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Winning the life Lottery

Winning the life Lottery

The day that death came knocking on Liesl Johnstone’s door, she didn’t answer. Far too busy and she was, after all, young and healthy. She shares her story.


Winning the life Lottery


This day, death hovered. I’d been gardening a week earlier, picking up barbed branches; gnarly old thorns more lethal than fork prongs. I was wearing gloves. This was not preventive medicine, I would later realise. The prick was a sudden assault, and very sore. I quickly forgot about it. The week following I was hot and cold, slightly queasy and very tired. Mundane tasks represented huge effort. By Wednesday I had an inflamed knuckle. When I prodded, the pain shot through its surrounds. I drove to work on Thursday, an immense effort of the will, and managed just two hours.

Pins and needles were going from the tips of every finger to my elbow. My man took me to after-hours where the doctor thought I was getting flu.  Friday night was ghastly. There was no escape from my painful right arm. Red tracks were appearing. I was on fire from the inside; in bodily hell. By 5:30 am we were on our way to Christchurch Hospital. Intravenous antibiotics, x-rays and doctors drifting in and out; I lay there shivering, barely aware of the yellow light and green uniforms, drifting away.

Finally, sometime in the evening doctors were wheeling my bed into theatre. They hadn’t been planning to take me there till Sunday morning, but one young doctor, Charlotte, had a sixth sense that I needed theatre, and now.  Once cut open, the surgical team watched my flesh turning black before their eyes. Rampant and aggressive, my hand was being eaten away by Necrotizing Fasciitis. Once it’s gone, there’s no regeneration. The flesh-eating disease is a fast killer; thankfully rare. Almost winning-a-lottery-rare. But for every rarity, someone’s got to be the one left with just bones and compromised tendons.

When I awoke, I was in intensive care, being congratulated by the surgeon on making it to hospital on time. I had been diminutive hours from death, or amputation. There were eight surgeries, most of them scraping away more tissue that had died, including the bits needed to hold skin on top. The final surgery was to take a muscle from my back and skin from my thigh, and reconstruct my hand from these.  I was so weak that even the clock-hands were interesting diversions. From this window, by whose basin I went to clean my teeth at night, the words on the Art Gallery glinted reassurance and hope. ‘Everything is going to be alright’.

I know that it shouldn’t take an encounter with hell to get heaven on earth but I live differently now. So let that driver into the queue. Smile at the angry guy.  Feed the scrawny stray cat.  Make the most of beautiful days and leave the desk for something awe-inspiring, far more often.

Share kindnesses and know that our medics have the most difficult, yet fulfilling lives, making a difference by administering timely help. Our doctors and nurses also probably understand something the rest of the population repeatedly wants buried; that horrible injuries and diseases can happen to any one of us. That we’re mortal, but that we’re also loved.




Rosie on the mend: Ourvets

This issue, Veterinarian Dr Geoff Mehrtens, shares Rosie’s journey to recovery, thanks to expert care from Ourvets.




Rosie was a happy, healthy six-year-old female Shih Tzu x Lhasa Apso who had become uncomfortable recently when urinating. A general examination of Rosie revealed no abnormalities; however, her owner Bridget had noticed that Rosie was peeing more frequently, often only small amounts and was sometimes forced to urinate in abnormal locations, which indicated that her urge to urinate was uncontrollable. She showed no signs of urinary leakage in her bedding, which was an important piece of information.

Some spayed female dogs develop an increased tendency to leak urine, often while they’re asleep, or very relaxed. Luckily, Rosie did not have this problem, however her urge incontinence required further investigation. Rosie was very co-operative and provided us with a urine sample during the consultation which revealed large numbers of bacteria present. It was late in the evening, so we elected to see her again the next day.

By then, Rosie’s bladder felt smaller and firmer on palpation, which raised a suspicion that perhaps something abnormal was within. Rosie was taken to ultrasound, which revealed a spectacular large, ovoid, smooth stone – the size of an egg – in the bladder. The bladder wall was remarkably normal considering what was rattling around inside it!



With such a large stone, the treatment of choice was surgical removal. Special diets can dissolve bladder stones, but this would have taken far too long in Rosie’s case. The surgery ran smoothly, and within hours, Rosie was happy and comfortable, and actually went home the same day. Her post-op recovery was uneventful, she was the perfect patient and her urinary habits returned to normal within days.
The urinary stone was sent to the USA for analysis.

