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Amanda is being flown up to Wanganui in the next hour. I will drive up – about three hours – and be there tonight.

Posting will resume tomorrow.

Run the race. Keep the faith.

Staff at the Intensive Care Unit in Wellington told us this morning that Amanda is to be transferred today to the ICU in Wanganui.

It is clear she is going to require a long period of support to heal, and perhaps permanent care, depending on the extent of spinal injuries and brain damage.

For most of her life, she has been a bright, beautiful, insightful, creative and caring young woman. Somehow twelve years ago her mind took a wrong turn, and she has just never been able to get back. During that time she has persistently self-harmed, and made three major suicide attempts, culminating in this most recent, when she threw herself off the top of a four storey building.

She desperately needs family near. I am the only possibility, and I will stay with her as long as I can. But I cannot stay for more than another few days without income. I have a computer repair shop in Australia. It is only a few months old, and although business was building, it cost a great deal to set up and income is still limited. Unless I am there working it costs me about $400 per week.

If I return to Australia to work for a few weeks Amanda will have no support from family for the coming three or four crucial weeks. She needs this.

I need about $2500 to cover immediate costs, and about $25,000 over the next six weeks to stay with her, and to help her get well enough to move her to Australia where I hope I can care for her and run my shop at the same time.

Can you help?

By the time the twenty-three year old Charles Darwin reached New Zealand he had definitely had enough.

Despite its natural beauty and fascinating birds and insects, Darwin wrote of the Maori people:

“Their persons and houses are filthily dirty and offensive. I should think that a more war-like race of people could not be found in any part of the world than the New Zealanders. We were all glad to leave New Zealand. It is not a pleasant place”.

In fact the Maori are a brave and noble people who had complex agriculture and buildings, and were frequently far more generous with European settlers than the settlers deserved.

Amanda has been a lot more responsive yesterday and today, and was able to mouth the word ‘Wellington’ when I asked her if she knew where she was.

So co-ordination is returning, and higher brain function is OK, though it is still too early to tell how OK.

We are hoping she will be able to breathe independently by tomorrow. She will then be transferred to an orthopedic ward, and from there, we hope, to Auckland.

We won the battle with ICU staff over her psych medication after her own psychiatrist intervened. So things are looking more hopeful now than they have since her accident.

There may be no more posts today. We are arguing with staff in the ICU about whether Amanda should be returned to her completely ineffective regime of psych medication. It is difficult and time-consuming.

Please continue to pray for her, for medical staff and for us.

After an ultrasound doctors found a large quantity of fluid in Amanda’s chest yesterday, and asked us to leave for a few hours while they sedated her and inserted a drain.

Dad and David and I went and had pizza for dinner and then went to see Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino.  Gosh! Wow! Heck!

It was a great film. My emotions are pretty close to the surface at the moment – Amanda is still dangerously unwell, is not responding as well as we would like, and will need lots of support to recover – so I am not sure whether I would have laughed and cried as much if I had seen it at another time.

What is not so good in the film is that there is a little more swearing than is necessary (though most of it is in context and appropriate), Clint’s growling and grumpiness are a little overdone, and the actress who plays the Hmong girl next door, while pretty and appealing, just did not seem to be able get any real conviction into her character.

Also, some people might find some of the terms used a little hard to take.

There was one couple in the cinema who left half way through claiming the film was racist. No it isn’t. It is partly about racism. That doesn’t make it a racist film.

The heart of the film is a very well paced exploration of the nature and cost of both friendship and redemption. Who and what matters, and why. It is intelligent and moving. It is currently number one at the box office in New Zealand, and will go on my list of DVDs to buy.

Shouting, stomping your feet and screeching at people are an effective way of getting what you want. If you are a two year old.

My Mum used to tell me that if we were in a supermarket and I saw something I wanted, and she wouldn’t let me have it, I would say I felt sick  and then vomit. It didn’t work. Mum was smart enough to realise that taking the easy way and giving in would make life harder later on (for both her and me).

Without making any comment about Lindsay’s parenting, it is a pity there are some things she didn’t learn as a two year old.

But then again, why would she, when the same behaviour keeps working?

Via Kathy Shaidle, this report from  the Catholic Register.

‘In elementary school, teachers tried to deprogram students of any anti-Jewish sentiment we might have heard at home. In high school history class, we watched footage of what Allied soldiers found at the newly liberated concentration camps. Sometimes girls would faint or vomit. “Never again,” said our teacher. “Never again,” we repeated.

