What Actually Happened to Me in October

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Those of you who’ve read Fiji’s article from 13 November may be a little confused, not to mention concerned, about what she said. So, as she suggested, here’s my summary for my “people friends”, as Fiji so eloquently put it.

On 4 October I was hospitalized due to an allergic reaction to some antibiotics. Then my body went into anaphylactic shock, which is a severe, sometimes life-threatening, allergic reaction. The medical team at the Emergency Room at Constantiaberg Mediclinic gave me a shot of adrenalin… and then a second shot when I didn’t respond to the first. And then they sent me to ICU (Intensive Care Unit) since my blood pressure levels dropped dangerously low as a result of the double-dose of adrenalin.

Here’s where it starts to get a little complicated. One of the readings they were monitoring in ICU gave the medical team cause for concern, since it can indicate the onset of a heart attack. So they kept me in ICU for two nights, High Care for 3 nights and then put me in a General Ward for an additional 2 nights to make absolutely sure I was okay.

And gradually I was allowed to move around more – from being stuck in bed for the first day, to being allowed only to sit on a chair for the following 3 days and then, eventually, being allowed to walk around the ward.

What made it frustrating for me was that I felt absolutely fine throughout the experience. If I’d been feeling bad I would probably have welcomed being kept still. But that wasn’t the way it turned out to be.

Anyway, the worrying blood readings eventually dropped back to more acceptable levels and I was eventually allowed home. But my doctor gave me strict instructions to clear my diary – by which he meant do absolutely nothing – for two weeks until I’d been checked over by a cardiologist. Which explains why I haven’t been blogging, why I didn’t do the CTSB Walk with a Vision event, why Fiji and I didn’t attend the SA Guide Dogs Association World Sight Day Dinner. And it also explains why I didn’t get to speak at the Professional Speakers Association Midterm Conference.

I guess by now you’ve realized that the cardiologist gave me a clean bill of health, or I wouldn’t be writing this. In fact, the 3 doctors I’ve consulted since being discharged from Constantiaberg have told me there has been no long-term consequences – apart from the fact I need to avoid penicillin from now on. And I’m confident the final doctor I need to see in the coming week will tell me exactly the same thing.

Admittedly, I wasn’t sorry to see the end of October – it wasn’t my best month ever. Having said that, I want to acknowledge the amazing care I received from the medical team at Constantiaberg Mediclinic, who were superb. Even the food was good which, considering I’m a fussy vegetarian, is saying a lot. And, of course, I also want to send out my heartfelt thanks to my family and friends who kept me sane (or at least no more insane than usual) with their visits, their messages and the wishes sent on Facebook and WhatsApp. They really helped! And finally, I am eternally grateful for the love and support shown by my husband, Craig – I know my absence created chaos at home with the dogs and the general running of the house, but Craig kept everything under control and gave me day by day updates of how the dogs the closest I have to children and at least I knew they were well looked after while I was in hospital.

All that’s left to say is that I hope I can now get back to sharing the final posts from my trip to Germany and Poland, and some of the exciting things that have been happening in my life recently.

Paws for Thought on What’s Been Going On

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Tomorrow is a very special day – it’s my mom’s birthday. She won’t tell me how old she is, but last week would have been my aunt Leila’s 161st birthday and I don’t think mom could possibly be as old as that. For those of you who don’t know, Leila was mom’s first guide dog. Though I never got to meet her I read all about her in mom’s book, “A Different Way of Seeing” and she sounds like lots of fun.

But this article isn’t about Leila. It’s about mom and what’s been happening over the past few weeks.

Just over a month ago mom went away for a week. Dad told me that mom was in hospital because she’d taken some medicine that made her very ill. So she had to stay in hospital,
whatever that is. To me it sounds like she had to go and stay in the vet’s dog kennels, but somehow I know that isn’t quite right. Even though I listened when dad explained it, it still didn’t make much sense to me.

Anyway, I was very sad while mom was away. My sisters Emily and Allie were also sad, but not as sad as me because I’m mom’s guide dog and I wasn’t able to look after her like I should have.

Even when mom came back she couldn’t take me for walks for a while. You won’t believe how happy I was when we were able to go for our first walk, more than three weeks after she went away. Even now we don’t walk as much as I’d like but at least we’re working almost like normal again.