This is a wonderful service provided by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Rosie’s stone was found to be composed of struvite crystals. Struvite issues are common in many small breeds and are usually associated with low-grade urinary bacterial infections. Treatment includes surgery and a long course of antibiotics, together with a special diet. Rosie will need careful monitoring to ensure she doesn’t develop another stone, but with care, she will continue to live a happy, active life.


Find out more about Ourvets at


Caring for colleagues

Caring for colleagues

Christchurch Detective Sergeant Brad Greenstreet beat depression and is now sharing his story and the stories of other colleagues who have encountered tough times. “Mental Health is such an important topic and it’s ok to talk about it,” the 38-year-old says.


Caring for colleagues


Having been in the police force for 13 years, Brad says an accumulation of small things led to his bout of depression last year. When he started talking about it to others he discovered it was far more common than he realised – and certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. “I realised it wasn’t just me and it was ok… I wasn’t crazy,” he smiles. During his career, Brad has attended traumatic traffic accidents, incidents involving serious violence and death. He loves what he does but says the things police officers have to deal with can have a significant impact on someone’s state of wellbeing.

It was only when he started talking about his own experiences he realised how important the topic of mental health was. “It doesn’t have to be one big thing. For me it was an accumulation of a lot of small things.” Brad says he started to think about what he could do to help other cops. He reached out to a number of his colleagues asking them if they would share their personal stories on film. Then, with the help of police photographers, he compiled a series of six videos. “They shared their stories which varied from traumatic incidents on the job to personal life struggles outside of work.

“It was very emotional hearing their stories and what hard times they had gone through and how they got through it.” Brad said he didn’t want the video to solely focus on depression as it was only “one end of the spectrum and there’s a whole lot of other factors at play in someone’s wellbeing”. After the video was created, Brad made it available internally to all New Zealand police staff. From front-counter staff to district commanders he received praise from every level. Unbeknown to Brad he was recently confidentially nominated (and awarded) a Sir Woolf Fisher Police Fellowship for his work. Established last year, this year’s recipients are only the second to ever receive such an award.

Both constabulary and non-constabulary staff from around the country received their awards from Sir Noel Robinson, chairman of the Sir Woolf Fisher Trust, at Police National Headquarters in Wellington last month.  Each fellowship is comprised of funding for international travel for up to six to eight weeks and includes time to holiday and undertake a pre-agreed programme of study. “I’d like to see what police abroad are doing about staff mental health and welfare.”


Working in the Metro Crime Squad, Brad is in a supervisory role with about 10 staff and says their welfare is paramount. He says while the police have dedicated welfare offices and good support networks, it is also important to keep talking about mental health. “It’s about looking after yourself, so we can look after the community.”


If you or a loved one needs help, contact the Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 to talk to a trained counsellor.


Fendalton Retirement Village

One big family: Fendalton Retirement Village

It’s been something of a hidden secret in Fendalton, but the residents of Fendalton Retirement Village love its boutique size, its garden surroundings and its truly family atmosphere. The staff of the village are especially attentive to those residents who require a little more individual care.


Fendalton Retirement Village
Fendalton Retirement Village residents Shirley Edwards and Lex Dyet enjoy a catch up in the village’s communal lounge.


There are different levels of care at Fendalton for people who no longer wish to cook for themselves, or who may need assistance with showering and other personal routines. The 24 hour rest home offering permanent, respite and day care, comprises 35 larger than standard single rooms, each with ensuite bathroom, private phone and access to television.

Quality and continuity of care for all rest home residents is assured by a registered nurse and trained health care assistants. Should someone require hospital level care, residents at Fendalton have priority to Elmswood Hospital. There are also 12 larger rest home level studio care suites, each with ensuite bathroom, kitchenette and sufficient room for a dining table should residents like to start their day with a leisurely breakfast in their room. Lunch and dinner are served in a private dining area for 12 people. Several studio care suites step out into the gardens.

There’s fun to be had at Fendalton with a large communal lounge where there is plenty of entertainment and activities taking place, like the recent Mad Hatter’s Tea party, which was simply hilarious and enjoyed by everyone involved.


See the team at Fendalton Retirement Village – 73 Bryndwr Road. Phone: 03 351 5979. Email or phone Donna Monk 021 241 9979.




More Mobility

Take back your independence: More Mobility

Take back your independence


More Mobility


It’s scooter season! With the warmer weather and rising fuel costs, mobility scooters are the lucrative solution to an easy, enjoyable, independent life – when it’s no longer viable to drive.

“There’s no registration or warrant of fitness, and they are extremely affordable to operate,” owner of More Mobility Russell Thomas says.
“Most scooters have two batteries, and there’s only the expense of the electricity to charge them, similar to the cost of an electric towel rail,” he says.

