What a Prick!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Friday 9 March 2012: 5 years 6 months on … Advantage ED

Ever since becoming ill, I have always been thankful that I have not experienced any pain. A lot of discomfort, yes; but, thank God, no pain!

But all that has changed, and the last three weeks have possibly been the most difficult that I have experienced since becoming ill.

It all started, with no prior warning, in the early hours of Sunday morning 19 February.

On the Friday evening we had attended Shelley and Eddie Terblanche’s ‘surprise’ joint 50th birthday. It started with a bus trip with all the guests on board dressed in ”smart casual black with a mask” to fetch the birthday couple at their home in Summerstrand and then on to Leo’s Bistro in Walmer for a delicious supper.

Then, early Saturday morning (at three am!), I had to get up to get my lift to George with Kobus, an AlgoaFM listener who had kindly offered to take me to the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge.

 The challenge, celebrating its tenth birthday this year, attracted over 1000 physically challenged people participating in four events – the 42 km marathon, the 21km half marathon, the 10km event and the 5km fun run.

It is a most humbling experience to see so many physically challenged people participating in “vehicles” ranging from the most sophisticated to the most ordinary of wheelchairs. The fun run alone attracted over 900 participants in wheelchairs pushed by local professional, business and ordinary everyday people and many hangers-on, all with the emphasis on the fun part of it. The main streets of George – York Road and Courteney Street / Knysna Road – are closed for the occasion and the day belongs to those in our community who live life without what so many of us take so for granted.

The trip to George from Port Elizabeth is about a three and a half hour one, and so we were back in Port Elizabeth at about three thirty in the afternoon – some twelve hours after we had left.

I had planned to attend the Concert in the Park at five pm and had an appointment to see Marcus Wyatt, the guest trumpeter at the concert. Marcus is an ex-pupil of mine and he and Andrew Townsin, another ex-pupil, had trumpeted Pera down the aisle when we got married in 1990.

But, I was a bit tired and decided to postpone the evening concert and attend the Sunday morning one instead. A lie-down seemed more in order …

Lesson #1: don’t procrastinate!

I woke up at three on Sunday morning, my whole body in a spasm, my muscles tensed up and with the most excruciating pain. By seven we called the GP, and during a home visit nogal, I received Voltaren injections, pain killers and an anti-inflammatory – coxflam: one tablet twice a day; synaleve: two capsules three times a day for pain (warning: may cause drowsiness). I can quite easily see how people like the Jacksons and the Houstons become addicted to prescription drugs .. and take just a few more every now and then when the pain doesn’t subside! 

I wafted through the next two days, missed the Concert in the Park (and the Redhouse River Mile scheduled for Sunday afternoon), but by Tuesday evening was feeling much better – so much so that I was able to attend Elvis Blue’s concert at the Grey’s Afrikaans Week celebrations in the school hall.

Although I was left with a low level numb sort of pain, the excruciating stabbing pain eased off and the week became better – until Saturday evening (25 February), whilst watching rugby on TV, when it all started up again. Luckily I had “left-over” medication in hand and was able to doctor myself and lie down – but even that was a painful affair! And so some more drugs … Pax: one at night and Stilpaine: 2 tablets four times a day!

The next and third attack happened last Sunday evening (4 March). It is wearing me down and it is becoming more and more difficult to lift my hands and arms. Mentally, it takes its toll, too.

So, first thing on Monday morning, I spoke to the doctor and my biokineticist. It was decided that I needed to see a physiotherapist / chiropractor, and luckily I was able to get an appointment with Dr Pieterse at two that afternoon.

All the muscles in my back go into a sort of spasm and tense up. “Had I tried needles?” I was asked.

I had not.

So, one for one, I had needles pricked into the muscles in my back.

And, on Tuesday morning, I felt like a new person. All the pain was gone! And remained so until Friday morning, when I could feel just a tinge of that low-level ache returning. Luckily, another session had been scheduled for Friday, so round number two of the “needle attack” took place!

Lesson #2:  Don’t under-estimate the contribution that anyone can make in life – even the smallest prick can make a huge difference!   

 So three weeks have passed by with far too little been done. I have been down but not yet out. How long will the pricking last and how long will it bring relief? Who knows?

But, in the meantime, don’t be a prick … enjoy what you can!

 

ED is in EDen (Part 2)

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 13 December 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Deuce

The City of George lies at the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains. When I was involved in staff training there, each morning I would always take the employees outside of the training room and get them to look up at the mountains and savour the beauty. They thought I was mad, but such is the beauty of George and its surrounds.

