Since our ‘holiday’ in Italy, The Earl’s health has improved, we’ve sold our Sun Valley Home and had a great holiday with The Rural Family in Kokstad. There was a hiccup with chest pains in Kokstad but they were caused from Fly Fishing and not his heart! However, it did prevent us from taking our grandchildren to Tala Game Reserve.
Once that settled down it was time to return to the Fiefdom of Struisbaai. We decided to take it slowly and take the scenic Garden Route.
6 January 2017
It was raining again this morning. We were up and packed by 5:30, went to say farewell to the family and then hit the road.
We stopped at Stone Junction in Maclear for breakfast. It was lovely. We had eggs, bacon, pork sausage, mushroom and tomato. The coffee was good.
Delicious Breakfast at Stone Junction, Maclear, Eastern Cape
Our next stop was Queenstown where we fuelled. The roads were not too bad but we had to look out for cows, goats and donkeys. The scenery was stunning.
We arrived at Casa Mia near Addo Elephant Park at 15:30 had some coffee and rusks and a bit of a rest then went to dinner at Lenmore Family Restaurant about 5km away. We met a young family – Mom, Dad and five-year-old Noah from England. They were on a round the world trip. Tomorrow they’re doing Addo and we gave them some advice as to where to go and what to do.
Saturday 7 January 2017
The alarm woke me at 5 and I had no trouble in jumping out of bed to ready myself for a day in Addo Elephant Park. I was not anticipating too much as we were there just a couple of months ago and the sightings were average – no big cats and nothing unusual. But just being in the park again would be enough for me. We packed our picnic breakfast and set off in high spirits.
It was 6:00 am when we entered the main gate and were slightly put out when we were told that reception would only open at 7:00 and it was there that we had to get our day passes for the game viewing area! Never mind – we could have breakfast at Cattle Baron and eat our picnic for lunch – no such luck – The Baron opened even later!
So we went to the waterhole and enjoyed the birds then got our day pass, had a coffee at Barons and set off to find what we could find.
The Egyptain Geese were feeling frisky
A good start to the morning
By 10 o’clock we had photographed some lovely birds, kudu and zebra.
Beautiful Male Kudu
Malachite Sunbird in transitional plumage
But what we really hoped to find were the Bat Eared Fox cubs that everyone on The Addo Facebook page was raving about. And we were in luck – a single car was parked on the side of the road to Carol’s Rest and pointed out the den to us. We spent half an hour enjoying their antics and taking photos and soon there were several other cars joining in the fun.
After that we headed up to the Zuurkop Outlook. “Look at all the dung beetles and worms on the road,”said Earl trying hard not to run over any of them.
The mighty dung beetle cleaning up the landscape
At Zuurkop we hopped of the car and were joined by a few other tourists. We got chatting to a Mom and daughter, saw some elephants a short distance away and I lingered to look, a few feet away from Earl while he chatted to some people. My back was to him and when I heard him call to me to look at something. I turned around and my heart almost stopped. He was teetering backwards in the most alarming way – I ran – and as he fell I heard a gurgling sound, his eyes rolled back in his head and he dropped flat on his back – out cold. Crazy thoughts raced through my head – he’s dead – what am I going to say to the girls, I’m not ready to be a widow – I have to get him breathing again – I pinched his nose, put my mouth over his and started blowing what I thought was life back into him – not holding out much hope that it would work – what the hell did I know about CPR – nothing! Suddenly he shook his head, giggled and said, “What’s going on. I’ve just had the most beautiful dream.” I freaked out – “You fainted – I thought you were dead!”
“Keep calm,” said a soothing voice, the lady to whom we had been chatting. “If you’re calm he’ll be calm.” I found out later that her name was Ayshia. She put a pillow under Earl’s head and it was then that I realised he was bleeding. I ran for the first aid kit, couldn’t find the wipes so Aishia gave me hers, I cleaned it then put a plaster on his wound. We checked that he wasn’t hurt and he insisted that he was fine.
