#IronmanLakePlacid #firstworldproblems

David did his first ultra triathlon at Buffelspoort in March this year. A few weeks later he was itching for more and took a leap of faith by signing up for the half Ironman in St Croix in the US Virgin Islands. British Airways lost his bike (fortunately it arrived the night before the race) but he had the most incredible experience and loved the race. The bug had bitten and in early May we tucked the kids in and scoured the Ironman website in search of potential races. I was definitely going to New York at some point for sister bonding time and he was going wherever he could swim, bike, run. It meant we’d be apart alot so when he saw that there was a full Ironman in New York State, instead of being terrified, he was bursting with excitement. (Yes, people regularly tell him he’s mad and I totally concur).

When we told my parents-in-law of David’s plan to sign up for a full Ironman so that we could combine our travel objectives as a couple, his Dad stated the obvious: why didn’t David just come to New York with me for a holiday? David’s response: “How long have you known me, Dad?”

Understandably, excitement did give way to outright panic within 24 hours but by then David had purchased his charity ticket with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation to enter the race (the only remaining option, ten weeks before the race) and there was no going back. We were going to New York, baby! There was just this small matter of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle, followed by a marathon (42.2km).

Rather him, than me, was all I kept thinking…

Fast forward to race day in Lake Placid on Sunday 27 July. We were up at 4:15am and walking to Mirror Lake in the heart of the town by 5am. When I asked David how he was feeling he responded that he’d “gone non-verbal”. I, on the other hand, seemed to have gone “emotional”. A supporter rode past the other competitors and supporters walking to the start and wished everyone good luck with such exuberance, my eyes started to well up. I saw a man in a wheelchair with the tell-tale blue armband signifying that he was a competitor and I started to drizz. I kissed David goodbye as he made his way amongst the 2,700 competitors to his spot on the lake and I had a lump in my throat. They played the Star Spangled Banner before the gun went off and I found that emotional. And all I could think of was something that has been cropping up in my head alot lately: hashtag firstworldproblems.

A few months ago I saw a Twitter post with a picture of someone, somewhere, in a third world country, standing in front of a grass hut with the hashtag “first world problems”. It read something like this: “My house is so big, I need two modems to access wi-fi all over #firstworldproblems”. I think this hit home because most days I am seriously annoyed that the wi-fi coverage is not expansive enough for my needs. And here I was, on a luxury vacation in America, crying my eyes out because people with $15,000 tri bikes may or may not finish a crazy race called the Ironman? #firstworldproblems, I kept telling myself.

I pulled myself together, found my sister and her boyfriend who’d driven up from New York City for the weekend, and we watched the swimmers head off on their first lap. We managed to spot David amongst the crowd coming out of the water to start his second lap. By this time, the weather predictions had come true and it had started to rain fairly heavily. I saw a supporter with a badge which read “F*ck Cancer!”. That set me off. A little later I was standing in the rain watching competitors coming out of the water, having finished their swim. From Mirror Lake, they had to run about 400m to get to the transition area to climb onto their bikes. That was when I saw a man carrying the paraplegic competitor in his arms and sprinting, in the pouring rain, to the transition area. He was running like his life depended on it.

By now I was bawling my eyes out.

The rain started during the swim
The rain started during the swim

When I was standing at the finish line, expecting David any minute, the MC introduced a finisher and told the crowds she’d had a double mastectomy in 2011. Now she was – as the MC was calling the finishers – “an Ironman”. (Needless to say, that had me blubbing again).

Of the 2,700 competitors (a handful of whom were professionals) I saw many people with incredible, athletic physiques. I tend to categorize those people as different to me – naturally very talented at sport – and then it makes sense to me why they can compete in a full Ironman. But it seemed that for every super athletic looking person, there was a very “normal”, non-athletic looking competitor getting out of their wetsuit, grinding uphill on their bikes, jogging past me in their running shoes. Sure, they had strong, muscular quads, but many were overweight. Not obese, but honestly, quite chubby. I don’t say this as a criticism at all. To me, this proved that I was ultimately witnessing a testament to the power of the mind. For some, finishing the race was the equivalent of screaming “F*ck cancer!”. For some, it was a tribute to someone they had lost to cancer (or perhaps in other ways). Some may have been competing to overcome a “firstworldproblem”. And some may have simply competed for the personal challenge.

