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A bit of a gap since I last posted but as usual there has been plenty going on here, so I have decided to do a few shorter posts over the next couple of days, rather than one long one that would probably be too much to read.

We have had some much needed rain, the lagoons are slowly filling and we must hope that the rainfall during April and May will be sufficient to bring the water table up to the required level to see us through to next year. The vegetation has gone into overdrive, it’s amazing how fast the plants grow during this time of year, it sometimes feels like the plant life is taking over as things burst into flower, climbers take off so fast you can almost see them growing and vibrant green smothers the surrounding dunes like a blanket.

We have plenty to keep us busy in the garden, taking cuttings, replanting, pruning, and weeding, especially the unwanted grass who’s spiky seeds can inbed in skin and animal hair and are very painful and the vetch which will smother more delicate plants and is a home to mosquitos. Earlier in the year we had a serious problem with a white wooly aphid of the cochineal family, it attacks the flowering and fruit bearing bushes and trees and causes the fruit to be stunted and contorted, finally damaging the plant to such an extent that fungal infection takes over and can kill the plant. I have been controlling the pest in the garden with a soapy water spray and in severe infestation cases, using a toothbrush with rubbing alcohol which does the trick but it time consuming on a large scale. The wild murici fruit bushes (Byrsonima intermedia) out on the dunes were devastated by this pest and very few are producing a decent crop, which is a shame for the villagers who like to collect the fruit and a problem for the wildlife that depends on it for food. Thankfully the heavy rain goes a long way to controlling this pest and most of the effected plants, both in the garden and out on the dunes, are showing signs of recovery and putting out new shoots and fruit.

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Murici with pest attack

Murici with pest attack

The down side of the heavy rain fall is the newly discovered problem of flooding in our kitchen.
In the dry months we had a new door put into our kitchen to make it easier to reach the container garden and wormery. Unfortunately the heavy rain now pours off the roof, hits the wide concrete step and pours in under the door, as the kitchen roof also leaks we will be found, after a night of heavy rain, scooping up buckets of water from the kitchen floor (thankfully tiled), so the next project is to fix up guttering to divert the water coming off the roof and redo the area out side the back door to allow water to drain away more easily. We have been advised that the kitchen roof needs to be taken off and be completely redone (having not been done correctly the first time) but that is a far bigger job and will have to wait until we have the money.

I completed a water colour painting of a cashew tree and fruit. It was done as a gift for some friends who were coming on a return visit to Prainha, they have been very kind to me in the past, gifting me with some much needed artist materials for which I was extremely grateful, I’m pleased to say they loved the painting and it is now hanging on their wall as a permanent reminder of Prainha.

O Primeiro Caju The First Cashew

O Primeiro Caju
The First Cashew

Neu had a bit of a set back during carnival in March when he contracted peritonitis, it’s a risk of peritoneal dialysis and can be very nasty and difficult to treat.
On carnival Sunday around 9 am Neu developed a stomach ache, we hoped it was nothing more than the 24 hour bug our son had suffered from earlier in the week but by 10 Neu was in so much pain it was obviously something far more serious.
When Neu disconnects from his dialysis machine in the morning, he should check the drain liquid for any cloudiness (a sign of infection) unfortunately he forgot and now the unused dialysis liquid had mixed with his drain liquid, diluting it so we couldn’t tell if there was any sign infection or not. He was now in extreme pain, which was getting worse by the minute, so we decided to do a manual drain (he usually has some residual liquid left after the last drain of the night) this came out mildly cloudy and yellow (normally it is completely clear with no colour) now we were sure he had an infection and needed antibiotics immediately.

I rang the nurse and organised to meet her at the clinic, thankfully a friend was able to take us on the two hour drive to Fortaleza, with Neu lying in the back seat crying out in pain as we went over every bump.
At the clinic Neu was given a dose of pain killer and antibiotics for both gram positive and gram negative infection, the sample we had taken in with us was sent off to the lab and we were sent home again, with Neu feeling considerably better once the pain killer had kicked in.

We had to return the next day to see the doctor and receive more antibiotics and for the next two weeks he was to have daily injections of one type of antibiotic (thankfully there is now a lovely retired nurse living in the village and she agreed to assist us, so the daily injection could be done at home) returning to the clinic every 5 days for the other type of antibiotic. Once they knew what the bacteria was one of the antibiotics was to be stopped but unfortunately, perhaps due to carnival, the lab lost the sample and so another one had to be sent off, meaning Neu had to continue taking both sets of antibiotics for far longer than was necessary but at least the drain liquid was becoming clearer by the day so we knew one of them was working.

The infection turned out to be from a bacteria that lives in saliva, which points to a slip up in the hygiene routine that Neu has to follow, somewhat of a surprise as he is usually so careful but then again as we have been told before, the risk of infection with peritoneal dialysis is high, it would be unreasonable to expect never to fall victim to one and it serves as a reminder of just how careful he has to be.
Two and a half weeks later he was given the all clear, the fact that we responded quickly to the first sign of infection helped, peritonitis can be life threatening and its difficult to treat if left to establish, though how anyone could ignore something so painful is hard to imagine.

At the end of last year Neu decided he wants to go for a kidney transplant and so we have begun that process. We had the first consultation with the transplant doctor at Fortaleza General Hospital at the end of March and were very encouraged by what we heard. The doctor said that as Neu ticks all the right boxes (he’s young, very fit physically, doesn’t have any other illnesses, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, is in a stable marriage with a child and is of a common genetic background) he would not have long to wait for a kidney.

Neu was given a list of exams to complete, mainly blood tests but also an ECG, an abdominal scan, an endoscopy, a dental check and bacterial skin tests, amongst others. The doctor said if he could get them all done by the time of his next consultation in three and a half months and provided they were all clear, she would put him forward for immediate transplant, which should be a matter of weeks. Neu came home from that meeting with a spring in his step, we know we have a lot to organise and being so far from the city it wont be easy but Neu is feeling very positive about his future and we will do all we can to ensure he is fit and ready for a transplant at the earliest possible date.