In June 2021 we were unaware of the serious situation that was ahead of us, a situation that would suddenly stop us in our tracks.
After almost three years traveling Australia we had no plans to stop, and even a pause was not part of the equation. As we know, life doesn’t always go to plan so when our 25 year old son came close to death, a pause was inevitable.
This blog gets quite personal, but we feel comfortable sharing with you. Full time caravanning is not always sunshine and rainbows.
In June 2021 we were in Queensland. Although we had travelled Queensland extensively several times before, we had not been North of Laura, so Cape York was on our bucket list. It did not disappoint, we had a fabulous adventure. Our vehicle and caravan survived the treacherous roads and we loved every minute of it.
The day after reaching The Tip of Cape York, our son became critically ill. He was in Newcastles John Hunter Hospital needing emergency life saving surgery. He is just 25. This sort of thing was totally unexpected.
Of course, we booked an urgent flight back to Newcastle to be by his side.
Now, December 2021, and so much has happened since then.
He was in ICU for several weeks and in hospital for two months. He has been incredibly sick. Naively, once discharged, we expected him to recover much more easily than he has. We had plans to fly back to Queensland to collect our car and van. Covid border restrictions prevented this, but so did our sons dependence on us. He has needed, and still needs full time care.
All the while, this situation has been playing with my head. Our boy is the most important thing in the world right now, we are so thankful that he survived, we want to support him, and be there for him. I don’t begrudge that, but the transition back to “normal life” is a struggle. It is a million miles from where we want to be.
In saying that, this “normal life” is far from normal. His recovery is not going to plan. He still needs lots of medical intervention including over 60 pills per day, injections, blood tests, scans, doctor and physio therapy appointments. He is weak, struggles with dehydration and is loosing weight. His medical team are fantastic, he is just a very unusual and difficult case.
Maybe this is his new “normal” He survived, but will possibly never be the healthy young man he once was. If thats the case, we will go crazy caring for him at home, in a house!
Our car and van are now in Newcastle after arranging a tow truck from Cairns. We have started to take the patient with us on short trips to see how he copes. He is so weak that it is a struggle for him, but he does enjoy being outdoors. Before he fell ill, he loved rock climbing and bush walking, he wishes he could still do those things. For now he needs to focus on the simple things that come with travel, like watching the wildlife, visiting museums, and activities that involve minimal walking. It is a huge adjustment. Long term we will need to find that balance between his needs and ours.
There is another option. There is a further surgery which could help him.
He has been looking forward to that surgery for months now. If there is the slightest chance he will get a better quality of life with this surgery he wants to take the chance. His surgeon has discussed this option with us, describing our boys particular medical condition as “more risky” than most others in the same situation. There is a high chance of death. As a mother, I don’t want to hear that, he is still my baby boy. It breaks my heart. We can’t bear the thought of loosing him now, yet our 25 year old son is willing to take the risk.
So, you can see why things are so uncertain for us right now.
Although we don’t book our future travels we still have a bit of a plan, at least a year ahead. That plan gives a rough route including work options, festivals, and Kokoda Caravan gatherings. At the moment our travel plan is very limited and works around nothing but medical appointments!
Looking towards 2022, we WILL be going back to Western Australia. Obviously we need to consider a possible surgery, and the probability that he will still need our care next year, so the first few months will continue to be short trips only. Jarrad is hoping this surgery will be successful, of course we are too, but there is a chance he will still need to travel with us. Not ideal for a young man, but if it means we make many happy memories together, we will all make it work together.
We have always been Happy Campers. After three years and over 100 000km’s, we have had lots of situations to question that, including a major car accident destroying our vehicle, but this has been the most difficult of all.
There is no doubt we are still Happy Campers, life has paused us slightly for now, but we will definitely be back in 2022.
Even after a few grey clouds, we reckon there are still plenty more sunshine and rainbows for us yet.
In Intensive Care
Almost ready for discharge from hospital.
Now traveling with us.