Thursday, September 25, 2014

Paragraph from 2nd last chapter of Anchor of My Soul

Anchor of my Soul 
Father Leo, the Catholic priest came to visit me.  He told me that there are lots and lots of Catholics in Bloemfontein and that almost every nurse in the ward is a Catholic and that is why he can come and go as he pleases in this ward.   He asked me if I would like the blessing of the sick and of course I said yes.  Insurance…just in case!   
The second time he came to see me, he remembered not only my name, but the answers to all his questions he had put to me the first time he came to give me the blessing of the sick.
          “I am really busy today Dianne.  I have lots of patients to see in a number of hospitals.  Do you want me to say a quick prayer for you?” Father Leo asked me.
          “If you make it quick, that will be great.  Thanks Father”, I responded.
          “Right”, he said, pulling up a chair next to the bed.  “Let’s get on with it then”.  He closed his eyes and began.  “Father, we bring you our sister, Dianne, this morning.  Please can you let her stay down here a little longer?  The world needs activists and I don’t think you need a deputy just yet. Now where did I put the sacrament…?”  He stopped praying while he leaned down, picked up his battered little bag and began scratching around in it.

          “Father, you still praying”, I said, quite astonished by the sudden interruption not only of his prayer and his thoughts, but his actions as well.

          “Now…now…Dianne!   If God has patience with me, don’t you think you could have a little as well?  And by the way, did I mention to you that the story of Job in the Bible is not true.  It is just a parable.  Every person who has studied theology should know that!”

I don’t know where that last sentence came from and what relevance it had to me, but it patience thing and Job shut me up pretty quickly and gave me food for thought for the rest of the day. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Halfway through second half of second last chapter : ANCHOR OF MY SOUL !!

About a week after arriving at Medi Clinic, I was sitting and painting on fabric, lost in my own world of thoughts when Dr Fanie came and sat on the bed next to me.  I had been so lost in my thoughts that I was quite shocked to suddenly find a doctor, not standing by my bed, but sitting on my bed.   He put his arm around me.

          “I don’t know how to tell you this.  We have your results back”, he said.

          “Just say it like it is, Dr Fanie”.

          “You are fucked!” he said, giving me another squeeze. 

          “Really fucked?”

          “Really fucked!  Mada (Dr Ferreira) sent all your blood work to the Pretoria Research Lab, but I don’t understand enough about it, so she is coming to see you and will explain it all to you”.

          “Is there a cure?” I asked.

          “No, you got this for life.  You are clinically ill”, he said, giving me yet another squeeze around my shoulders.

When he left, I sat there thinking about what he had said.  At least I was not mental, insane, faking, lying or a drug addict.  There was some comfort in that.  I thought about asking him for a letter to give to my family and then again, that stubborn part of me thought, ‘Fuck them!’

About a half hour later, Dr Ferreira arrived, pulled up a chair and sat down next to my bed.   She also started with the same words.

          “I don’t know how to tell you this, Dianne”.

          “You can say it like it is Dr Mada.  Dr Fanie has already told me I am fucked”, I replied.

          “Ja, jy is ‘n bietjie gefok”, she said.   She leaned over and showed me a wad of papers with all kinds of blood results, most of which made absolutely no sense to me.   “You have Primary Mannin Binding Lectin Deficiency and Secondary Humeral Deficiency”, she said.

          “How do you spell those things?” I asked.   I could not even repeat them, let alone spell them.   Words like these can now roll off my tongue as though I am a specialist haematologist, surprising doctors and nurses no end.   I wrote them down as she spelt them for me.   “What exactly does that all mean”, I asked.

          “Well, it means that you have a serious immune deficiency and you are susceptible to every infection that goes around.  Because these are primary and secondary, it means that there is no way that we can boost your immune system.  You may have inherited this condition, but we are not sure.  You don’t have the building blocks for the immune system” she explained.

