This story that needs telling…

There are these words…

There is this story…

There is a memory…

It must be something to do with the time of year. Maybe, it’s waking up and it already being light outside, or the going home from work at night and having time to walk on the beach before dark.

Or maybe it’s the distance from those words, that story, this memory, that allows me to process it into something that feels like a narrative.

The last few weeks I’ve been recalling this memory, it is a story that needs telling, I just hope I have the words.

This memory, it is my own. It is of the time leading up to and including our time in Starship. Some of it is quite confronting and I will be including pictures. But the good thing is you already know now that it is the happiest of endings. So with that in mind, let me start with one of my happiest memories and go from there.

Nyah’s welcome into this world… four distinct memories, I want to share here. The rest of those long few days I remember, like a whirlwind with only vague snatches of moments to recall.

But I do remember:

The NICU nurse handing Nyah to me the first time ever, and taking her to Jules to hold.

Walking with Nyah to NICU while Jules was whisked away to surgery.
Nyah’s touch once she was safely ensconced in the incubator.

Waiting with Jules in recovery, before going through to NICU and reuniting Mum and Bub’s again.

Limbo Land

The period after Nyah’s birth included two months in NICU, and almost a month when Jules and Nyah lived in Ronald Mcdonald House across the road from the hospital.

The whole period seemed like a strange limbo. And even though, we had so much happen, (including; visits from family and even international friends, a Christmas and even a wedding); the days-on-days just seemed to blend, into one another.

montage At the beginning of February they finally allowed us to come home with Nyah, she was still plugged into an oxygen bottle and a blood saturation monitor and with an NG tube, to aid with feeding, we were instructed to fatten her up as best we could.
Summer had past us by but my sister and her family returned from the UK and took up residence at home ensuring we were fed, the dishes got done and the house was filled with Love and Laughter.

Uncertain times

Then one Friday morning, mid-March I got a phone call from Jules, Nyah’s heart rate was high and climbing. I got home as fast as I could. Jules had phoned the home care nurse and we arranged to get an ambulance to take Nyah into hospital just in case. Jules went with Nyah in the Ambulance and I followed in the car.
Even though she had stabilised and was back to her almost cheerful self, Nyah was admitted overnight “for observation, just in case”.

I headed home through worse than usual peak hour traffic, never feeling so far away from where I wanted to be, I fed the cat and the dog.

Jules rang me, Nyah had, had a second event.  The trip that had taken 90mins at peak hour, only took about 30 on the return, (I didn’t speed much).

It was suspected that she had had a TET spell, a complication with the type of heart defect Nyah had (Tetralogy of Fallot) that results in a pressure difference in the heart meaning that unoxygenated blood gets shunted across to the wrong side meaning that oxygenated blood doesn’t return from the lungs.

By the time I got to hospital the call had been made to shift her to ICU. That weekend was the longest hardest weekend of my life. I cannot imagine how hard it was on Jules, the feelings that it brings up, just writing this, makes me shudder.

By the time the weekend was over they had stabilised Nyah using a drug that relaxed the muscle causing the pressure problem. And we were given a date for “The Big Op”.
Starship 

Two days before the scheduled operation, we flew up on a commercial flight, with Nyah still on oxygen; I think most of the passengers noticed us.

31st March -The day of the operation we walked around the Auckland domain, with a couple of dear friends as support, just waiting to hear that it was over and she was okay.

We passed her to the doctors at 7:45am and got a phone call to say we could see her in an hour at 3pm.

The next ten days starting with the first of April not so much a blur as a strange twilight that filled our existence so entirely that the memories that flood back of that time feel months long.

The major milestones were.

31st March 5:00pm– seeing her for first time post op.

2nd April after they closed her chest.

5th April Mum’s first hold afterwards.

6th April-Dads first hold and Nyah out of PICU.

10th April – Nyah off oxygen, Dad home for a few days work.

It seems so simple, so straight forward, to reduce our time in PICU to 5 photos, with captions.

The journey was soo much more complicated and had soo much more to it.  I’m unsure I can untangle myself enough, to examine what went on in any detail. Jules and I shared our time at Nyah’s bedside. Overlapping in the day time but splitting the night time between us.

