AUGUST TO DECEMBER THE END OF AN ERA
Although we hadn’t known it at the time, the wintertime jaunt through the south was to be our last trip with the van.
The breathlessness that had affected John at Beachport did not go away at home. Doctor ordered a range of tests be done. Initially these were inconclusive, but then a stress heart test was to be done at Maroondah Hospital, towards the end of August. Being independent, he drove himself, but by the time he parked Truck and walked to the clinic, was in such a state that he was immediately taken to Emergency.
I arranged for him to be transferred from there to our preferred Epworth Eastern, where he was admitted. After some time and further investigations a triple bypass procedure took place. Given John’s recent history with surgery and blood clots, this was a rather worrying time, but all went well. Altogether, with the stay in Epworth and the following rehab, he was away for over five weeks. I think dog had decided he was never coming back. In amongst the various surgeries and issues of the last part of the year, Couey turned one.
My surgery for shoulder reconstruction which had been scheduled for the end of August, had to be postponed. It was some time before John was allowed to drive himself anywhere again, and so the shoulder was not fixed until December. Then, an arm in a sling was a distinct handicap in the preparation of Xmas tea. Fortunately, most of the family multitudes were elsewhere this Xmas, but I managed to prepare a cold feast for the expected seven – only to have that reduced, at the last minute, to three (M and ourselves) due to extreme thunderstorms and flooded roads. We dined for days on leftovers.
Also in December, John saw the specialist who had done his most recent hip replacement two years earlier. Pain, discomfort and stiffness had continued in that leg. Our doctor felt that the replacement was not functioning properly, but specialist wouldn’t hear of that being an issue. He wasn’t much help and could only come up with suggesting that the leg artery might be blocked like the heart one had been. We came away with our previous impressions confirmed – that he might have to replace hips for the sake of his bottom line, but he was really only interested in the more acclaimed role of fixing up sports stars, especially footballers. John decided he would just have to put up with it.
In the aftermath of John’s surgery, we decided that, for him, our style of caravanning was no longer feasible. There was too much “heavy” work involved, and he was – for the first time ever – finding Truck uncomfortable to drive in traffic. The cold and wet winter trip had been uncomfortable, confined as we often were, to just the van.
We agreed to wait until next year to clean up and sell the van – just in case we had second thoughts when John was stronger. It would be a hard final decision to make – the van had been such an integral part of our lives for the past fourteen years.