Monday 28 March 2011: 4 years 6 months on …

In one of the very first blogs that I wrote “I was so glad that I had Come”, I wrote the following about a trip to Graaff-Reinet in January 2010:

“Maybe it was the muggy 35C in Port Elizabeth or the howling berg wind that had suddenly come up that made up my mind for me. So off I went to watch Sean captain Grey’s second team, the Unicorns, against the 1st teams of a number of other schools from the Western and Eastern Cape, in the Gem of the Karoo school cricket tournament.

I enjoy travelling and used to drive hours by myself at the drop of a hat, but I haven’t driven that distance by myself since I became ill. Maybe I was taking a chance, and so I was a bit nervous as I headed north on the R75 – 250 km to Graaff-Reinet. At 5pm I stopped in Jansenville for a cooldrink – it was 35C when I stepped out of the comfort of the 20 degree air-conditioned car.

The next stop was 100km south of Graaff-Reinet at the top of the Soutpansnek Pass. This time, it was not to quench my thirst, but to soak up the beauty of the Karoo sprawled out as far as the eye could see. The brown veld stretched out below me and was framed by the blue Camdeboo Mountains in the distance. Here I was, three years into my illness, travelling by myself, and against the odds, looking down at the wonder of Creation.

There is something so uniquely beautiful about the vista and the silence that is the Karoo. I could not remember when last I had been there by myself, and there I was, being treated to God’s canvass yet one more time! “Did all of this evolve by chance or was it designed by a Supreme God?” I thought, as I caught myself wiping a small tear from the corner of my eye.”

And so it is with sadness that I have read that three oil companies want to explore for gas in this magnificent and unique part of the world. To crown it all, they want to use a process called fracking whereby they pump water containing various chemicals into the bowels of the earth. This then releases the gas that there may or may not be! As much as they have promised that they will not harm the environment, we have become only too familiar with Corporate promises, Man’s Greed and Experimentation, and Mother Nature’s reaction.

Just in the last few weeks, we have again been reminded about the force of Mother Nature in Japan. We are still seeing the events unfold at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant there. And we have seen Chernobyl and Three Miles Island.

Yet, here on our very doorstep, the government plans to build a reactor at Thyspunt, just west of St Francis Bay.

And right on that very pristine coastline, we already see the damage that man’s intrusion has done – there is the beach erosion at St Francis Bay as a result of more and more development on the once white sand dunes of Santareme. There is the now sand-filled harbour which was meant to be the gateway from Marina Martinique into the sea at Jeffrey’s Bay. The only proposed working lock system in South Africa has become a white elephant!

Examples around our world are countless – and that’s why I say we need to stop this lunacy! Don’t allow these companies to frack in the only One Karoo that we have! They will frack it up for us and our children!

We have only One Planet Earth. There is an Indian proverb that says: “Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.”

It’s like we only have One Body. When it’s healthy and working, we don’t appreciate it. We abuse it in various ways, fill it with various substances and expect it to last for ever. And when it malfunctions, like mine and so many others, we wonder why. In recent months, I have only seen too clearly what happens to my body when it is subjected to varying kinds of medication, pills and “cures”. The more we put into it, the more it reacts with all kinds of side-effects. Talk about fracking up the Karoo –  how successfully we manage to frack up our bodies, too!

In the last few years, I have met and corresponded with so many people who have met, faced and surmounted life’s challenges. I have read so many books – just recently Belinda, Brutal Honesty and Bridge on the River Kwai – The Miracle. (I even eventually got to see the movie Bridge on the River Kwai thanks to the Video Tavern in Kabega!)

I have documented much of what I have read, and have taken heart from those challenges of the past as I face my uncertain future living with CBD.

I have written a lot about the One Life that we have, and how we need to cherish every moment that comes our way. Even there, most of us seem to frack it up! And, it is only when we are confronted by tragedy, illness and the challenges that Life throws at us, that we seem to sit up and take notice. For the rest, we appear to be quite content to sit by and watch as Life takes us where it wills – almost like a cork bobbing about in the storms of the Ocean.

Our challenge in this One Life is to put up our sails, decide on our destination, map out our course and make the storms take us where we will to go.

Rabindranath Tagore said “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

Marshall McLuhan said “There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.”

Barack Obama says  “Yes we CAN!”

We have only this 1TIME, so finitely short in comparison to the aeons of time.

