Mind games

November 21, 2011

This is a running one sorry. The first marathon I did was way back in 1999 I think. I was hopelessly under trained and it took me about 4 hours and 25 minutes. Chris very kindly stuck with me and helped me through it although towards the end he was cramping and I was the one encouraging him. Years ago the cut-off time for a marathon was 4 hours 30 minutes and I know that I just,just made the traditional cut-off time. In just under 2 weeks I will try to run a marathon a full hour faster than that. I am 12 years older so what’s changed as physically I should actually be slower?

2 major things have changed I think. Firstly I run many more kilometres a week. I would never have dreamed of running a 30km training run but now I do that and it honestly doesn’t feel much different to running 10km. Yesterday’s 30km’s were a little tough as I’d done a fast 10km race the previous day and so I think my legs were still a little tired from that. It was tough as my legs started to feel a bit tired towards the end but I can honestly say my legs didn’t feel a bit stiff or sore the rest of the day and I feel no stiffness today. The other major change is that I’ve realised I can run fast for an extended period of time. After doing my first marathon I entered a few more and didn’t make the same mistake with under training again – I ran a lot, did long runs and even did lots of hill training. When we first came back from the UK we stayed with Chris’s folks in Simons Town and ran all those big hills (Red Hill, Black Hill, Smitswinkel,etc.) many times. Once we moved to Observatory we ran in Newlands forest and on Table Mountain a lot. I definitely got a bit tougher and I ran okay – my best half marathon time was 1h47minutes, I think my 10km time was about 50 minutes and I managed to do a marathon in under 4 hours which I thought was pretty good.

Just over a year ago we joined our running club and started doing 5km time trials once a month. When we first joined we alternated who would go every week and I was actually upset if my week fell on the time trial as I wanted to run 10km and wasn’t interested in only doing 5 kms. It wasn’t long before we realised just how beneficial the time trials were. Our race times dropped dramatically to the point now that my PB for the various distances are

5km – 20.36

10km – 43.03

21.1km – 1.36.48

27km – 2.08.35

42.2 – 3.36.48

50km – 4.23.07

56km – 5.00.09

Up until 27km the times are all under 5 minutes/km pace so now I’ve just got to get my head around running fast for a long time, like those guys (and girls) you see winning Comrades on the TV. They average just over 3 minutes/km for 89km. It is phenomenal. Some races are out and back or one does a bit of an out and back loop and so you get to see the front-runners and they are incredible to watch. They run so fast and yet so effortlessly. I do realise running is not all about training, there are still genetics at play. I think I’ve got fairly good genetics but nothing special. There are a few things I could do to improve  still – weight training in the gym, cross training like cycling and swimming and doing a bit more speed work and hill training. Problem is I don’t really enjoy doing any of those things and running is all about enjoyment for me and not really about how fast I can run and where I finish in the race. That’s what’s making me a bit nervous about this marathon. I have never started a race wanting to do it under a certain time, I’ve just always run as well as I’ve felt and when I feel good, I run well and obviously the harder one trains, the more often one feels good (as long as one isn’t over-training). This time last year I ran the same marathon in 3h39min and I was really pleased. I have done an awful lot of running in the last year but to try to take 9 minutes off your time is quite a lot. Last year I beat a good friend of ours in the marathon by a minute or 2. He recently ran a 3h23 marathon BUT he has started cross training as he’s doing the half Iron Man in January and he was a track athlete at school so he’s naturally fast. He also did a 2.01 27km not so long ago and I only managed 2.08.

Sitting on the bed yesterday morning at 5.45am getting ready for our run I told Chris that was the only part of running I absolutely hate – the getting up so early and putting on your clothes on a Saturday or Sunday morning when your kids are safely fast asleep at their grandparents and you could just go back to sleep, wake up a few hours later and go out for a nice breakfast. Once I start I’m fine and once one’s finished it’s awesome but those 15 minutes of getting up dressed and out the door are an absolute killer.



November 19, 2011

We have been really busy the last few weekends, Chris was on call, then we were away and next weekend we’re away again so this weekend feels like the first weekend in ages we’ve Chris has been able to get some DIY done. The trellises actually grew on us a bit once they were in position, so one of the jobs was to put them up against the wall.

