1300ish Friday 25 October
Got back from lunch (sizzling seafood and veges, no onion, no rice) to be told my cellphone had been ringing. A few minutes later, it rang again. Alex was on the phone. “I’m in Burwood Spinal Unit. I’ve fractured my neck. They’re going to operate in about an hour.” WTF!!!! “Oh, I’ll call you back, they need to talk to me.” Had a little cry. 5 minutes later, he rings back: “They’re going to fuse my neck.” Not much more detail than that, other than he landed on his head during trampoline practice (stupid little sod ... said in a kind and loving tone). Rang David and told him. Alex rings back with a wee bit more info. Ring David again and update him. Shit. Shit. Shit.
John Morris, my colleague, says: “You’re worried, aren’t you?” “Yes, yes I am.” “So, go!” “But ... but ... but ...” “Just go!” “Ok.”
Praying desperate prayers that it’s not too bad an injury, that there’s no damage to his spinal cord, that he’ll heal well ...
Ring David and tell him I’m going to fly to Christchurch tonight to be with Alex. OK.
Go to Webjet – no flights available tonight. Go to Air NZ. Next flight is 1530 – not going to make that. Following one is 1800 – I can do that! Book it.
Time to leave. Bump into the CEO Andrew Hickey in the corridor – tell him. Go upstairs and find my boss, Mark – tell him I’m leaving, and don’t know when I’ll be back. Tell Norma and I’m off out the door.
Stop at the AA and pick up a map of Christchurch.
Get home. Pack. 1 green carry-on bag, laptop, black-handbag-of doom. Drugs. Bible. Crayons and colouring pencils, art journal. Book – oh, and some clothes!
Get the phone number for Alex’s dad, Lynn, from Directory Service, ring and leave a message on his voicemail. Also leave a message on his FB page.
Ring Dad and leave a message on his voicemail – Alex is hurt, and I need money to pay for the trip.
Ring Burwood Hospital. Find out where they are, where Alex will be, that I can come visit, up to about 2200 ... phew. Thank you Lord. My diary is now full of notes, addresses, phone numbers, flight details ...
Waiting ... waiting ...
Becca arrives home about 1540 – tell her what’s happened. Get big cuddles.
1555 David arrives home. More cuddles, then out the door by 1600.
Phone rings while I’m sitting in traffic on George Bolt Memorial Drive ... damn, where’s the freaking phone – toss everything out of the bag trying to find it – it’s the surgeon – he’s just finished with Alex – all has gone well, he’s now in Recovery and will be taken to the High Dependency Unit. Phew – thank you Lord!
At the airport just after 1700. Wow – the short-term parking starts at $49 for the day! Find the long term parking – not much better! Get halfway to the terminal, and can’t find my diary with my e-pass. Walk back and toss the car – can’t find it. Phone David – nope, haven’t left it at home. Finally find it in the green bag, under the art journal – WHY??? Damned if I know. Walk back to the terminal in horizontal driving rain. Can it get any better than this???
But wait – yes it can – there’s a queue. Which I stand in. Till 1730 – with boarding due at 1740 ... then I get close enough to the front to realise it’s the Help Desk queue ... ARRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG. Leave the queue and go to one of the automatic kiosks. Swipe the E-pass, get my boarding pass, make my way to the gate.
And wait. And wait. And wait. Finally an announcement – the flight is delayed. NO SHIT? They’ll update us in about 10 minutes. Turns out the flight crew are delayed – probably by holiday traffic, lol. Finally board about 1900 – only an hour late.
And wait. And wait.
Men in hi-viz jackets come aboard and go onto the flight deck. 1930 – the flight deck printer has been repaired, and they’re waiting for the engineers to sign off the paperwork. Really? We can’t fly without a printer? We take off not long after that.
It’s a bumpy flight down. Get offered toxin in a bag – ‘Cassava Chips’ – extruded pulp, flavoured with all sorts of chemicals and ONION. Yeah, nah bro.
