Monday, August 29, 2011

Thank you, Michael Dymond

Congratulations, Michael, on winning Letter of the Week in the NZ Herald last Saturday. I don't often repeat others' stuff but, with others, I have been so impressed with your carefully thought out and well presented statement I'm doing that this time:

New Zealand has been likened to Norway in areas of tolerance, human rights, near absence of corruption and so on. There is, however, one glaring difference, and that is income equality. Comparing the income of the richest 20 per cent with the poorest 20 per cent, the ratio is 3.9 in Norway and 4 in Sweden. In New Zealand it is 6.8, in Australia 7, and in the United States 8.5.

Inequality of incomes has a major influence on rates of social disease such as infant mortality, imprisonment rates, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and so on. Norway has a low index of health and social problems, while New Zealand is among the highest. Now, we are focusing on our embarrassing child abuse record.

New Zealand has failed for too many years to live up to the ideal of a good place to bring up children. We only try to tinker with the symptoms. It is time to address the underlying factor, inequality of income. Everything else flows from there.

Michael is a member of the NZ Methodist Liberal Society and is

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Ca Pros Report

Some friends who have been following my adventures with prostate cancer will know that I haven't had a measurable PSA test for three years. That is, until three months ago, when it re-appeared at 0.2, the lowest measurable reading you can get.

We didn't broadcast that a whole lot at the time. We thought it best to wait and see for another three months. But. given my two previous lively resurgences, we had some reason to expect that this might be the beginning of another steady rise.

However, this week's reading is exactly the same: 0.2. It seems that the combined therapy of Zoladex inplants and daily Casodex tabs are continuing to starve the cancer. When you're ticking off your life by three-monthly tests, this is pretty encouraging.

But, of course, we actually should be ticking off our lives day by day, not quarter by quarter. We should be making the most of every day, every moment, For we never know what lies around the corner.

Today we will live for today. Well, perhaps we had better live for next Sunday, since I have one of my infrequent appearances as worship leader... And there is the parish newsletter... And Bev keeps reminding me about the shabby state of the garden... And...  oh, heck, let's get out in the sunshine with a book...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thinking Ahead

Bev and I have been using the Thinking Ahead workbook.
We were prompted by the excellent article "Going Gentle into that Good Night" in the LISTENER a few weeks ago. That put us in touch with the publishers of Thinking Ahead.
We found it really stimulating and helpful.

So far, we have completed a three page statement about questions that may come up after I have gone. With my history of prostate cancer we think that perhaps I am a bit more temporary than Bev. But who knows? So we will do a statement for her, too. And these statements will be handed to family members and professional carers and anyone else involved or interested in our end of life issues.
Over the years I have seen many bereaved families arguing about "What X would have wanted" when they were arranging X's funeral. My view is that the funeral is for the mourners, not the person who has died. So I like the fact that Thinking Ahead does not produce a binding, legal document that must be obeyed. But I found it very helpful to think on issues such as :-
  • Do I want life support just for the sake of extending life?
  • In my last days would I prefer to be at home or in professional care?
  • Do I have issues of faith and spirituality which I would like taken into account?
  • What would I prefer to happen to my body?
  • Who do I want to be my end-of-life advocate, to speak for me after I have gone?
    Of couse, we have given each other Enduring Power of Attorney over the legal matters of health and welfare and property. But these will operate only while we are alive. Thinking Ahead went further and prompted us on a range of more personal issues. And it helped us have good conversations on what will be life and death issues for us both.

    We recommend it warmly, if only for that reason.
  • Saturday, August 13, 2011


    We’ve been all over the place the last few weeks. The reappearance of my PSA a couple of months ago has not greatly influenced our priorities but this last month we have done some things we’ve been talking about for years.
    We have –
    -presented our Murder Mystery “Death by Cooperation” at St Austell’s Cooperating Parish in New Lynn…
    - attended grand-daughter Lauren’s 21st - she just back from six weeks in Scotland and Europe…
    - travelled on the Overlander train to Wellington – absolutely loved it…
    - relocated a Wellington rental motorhome back up to Auckland via Taranaki. Only $5 a day plus fuel but the diesel cost more than the train tickets!
    - flown to Christchurch and entered into a little of that lovely city’s earthquake tragedy – stayed with grandson Tim and grand-daughter-in –law-elect Casey in their cosy flat…
    - travelled on the Tranzscenic train to Greymouth and back to Christchurch – fantastic golden-blue day with snow on the ground at Arthur’s Pass…
    - been out on the glass-bottomed boat at Goat Island – fascinating, and a great advertisement for marine sanctuaries…

    The problem with all of these trips is that each one involves four hours’ driving each way to Auckland before we actually start anything else. It’s the price of living in such a stunning part of the world, I guess… We won’t be able to stay forever. But, then, nothing is forever, is it?