A Spoke In The Wheel

Posted in The Honey Badger Diaries / Musings / Videos

A Spoke In The Wheel

What we see on social media is not the sum total of who we are. I have a cloud hanging over my head right now. I don’t have the ability to see the so called silver lining, although I do believe there is one, it’s just shining somewhere else. Maybe someone else needs it more than I do right now.  Probably.

This is not a blog about depression or how to overcome it or any other self-help confession or how to beat the blues.  I just feel I owe it to my friends and family to give an update so to speak.  We do it without hesitation when things are hunky-dory don’t we?

What I have learnt, again, is that life has a way of bowling a curve ball when you least expect it.  Like the afternoon before you leave to go on holiday.  On a very ordinary Thursday.  A side swipe out of the blue.

Lunch was fine, just excitement and a ripple of nervous tension running through my being as we packed our last few things into the Honey Badger, our long awaited Overlander truck. This was our dream, the years of planning had finally panned out, beautifully.  We were on our way to Zimbabwe to spend a month at Mana Pools.

Butch and I enjoyed a relaxed lunch, something arbitrary, like a hotdog, he went off to work to finish off the last little bits, he’d tidy his desk  and would be home shortly after 17h00.  It’s on my planner that by that time I’ll be done, finished and klaar, done and dusted.  We’ll have a quiet dinner, watch a movie, and get to bed early to wake up at sparrows to attend our last spinning class.

Not so fast Maricha.  The universe had other plans.  Butch gets home and starts packing his things and in passing mentions he has the oddest “feeling” in his eye.  Painless but fuzzy.  Almost like his spectacles are covered in grease.  I know the feeling, my glasses are a nightmare and I know what it’s like to squint through dirt.  But, he hadn’t mentioned dirty spectacles.

Without a second thought I send him off to Eddie our optician. Coincidentally, he’d been for a check-up not too long ago and got a clean bill of health.  Eddie, already home, made a U-turn and returned to his office, took one look at Butch’s eye and sent him off to an Ophthalmologist. Who also had to dash back to work.

The diagnosis? One of three things he said.  Retinal detachment, veins hemorrhaging into the eye or Central Retinal Vein Occlusion.  After a thorough examination he pronounced the verdict.  CRVO (the third option).  In his opinion the better of the lot.  Like a stroke in the eye. We could still go on holiday.  Drops were prescribed and Disprin. We’re optimistic and believed all would be well.

Next day. A quick visit to the G.P for a medical checkup. Medications were adapted and we are sent on our way.  Butch received a tick list with bloods that had to be scrutinized by the pathologist before his follow up visit on our return.

(This is what CRVO is: The eye's retina has one main artery and one main vein. When the main retinal vein becomes blocked, it is called central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO). When the vein is blocked, blood and fluid spills out into the retina. The macula can swell from this fluid, affecting your central vision)

I must confess, I thought that was the end of the story. Butch is not a complainer, he soldiered on, did all the driving, sometimes under very stressful conditions.  Now and then I’d ask whether he’d administered his drops, he had.  Soon, like most ailments, I put his “condition” to the back of my mind. 

Another confession: Nobody calls me Florence Nightingale.  I am the worst nurse imaginable.  Unsympathetic. No molly-coddling from me.  Sorry.  My philosophy is simple.  See a doctor, get a diagnosis, get treatment and get better.  In that order. It’s always worked for me.  After all we aren’t children anymore. As my Grandmama would say “God only looks after him who looks after himself”.

“We aren’t children anymore”!  I should have listened to myself.  Three weeks into our trip he mentions that his eyesight was deteriorating.  The Vaseline in the eye feeling was back with a vengeance and his peripheral vision and his ability to estimate depths etc., was worsening. He’d virtually lost the sight in that eye.

By this stage he’d broken a tooth, strained his elbow and was sure he’d developed a tennis elbow and now his eye was alarmingly poor.  Fortunately his knees were behaving themselves.  The first thing we did was make appointments with his Dentist, his GP and his ophthalmologist, the news trickled through on the very, very slow Wifi which we managed to get from the Park’s office while elephants entertained us.

My heart broke. And. I seethed. I was so angry I could explode.  Things come in threes they say well at about the same time I received a message from my brother to say my Mom had a mass in her armpit.  The local doctors were sharpening their scalpels for that and my Dad was in a state.  It was then that news trickled through that a dear friend, an iconic personality in our community had, after a long sick bed passed away. Like Queen Elizabeth I set my chin up and seethed.  I don’t, unfortunately, have a tiara.  The bottle of Moët is still on ice.  I have nothing to celebrate. Yet.

I am scared.  Really, really afraid. I have been plunged into darkness.  All I want to do is curl up and go to bed and stay there for the foreseeable future.  Call me what you like.  It is what it is.

In my defense to be proactive we’ve made various drastic lifestyle changes. We’ll be physically fit in no time. Butch will sport a 6 pack again and we’ll be kilos on the light side of the scales. Believe it or not I am going to go for my heavy duty truck license.  That is one for the books.  I wonder if they still take bribes. Once I have my license we’ll share the driving and whoop-whoop he can be in charge of the GPS and last minute reservations. Fortunately we have a “no backseat driver” policy in our vehicle.  To travel is our dream. We’re working on son-in-law to recommend good e.bikes, we’re going to be adventurous in our travels.

We’ll cut down on our traveling times and distances, drastically.  Butch must rest more. He has to take his future into consideration, he has to weigh up what’s important and make realistic changes accordingly.  He has to consider his well-being and re-evaluate his responsibilities.  He has to de-stress.  He owes it to himself to live a full life.  He has the potential to.  

I would like to be kinder, nicer and gentler, but, I’m petrified. I also feel guilty.  I am unscathed and have no reason to wallow in self-pity, I know that. But, how do I get the message to my brain?  We’ve had the wake-up call, our health will determine the rest of our lives and how we spend those precious hours. Once again I've been reminded that "the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry".

By the way.  The tooth was fixed, the quack says the elbow will heal itself with rest.  Alas, his knees have started acting up again, but it’s the cold. I’m sure. We need warmer climes. He’ll go for regular eye check-ups and if needs be another opinion.  I am sure he must be petrified, sad, angry, disorientated, heart broken and insecure. I am too afraid to ask.  He has not let on. Butch has been uncomplaining and brave, in fact, he has supported me while I've been pathetic!  I salute him for that.  We will live the rest of our lives without regret.  The light will shine in our eyes again.

I will do follow up blogs all about our amazing trip and adventures to Zimbabwe and our stay in Mana Pools.  The photograph below shows the marks left by an elephant's trunk gripping Butch's arm!  He just had to say hello.