In that time we weren’t alone though. We had family nearby supporting us, friends who ducked in with food and coffee; we had a few hours off when caring aunties an uncle and a doting Granddad kept Nyah company while we caught up on much needed sleep.  We also felt incredibly lucky to have support from afar and care packages that would turn up as if by magic.

Throughout our time there the staff, the staff were incredible. And we will be forever thankful for how truly amazing they are.

Once out of PICU and off the array of amazingly named drugs (with such names as Medazzle and Roc and Noradrenalin).

Nyah spent 5 days in the Intensive Observation Area, (IOA) in the heart ward. At Starship the heart ward is affectionately known by graduates as 23b. I had become familiar with 23b, four odd years ago, when my now 5 year old nephew experienced a similar but somewhat more complicated heart journey of his own. (You can read about it here).

I think what I reflect on most on our time in Auckland. Is that every journey through Starship and ward 23b is different and despite our familiarity with the physical layout of the hospital.

Our journey through from beginning to end had followed its own path, and as with every family, we can only follow our own.

Leaving Auckland behind 

By the time I returned to Auckland  three days later, Nyah had graduated to her own room and Jules was again able to sleep in the same room as her.

Nyah was by all intents and purposes, Wireless.

And what a joy to behold.

By that Friday we had negotiated a weekend release from 23b and stayed in Ronald McDonald House the three of us together in the same room again.
Over the weekend by way of distraction  we had a small group of close friends keeping us company and sharing our first family walks out into the world.

On the Monday after a quick check-up and a bit of a wait, our consultant gave us the final ok!  We were going home.

And that was all he wrote.
Well almost.   Nyah had the final say in her own progress.

Nyah had an NG tube taped to her cheek her whole life, to aid with food supplements and there was a small feeling of disappointment at having to go home with it still in place, but we accepted that out of a lot of scenarios this wasn’t the worst.

But within only a matter of weeks Nyah had managed to pull the NG tube out enough times that we had run out of spares, and the only choice that remained, was for her to stay clean faced and chubby cheeked. Or just chubby cheeked and grinning!

Not the end, just the beginning…

Prams Naps and Training with Bubs 

Saturday dawned bright and early as often does around our house.

Jules was doing a couple of community based sustainability courses. Some very deserved time amongst adults after a week of being the world’s most devoted mum.

So with the weather just awesome, and with Jules helping us get out the door even as she headed for her first course. Nyah and I headed out for a brisk walk with a dog who had been a bit neglected of late in favour of bad weather.

By the time we were halfway along the esplanade Nyah was fast asleep, something that she maintained until we got to about halfway point. Where at the Whareroa Stream we paused to throw a stick for the dog.

While we just hung out and enjoyed this rare moment of sun. A number of walkers passed us by, each caught up in their own thoughts, each greeted by my ever cheerfully social daughter, before they moved on with a fresh smile of their own.

Heading home Nyah was facing into the sun so I covered the pram with some shade cloth. The lack of view didn’t dampen her sunshiney mood, and I got to enjoy a constant baby babble narration all the way back to the house.

Sundays run  by myself was too quiet by far…

Rest Recovery Recooperation and Reflection

Since the race, it’s been quiet on a number of fronts.
The race went well I enjoyed the run, even with the cold start, the banter of the volunteers and the amazing scenery made it fly by. I even finished with a smile and a wee burst of speed.

After we drove some 4 hours home and I unfolded myself from the car seat. I gave myself a days rest before walking to work on Tuesday.

Wednesday I walked to work and biked home.  On Thursday Jules and bubs went to New Plymouth to catch up with friends and Family and I joined her on the weekend.

While in New Plymouth I went for a run with my brother in law, Selwyn. The course was through some bush tracks on a walkway, in the part of town where I grew up. It’s always nice going for a run along the Te Henui, as it is over those tracks that I learnt my love for running and learnt the value of feeling at peace within. And over those familiar tracks, Selwyn showed me the error of ignoring speed work in my regular training.

In the build-up to the half I had been concentrating on just generally getting fit and trying to spend the time on my feet just to get through the event.