It is possibly the first town in South Africa (outside of my home towns) that I have really got to know well. I first started visiting there when I was a student at Stellenbosch. The home of Dr Hendrik du Toit and his wife Anna at 21 Caledon Street was a favourite visiting place. One December night we even ended up pitching a tent on their front lawn after we had hurriedly left the “rage” at Plettenberg Bay. (We could no longer afford the in-season tariff at the Plett caravan park!)

Their daughter Gretel was in my education classes, their son Ludwig lived in Helshoogte with me and in later years, Gretel married Willem Wüst who was my predecessor as Primarius of Helshoogte.

I continued visiting there during 1982 and 1983 when I was at Infantry School in Oudtshoorn, just over the Outeniqua Pass. Official weekend passes and some AWOL passes would see my red Toyota Corolla head over that pass and to George and the delightful Vic(toria) Bay, a paradise for those who surf, fish, swim or tan!

In later years, during my working career, I spent many a night away from home, and my hotel homes away from home in the Southern Cape varied between the King George Hotel, Far Hills, Wilderness Karos and the Wilderness Holiday Inn.

The N2 from George runs eastwards past the Far Hills Hotel and the turn-off to Vic Bay, into the pristine Kaaimans River Valley, over the unique bridges and overhanging roadways (incidentally designed by Willem’s father), past that famous arced railway bridge that traverses the Kaaimans mouth, past Leentjiesklip and into the Wilderness.

I was privileged to spend a New Year’s Eve on the beach at Leentjiesklip (’79 or ’80?). There is nothing more spectacular than watching the sun rise over the Indian Ocean at the Wilderness.

It was here that ex-MP, prime minister and State President PW (finger-wagging) Botha lived and died at his home Die Anker (“the anchor”). It overlooks the Lakes that stretch from Wilderness all the way to Sedgefield and beyond to Lake Pleasant and its hotel (now a health clinic specialising in skin ailments).

Then, just before one drives over the hill and into Knysna, is the turn-off to Buffelsbaai, a very special little holiday resort, where, when Sean was just a crawling baby, we twice rented a holiday home and spent some very special holidays.

On the coastline, the white beach sweeps away eastwards to Brenton-on-Sea. Inland, there is the magnificent Knysna lagoon with Brenton-on-Lake and Belvedere on its south side, Leisure Island and Thesen’s Island in the lagoon, and Knysna itself on the northern and eastern banks of the lagoon. No words can do any justice to the picture created by the panoramic view that culminates in the Knynsa Heads, that place where the lagoon empties into the Indian Ocean through those magnificent rock columns on the west and east sides of the mouth.

The Knysna Forests stretch from George in the west, around the lagoon and onto Storms River in the east. The forests are the home to the famous Knysna Elephants, many stories and books (just two weeks ago we saw the musical Fiela’s Child which is set in these forests) and to the annual Knysna Marathon and half-marathon. I ran my first half-marathon in the Knysna forests in 2000 – and another three after that. Next year, we plan to return to Knysna in July to walk that route of 21 km.

 As one leaves the Knysna lagoon area and proceeds eastwards to Plettenberg Bay, one passes the Knysna Elephant Park, numerous tourist accommodation establishments, the Big Tree (in the Garden of Eden) and, just off the main road, the Noetzie Castles, the somewhat eerie stone castles built on the beach at Noetzie and looking southwards out over the Indian Ocean. (Also here, is the start of the gravel road that runs northwards through the forest, over the Prince Alfred’s Pass and on into the Langkloof and Uniondale.)

Then there’s Plettenberg Bay, stretching from the imposing Robberg Peninsula in the west to the cliffs and mountains in the east, past Keurbooms River and Keurboomsstrand.

Plett has always been a special place for me. Just as our children today spend time after their school-leaving exams here at what has become known as “The PLett Rage”, we came here annually in November from Stellenbosch as soon as we had written our year-end university examinations. What goes on tour, I guess, stays on tour!

As a bachelor and later as a family, we have spent many delightful holidays in and around Plett, and visiting the Uptons, the Scholtz’s, the Bryants, the Walshes, the Browns and others. For a while, we were also property owners here when we bought a plot of land at Sanderlings Estate next to the Keurbooms River. We sold it, however, just after we had plans drawn up for a house there, but then decided to buy in St Francis Bay instead.

