Saturday, March 31, 2007

Prisoner at home

So... we moved to a quieter neighbourhood.
Lovely! What is everyone going on about - there's no reason to leave the country!
We were just starting to get used to safely going for walks in the evenings when... last week the bliss was shattered and the tension returned. Henk's scooter was stolen in broad day light in front of our house. (a story familiar to most South Africans)

I think I'm developing some sort of paranoia about crime/ chronic generalised PTSD - listen to this...

To prevent being totally home alone I invited friends over for dinner. It was lovely! After a few glasses of wine and the toll of the midnight bell they decided to head home. It was late but I couldn't sleep so I started to watch some brain numbing TV. Suddenly the stomach wrenching smell of puppy poo hit me. I was about to call him a bad dog when I noticed that he has also puked all over the lounge. My poor puppy had gone limp, was panting and had a white tongue. Panic!


As I was about to clean up the mess the lights suddenly went out!


What is the first thing that goes through a crime-riddled South African's mind?
"Someone has poisoned my dog and cut my electricity, they know I'm in here and they plan to rob, rape and kill me!"

I found my cellphone in the dark and hid behind the couch . I was totally immobilised and trying very hard to think through the alcohol swimming in my head. There was no way I was going to leave my 'safe' spot to check what had happened to the electricity.

I called our trusty armed response (ADT) who were here in 5 min (we can't rely on the police anymore to attend to calls- they are too busy fighting crime that has already happened). This finally gave me the courage to check the electricity...

In a freak clash of events my electricity credits had run out and my dog had gotten sick from eating big dog's food which didn't agree with his tummy.

Isn't it shocking that we live with this pensive tension - expecting some sort of crime to happen.
I'm supposed to go to a party tonight but I'm scared shitless to leave the house and worse to return alone later.

Thank you to John from ADT for going the extra mile and helping me look for credits in the early hours of the morning!

Friday, March 30, 2007

the far

I'm keeping myself very busy- went to movies with a friend, chatted to another friend til early hours of the morning and I've invited some awesome girlfriends over for dinner tonight. The question is - is the experiment really working if I'm still spending the majority of my time with other people? At this moment I don't really care because I'm having too much fun. I have very little planned for Saturday day and Sunday so I'll test my ability to be alone then.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'm faced with just me for a couple of days. Scarey! Why...? I try to think of myself as independent...but times likes these remind me that I'm a restless soul. I often have other people to fight my boredom. hah! This will be my experiment: How can I be happy and not bored with me?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Procrastination and writer's block

Geez... I still haven't posted the letter. Just keep forgetting or don't have it with me when I do remember.
Since Henk has convinced me to put my blog on my own website I've somehow lost my desire to write. I've been thinking too much about what to write instead of just blogging.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Moving Blog Address!

I've just gotten the website registered!

So this will be the last post at I hope this doesn't cause too many hassles, and that you will still see this message in case you come back here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'll blog for you baby!

I recently went to an interview for a Christian missionary trip into very rural Zambia. I'm bursting at the seams to use my skills for community development - having been overwhelmingly inspired after meeting the likes of Frank Kronenberg and David Werner.

Although this trip will be missions focused they have identified the need for someone to do health promotion. I was literally on the edge of my seat when I heard, although my religious/spiritual standpoint is complicated. I'll leave it there because I don't know where to begin on that topic.

So part of the interview focussed on who will support me - of course primary emotional support will be from my husband. But... what about spiritual? Henk is (what he likes to call himself) a Bright. This (I think) is an ego boosting term implying that he is clever enough to realise that there is no concrete evidence to suggest that there even is a God. Our debates are endless.
So... in the interview it becomes apparent that my non-Christian husband and my complicated stand-point could become a problem.

Later that evening Henk asks how the interview went and if I'll be going to Zambia. My reply is I don't know: "It seems like the fact that you won't pray for me could be a problem." To which he replies:

"But I'll blog for you, baby!"

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Giving is easier than receiving

I spend my day looking for ways in which people's potential can be identified and expanded in a sustainable way. This means that I spend the majority of my day giving - this is part of what lets me feel fulfilled - we can't be truly altruistic. On the other hand receiving is difficult - a patient made a HIV badge for me and my initial instinct was to say 'are you sure?' I really felt guilty about receiving something and filtered all the reasons why he would want to give it to me out. Allowing someone else to give is also giving in a sense. We don't need to always be in control!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

new dsm IV diagnosis

It was a sweltering 36 degrees on Friday - for Cape Town this was HOT. I quickly shot through to the traffic department to pick up my drivers licence (previous one was stolen and took 3 hours to apply for replacement). So I run in expecting this queue to be short. Forget it! I couldn't even see someone behind the counter and the queue was going out the door. As I stood there I started exhibiting the following symptoms:
  • extreme irritability
  • noise sensitivity
  • need for separation from the human race
  • frustration - almost leading to the need to scream, run around naked etc.
  • delusions of what would happen if i were ruler of the earth
  • trance like moments - these provide momentary relief
  • crabbiness
  • feeling of near implosion
  • the list goes on...
From this I have formulated a new diagnosis - QUEUE INDUCED PSYCHOSIS

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

new age

Today I very proudly wrote a letter to my grandmother-in-law. I say proudly because its one of those things I forget to do. What a scary realisation that I have to look for a stamp, or go into a post office to buy one and then find a post box. I don't even know where the closest one is. I've become such an instant messaging junkie that the thought of all that admin makes me cringe. Probably why I 'forget' to do it!

Monday, March 05, 2007

no work on monday campaign!

I just couldn't function today. My thoughts were everywhere. I was working on at least 5/6 different documents, phoning and smsing all at once! If I was at home my house would be spotless, instead I arrived home exhausted . We have no water in the house because someone attempted to steal a copper pipe on Sunday morning - apparently copper is worth a bit in this country. Makes you think- people are that desperate that they disturb a perfectly good sunday sleep in for a few rand. aaah I really loathe the admin that it causes!
Employment is a huge issue in this country - Daily I meet people who struggle to find work and opt to get a disability grant for a measly R820 a month. Tik sounds like a reasonably cheap escape with stressors like that!
I've done it again - gone off the topic - as you can see I shouldn't be working on mondays!

Friday, March 02, 2007

learning from my patients

Every friday afternoon I spend time facilitating a leisure group for the patients. Now to those of you who think this is so low key - anyone can do it, let me explain. 24 psychotically ill men stand at the gates wondering why the hell they're in this 'prison' and why no one can understand the 'reality' that they have been enlightened to. The group aim is to engage them in an activity that either elicits existing skills or encourages them to develop new skills. In many ways the containment that is offered by the activity alleviates (not cures) some of their psychotic symptoms .
I wait in my OT room, filled with art and a table tennis table. The patients come in one by one and introduce themselves without any cuing. There happen to be three Xhosa speaking gentlemen who enthusiastically take charge of arranging a table for a card game. They call me 'sista' and ask if they can teach me a game - fantastic - existing skills! The game is called 'open'. I am of course a difficult pupil - I can't understand Xhosa. Through much negotiation they decide amongst themselves how they can teach me. One of them decides to be my partner and let me learn as I play the game. The humour and the close group cohesion was incredible. I finally managed to learn, resulting in an electric feeling of achievement amongst the group. There were so many dynamics bridged e.g. racial, cultural, language, therapist-patient, gender.

This is why I do this work!! I often feel flattened when I sit in ward rounds and try to fit my view into the medical model. Essentially I just played a card game!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

what has happened to spelling?

I'm appalled by my spelling in previous posts. Please can I just blame it on the sms age or perhaps that everything is so rushed these days?