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The temperature at night gets down to single figures but if the sun is out it warms up to the low 20's during the day and it doesn't change that much even in mid winter.
Our good neighbour Kelly decided to self isolate to protect us during the corona pandemic but before she did we shared a Corona beer together as the adjacent photo demonstrates.
New Zealand introduced lockdown earlier in the coronavirus pandemic than most countries so at the time of writing we are into the third week of lockdown. There are 1312 cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand; 15 people in hospital, 422 people have recovered, and four people have died..
Most cases are due to returning Kiwis and it was a mistake not to quarantine returnee's rather than trusting them to self quarantine which has belatedly now been rectified.
PM Jacinda Adern will review wether to end the lockdown on 20th April.
I visited a local supermarket the other day and after parking walked towards the end of a very long queue until a Maori guy told me to join the queue in front of him. After about 5 minutes a blonde lady came up to me and said I should go with her to the front of the queue. I asked her why and she said because she had seen me there and had asked the security guy at the entrance if I could get priority because of my age and he agreed so I was escorted to the front of the queue. I must be starting to show my age but Kiwis are being urged to be kind to each other and that was a good example
The pandemic has caused us a few problems with Sue's palliative care as the health ministry has instructed the hospice nurses not to spend more than 10 minutes with each patient. This is not long enough to do most of the procedures they normally carry out so the burden passes to the care workers. They in turn are not allowed to change dressings or carry out certain other procedures so the burden passes to me or we must ask for increased nurse visits so the effect is to increase our exposure to more people. Some jobsworth civil servant is probably responsible who has no experience of front line care.
When a nurse does come she is fully equipped with gloves face mask and protective gear whereas our health care workers who are in much more intimate and in daily contact are not issued with any gear whatsoever. I am sure that they are also in contact with more vulnerable people daily than any hospice nurse.
My hip muscle strain is getting worse and spreading to other areas but I am restricted to zoom video conferences with my physio. He sent me some exercises by email which I am unable to do due to my pain threshold. I have also experienced muscle spasms across my stomach which are very painful indeed and sleeping is difficult, all of which has not helped me deal with being a house husband!
But shit happens!
Since writing the foregoing there have now been further developments which I posted round to those of you who know us well. For those who don't here is what I said:
Those of you who have bothered to read my ramblings on the web site will know that I was undertaking a course of physio for a strained hip ligament and it had worsened. The pain spread from one hip to the other until the doc prescribed codeine and morphine, neither of which would stay in my stomach so off I went to hospital leaving Sue in the care of her sister where they discovered my kidneys were about to fail.
It gets worse!
A very pretty Hematologist then announced she was fairly certain the reason for this kidney failure was myeloma which is a rare type of blood cancer that only usually affects the 70 plus ages which she said at my age I could currently expect to live with for between 2 and 5 years. First they had to take urgent action to get my kidneys working properly again as my chances of survival were small otherwise. Next the diagnosis had to be confirmed which meant a full MRI body scan followed by a biopsy.
Lying on that noisy old MRI machine for a full hour was the most painful. The biopsy was done by giving a local anesthetic in the hip region then inserting a long needle into the bone to extract some marrow, finally taking a slice of the bone itself, all of which showed that I did indeed have myeloma.
So I am now on a course of medication including chemo and steroids which will be supplemented by other medications as I progress. The chemo is given once a week by injection. There is no cure at present but the outlook is positive as there are hopes for progress in the future for an extensive remission extension or even a cure being found.
Sue had to be taken into a care home this week but she is coming home tomorrow and I am getting a bit more help with the housework from the healthcare services. I feel pretty weak after all that and am moving at a slower pace until I get my strength back, a bit like after my last Swildons caving trip and what with all these virus problems life could do with being a bit less complicated.
What would go down well now would be a nice pint of Otter and Barf to win the premiership or maybe I've died and gone to heaven!!