Regardless, it was inspiring – and very, very emotional – to watch.

Here is the story of David’s amazing achievement in pictures. He came 405th out of 2,772 athletes who started the race. Hashtag determination (and talent), my love. Well done!

Mirror Lake - site of the swim
Mirror Lake – site of the swim

 

My Ironman on his time trial bike. By then the rain had stopped.
My Ironman on his time trial bike. By then the rain had stopped.
David's support team: Justin, together with Sylvia in her MMRF charity t-shirt
David’s support team: Justin, together with Sylvia in her MMRF charity t-shirt
IMG_5874
David, coming out transition after the 180km cycle, about to embark on a marathon
IMG_5889
You are an Ironman now!

 

One (Wo)man’s Fat Jeans…

…might just be another (wo)man’s goal weight jeans…

In my post Is Your Body Lotion Making You Fat? I joked about how that diet’s literature counselled users not to use body lotions as the creams could be “absorbed by the skin as fat”. I still find the statement hilarious. As to its veracity, I can’t say I bothered consulting with anyone in the medical field (apart from the medical practitioners you pay to give you the diet) so I have no idea if it’s true or not. It just sounds ludicrous. Nonetheless, since I first started eating meals that looked like this:

A typical lunch or dinner on "the body lotion diet"
A typical lunch or dinner on “the body lotion diet”

on the body lotion diet, I’ve lost 13kg – with the application of body cream (believe it or not).

This is me at 71kg in mid-March:

71kg on 19 March 2014
The head that goes with the body to prove it really was me
The head that goes with the body to prove it really was me

I look drab because I dressed drab and I dressed drab because I felt drab. I didn’t have “no energy” and sure, I wasn’t morbidly obese (although, technically, I might have been had my body fat percentage been taken) but my new favourite Country Road pants were cutting into me at the waist and I just felt kak. I hated getting dressed in the morning, I hated catching sight of my body in the mirror. And it pissed me off that I had gained enough weight to technically make me need to buy size 14 pants – all in the space of a few months (not that I was skinny before).

I felt like I needed to do something really drastic and different to change the central role that food and eating was playing in my life (and has always played ever since I can remember). I was also pissed off that my weight was taking up so, so much of my headspace. I mean – what a serious waste of brainpower and energy, right? Because I knew that it didn’t have to be this way. I knew I could look – and feel different. I was the only thing standing in my way.

Fast forward four months. This is me last night just before a rare and wonderful date night with my husband:

58kg on 13 July
58kg on 13 July

I’m stoked, to put it mildly. I now weigh 58kg (butt naked, first thing in the morning “pre-coffee and post-wee” as Susan Hayden once elegantly put it). I am 1.66m tall and according to Weight Watchers I should weigh between 55kg and 69kg. That’s based solely on height, not bone structure but I know I’m not a mesomorph (Serena Williams) so I shouldn’t weigh 69kg and I know I’m not an ectomorph (Kate Moss) so I doubt I need to weigh 55kg. I have tiny wrists but I have child-bearing hips (as my first ever personal trainer was frank enough to put it), my mother’s non-existent arse, her broad back and my paternal grandmother’s “problem” thighs. And thanks to my recent weight loss I no longer have boobs. Yip, I am officially an A-cup. But I have two skinny friends whose boobs disappeared after breastfeeding so I have been well counselled in the way of push-up bras. And my very generous husband is happy to buy me boobs. And I am more than happy to accept his generous offer. Feminist shock horror, I know. I actually do consider myself somewhat of a feminist – albeit a far less fervent one than I was in my “youth”. I’m just a vain feminist and if buying boobs is on offer, then I’d like a pair. Thanks, Babe.