“We provide a home tutorial to learn how to drive in your own familiar environment, with lots of safety tips from crossing roads, to managing speed. You have the security of riding a scooter on the footpath, at a leisurely 6km per hour up to 15km per hour – and some models have an automatic slow down feature.” A follow up service is free of charge for the first six months, with little maintenance involved, and More Mobility offers a 12-monthly comprehensive service for $99.

There are serviced, second-hand scooters from $2,000 to $4,000, and new scooters from $3,800 to $6,500. While most scooters get up to 50km use out of a battery charge, Merits latest Silverado Extreme has a 100-amp battery and large travel range of up to 60km. The stylish Invacare’s Comet and Pegasus models come in 10 interchangeable colours – the electric-blue is a summer standout. More Mobility’s compact travel scooters pack down to transport in a car, or there’s always the Harley Davidson of scooters, the head-turning Sport Rider.


More Mobility, 113 Blenheim road, has off-street parking.
Visit, or phone 03 348 3460.


Lawrence Wong

A broad legal skillset: Lawrence Wong

Kannangara Thomson partner Lawrence Wong says that joining the firm has been a great move for him and his clients.


Lawrence Wong


After 40 years in the law mostly at one larger Christchurch firm, Lawrence finds the relaxed and friendly environment at Kannangara Thomson refreshing. Having spent a significant part of his working life as a lawyer in suburban offices, Lawrence is a lawyer with a broad knowledge base across a wide range of areas of law. He assists clients with all of the following – the sale and purchase of residential and commercial property, business sales and purchases, asset protection and estate planning involving the use of family trusts, wills and enduring powers of attorney, company law matters and commercial leasing.


Growing up as someone overtly Chinese but as Kiwi as anyone else born in New Zealand, life wasn’t always easy for Lawrence. Born in the 1950s to a New Zealand mother of Chinese descent and a father born in China, he experienced occasional prejudice. As a child in Christchurch, Lawrence attended St Michael’s School where, within the school grounds he was largely insulated from that prejudice which he says he experienced more outside of the school grounds.


He then attended Christchurch Boys’ High School before attending Canterbury University, graduating in 1978 with a law degree. His early years in practice coincided with a new wave of Chinese immigrants, many of whom did not speak much English. One of the benefits of growing up in a Chinese/Kiwi family was that Lawrence learned conversational Cantonese, something which his clients were extremely grateful of in the late 1970s and 1980s. To this day, Lawrence retains the ability to converse in Cantonese which is of value to his large Chinese client base. Being at Kannangara Thomson has bought Lawrence back to his ethnic and legal roots. The firm’s byline ‘We Speak Your Language’ signifies the fact that there are as many as nine different languages spoken in the firm, but also the fact that the lawyers at Kannangara Thomson cut through all the traditional legal jargon lawyers are renowned for and explain matters to clients in plain English.


Lawrence Wong


This is something which Lawrence finds refreshing and which, when added to the relaxed and congenial working environment, tells him that the move was a good one for him and his clients. Lawrence’s clients and former clients are invited to contact him on 03 377 4421 or email


Help is at Hand

Help is at Hand: Endometriosis

Endometriosis affects one in ten New Zealand women, many of whom first experience symptoms as teenagers. Obstetrician and gynaecologist Janene Brown from Oxford Women’s Health shares her thoughts on this often debilitating condition and the importance of seeking help early.


Help is at Hand


At what stage do women typically come to see you with endometriosis symptoms?
While greater awareness of the disease means we are seeing fewer new patients with advanced endometriosis, we still have patients who should have come to us much earlier. International studies show that it is often six or seven years before women finally receive specialist treatment.

If anyone thinks they may have endometriosis, they should ask their GP for a referral to a gynaecologist, as early as possible, or they can simply book to see one of our specialists at Oxford Women’s Health.


Why is it important to seek help early for endometriosis?
Endometriosis can seriously affect a woman’s quality of life, limiting what she does in her leisure time and sometimes preventing her from attending school or work. Treatments ranging from lifestyle changes to surgery will alleviate symptoms and may be needed to protect her fertility.


How is endometriosis diagnosed?
Endometriosis is a difficult disease to diagnose because you can’t see it on a scan and there is no blood test for it. We suspect it based on symptoms and family history but it can only be definitively diagnosed through laparoscopy (keyhole surgery).
There are many symptoms, but it is most common in women who have painful periods that last more than a couple of days. Women should also seek help if their pain worsens or continues through the month. Not all pelvic pain is endometriosis and you definitely need to find out what’s going on.