And so the road continues eastwards to Port Elizabeth, some two hours (200km) away. The Garden Route passes Natures Valley, over the Blaauwkrantz Pass and Bridge (now the site of the Bungee Jumping business), through the Tsitsikamma Forest and Coastal Nature Reserve and comes to an end at the Storms River Bridge – an obligatory stop and which I have written about previously.

From there, the N2 continues in a very different type of landscape past Humansdorp, St Francis Bay, Jefferys Bay and into Port Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela Bay.

ED is in EDen (part 1)

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 6 December 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Deuce

Exactly a week ago, last Tuesday evening, a switch was thrown at 23h00 by Dave Tiltmann, the MD of AlgoaFM which increased the broadcast area of our local radio station to include what is known as the Garden Route in the southern Cape of South Africa.

Reception on this, the southernmost coast of the African continent, is now obtainable “From The Garden Route to The Wild Coast” (and all broadcast from The Boardwalk Casino right here in Port Elizabeth.)

Previously, when going westwards along the N2 from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, AlgoaFM reception was lost somewhere between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. Now, you can pick it up all the way to Riversdale and Still Bay on the coast, and inland as far as Oudtshoorn!

This part is arguably one of the most beautiful areas of our country and it is not known as the Garden Route for nothing. The municipal area is purposefully named the Eden Municipality.

No account of my life’s journey would be complete if I did not write about this area. Just as the Camdeboo and the Karoo have been a part of my life, so, too, have the Southern Cape, the Garden Route and the Garden of Eden.

I will describe the area from west to east along the southern coast.

Stilbaai (Still Bay) is at the mouth of the Kafferkuils River. It consists of two pieces, West and East. Just recently we spent time with the Wusts in Stilbaai West on our way to Cape Town (see The Cape of Good Hope).

But it was Stilbaai East that I first came to know as a High School youngster. Our neighbours in The Strand, Ds Bombaai van Rensburg and his wife (known to us as Aunty Dominee) and 5 sons – three of whom were born on the same date a year apart from each other! –  had a holiday house there. We were contemporaries and became good friends, and I spent many summer holidays with great memories with them there.

One summer holiday (circa my Std 9 year, I think) was rudely interrupted when I ended up in the Riversdale Hospital to have an emergency appendectomy. They kept me there for a week, as the doctor would not let me go back to the holiday village to recuperate! (Nowadays, I think it’s a one day in and out op!)

My Uncle George Lunnon and Aunty Irmela lived in Riversdal (Uncle George, ironically, worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the SABC, and was responsible for the erection of many of the tall red and white FM broadcasting towers that now dot the South African landscape.) I recall him taking me to see the one outside Riversdale during my convalescence period. It is situated in the foothills of the Langeberg and at the base of the mountain known to all in the area as The Sleeping Beauty. You can see why when you drive past Riversdale why they would have named it that!

 Despite having family there, my mom single-handedly drove the then four-hour trip from Cape Town to come and look after me!

Up the road from Riversdale (CCC vehicle registration) is Albertinia (named after one Rev Albertyn).  No drive through this town would be complete without having Sunday luncheon at the famous hotel or a purchase of some of the many medicinal products processed here from the sap of the Aloe Ferox plant.

Further westwards, about 15km from Albertinia, is the 65m high Gouritz River Bridge. It was here that the company Kiwi Extreme introduced the concept of bungi jumping in South Africa in 1990.

(The bridge swing and bungy have currently been suspended awaiting the outcome of an investigation to determine if the bridge structure will allow the continuation of such activities. A much higher jump is now available from the Blaauwkrantz River Bridge further eastwards along the N2  on the border between the Western Cape and the Easter Cape)

About 35 kilometers to the east along the N2 National Road is Mossel Bay. Before that you get to see the orange glow of the burning flame of the chimney of the SASOL Oil refinery (now called Petrochem, but originally called Mossgas when gas was discovered in the Indian Ocean south of Mossel Bay and was billed to transform the economy of this area from the depressed state that it was – what happened, I wonder? Big stories and promises like the fracking of the gas fields in the Karoo?

The gas pipeline runs from the ocean bed gas field south of Vleesbaai (where I have visited student friend Piet Immelman) to the refinery right next to the main highway, and a few kilometres from the Mossel Bay 1 Stop Service station and Engen garage and the obligatory stop for a meal at the Wimpy. (I remember as a student hitchhiking from here back to Stellenbosch – a trip that took two days!)

