High Five!


Monday 5 September 2011: 5 years on … Advantage ED

September is the month of birthdays.

Today is my sister, Ingrid’s, birthday.

Next Tuesday 13 September would have been my father’s birthday.

I was born on Tuesday 18 September 1956 so Sunday 18 September 2011 is my 55th birthday

And, of course, this September is my 5th birthday with CBD – having first noticed strange symptoms in September of 2006.

I had first noticed that I was having difficulty typing on the computer keyboard with the ring finger and pinkie of my left hand. Then, I needed to hold my left hand with my right hand when I shaved.

The disease affected my left side first, and being left-handed, I noticed the problem early. I ignored it at first, thinking it was a re-occurrence of a herniated neck disc that I had experienced in 2000 (shortly after returning from Disney World in Orlando, Florida) and for which I then had surgery, fusing  two discs with a piece of bone from my right hip.

Over the years I have had numerous operations – my hip is in my neck, and I have bone from my knee in my right big toe to “fix” a fracture I obtained during my military service in Oudtshoorn. I spent many weeks at the 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg,Cape Town.

But, it was on a September hunting trip that I started feeling the numbness in my right arm.

Sean and I had gone hunting with Gary Webb from Addo and Andrew Kettlewell, our plumber from Andrew’s Plumbers. Andrew and his family had decided to emigrate to Australia, and this was to be their last weekend in Africa. Andrew wanted to spend it with his son under the African sun in the African bush, and he invited Sean and I to accompany them. We had just bought our white diesel Peugeot and we drove the brand new car through the muddied gravel roads of the Kirkwood area. I remember not being too happy about that.

But it was a tremendous weekend – up in the mountains around Kirkwood. We slept in the hunting cottage and braaied on the Saturday evening as one does on hunting trips! Everything was perfect, except for my arm. I just kept quiet about it though.

And when we arrived home on the Sunday, 17 September – the day before my 50th birthday – Pera had prepared a surprise party and we braaied again, with everyone who had come round to celebrate.

That next week was the start of the 5 month journey visiting the medical fundi’s – the doctor, the chiropractor, the physiotherapist, the neurosurgeon, the neurologist, the MRI and CAT scans, and eventually Tygerberg Hospital and the diagnosis of corticalbasal degeneration.

I was told that I would, most probably, become severely incapacitated within three years and would die within five.  There was a caveat though: “jokingly” I was told that if I made five years I would maybe consider coming back and suing the specialist for giving me the incorrect information, and for pain and suffering!

Well, it’s five years on:

Andrew, Carol and family are alive and well and living in Australia.

Ed is alive and not so well – but far from severely incapacitated or dead – and still living under the African Sun.

Sean now does the driving.

High Five!

(Maybe I should call my lawyers to call their lawyers in order for them to go and have lunch together  on my account!)