Despite exercising 4-6 times a week on average for the past 5 years (including resistance training twice a week with a personal trainer), my tummy and thighs are still – even at 58kg – soft and spongy. But for the 3 weeks a year a spend in a bikini in public, I can totally live with that. Or I can train harder for a harder stomach. Whatever. Life is short.

As for other (wo)mens’ fat jeans… I distinctly remember my neighbour letting slip what she weighed when we were both around 6 months pregnant with our second children last year. 53kg. I think I might have weighed that in Standard Three – before I got boobs. (I used to have boobs). I am now very proud to say that I am wearing her “fat” jeans. Okay, they are incredibly low and I can’t bend over but whatever – they’re Replays and they once belonged to someone who weighed 53kg when she was six months pregnant. Who needs to bend over? These are them jeans:

Proudly wearing my neighbour's fat jeans
Proudly wearing my neighbour’s fat jeans

Naturally, I am so thrilled with my new body that I could get slightly evangelical about the body lotion diet. But I am not here to punt it at all. I found it soul destroyingly difficult at first – yes, soul destroyingly difficult. I have no other words. The extreme deprivation was literally soul destroying. I didn’t (couldn’t) follow it nearly as closely as I was advised to by the doctor and nurse who counselled me. I didn’t really enjoy the fact that you’re advised to only do light cardio a few times a week owing to the low calorie intake. (I’m a stay at home mom – I now LIKE going to the gym). And I didn’t fully listen to that either. I took breaks from the diet many times which wasn’t advised. I gained back a bit of weight when I took my first two week break but when I took the second two week break, I exercised alot, ate a bit more carefully and didn’t gain back the weight.

I can honestly say that getting down to even 60kg has been sort of life changing. I like looking in my full length mirror. I like getting dressed in the morning. I enjoy shopping for clothes. And I don’t really mind what the size tag says – as long as they fit. (Okay, I won’t buy a size 14 even if it’s a Lilliputian size 14 but maybe one day I’ll get over that too). The nude coloured spaghetti strap top in the picture above is a top I bought from Witchery yesterday. It’s an XS and I truthfully I am just teensy bit stoked. (I have a medium-sized bone structure and I am not really an XS and Woolies is really generous with their sizing but whatever. The label says XS, okay? I might frame it…)

I feel on top of the world writing this post. I know there is a very real risk that I could gain all the weight back and more, but that is one of the reasons I am putting this in writing and making my experience very public. And it’s a very vain and shallow post to write but I am a stay-at-home mom and/or a housewife and it’s taken me years to utter those words out loud so I’m okay with calling myself vain and shallow.

But I’m not really fundamentally vain or shallow. Which is why I want to end off this post with something written by Amber Jones from Go Kaleo. Leigh – a close friend of my sister’s and a trained nutritionist “introduced” me to Amber Jones by posting a comment about her on my blog when I wrote about the deprivation of the body lotion diet. I don’t identify with absolutely everything Amber says about diets and food and weight but she sounds highly intelligent, I do relate to many things she writes and I have no doubt that she’s changing lives as we speak. This is an extract from something she wrote recently. It is so magnificently written and so profound, that I get a lump in my throat every time I read it. Despite the vain and shallow things I’ve written above, I agree with every single one of Amber’s words below:

Amber_rogers_lead-630x476

This picture of me does not tell you how happy I am. It does not tell you how much value I bring to the lives of others. It does not tell you how many people love me. It does not signify that I am better or worse than anyone else. It does not convey the works I create in this world.

Being fit is awesome, because it keeps me healthy and strong so I can go out in the world and do awesome things. Being fit, itself, is not the goal. Being fit is a means to accomplish my true goals. If your goal ends at ‘being fit’, think bigger! The world has so much more for you!

This is one of many links to Amber’s full article. To my fellow Fat to Fit challengers on Gaelyn Cokayne’s programme, entering Week 5 of the challenge, think about Amber’s words when you feel guilty for sharing a pizza with your toddler.

And to the love of my life: thank you for your unwavering support on this journey. You inspire me to be better – in every way. I look forward to so many runs, hikes, rides and adventures with you and our beautiful children.

