||Level 5, North Ward Room 15 and Level 6 Room 4
The movie that springs to mind right now is Four Weddings and a Funeral. Except my life is currently more akin to One Wedding, One Wedding-Being-Planned, and two people in two different hospitals.
Hmmm. Doesn't have quite the same ring to it,
I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but Taina's brother, Vinnie, is currently sick with leukemia. It was diagnosed back in December, and so since then he has been back and forth to Wellington hospital getting chemo treatments, and scans and tests and all those complicated things. We don't necessarily go in to visit him every single time he goes into hospital, we just don't have the time, but Taina likes to visit him in hospital as often as he can to give support, especially as Vinnie finds it quite scary a lot of the time.
Now then there's my mother. She's been having health problems of varying sorts for her entire life really. She was born with some unknown, undiagnosable defect that made her entire right side of her body weaker and shorter than the left side. It's not something you can tell just from looking at her, but her right leg has always been significantly shorter than her left, causing her to walk with a limp her entire life. Her right arm has always been a lot weaker than her left, which is why she has always been left handed, even though genetically it seems she must be naturally right-handed. (My Dad is left-handed, and left-handedness is a recessive gene, meaning logically two left-handed people can only have left-handed kids, but my brother Nick is right-handed.)
A doctor about twenty years ago now also picked up that my Mum had a heart murmur. It wasn't considered to be of concern at the time, because apparently it was just a rather mild heart murmur. Every so often throughout the years, doctors would listen to her heart and pick up on it again, but it was still very minor and so of no concern.
Now due to Mum's limp caused by her right leg being too short, Mum had a lot of problems with arthritis in her hip from the strain of limping. The arthritis started troubling her when she was in her 40s, about the same time as Dad started getting arthritis in his knees (Dad's had various cartilage problems with his knees over the years). At first, both Mum and Dad were managing the arthritis effectively with prescription drugs and herbal supplements (something with glucosamine and chondroitin, whatever that is).
But Mum's arthritis got worse, and so in 2007 she had hip surgery to get her hip replacement and an artificial hip put in. All fairly routine stuff, but the problem was even going through private medical care with the hip operation still meant a bit of waiting before she could have the surgery. During the several months of waiting, and still being in a lot of pain, Mum was struggling, limping more, walking slower, finding it hard to stand up and sit down quickly, and so became more or less a couch potato, aside from general walking to the bathroom and back and things like that. She was still working, but her job involved mostly sitting down anyway.
So then Mum had the surgery, and was advised by doctors she had to do various exercises to slowly re-strengthen the muscles around her legs and hips. But Mum was so stiff and physically unfit she found it very difficult and painful...and on top of that she had recently at that stage developed irritable bladder syndrome, which meant any exercise made her feel an intensely strong urge to pee.
Doctors didn't investigate the cause of the irritable bladder syndrome very thoroughly, assuming it to be caused by menopause, and prescribed medication which was largely ineffective.
And so, the exercises didn't really happen, and her strength never really recovered. And she continued to walk with difficulty, using a walking stick.
Over the last few years however, her strength has decreased even further, and she has become more stiff and more in pain than ever. It got to the stage where she couldn't walk at all in the evening and nighttime, and had to use a wheelchair. We went on a family holiday to Perth in 2011, and for most of the places we went, we pushed Mum in a wheelchair because she couldn't walk more than a short distance with her walking stick.
And just in these last few months, I've noticed her right arm has become even weaker. She can't even lift it on her own anymore, she uses her left arm to pick up her right arm and move it when she needs to. She has to use the wheelchair most of the time now and mostly just has the walking stick for support when standing up- but even then that doesn't work and she needs someone to help pull her up.
Now Mum has always been overweight too. Not her whole life, but since I was born. I never really stopped to analyse her lifestyle and wonder why she was overweight. I think truth be told, I was too busy worrying about how I was going to lose weight myself, and mostly just blamed Mum for making me overweight by constantly telling me I looked fat and making me obsessed with food and dieting.
But I had noticed over the last several months that Mum eats a lot less than she used to. Much smaller portions of everything. And recently it got to the stage where she was barely eating anything. Still I didn't really wonder why she hadn't lost weight, I more just assumed it was because of not being able to exercise, and slow metabolism.
But Dad took her to the doctor a few weeks ago, and they found that in the fact she looked overweight not because she had a lot of body fat at all. It was in fact that her body was storing a lot of fluid. A lot. And it was getting worse. They needed to drain the fluid because if it reached her heart it would kill her. Also, the doctor checked her heart and found that the 'minor' heart murmur she had had for years had now become a rather major heart murmur, and she would almost definitely need heart valve surgery.