Well we knew it was going to happen but it does not make it any easier. Sue came home on Friday 8th May but I could see why they rushed to get me out of hospital as her condition had deteriorated so much. I think she had decided that I had the same secondary bone cancer as herself and it took the wind out of her sails. She did perk up a bit when she learnt that my disease was different as was my life expectancy but by Sunday she had become unresponsive and I had great difficulty getting her to swallow all her pills.
When our morning healthcare workers arrived we decided I should call Waipuna Hospice for advice. The response was a shock which was that nothing could be done until Monday, the hospice was closed until the end of May and the only option was to move Sue back to the care home, something I told them I would not allow. I called our neighbour Kelly who did not even let me speak before rushing straight round.
Eventually Waipuna were persuaded to send a community nurse out who then took me to one side and explained that Sue was dying.
The doctors had given Sue a few weeks to live over four months ago so the nurses statement came as no surprise other than to wonder what the point of a hospice was if it didn't offer constructive help at this stage. Things did then begin to happen but Sue died just before 1pm before any other action had taken place. Sues sister Maryanne and brother-in-law Fred were present with me. Our neighbours Kelly and Dave arrived shortly after and we phoned the hospice to stop all further action they had proposed by them.
We all sat with Sue until the Waipuna nurse finally arrived to certify death at 2pm. The undertaker came at 3pm. I later learned that this was the longest period that Waipuna hospice had ever cared for anyone at home, a tribute to Sues bravery in staying alive.
The hospice who had been so helpful and supportive throughout Sues palliative care let us down badly at the time they were most needed. It may be that it is due to the coronavirus restrictions forced on it by the Ministry of Health but there was no excuse for the lack of compassion shown in their response to my cry for help.
Such was the love and affection from so many people around the world that we decided to stream the service using the Zoom application.
The New Zealand Government lifted some of the restrictions on attendance at funerals to 50 people but it was too late for many who were not local to attend however quite a few more than the original 10 person limit did attend at short notice. We were still not allowed to hold a reception for more than 10 which was held at our home.
Sue had largely taken charge of the arrangements prior to her death. For the music she chose the Scherzo Allegro vivace from Beethoven's third symphony, the Eroica, to begin the service. After the Eulogy was read by Terri Bentley, one of Sue's best friends from Auckland, we had Shakespeare's sonnet No 18 'Shall I compare thee to a summers day' to a tune composed by John Dankworth and sung by Cleo Laine.
Shakespeare poses the question but then rejects the notion. A summers day will fade but her beauty is eternal.
The poem at the end was suggested by Lil Romford from Somerset, England:
I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I'd like to leave an after glow of smiles when life is done,
I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and summer days.
I'd like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun,
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.
"Helen Lowrie Marshall"
Sue was unaware of this choice of poetry but I feel sure she would have approved.
The service ended with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull playing his jazzed up version of J S Bach's Bourrée. Among our 10 people allowed at the reception was Margaret representing Healthcare NZ and Penny, a nurse from Waipuna hospice, both of whom cared for Sue during her illness. The funeral directors arranged for an excellent hot buffet lunch to be delivered and we all raised a glass or two of Marlborough in Sue's memory. She would have liked her memorial service as did the many absent friends and relatives around the world who watched it live on Zoom and were with us in spirit.
I am afraid the quality of the recording is not that brilliant, especially the audio and some of the music can not be heard. It might help if you download the VLC player which is free on the internet as you can increase the volume a bit more.
For those of you who would like to listen to Sue's choice of music with better quality audio, here are some links to video's on YouTube of them:
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 'Eroica' (Scherzo) - BBC Proms 2014
Shall I Compare Thee To A Summers Day (Sonnet 18) - Cleo Laine, John Dankworth.
Jethro Tull: Bourrée
We will eventually scatter Sue's ashes in the Pacific Ocean at a lonely beach called Orokawa Bay just North of here. You can see some pictures of Orokawa Bay on this page.
The state of my own health
I am currently undergoing chemotherapy weekly. On Tuesdays I visit the path lab to provide a blood sample for testing and on Thursdays I go for the chemo which consists of an injection of Bortozomib which is used to treat my multiple myeloma.
