in the clinical indoor months ahead. 


The QE II Trust supports private landowners to protect native species and habitats on their land, in perpetuity, through the use of covenants.  Yesterday was an opportunity for the covenantors of Whangarei District to get together.  It was held at Tawapou Farm/Nursery.  Sir Brian Lochore spoke and I felt what he said, that the people who were gathered in the wool shed were people who cared .... who cared enough about our environment, and our country, to set aside land, often at considerable cost, to protect New Zealand's rare and unique species and their homes.  These landowners, not content, often implemented plant and animal pest control to ensure ecosystem health.  I am fortunate to be part of a great team of staff from a range of organisations in Whangarei which support these landowners; QEII (Nan and Nick), NRC (Don, Lisa and Kathy), DoC (Andrew and Wendy), Landcare (Helen and Ngaire), and Whangarei District Council (David, the Hippy, and the Resource Consent Planners).  Walking around the bush (I thought the green hooded orchids looked like Star Wars Super battle droids)and coastal cliff covenants with Rory I felt humbled to be part of something big, something important, and something so fundamental to life.  I felt grounded and at home.  Rory took it all in his stride, talking to the adults, having lunch on his knee in the woolshed, walking and being piggy backed around the covenants, and exploring the rock pools, stubbornly refusing to take a short cut back.  He found some kina, two types of starfish, shells, seaweed, fish, a sea spider, and a dead Little Blue penguin.  As I piggy backed him up a big grassy hill on the return trip he kept saying "keep going mum and don't look down".  Dianne took a photo of us at the top of the hill and I can't believe I was still laughing because I could hardly breathe.  Thank-fully Kathy carried my backpack.  She is an artist and has kindly offered to have a creation session with Rory in her studio in Parua Bay when he returns home.  I know he is going to love it. 

There were many other happenings in the day, Rory and I were gone for 11 hours and it was dark at 6.30pm when we rolled up at home with the Domino's Pizzas.  Sean and Sam were tired from a day in the field and school followed by soccer training.  While we were in Whangarei Rory picked up his Star Wars mini-figure poster organised by Dianne (thanks heaps) which is destined for the wall of his room Starship, we called in to Arthurs to get some bits and pieces t to enable his Lego Yoda mini-figure to be threaded onto a cord, and I needed some new slippers as I couldn't possibly be seen at Starship in my old home ones.  Rory helped me choose some fluffy boots with zebra stripes and pink bows on the side.  No one will believe I am turning 37 in a couple of months!  We spontaneously got a WoF for the car.  I looked up while driving over and saw the old one had expired the week before and I hadn't even realised!  Everything seems to have stepped up a notch in the countdown for Rory's return to hospital.  There is so much to do, and there doesn't seem to be enough time to do it all in.  One of the Doctors at Auckland Hospital called me yesterday morning looking for Rory as he was scheduled for a kidney test which was to take all day.  I was at the Osteopath and had to explain we were in Whangarei, 2 hours drive away and hadn't been informed.  As a result Rory has to return to Starship a day earlier next week (Tuesday) which for some reason seemed to throw me.  It's amazing when you psych yourself up for something how a minor adjustment can be unsettling. 


Today it was back to some semblance of normality.  Rory caught the bus to school and has been in class all day.  We called up to Dargaville Hospital at lunch time to meet Jacoba the Health Social Worker and Julie the Paediatric Community Nurse for the Kaipara Area.  They explained the support they could offer to us, which is much appreciated.  It is hard for Rory.  He has met so many adults.  I often think he finds it obtrusive, overwhelming, and unwanted.  Yet every person is an important thread in the web of our lives.  It is hard to explain to a 7 year old how essential they are.  The school day has been filled up with the usual activity; spelling, reading, writing, oral language, maths, journals, a visit to the library, and the children are currently working on some art work.  I received a lovely call this morning, which left me almost speechless.  One of the lovely Kaipara mums, Brenda Crawford, has organised for a sea shell massage for me at the local beauty therapist, and Trish, the owner, had called me to book a session before I left.  It sounded divine.  As much as I would love it, I couldn't help but think about Sean.  He has been working hard, in often miserable weather, to complete a possum control job for DoC.  He has come home physically exhausted every day, and often sore.  So I am going to see if he will be willing to take my place - just this once. 


On Monday Trudi met me at school with an equally lovely surprise, some money which had been raised by the Dargaville Medical Centre from selling green Rory ribbons.  Everything helps, particularly as time goes on and things get a little tighter.  Rory had some tears at school on Monday.  Someone bumped him in the playground and he lost his morning tea.  The asphalt in front of the classes is full of explosive activity at breaks.  The field is closed due to the wet weather and the children have energy to burn from being cooped up in class.  Childrens bodies and balls move around the area in an unpredictable pattern, often at great speed.  I regularly see Sam and his friends amongst it, and would once have seen Rory.  But Rory has been left with some permanent physical disabilities which hold him back.  When he is knocked he cannot easily recover his balance, and he can't run, jump and catch as he used to.  I know he feels a mixture of fear and isolation.  I watched him sit on the bench outside his class room at lunch time alone.  He said he was unhappy and wanted to go home.  His good mates are very patient and caring and often stay with him but they need to release too.  It is something Sean and I will have to address next year when Rory returns to school, how to get him active, involved and integrated on a level he feels comfortable with.