“I just bent down to pick up a worm to show you,” he said, “I did feel a bit light headed so I must have passed out when I stood up. I really am fine now.”
Well – it’s not normal to just keel over like that. I wanted to take him straight to a doctor. He agreed to let me drive and after we both calmed down I got behind the wheel and drove to reception to get names of doctors. Not helpful at all – You have to go to Port Elizabeth, they said.
So we drove back to Casa Mia and Earl said his neck was sore. He just wanted to rest. I massaged him with Traumeel and gave him an anti inflammatory. I then asked reception hostess for the name and number of a doctor. She suggested a practice in Kirkwood. The reply from them was – the doctors are going off duty now you must go to outpatients at the hospital.
Earl thought he didn’t feel up to driving anywhere. He just wanted to rest. I allowed him to do this but after consulting with our Jeffrey’s Bay friends who we were due to visit the following day we decided to go straight to St George’s Hospital Outpatients just to be on the safe side.
It was about 3 o’clock on this Saturday afternoon when we arrived at the hospital. We parked the car and trailer in the street and a car guard offered to give the vehicle a wash. It really needed it so we agreed. It cost us R100.
Earl was ushered straight into the emergency room and given an angiogram. I remained behind to fill in forms and it was half an hour later before I was allowed in to see what was going on. The staff were amazing and after Italy we were delighted that everybody spoke English!!! A young lady doctor with the gentlest bedside manner broke the news – “I have spoken to the cardiologist and as your husband is a high risk patient he would like to do some more tests and so he must remain in hospital overnight.”
I was devastated. Stupid thoughts raced through my mind. Where would I go? We had a trailer – where would I park it – how would I get it off the car. I have no sense of direction – I will get lost in Port Elizabeth. You would swear I hadn’t dealt with worse in Italy!
I heard Earl say to the doctor –“Can’t I just take my wife to a B&B and come back later?”
No – she said.
It must have been the fainting episode that had put me into panic mode. I felt like I was falling apart – my arms and legs didn’t belong to me, I had to take control of them and instruct them what to do. I had to gear my mind to the right thinking paths. I had to assure my husband that I would cope!
I heard myself say, “I will be fine, Darling. I can tow a trailer – nothing to it. And I will find a B&B with space to park it!”
The doctor said, “You can ask the nurses at reception for if they know of accommodation nearby.”
But I started googling. A few minutes later the doctor reappeared. She handed me a slip of paper – My fiancé’s parents have a B&B in Summerstrand. They have space for your trailer and will help you unhitch it.
Wow – The Lord once again sent an angel to our aid
I rang the number and made the necessary arrangements.
After getting lost for an half an hour because I entered the address into the GPS incorrectly, I finally made it to the B&B a mere 10 minutes away if you have your mind functioning correctly.
Bev met me at the gate. “You must be stressed out,” she said and gave me a comforting hug. Another one of God’s Angels. She told me she had been a nursing sister and had looked after her own dad who was a heart patient too. Her stories were most reassuring and she told me that St George’s was an excellent hospital and that E would receive the best care.
After settling myself in I walked to the shopping centre just around the corner and had a glass of wine and some sushi at Taste of Asia.
I felt much calmer when I went back and was able to contact the girls to give them the news.
Sunday 8 January 2017
I was confident that Earl would be discharged today. I phoned the hospital and they said, “Your husband had a good night. No pain and no dizziness when mobile. The doctor still needs to see him but we are don’t see any reason for him to remain another day.”
So I cheerfully packed him some clothes and made my way to Life St George’s arriving around 10 o’clock. When E saw me he said, “Why have you brought my clothes? I sent you a text to tell you I have to stay another night.” The Port Elizabeth doctor needed to consult with the Cape Town doctor and as it was Sunday it would have to wait till tomorrow. “Oh, I’m sure that he will let you go and you can stay with me at Le Fishermans and then see him in his rooms tomorrow.”
