I dropped my wife off at Seapoint on the other side of the Cape Peninsula, as she was running the Cape Peninsula Marathon and drove through to Simonstown. I parked the car at the finishing point – the Simonstown Naval-base sports grounds and very slowly remembering the words of the doctor, strolled towards the solitude of a beach area.
In my Afrikaans posts I have written about being hospitalized for 2 weeks in 2013. I took these photos 8 days after my release. Objectively I may have taken more beautiful photos, but subjectively that morning was the most intense and beautiful experience I ever had in nature.
After experiencing what I thought was a heart attack and realizing that it was too painful to drive, a friend refused to take me home as requested and took me to hospital. After pain medication at the ER, I felt fine and wanted to go home, but although an X-ray and instruments did not indicate heart problems, something bothered the ER doctor, who phoned a specialist and I was informed that I will have to stay as they wanted to do a CT-scan the next day.
The Radiology department was on the same floor as my hospital room and I jokingly dismissed the offer to be taken there in a wheelchair. The CT-scan itself felt and sounded like an aeroplane taking off and seeing one of the medical staff approaching me afterwards, I wanted to make a light hearted remark about this, but decided against it given her serious facial expression.
She told met that she is not allowed to give me the results, my doctor must, but what she will tell me is that they were not going to allow me to walk back to my room… At this point I realized that there must be something seriously wrong with me and the uncertainty and fear of the previous evening when I suffered the “heart attack” rebounded. What I can remember about the few hundred meters, while being pushed back to my room on my hospital bed, is that I cannot remember anything.
These tufts of clouds blushed a rich pink, but when the sun rose, it magically became a radiant golden orange.
After being wheeled back, it only took a few minutes for the specialist physician to walk into my room. I was told that I have multiple and large blood clots in both my lungs and that I suffered a pulmonary infarction (a piece of lung – a delta – dies as the blood is blocked off by a clot). I was informed my condition is treatable but that I am fortunate to be alive. I had to keep myself very still the following few days while the medication started to take effect.
The time in hospital changed me or reaffirmed me depending how you look at it. If I can use an analogy – if a penguin bases its psychological well being on the fact that it is a bird, it will become very frustrated. The useless wings do not propel it into the air and unlike an ostrich it cannot outrun its compatriots. Its earth bound graceless shuffle is laughable. But once it shuffles into the water it gracefully out-swims the sea creatures. It was not made to fly.
I had become superficial. I started to place my trust in my wings not realizing that it isn’t taking me anywhere. I had lost a lot of weight and was very fit playing 5 squash games a week as well as participating in a touch-rugby league. I was fitter and leaner than the Abrie of 10 years before and under the impression that like a good red wine I age very well (actually that I age better than my compatriots). But building your identity upon something like fitness, perpetual youth or ego, is treading on extremely thin ice. I experienced the grace to once again realize that as a person of faith my identity is not built on my own abilities or accomplishments.
“When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, God is rock-firm and faithful”
Psalm 73:26 Message translation
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are
That morning I experienced God’s love – it is as if this cloud was stretching out its arms and hugging me.
“Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones”