Sister, Rose and her husband Jackson

My sister Rose her husband Jackson are not your typical couple who enjoy their mountain biking… Check out this little video I made of them enjoying some downhill tracks in Victoria Park, Christchurch two weeks ago.

Tandem Mountain Biking – Rose & Jackson Green from Richie Johnston on Vimeo.

Opening day at Whistler this week!

Getting super excited about the weeks to come. On November 30th, my plans to fly to Canada are still on. I’m at home in Wanaka doing lots of reading, editing video and enjoying the visits and pots of tea & coffee with visitors. I’m trying to ease myself off the pain killers, however the pain reminds me to slow things down and relax. At times it is difficult to ask for help with my independent nature, but it is there and appreciated if I need it. I’m able to get into town on a borrowed scooter and walk around, then off home for a nap.

The video below is a little different to the normal mountain video. A pretty cool way of representing an 8,200 acres of terrain. Have a watch

Mono Kidney

This time last week I was getting some anesthetic injected next too my spine and there were Doctors and Nurses scurrying around me making final preparations for surgery. The last seven days have been a blur, partly due to the countless vials of morphine and other opioids.

Six months ago Dad’s Creatine readings (to measure Kidney function) were at 500 and dangerous enough to start Dialysis. They should be between 85-120 depending on body composition. Two weeks ago it spiked above 600. He had a check up this morning and it has dropped below mine! It’s proof that the new healthy Kidney is very efficient at cleaning his blood and filtering out toxins. His legs are not puffy/achy anymore and his ability to sleep has improved. His medication tray is quite impressive though as he as many assorted pills to stop his body rejecting the new organ.

During my discharge on Friday, my surgeon and doctor knew of my energetic lifestyle and warned me to keep physical activity to a minimum for 4-6 weeks – especially lifting. The hospital staff have been wonderful and Dad and I expect a full and smooth recovery.

Below are the rest of the photos I took along the way, not so graphic this time – except of course the photo of the Dad’s kidneys in the tray…

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It is done! (Caution: Graphic photos below)

I wake to the sound of machines beeping and the familiar smell of hospitals. My abdomen feels tight and a little swollen. There are tubes coming out of my body including a catheter which drains my bladder. I vomit multiple times and the constant waves of fatigue will be something I need to get used too.

The phone rings and it’s my Dad! He cracks a joke and I instantly know he’s okay. I have spoken to him a few times since the operation took place on Monday morning. It is now Wednesday and I will finally be able to visit him.

Prior to the operation we asked our surgeons if it was possible to have photos taken throughout the procedure, or ‘harvest’ as they liked to call it. They said yes, and the assistants took a couple of shots. Read no further if you feel queazy at the sight of blood, guts & organs!

We will both stay in hospital for another day or two. The doctors need too see/hear our bowls are moving and the pain is under control – the morphine and other assortments of pain remedies are helping but often need to be paired with anti-nausia.

Overall we are doing pretty well and able to move around on our own. Dad’s operation was less invasive so he will naturally make a faster recovery. Mum, Dad and I will eventually move out and head to Dunedin to recover some more. Then I will make my way back to Wanaka before the end of the month… Fingers crossed i’ll be in Whistler soon.

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A few days to go

This time next week I will be recovering from the largest shock my body will have ever faced. I feel increasingly privileged to be the one who can help my Dad. Once my kidney is removed it will leave a scar approximately 25cm in length below the ribs on my left side. Open Nephrectomy was chosen over Laparoscopic surgery because my ‘pipes’ into my Kidney are complex. The MRI scan showed this clearly.

Dad will have an incision below his belly button and the new one will be hooked up to his Artery and vein above the bladder. The recovery time for him will be relatively quick and anti-rejection drugs will be taken every day for the rest of his life.

As for me the recovery will be a little longer because my body is loosing a perfectly healthy organ. 6-8 weeks is usually the time suggested for recovery before most people return to work. That puts me around Christmas so I hope to be settled in Whistler before then.

Friends – close & distant, Family, Doctors & Nurses have been super helpful and informative throughout the last few months and this process would not have been smooth without them.

3pm Sunday I am admitted to Christchurch Hospital and the next day Dad & I will do one of the coolest things we’ve ever done together. The next few weeks will be the biggest challenge we have ever taken on. I like a good challenge.