The disease is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. These cells multiply forming collections known as tumours which accumulate in different parts of the body, most commonly in the bone marrow or bone surface. They then secrete chemicals that stimulate other bone marrow cells to remove calcium from the bone causing brittleness and allowing bones to break more easily.
As the myeloma cells multiply they crowd out the bone marrow and prevent it from making normal numbers of red blood cells resulting in my case in kidney damage which they tell me is now healing. The Bortozomib kills off the myeloma cells and I also take Dexamethasone which is a steroid that has been found to also help kill off these excess cells.
I am also given Allopurinol daily which prevents the build up of uric acid in the blood during treatment which causes gout and Valacliclovir which prevent viral infections as my immune system is compromised.
Two different drugs are used at different times in the cycle to prevent nausea and other side effects are numerous. At the moment I am suffering, diarrhoea one day then constipation the next, bone pain, problems sleeping, skin changes, changes in blood pressure, frequent urination, headaches and fluid build-up in my legs and feet.
On average this treatment will continue every week for about nine months after which the disease will hopefully be under control and in remission. I should then be feeling better, fit to travel and not need further treatment for months perhaps years. At the moment there is no complete cure but there is reason to be optimistic of one being found or at least to extend life expectancy according to current research information.
It is therefore unlikely I will be returning to the UK before next year and my treatment is finished but when I do I will be busy recruiting people to join me, family and friends walking the Macmillan Way West to raise funds for cancer charities in Sue's memory. This long distance trail starts at Castle Carey in Somerset then traverses the county East to West across the Quantocks and Exmoor finishing at Barnstaple in North Devon. It is 102 miles long and visits many places I walked in my youth as well as Sue and I walked together when we lived in England.
New Zealand Work and Income
New Zealand could show the UK a thing or two when it comes to treating their residents fairly. When we came out to NZ the UK removed the pension we had earned in Australia because they made it a condition you had to be a UK resident to get it. They didn't tell us this in advance, not that it would have made any difference and I suppose when I go back it will not be restored. Furthermore everyone is paid a different amount of UK pension depending on individual circumstances and they simply ignore complaints.
Here we all get the same pension whatever your circumstances so even though Sue did not qualify for the full UK State pension she still received the full NZ pension as did I.
As a widower in the UK I would just continue to get the same pension. Here for a widower living alone my pension increases from $326/week to $424/week after tax. I also get the full winter fuel allowance. Not just my share as it is the house you are heating, not just the people in it.
When you talk with the Kiwi Work and Income people you get the impression they are there to help you find the best solutions. Perhaps the UK Minister of Work and Pensions should take a trip out here to learn how to run a caring organisation.
The project to record Sue and my lives together since we met in 1974 is now well advanced with the first five pages on line.
I have revamped the menuing code to make room for future items and you will find that 'History' now has its own menu and sub menu's.
I have moved all other subjects under the 'Home' menu.
The UK Cancer Charity Walk
Due to my treatment for Myeloma it is likely to be the Spring or early Summer of next year before I can get back home to the UK. There would not be enough time left to get myself organised with a house to rent and for my effects to have been shipped over before the end of summer. Realistically then it is going to take place in the summer of 2022.
I had a nice surprise when my neighbours Kelly and Dave announced they intend to participate in the walk and have begun saving for the trip. So please make a collective note to plan a trip to Somerset in 2022 if you want to join me wherever you are in the world. If Kiwi's can travel all that way then no place is too distant.
I criticised earlier the way Waipuna Hospice behaved at the end of Sue's life. They seem to be having a change of heart now as they have written offering to pay the $400 for the ambulance for Sue to be transferred to the care home while I was in hospital.
The state of my own health update at 4th June
It is now a month since I began Chemo and my progress was reviewed by Dr Marie Hughs my Haematologist. It would seem that the chemo is having a positive effect and my kidneys are in much better shape than when we began treatment.