          “Is there a cure?” I asked again.  I was forever chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  I just could not accept a 'no cure' verdict. 

          She shook her head.  “I am sorry. There is no cure.  You will have to be treated with Polygam every two weeks for the rest of your life, and you will have to have prophylactic antibiotics.  This will not cure you, but it will extend your life.  I am sorry”, she said, putting her hand onto mine and giving it a squeeze.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Paragraph from Chapter 4 : Anchor of My Soul

What is really amazing in the UK is that they don’t have stainless steel dishes or bedpans or even plastic ones in the hospitals.  Everything is disposable and made from cardboard.  The cardboard vomit bowl looks just like a bowler hat, which of course, I had to wear to make myself laugh for a while.  Even the bedpan is cardboard.   

Imagine shitting in cardboard?  What about those really fat people?  Surely the cardboard would not hold their backsides on the edges, and the bedpans would collapse? 

Gentamycin, blood transfusions, drips, blood tests, scratches and Spotty Dick Pudding … they were all there again, as was Dr Shut-eye.  

I ask her a few questions and with her eyes closed she asks me for a list of my medication.  Huh?  No wonder I don’t feel safe with her.  This oncologist is really miserable, has never treated HCL before, never seen anyone with leukocytoclastic vasculitis, has no bedside manner, intimidates me and is quite rude.  

Can you imagine how bad she is to intimidate me?  

I think I will be better off with someone who gives me information and who is not rude and obnoxious; and who has at least a teaspoon full of compassion.  She was rude to the GP too, when she phoned him and gave him hell for giving me something to stop vomiting so he is not impressed with her at all.  No wonder he does not mind getting me in to see Professor Lynch. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Last Paragraph of Chapter 10: Anchor For My Soul

Anchor for my Soul

This rare and  little known disease caused me to lose my family, my friends, my children’s home, my self-worth, my self-confidence, my passion, my money, my trust in people, and my need to save the world.  

But it gave me self-knowledge, resilience, peace within myself, a greater capacity to love and to forgive, determination, persistence and motivation to be the best person I can be and finally, it taught me to choose only those fights that I have a chance of winning.   

Nothing is the same…It is as though I was shook up and put together in a thousand different ways.  

I did learn one thing that is very important.  You don’t learn humility by being humiliated – you learn humility by being with people who are humble. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Snippet from the New Book: Anchor For My Soul

From the many years of counselling others, I have found that when you tell a story three times, that story…that event, loses its power over you.   I am going to tell my story so that I am freed from this negative trauma of my past.  I want to walk into the future without scabs, bruises or tears.

Something traumatic happened to me.  It was something far worse than being given a diagnosis of cancer.  It came as a terrible storm, a violent explosion of suppressed jealousy, hatred and anger.   A haematologist with a god-complex looked at something he did not understand, fought with a doctor who had to defend herself, irrespective of the truth or consequences of her lies, gave false information to my family that has had dire significance for me, has ruined my family, and made me ashamed, humiliated and embarrassed to be alive.  It swept away all that was civilised about a family.

If it were not for my mother, Professor Lynch of the University College Hospital in London, Professor M du Toit of the Bone Marrow Unit, Cape Town, Dr F Meyer and Dr Frieda Pienaar and her incredible team of specialists in Bloemfontein, I would not be here to tell you this story.  If you want to live and you have a serious life-threatening illness, it is important to find a team of medical professionals that want to save your life as badly as you want to live.

From my own experience, I know that it takes a lot more courage to live than to die.  My fervent prayer is that I will continue to have the courage to choose life over death.  My belief in a Higher Power and the aforementioned people, have been the anchor for my soul. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is this the face?

Eugene de Kock
Is this the face?
Is this the face of arrogance, hatred, wickedness and sinfulness?
Is this the face of racism?
Is this the face that the world can loathe?
Is this the face of dejection and abandonment?
Is this the face of sorrow and regret?
Is this the face that needs forgiveness and compassion?
Is this the face?
Please President Zuma, give this man a Presidential Pardon.