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Photos and words by Richie Johnston, WordPress

Kayaking in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland

After a beautiful wedding in Te Anau, Ryan & Helen invited myself and guests on an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland. Kayaking, swimming, seal & penguin spotting were among the activities.

A beautiful wedding was held at the Hodges residence followed by a gourmet pie in town. A short drive to Manapouri was followed by a cruise across the lake then a bus ride over Wilmot pass. To avoid the sandflys we quickly boarded the Fiordland Navigator and departed for the West Coast. I will edit a video of the wedding and post it later this week. A weekend to remember!

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Written by Richie Johnston

1026km Alps Loop

It seems we sometimes loose awareness of how beautiful this country really is. As Christina and I rode past native bush, along the West Coast and over mountain passes or senses were over-whelmed by pure awesomeness. The smells of moisture evaporating from the roads surface, thick forests and silage reminded us every kilometer how rich this experience is. Apart from the black & white stealth bombers (Magpies), the trip was a relatively smooth one.

As I did no training for the ride, I was a little anxious with Christina’s ‘keen’ itinerary to average 120km per day. The encouragement we gave each other – not to mention the countless RWC supporters giving us plenty of room and honking their horns was fantastic. With an All Blacks flag secured to my bike, I soon found the best way to create maximum ‘flappage’, while ensuring that it was free from my hungry chain.

Considering we rode along a coast renown for over 2m of rain each year, we stayed relatively dry. Apart of course from the epic hill climbs where sweat was pouring from us like bullets… “Be sure to keep breathing…” remarked Christina the Yoga instructor/massage therapist as we climbed higher and higher into the Southern Alps. Riding from Hokitika to Arthurs Pass was one of my favorite days. Climbing too 900m above sea level into a head-wind, we checked into a backpackers that reminded me of France – this was a real treat.

We were half way and our fitness was were it needed too be. Sunny days and incredible views bought us into Methven where we arrived in time to watch the rugby. A super windy day as we past Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki – Super exhausting day. However some superb Lamb Shanks at Omarama from Kahu Cafe prepared me for the final day – up over Lindis Pass and home to Wanaka.

Greeted by friends, family, wind, rain and even the Otago Daily Times – we made it too Wanaka 1026km and 8.5 days later. What a fantastic way to see some of NZ’s finest country and meet the people who live in small towns. We past about half a dozen other cyclists and hopefully inspired others to take on a similar challenge.

Video to come…

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Photos and words by Richie Johnston, WordPress

It’s all coming together nicely.

With less than three weeks to go the final details are being put in place. The education and communication from the transplant team/staff have been great. Mum & Rose especially have been wonderful and have always been there for me. This process has bought my family even closer together.

Both the Wanaka Sun and Otago Daily Times have taken the time to interview my Dad and I which was a nice surprise. I think it is important for more people to know about the role of Kidneys and what happens when they fail. More importantly, the solutions to improve the quality of life or the ones you love.

I’ll have a go at posting the links to the articles in the next post.

Thanks for reading.

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Photos and words by Richie Johnston, WordPress

The count-down has started!

On Wednesday I received a call from Dr John telling me they have booked my Dad and I into surgery late October. I thought great! That will be enough time to recover before the Winter season starts in Whistler. So I went to visit friendly Jayne at Wanaka Flight Center and booked my flight for November 30th.

Today I get a call saying that one of the Doctors will still be on holiday and will not be back until a week later. That will then give me 5 weeks to recover before my flight. This is okay and I will be able to deal with it, however Dr John did say that there is a 6-9 week recovery time post surgery.

With my healthy and active lifestyle I am determined to be as fit and strong as I can be before and after the opp takes place. My Dad and I will be out on our bikes roaming the streets of Christchurch a few days before November 7th staying active! Luckily I have my my sister Rose and some friends who work at the hospital there to bring me assorted snacks and DVDs. My Mum (Janey) will be around to visit too which will be awesome.

I plan to start work for Whistler Adult Privates on December 15th so there is a goal to look forward too. Kenrae has been awesome and after visiting for 3 weeks here in Wanaka, she is helping me look for a place to live for the season.

Off for a bike ride to the gym…  50 days to go!

Words by Richie Johnston, WordPress

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