A blood test measures the Light Chains which are a type of white blood cell but there are two different types called Kappa and Lambda. Myeloma causes too many of these types of cell to be created and the chemo and steroids should reduce the amounts. Divide the Kappa figure by the Lambda figure and you get the ratio between the two which is the important measurement to compare and measure progress.
My Kappa cells before chemo were 14.0 and are now 9.5 (never mind the units). My Lambda cells before chemo were 11166.0 and are now reduced to 292.0. The K/L ratio before chemo was <0.01 and is now 0.03. A person with a normal kidney function would be expected to have a K/L ratio of between 0.26 and 1.62 so I have a long way to go but it is moving in the right direction.
My blood pressure jumps between 140/70 and 200/87 over 6 days so the beta blockers they tried me on were not working that well. Marie said she started me on a lower dose to see the effects and has now prescribed double the amount which is the recommended dose for high blood pressure so we will see.
I also have some pills to reduce water retention to see if the swelling in my legs and ankles can be reduced.
My Kidney doctor called me and he is also pleased with my progress. Barring complications he does not want to see me again for four months but does not expect my kidney function to return to normal due to initial damage caused before the Myeloma was diagnosed and the natural ageing process but I am no longer in danger of kidney failure.
So as they say down here in the Godzone, alls good.
It gets quite lonely stuck here by myself in New Zealand. Stranded due to the global and personal health problems. It always nice to get regular updates from my daughter Rebecca in Somerset, UK.
As I can't travel for the time being I thought I would publish the photographs she just sent of all the family with the exception of William who is the black sheep!
As you can see they seem to have inherited their Grandad's travel bug which is no surprise as Beccy has a degree in tourism.
The photo of Henry and Matilda was taken in September 2019 at home in Stogursey in their school uniforms. Beccy says that Henry did not want his photo taken hence his expression of disgust but then he never has.
Messages of Sympathy 8th June
Today my snailmail postbox was full of sympathy cards from the UK and Australia. The UK cards date from mid May and the Oz ones even earlier which probably means that Jacinda was keeping foreign mail in quarantine! Thank you for your condolences all of you and you have written some lovely words.
I must admit that I am finding grief difficult to cope with. I have had plenty of time to think and prepare during Sue's long illness and she warned me what to expect although I don't know how she knew.
I am fine when I am not reminded of Sue's death but things like all those cards has me in floods of tears. I am told the grief never really leaves you. You just get more used to it.
Loneliness is also a problem I am stuck with until my cancer treatment is concluded and sometimes I am unsure if I am grieving or feeling sorry for myself. Probably a combination of the two.
We had not been here in New Zealand long enough to establish local friendships apart from Kelly and Dave our neighbours. I do see Maryanne and Fred regularly who are the closest of Sues's family but the chemo regime will keep me in Tauranga for the rest of this year at least.
I have now completed all the pages of our time living in Edinburgh from 1974 to 1990. I am now starting to record the years we lived in South Petherton, Somerset until our retirement in 2005 when we bought our barge Harmonie. You will find the final Edinburgh page here.
Black Lives Matter
Of course they do but whatever has happened to the world to react as some of the protesters have done to the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Dave next door reckons this sort of behaviour is caused by the lockdown and people have gone stir crazy and slightly lost their marbles. By all means protest about police violence but that is no excuse for looting and other criminal activity which puts them into the same category as the police action they are protesting about.
As for tearing down monuments of colonialists and those involved in slavery I have commented on this sort of thing before. These statues prompt you to question who the person is and why they have a statue erected of them. Just because you do not happen to agree with what they did or what a monument commemorates you should not be destroying history by removing it.
I expect there are lots of memorials erected to African rulers but those that deserve our respect are the exception rather than the rule. In the UK all the statues that some people want removed are of white skinned men because they say they were racist. In Uganda you could say the same about Idi Amin who was certainly racist and what about Robert Mugabe who persecuted white farmers. Racism is not the exclusive domain of white folk and there are too few Nelson Mandela's.