We also bought one of those backwash tanks (you backwash into it, wait 24 hours and then put most of the water back in your pool and the last little dirty bit gets dumped). It’s probably a drought-region kind of thing so most of you have probably never heard of it. Anyway, that was months ago when we’d just put in the pool. That was 100% Chris’s crazy purchase. The reason I say crazy is that we have a borehole and so water for the garden/pool isn’t an issue. Friends of ours have a pool but no borehole, so we’re giving them the tank. The gardener is here moving some plants out of harms way in anticipation for the wall building that starts on Monday. He also asked for the old roof tiles that were removed when we put a new roof on the guest room and built the new domestic quarters. He had some contact to come and collect them but that fizzled out and so he is busy loading them into the trailer (will be a few loads I reckon) so that Chris can take him home later. He’s coming again tomorrow to help with composting my mom’s garden and so they can do another trip or 2 then. My parents have outdoor furniture (table and chairs) that they want to get rid of because they are inheriting our old stuff, so that is also going to him along with a lot of our garage cast-offs in preparation for the Disco’s arrival next week. It  (the Disco)does fit in the garage with the Mini and all Chris’s 100 and one tools, radial-arm saws, storage drawer things, oregon pine planks,etc,etc, but it would be less of a Squash and a Squeeze (girls love that book) if we could get rid of the table and chairs and a lot of the crap. We’ve got the quote for the garage and it isn’t too bad although it’s still a bit of money when you consider we’re just extending it 4,5 metres. Fingers crossed we can do that earlyish next year although the next bit in whole grand design scheme is to join the house to the garage and make a study in the new section and the current study/playroom will then become a family room only so the decision is whether to do that at the same time or not.

This morning I did a 10km race and it wasn’t very pleasant. We ran along the beachfront out and back but the first 5km were into a fairly strong wind. Coming back was okay but the last bit of a 10km is always tough because it’s such a fast race. I came 5th which is good but it wasn’t my best time, think I did 43min 20 seconds. Some really arb info now. I have mentioned before that I don’t watch what I eat. We eat fairly healthily as a family but Chris and I usually have some or other chocolate in the evening and being a SAHM there are always lots of playdates with yummy eats during the week,etc. I also drink a lot of tea, not with sugar but we only use full-cream milk at home so 5/6 cups of tea must surely add up. As an experiment this week I have switched to Peppermint tea (2 cups of Ceylon only) and cutting out the treats as much as I can. In 4 days I lost a kg,yay and rewarded myself with a whole Woolies handmade nougat(!!), then today wasn’t great as I had a banana before the race but we were in such a rush afterwards that I didn’t eat breakfast and then went straight to a kiddies party when we got back from the nursery and bike shop. Tomorrow we’re doing a 30km training run so hopefully the 1kg will become more. I don’t think I need to lose weight I’m just trying to be as light as possible for the upcoming marathon on 3 December.

Chris now has a brand new road bike which he’s quite excited about. Did you know that an entry level carbon fibre bike now costs R15 000 (when you include the shoes and helmet)? I’m sure that’s what I paid my brother for his car in about 1998. It wasn’t a new car but still. Having said that you get fancy bikes that cost close to R100 000 and you can definitely buy a car for that sort of money. Crazy sport cycling – it takes forever and costs a fortune, give me running anyday. The wind was quite strong this morning but it’s absolutely howling now and he and a friend have gone cycling. Good luck to them. Thankfully there’s no wind forecast for our training run tomorrow.

And the winner is…

November 18, 2011

a Discovery 3, for now. Just one or 2 little issues to be sorted out, one is the maintenance plan and Chris says if it’s not as long as they say it is, then we’ll get the new Freelander. So the deal is, I drive it and see how it goes. If I find it’s too big then Chris has promised to buy me a brand new smaller car (Tiguan) after a year and he’ll sell his Mini and drive the Discovery. I think I will actually like it but we’ll have to also see as next year Zoe starts at Collegiate and it will mean a lot more driving up and down. The plan is to keep it for 3 years (unless we absolutely love it) and when the maintenance plan is finished then look to buy a new Discovery or something else. Chris is still keen on a Prado but everyone says the new Prado isn’t nearly as good as the previous model and doesn’t come close to the Discovery. The only reason he is leaning towards the Prado is that Toyota’s are generally cheaper to fix than Land Rovers and they tend to keep their value a bit better.

