Forethought, how to make your cat sad and… Roadtrip!

This week we made the 800km round trip to visit our daughter in Christchurch who celebrated her 21st birthday on Thursday.

It was kind of a postponed trip for Amanda as she didn’t feel up to the journey when I moved Jess from Wellington to Christchurch  5 months ago. But this time she was looking forward to a holiday.

If you’re not familiar with the road, it’s quite a desolate one, only passing 3 decent places to stop in around 5 hours. This was the first time we had taken the trip knowing we would have to use the disabled facilities ( Amanda needs a handrail to help her stand).

The midway stop, at Springs Junction, is at a small, totally inappropriate and unprepared cafe. Since the Kaikoura earthquake shut State Highway 1 (the main coastal route south), the route is the only one available to ALL traffic; cars, freight trucks and tourists alike.

The massive increase in traffic volume was thrust on this, and other rest stops literally overnight. They were not prepared. They are not big enough, and have not had time to improve or add additional ‘facilities’. So this stop has no disabled toilet. I just had to let Amanda wander in and queue with the other women. Of course, she managed perfectly well.

The disappointing facilities en route were more than made up for at our motel. Initially we were confronted with a shower over the bath; impossible for Amanda to get into or balance in. But a quick word with the owner secured us the suite with the walk – in shower.

We spent a few days eating out (Amanda managed to read the menus and select her meals but as always, couldn’t actually tell me what she had ordered!), and she managed to clock up over 5,000 steps on her Fitbit while walking around the post – earthquake, almost – rebuilt centre of Christchurch.


I planned our days to ensure we were back at our motel by around 3pm so she could still take her 90 minute nap and be ready for the second part of her day.


We booked both cats into their regular cattery, just a 5 minute drive from home. When we dropped them off Amanda stayed in the car and I briefly explained what had happened to her, to the owner. She then launched into how she had grown – up with strokes as her father had died of one when she was 2 and her brother then had one when she was 7. But at 70 years old her attitude was somewhat different.

First question –  ‘Has her face drooped?’ –  er.. no.

‘I won’t go and say hello it might upset her’. (She did, and it didn’t).

‘I won’t get too close, I’ve got a cold’ For a moment I wondered if she thought strokes might be contagious!

When we returned to collect the cats she had some interesting news.

“Possum (our eldest Burmese)… is sad”

She went on to explain she grew up on a farm and has been around animals, and particularly cats, all her life.

She can ‘read’ them.

She had deduced from the fact Possum didn’t do his usual growling at the other inmates, and then take it out on his brother, that he knows his ‘mum’ is unwell and is sad about it.

While I respect her experience and apparent feline -whisperer skills, I’m pretty certain that, at 14, Possum is just past caring about the other cats as he spends around 20 hours a day sleeping when he is at home, and intended to do the same while in the cattery.


So, forethought… the ability to think or plan in advance – and previously one of Amanda’s key strengths, but totally missing post – stroke.

I’ve noticed it starting to return this week.

Things like checking I have a door key when we leave the house. The whole ‘have you done this, have you done that’ which, in any other context a partner might consider nagging, is actually a welcome sign, yet again, of a gradual return to previous form.


This week we also received an apointment for Amanda’s angiogram at the end of the month in Wellington. This procedure involves inserting a tube into the femoral artery in the groin and then feeding it all the way up into the brain before injecting a dye which will highlight the AVM in far greater detail than a regular MRI scan can see.

From this the exact position and size of the AVM can be determined with minute accuracy and allows the neurosurgeon to make an informed decision on the next stage which is the gamma knife procedure; the non-invasive high dose x-ray which basically shrivels the AVM and for which I’m determined she will be wearing an Incredible Hulk T shirt…just in case.


Finally this week, more colouring -in. The recent trend for adult colouring books has been a great opportunity for Amanda to unleash her creative right – hand brain and spend sometimes up to an hour concentrating hard on keeping inside the lines.



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