We also thought that, in those circumstances, we would all be heroes. We would be the one who hid Jewish friends in our attics. We would be the ones who didn’t vote in the Nazis. We would be the ones who spoke out against anti-Jewish hatred. That’s what we said.’

But even though it is 2009 not 1939, not much has changed. It is still easier to be part of the crowd and to be silent in the face of abuse rather than risk the wrath of the abuser.

I have heard the same kind of courageous statements from clergy when talking about the martyrs of the early church. Yet those same clergy would frequently rather be complicit in hiding abuse (I don’t necesarily mean sexual abuse, but also bullying and abuse of spiritual authority) than to stand up againt a bishop or other church leader, even though all that is at stake is their job, and the good opinion of those in power.

Courage is not about words. It is about facing your fears and overcoming them, and being being willing to say and do what is right, no matter what others think.

Yes we can be heroes if we want. But we have to want to do the right thing more than we want to be popular, and more than we want to be comfortable.

I arrived in Wellington last night and was picked up by my father and brother David. After stopping at the Whare Whanau (family house – low cost accommodation for families of patients) we went up to the ICU.

Although it was distressing to see Amanda so badly injured, I was originally quite hopeful – she seemd to be responding to sound and touch.

But she was taken off sedation on Saturday and should be awake by now. In discussion with nursing staff it became clear that they were concerned about possible brain damage caused by hypoxia (lack of oxygen) during the initial period of care in Wanganui. We had not been aware before that this had been an issue.

We have spent most of the day with her, and there is no sign of improvment.

Please keep praying.

I will be in transit from Kangaroo Island, South Australia to Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday to be with my sister Amanda in hospital (see posts below).

So unless I have longer than expected wait times in an airport somewhere, there won’t be any new posts for the next 24 hours.

Please keep praying for Amanda, and for me and other family members as we travel to Wellington.

Thank you.

My sister Amanda is out of danger, and doctors have confirmed there is no damage to her spine. Praise God.
They are considering waking her up tomorrow. I am flying from Adelaide to Wellington tomorrow, and hope to with her by the evening.
Please keep her in your prayers as she begins the long painful process of healing.

My much loved sister Amanda has suffered from depression for the last two years, including two periods of hospitalisation.

Last week she was hospitalised again in Wanganui in New Zealand. Three days ago she jumped from the fourth floor of the hospital.

She was on 15 minute observations, and hospital staff and doctors were warned at least twice by her own doctor about the possibility of her attempting suicide. She had also told them that morning she did not feel safe, and asked to be transferred to the secure part of the ward. Despite this she was able to walk out of the pysch unit, 500 metres across the hospital grounds, up the stairs of the main building, and throw herself out the window without anyone noticing.

After emergency surgery to remove her spleen and repair her liver, she has been transferred to Wellington.

Her lungs were punctured by fractured ribs. They are still full of blood and problematic. She has fractured vertebrae in her neck and lower back, a fractured pelvis, and a multitude of other less serious injuries, including head injuries.

Although now stable, she is still in serious danger of death.

She has been kept unconscious so her spine can be stabilised. Doctors have said they will reduce the level of sedation later in the week.

I hope to fly to Wellington on Wednesday so I can be there when (if!) she regains consciousness.

Would you please keep Amanda in your prayers, as well as me and the rest of her family?

Thank you.


Amber Cuddles a Sea Kitten

A la Tim Blair, a sea kitten being cuddled in the approved PETA fashion.

The non sea kitten in the photo is Amber, granddaughter of some friends. She accompanied us on a recent sea kitten cuddling trip near American River on Kangaroo Island. A number of large King George Whiting were successfully cuddled.

In the category of other dumb ideas – why is the trend in cafes now to put the serviette under the food, coffee, whatever? This makes it completely useless for its intended purpose, which is to have a convenient way of wiping hands, mouth etc. For a serviette to be able to do its job, two things are required – that it be accessible and clean. So why put it under the food or drink where it is: 1) Often not easy to get out, and 2) Messy before you even use it? Please let’s go back to the simple and sensible idea of putting serviettes, napkins, whatever you want to call them, beside the food or drink. Thanks!

More than just kindness, whatever Jewel might say.

What matters are the things that make us human – our capacity for relationships, for creativity, for hope, and our capacity for rational and purposeful investigation of the world around us.

Baz Lurhmann in Moulin Rouge had it right with his catalogue of beauty, truth and love. But these make a difference in the world only if they are made active in practical thought and rational action.

Qohel is about politics, religion, art, history, about right and wrong, and about how making a difference means depends not just on wanting things to be better, but on working to make them better, and thinking about what works.