She got a catheter attached, to drain the fluid at home. She tried this for several days last week, Dad having to empty a bucket every so often, but the fluid was draining pretty slowly. Then the doctor came around and checked, and announced that she going to have to go into hospital to get it drained there more effectively. And so she was admitted to Hutt Hospital on Tuesday this week.
Me and Taina have been to visit a couple of times. I can see now, that the fluid is draining, that she has lost of heck of a lot of weight. Her face is bony and shallow now, and her arms look thin and spindly. The fluid hasn't drained much from her stomach or legs yet so she still looks much the same. Apparently she had lost about 15kgs of fluid already, and still needs to lose another 13 or so kgs.
Apparently also the heart valve surgery, in her case is going to be quite complicated, due to the particular valve and the position it is in. And they can't even attempt the surgery until the fluid has drained. Of course, it's the heart problem that is causing the fluid build-up so if they don't operate, the fluid will just build back up again.
I still don't know how I feel, how concerned I am or how worried I am, mostly because it's still hard to truly understand just how serious or life-threatening the situation is. Doctors always try to be hopeful I think, so you don't always get a genuine idea of how much risk there is from what's going on.
But anyway, there is even more stuff going on right now.
So this last weekend, Easter weekend, my friends Jess and Luke Whatford got married. The wedding was on Easter Sunday, up in Auckland, because that's where Jess's family and many of her friends live, and where Jess used to live for many years before she moved back down to Wellington in January.
It's funny how things come around though. It was a little over ten years ago, when the group all first came together and people paired up: first me and Jason, then Michelle and Taina, then Luke Workman and Trish, and then Luke Whatford and Jess. And then Jess found out she and her family were moving to Auckland, and so she and Luke broke up, and she moved up there, and would send us emails and letters about how she missed Upper Hutt, and missed us because she had no friends up there.
Fast forward a decade, and Jess has moved back to Upper Hutt, and now complains about missing her Auckland friends, and only having a few friends down here. She and Luke not only got back together but are now married. And the other three original couple combinations have all changed: instead of me and Jason, it's now me and Taina (and we're getting married ourselves in just over nine months), Jason's still friends with all of us, and in fact me and Taina ended up sitting next to him at the wedding last weekend.
Michelle's pretty much become estranged from most people in the group, due to the fact that me and Taina are together, and the fact that during the first few months after she and Taina split, she somehow found a way to annoy or offend almost all of the group. Luke Workman still hangs out with me and Taina, mostly because of his and Taina's close friendship. And Trish distanced herself from the group after splitting up with Luke, and now has a couple of kids.
But anyway. So last week I had Thursday off as a study day for my Optical Dispensing course. Friday was Good Friday so I had the day free to prepare and pack for going to Auckland. Saturday morning the airport shuttle picked us up at the very early time of 5.15am and took us to Wellington Airport.
We caught a 7.00am flight up to Auckland, had breakfast at Wishbone in the Auckland airport terminal, and then grabbed a taxi to get our stuff out to our hotel. Our hotel was the Quadrant Hotel, right in the centre of Auckland City. We had booked there because Jess and Luke arranged a deal, getting all wedding guests travelling from outside Auckland to stay there and get a cheaper deal. It was a handy location too, because it was just a few minutes walk to Queen Street, which is like Auckland's main shopping street.
When we got to the hotel, it was too early to actually check into our room, but they let us leave our bags there while we explored the city for the day. We headed down to Queen Street, looked at a few shops, and I got a couple of cheap movies from JB Hi-Fi. We had lunch at Carl's Jr, a novelty to us because they don't have Carl's Jr down in Wellington. At least not yet anyway. There's still only one Wendy's in the Wellington region yet too so I reckon it'll take a while for Carl's Jr to catch up. Personally, I'm hoping the next US fast food to reach New Zealand will be Taco Bell. I've been wanting a Taco Bell ever since I first heard of it in an Animorphs book when I was 12.
After lunch, we explored the cinema complex next door. There were a lot of movies on, and we were tired and keen on sitting for a while so we decided to see the new Muppets movie. It was a good movie, funny and had a lot of good cameos from celebrities.
We then headed back to the hotel and were allowed to check in. Our bags were already in our room so we headed up. Taina took a nap, and I had a cup of tea and chilled out on the iPad for a while. Then we went to the bar downstairs, and met up with Jess and Luke, Jess's family and some other friends for some drinks.
While we were there, Glenn and his girlfriend Robyn arrived at the hotel. I expected Glenn to do what he's been doing for the last four years and freak out, and try and stay as far away from me and Taina as possible. But he was a bit more mature about it this time. He came into the bar, spoke to Jess and Luke for a few minutes.
He didn't look in my direction so I decided not to provoke anything by looking in his direction either. I was already absorbed in a fairly interesting conversation with Luke's friend Beth when he came in anyway, so I chose to continue my conversation with Beth instead and ignore him. Taina chose to go to the bathroom, and then come up and continue the conversation with me and Beth.
Glenn and Robyn didn't stay long though, they headed off, to get dinner or get set up in their room or whatever. And the rest of us headed into Queen Street for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, followed by icecream at this super awesome gourmet icecream place called Giapo's.
I'd been to Giapo's before. Jess took me there one time a few years ago when I was visiting her in Auckland, maybe the trip for her 21st birthday/Green Day concert, or the trip when I was there for a singing seminar with some vocal tutor from the US, or some other trip. But it was very good.
Sunday me and Taina got up relatively early and went to Rainbow's End. We had originally thought of taking a taxi, but it would have been very expensive getting from downtown Auckland to Manukau, so we explored Auckland's public transport system and took a bus. It was a very long trip, about an hour, but we didn't mind. It was a lot cheaper. We also missed the first bus because I didn't know Auckland buses don't stop automatically, you actually have to hail them by sticking out your arm.
Rainbow's End was quiet that day, being Easter Sunday. Also the weather was on and off. raining intermittently. We hadn't brought jackets or anything because it had been sunny when we left downtown Auckland that morning, so we had to buy these plastic ponchos from the gift shop to try not to get drenched. I did enjoy my day, but I got a bit soaked, and it got quite chilly throughout the day.
I did just the usual rides, the safe rides. Bumper boats, dodgems, Cinema 180. Cinema 180 was still playing an old film from the 80s, the same one they had there at Rainbows End the first time I went with my family in 1992. They had a newish Happy Feet motion master ride through which I liked although it was over too quickly.
They had some new bigger rides. Taina did the Stratosfear, the ride that only opened last week. It was far too intense for me though. The only thing I didn't do which I would have liked to was the Go Karts, which got closed because of the rain.
I noticed the arcade still had a DDR machine. Last time I went to Rainbows End, it was with my family and Jason, back in January 2004, and me and Jason spent a lot of time in the arcade, because Jason didn't want to do rides without me, and of course I was too wussy to do the big rides. Didn't play any DDR this time though, mostly because we ran out of time.
We had to leave before 3, as we needed another hour or so to get the bus back to Auckland Central, and then get back to our hotel. We got back, still soaked through, so I had shower and got completely changed and dressed up for the wedding. Taina did too.
Jess had suggested on Saturday night that for those of us going to the wedding from the hotel (except the wedding party of course) that we should share a taxi to save money. Except none of us decided who was organising this, and so me and Taina got to the lobby, and there a few of us just hanging in the lobby, all like, 'So, what's the plan?'
I figured we'd better sort something, so I asked reception about a taxi and they directed us to one outside, but it wouldn't seat all of us (there were 5 of us waiting). In the end, we ended up giving the address to two of the guys so they could get a separate taxi, and me and Taina shared our taxi with Robyn.
She introduced herself and so did we, and I attempted a brief conversation with her about our day, and the weather. But then the conversation kinda ended, and although I intended to, I didn't manage to restart any further discussion. It was nice though to meet her. She seemed nice, and the thing is, I don't know what, if anything, Glenn had told her about us. But I wanted her to know we were nice people, and that she shouldn't hold an unnecessary grudge against us simply because Glenn does.
We got to the venue, and so because we walked in with Robyn, we ended up sitting next to her for the ceremony too. We all sat next to Jason, as he was sitting alone, plus he was about the one person all three of us knew and were friends with.
Glenn was Luke's best man, so he was already in the building at the wedding venue, getting ready with Luke when we arrived. I couldn't help but wonder, with some amusement, how Glenn felt when he stepped outside to see me and Taina sitting with Robyn. If he did feel weird about it, he certainly kept his composure well, and I was grateful for that. In fact, I was impressed overall with how he handled being at an event with me and Taina there. He ignored us, but in a non-awkward way that enabled us all to relax and enjoy the evening.
The wedding was lovely. The ceremony began outdoors, but got moved under a marquee partway through as it started raining a lot. Afterwards, there were photos, nibbles and drinks, and then we all went inside and were seated at our tables. Me and Taina were seated at a table with Jason, an oldish couple who's names I don't remember, and a girl Jess knew from school in Auckland along with her newly wedded husband.
That girl's name was Laura, and she was really nice. As soon as we sat down, she struck up conversation, and asked about me and Taina, noting we were wearing rings. I told her we were engaged, and this sparked a conversation about wedding planning, and she showed us some photos from her own wedding, I liked talking to her, she was cool. She also offered me, Taina and Jason a lift back to the hotel at the end of the night which was great.