Where can I find out more about endometriosis?
The website has plenty of good information about endometriosis and services available for women with the disease. There is also information on the Oxford Women’s Health website and you can book an appointment with one of our specialists there too. Visit



More Mobility

Giving you ‘More Mobility’: More Mobility

More Mobility makes life comfortable and easier for those with injuries, disabilities, or for the elderly.


More Mobility


Nothing is more important than restful sleep and Sleep Systems i-Care beds offer life-enhancing benefits and a 10-year warranty. The Visco Elastic memory foam mattresses come in soft, medium or firm and respond to body temperature and pressure, or there’s a firm Latex alternative. “We encourage people to lie on our beds and try them out, and we’ll demonstrate how they work,” Sales Consultant Tracey Peterson says.

The IC3 electric-bed model has the standard back lift, but also bends comfortably into the crook of the knee. The IC33 also includes a head, feet and full body massage function, whereas the IC 333 offers a unique high/low and tilt adjustment. “We can also make a companion, with say a static and an electric bed fitting snuggly together.”


More Mobility


Box surrounds come in fabric choices and a range of accessories including a comfy 5cm-thick Visco elastic topper for existing beds.
The Pride armchairs are as good looking as they are functional. “As we age, we need more assistance getting out of a chair. The beauty is you can control the lift height function to your own comfort level and muscle tone.”

Single-motor chairs have a simple two-arrow remote, and the twin-motor adjusts the feet and head separately. There is a choice of materials and specific functions, such as elevating feet above heart level, or chairs designed for the higher-weight user, or the petite person.

More Mobility, 113 Blenheim road, has off-street parking. Visit, or phone 03-348 3460.


loudly and proudly

Loudly & Proudly

Leave loudly and proudly at the end of your work day is the message an increasing number of New Zealand workplaces are sending to parents who are juggling family commitments and work.

loudly and proudly

As we mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in September, workplaces are increasingly giving employees flexible working conditions. However, many of these employees feel the pressure to slip quietly out of the door at the end of their work day, so not to bring attention to themselves.

Recognising that encouraging flexible work requires more than just rewriting the rules, an increasing number of workplaces are encouraging staff to ‘leave loudly and proudly’.
The catchy concept has been gaining global traction in the past 12 months as employers seek to break down stigmas and uncomfortable feelings associated with other commitments, particularly families.

Last year, PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive Robbert Rietbroek got a tidal wave of support when he encouraged his executive team to ‘leave loudly’ when they head out of the office.Westpac is the latest major company encouraging a flexible working environment, putting a ‘leave loudly’ policy in place earlier this month.

According to the Employment New Zealand website, flexible working arrangements can help employee retention, lift morale and reduce absenteeism, by assisting staff to achieve work-life balance.

All employees in New Zealand have a right to request flexible work arrangements and employers have a duty to consider them however, they can decline to do so if there is a good business reason.

Lady Wigram Retirement Village

Retiring in Style: Lady Wigram Retirement Village

The only regret for most new residents of Lady Wigram Retirement Village, is they wish they had come here sooner!” says manager Olivia Cleave.

Lady Wigram Retirement Village,

The words ‘breathtaking’ and ‘retirement village’ don’t usually go together, but when entering the sumptuous foyer of its new Club House, this fine establishment seems no different to a hotel – boutique and sophisticated, yet cosy and homely.
Lady Wigram is part of the Golden Healthcare Group which has a number of facilities in Christchurch and been operating for more than 30 years.

The building was designed by the experienced team at Foley Architects and built by Grace Builders, which has demonstrated a real eye for detail. The contemporary décor was tastefully completed by Georgie Kirkcaldie Inglis.
In addition to the 101 independent villas, the next stage is underway, featuring 14 new apartments, swimming pool, spa and gym. Eventually Lady Wigram will include 73 apartments, a rest home, dementia facility and hospital.

Golden Healthcare

Each compact, but roomy apartment has a full kitchen. Apartments are serviced weekly and lunches, morning and afternoon teas are provided in the social lounge. Here also is where the entertainment happens, such as singalongs with popular local musicians.
The Hangar Bar is manned by volunteer residents who recently gained their Bar Manager licences from Ara. The many social activities include majong and tai chi. An upstairs retreat has a library and stately billiard room where residents can socialise

“It’s a lifestyle decision,” says Olivia. And it’s most certainly living life in style at Lady Wigram Retirement Village, 210 Kittyhawk Ave Wigram.

For enquires, phone Village Manager Sarah Jacobson 03-341 0545, email, or visit