Finally land in Christchurch around 2100. Thrifty Cars do deals for AA members. Oh yay. Stand and wait, and wait ... finally it’s my turn. And can I have a GPS unit please???? And how do you work it?
Oh dear – it’s a tiny (and I mean a lawnmower with a car body) Suzuki Splash – more like a plop, or maybe a drip ...
While I’d said to Alex I’d go to his flat first and get some supplies, it’s getting late, so I decide to go straight to Burwood. Thank you GPS unit! Thank you Lord. A room of his own!
Handsome young man, even with a neck brace!
Cuddles. I needed cuddles. I got cuddles. I stayed till about 2300. Quality time with my wonderful son.
Over the next couple of days, I got the full details. I posted some wrong information on FB – but then Alex isn’t a ‘details’ guy – he’s a BIG PICTURE man! Dozens of prayers and well wishes from all around the world from his
friends and mine.
I thought he’d pissed around before getting medical help, not helped by the fact that he thought he’d have to pay if he went to Emergency at the Hospital, and he didn’t want to wait.
FB Post: he did it LAST WEDNESDAY - ie over a week ago! When it happened his left arm went numb, then on fire, then pins & needles, then he could feel the inflamed nerve all the way from shoulder to fingertips. But because he thought he'd have to pay at the Emergency dept, and didn't want to wait, he IGNORED IT! One of his flatmates finally persuaded him to go to the doctor, and he finally got an xray done Friday, but had to wait till this week to get the results. It wasn't until Friday that he actually got sent to first CHCH hospital for an MRI and CT scan, and then was driven by a friend to Burwood. I'm seriously pissed off that he left it so long. We have had a 'wee discussion'. Oh, and he only rang on Friday because another flatmate made him! I've got to the 'anger' phase of the grief process, lol. And it's almost guaranteed he'll do something similar again - they regard him as a 'high risk' because even the hospital recognises he'll continue trampolining etc.
The only reason he finally rang Friday afternoon, is that he didn't want his parents to first hear about his accident from the surgeon who'd operated!!!!!
It turns out he was misdiagnosed by the physio/doctor at the Student Health Assn as having suffered a sprain. He suffered a fracture of the C7 vertebrae, and a transverse slip of the C6/C7 disc. The disc has been removed, replaced with a plug of bone from the right iliac crest, and a metal plate and screws inserted (via the front of his neck) to stabilise the fracture, and allow the bones to fuse. We're not sure if they actually removed the fractured piece of bone or not - I've seen no xrays. He was given the choice by the surgeons to leave it (and probably have problems later in life) or fuse it - he had it fused.
Got to his flat about 2330 – to a party! Had a ‘mock’ fight with one of his friends as to who Alex belonged to – when I threatened to ‘key’ this young man, he agreed Alex was MINE! Spent about an hour talking with his flatmates (particularly Fran and the wonderful Alice), drank a number of fingers of vodka mixer (green!) and had a couple of wafer thin slices of roast beef – nom.
Spent the night in Alex’s bed. After folding some of the washing piled up on it, and clearing off the debris. Kind of comforting to be curled up in his scent. Had a decent cry.
Added a few more bits and pieces to the bag Alice had packed for him, and drove to Burwood. Love that GPS. Queen Elizabeth TWODRIVE – lol.
Listening to Rhema up loud, singing along – can't remember the song that was on the radio - thinking what I would say to Alex when I got there ...
"Hi gorgeous - I love you!" and then giving him a big (if careful) hug.
And then it struck me - this is exactly what Yeshua is saying and thinking every time he sees ME! I burst into tears at that point. (not a good thing when you're driving).
Then I spent most of the day sitting at the feet 'of the one who I love'. Really doing the Mary thing. Practising BEING MORE, DOING LESS (Thanks Al).
Later, when I got back to the flat, I became Martha, and cleaned bathrooms and toilets. I actually achieved a balance that day.