The next run… has a time limit on it….  *Gulp

Live blog- Event 1 Tauhara off road half marathon 

 

Not sure how live this might be but I will get you results as soon as I can. .. it’s a brilliantly cold morning here. And the hill we are going up is currently hidden in fog.

And they’re off!

 

The view from halfway.

 

Halfway in 1hr 30mins

 

Three quarters done still going!

 

Going up the back side of the hill at 18km.

 

Yes! the finish line in sight. The finish line photos will come soon. But to complete the (almost) live blog the finish time was 3hr 15. And I feel surprisingly good.

Many thanks to all my well wishers, patient supporters, and the always speedy and inspirational Mr Fern for running the course in a more respectable time than I managed.

See you at the next one.

Training, tapering and (baby) time…

As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m ignoring a number of things;
The dishes, the mess in the lounge, the fact that we need more firewood brought in. The noise of the static trainer humming away in the spare room, as Jules rolls out some extra energy. But mostly I am trying to ignore the countdown timer on the sidebar of this blog which says I’ve got less than a week to go before the first leg of this treble.

Six days to go and I’m “tapering” that magic period before a big run when paranoia is the norm. Every muscle twitch is questioned as a possible strain. Most times this is the point when I’m quietly admitting to myself, that I haven’t really done as much training as I should have.

But this time, I have done enough, I think, which is a nice feeling. I am still fair s#@ting myself, however… I am confident that I can finish this first leg, it’s whether I can finish it, and still be in good enough condition to continue training towards the second event!

I’m enjoying this easing up on the training, it feels like someone has gifted me more time.

Something which I relish, because I’ve found that as the training has increased. I have become even  more focused on ensuring I still spend good quality time with Nyah.

I’m even more stoked than normal, to be able to be share time with her, as she had just passed a couple of her own milestones in the last week or so.

She has gotten almost to the point of sitting up unaided and her increased awareness and interactivity was marked by her first word (well her proud parents are taking it as a word). She really has provided a huge number of reasons to smile and laugh this week.

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Weekend Hills and Recovery

Long run training on weekends are always a bit of a challenge, and trying to schedule time around normal new family life, even more so.

I have a VERY Understanding Amazing and Beautiful Wife. Jules has completed an incredible array of her own endurance events not the least being a half ironman. She will always be my inspiration.

But as a consequence, there is a fair amount of FOMO, in our house. I’ve come to accept that instead of the Hangry’s (hungry angry’s) that some people get, Jules get’s the Fangry’s (Fit angrys).

I haven’t always got the balance or timing right, and I do feel guilty whenever I go sliding out the door to spend some time on the trails. But I am getting better at ensuring Jules also gets time to spend on her own exercise.

This Saturday’s run highlighted the conflict between everyday chores and getting the training done, even more than usual.

While running I sent a couple of pictures as a way of letting Jules know how I was progressing.

Screenshot_2016-06-21-21-16-01

Screenshot_2016-06-21-21-16-17 And In reply Jules, also let me know how her morning was progressing.

Screenshot_2016-06-21-21-16-39Needless to say I came home on time… folded the clothes, fed the baby and cooked dinner all while Jules had a much deserved soak in a long hot bath….

Actually, I did. But Jules, rather than a long hot bath spent an hour on the exercycle instead, go figure?

A bit of progress and goal setting.

I’m slow.. I’m slow enough that I don’t generally like to check my average speed, as it’s hideous how miniscule any improvements are.

But with the interest in this little adventure. I thought it was worth downloading a running app, to record my efforts in some form.

I’ve been using the App inconsistently since I started and my first few attempts almost put me off completely.

When I jog/walked to work the first few times I couldn’t even manage to run one kilometer without slowing to a walk, my time for the flat five kilometer route was a dawdling 48 minutes.

But yesterday after running like “T H E  W H O L E  W A Y”  I checked the app again and …

32 minutes.

Now I doubt I’m up for Olympic selection (the current NZ record is 13.10).

But on my current rate of improvement…

Hey who knows….

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The commute to and from work is useful, not only do I do a majority of my weekday training this way. It also gives me a real block of time to plot and plan both work and home life, dream about holidays and generally put things in order.