Chris is insanely busy at work at the moment. Every year we forget just how crazy this time of the year is. Everyone obviously wants to be looking their best for the festive season or maybe they’re spending their bonuses or just keen to have surgery done while they’re on leave. I know I mustn’t complain but it’s amazing how life has changed. I am definitely “earning” my SAHM money these days and I’m even starting to earn my official salary from his practice as well. Only slight issue is that most of my job entails dealing with medical aid call centres and they really are the pits. I did have the nicest lady ever the other day – she was from GEMS, such a sweetie pie and we had a nice little chat but so far the rest aren’t great. They often ask me all sorts of personal stuff about the patient’s condition or op and it’s really none of their business, the codes are the codes and they are not trained medical personnel and neither is it my business, it’s between the patient and the doctor. Quite a few of them have this crazy system where you have to speak to an automated lady. It takes forever as she keeps repeating herself and checking that what she’s heard is what you said. It is a painful process and another example of why PE is a friendly city.

In Joburg or Cape Town doctors charge you 2 and 3 times the recommended medical aid rate (twice is probably justified) and then just give you all the codes and you need to sort everything out with your medical aid yourself.  If there are any issues with payment then it’s just tough luck, pay your account and sort out the medical aid yourself. Here I am fighting with patients’ medical aids on their behalf so that they won’t have hassles down the line. This week I fought and lost a fight against the big, bad Discovery. It’s all to do with that young man with the cancer. He has exhausted his medical savings with all the chemo and other treatment he’s had to have. According to his specific plan, he has to go to a certain hospital in PE and there aren’t any plastic surgeons based at that hospital. Despite this fact Disc@very refuse to let him go to any other hospital unless he pays a R4150 co-payment. I can understand this argument if there is a plastic surgeon at this hospital but there isn’t. That means Chris has to go and do this op after 7pm at night, because he doesn’t usually operate there and they are being quite difficult about it all. Most doctors would just say too bad so sad, I operate at this hospital and just pay the money but Chris isn’t like that. Because of this his day on Monday is as follows: 7.45am start morning theatre list till 12.30pm, rush to St Georges and see 20 patients between 1pm and 7pm and then rush to Mercantile to do the 2h30min operation on this guy. Once he gets home he’ll still have to type and file (electronically) all his op notes and consultation notes from the day which usually takes a good couple of hours. The patient will need to stay in hospital for 3 nights and so for the next 3 days Chris must try to squeeze time into his already hectic day to visit a patient at a hospital that he never goes to and isn’t close to where he works all because of the t@ssers at Disc@very.


November 15, 2011

Stunning day here today, yay. As you may or may not remember Tuesday is running club evening, so the one morning I don’t wake up early for a run. This morning was a perfect morning sunny, not too hot, no wind and much as I love to lie in I did feel very bad that I hadn’t gone for a run. After dropping the girls at school I did take the dogs for a lovely long walk along the beach. Olive just loves the beach and her absolute best is to swim in the tidal pool at the end of the beach we always walk on. She is 7 now so getting a bit older but she always charges towards this pool as we get closer and she goes in for dip after dip after dip and then does her trick of diving out stones which always amuses anyone else who happens to be there.

This afternoon Ava had a great swimming lesson, can definitely see some progress at last and then yet another curve ball. Chris went off to Land Rover as he says it was opposite the bicycle shop (he is planning to buy a bike and then do Iron Man I think but I’m too scared to ask). He is still more keen on a Discovery. For less than the price of a new Freelander we can get a 2nd hand Discovery 3. He met us at swimming and handed me the keys to a Discovery (just to drive home). It was actually quite nice and it has an awful lot of space but it is awfully big. It is basically the last Discovery they made before bringing out the new one, sure that’s not good as I’m sure they weren’t giving it their best effort when they built it.

