Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Rarotonga?

Many people have asked us why we have chosen to live in Rarotonga.
Rarotonga is one of the islands that make up the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands are tropical islands in the South Pacific. They have tropical, warm beach weather all year round.

Rarotonga is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is your typical island paradise. Beautiful crystal clear lagoons, white sand and palm trees.

Many people enjoy coming here on holiday but not many would seriously consider living here.
We were here on holiday in September 2008. We had come on holiday because life had become very difficult and stressful for us. I had personally developed really bad health problems. My pelvis was still causing me problems and on top of all that I had recently developed severe RSI (repetitive strain disorder). You may find it strange to believe that a stay-at-home Mom can develop RSI, but it happened! I had had RSI previously in my workplace, before we had Seychelle. It had become so bad at that time that I had to cease working. Shortly after that time we had Seychelle.

Out of the blue in July 2008 I suddenly developed a really severe case of RSI.

You may be wondering what a 'severe' case of RSI is? Well for about 3 months I was not able to perform any tasks with my arms! Normally RSI clears up if you take a good break from computer work. In my case, this did not happen. After 6 weeks I started to get extremely worried. I had completely rested my arms & they were not getting better. I could do nothing with my arms. Once again, like with my pelvis, my body & mental health started falling apart. My arms had swelled up and no matter how hard I tried to get them to do normals thing they would cause me pain and extreme fatigue.

One of the ways I find it best to describe how it felt for me, for those 3 months, was if you can recall doing a short physical job with your arms, something cleaning the house windows. Generally after you have done such a task your arms will feel extremely fatigued and almost painful. Normally one would rest a couple of minutes and the pain would stop, fatigue would lesson and you would begin your task again. In my case for 3 months I was in that "extremely fatigues/painful" phase.  It was so unbearable that at times I would stand in the shower and just howl. No-one could help & nothing was working. People in my life could understand why I could simply not do "normal things". A task as easy as cleaning the kitchen bench was pure agony.

I had to rely on Nick very heavily during this time. Our family life took a huge toll. Nick had to come home from work so much to help/assist me that he eventually had to quit his job. I was not able to even do basic things for myself like putting on my clothes & putting a nappy on Seychelle. One week we had to pay for a nanny to come and help me look after Seychelle. This was one of the most humiliating times of my life. I was in such a bad way that I was no longer even able to look after my own child.

We lived in a beautiful 3 bedroom house, which ended up being completely too large to maintain in a crisis. We had recently bought a beautiful new dog for the family, a golden retriever.  But the stress of losing the physical ability of my arms meant we were not able to cope with our new puppy. He had to be go to a new home.

My life was literally falling to pieces. Time passed and nothing changed. I developed depression & my doctor sent me on a course for people suffering from it. This course was helpful in coping with difficult times & practical ways to help with depression - but it did not solve the problem. In September we were able to get away from this nightmare & come to Rarotonga on holiday. Nick thought that perhaps the sunshine would somehow help the situation.

We came to Rarotonga for 2 weeks. We enjoyed our time so much that we started to think about considering moving here permanently. My arms were possibly slightly better in the warmer climate & the thought of a simpler life for managing my arms and pain was a good solution. We extended our stay and Nick drafted up some CV's which we dropped around at all the local businesses & put an advert in the newspaper advertising Nick. Well we ended up getting a few hits with the advert. Nick had a few informal interviews & by the time we returned to NZ he had a job lined up. We also somehow stumbled upon a house that was being built, almost finished and the landlord committed to giving us the house to rent if we returned.

We know it was God's will as the timing and the events that would take place in the next following 4 weeks were nothing less than a miracle. We arrived back in late September and were leaving to go again overseas to the UK for my brother's wedding in less than 4 weeks. In that 4 weeks we packed up the entire house, sold most of our stuff & organised a real estate agent to sell the house. We also somehow were able to organise a moving company to pack up the remainder of our possessions to move to Rarotonga. We filled up an entire 20ft container. We had so much paperwork to fill out, accounts to close, bills to pay etc. Like I said it was nothing short a miracle that we pulled it off before leaving for the UK.

While we were in the UK we got an offer on the house & just like that it was sold!  Nick's official job offer came through by fax to us in the UK too & everything was signed and sealed. When we got back to NZ , we had 3 weeks until the day we moved to Rarotonga.

We took a great chance, a huge risk. But sometimes in life, it takes some major blow to force you into a position where you have to make a change.

My arms were still not better, but waiting around the corner - literally the week before we were to leave on the plane, the answer came! Since being on holiday in Rarotonga I had developed (on top of all the other health problems) stomach "issues". I thought I had just caught a bug here in Raro on holiday & that it would go away with time. Well, it didn't. I decided the week before we due to move to Rarotonga (2 months later) that I should get it checked out by a doctor. Thank goodness I did that! I landed one of the most experienced doctors in that doctor's visit. The fact that I had "issues" that had lasted 2 months or more meant I needed to urgently get a colonoscopy. Normally this hospital based test takes 6 weeks to book in, but by some small miracle, she found a spot for me to go into surgery, 3 days before we were due to leave.

It turned out that after all the tests I had extremely high levels of gluten sensitivity. Initially the test came back so high that the doctor thought I had celiac disease. What this meant as that my body was constantly inflammed, due to the gluten in my diet (bread etc). Which meant that my body was healing the naturally normal way that a body should. This was why my arms just were not getting better & why the medication that they had given me, that had worked before when I was in the workplace with RSI, hadn't worked this time! Finally an answer came. The days before we left were filled with running around trying to find gluten-free food to pack into boxes to take on the plane with us.

Finally the day arrived, we boarded the plane to leave a cold & damp Auckland and arrived in tropical Paradise - Rarotonga.