Left-Brain Overload & Right-Brain Reignition: A Personal Up-date

I should have been a man. I am a terrible multi-tasker. I HATE juggling lots of balls at once. I like to focus on one thing at a time, finish it and then change focus. And I am a terrible, terrible procrastinator. Only my mother, my father, my sister and my husband understand how bad my procrastination truly is. I am sure I should hire a coach or a hypnotist or a psychologist or a fortune-teller or someone to help me confront this problem but quite frankly, I don’t feel like it. Right now, I just feel like there are too many puzzles to build, places to see, play-dates to be had, books to be read, interesting courses to study, friends to have dinner with, runs to go on, for me to want to dedicate time to learning about the implementation of anti- procrastination techniques. Perhaps one day I’ll feel differently but so far, in my life, I have never been a fan of following methodologies. I don’t say they are not good or they don’t work – they are just not for me.

And so for the last two months my focus has been on passing a first year Microeconomics test, passing my very first university level Maths test and passing the Ecos exam. During that time I also expended an enormous amount of energy 1) stressing about the latter 2) waking up in the middle of the night with anxiety in my chest stressing about not having really begun preparing for the latter 3) finding hugely important domestic and administrative tasks to attend to (some of which I had procrastinated doing for two to three years) to avoid studying for the latter.

In short, it took me back to my boarding school days where I would leave studying for tests and exams to the 11th hour and would then go and cram for them by lying in an empty bath after lights out until the early hours of the morning. (Lights out was a strict policy but the bathroom lights remained on all night so this was a cramming method employed by myself and other, fellow crammers. (Remember that, Busi Roberts? I can still visualise us cramming together in the middle of the night in Std. 9).

I had exactly four weeks between my Maths test in late May and my Ecos exam in late June and I VOWED beforehand that now that I was 35 years old, I would no longer procrastinate and I would calmly study daily for 4 weeks.

WhatEVER!

Just before my exam, my amazing husband agreed to help with the kids (together with our amazing weekend nanny, Thembi) while I holed myself up in The View Hotel in Auckland Park for two nights prior to my exam. All I can say is, thank God for David who has been supportive of my desire to randomly study commerce subjects “for fun” – both in principle and in practice. Despite everything I have said about the type A stress that I bring upon myself when I study or work, it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in recent years. Yes, I’ve hated it at times, but overall I’ve absolutely loved it and I am so grateful for the privilege.

So that is why I have felt “unable” to blog over the past two months or so. I’ve loved the challenge of engaging my under-used left brain but I’ve also very much missed the right-brain stuff like writing my blog and reading books. It feels really good to be back in this space. To kickstart things I took part in a blogathon at The Common Room in Parkhurst organised by Elance on Thursday evening. I almost pulled out when I saw the topics which were very much geared towards freelance writers and on which I had very little insight and zero experience. But it felt good to sit down and write, to meet professional writers or part-time writers, to log-in to my blog again and to start thinking about blogging and writing again. It also prompted me to finally do something about the writing course gift voucher that my sister gave me for my birthday (in late January – oops). I am booked and will be attending next Monday. I am told to bring – wait for it – a notebook and pen. How cute is that? My handwriting is so atrocious I can barely read my own shopping lists but it’s at Croft & Co in Parkview and I do love a good excuse to visit Parkview (and Croft & Co, quite honestly). My mom went to Parkview Junior and Parktown Girls, my grandparents and my mom and uncles were members of the Anglican Church in Parkview for decades and the suburb has retained a pretty and interesting main drag – the likes of which have largely been decimated by shopping malls, high walls and complex living.

And, of course, David pranged his car in Parkview on an evening in April 2006, a couple of hours before proposing to me in Scusi Restaurant…

It’s now 5:30 and I can hear Joe chatting to himself over the monitor. Time to go and warm up his bottle on this lazy, family Sunday morning. Adieu, gentle reader. I will be back in a few days to blog about losing 11kg since mid-March and all that good dieting/ food stuff I am so obsessed with.

Is Your Body Lotion Making You Fat?