We had a meal. We had drinks. People made speeches. Then there was a band who came and played live music and me and Taina spent the entire rest of the night on the dance floor. We were that one random crazy couple that got really into it and danced like lunatics. Good fun. Except Taina sit out one song to go get fresh air outside, which meant I got stuck dancing with the creepy old guy who danced with his hands out in front of him the whole time, like he was about to fondle my boobs. A little bit weird.
Anyhoo, I really enjoyed dancing with Taina. It's always been a romantic fantasy of mine, to find a guy not embarrassed to be silly and crazy on the dancefloor, and so we'd just dance all night, pulling out the weirdest moves, laughing while everyone gave us weird glances. It doesn't sound romantic when I describe it, but it's a fantasy I've had for many years. And I realised on Sunday night, that my lovely fiance is the guy I've been looking for who can fulfill that fantasy.
Then the band finished, the wedding wrapped up and Laura gave us a lift back to the Quadrant. I had a headache from the dancing so I went straight to bed.
Momday morning involved breakfast downstairs in the hotel, and then we checked out and grabbed a taxi back to the airport. Beth and her boyfriend were on the same plane back to Wellington, but we only got to say hi briefly.
Then the shuttle took us back home from Wellington airport, and we barely got settled back home, before we headed out, first to Taina's parents house to visit them, and then out to my parents' place for dinner. All in all, it was a busy weekend. and so I went back to work on Tuesday, having not done the washing, dishes or supermarket shopping at all that weekend, and feeling like my break from work had not been nearly long enough.
Tuesday was in fact Taina's birthday. It was a shame, therefore, that I was in a semi bad mood from having to go back to work. It was while I was at work that day that I got the text from Dad that Mum was in hospital. But we already had plans that evening so I couldn't go and see her.
After work, I picked up Taina from home and we went to Go Cake Yourself, the cake shop across from Upper Hutt train station. We had an appointment there with the cake maker lady Anna, and we discussed our ideas for our wedding cake, and she has sketched a plan for the cake, and given us a very reasonable quote which I'm happy to go ahead with. We got free transportation and set up at our venue, the Silverstream Retreat anyway because of it being fairly close to the cake shop so that's pretty good.
After cake discussions, me and Taina went out to dinner at Elke's for his birthday. Ironically, Glenn and Robyn were there with Glenn's family. I didn't even notice until halfway through my meal. But it was no big deal.
Wednesday was work, then we visited Mum in hospital. Still had no food at home for dinner so we had pizza at a place near Hutt Hospital called Pepe's. I'd always wanted to go there. Back in the early 80s, when Nick was first born, Mum and Dad used to live in that area of Lower Hutt and Dad said that pizza place was around even back then. Going inside, I could tell, the decor looked pretty old really, but it was a cool place.
Thursday involved more working. Friday was Anzac Day so I got the morning off, and started work at 1. You'd think that'd be better than a full day. But actually it was harder. I slept in, made pancakes, and then me and Taina chilled out in our pyjamas on the couch, eating pancakes and watching Russell Howard's Good News episodes on YouTube. You know, normal day-off type activity.
And then suddenly it was like, 'Crap, it's nearly midday, I have to go to work now', and so had to find the energy and motivation to get dressed and head into work, and actually do stuff. Way harder than a normal day.
Friday evening was hectic too. I finished work, heading out to Wellington Hospital to meet Taina who was there with Vinnie. Then we left Wellington Hospital, and headed to Hutt Hospital and visited Mum. Then finally left there, picked up food for dinner from the supermarket, and then headed straight to Jess and Luke's house to feed their cats, as we are looking after them until they get back from their honeymoon.
Nerida was doing it over Easter weekend while the wedding was on and the few days after that. But she had something else going on from Friday onwards so I said me and Taina would take over from then. Which was fine, but with two family members in different hospitals, and being back at work it was all a lot of rushing around. Still, it's all good, I'm happy to help out.
And that takes me to today. A day off, but not a full, proper weekend off. I'm working tomorrow, so I have a split weekend. My other day off is Tuesday this week. Lame. Sadly they need me on Mondays for the next few weeks while Marcus is away on holiday. He didn't leave his store key behind before he went on holiday so me and Victoria have to do all the closing shifts between us, which means she has to work Sundays, and I got landed with Mondays.
But never mind. Well, I need to go do things. Washing, shower, shopping, you know, things normal human beings would do regularly.
More info on my exciting life later!
· Sun Apr 27, 2014 @ 12:11am · 0 Comments