Cuddles. He’d been moved to the Surgical Ward – again a room of his own! We talked, got more of the story. About midday I went for a drive to find lunch – it had been 24 hours since I’d last eaten! Bought him some icecream. Went back. He wanted sushi! Drove back to the mall and got sushi. Not enough, but it would do. Stayed till about 1600, then went back to his flat to work on my essay. Managed about 30 minutes – at least I had an really awesome #1 achievement to add to it – getting my butt down here so quickly.
FB UPDATE on my son Alex Withers. I spent nearly 2 hours with him last night. As you can see from the picture, he's looking pretty pleased with himself. Thank you so much everyone for your prayers!
He's fractured his C7 vertebrae, which is the bottom of the 7 neck vertebrae. One of the little wings that stick out the back basically broke off. The surgeon has removed that bit, and taken a plug from his pelvis to fuse the parts back together, to prevent problems later in his life.
They went in thru his throat, although the injury was to the rear, as it's easier to get the disc out from there, so he's got a bandage covering that hole, and another one on his hip.
I'm off back to the hospital shortly to try and catch up with the surgeon.
I never did catch up with the surgeon, but that’s ok.
He's in hospital till Sunday, then home with a neckbrace for 6 weeks, and no trampolining for 6 months. I'll probably head home on Sunday night, as he'll be in the awesome care of his flatmate Alice (you're a fantastic young lady, Miss Alice!)
Oh, I mentioned the bathrooms, didn’t I? Two of them – disgusting. Really. Really. Disgusting. While out, I’d bought some Jiff and a yellow & green sponge. Spent 40 minutes cleaning them after doing some more essay. Now they’re safe for ME to use! Booked my flight home to Auckland – 1750.
1830 – time to find dinner. Ended up eating at a Thai restaurant owned by Chinese people (the 3 chefs were Thai). Food was a bit spicy, and I paid for that Monday/Tuesday.
Back to the flat and more essay writing. Early to bed, and early to wake with buzzy-brain.
Decided to explore a wee bit of Christchurch central on my way to collect Alex, and find Spotlight to buy some yarn (more on that later ...) Confused by all the road closures and cones. Abused by another driver “Choose a lane why don’t you”, despite the fact that I was already in the far left lane. Flipped them the bird. Can’t you see that GPS unit hanging from my windscreen – and the map I’m holding in my hand???
So many roads blocked off, cones and fences everywhere. Hard to stop and take photos – here are a couple.
Couldn’t find Spotlight, and ended up at the Warehouse. Pulled into the parking lot and bawled my eyes out. Prayed. Got directions back to Spotlight. Christchurch is keen on big undercover malls with a blank street frontage and lots of parking at the rear. Bought yarn. Bought Sushi (x2) for Alex. BOUGHT COFFEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Oh dear Lord – thank you for coffee!
Messed around for a couple of hours waiting for his discharge, with a spare collar, and a script for codeine and paracetamol. Drove back to Riccarton, got his script filled, had Asian for lunch. He showed me a shop where I bought some more yarn – they don’t have an Auckland branch yet – shame!
Later that afternoon, after sitting on the tramp in the sunshine, listening to a podcast:
“Is it ok if we go WATCH my squad work out and have a chat with the coach?” Sure, of course. One hour turned into two, sitting in the sun reading my book. Watching Alex COACH from the ground. Lol. Watching him light up like a Christmas tree as he’s coaching these 3 little girls from HIS squad. My son has found his soul purpose!
Took him to dinner – he had a steakburger, chips and salad. I had a piece of steak (no mayo, no tomatoes, no caramelised onion, no green stuff) just steak. Nom. Then dropped him home and left just after 1800 – pushing it for an 1830 check in.