When I started Weight Watchers five months after Chiara was born, I resigned myself to the fact that no matter how long it took, I wanted this to be the last “diet” I ever went on. A year later, I was 13kg slimmer. I wasn’t super skinny but I was within a few kilos of the lower end of the healthy weight range for my height and build. Then I fell pregnant with Joe and I used this as an excuse to indulge. By the end of my pregnancy I had packed on nearly 14kg.

Thanks to an easy birth and a wonderful night nurse, I was back at Weight Watchers 10 days after giving birth and back at personal training when Joe was two weeks old. My gynae explained to me that it would be difficult to shift weight in the first 12 weeks following child birth and he was absolutely right. It did get slightly easier after that and by the December holidays, I had managed to shed close to 11kg of the 14kg gained in pregnancy. But then came Mauritius, overseas guests, Christmas, New Years, my birthday, kiddies’ birthday parties… Every excuse in the book for me to gain back 6kg out of the 11kg I had managed to shift. And if you deduct Joe’s birth weight from the equation, it meant that 8 months after his birth, I was exactly 1.7kg slimmer than the day I gave birth.

Enter severe self-loathing and the decision to do something drastic.

I knew of someone who had shed a fortune of weight very quickly through one of these expensive medical slimming programmes. I generally don’t like diets that make me drink my food instead of eating it, nor do I like ones where I can hardly eat anything. This diet had both of those elements plus one added bonus: a daily injection in the arse. Awesome.

Nonetheless I made an appointment, had a big fat pizza the night before and went to the consultation prepared to starve myself to thinness. I had to smile. The questionnaire wanted to know why I was overweight, as if it were one of life’s great mysteries. “I eat too much,” I wrote.

The briefing with the nurse offered some good news and some bad. The bad news was that the hormone we were to inject daily would take a week to arrive. Psychologically I needed to start immediately. So this was really bad. The good news was that exercise wasn’t really encouraged since you’d be eating basically “eff all”. I could work with that.

Another bad sign was that I was asked three times, by three different people (therapist, nurse, doctor) whether I’d done this before.

“No!” I felt like screaming, “if I done this before I’d be skinny, right? Right? RIGHT?”

Of course the worst news of all was the daily meal plan:

– 30ml of skim milk
– 2 small fruits (excluding bananas and grapes)
– a shake for breakfast
– lunch and dinner: 75g of lean chicken/ fish with 120g of steamed veggies but not the yummy ones like butternut
– 3 provitas (and boy do I look forward to those three bad boys)

The theory behind the programme is that when you inject yourself with the hormone that is activated when humans actually face potential starvation – the HCG hormone – your brain tells your body to attack your fat reserves. But you can’t trick your brain into thinking that you’re starving if you’re not – hence the fact that you can barely eat.

Although I haven’t felt starving on the programme (supposedly the hormone means you don’t feel hungry) I have felt utterly deprived and at times miserably depressed. It has honestly been the hardest diet I have ever been on – and boy, have I been on plenty in my life. However, I have managed to shift 5.5kg after 20 days of (more or less) sticking to the regime in a 30 day period. So, I would argue that it has been worth it, even if I do gain back 1kg after eating one Easter egg this weekend.

Having said this, winter is not the most ideal time of year to go on this diet, because, according to the programme’s literature, you could be giving up cupcakes only to have your starving body guzzle up the calories in your cocoa butter. This is the warning:

“Body lotion and body butter: You will be surprised at the amount of calories body cream, oil, body butter and lotions contain. During the initial 6 week period, it is advisable not to apply any body lotion or cream or oil to your body. The absorption of fat by the skin can make a difference to the total amount of calories consumed…”

So with the beginning of winter and Joburg’s high altitude, I look and feel like a crocodile but at least I’m a slightly skinnier crocodile than I was a month ago…

The Trouble with Teenage Study Buddies

During orientation week at UCT back when I started my first year, there were loads of fun activities arranged for non-res. dwellers: parties every night, trips to the beach, walks up the mountain, etc. There was also a series of important sessions designed to enhance academic success at university, such as tours of the library, for example. When one of the very cool third years in charge of O-week, reminded us Freshers about a beach activity taking place the next day, I – nerd that I am – pointed out that it clashed with computer skills training.

