You may have heard by now of John Garde’s very painful and debilitating suffering which has totally upended his and Su’s life. At the moment he is in Charlie Gardner’s where his undetermined condition is being assessed, but at this stage with no clear diagnosis.
I’m sending you this request which brings news of John Garde’s horrific pain he has been suffering through Su’s heart rending words in the story below.
I’m sure you will all agree that we as friends who love John and Su need to do something to help. Apart from the pain and discomfort, they have incurred unforeseen costs in honouring their commitment to their recent art tour with the extra expenses and difficulties of travel, as well as time spent in a French hospital. At home the wonderful gallery they have recently established in Bridgetown of course continually needs the rent paid. John’s and Su’s lives and ability to paint and teach has had to be put on hold, so consequently finances are an unwanted stressful addition to their lives. Su’s unflinching determination and her strength have been tested to the limit on a roller coaster of emotions, and her ability to see clearly and hold things together is proving a very steep mountain to climb; and all the while she is watching John in such, yet unexplained, pain. But their spirit is strong, and their love of art and their dreams for future painting trips are still alive.
So if you would like to contribute to their cause, a financial one would be the most needed right now
With best regards
Beth and Douglas Kirsop, and Mary-Lynne Stratton
Friends of John and Su
Letter from Su:
The pain in John’s foot began somewhere in July this year.
A slow, steady progression of pins and needles, numbness, shooting, stabbing pain, a fire, a blowtorch in the arch of his foot. Then a swollen right foot and a DVT in his right calf.
We went to doctors, the hospital late at night when he was afraid his foot was no longer attached, to physios, an osteopath. He’s had CT Scans, MRIs, Blood tests, nerve tests and a spinal tap to assess the lumbar fluid.
Sometime in August, somewhere in the middle of sleepless nights and pain, he lost strength and mobility in his foot.
It’s called footdrop, and it means that he now feels nothing (but pain) from his calf down. His foot doesn’t respond and cannot move. He’s lost a lot of weight and body fat and muscle.
He can’t walk without a metal splint and walking frame. 100 metres exhausts him.
He can’t drive or stand or paint. Yet.
Despite all this we decided to honour our commitment to everyone who had signed up to travel with us to France in September this year. The doctors assured us that John was safe to travel because he was on blood thinners for the DVT. The foot drop wasn’t discussed.
With the help of our wonderful art travellers and dear friends in France, (especially the effervescent Bill Yeates, who hopped in and shared the teaching with us) we made the trip to Monet’s garden happen. It was very special. Filled with laughter, painting, joy, love and tears.
John spent a week in a French hospital where we tried to understand what was happening. He continued to draw dozens of tiny ’pain drawings’…little images made in the middle of the night, telling the story through line and shape of the unspeakable stabbings. In the day he drew portraits of doctors and nurses and his friend Jean-Claude in the bed beside him. On the 12 hour flight from Paris to Singapore he stayed awake all night doing portraits for the cabin crew….
Under the assumption that the pain and foot drop were caused by spinal osteoarthritis and nerve compression, we returned to Perth expecting surgery to relieve the problem.
The doctors in Emergency said they think his foot has been inactive for too long and the footdrop is probably permanent
The MRI at SCGH 2 weeks ago, indicated there is no link to John’s spine in this situation.
Instead, a team of neurologists is investigating the probability of an autoimmune condition, where John’s body is attacking his own nerves.
The right foot remains on fire. There is some worrying loss of feeling, and growing pain developing in his Left Foot over the past 2 weeks.
The next procedure involves removal of damaged nerve tissue to be examined.
It breaks my heart to see him in so much pain. This vital, positive man is clinging on, dosed with morphine and nerve medication. The pain continues to feed the fear and exhaustion. Whatever the outcome, there will be a long period of rehabilitation, and inability to paint and teach.
We have just opened a beautiful new Gallery space in Bridgetown. When I can think clearly, I’d love to set up a programme of guest artists, exhibiting in the space. We would love to be able to give paintings to everyone who helps us, but I simply don’t have the energy to know what to do first.
When I received a phone call from my dear friend, Mary-Lynne, this morning, the tears flowed again.
We’ll find a way to give back, pay forward and hopefully continue to create wonder and intrigue through the magic language of Art.
Heartfelt thanks from John and myself (Su )
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