Mugabe once said Africa was for Africans and not white men. I wonder what the reaction would be if a leader in Britain or America said Western countries were for white men and not Africans although I would not be surprised if The Donald nutter said it.
|Quotes 'wot I like:|
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
George Santayana 1863 - 1952.
Down here in NZ there are a bunch of Maori's who want to pull down a statue of Captain Cook because he killed a few of their ancestors 260 years ago and we know that Winston Churchill was a warmonger but he was also a great leader so why deface his statue? The world might be a very different place today without Winston, like him or loathe him.
Rhodes Scholars are among those demanding Cecil Rhodes statue be removed from Oriel College in Oxford. Do they not realise Rhodes philanthropy gave them a privileged education?
Those who carry out these senseless acts would be better off learning from history rather than destroying it.
I now read that Baden-Powell's (BP) statue in Poole is under threat of removal. BP was the founder of the Scouting Movement but apparently he was a sympathiser of fascism and is rumoured to have considered amalgamating his Scouts with the Hitler youth movement. He was also accused of mistreating African natives during the siege of Mafeking during the Boer war for which he was famous. The same man formulated the Scout Law which says; A scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other scout no matter what country, class or creed the other may belong.
I do not know the truth or otherwise of BP's actions, motives or values in a different age but I do know that someone who could devise such an international movement as Scouting deserves recognition and that someone could not be racist who said we had to be a friend and brother to all. I spent a large part of my life as a member of the Scout Association and racism was not apposite with its core beliefs. If BP really did want us to be friends and brothers with the Hitler youth then his motives might simply have been naive, just like the appeaser PM Chamberlain who I suppose should be the next on the statue removal list.
Rugby is back in New Zealand
Saturday night saw a game of Rugby being played between the Highlanders and the Chiefs in front of a good crowd in Dunedin. Jacinda never misses a political opportunity and had her sports minister making a speech before the game with all the razzle dazzle of an international except this was Super Rugby Aotearoa. I don't know why they have begun calling New Zealand by its Maori name but even the TV weather forecaster's are doing it. For us pakeha's (pale people) it is simply a domestic competition between the Super Rugby franchises in NZ but because it was the only game being played in the world, every rugby playing nation was watching it.
The Chiefs wore pink jerseys to acknowledge the women who support rugby in the Waikato region and all the jerseys worn at the game will each be donated to a girls school in the region that have an active girls rugby programme to help raise funds.
A strict law interpretation has been introduced for this competition. You are to be ruled offside if you are not clearly onside and the refs are to be much stricter at the breakdown for example only one movement will be allowed playing the ball on the ground. The result was 30 penalties in the game as a result of a combination of zealous refereeing and players unused to such laws being so strictly enforced. If a player is red carded he can be replaced after 20 minutes and if the full time result is a draw they will play an extra 10 minutes and the first team to score wins the game and gets a 2 point bonus.
It was never the less a good game to watch and fast but full of mistakes from a lack of playing the game by both sides. The lead seesawed back and forth but it looked like the Chiefs had won it by a whisker when Damian McKenzie dropped a goal to give them a 2 point lead. The Highlanders came back from the kick-off as Bryn Gatland repeated the move with a long range drop goal to give them a 1 point lead. They held on to the ball for the remaining 30 seconds before winning a penalty with the final score 28-27.
It is not known what Chiefs boss Daddy Gatland thought of his son Bryn (nice Welsh name) depriving his team of a win, especially as he came off the bench to do it.
The other game the next day was between the Auckland Blues at home against the Wellington Hurricanes which featured Beauden Barrett playing full back for the Blues against his old club in his first game. The TV dialogue was nauseous talking about the new King of the Blues. When Dan Cole scored the first try for the Hurricanes and flattened Barrett in the process he was duly scragged by all his ex teammates which even he had to laugh about.
The game was not as good as the previous one, not as fast but still full of penalties, even more than Dunedin but the Blues were by far the better side and won easily in the end 30-20. We were treated to plenty of good tries and centre Caleb Clarke was my MOM but Fly Half Otere Black was a close second whose place kicking has improved hugely from last season and his ball handling was faultless. Must be something to do with playing for a top side like Manawatu as brother-in-law Phil would say!!!