“Wahahahahaha!” he laughed. “Who needs computer training? Come to the beach, man!”

My campus street cred. (if it ever existed) evaporated as he shouted this across the large group of first years. He then hastened to add:

“But I do suggest that you go to registration.”

And that was when I gathered that if Mr Cool was urging us to be present at registration, it must be an important event.

Fast forward 16 years later to a couple of weeks ago on campus at Wits. Because most students at Wits Plus lectures are working full time, it was hard not to notice a guy who looked alot younger than the rest of us, who frequently arrived at 5pm lectures dressed in shorts. His attire led me to gather that it was unlikely that he was gainfully employed so I surmised that he would be flexible during the day. All of this led me to earmark him as a potential study buddy.

So one day I went up to him and introduced myself. He was indeed under the age of 20 and unemployed. Why then, wasn’t he a full-time student?

“You see, what happened was, when I arrived at Wits at the beginning of the year, they’d given my place away.”

That didn’t seem fair, I empathised.

“I know!” he replied. “I mean, I missed registration but I was in Cape Town. I was on holiday. I wasn’t, like, going to come up early for registration. You know what I mean?”

Totally, dude. Like, fully. Who’d cut their Cape Town holiday short for registration?

Perhaps I should’ve taken this as a warning sign, but he was available during the day, he lived in the Parks… these were key factors in his favour, I rationalised.

I decided to find out more about my potential study buddy. It wasn’t hard:

“I had a contract to play provincial rugby after school but that was before my accident…I know, you’re thinking I don’t look like a professional rugby player but I used to gym every day. But now I don’t play rugby so I don’t do gym anymore, ’cause what’s the point, right? But at least it was really easy for me to get into varsity – I didn’t need too many points because I’m previously disadvantaged. Because of my accident. Basically, I’m black.”

At this point I don’t know whether I am speaking to a teenager with a mild form of brain damage following an accident or a kid who looks pastier than Prince Phillip himself but who reckons he’s black and might have actually ticked that race group on his university application form.

Then he wants to know how old I am. I tell him I am 35 and he informs me that I am 5 years younger than his mom. Awesome. (And, as I tweeted at the time, my husband and his dad are exactly the same age.)

Nonetheless, we exchange telephone numbers.

The next day, I’m at my desk, busy with an Economics tutorial and I’m unclear on a few things. I’m conscious it’s 8:30am and I’m doubtful whether a 19 year old who only has lectures that evening, would be awake at this hour. So I text him. And then I wait. And wait. And wait.

At about 10am I get a missed call.

“Sorry,” says my study buddy, “I was watching rugby.”

We discuss as much as we can over the phone but it’s not ideal so we agree to meet that afternoon at 4pm after lectures. It’s his idea. He says he’ll be in the library from 3pm.

I fly into the Commerce Library just after 4pm, having dragged myself away from a screaming Chiara begging me not to go to “letchers”. I scan the desks for my study buddy but there is no sign of him. I figure he’s running late and I start working while I wait for him.

An hour and a half later it’s time for our lecture to start and I head to class. Still no sign of my study buddy.

The lecture starts and the penny drops. He’s not coming. It’s a non-compulsory revision lecture on a Friday night before our test the following Tuesday.

The next morning I arrive for our Saturday morning Maths lecture and run into my “study buddy” having a cigarette outside the building, looking a bit rough.

“I’m SO sorry about yesterday!” he exclaims. “I started drinking in the afternoon and …” His voice trails off and he smiles sheepishly.

I have subsequently found myself a nerdy, female, Actuarial Science drop-out, studying third-year Economics, whom I employ on an hourly basis to tutor me.

I guess it’s as the Economists say, “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.