We got into conversation with the 2 other women in the ward. They were convinced that they were going home today too. “I’m not staying here another minute,” said the one next to the window. “Neither am I,” said the one across the way. Nobody’s going to make me shower at 4 in the morning again!” They dug in their heels and prepared for battle against the great doctor. The staff who were in and out, looked on with knowing smiles.
Earl was first on his list. I introduced myself. “So your husband has been picking up worms and then keeling over unconscious,” he said. “Yes, he is not in my good books at the moment.”
He asked me my version of the story and then checked the dosage of his medication. He said to stop taking the Cardicor so now all Earl needs to take is Pritor for blood pressure, cardio aspirin and Crestor for cholesterol.
I asked him if Earl could be discharged and see him in his rooms tomorrow morning. He was appalled – “Absolutely not,” he looked at me in horror. “I need to monitor this man’s heart!”
“But I thought everything was fine.”
“No it’s not. There is something strange about his cardiogram” He spoke to the attending staff member – “how was he last night?” – and he looked at the chart. “No irregularities” said the nurse. But he wanted to see if the strange thing came up again and he wanted to know if it was a new phenomenon or whether it had been seen on his angiograms before. That is why he needed to speak E’s cardiologist in Cape Town.
He then went to speak to each of the other patients in turn. Each of them begged to be discharged. He wasn’t having any of it. “Doctor, I promise it won’t happen again,” said the one old duck. “O really,” came the reply “and how did this happen in the first place?” “I don’t know, Doctor.” “And neither do I so that’s why you’re staying so I can work out how to fix you!” And that was that.
When he left and the nurse returned to check on the patients, she smiled and said – so you’re staying, you’re staying and you’re staying!
I said, “Now ladies – I hope I can trust you with my husband.”
“Ha ha,” said Mrs wont’t shower at 4 am. “We’re too weak to do anything. Your husband has more energy than either of us – can you trust him with us!”
At 11 I left and went to the coffee shop for breakfast. I phoned each daughter to break the news – Laurie – Oh no man – now listen all this travelling around has to stop. You have to make dad take it easy. No more travelling for the next six months!”
Lisa – “So hasn’t the bypass worked?” “Yes it has darling. This is something new.” “Oh well then it’s good the doctor is doing something about it.”
Lauren – “Oh dear – How are you handling it? Are you taking strain – Don’t worry – it will all work out.”
After several long conversations I finally drove home. On the way the phone rang. I stopped to answer. A friend of mine when she heard I was in Port Elizabeth asked her friend who lives nearby to contact me. I also knew Brenda when she lived in Cape Town so it was great to hear from her. We arranged to meet for coffee later in the afternoon.
So after I’d visited E she collected me from Le Fishermans and we went to the Beach Hotel which was wonderful. We sat on the deck on comfy couches and chatted and chatted.
Thanks for a lovely afternoon, Brenda
Monday 9 January 2017
I packed up but left everything in the room and by 8 o’clock I was ready for breakfast. I was the only guest there and Bev provided a delicious meal. I started with Greek Yogurt sweetened with something delicious she makes herself. I added some fruit to this. Then she asked how I would like my eggs – medium – and it was served with bacon, tomato and fried zucchini – fabulous. The coffee was excellent too.
I then dashed off to the hospital with high hopes the The Earl would be ready for discharge. I was allowed in but when the doctor arrived was asked to wait in the foyer. But all was well. The two cardiologists had consulted and they concluded that the strange pattern in Earl’s cardiogram was normal for him – so no further intervention needed. The fainting was simply due to a fluctuation in blood pressure when he stood up too quickly.
So after 2 nights of excellent care – in English! – we went back to Le Fisherman’s, hitched up the trailer, bade farewell to my amazing hostess and headed to Jbay.
We had a great time with our friends there and the following day stopped at Great Brak for a visit with relatives. We are now back and settled in good old Struisbaai!