I think I could actually cope with driving it and we might actually go for it, just need to check a few details. Ironically they have a 2nd hand 2.o litre Tiguan for sale so on Friday or Saturday we will go there and look at the Freelander, Tiguan and Discovery and make a final decision. This is going to sound a bit silly but I’ve never had a brand new car, I know they don’t actually make financial sense but still. We once had a brand new house and it was rather nice. I had some friends at Varsity that were  given brand new cars and Chris’s family always all buy new cars, well everyone except him. No one else in his family has a bond either so something’s obviously wrong – think it must be the living in PE that’s the problem. He is by far the fittest and the best dad and husband though, so I’ll take that above a new car and bond-free house in Bryanston/Saxonwold/Stellenbosch/Simons Town any day. A few weeks of dogs and kids and one can kiss the new car smell goodbye anyway. I always feel bad when we test drive these cars overnight as we always put the dogs in the boot and their hair (Olive’s in particular) gets everywhere and that hair is a bugger to try to vacuum let me tell you. This Disco 3 is white with beige leather seats (I’d prefer silver with black leather seats but I’d actually prefer anything other than my Scenic right now). We have to get the hubcap from Renault at a cost of some ridiculous amount (a light bulb usually costs R700) and Chris has ordered the thingy-me-jiggies for the boot (from Midas). Maybe Johnny (Land Rover man) won’t notice that there’s a hubcap missing and the boot decapitates you if you actually manage to open it. Let’s hope he’s still willing to give us the same trade-in. It’s really good as I checked on Autotrader and I’m sure those cars all have 4 hubcaps and a working rain sensor. This new consumer act troubles me, I am very reluctant to sell the car privately. Chris is the ultimate bargainer but I reckon we need to take Land Rover’s money, give them an awful lot of ours and drive away very quickly.

Tonight’s club run was superb. We ran all the way along the beachfront to the far gate at NMMU (the Iron Man route), turned around and ran along the boardwalk all along the beach back to the club at the Pier. The sea was gorgeous and everyone was out-runners, cyclists, walkers, paddlers, swimmers, the lot. I have said this before and I’ll say it again, on days like today there is no better place to live.

Car saga continues

November 14, 2011

Would you believe, we still cannot decide. Can’t think where I left off. After driving the Fortuner we I decided no ways, I am not going to drive a bakkie or such a big car, I am just not ready for that. I loved the Freelander but Chris was worried it was too small. He would like to buy a 2nd hand Prado (previous model) or 2nd hand Discovery also probably the Disco 3 but at the end of the day, I’d still be the one driving it around town and the only big vehicle that I feel drives like a car, is the Disco 4 and both of us feel it isn’t the right time to be spending so much on a car when we have other priorities. There is still stuff we want to do at home and there is a very real possibility of Chris going fully private and that means he needs spare cash to set up a practice  which could cost a lot (in his existing rooms – fairly minimal cost) or in a house that he buys (significant initial cost but big benefits down the line). At the end of the day, investing in either our house or even better, his work is a far better option than putting money into a car that’s only going to depreciate.

No idea how I stumbled across it but I am now very keen on getting a VW Tiguan. It’s probably between that and a Freelander. Only catch is that there are no Tiguan’s (2 litre diesel 4×4) available in the country at the moment, so we’re looking at a 3-4 month wait. Because of the price limit we’ve set ourselves we’re probably looking at a new 2nd hand Freelander if we were to go that route. Other issues at stake – I haven’t actually driven a Tiguan. Friends of ours have one but she has the 1,4 and so the drive wouldn’t be the same and there are no diesel one’s currently available to test drive so we’d possibly order a car without having even driven in it. Issue number 2 is that Land rover offered me a really good price for my car and that is rapidly becoming a very attractive offer. Let me explain:

For some reason unbeknown to either of us we had our windscreen fixed “privately” – not claiming on our insurance. Both of us were under the impression the excess would be huge and so we did it ourselves. They (the car part people) kind of assured us that the light and rain sensors would still work and although the light sensor does, the rain one doesn’t. We obviously only found this out afterwards and at the time we were literally about to sell the car (we thought). I’m mad at myself as I really should’ve just checked our policy as I’m pretty sure the excess for a windscreen is R500 even though a new one for my car costs about R8000. Anyway, it doesn’t rain an awful lot here so most of the time I’m oblivious. Friday morning I’m driving around getting some things for our weekend away and it is in fact raining gently but my intermittent wipers are linked to the rain sensor and so I don’t have that function anymore, IRRITATING I tell you.

The dogs were spending the weekend with my folks and as I opened the boot to let them jump in, the boot came crashing and let me tell you it came CRASHING down, nearly hurting Olive very badly. I didn’t think too much of it until I let them out at my mom and then tried to put groceries in my boot – the hydraulic thingy me jigs that keep the boot open (and help it to open and close) are suddenly stuffed and so you have to push with enormous force to get the boot up and then while you’re trying to get your stuff in the boot, the boot is forcefully trying to close itself. It is physically impossible to keep it open and load stuff in, impossible. My only option – CAR GUARDS!!! Oh my hat was I in a foul mood.

I almost forget another complete b&&lls up we made, but first I’ll finish this story, just bear in mind that my car now stinks of creosote, that would be creosote people.