Mossel Bay itself is the start (going eastwards) of one continuous mass of wall-to-wall holiday and permanent homes built along the sweeping coastline where the white of the sea-sand merges with the darker blue of the sea-waters of the Bay, and the lighter azure blue of the sky and the horizon.

When I worked in business, this was the westward extremity of the area for which I was the Regional HR Manager. It was here, too, that I worked my last day in that industry and where it came to an abrupt end way back in March 2002.

What one sees as one urban sprawl is actually made up of numerous different towns/villages. Those that spring to mind are Hartenbos, home of the ATKV (Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging), Klein Brakrivier, Groot Brakrivier (it was here that as a High School student, I attended SCA camps), Tergniet (I often visited the Appels here when I did my military service in Oudtshoorn), Eselsrus (where retired teachers have made their holiday and retirement village), Glentana, Herold’s Bay (the home of golfer Ernie Els) and a guess a few more that I have forgotten.

From Mossel Bay to George the national road is a double four lane highway – only because the Member of Parliament for the constituency of George all the years was one PW Botha, later to become Prime Minister and State President of the Republic and the deliverer of the dreaded Rubicon Speech that projected our country on a downward spiral to chaos in the eighties).    

 

Next to the highway and between it and the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains, is the George National Airport, also a brainchild of the late PW Botha MP.

Then comes the City of George, the sixth oldest town in South Africa named after King George III, and the Capital of the Southern Cape. The town is very centrally situated: halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and centre of the Garden Route.

It is situated on a 10-kilometer plateau between the majestic Outeniqua Mountain to the north and the Indian ocean to the South. Pacaltsdorp is found right next to George.

(Part 2 next week)

 

ED and ELVIS

Tuesday 10 August 2010: 3 years 11 months on …

Bucket lists have become synonymous with people who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. I think the term comes from the movie entitled Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and I would guess it’s based on the English euphemism for dying:  to kick the bucket!

We all know what a bucket is – and so this phrase appears rather odd. Why should kicking one be associated with dying?

The link between buckets and death was made by at least 1785, when the phrase was defined in Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: “To kick the bucket, to die.”

One theory as to why, albeit with little evidence to support it, is that the phrase originates from the notion that people hanged themselves by standing on a bucket with a noose around their neck and then kicking the bucket away. There are no citations that relate the phrase to suicide and, in any case, why a bucket?

Whenever I’ve needed something to stand on I can’t recall ever opting for a bucket. This theory doesn’t stand up any better than the supposed buckets did.

The mist begins to clear with the fact that in 16th century England bucket had an additional meaning (and in some parts it still has), i.e. a beam or yoke used to hang or carry items.

The term may have been introduced into English from the French trébuchet – meaning a balance, or buque – meaning a yoke. That meaning of bucket was referred to in Peter Levins’ Manipulus vocabulorum. A dictionarie of English and Latine wordes, 1570:

“A Bucket, beame, tollo.” and was used by Shakespeare in Henry IV Part II, 1597:

“Swifter then he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket.” [to gibbet meant to hang]

The wooden frame that was used to hang animals up by their feet for slaughter was called a bucket. Not unnaturally they were likely to struggle or to spasm after death and hence ‘kick the bucket’.

Any which way. Last week, on Ed is in Wed© on AlgoaFM, Lance and I discussed the travelling that I had done and had been referring to in my blogs. He said that it reminded him of Dalene Mathee’s Kring in die Bos.

I have been extremely fortunate to have travelled extensively in my lifetime, both in Southern Africa and overseas. The bug definitely bit me when I became a Rotary Exchange Student to the USA in 1975. 

Lance then asked whether further travel was on my bucket list? I think my response was somewhere along the lines of “I would love to, but it’s not that easy anymore – both from a cost perspective and from a health perspective”.

Yes, bucket lists are easy to draw up when you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. The difficult part is to action the list!

In watching the movie Bucket List and in reading various books by authors diagnosed with terminal illnesses, it is evident that it is essential to be quite wealthy in order to action bucket lists. In the case of ordinary everyday people such as me, and in many cases people who are even less fortunate than me, bucket lists are often unattainable. Hence the excellent work done by organisations such as REACH FOR A DREAM.

Bucket lists can also become very stressful items, especially in a family environment.

