Friday, May 31, 2013

Broken Caleb

Last week Wednesday around 4.15 pm I was cutting onions for a stew, Aaron was playing outside and Caleb was at his weekly orchestra practice and violin lesson when the phone rang..."Caleb's had an accident and we think he's broken his arm".  Well, it took all of half a minute to drop the knife and leave everything as it was, gather Aaron and get out of the house in a hurry to get to him at the Waimataitai School, thankfully only about five minutes away.  Caleb was white as a sheet and fighting tears and in a lot of pain in the school's sickbay.  I burst into tears so the poor Office Lady (my counterpart) had to console a child and a mother.  He had been playing on the school's jungle gym about a metre off the ground while waiting for his lesson, lost his footing and fell, pinning his arm between himself and the bars as he came down.  We decided to call an ambulance so that we could get things done in a hurry and they would be able to administer painkillers immediately.  Turns out that was a bad idea as it took the ambulance an hour to arrive (apparently it had been a busy day in emergency), so Caleb had to just endure the pain all that time.
On arriving at the hospital we weren't whisked away to be attended to immediately as I'd hoped, but after a quick assessment of his condition he was assigned a seat in the 'Accident and Emergency' department with the warning that we'd be in for a long wait.  They weren't wrong.  It was reaching the two hour mark before he was finally called.  X-Rays happened first, and it was established he'd broken both his ulna and radius on his right arm, near the wrist.
Another wait to see the doctor on duty who decided that a cast would be sufficient, and then another wait before going to the plaster room to get the cast on.  We were finally home after 9 pm.

The following Wednesday, a week after the break, we had a follow-up appointment with the orthopaedic specialist (who also happens to be a long-time acquaintance of ours, who I knew when we were both kids at Honeyridge Baptist in SA), who said with a stern expression that something would need to be done about the arm.  I don't know why I assumed he was joking, but my comment about amputation didn't really seem suitable after it had come out and fallen upon non-laughing ears.  Ah well.  Apparently it wasn't only the two forearm bones that were broken, but one of the carpals (a little wrist bone) had a green-stick fracture and was dislocated.  We discussed options:  (a) try a manipulation to get the bone back in place there and then, with happy gas to numb the pain or (b) schedule a theatre visit for it to be done under full anaesthetic.  It was really Caleb's decision to make, and he could see the benefit of not delaying any further.  So with trembling and fear on both our parts, we got ready - off came the cast (in itself quite an experience), onto a narrow bed, gas set up and ready, then the specialists called back in.  It seemed that despite the gas Caleb was in much pain, although he said afterwards that he couldn't feel the pain and felt like he was somehow separate from the procedure.  Following the pulling and stretching, a new cast was put on.  This cast was purple and made from some wonderful tape that is lightweight and dries rapidly; Caleb was thrilled with the weight, not having to lug the heavy plaster cast around.  Back to the x-ray room to see if the process had been successful.  I think our faces must have fallen a foot when we were told that it hadn't worked - the bone had only shifted about 3 mm (instead of sitting on top of the arm bone, it was still perched on the side).  That meant that Plan B had to come into effect anyway, so we were sent upstairs to wait while the lists were sorted out and Caleb could be scheduled.  After a long wait (that seems to be a common theme) we were sent away, but I was phoned later in the afternoon to say that Caleb was booked in for Friday afternoon.
Friday at 12.30 we were ready and ... waiting.  I was anticipating a long wait as experience has foretold that hospitals like to get you in early so they can keep you there for a long time while they get themselves organised, sort out other higher priority surgeries first, and then decide that today would not be a good day for you after all.  We were pleasantly surprised then that after about 5 minutes Caleb was taken to a small consulting room where a nursing student started taking his vitals and asking questions about his health and wellbeing and so on.  She battled to get a reading on his pulse with the finger-monitor thingie because his hands had turned so cold - a telltale sign that despite his nonchalant demeanor, there was a lot of emotion swimming beneath the surface.  We were visited in quick succession by the anaesthetist and then the orthopaedic surgeon - not the same one we saw on Wednesday, but also a South African fellow with a delightfully unmistakable accent.  They all seemed to be in a great hurry and wanted to get going quickly.  Questions done, Caleb was moved to the ward where he would recover; I got him changed into a hospital gown which caused him much concern due to a suddenly modest nature, but another sheet around his shoulders sorted him out.  Just a few minutes later he was walked up to the theatre - praise the Lord for efficiency and not having to wait around!  I had to leave him there as he walked through the theatre doors without looking back.  We had had some good chuckles earlier about his last hospital experience on St Helena when he had an umbilical hernia repair when he was 4 years old, where we had to literally drag him, kicking and screaming, into the theatre - pretty horrific.  I went back to the children's ward, and within about 30 or 40 minutes the nurses came to fetch me again to accompany him back - so quick!  He was very groggy of course, but said that he had asked the nurses about the procedure and it seems that the manipulation worked without having to cut him open to use a K-wire to lever the bone into place.  Praise the Lord!  Back to the ward, got him settled in bed, then waited.
There are certain things that have to happen before a patient can be discharged - they have to eat, drink and have a wee.  I spoon-fed Caleb jelly and ice-cream; by 4.30 we were ready to leave.  We do pray that now the bones can just go ahead and heal with no further complications.  We will have another follow-up visit sometime next week.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hail something

Because Timaru seldom has any exciting weather, a hailstorm is definitely blog-worthy. It started up quite suddenly out of a sullen sky, and although we have no actual proof, witnesses say that there was snow interspersed with the hail.  A significant amount of hail came down though which was still lying around thickly in many areas the next morning.  In fact, even the next afternoon we had a lot of ice in the back garden still.  Aaron scraped a few handfuls of hail together to build a little snowman, so the next morning on the way to school he wondered aloud whether it was still standing.  "It's not a snowman, it's a hailman," I said.  Caleb's quick quip: "It's not a hailman, it's a Heil Hitler!" :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rabbits are pets, not stews

Yay, lunch with the Kempfsies! I had a chicken roasting in the oven during church (so that I could concentrate on the message without distracting thoughts of what to make for lunch), so when Bronwyn invited us over and I said I'd bring my chicken, she spend about five seconds processing and planning and came up with a really tasty meal of chicken in a creamy pasta dish, garlic bread and salad. Yum! After lunch and pudding, Bron and I played some music together - she plays the flute as well as piano, so we not only practiced our songs for the evening, but also had a go on some new pieces and orchestral bits from Sovereign Grace.
Fletcher...cute fellow!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Getting away

We took a day-trip to Dunedin with Andreas and Danielle today - largely to help with the logistics of bringing two vehicles back from there. One was their newly-acquired shiny red Pajero which they have bought to replace the bus, which has been to a very happy family ;) We left at 7 am, well before sunrise, so on one side of the bus we could watch the moon setting, and on the other side, the sun rising! The day turned out to be crisp and clear, a really beautiful day especially for Dunedin which suffers through its own special micro-climate of gloom and cloud. We stopped en-route at this gorgeous little Anglican church and had a good look around.
Brrr, chilly feet after traipsing through frosty grass!
Next quick stop was to view Port Chalmers and stretch our legs before continuing the winding descent to Dunedin.
After picking up the new car and meeting the interesting ex-owner who builds all-in-one horse-and-people campervans, we stopped for lunch.  It was a graduation day today so there were cars and people in gowns and caps everywhere.  Pity we couldn't catch the parade of bagpipers down the street!
Caleb discovered that his left-handed writing skills are poorly developed, following his broken arm on Wednesday (more about that in a separate post).
Back in Timaru around 4.30ish, then stopped in with the Bothas for a cup of coffee.  Andreas' brother Corne has arrived in Timaru for another visit from SA - good to say a quick hello to him too.  Turns out a day in Dunedin can be quite tiring!  Nick and the boys played a game of Scrabble before the boys turned their weary selves to bed.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

17's company!

Romans 6:23 this morning - Nick was sad to reach the end of Romans 6! All his sermons are recorded and can be listened to by clicking on the Marchwiel link to the right ---> Between services we became part of a large crowd at the Botha's home for a stir-fry. I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than in the company of Christian 'family'!
Danielle cooked up mounds of vegetables while I was tasked with setting the table - chopsticks and all.  Many hands were involved in the preparation - Joan and Bronwyn kept Danielle company in the kitchen with their culinary skills.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Well I'll be a potted plant

For Mother's Day I was blessed with these two VERY well-made cards from the boys - they made them at school with some interesting craft resources!  During the week I noticed that Caleb had made an observation on a gift they had given me several Mother's Days ago...a vase with an apparently cute inscription of "If Mothers were flowers I'd pick you" reveals a sinister hidden message.  Well spotted Caleb - not the best Hallmark analogy then!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Bonfire night at the Moore's tonight...we got started around 4.30 with fellowship, and although it had been a beautiful sunny day, the temperature dropped quickly as shadows engulfed the paddock - we lit the fire early! Got the barbeques going at the same time, and had an excellent evening around the fire with marshmallows, singing and laughter. We look forward to burning more stuff in spring :)
Must've been a pastoral privilege - Nick setting it all ablaze
Sadly the battery in my camera died early, and as I had just grabbed it in a hurry before leaving home, I hadn't checked it or brought a replacement.  We were joined later by the Kempfs, Bothas and Phillipses.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Singing for supper

This evening after church we joined up at the Kempfs' house for a sing-song - they have had Jim and Jean Hogg staying with them, a dear retired pastoral couple who we grew to love at camp last year. Nick had Jim preach this evening and it was a super message on the love of Christ. Instead of describing the evening in hundreds of words, I'll let these two videos do the talking! The first one was during soup and bread around the table, with Jim and Jean and Joan and John and JLes and JMarg (oh I couldn't resist) in the lounge.