In fact, pushed it too far. Getting from the Rental Car park to their desk and then to the kiosk was a big walk. The kiosk machine said NO. Flight is Closed! Oh shit. A rather unpleasant Air NZ Check-in help person grudgingly helped me get my boarding pass (whinging all the while), and sent me off to the far end of the terminal – of course. I ran all the way to Gate 7 (which is what I thought she said), then all the way back to Gate 17 (which is where I really wanted to go). Phew – on the plane – and another dozen people came in behind me!!!! WTH! Super quick flight home.
Oh my God! It was so good to be home. Missed my family so much. But I got my essay done and posted!
Monday was a play day
learning how to weave (more below). And in the afternoon we went and visited B&B to tell Dad the whole story, get some money, and take mum out for coffee at the cafe down in Pt Chev.
And now it’s Tuesday, and I’m having a day off work, just to chill and play. With no power! Grrr – off from 0900-1200!
ART AND CRAFT
Yes, I have been doing some – not a lot – schoolwork comes first! So what have I been doing?
I made this for the new Tallit I’d purchased from Manna – it’s very own bag! Of course, once I started researching Tallit, and baggies to put them in, I thought ... wow, I could have made a nicer, cotton/linen one than the acrylic one I purchased. Pox. Which led me to investigate weaving ...
So, this bag is made from stretchy dark/navy blue velvet, lined with white cotton. The non-stretch velvet was around $50m, hence the stretchy! The design on the front is of a pomegranate branch with 3 fruits hanging from it, free-motion stitched. The fabrics were from my stash – the leaves from a ‘fossil’ fabric, and the fruit from curtain samples. I used a heavy grade woven interfacing on the back to stabilise it. It’s closed by a zip. I might add a beaded pull-tag to the zip. The text on it says Talit in Hebrew.
Alastair (the Rabbi from my Messianic Church group) has asked me to make him a similar one, with three pomegranates hanging from a branch. I need to do some research on patterns.
WHICH BRINGS US TO WEAVING ...
Of course. Don’t you have enough hobbies, Sue? Yeah, Nah BRO! I could make my own tallit – weave my own tallit. How am I going to do that ...
I didn’t want to spend a huge amount of money and BUY a loom. I wanted something fairly ‘primitive’. So I came across backstrap weaving. Most popular in South America, but also seen in the Far and Near East. I could do that, I thought. I found some websites – particularly Weavezine and Laverne Waddington’s Backstrap Weaving Blog.
So while I was in CHCH I bought some yarn. And when I got back to Auckland on Monday I put together a couple of warp bars, loom bars, made a shuttle and a sword, and generally had a good time with power tools.
I warped up my first shed. (oooh, I can speak the lingo now!) Then tried to transfer it to the loom bars. Hmm. Decided to attach it to my desk in the lounge. Ok, that works. Oooh, look – I can hook it into the uprights of my seat – cool! Oops – gotta wrap some yarn round my shuttle.
So the hours passed. And I spent quality time making continuous heddle strings – that’s that knotted mess of red string there. The first attempt was with ordinary string – too thick to slide between the warp.
It’s all undone again until the power comes back on and I can watch the video on how to make a rod heddle – like the one in this picture:
So ... what I’ve learnt so far is that using a backstrap loom may not be for me – too long sitting, and resulting in a reasonable amount of back pain.
I’ve got wire heddle strings from back in the day when I was trying tablet weaving (that’s another story) – so I’m now thinking about how to make a heddle with those, and making a table loom ... which will require more research, and maybe a trip to the hardware store .... mwahahaha.
This is my tablet weaving loom David helped me make a few years ago. The eyelets at the right hand end hold the warp threads. The stack of yellow squares with holes are the tablets. The metal things are heddle strings - which you can't use on a tablet loom, lol.
Going off the meds didn’t last. Poor pancreas just doesn’t make no insulin no more, unless it’s forced to. What I have done is gone Keto – low carb – around 50g max a day. That’s why I was able to go 24 hours without food. Yay!
Ok, that's enough for one day!