Do Cry for Me, New York City

Yesterday, I spent several hours fantasising about being a high-powered career woman. The fantasy was brought on by Chiara’s incessant crying, moaning, general ill-discipline and toddler delinquency. In my fantasy, I would be wearing a pair of Kurt Geiger black patent leather stilettos – exactly like a magnificent pair I used to own before losing them at an office party where I’d removed them to dance, before waking up the next morning having no recollection of how I got home and finding myself sans cell phone and sans my beautiful shoes. Still, I don’t think the headache I had that morning rivalled the headache brought on by my unplayable toddler. Not even close.

Anyway, back to my fantasy in which one of my greatest dilemmas would be how I would make it across our company’s skywalk to get to a meeting and back in said stilettos which were not built for long distance… Another dilemma would be whether I’d make it to my Step class on time and which dinner invitation I’d accept for later that evening. Of course there’d be other dilemmas like deadlines, deliverables and office politics but this week, that all seemed a whole lot more appealing than a screaming toddler.

Besides my screaming child, the other reason I found myself in another world in my head over the last few days, was because I was quite literally supposed to physically be in another part of the world – in New York City, to be precise. I was supposed to be blogging on Bleecker Street, running in Central Park, sipping cocktails at The Standard, brunching in Brooklyn, shopping at Lulu Lemon, strolling around the Met and watching James Franco on Broadway. That was the plan. I would be a footloose and fancy-free 35 year old getting a tiny taste of my younger sister’s glamorous life in New York. But fate had other ideas.

On Sunday morning, David was man-down with what we thought was a stomach bug. By the evening, the nausea was so severe that I took him to the Emergency Room at Morningside. We were in a curtained cubicle for several hours while he was pricked, jabbed, tested and questioned. Separated by only a curtain from the bed next door, we couldn’t help hearing that patient’s violent vomiting every few minutes, nor could we help overhearing her explain her medical history to the doctor. She’d had a gastric by-pass and a history of stomach ulcers. I don’t know whether the by-pass made her prone to ulcers but what I do know is that I wouldn’t wish the pain and suffering she was experiencing on my worst enemy. Not even to be eternally thin. It was traumatising just to hear her.

By the next day, David appeared to be recovering but Chiara had been coughing her lungs out all weekend, had woken up at midnight complaining of a sore ear and needed to see a doctor. The doctor diagnosed an ear and throat infection and put her on antibiotics. By Monday night, Joe was coughing his head off too. When he finally settled, I went back to my bedroom where David was in agony with stomach cramps. Our GP arrived at 11:30pm and by midnight I was in my car to find the 24 hour pharmacy at Olivedale Hospital. Imagine my horror when I was greeted by a sign at the entrance which explained that, on 31 March 2014 (that very night), the pharmacy would be closed for stock-take until approximately 1am. (Fortunately, they re-opened promptly at 1am and I was back home with much-needed painkillers by 1:30am.)

The next day – the day I was due to jet off to New York – Chiara stayed home from school with her persistent cough, I took Joe to the doctor and we waited to hear whether the gastroenterologist could perform an urgent gastroscopy on David. A couple of hours later my mother-in-law – who had gamely taken Chiara to Pappachinos followed by a trip to Sandton City, replete with pizza, ice-cream and any number of treats – phoned to say that Chiara was inconsolable and wouldn’t stop crying for mommy. So I went to fetch her and brought her back to the hospital where she played on her I-pad while I proceeded to pass out on David’s hospital bed. Apparently the head nurse was not amused.

Fortunately, David’s procedure went well and we were all home that evening. David and Chiara are back at work and back at school but poor Joe has thrown up three times in the last twelve hours, including once at 5am this morning when I was trying to tuck him into bed with me to convince him to go back to sleep. So much for that. I’m heading back to the doctor with him at lunch-time.

Chiara’s mood has improved and my fantasies of tripping down corporate corridors have become less intense… although my book club recommended Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” which, I have to say, is pretty inspiring. She’s obviously an exceptional case but she provides some study-based evidence about women who have families and careers, indicating greater levels of satisfaction within this demographic. Food for thought while I sign off this blog post and attempt to tackle the topic of the first derivative and differentiation for my Maths worksheet for Monday.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy weekend.

Natalie xx

 

 

 

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