Cleared for Take Off

04th August 2014
You really find out who your friends are when the chips are down, on the basis of which we have some pretty fantastic friends. Facing surgery to replace my dodgy aortic valve, friends and family over whelmed us with wonderful emails of support, offers of venues in which to convalesce and generally ‘just being there for us’. My sister Maya and her family have to get an enormous thanks for happily throwing their house open to us when a 7 week stay morphed into 10 months, just hope they're all as happy with that decision when we come to leave as when we arrived! It has all been very touching and humbling and so very, very much appreciated.
The very fact I’m sitting here typing this is testament to how well everything there went. The Brompton are fantastic, everything the NHS could and should be. They looked after both of us superbly and we really can’t fault anything that they did. My wonderful surgeon Ms Yadav did a marvellous job, managing to get a larger valve in which means I now have more options open to me once this valve needs replacing (which it will do in around 10 years’ time). In fact she has already begun planning for the third replacement valve in around 20 years. Now that’s what I call real care and forward planning.
Think the Brompton’s wonderful care is probably best summed up by a comment from one of my sister’s friends who asked me how the sister who was having the big operation was doing. Took me a moment to realise she meant me, and that was only three weeks post op! So guess I must have been looking OK.
So have been on my rehab programme (for physio friends yes I’ve been expanding that left base and making sure I have good mobility in the shoulders!), walking around Barnes which with its commons, green and riverside is a lovely place to gradually get the stamina back and up the walking pace. All under the careful oversight of Captain Florence and his boot camp, as you can imagine no shirking has been allowed.
So now I am three months post-operative, scar fading fast, having had my follow up at the Brompton and been pronounced A1 fit and good to go, well apart from having to refrain from scuba diving until the end of July – given the limited opportunities or desire to do this in south west London it wasn’t too hard to comply with. The biggest challenge was persuading my beloved husband and mother that I could drive. Despite what the surgeons at the Brompton say they were both adamant that I needed to wait a bit longer, it was driving me nuts, but at long last they have let me back behind the wheel.
Talking of Mike I do have to say he has been the most marvellous support to me over this whole period and looked after me so well. I don’t think I could have done it without him. The appellation of Captain Florence was been well coined with his own unique blend of TLC and tyranny. Was told in no uncertain terms on more than one occasion that I had to go to bed for a rest. Mind you he was usually right, but don’t tell him that, and although he doesn’t want me to say this he has been my very own Captain Fantastic.
So what next? From a medical point of view I will need an annual check-up at the Brompton under the care of the Aortic Valve team lead by the wonderful cardiac nurse specialist, Philip Walters (another of the NHS’ stars and a real support to both of us). From a sailing point of view we still have to finalise plans but the joy is that we have been given back the luxury of choice and so many options are now open. To save you the bore of our many thoughts and possibilities, these are our latest plans, if all goes well with the obvious caveat, that cruisers’ prerogative means they’ll almost certainly change, after all they are always written in the sand at low water!
Return to Sea Rover in Brisbane soon and after some serious boat chores, including fitting a new generator, head to Sydney for Christmas and New Year with more fireworks with our friend Rosie. After Christmas we will look for a weather window to head back over the Tasman to New Zealand, like bad pennies we keep on turning up. Of course all of this is with the big proviso of finding a good weather window as we still remember our last crossing of the Tas to NZ, which was sub optimal to say the least.
Then in May join the exodus of cruisers north from NZ in search of sun. We’ll be heading back to Fiji’s Lau islands to catch up with some of the people we made friends with last year. We’ll come home for the Rugby World Cup (which starts in September 2015) with finger crossed that Lancaster’s guys will be able to outperform everyone’s expectations or at the very least put in a creditable performance on and off the field. The memories of the England’s performances in 2011 still make us cringe. Finally, come 2016 (how’s that for advance planning?) we think we’ll finally recommence our homeward journey, only a couple of years later than planned – but hey that’s life!

So unless there are any dramatic changes guess there won’t be another Seamail until we’re back on Sea Rover and under sail towards the end of the year. So thank you all again for all the positive thoughts and wishes, you’re the best.


Photo comment By Carl n Linda: Great to hear all going well and of your plans. Look forward to crossing tacks again down under in the summer and possibly in the Lau next season. All the best Navara

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