A Marathon of Light

Amy of the esteemed Lens-Artist quartet assures you that she is: “looking forward to seeing your interpretation of magical lightClick here to see her interpretation

***

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.

An already beautiful palette of colours, despite limited light or maybe because of limited light

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.

Who am I, a bird which cannot fly?

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

Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?
Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

From: “who am I” by Casting Crowns

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”
Proverbs 15:30

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27 thoughts on “A Marathon of Light

  1. Quite profound Abrie, and illustrated wonderfully buy magnificent images. A lesson well-learned and nicely taught. So glad your friend was stubborn and that it was not yet your time to leave us! In this case “thank God” is quite literal

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    1. Thanks Tina indeed! This is not the whole story. 2 days before that I passed out during a touch rugby game. This was after I felt bad during a squash game the morning and told my squash partner I better go and see a doctor. (I was still thick headed enough to go and play the touch rugby game the evening) But then I did go to the doctor for an ECG test which confirmed that I do not have a heart problem in fact just before I experienced the pain I listened to a voice mail which the clinic doctor left confirming that a heart specialist agreed that I do not have heart problems. I felt that difficult to belief when I experienced the pain in my heart area minutes after that. But it was my left lung where the pain occurred.

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  2. Thank you so much, Abrie for telling the story! I’m away from home home , not sure about the WiFi connection most of the time, so I haven’t checked the WP Reader for a while. Hope your post shows up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful and moving post, Abrie. Your joy of living is so evident in your photos. I love how you express this: “…building your identity upon something like fitness, perpetual youth or ego, is treading on extremely thin ice…” Very true. These moments of crisis and/or ill health reinforce this and encourage us to face the toughest existential questions. You do this beautifully. I’m so glad you listened to your friend and got the medical treatment you needed.

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    1. Thank you Patti. It is difficult to articulate all what happened. At that point I lived for sport and exercise and I was probably on an endorphin “high” the whole time. With my sickness I was initially prohibited from doing exercise for 6 months and the amazing thing is that it didn’t matter! At that point in my life I experienced a God given peace. I was a wonderful season.

      Yes my stubborn friend 🙂 . I did not tell him that I may have had a heart attack. I phoned him to take me home and pick up my wife so she can drive the car home. It is not that I listened to him. He didn’t give me an option – he simply informed me he is talking me to hospital. Afterwards he told me I looked very bad and was totally confused. South Africa, the Springboks, are playing rugby against Scotland tonight and I am watching it at his home.
      Thanks for this meaningful comment

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  4. Ek het hierdie skrywe van jou nou twee keer oorgelees. “Who am I, a bird wich cannot fly?” Ek vermoed mens is nie weer dieselfde na so ń ondervinding nie, Abrie. Dis die eerste keer dat ek hiervan by jou lees, en ek verstaan nou meer oor waar jou lewenskennis en diepte vandaan kom.

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    1. Dankie Una. As jy sou wou kan jy in die blog Ontklonting gaan lees waar ek oor die geestelike impak hiervan op my lewe praat. Daarin vertel ek van ‘n dokter wat my met die Woord can God konfronteer het. Dit was die dag voordat ek die pulminale infarksie gekry het en dit dag nadat ek tydens’ n touch rugby game flou geword het

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