Saturday, 10 January 2009
Reflections: Farewell to Christchurch
I will be heading to the airport in an hour. You can see it in the top of the photo above if you look hard enough. Christchurch-Singapore-Jakarta is my route. I now have new knees and look forward to getting back to my family and work in Indonesia. I am in charge of a massive International Red Cross Tsunami operation plus other humanitarian work.
What an amazing two months in New Zealand following a process of recovery after major surgery. (Total Knee Replacement in both knees)So many images are stuck in my brain. Kind and caring nurses, highly professional surgeons, and a very capable physiotherapist, Leslie kettle. With such supportive friends and family around me, I was determined to utilise the goodwill and support to ensure I achieved the best possible recovery. This morning I walked briskly for over an hour and the knees are so strong and responsive. I still have some way to go but I am feeling so satisfied with the results. Thanks Ed Newman for a wonderful operation in replacing my two knees. Here are a few images of my recovery in Christchurch. It simply was another journey where I had to explore the process of post surgical recovery.
18 November 2008. A few hours before the operation, surgeon Ed Newman marks the lines on my legs to guide he and his computer, in giving me Total Knee Replacements in both legs.
The night before the operation, meeting up with old school friend and fellow rugby player and athlete, Nev Cleveland. Nev flew down from Auckland for the night. Photo: Ruia McKerrow
A half-drugged me, shortly after the operation, with Aroha, my daughter. Aroha and her sister Ruia cared for me as I am sure Florence Nightingale would have, if she were alive. Photo: Ruia McKerrow
The path to recovery. After the operation it was standing and walking the next day, physiotherapy and an exercise machine to keep the knee moving. Photo: Ruia McKerrow
Leaving the hospital after nine days is a sweet memory. It was a sunny day and I could see all the way to the Southern Alps. I felt fragile and was paranoid about tripping or someone banging into my knees.
Catching up with my family was a highlight for me. Last Saturday I had a farewell breakfast with my daughters. Photo: Bob McKerrow
Colin Monteath dropped round to see me a number of times. A world-famous photographer and Polar traveller, our friendship goes back to 1969. It was friends like Colin, and family coming to see me, which lifted my spirits considerably, in those days when there was a lot of pain.
A few days ago I went swimming with three of my daughters at Brighton. Afterwards we walked out on the pier. What a wonderful piece of architecture. The community raised 2 million dollars to help pay for this and it takes you out on the wild sea. Photo: Bob McKerrow
Looking from the end of New Brighton Pier across the sea to Sumner and the hills. Photo: Bob McKerrow
At the end of New Brighton Pier with two of my daughters, both pregnant. Tania left, and Kira right.
Researching, writing and interviewing mountaineers was another memorable part of my recovery. I spend quality time with Peter and Elizabeth McCormack for the posting on Ralph Warburton. Photo: Bob McKerrow
As soon as I was well enough, I had a small party for friends in Christchuch, and friends passing through.Front row l to r: Bob Headland, Robin Judkins and Bob McKerrow. Back row: Ed Cotter, Suzanne and Phil Ryder, Tara Kloss and Colin Monteath Photo: Robb Kloss
For me the party was an important milestone as it celebrated my friendship with people like Colin Monteath, who I have known for 40 years, plus new friends I have meet through blogging such as Robb and Tara Kloss (Tara 2nd from the right at the rear), and Jamie Stewart.
A few days before I left, I travelled to Arthur's Pass with Robin Judkins. It was a chance to meet old friends, both human and mountains. Looking up to the Bealey Face of Mt.Rolleston. Photo: Bob McKerrow
It was a joy to meet again with my former athletics coach, Brian Taylor, who lives in Christchurch and coaches some of New Zealand's leading athletes. Brian coached me from the age of 14 to 20, and as a group, we did some revoluntionary training, an expanded version of Arthur Lydiard's methods. In those days we ran more than 130 miles a week with often a 26 mile run over the hills of Dunedin on a Sunday. Unknowingly at the time, this endurance conditioning prepared me for exploration in later life and I owe a lot to Brian.
Brian Taylor with some of the athletes he coaches. Photo: Bob McKerrow
Forty-seven years after he started coaching, Brian Taylor is still putting in hundred of voluntary hours a month coaching young people. It is role models like this that produce great sportspeople in New Zealand. They are New Zealand's unsung heroes. Photo: Bob McKerrow
I am still very attached to the mountains, rivers, lakes and sea and I get very emotional when soneone is lost, or dies. When Irina Yun went missing, I was hoping and praying for her to be found alive. She comes from the same country as Naila, my wife, Kazakhstan so I felt helpless. If only I had a helicopter and could help in the rescue. She leave a four year old daughter behind. I struggle to keep back my tears. ( I just heard the search was called off last night, 11 January 2009) One Japanese climber and one Australian died on Mt. Cook, trampers, hunters died as did many on our lakes and rivers.
I got to know every blade of grass on Edgar MacIntosh Park, at the rear of my house in Bryndwyr. I recall the first time I gingerly walked 100 m. The next day I went another tree further, 20m. Slowly, slowly I was able to walk around its 500 m circumference with Diva, my daughter's dog. I spent days in this park smalling the grass, watching the branches on the trees reach for the sky, children splashing in the paddling pool, and people playing cricket on this charming village green. Now I walk for an hour in the park. Photo: Bob McKerrow
Each weekend my park was transformed into a village cricket green when the Merrivale-Papanui cricket club battled against other Canterbury sides. Photo: Bob McKerrow
For five days I looked after Robin Judkins house, his Mercedes Benz, BMW, 2 dogs, a cat, a tribe of rabbits and various birds. The views from his house over Sumner beach were superb. Photo: Bob McKerrow
The view from Robin Judkin's house towards Sumner Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Bob McKerrow
Reflecting on my two months in New Zealand, there were so many highlights. Meeting family and friends were tops. Robb and Tara Kloss stayed with Ruia and I for a few days and I thoroughly enjoyed their company. Here, is Robb in the centre with Himalayan mountain climber, Ed Cotter (right). Ed climbed with Sir Edmund Hillary on the 1952 NZ Alpine Club Gawhal expedition and is a close family friend.
On many mornings when out walking the ever-reddening sky would display signs of changing weather through the appearance of the nor'west arch. Photo: Bob McKerrow
At a Christmas barbecue at my daughter's farmlet in Otipua, near Timaru. Photo: Bob McKerrow
The only people I haven't acknowledged are the Taxi drivers in Christchurch. When family were at work, I had to use Taxis to get to physio appointments.
Christchurch Taxi drivers are a warm, friendly and helpful mixed bunch. The majority were Chinese students studying in New Zealand, one from Cambodia, and others from other parts of Asia. During the early days of December, an Afghan Taxi driver was murdered on night service which stunned the whole of Christchurch. Abdhurahman Ikhtiari was a 39 year old father of five young children. The people of Christchurch very generously donated to a special fund for his family. In over 40 years travelling and working round the world, I have always found Bus, Taxi, Truck and Rickshaw drivers helpful as they have their ears to the ground. Usually they warn you of any impending security risk, and keep you abreast of sport, religion, politics, good bargains and many other subjects.
Farewell Christchurch. As I fly over the Southern Alps I will have a long look, which may be my last for a long time, at your exquisite beauty and form.
Ka kite ano.