We have only ONE LIFE, ONE KAROO, ONE EARTH. Let’s not frack any of it up!

And let’s not just stand on the sideline – let’s get actively involved!

Up’s and Down’s

Monday 28 March 2011: 4 years 6 months on … Advantage CBD

I have written much about taking the hand that you have been dealt and making the most of it. It’s not always easy, and as much as I try to be positive, there are the times that one battles; there are the days that one says “Why Me?”, there are the moments when you feel like throwing in the towel, the mornings when it appears easier to just pull the blanket over your head and stay in bed and let the tears roll down your cheeks.

“Do I really have to face another day?”

Last week, I wrote about reading the book “Miracle on the River Kwai”. It is when I read about and meet people who are able to take on life’s challenges and turn the proverbial lemon into lemonade, that I feel guilty about wanting to throw in the towel.

I have received so many messages from strangers who have either read this blog or listened to the radio programme – they keep me going and I am so grateful for the inspiration that I receive from them. 

We have a little boat with a 15HP engine that we keep at St Francis Bay. It’s called RUSK and it gets its name from when I lost my job in 2002. We said at the time that when life gives you a hard rusk to chew on, it’s just best to dunk it and turn it into something more palatable.  

This morning, I have come across two pieces of writing that give me something into which I can dunk my rusk:

Firstly, there is The Bible.  Whatever one’s views of this Book may be or where It comes from, I am never ceased to amaze how much it contains between its two covers. It carries all the messages, life lessons and support that so many other books have been written about and which really makes them seem so redundant. It’s almost like the Reader’s Digest summarised anthalogy of Life’s Lessons and how to Live Life!   

And just when I need It most, It turns up exactly what I require … God’s way of talking to me today when I need to talk:   (from Faith for Daily Living – see my website www.edlunnon.co.za)


“Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the people of his house, together with all his cattle and … possessions, and went away from his brother Jacob to another land”.  Gen 36:6 GNB
As the plane taxied towards the runway the captain came through on the intercom to welcome the passengers on board. He finished by saying, “They say life is what you make it, and, if you don’t make it, well that’s life”.
Esau had been on the wrong end of a raw deal early in his life. He was so bitter about it that he set out to find and murder the man responsible – his own twin brother, Jacob.
He failed.
But over the years he worked hard, used his brains and prospered. He could have allowed the early setback to make him miserable, resentful and defeatist. He could have developed a “victim mentality” and spent the rest of his life complaining about how badly done by he had been.
He didn’t. He rolled his sleeves up and made the most he could out of the situation. In the process he became strong, wise, successful and magnanimous.
If life has dealt you a bad hand in any way, do what Esau did. Put it behind you and get on with the task of picking up the broken pieces and putting your life together again. Only go one better than Esau and put your faith in God as well. Always remember that God comes to you out of the future and he has surprises up his sleeve for you. Let Christ the carpenter fashion a new instrument out of you and use you for his glory.
Prayer thought:  Lord, do your repair work on me and direct me as you think fit.
Secondly, I read the following article in a back copy of The Times. It is written by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Rector of the Free State University in Bloemfontein.
I guess I’m breaking the copyright rules, but here it is – it’s too good to miss:

Down’s girl makes spirit soar

A young person who never allowed her disability to hold her back is an inspiration to us all

Mar 16, 2011 10:32 PM | By Jonathan Jansen

Jonathan Jansen: I have sat in audiences where I have listened to and interacted with Edward Said, Jurgen Habermas, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela and a half-dozen Nobel Laureates in the sciences.

Jonathan Jansen
Jonathan Jansen

quote ‘I need dreams, just the way you do’ quote

But never before have I heard a speech with the intelligence, insight and compassion of a Down’s Syndrome girl who came to my office three days ago. This is what she said:

“As you can see I am a person with Down’s Syndrome, which means that I have one extra chromosome in every cell in my body. My grandmother’s friends wanted to pray for me to become ‘normal’ but my mother asked them rather to pray that I would receive the support to reach my full potential as a Down’s Syndrome person.

“I always knew that I was different. My mother explained to me that the reason why I have more difficulty studying and doing things is because I am a person with Down’s Syndrome.

“I wondered why people admire Nelson Mandela. When my mother explained that he was in jail for 27 years and stayed positive and loving, I immediately identified with him. Sometimes I feel as if I am in the jail of my own body because I cannot always say how I feel and many people talk to my mother about me, but not to me, as if I am invisible or cannot speak for myself.

“I learn new things every day and sometimes feel sorry for myself because I cannot get married or leave the house in the same way that my sisters do. I know Gustaaf, my Down’s friend for the past 12 years, will not be able to look after me. He cannot look after himself.

“He cannot even send me an SMS, even though I tried to teach him one whole afternoon. So I have decided to get married in heaven one day, where we will all be the same.

“I need dreams, just the way you do. But I adjust my dreams to my abilities.

“That was one difficult thing about going to a school with only ‘normal’ children – you have problems fitting in. So I started to ask the boys whether they wanted my extra chromosome and, because they could not understand what I was saying, they left me alone.

“My stepfather tried to teach me to drive, but I am too short. When my feet touch the pedals, I cannot see, and when I sit on cushions, my feet cannot reach the pedals.

“I received a Grade 10 certificate before leaving Martie Du Plessis High School. In my last year at school, I received a prize for the highest marks in biology and I received the highest honour of the school for drama accomplishments on National level among ‘normal’ learners.

“After leaving school I went to the Motheo College, a technical college, and was also the first and only Down’s Syndrome student to be accepted there.

“With the grace of our dear Lord, a lot of hard work and an ulcer because I stressed so much, I passed the N3 course, which equals ‘matric’, and after that I passed the N4, N5 and N6 courses. The N6 course is the highest qualification at the college. I was awarded the Education Diploma in Educare, in May 2009.

“When my mother and sister received their degrees, I started to dream about wearing a robe and mortarboard and walking across a podium. When I did eventually walk across a graduation podium all the people in the City Hall stood up for me. I was also awarded a special prize for being the first Down’s student to receive a National Diploma. That was the most amazing moment of my life. I looked at all the people and saw my mother and sisters crying.

“I am so happy to work at Lettie Fouche, a special school for learners with learning problems, as an assistant in the pre-primary classes. I enjoy every day and I help the teacher to prepare her lessons and to stimulate the learners.

“Vanessa Dos Santos of Down’s Syndrome South Africa asked me to ‘open’ the international conference for Down’s Syndrome in 2012. She also asked me to be on the International Board for Down’s Syndrome.

“I live among these people . me, a girl with Down’s Syndrome, a condition that makes people abort their babies and lock them in institutions or at the back of their homes so others can’t see them!

“May you also be blessed with happiness and a heart full of compassion for those in need.”


And so, I may not be soaring yet, but I’ll get there soon!

One Life One Land One Karoo – Don’t FRACK it up!

Profit versus Way of Life

THE tightly-knit Karoo community is understandably prepared to fight tooth and nail to prevent Dutch oil giant Shell from proceeding with its controversial plan to drill for shale gas in the arid region.

Opposition to the plan is growing by the day and it is clear a long battle awaits Shell before it drills its first hole.

While the oil giant has embarked on an extensive public relations and advertising campaign in a bid to allay fears about the consequences of drilling for shale gas – known as fracking – thousands of metres below the surface, residents of the Karoo remain unconvinced. The imponderables are just far too many and their very way of life is under threat.

Of most concern is the effect the drilling operations will have on scarce underground water resources – water crucial to farming operations which produce much of the country’s meat, wool and mohair.

As we report today, local scientists believe Shell’s Environmental Management Plan on which the Energy Minister will need to base his decision to allow the drilling to proceed or otherwise, is flawed containing incorrect data.

Clearly, it is time for the government to become more proactive in the dispute.

The very future of one of the nation’s most unique regions hangs in the balance because of corporate greed.

(Editorial: Weekend Post Saturday 26 March 2011)


Read articles in Weekend Post 26 March 2011:

Petroleum Giant’s vital fracking report ‘flawed’

Heated Debate: the gloves come off in Graaff-Reinet

Read more by clicking here: www.edlunnon.co.za: DON’T FRACK IT UP!


Bridge on the River Kromme

Tuesday 22 March 2011: 4 years 6 months on … ADVANTAGE ED

Of late, I need more and more sleep.

I used to go to bed late and wake up early. It was a habit I learnt as a student at Stellenbosch University.  Now I go to bed early and wake up late. And no sooner have I got up in the morning than I need to go and have an afternoon nap.

