1. Positive News…

Charmaine’s operation – 4 weeks ago, on 28 July 2021 – was successful. We are very grateful to the skilled medical team involved…


As preparation for the operation., on Tanya’s initiative , we asked a special favour of  old friend and healer, Juliet Batten,  to help us face our anxieties. She gave each of us two questions to explore:

      What are the three hardest things you are facing?

      What are the three greatest needs you have?

And then she  helped us work through our responses. It was a very enlightening process and uplifted our spirits.

Then, on the morning of Charmaine’s admission to hospital, we received by phone a beautiful morning meditation from Sariba, our 30-year-old friend recently returned from 10 years in London.  And, by chance, we enjoyed a spectacular rainbow over the oak tree outside the bedroom window  while we listened to the meditation. 

During and after Charmaine’s time in hospital we received an outpouring of support by text, phone and email from family and friends. Tanya tried to respond to all of these  over the next few days. 

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa!

The Operation – here is Charmaine’s account:

The deactivation of the aneurysm involved 4 hours under general anaesthetic  with a surgical team  led by Dr Shane Lee , the following morning, Wednesday July 28. This was followed by two days and  nights in the High Dependency Unit of Brain Surgery Ward 83 at Auckland Hospital (along with 10 other fragile patients as they came out of surgery).

All rather a shock to me, having never  had major surgery or even been in hospital before: 

  • wires and tubes attached to my body and linked to monitors above my bed, apparently measuring every vital function
  • continuous drip feeding of a cocktail of drugs ( substances unknown to me)
  • continuous erratic  beeping and singing of monitors connected to each patient, day and night.
  • a stream of everchanging, attentive staff checking on us patients
  • being woken every hour during the night to check on our condition, with constant questions and various drugs..

On the second morning a new trauma- being interrogated by a group of young male doctors at the end of my bed, and finding difficulty responding coherently – even though I knew the very obvious answers to the very basic questions (…Do you know where you are?  Do you know why you are here? Do you know what day it is?  What is your name and address?..) I couldn’t articulate them. Imagine me,  speechless!! 

I gathered from their discussion that they were going to send me for a scan in case I had a bleed in my brain, or something…After they walked away, I , feeling indignant, tried to write down the answers, and after a short struggle and three lines of incoherent prose on my first attempt, managed this:

“My writing is reasonably coherent but my speech is definitely not.  I have a headache and have just found paracetamol.  Soon I am off for a scan to see whether I am addled temporary (sic!)  or for the long term…”

In the meantime, Tanya arrived in the ward to find that I had disappeared!  Staff explained that a scan was ordered as a result of my incoherence (known medically as dysphasia), because of the potential risk of a blood clot. I returned in due course, able to talk quite normally again, and the scan showed all was well, thank goodness!  So the following afternoon – Friday 30 July, they let me go home, after only 3 nights in hospital!  I’m on medications, of course, one – Ticagrelor – which sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings- for 6 months,  and Aspirin– a blood thinner – daily for life now..

I feel immensely grateful to the anaesthetist, the two surgeons and all the nursing staff for their competence, and to all the friends and family who have given us beautiful gifts of food and flowers as well as sending supportive messages for both Tanya and me. 

Within a week at home, I was able to go out for gentle walks, and have coffee with visiting friends.  And my darling Tanya has been amazing in her support in every way…I am so lucky to have her as my partner.

We have both found weekly visits to our cranial osteopath Greg, at Stillpoint Osteopaths in Mt. Eden, a great help – I had two whole days without head pain after  my two visits, and almost no discomfort within a fortnight.  And the huge purple bruises in my groin are almost gone now, too! I walk every day, and do the shopping (my weight-lifting exercise…) 

I was privately a bit scared the first week or two at home because, for the first time in my life,  I had no urge to read a book..but after the first week I picked up Patricia Grace‘s new autobiography, From the Centre, which I really enjoyed, and now I’m very moved by Atul Gawande‘s Being Mortal

I’ll commit to a weekly session with my personal trainer, Rachel,  again, after Lockdown.  As to recovery, so far so good – however I’m definitely not yet 100% – I have times of feeling fragile and confused, and I am deeply tired still and somewhat depressed too . But people say that it can take 3 months to truly get over a big shock to one’s system like this op, particularly the effects of a long period under full anaesthetic.   We understand this.

 I’m looking forward to seeing my lovely Doctor Wikitoria Gillespie, who is organising my medication for me,  at week 6 or so if we’re out of lockdown, and going back to the hospital for a scan in 6 months.

And hopefully I have a few more good , maybe even some creative, years ahead.  I have entered my 80th year on 11 July 2021 with optimism…





  1. Itsuko + Takashi Kakemizu says

    Wow, I am bloody excited and happy to read your news!!
    I will tell Takashi when he come home.
    We knew that every thing was gonna be alright and would be even better.
    But reading Charmaine’s writing after the big adventure is a great gift.
    I can easily imagine how Tanya (she must has been feeling various emotions and needed help as well, I think ) has supported Charmaine gently and powerfully.
    That makes me feel very very happy.
    Blessing to you both and all your friends and relatives.

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