Tuesday 11th August 2015 – Facing the Music

Jon & Carol Dutton
Tue 11 Aug 2015 14:32

Tuesday 11th August 2015 – Facing the Music

The last 11 days in NZ passed in a blur of activity.  Jon went for a bronchoscopy on Tuesday 21st July in Auckland during the course of which samples were taken for a biopsy.  The results of those were to be e-mailed to the UK when available.  That has since happened.

At the time of the initial diagnosis Arnamentia had been within 48 hours of departing on a planned two year expedition to Fiji, Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Palau, Indonesia, Malaysia and many other places broadly along track to Reunion and S Africa.  So, quite apart from the huge amount of work that had gone into preparing the fabric of the boat, she was laden down with large quantities of spares, provisions and items that we felt that the isolated communities we were to visit would value as gifts.  All that had to be off-loaded together with our personal possessions.  Some of that might be sold and friends in NZ have undertaken that task for us, some spares were taken back by generous suppliers, a large quantity of other items went to the local charity shops and much was delivered to the rubbish skips.  This included a great deal of equipment and spares that we knew would be of use to any future owner.  But, offering for sale a boat which appears short of stowage space, because its lockers are full of stuff that a prospective owner does not yet know he needs, is making life more complicated than necessary.

Meanwhile we investigated the possibility of repatriating Arnamentia.  None of the options we unearthed appeared remotely attractive or affordable.  So, we decided to let her be put up for sale locally.  That, in itself, is a far from attractive option – merely, it seems, the best available in the circumstances.  Moreover, whilst the investments we made in upgrading Arnamentia were worthwhile from our point of view given our intentions, it is most unlikely that they will be much reflected in her value at sale.  Ho, hum.

The approach to our departure was further complicated by tussles with both the medical insurance company and the airline.  We came within a whisker of applying on line for an extension to our visas (we knew that this would be rejected but putting in the application just before visa expiry would at least prevent us from breaking the law).  We’d had the photographs taken, filled in the forms and scanned them in ready for despatch.  As we had previously been in Fiji for more than three months, we had had to have X-rays taken as well.  Since these had to be uploaded into a brand new NZ immigration on-line system and properly certified as being related to us, the X-ray Jon had had a week or so before wasn’t acceptable.  Then, at last, about an hour before we had to leave Opua for Auckland airport on the 27th, we received confirmation that we could fly out that day.  So, that palaver came to an end and we hit the road.

Jon was able to fly back business class although no such privilege was extended to Carol despite the fact that there were plenty of spare seats in that class on all legs of the 30 hour journey back to the UK.  Moreover, having initially railed against the provision of a wheelchair to get around the various airports (Auckland, Brisbane, Dubai and Heathrow), Jon soon shut up and gratefully tolerated what he initially saw as a great indignity!

In the taxi to Lymington from Heathrow we rang our normal GP’s surgery to establish what the plan was.  The answer was that, now that we had actually landed, a referral for an appointment in Southampton would be made and the appointment should arise within a fortnight.  It rapidly became clear that it was pointless to pursue the fact that the system had known what the programme was and that a fortnight had been wasted.

The appointment was duly set for Monday 10th August (13 days after landing) and we both met a charming and apparently very professional oncologist at Southampton General hospital.  Chemo it is and that will probably start towards the end of next week.  That can be expected to delay things a little but average life expectancy in these circumstances is apparently measurable in months.  That said, averages are averages and apart from the cancer Jon is in pretty good health. 

So, we’ll just get on with it and see how things turn out. 

We had to make a call, whilst all this was going on, about where to live once back in the UK.  We decided that moving back into Winterbourne House, in Shrewton, was going to be too major a project for us at this stage.  The Ellery Grove cottage in Lymington was immediately ready for occupation, nearer to Southampton and a great deal easier to maintain.  So, that’s us for the moment at least.