They said that Eden Park was sold out with 43,000 spectators but there seemed to be quite a few empty spaces to me and it has a capacity of 50,000.
The latest history page to be completed is now on line and covers the years from 1990 to 1992 when we moved down from Edinburgh to South Petherton in Somerset. You will find it here.
Super Rugby Aotearoa
The second round of games were played on 20th and 21st June. The first was played at Hamilton between the home side Waikato Chiefs and arch rivals Auckland Blues who had not won a game at Hamilton since 2011.
It was raining cats and dogs which didn't make for good rugby and it quickly degenerated to an arm wrestle. It was a close game until the last quarter when the Blues, the more assured side, went ahead to win 12-24 and to lead the competition.
Warrenball does not seem to suit the Chiefs who have now lost their first two contests.
The next day was an afternoon game in Wellington where the Crusaders played their first game in the competition against the home side Hurricanes. The Canes lost last week against the Blues so needed this game to stay in contention. With only five teams in the competition, one side will not play each week so each will play only eight games.
The Crusaders began with a superlative try from Sevu Reece in the first minute and the Canes stayed on the back foot for most of the game despite their opposition falling foul of the new stricter refereeing and gifting them many penalty goals.
The Canes were in with a shout up to the last quarter when 10 minutes from time they were level 25-25 until they gifted a couple of quick tries to lose the game 25-39.
The fine winter weather here finally broke this week and we had much needed torrential rain. After the Rugby it turned nice again which prompted Fred, Maryanne and myself to indulge in a Fish and Chip lunch at Bobby's Fish Market on a lovely sunny 20 degree day.
You will have read that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) are to review the singing of Swing Low Sweet Chariot at Twickenham. There seem to be many in the game including well respected players and officials who favour the song being banned and I suspect it is because they are aware of the racial connections and the reverence many black people have for it and here is the key to where I think they are completely wrong.
Those in favour of the politically correct action in banning it admit that the vast majority of those who sing it are not racially motivated by it. It was originally sung to honour Chris Oti back in 1988 when he scored three tries against Ireland at Twickers and was the first black player to be selected by England for 80 years. Not necessarily for racial reasons but in those days black people did not go to public schools. In Australia English rugby players are known as 'Nigels' for that reason.
Most PC people think that rugby fans only know the words of the first two lines and that may be true of typical Twickers crowds but most of us who have played the game and real rugby fans will have sung the whole song with some very rude actions.
Despite knowing 'they words' I would still maintain that there was no racial motive in the singing or in the actions which accompanied the song which are just downright filthy in the proud tradition of rugby songs. But nobody can deny that in those days racism did exist in Rugby and in Cricket. Black players were not selected so that South African teams could be played against who would not play against teams who had black players. But once again, just like pulling down statues, to ban the song is to destroy a bit of history that we should know about and learn from.
Rugby songs often satirise tunes that some would find offensive such as 'Wales, Wales, Bloody great fishes are Whales' to the Welsh national anthem and 'A Frenchman went to the lavatory' to the Marsellaise. Perhaps those PC people should develop a thicker skin, black or white.
My neighbours Kelly and Dave invited me to join their pub quiz team which is mostly made up of work colleagues of Kelly's, Dave and me being the only males.
Dave is the specialist on music apart from classical and I have been nominated as the geography expert. This is because Kelly thinks I am so well travelled, any way, I answered 5 out of ten questions correctly so I have now earned my place in the team who usually come last!!
We came third from last which is an improvement.
This was the first time I have ventured out for any length of time apart from shopping and the cancer clinic so was quite pleased with myself having managed three hours without a pee!!
They do things differently in NZ compared to UK (in pub quiz's not the way they pee). The questions are streamed one at a time on big screens in rounds of ten. You write down your individual answers to each question. You are then given about 5 minutes to discuss answers with your other team members and to write down the collectively agreed team answers. After all the teams answers are collected the correct answers are displayed on screen and the next round starts.
