Don’t You Forget About HB

DFAHB

Kermit the Frog once sang “It’s Not Easy Being Green”.

Over recent years it’s also not been easy being regional New Zealand after almost a decade of neglect and lack of economic development from central government.

Just like in New Zealand’s media, main centres, especially Auckland, ruled supreme and sucked up all the infrastructure, attention and economic prosperity, whilst regional centres just didn’t matter.

In 2014 then Finance Minister, Bill English, was visiting Hawke’s Bay and was quoted saying:

“Hawke’s Bay’s seasonal low-wage economy “isn’t going to change in a hurry, so let’s get good at it.”

What a pathetic cop-out by the person supposedly tasked with looking after the whole country’s prosperity and economy!

Fortunately, (depending on your political stripes) we have just had a change in government and the incoming Labour / New Zealand First / Greens coalition campaigned on platforms of regional development.

Hopefully places like Hawke’s Bay will soon start to see the benefits of such policy.

Because, over recent years, Hawke’s Bay has been all too easily forgotten.

Non-Nation-Wide Tours

When I saw the headline that New Zealand’s own native songbird Lorde had announced a “New Zealand Tour” I thought “This would be cool – I hope she comes to Hawke’s Bay!”

Imagine a Mission Concert headlined by New Zealand’s latest great songstress!

Lordey2

But it wasn’t to be.

She was barely even scratching the surface of potential venues and destinations – more “whistle-stop” than nation-wide tour.

Lordey1

Media Misses the Mark

As you may have perceived, I have developed a growing lack of faith in New Zealand’s simulcast network media.

This was only deepened a year or so ago, when one such network held a “Provincial Pick Up” promotion.

Starting in Invercargill and taking the “path less travelled”, by visiting regional centres like Timaru, Ashburton and Blenheim it started reasonably well.

But having crossed Cook Strait and stopped in one of Wellington’s biggest suburban areas of Porirua, its next stop was… Taupo.

Not Levin, not Palmerston North, and CERTAINLY NOT Hawke’s Bay where, you would think bigger population bases would have provided more coverage, attention and contestants.

To rub salt into the wound the “map” that accompanied the competition’s page featured a rather clear indication that the Provincial Pick Up would be heading to New Plymouth, when this wasn’t the case.

Provincial

As part of its final leg, the tour would make at least four stops in (as far as you can get from provincial New Zealand)” Auckland.

We Even Get Left Out of Memes!

Coldaf

During a recent winter cold-snap the entire country shivered through some very bracing temperatures.

In true wise-cracking kiwi fashion someone made up an alternative weather map of New Zealand to illustrate just how cold we all were.

The majority of regions labelled “Cold AF” (or “Cold as F***” for those who took English class Pre-2010).

All but Hawke’s Bay!

Now, we are known for enjoying a far more temperate climate than the rest of New Zealand in Hawke’s Bay, but I was here during that time and I can confirm to being one VERY “Cold AF” (the far more “G” rated, name-related acronym, that is) during that time!

Hawke’s Bay – A Technological, Astronomical Region!

Many may have perceived “Regional Development” as “Rural Development” – focusing on farming and other primary industries.

This is not necessarily the case.

The combined population of Napier and Hastings is around 130,500 – making us the 5th largest population base in New Zealand (Hamilton = 150,000 Tauranga = 128,200) – far from the sort of small, rural town that gets ignored more often than not.

Fortunately Hawke’s Bay has a lot of smart, adaptable and ingenious people, so while we were ignored by external assistance, we took the words of Napier’s Douglas MacLean:

“A country made progress despite of its politicians”.

A prime example of this has been the creation of a “Tech Hub”, with anchor tenants Now and Xero opening in Napier’s seaside suburb of Ahuriri.

This has been something I’ve been passionate about and pushing for years – even since one of my first Napier in Frame posts.I would love to think I had some form of influence over such developments, but no one has told me so and I haven’t received any medals, certificates or knighthoods as a result, so I guess not 

But the fact Hawke’s Bay has still been able to make these technical and economic advances as a region is still great to hear.

And how many other New Zealand cities or regions have their own rocket launch facility?

So slap that old John Hughes classic in the VCR, crank some Simple Minds on the stereo and pump that fist in the air.

Because this region has just started going from strength to strength, so Don’t You Forget About HB!

jZgre

The Beat Goes On

“So the soap opera is told and unfolds
I suppose it’s old partner, but the beat goes on
Da-da dum, da-dum da-da, da-da”

“Lose Yourself” Eminem

Over the past month I learned that sitting around hospital wards doing very little could be extremely tiring.

It took me less than 24 hours to remind me that sitting around home with a toddler for only a few days is absolutely exhausting!

It was fantastic to be back home, but my wife, Toddler in Frame and I were all passed out on the couch mid-afternoon the day after my return.

Having been sedentary and on a short leash for so long my fitness levels were a bit of a write-off, so I made a point of going for walks each day – usually down the road to the shops for groceries and even into town when I was feeling energetic / masochistic.

On one of my first flânerie I met a friend who lives nearby. Her first words upon seeing me were “AARRGGHH, the walking dead!!”

Thanks, Sarah, it was good to be back.