All this means that I have less time to do what needs to be done. And there is still so much to do!

Some days, like Monday, when I woke up I felt as if I haven’t had any sleep at all. The rest of the day becomes a write-off! Some days, like Friday, was also a complete write-off. But that was self-inflicted!

Thursday was St Patrick’s Day. JD Visser, who was primarius of Helshoogte Residence at Stellenbosch many years after me, has just moved to Port Elizabeth. So we celebrated St Paddy’s together at the Keg and Swan. The mood was festive, the black Guiness flowed thanks to the specials, and we both ended up on Friday morning with a Guiness Top Hat and a Guiness hangover! Thank goodness, unlike JD, I didn’t have work to go to and could sleep in late and blame it on the CBD! (After having experienced Dublin in December, I could only imagine what Temple Bar in Dublin must be like on St Paddy’s Day!)

Because Monday was a public holiday – Human Rights Day – we also had a long weekend to recover. Sean and I drove down to St Francis Bay on Friday afternoon early, and later we were joined by Pera, her Mom, Phillip and Oscar Biggs, a school mate of Phil’s.

The autumn weather is always magnificent. This weekend has been exceptional. Lovely warm, windless days and cool evenings have been dished up for us – ideal weather for long walks along the beach, swimming, boating and braaing. And for Phil and Oscar, after the runs and paddles (preparing for rugby season) there are hours of “Ad Maths” – both do advanced mathematics and they have to prepare for a test this week.  I have decided to call them Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton! They have left a paper trail across the dining room table – thank goodness the weather is so good that meals are taken out on the deck, and we don’t have to disturb the maths lessons!

The family returned to Port Elizabeth on Monday afternoon in time for Sean to attend his Old Grey Rugby practice. I stayed until Tuesday, finishing off a few chores and hoping to write. But, the weariness gets the better of me and I spend more time sleeping.

On the way back to PE, I stopped over in Jeffery’s Bay to meet Robin Morris. Robin has listened to our radio programme and sent me a copy of his book “I See Therefore I Am I Think”. Its cover says “Why are we here…Who are we…Where are we going…And what happens when we get there…?”

I look forward to reading this book, and I think it will take me a while. But for the present, I have just finished “Miracle on the River Kwai” by Ernest Gordon. It kept me busy during the weekend and gave me a whole new insight into World War 2 fought against the Japanese in the jungles of the East.

It also gave me a whole new insight into the human spirit, adversity, overcoming adversity and living life – making the most of the hand that we have been dealt! I tried to get a copy of the movie Bridge on the River Kwai – just to get some more perspective. The lady at the video shop thought I was insane asking for such an old movie! Anyway, I’m sure I’ll find it somewhere at some or other cheap second rate video rental shop!

Well, so much for long weekend, reading, resting and relaxing … for the first time in a long while I just didn’t get to the computer to write.

Tonight, I will be attending a meeting of the HIgh School’s new Club 300. More next week …

Am I a Victim?

Tuesday 15 March 2011: 4 years 6 months on …

Folly of Victim Syndrome

(from Boardroom Basics by Piet Naude: The Herald 15 March 2011)

The victim-syndrome is rife in our country. It refers to people who have endured bad luck or suffering. They then use this suffering as a platform to feel sorry for themselves. The self-pity slowly saps their energy away and then blame sets in.

The blame then turns into anger.

This anger then develops into an attitude of entitlement: “The world owes me” and “I really deserve a better deal” and “look at me in comparison to others”.

This cycle of self-pity, blame, anger and entitlement is a deadly trap.

There is a simple but fool-proof three-step strategy to escape from this cycle:

First, you have to accept history or events that happened and which you cannot influence or change, no matter how hard you try.

Second, you have to consciously decide that your reaction to these facts is indeed under your own control. You can go the route of prolonged self-pity and anger and stay there, or you can decide to chart a constructive path.

Third, you have to take responsibility for the situation as it is and work to improve or change that. 

There are far too few people in this country who take responsibility and chart their own future. Looking back and looking inward can be good, but if your eyes only focus there, you rarely see the future. 


Song of the Week: Say What You Will

Another inspirational human story:

Listen to Justin Hines and the Services SETA / Siyaya Choir singing Say What You Will


If I were to die today my life would be more then okay 
For the time that I spent with you 
Its like a dream come true 
If this was a last goodbye 
No more tears to dry 
I would say it one more time 
Its been more then fine 
How could I’ve known 
How could I’ve shown 

Say what you will before its to late 
Say what you will mmhmm 
Say what you will before its to late 
Say what you will mmhmm 

If you were to walk away 
Know you couldn’t stay 
Think of all the times we’ve had 
All the good and bad 

How could I’ve known 
How could I’ve shown 

Say what you will before its to late 
Say what you will mmhmm 
Say what you will before its to late 
Say what you will mmhmm 

All the time that I was holding back 
Just trying to protect myself 
I want you to know 
I loved you more then that 

Say what you will before its to late 
Say what you will mmhmm 
Say what you will before its to late 
Say what you will mmhmm (x2) 

If I were to die today my life would be more then okay


Life’s Ups and Downs

Saturday 12 March 4 years 6 months on … ADVANTAGE ED

Just last week I wrote that we Live in moving times. And we discussed this on air last Wednesday. Little did we know then that within the next 2 days, we would witness the earth move in one of the world’s strongest earthquakes ever (at 8,9 on the Richter Scale) in Japan. This would be followed by a moving wall of water in a tsunami that would strike Japan’s northeast coast (and elsewhere in the Pacific rim) and cause unprecedented devastation.  As I write this there is the further possibility of a nuclear disaster at one of the Japanese nuclear power plants.

Moving scenes of human tragedy continue to unfold by the minute, and it will be days, weeks and months before the full impact of this devastating tragedy is fully assessed.

I also wrote recently about my thoughts on sport (Love All) and how I found it astounding that it could do so much for the human race.

And, somehow, those two stories I had written over the last two weeks, were pulled together in my mind this afternoon, as I sat watching South Africa defeat India in the Cricket World Cup tournament presently taking place on the Indian subcontinent.

In Love All I asked the question “Why do we get so motivated watching grown people move a ball around on varying playing fields?”  In a certain way, I suppose it’s because we can admire the athleticism of other people doing things that we possibly cannot do.

More than that, though, I think it’s because we as people like to win. And even more than that, I think it’s because we like to win when winning seems impossible. Just winning easily is fine, but when it’s nail-biting stuff, when it’s winning against all odds and when you come from behind to win, that’s what makes it even better, even more exciting and even more motivating.

When you look like losing, have been written off and labelled as a choker, when the peaks look insurmountable and the challenges impossible, that’s when the individual finds it within himself to persevere, to take all he’s got, to hit fours and sixes, to run faster, to aim higher, not to give up and, eventually, to become a winner.

 That’s when you make the impossible possible! And that’s what spurs the human race onwards and upwards.

We saw it in the cricket this afternoon.

We saw it ten years ago after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.  We saw it seven years ago after the 26 December 2004 Tsunami in Phuket and along the Indian Ocean coastline. We saw it in Japan after World War 11, we have seen it in Japan (and elsewhere) after so many other (less devastating) earthquakes, and we will see it again in Japan after this 11 March 2011 ‘quake.

We see it after every human tragedy – how people pull together, support each other, persevere  in the face of adversity and, against the odds, become better human beings and in the long run, become winners.  

I have seen that grit and determination in so many people that I have met over the last few years since I have been ill. People who fight their own personal tsunami’s and ‘quakes on a daily basis. There are the Tim Whites, the Deidre Kohlers, the Belinda Waltons of this world (and so many others) that take on the challenges that life throws at them and become winners.

They show me that it can be done. And, so this week, as I tackle the challenges of meetings with doctors, the nurses from Hospice (who so kindly give of their time to visit and talk to me), the refitting of a suitable chair for me, my living will and all the other things that come with this illness, I give thanks for so much that I have, and for the many privileges that I enjoy.

I shall pray for so many Japanese people that tonight have nothing.

 Belinda Walton signs off her e-mails with a quote by Helen Keller. It reads:

“The marvellous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no valleys to traverse”.


Cognitive Excellent===================Average============================Poor
Memory (Short) ***********************************
Executive function *************************************
Spelling *****************************
Figures ****************************************
  Physical functions
Left hand/arm *******************************************************
Left leg/foot *******************************************
Right hand/arm **********************************
Right leg/foot *
Lungs *******
Swallowing *
Spasms –left side *************************************
Spasms –right side *

Red stars = Deterioration / Green stars = Improvement from previous week