A Mother's Prayer

Hello dear blog readers!  This post will be something different - it's a link to Keith and Kristyn Getty's very first music video featuring their new song, "A Mother's Prayer".  Below are Kristyn's thoughts on the song, which you can view here.  Next Sunday is Mother's Day; I'd encourage you if you're a mum/mom to reflect on the prayer during the week and make it your own.  We take the gifts of our children for granted so often!

Reflections on A Mother’s Prayer
Kristyn Getty

In the spring of 2008 I first prayed for a baby, and in the spring of 2011 God answered that prayer with the birth of our beautiful daughter.  My joy was full but so were the fears I wrestled.  In some ways I felt like a baby Christian again, caught in a whirlwind of emotions, learning and applying what I have known and trusted into a completely new life - I know I'm definitely not the first to feel that! 

Friends of ours had given us a card when their first son was born; it was full of prayer requests for his little life, a prayer for every day of the month. My prayers were not quite as coherent as those, especially at first, but the urgency of the moment drove me to my knees.  “Help her, help me” baby prayers at 3am; prayers as I heard the baby monitor light up in the morning; prayers when I thought of her safety, her soul, her future; prayers  with my husband; prayers while Eliza listened in.

When people found out that I was pregnant one of the most frequent comments I received was how my creativity would discover a whole new vista of inspiration as I became a mother.  So, when Eliza came I was anticipating a fresh flow of profound poetic thought, but instead I was swept up in the constant flow of changes and feedings and “Old MacDonald had a farm!” I was expecting full sentences, but I was blubbering looking at my beautiful girl! I actually wondered if I'd ever be able to write again.  I just about tucked some thoughts away to ponder later when my brain would start to fit itself back together again (still nowhere near a completed process!). As I continued to learn the wonderful balancing act and privilege of mothering, homemaking, writing, traveling and singing, Keith and I began to write a song for Eliza choosing this theme of praying for her, and the end result was “A Mother's Prayer.”

My parents have faithfully prayed for me my whole life, and I remember when I was younger my mum met with other mums to pray for all their children – a “Moms in Touch” group in Belfast. Even just the knowledge of that helped me, and I want Eliza to know we are praying for her and trying to guide her in this context that reaches to the call and purpose of her whole life and an understanding of the Lord's grace and faithfulness. We're now in the toddler stage and some of the prayer needs are shifting.  We wanted the song to reflect the different seasons - ones we had discovered and then those still to come.  We also wrote it to remind us of our promise to pray for her through all the years we're given.  We hope this song for her – and even more our praying for her – might catch her ear and help guide her heart as she grows up.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Worth the stop

Oamaru (or Oamuru, as Apple Maps has incorrectly labelled it), thus far has only been a passing-through point for us. It's about an hour to the south of Timaru, and lies on the way to Dunedin or various other points of interest.  We'd never actually been for a proper tourist visit to the little town, so when Nick offered a rare 'pastor's-day-off' to us, we settled on a trip south.  Who knew it was such an interesting place to visit!
We headed straight for the old Victorian Precinct which houses many, many second-hand book shops, bric-a-brac and craft shops, and art galleries. 
A lot of buildings are made with Oamaru Whitestone (Timaru got the Bluestone), a chalky rock which looks grand but erodes easily. 
Timaru is currently hosting a 'steampunk' exhibition at our art gallery, but according to Aaron who visited there last week with a friend, it was definitely not as cool as Oamaru's Steampunk HQ - Oamaru has proclaimed itself as the Steampunk capital of NZ.  So what's the fuss?  It's an old-meets-new - Victorian and antique marries up with technology and reconceptualized garbage.  It's all quite interesting and innovative, although a lot of the skulls and skeletons really didn't appeal to us at all.  Nonetheless, a lot of clever use has been made with machinery and junk.
We weren't sure if the forklift was part of the outdoor exhibition or whether it was for practical purposes, as there are more exhibitions and works in progress in the yard.
Bought goodies from Countdown and took them to the nearest park for lunch.  Oamaru boasts a very large botanical garden but we were too hungry to look for it!
Then back to the ancient streets, where we made our way in and out of the shops, many of which were manned by Victorian-garbed proprietors.  Below, the lady to the left is spinning wool.
Finally weary of art galleries, we hunted for some penguins.  There are two colonies here - you have to pay vast amounts of money to see the blue penguins, so having reached the site where one would gain access through a curio shop, we turned around and went instead to search out the yellow eyed penguin colony.  This was far more to our liking, but at 3 pm we were too early to see them come in and nest on the beach. 
Mmm, afternoon light.  It was a really glorious day, sunny but chilly - a real blessing tucked in between predominantly cloudy or rainy days this holiday.
Back home with plenty of time for tea and Nick to prepare for bible study on Haggai - great that we could stay on afterwards at the Kempfs for a short visit.