Did you know that people lucky enough to survive the 4-5 year wait-list for a kidney, only 30% of them would receive one from a deceased doner? I was fortunate to attend a meeting recently, held by Kidney Health New Zealand. Ten keen kidney doners crossed paths in Christchurch and shared ideas on starting a Living Kidney Doner Network (LKDN).
• Helping to increase living kidney donations in New Zealand
• A support group to donors – mentor to those donating
• Educating people on personal stories
• Increasing financial support for live donors
Continued support for people involved in this life saving operation is very important to us. Providing the public with well informed information about donating and general kidney awareness is key here, because we are bound to someone who will be affected by renal disease.
We are still in the early stages of getting our project off the ground. If you have any suggestions regarding how we can make this opportunity better than it already is, please get in touch.
“Pay Attention” I tell myself as I set off down a narrow path riding two wheels in the woods. I’m following a group of locals who know the twists and turns well, which inspires the growing confidence in me. These locals have become good friends of mine during my season in Whistler which has made my season even more special. What better way to finish a Winter by spending most days exploring the immense trail network in the Whistler Valley area. Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and even some Vancouver trails kept me entertained during the last weeks I spent in Canada.
Below are some of the photos I snapped along the way including maps of the area using my Garmin cycle GPS.
British Columbia has plenty of trails to keep a keen biker entertained. I was fortunate to get a taste of what the area can offer. Returning to B.C in the future is definitely an option and these days spent in the forest with friends has only inspired me to enjoy a Summer… Soon.
Now that I have returned to NZ the biking is still near the top of my priorities. Old and new trails while exploring with friends continue to get me stoked. This weekend some friends and I will drive North and fly into the Heaphy Track with the bikes! Watch this space…
Racing back to Whislter in a rental car from Squamish I do the math in my head. Will we be able to pick everyone up in time and make it out to Big White before ‘Check In’? It’s a beautiful Spring day which makes for great road-trips and we certainly did as 7 of us squeezed our boards, boots, bodies and bags and took off down the Kokahala Highway.
An epic weekend filled with excellent snow, friendly company and a competition which is like no other. This is my 3rd season participating in this event and I can honestly say it was my most favorite weekend of the season. As I won the Mens’ 25-34 category last season it was only appropriate that I step up to the PRO division and compete with the big boys. World Cup racers and Olympic level athletes strap in beside me as I prepare myself for one of two runs down a rutted, fogged in & hair raising course. Day one went very well as I placed 3rd however a crash on a berm day 2 lowered my place to 8th overall. Martin Juare and JP Fok landed themselves with a podium! 270 keen snowboarders and snowskaters of all ages and abilities participated in what is believed to be one of the most respected banked slaloms in the world.
Many thanks goes to Flynn Seddon and his event staff along with Big White for hosting another fine event. The sponsors were proud to be part of the event and were yet again generous with their schwag and prizes. Of course there is a huge thank you to the special group of friends I had the pleasure of traveling, living and riding with over the weekend… Let us aim to make this event bigger and better for the Whistler Crew next season!
A year ago today my Dad and I were able to go through an operation that has changed our lives forever. What the surgeons and their team were able to do is quite extraordinary and has since given my Dad a new lease on life, in every sense. The new found energy, fitness and general well-being has helped him be more resourceful, healthier and ultimately happier. Mum and Dad are able to go on bike rides and enjoy their active lifestyle again like they used too.
Last week we designed and constructed a 6m long retaining wall which required a lot of digging and general grunt lifting everything into place. It makes me feel very proud and honored to have helped him feel the way he does now. It blows me away the improvements I have seen and I feel humbled to have made a difference.
As there is always a chance Rob’s immune system will reject the new Kidney, he will continue to take his medication every day for the rest of his life. It is also quite important to avoid periods of sun exposure as it can counter the usefulness of the drugs. The awareness and quality of our diets has always been pretty good and we continue to avoid foods which are loaded with preservatives and additives. Too much sodium in anyones diet cannot be a good thing and it is important that we give our Kidneys an easy work load to prolong their longevity.
It is pleasing to know that I have not noticed any physical limitations due to the operation. I continue to wear a helmet and spine jacket while snowboarding and do cross training, balancing exercises which give me a little piece of mind when I ride. The support from my Sister, Mum and those close to me means a great deal to me … bring on the next year!
Here is a photo of my most amazing and supportive parents!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.