23. 1986 A hard year with a health scare.

The first four weeks of 1986 were spent in Papua New Guinea with my parents and enjoying a tropical holiday in their hometown of Arawa.  Once the culture shock wore off we settled into island life and the laid back pace of all things.   We swam, ate, drank, toured and had a great family gathering.   We have many memorable photos of this time but this one of Riki best shows the friendly inquisitiveness of the locals.

Riki PNG
Riki PNG

On our return home I settled back into work as a chef at the Criterion Hotel, Guides and finishing off the work on our section.   We had a lovely visit from Nana and Grandpa with their friends the Brosnen’s from over the back fence.   They spent many hours playing with their Riki & Alisha, their first two Great Grandchildren, dining on KFC and creating wind with the placemats.  Sadly Grandpa passed away not long after this visit  and my heart was broken by the loss of my remaining Grandfather.   I have some awesome memories of grandpa that include fishing off the beach near Timaru, stealing his currants off the bushes and walking into Timaru to meet him and keep him company on his walk home from work.   If I had to find some words to describe him I would say he was hardworking, calm and stoic but with a quirky sense of humour.  He loved the pinwheel scones we used to make and insisted Nana let us take over her kitchen and bake them for him – I wonder if they were all that good or if he was making us feel special – he was good like that.

Midway through the year my energy levels and mood took a nosedive and while it was initially brushed off as suburban neurosis it became evident, after an emergency admission to hospital, that I had an extremely overactive  thyroid – hyperthyroidism with thyrotoxicosis.   I was very ill on admission having suffered a thyroid storm and became subject of much review as I was a very young person to have such such high levels of thyroid activity.   I must say that while this was a very scary time that included nuclear medicine and large quantities of tablets I also learnt to spell and pronounce some awesomely long medical words.  It was a great relief to have a diagnosis other than just a ‘crazy mumma’ and controlling  thyroid became the major focus of my life for the next few years with blood tests and medication reviews.

On review of my medical history it became apparent that my thyroid played a part in the amplification of normal teen angst that plagued my teen years.   It was nice to finally have some answers although they couldn’t give me back those years to re-live them with the medical support I required.

The stress of my illness put both our jobs in jeopardy and led us to put our house on the market and move back to Tokoroa.  I don’t recall when or how or why the decision was made – actually I don’t even recall a decision making process…. it just happened.

1986 was a tough year – but when the going gets tough, the tough get going.


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