The latest history page to be completed is now on line and covers the years from 1992 to 1995 as we turned The Fruit Shop into a delicatessen called Provender in South Petherton in Somerset. You will find it here.
Phil Monk's Retirement
Sue's brother Phil has finally retired from the Navy and he sent me some photos of the occasion which I reproduce in the slideshow below together with Phil's explanation of what was happening:
These some of the snaps taken yesterday when the Admiral arrived, to make some presentations etc.
All the ships I was on, the cap tallies have been neatly folded and framed, and the Admirals coin placed at the bottom, really neat. The booklet he is giving me is a certification of acknowledgment of my 54 years service.
The book I am signing is our work VIP book, I was asked to sign under the Admirals signature.
The last and best, was the presentation to me of the model of one of my fav ships HMNZS Otago, a Whitby Class Frigate built in UK. Great cover over it, really wrapt eh!
Apparently others and a script are coming out in the next Navynews, I'll have to grab a few copies and send them around eh!
Good luck with the Rugby this weekend, been that busy I don't even know who is playing yet!
Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 3
The Saturday night game was played at Eden Park between the Blues and the Highlanders so it was between two unbeaten teams in the competition but more importantly a North v South Island derby.
Note that the Blues are playing at home in their away strip in white with the odd bit of blue and the Highlanders who normally play in blue are in??
The Blues started firm favourites with winger Caleb Clarke scoring the first try but the Highlanders soon equalised. Then Caleb Clarke passed to Rieko Ioane who ran in a second try to go into the half time break 12 points up.
The Highlanders came out determined not to let the Blues get away on the score board and quickly reversed the lead after Rieko Ioane received a yellow card. The lead was then never more than two points and could have gone either way but at the end the Blues held on for a third win in the series 27-24.
The other derby of the weekend was in Christchurch between home side Crusaders and the Waikato Chiefs on a dreich day that only South Islanders love. It was a repeat of the game yesterday in that the Crusaders went into a commanding lead and then let the Chiefs back in so that either side could have won it at the end.
The Crusaders emerged from an arm wrestle the unbeaten side 18-13 against the Chiefs who have not yet won a game.
Eight games are played by each team with no play-offs or final.
The latest history page now online covers the period from 1995 to 1998 and you can find that here.
It describes Barf winning the European Cup and holidays in Mexico, Italy and Egypt.
Mike Palmer has sent some photographs of one of our later Burns suppers when people took it a little more seriously so if you click on the photo below you will be taken to the page where the secret of what men wear under their kilts will be revealed.
Mike also sent a photo of a GSG dinner from October 1992 and you can find that here.
The state of my own health at 2nd July
If you read the last report on my health you will see there was a huge improvement as a result of the chemo treatment and other medications. This time the results were once again improved. My Kappa cells were 9.5mg/L and are now 9.6. My Lambda cells were 292mg/L and are now further reduced to 77.7. The K/L ratio last month was 0.03 and is now 0.12, up a further 75%. A person with a normal kidney function would be expected to have a K/L ratio of between 0.26 and 1.62 so it continues to move in the right direction. If next month the Lambda cells were to reduce to about 37mg/L and the Kappa cells stay roughly the same then the K/L ratio would increase to 0.26 which is the minimum a person with a normal kidney function would expect.
Gavin Kidney Doctor did not anticipate my kidney function would ever return to normal but there is now some reason to be optimistic.
Because of my good progress the doctors will add another chemo drug to strengthen the bones but it can affect the kidney function which is why it has not been administered previously. I am also on further medication to counteract the side effect of edema, an increase of 50% in the dose of Amlodipine (to further reduce blood pressure) plus a new anti virus medication.
The Docs are slightly concerned that my hip pain has not reduced so are arranging a further xray in that area plus a heart scan of some type. So some 'Reasons to be Cheerful' as Ian Drury used to say!
Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 4
The first game was at Christchurch with the Crusaders playing against the other South Island team, the Highlanders in Dunedin. The home side put up a good fight in the first half and led 17-14 at the break but in the second half they began to make mistakes and the Crusaders cruised to a 20-10 victory score which does not reflect the closeness of play. But for a few silly mistakes the score could have been different.
The Sunday afternoon game was at Hamilton where the Chiefs met the Hurricanes in another North Island derby. Both sides had not yet won a game so half way into the competition both were desperate for points.
Warran Gatland must be spitting blood as the Chiefs proceeded to monopolise the ball but then gave it back to the Canes through poor handling. Add to that the superbly organised defence of the Canes who deserved their 18-25 victory.
Mention should be made of Jordie Barrett's first return to rugby since March who had a belter of a game and kicked one penalty goal from 58 metres but the ball flew at least 75m. What a kick!
So the Crusaders take the lead and they face the second place Blues at Christchurch next weekend.
The state of my own health at 9th July
I began CBD today. That does not mean Central Business District although it is a good way to remember the acronym but it stands for the three drugs that are used in my chemo, Cyclophosphamide, Bortozomib and Dexamethasone. I have also found the acronym BCD, confusing or what? Up until now I have not been taking the 'C' drug as it affects the kidney function and the latest blood tests show an increased creatinine level from 146 umol/L to 188 which indicates a reduced kidney function so I am only being given a half dose.
Just to make it even more confusing the cancer nurse here in NZ used CBD but the more accepted acronym is VCD. This is because Bortozomib is also known by it's brand name of Velcade.
The cancer clinic also announced today that they will be giving me a drug next week that will strengthen my bones. It is also a reduced dose, it is given interveiniously and it is going to take 4 hours to administer! They will repeat the process in 3 months.
The good news is that my blood pressure is now back to normal.
History pages update
The earlier pages have been extensively updated following contributions from old friends, in particular some additions and corrections from Goon as I had even spelt his real name wrong! You can find the page here:
I have now finished the latest history section page covering the years 1999 to 2002 which you can find here.
Fund raising in memory of Sue 4 different ways:
On my return to the UK I will be organising a sponsored walk to raise funds for the Macmillan charity along the Macmillan Way West. I am also a cancer victim and undergoing treatment in New Zealand but in the meantime you can donate with this widget below directly to the Macmillan charity by subscribing to the JustGiving web site:
All money donated will go directly to the Macmillan charity and not to me but you will need to subscribe to JustGiving to donate. The donation pages on JustGiving default to Pounds Sterling currency. You can change the currency but there are limited options. If your currency is not listed, here is another widget below to convert to whatever is your home currency so you know how much you are donating:
To Donate without subscribing to JustGiving:
As an alternative to using the JustGiving widget you can click on the photo below and you will be taken directly to my JustGiving page where you also donate without needing to subscribe to JustGiving. You can also chose not to make an additional donation to JustGiving if you wish.
Text your donation
This is a quick and easy way to give either a one-off or regular monthly donation for those with UK mobiles.
Donations are taken out of the phone bill at source.
Text MOBILE to +44 70550 to make a £5 single donation
Text REGULAR to +44 70550 to make an ongoing donation of £5 a month.
Please obtain bill payer's permission. Age 16+. UK mobiles only. One off donations charged at £5 + std rate. Monthly subscription donations charged at £5 + std rate each month. Macmillan Cancer Support is a registered charity in England & Wales 261017, Scotland SC039907, and Isle of Man 604. Macmillan receive 100% of all donations.
I will be placing the above invitation to donate at the bottom each new page of this web site until the sponsored walk has been completed. My own cancer treatment is unlikely to be finished before the Spring of next year (2021) so the summer of 2022 is the most likely time for the sponsored walk to take place. If you would like to be included in the walk and receive email updates you can register your interest here.
Donating with a UK credit card
You can click on this link to donate directly to Macmillan if you have a UK credit card.
Donating from overseas
If none of the alternative methods of donating are suitable then you can make a direct bank transfer by emailing Macmillan at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling them on +44 207 191 2172 and they can provide you with their bank details to make a bank transfer directly to their account.