I’m sure mom will explain what happened so all her people friends can read this and understand. Like I said, I don’t really understand. But I want to send lots of wags out to my dad who fed us, took us out for walks and looked after us while mom was away –it made me a little bit less sad.

But please don’t worry – everything’s fine now. Mom’s back home and is able to do all the stuff she used to do.

Like I said, tomorrow is a very special day. And all us doggies want to wish mom a very happy birthday tomorrow. No matter how old she’s turning, she’s our mom and we love her lots and lots!

You’ll Never Believe What I Saw in the Airport!

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We were walking down (yet another) passageway in Schiphol Airport that was full of tired and grumpy passengers much like ourselves when we came upon a strange sight. It! was strange even for an airport, where I’m sure you’ll agree you can experience some very strange things

There, in a neat row, were a number of exercise bikes. Yes, in the middle of the airport. What’s more, people were queuing to use them. You don’t believe me? Well, read on…

One of the worst parts of overseas travel is how much time you spend in airports. Apart from the constant “hurry up and wait” aspect that sees travellers rushing from one place to another to stand around waiting for their flights, most airport activity tends not to be what I’d consider healthy – lots of eating, shopping, and sitting around. So it really seemed out of character to see people so eager to climb on an exercise bike in the middle of an airport. I mean, I knew cycling was popular in Holland, but this just seemed extreme.

Then everything was explained – these exercise bikes had been converted to let people charge their mobile phones…

And that was why tired, grumpy passengers were standing around waiting for a chance to clamber onto the machines. It had absolutely nothing to do with health or exercise – simply the desire to send one more WhatsApp.

And, as a totally unforeseen side-effect, they also lifted the tired grumpiness of one passenger just a little by giving me something to laugh about. But then, my iPhone battery still had charge…

It’s Nowhere Near a Marathon But…

People who have known me for a very long time would have been surprised to see what I was doing recently – taking part in a 5 km fun run/walk as part of the Cell C Day of Races. I’ll admit I was fairly surprised myself – usually my husband Craig is the one doing the races… sometimes joined by my guide dog, Fiji.

To be fair, it’s not the first time that I’ve walked a fun run. A few years ago my friend Sarah and I did so and earlier this year Fiji and I did our first park run. But it’s certainly not something I do on a regular basis – my normal form of exercise is to turn up the volume on my rock playlist on my iPhone or iPod and dance. And of course I also get regular exercise when walking with Fiji, which I try to do at least 3 times a week. So it’s not like I’m just sitting around.

Anyhow, to prove that we actually finished the fun run/walk, here’s a video of Fiji and me crossing the finishing line:

So, while we’re unlikely to be lining up on the start line of next year’s Two Oceans half marathon, as was suggested by a friend who saw my post about the race on Facebook, Fiji and I may do a few more park runs and even the odd 5 km fun run/walk in the future.

You just never know…

The Worst Thing about the Common Cold

Most of us are laid flat by the common cold every now and then. In Cape Town it seems like everyone has either just got over it, or is currently suffering. And we are no exception –Craig and I are thankfully now over the worst.

Most of us experience a degree of impairment of our other senses when we have a cold – our ears are blocked so we can’t hear so well, our nose is clogged so our sense of smell and taste are also hit. And that is mildly irritating, right?

Imagine how much worse that sensory impairment is for a blind person…

In the past few weeks, when my cold was at its worst, I could not differentiate one tea from another, so if the ginger tea (which I do not drink) and the cranberry/apple tea (which I do) are accidentally put in the wrong place I cannot tell which tea I’m landing up with until I have tasted it… and sometimes not even then… … which is annoying, but not a train smash.

Even now, almost 3 weeks since I contracted the cold, I find it difficult to hear traffic, which is more serious because it puts me and Fiji in danger when crossing roads. More specifically, while louder noise still dominate my sense of hearing, there is a greater risk that a passing train might obscure the sound of a car… or a noisy bus on Main Rd (are there such things as quiet busses?) may hide the sound of a car idling on a side street waiting to pull into traffic. Those drivers will probably be focussing on seizing any gap to turn into Main Rd, not on the woman and guide dog waiting to cross the side road. While normally I would simply wait for the side road to clear before crossing, if I can’t hear that idling car, I don’t know it’s there.

So, for me the worst thing about the common cold is not the sniffing, the sneezing, the coughing, the body ache… it is the reality of the heightened risk Fiji and I are in when we take to the roads.

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