Monthly Archives: December 2009

No X-ray Eyes

Some days, while recuperating from chemotherapy, radiation therapy and lately, from surgery, I have wondered if I will ever be able to take a day for granted again. The process seems so long and pain persists. Nothing feels normal. Going out is hard work.

I did manage to take Bronwen to a favourite cafe recently, and as we sat in the sunny courtyard and watched happy shoppers, I was inspired to write this poem.


I sit and sip my latte

And watch as passers-by

All go about their business;

Walk determined; heads held high.

They seem to have no cares at all

No stumbles, aches or pain

Their laughter and their banter

Make a warm spring-time refrain.

I muse about the last time

I took days in my stride;

Talking, walking, driving;

Purposefully occupied.

Not shackled by pain management;

No cause to make me think

Of how to do what I must do;

What not to eat or drink.

But who knows if they also

Watch me and think the same.

For neither me nor they

Know our backgrounds or our name

Who knows the inner conflicts

Masked so easily with a smile;

What problems each is wrestling

Set aside for just a while..

Appearance is deceiving

And each of us cries out

For some recognition

Of what we’re all about.

“Judge not and we shall not be judged”

But deal to all the same.

Who knows the love we proffer

Will touch some unseen pain.

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Posted by on 31 December, 2009 in Personal, Poetry


End of year update

What a year it’s been. And busy!

I started the year with radioactive spheres in my liver and a six-month course of chemo-therapy. There have been 3-monthly CT scans to plot the progress of the liver. Fortunately these have shown amazing improvement. We moved to Nelson in April and concluded that course of chemotherapy here. I then endured 6 weeks of radiation therapy in Christchurch followed by an equally painful 6 weeks of recuperation back in Nelson before ending the year with major surgery in Nelson Hospital. The surgery on 24th November removed the rectal tumour (the primary tumour) and sealed off my back end forever. The surgeon also did a 17cm cut down my front to inspect my insides and also inserted a permanent stoma to the left of my navel.

It is now 5 weeks on from that major surgery and the recuperation process is proving long and slow. Fortunately my peritoneal wound is healing well (I have heard varying reports of 50% – 80% of these wounds reopen). It is still very uncomfortable to sit down for long. My stomach still feels as if a massive indignity has been perpetrated on it and I am very careful in using my stomach muscles – very tender. The massive lifestyle adjustments of emptying and changing colostomy bags is getting better. I have a new bag that seems to cause less skin reaction than the first bags I was given.

And so forward into 2010! What will it hold?

Hopefully a clearer and more productive road to travel. I do know I am to have a further course of chemotherapy to ‘mop up’ any stray cancer cells left in my body. When, and for how long, I may find out next week when Bronwen and I again travel to Christchurch for our next liver CT scan and update.

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Posted by on 31 December, 2009 in Personal


Value for money

This morning I sat in a hairdressing salon waiting my turn to be shorn. Ahead of me were two younger males with fine heads of hair. Cutting and shaping their hair took the hairdresser considerable time for each and I began rueing the wait – especially as I still have great discomfort sitting.

Eventually I had my turn in the chair knowing that the 3 patrons to follow me would not have long to wait since I don’t have so much hair to manage.


I get value for money!

After trimming my hair and neckline, the hairdresser, at no extra charge, trimmed my ears and eye-brows. Ah, the benefits of being an older gent!

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Posted by on 29 December, 2009 in Humor


God does not allow pity parties!

Even though I enjoy the relationship I have with God in the midst of all the suffering that’s accompanied the past 15 months, I have not always kept a brave face. Bronwen has been excellent at massaging me with words of hope and realistic encouragement. Sometimes though, God steps in directly.

The day before Christmas Eve I was feeling particularly low and frustrated at the slow rate of healing. I was moaning to Bronwen about the situation when there was a knock on the door. I went to see who it was and it turned out to be a Pastor I’d known in another city many years ago. He happened to be in Nelson and after recovering from a ‘breakdown’ a couple of years previously had recently suffered two slight strokes. He had heard I was living in Nelson and wanted to find me in the hope that I might be able to lift his spirits!

The irony of it!  The timing of it!  God knows how to kick you in the seat of your pants.

I ushered my former friend in and we had a great old chat. I was able to share things I’d been reluctant to acknowledge of the Lord’s dealings with me. We were both uplifted to the point that we ended up in the family room with him playing the piano and he, I, and my grandson Abe, having a ‘song-song’ of children’s songs and the great songs of Zion. We all went away from the encounter better than we’d entered it.

Moral: If you are feeling down, the best way out of it is to find someone whom you can encourage, not by talking about your own woes, but by finding and discussing some positives in their situation.

This is not the first time the Lord has intervened like that when I’ve been starting to ‘enjoy ill health’. I should be learning by now.

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Posted by on 28 December, 2009 in Devotional, Personal


Don’t get sick near a weekend in NZ

NZ has a fine socialised medical system. The fact that it is bankrupting the nation is not the point of this blog entry. It’s just that things have a way of closing down at weekends and I am not sure which of Murphy’s laws decrees that serious complaints occur when medical centres are closed!

Three weeks after my major surgery I finally got my in-line catheter removed last Wednesday. It was causing some irritation and there was a suspicion that I might have a bladder infection. I do not know why the hospital did not take a sample for analysis at the time. Instead I was sent home and told that if the pain persisted I should consult my GP the next day.

The pain did not abate but got worse so the next day I provided a sample to the GP and hand-delivered it to Medlab for analysis. I was told it would take 2 days for the result to be discovered. And, yes, that meant Saturday when neither Medlab nor the GP were on duty. I had to suffer in silence (!!) over the weekend to discover on Monday that I had E-Coli in my bladder. It was not until Monday afternoon that I was able to take the first tablets of the specific antibiotic to deal with the problem.

Be warned. Think ahead. If you have a niggle that might require Laboratory analysis, act on it in the first half of the week – just in case. You don’t want to be hanging around with these infections longer than you have to.

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Posted by on 23 December, 2009 in Humor, Personal


“Forget not all His benefits!”

The Psalmist wrote, “Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” He also wrote that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Have you ever considered the extent and ramifications of those statements? We don’t realise how much we take for granted until something happens to deprive us of something.

Since having my rear end removed and a permanent Stoma inserted onto my lower stomach I am having to adjust to a whole new routine in my morning ablutions. I have had quite a mental battle in getting used to the procedures, and the extra time, that will no doubt eventually become a breeze. It has made me realise what I joy it used to be to go into the toilet without giving things a second thought. Truly, the way we were created to dispose of the waste matter the body creates is a benefit worth giving thanks for!

I expect to hear that all who read this will gain new appreciation for their daily mundane bodily functions and songs of praise will emanate from bathrooms around the country.

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Posted by on 23 December, 2009 in Humor, Personal