I have written before about trying to live normally in a world that has become very abnormal. Whilst I, at the top of each of my blogs, have a counter counting the extra time that I been blessed with since becoming ill, and cross off each day on the calendar as another bonus that I have filled with some or other activity, my family are simply going about their “normal” daily routines – work, school, play – and planning and living their normal lives (in addition to having to care for me!)

A friend said to me just the other day, “You are so lucky to be living the life that you now have!” I was originally quite p***** off, and replied that I would give anything to be healthy again.  But, in thinking about it, yes, I have been truly blessed with all the activities that I have been privileged to be involved in – things that would never have been possible had I still been healthy!

But, my thinking is not always that of my family’s!

In Industrial Relations, which I was involved in for fifteen years of my business life, one recognises the fact that conflict is inevitable in the capitalistic business environment.

Because the goal of the one party in the partnership is not the same as that of the other party in the partnership, there is constant feuding between capital and labour!

On the one hand, you have entrepreneurs and management trying to make as much profit as possible by utilising their labour for as long and hard as possible – and, on the other hand, you have labour wanting as much remuneration as possible for doing the least amount of work that is possible! Hence, all the strikes that we see as part of our daily South African business environment!

The same happens when you have a family where some are living and one is dying!

The goals are not always the same, and conflict becomes inevitable.

That happened again, this past weekend – the long weekend with Women’s Day being the public holiday last Monday. 

We had planned to go to St Francis Bay for the weekend. But, we had also been invited to go to Elvis Blue’s concert in George. My bucket list included the concert – the family thought I was insane to travel all that way to go to a concert – well, maybe I am!

And, as in industrial relation’s conflict, domestic conflict can also only be resolved through consultation, negotiation and compromise!

We agreed to go from Port Elizabeth to St Francis Bay – via George! For those who know, that’s like travelling from New York to San Francisco via London! And the party grew from two to four people – from Pera and I to the whole family!

So, on Friday afternoon, we left for George – with demeanour, body language and the lack of any other language in the car clearly demonstrating that there was some stress, and that all was not quite well in the state of Denmark!

Time was of the essence. We left at two thirty and the concert was due to start in George at seven. We arrived at Hermann and Sally in Knysna (where we would stay for the night) at five thirty, quickly changed (those that needed to) and left for George – another forty-five minutes down the road.

I knew the show was booked up, that seating was “first come-first served” and was stressing about having to sit on the floor. However, I did not know that we had reserved seats in the second row from the front, and so some of the stress was quite unnecessary  (isn’t that often the case?).

Well, Elvis’s singing was exceptional (and the supporting programme was good) and if he doesn’t win SA Idols this year, I am sure he’ll make it close to the very top. We all enjoyed the show and that helped to thaw the mood somewhat!

Then back to Knysna, where we spent the night. A full-on English breakfast was served, complete with handwritten menus, by Tayla (the youngest of the Kapp daughters) and her friend. When I came downstairs, I found them in the kitchen with their aprons covering their pyjamas. How different having daughters compared to having sons!

We sat outside on the deck, catching up, and savouring the beautiful surroundings of the Knysna environment. Alas, noon came to soon, and we headed off back to St Francis Bay (which is where, you will recall, we were headed in the first place!)

But Sean wanted to visit his school and hostel friend, David Bryant, in Plettenberg Bay. So, in the further interests of compromise, we agreed to make a quick stop there – just to say hello – and phoned ahead to say it would be quick – please, no lunch!

Well, Dave’s folks arrived home and almost convinced us to stay the night! But, after much chatting, numerous beers, glasses of champagne, chips and dips, and more and more visitors arriving, we eventually set off for St Fran at about five!  What a lovely day – often the unplanned, spontaneous things are just like that!

On the way back, we had a flat on the Tsitsikamma Toll Road. Thanks to Sean and Phillip (they could apply to work in Schumaker’s F1 pits) and the toll road patrol, we were able to get moving quickly again and eventually got to St Fran just after seven pm, missing the closing of the Spar by minutes.

Our neighbours, the Rishworths, were braaing on their deck, and so we joined them, as we did on Sunday afternoon for lunch, together with their other guests. And then Ken and Dorelle MacKenzie arrived for drinks . . .

Ndiniwe – I am exhausted – but the bucket list is not!

Monday morning saw Sean and I rush back to Port Elizabeth to meet up with Elvis and Lance in the AlgoaFM studio for a final interview before he heads off to Sun City. Good luck there, Jan!

What a show – what a weekend – what a victory for compromise!

We need another long weekend to rest – when’s that?