I was sitting the couch with Toddler in Frame watching the recycling men pick up our bins the Friday after my discharge when my phone rang. It was Dr Andrew Aitken – one of the Wellington cardiologists – They had just got the results of my biopsy back and he thought I should be the first to know the details.

The thing attached to my heart is a Cardiac Fibroma and it is pretty big.

It measures around 6cm x 4cm x 4cm.

Your heart is roughly the same size as your fist – Which makes my heart about 10cm x 9cm x 8cm, – which made the fibroma around half the size of my heart!

As it is presumably made of heart muscle tissue does that mean I essentially have a heart and a half?

Holy crap – I’m Doctor Who!!!

Fortunately (especially given its size) it is benign.

It didn’t just suddenly appear overnight at that size either, so had presumably been slowly, quietly growing there for some time.

So what will they do about it?

Aside from monitor it – Nothing.

• While attached to the heart, it isn’t impeding blood-flow or regular operation of the big cardiac muscle or anything nearby.

• Surgically removing the fibroma would only cause the body undue stress and given it’s partially in my left ventricle; this would also mean a decent sized hole in my heart that would need patching up pretty darn quickly and securely.

• While the tachycardia that put me in hospital and set this whole chain of events off had not made a return in over a month, I still might need an ICD, just in case.

There is a good chance the fibroma is part of a bigger picture too.

When combined with my history of Basal Cell Carcinomas, it looks like I may have something called “Gorlin-Goltz Syndrome” – an inherited medical condition that makes you more prone than usual to BCC’s and random cysts (sounds familiar…).

Interestingly, in Australia the incidence of Gorlin Syndrome (or “NBCCS” as it is also known) is around one in 500,000-150,000 and only 10{3919f50c199a8627c147b24d329ff0de8aa05e3a462fa3330e11cd9ea56ed948} of those develop cardiac fibroma, which means:

I’M ONE IN A MILLION!!!

And Dad always used to say I was “won in a raffle” – Ha!

I had an appointment with geneticists several weeks later to investigate things further. They took blood samples and we will find out in a few months what the story is, or if this is something I might have passed onto Toddler in Frame (although she shows none of the early signs).

So where does this leave us?

Other than a fast heartbeat, an electric shock, several weeks of upheaval and a biopsy scar that makes it look like I’ve had a boob job ( my daughter calls it “Smiley Face” 🙂 ) I am exactly the same as I was before all this started. So is the fibroma

I feel like I have kind of let you – my friends, family and readers – down a bit.

There is no big finale, no “Blaze of Glory” to go down in. No lifesaving transplant surgery, or radiation-induced superpowers to heroically finish this lengthy series of posts with.

Life “has returned to normal”.

There are subtle changes, though.

I sub/self-consciously notice my own heartbeat more.

I notice and enjoy the normality of, well, “normality” more.

Having been stuck inside for so long even little outdoorsy things like a warm breeze or rain on your face become wonderful, natural interactions.

I appreciate what awesome family and friends I have more – Even those I had (and some I still have) never met in person were so wonderfully supportive and helpful (and sent me chocolate too!).

I appreciate the work of our dedicated, caring medical staff.

And while I still “sweat the small stuff” occasionally, having faced such major uncertainty for such a length of time has certainly “levelled out” my life-view and doesn’t make major things seem so major.

And ultimately I am still here.

I can share my experiences with others, I can hear others’ experiences.

I can give my wife a kiss and my daughter a cuddle – Toddler in Frame has just started saying say “I Love you Daddy/Mummy” – I can’t get enough of that!

So I can’t complain –

There are people out there worse off than I am.

CODA

I really can’t say thank you enough to those who supported me physically, nutritionally, emotionally, intellectually, literally and even just with their company.

A special thank you goes to the staff of Hawke’s Bay Hospital’s Emergency Department who zapped me back to normality and the Coronary Care Unit who helped me see through those first days of dark uncertainty.

My biggest thanks goes to the staff of Wellington Heart and Lung Unit who had to pay the biggest price of putting up with me the longest and ultimately figuring out what was wrong with me (I know I’ve missed a few names – Sorry!):

Nurses: Wanda, Juliet, Rosanna, Sylvana, Mitch, Krystle, Whitney, Susan, Louisa, Neena, Kerri, Lorraine, Lisa, Nicola, Darly, Janette, Lyn, Mariska, Siobahn, Lou, Gemma, Tony, Alistair, Fiona, Zoe, Gina, Shan, Gemma, Anu, Anjalay, Wendy, Rosie, Leanne, Renaye & Stephy.

Student Nurses: Rachel, Emily and Samil.

Healthcare Assistants: Nemi, Mel & Ropeta

Food & tea/coffee ladies Deb, Bunny & Beth.

Administrator: Ilona

Physio: Daniel

House Surgeons / Registrars: Doug, Deanna, Alice, Natasha, Cassandra, Jessica & Davida

Cardiologists: Drs Webber, Wilkins & Aitken

Cardiothoracic Surgeon: Mr McGivern

These people help complete strangers survive life-threatening issues every single day and deserve all the help they can get.

If you would like to make a donation to help them buy more equipment, further their studies, support more patients and save more lives, you can make an online donation HERE