How it started with Eugene de Kock

Centre:  Eugene de Kock 
My first wake up call to the injustice of many who sit in prisons around the world was when I read the story of Ken Saro Wiwa. He was not the first person to be unjustly imprisoned and executed, but he unfortunately won’t be the last either. 

Not even Nelson Mandela would get involved in Ken’s son’s plea to him to ask for clemency for his father. By the time I had read my first book on Ken, it was already too late to do anything about it. He had been executed. I made it my business to research the tragedy of this brave man’s life. May the life of Ken be forever on the conscience of Nigeria and Shell Oil! 

When Eugene de Kock came into my life, via a book I had read from the hospital library, I was determined to do the research and if I found that there was any injustice in his incarceration, I would do everything in my power to get him a Presidential Pardon. That is how it all started... Now we are a formidable group of people determined to have this man released via Presidential Pardon on compassionate grounds. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Diary Entry from my new book ... watch this space!

Not my words ... but my motto!
Diary entry: Lister Hospital, Stevenhage, UK

Last night, Saru and Oliver were the nurses on duty.  I heard a commotion outside. Someone was shouting, and it sounded like someone was being knocked about.  My ward is a side room, and since I am a barrier nursed patient, there is only a little window in the door that looks straight out onto the nurses’ station.  When I had a look to see what all the commotion was about, I could just about see Oliver down on the ground, almost sitting on top of what I presumed was a squirming patient.  Both were huffing and puffing and panting, but I just assumed that the patient had had a fit and that everything was under control. 

The next time I had a look out my peephole window; there was an army of security men standing around.  I wondered whether this was perhaps an intruder.  Later in the evening I asked Saru what had happened and what had been wrong with the person Oliver was sitting on.  She started laughing so hard that she could barely get the story out.  The patient is an Alzheimer’s patient on the ward and he had decided that Oliver had beaten one of his children.  The patient came rushing from his bed in the main ward and took a running swipe at Oliver with his fist.  Sara had seen him coming at a run, with a mad look in his eyes.  Lacking courage in the face of a potentially dangerous attack, she jumped behind Oliver, leaving the poor man unprotected for a punch face, while the patient continued shouting, “Why did you beat my kid.  Why you beat my kid?” 

Oliver grappled him to the ground while Saru ran for urgent help. The help did not come fast enough.   Five minutes of Oliver trying to hold down a man twice his size was taking its toll on him.  Only after the second call to security did the entire group of security officers come running in time for the third world war.   Poor Oliver was shocked and shaken, while Saru could not stop laughing, probably from nerves.  I only then found out that I was on the neurological ward, this being the only ward that had a free isolation room at the time of my admission.    Guess I am where I am supposed to be…with the strange and insane. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

We are not born racist. Children identify with those who love them.

Volunteer Kathy 
Let me explain my simple view of racism.  I do not believe that we are born with it.  I believe that it is something that is taught to children who grow up thinking they are either superior or inferior because of the colour of their skin.  
Children do not see colour but identify with those who love them.  
While I was caring for orphaned children, a tourist bus had an accident and a lot of foreigners were killed and injured.  The children and I were listening to the news on the radio.  One of the teenagers (note that this child had been socialised already to the difference between skin colour as he had been on the streets for a long time) asked me what colour the people on the bus were.  I told him that they must have been white because they were mostly from Germany.  His words chilled me.  “Oh, that’s OK then, Mama D.  At least they were not black”.  I replied that I was white to which his response was, “No, you not white, Mama D.  You the same as me!”

Another incident which I remember concerned a much younger child of approximately five years of age.  I met her in the township and we were having a lovely conversation about going to school and what she wanted to become when she was big.  Suddenly, she grabbed my arm and said, “What is wrong with your colour?”  “Nothing, God made me like this”, I replied.  “Well, He made a mistake because you speak Xhosa and you can’t be this colour”.