New health experience

Our travels were interrupted recently as Tony became suddenly ill. We are back on track now so can share this new experience.

We were traveling with friends on the East Coast in the motorhome. They left us in Gisborne to travel around the East Cape. As luck would have it we set off for Auckland, stopping a night in Ohope along the way. Tony vomited just before bedtime, not something he has done for years. The next morning he felt OK so we carried on to Tauranga. He suggested we stay in the Beachside Holiday Park, the camp at the base of the mount in Mt Maunganui. We usually freedom camp so this was the second lucky decision as during the night he became ill and I called an ambulance at 3am. The first piece of luck was not traveling around the East Cape. The chances of getting phone reception were not good so we would have had to travel to a house to use a landline. In the middle of the night miles away from a hospital – not a good thought!  So the ambulance came to the camp in the Mount and checked him out, the medics were fantastic, then it was off to the Tauranga hospital. I locked the van, having no idea that our one night in that camp would become 12, just me, and Tony in hospital. I actually wasn’t there much, spending the days at the hospital, the first few days waiting to see what his body was doing, meeting Doctors, having an x ray, CT scan, ultrasounds and daily blood tests. He became worse over the first few days with temperatures up to 40 degrees, uncontrollable shakes (very scary but the nurses said it was the body’s way of reducing the temperature), vomiting and a complete lack of energy. Amazing how fast you can go down. This man who bikes 1 1/2 hours most days and had done so on the morning he first vomited – when he felt his usual self! Now looking very unwell and not responding to medication.

After a few days they found a gallstone in his bile duct that couldn’t be seen on a previous ultrasound. They put a drain into his gallbladder which stayed there for four weeks, draining into a bag attached to his leg. After a day in ICU he was put onto a really strong antibiotic which he responded to. The next day he was back to the ward, his kidney function was down, there were two abscesses on his liver, he had no energy and had been hallucinating, he had a touch of pneumonia and a blood infection ,but he was looking good compared with a few days previously, and the improvement continued. After 12 days he returned to camp for five days rest before travelling home. Thanks to friend Simon for driving our motorhome home for us.

As soon as we got home we went to see a surgeon Tony has seen previously, who looked at his notes then booked him in to have his gallbladder removed in five weeks time. It was expected by that time that the infection would have cleared and his body would be well enough for an operation. He made a great recovery and was back biking before the operation. The operation went well. Laparoscopic surgery is fantastic. In by the tummy button with a few little cuts up higher. Internal stitches and glue holding the outside together. Gallbladder gone and a healthy man ready for the next trip five weeks later. We are very grateful for the care Tony received in the Tauranga hospital and later in New Plymouth. The value of healthy eating and keeping fit has really shown how worthwhile this is. He has lost some weight- no food by mouth did that- and now we will continue to enjoy our retirement. Life is for living! Thanks to family and friends for supporting us through this time. What an amazing recovery.


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