We then drive very safely and comfortably to our friends’ beautiful farm outside Somerset East.  There is a bit of gravel road as you get close to the farm and then one needs to park your car at the gate and they came to fetch us in the Land Cruiser as the road to the farmhouse isn’t great for cars. As we get out the car we see that my car has lost a hubcap. The final straw. We didn’t find the hubcap on the way back either. Let’s recap a bit, the car drives very well at the moment but it has no intermittent wiper ability, the boot can’t really open or close, it’s missing a hubcap and stinks/is streaked with creosote.

The creosote story…since doing our renovations we have quite a long blank wall in our back garden which we look onto from the sun/braai room and pool. We have planted a row of Olive trees but we’d thought a couple of trellises would help to break it a bit. Chris said he’d make them. We also put some large pots with Jasmine along the wall which 2 of the bedrooms look out onto. The Jasmine needs trellises to grow up against. I’d seen trellises at the side of the road and even saw slightly tapered ones which I thought would be nice for above the pots – 3 small tapered trellises for the Jasmine to grow up, perfect and I’d save Chris some work. I chatted to Chris and suddenly the 3 small trellises morphed into 6 large (1 x 2m) ones. The guys who make them get all the wood from the bush – they told us this. Chris is very disappointed they are not straight – his words, “You can see once again that no right angle was used!” (He built our deck with the gardener and one of the builder’s handlangers and spent much of the time trying to explain to them all about right angles). I did remind him that they were using trees and bushes as their building material as opposed to wood from Penny Pinchers. R1300 down the drain – we Chris likes neat, clean lines and uniformity, he is a stickler for detail and everything must look perfect. You can understand why the trellises made in the bush were never going to cut it. Why oh why didn’t we just buy one first, see how it looked before ordering 6? Chris is abit prone to stuff like this, he’ll take years to decide on some things (buying cars) and other stuff he’ll buy in a flash and go overboard which sometimes works but often not. The collecting of these 6 creosote covered trellises is why my car stinks and has blacks streaks all over it’s previously reasonably clean interior.

We can maybe put one against the back wall and grow another Jasmine and then put the others down the side to cover a bit of an ugly wall that only our guest room looks out onto. Our neighbours on that side are busy doing massive renovations and I’m sure that they will want to replace that wall anyway so then 5 will be well and truly useless. Chris is all for taking them back so that they can sell them to someone else. Not a bad option but I feel too bad, they might think we don’t like them. Ha ha. They did build them according to our specifications, but there is only so much one can do with wood collected in the bush. Let’s just hope they used the money wisely and we’ll just count it as a bit of charity.

The irritation I have with my car is most probably aggravated by the fact that I’m staring down the barrel of builders this week. They are due to start sorting out our front wall trashing my garden this week. I really need to take some photos as I can’t tell you just how lovely the garden is looking. It is going to break my heart. They don’t actually have much building work to do so there is no reason for any trashing but I have no doubt they will find a way, they always do.

It might be time

November 10, 2011

Summer is here, although no one seems to have mentioned it to whoever controls PE’s weather as today is rainy and rather chilly. Once a week or so we get a taste of what lies ahead and it’s a gorgeous day. PE is always like this, summer only really starts in late December/ January but then all the way up to June and July we have the most gorgeous weather.Ava doesn’t look like a girly girl – she’s a little chubby with a naughty face (does have blonde hair and blue eyes but not girly looking) and yet, she LOVES dresses and dressing up. She would happily wear a little strappy dress every day and every afternoon she insists on putting on her ballet outfit or fairy outfit (I’ve got an old photo of the ballet one but will still put one up of the girls in their fairy dresses). Zoe is tall and thin and has gorgeous long,curly blonde hair. She is a very pretty child I think and yet she would happily wear tights or skinny jeans and T-shirts with a jersey or fleece everyday!! I bought her the most beautiful skirts and dresses at Naartjie, Woolies Firefly stuff and other lovely summer dresses from Pick ‘n Pay (they have lovely cotton stuff) which she won’t wear. The only saving grace is that Ava will definitely wear them.

Precious ballerina - taken in January so a while ago


Anyway, back to summer. I have strapless bra’s but they’re really old and uncomfortable and whenever I wear them, by the end of the day I’m going mad. Yesterday Ava and I popped into Woolies and I grabbed a strapless bra in my size and brought it home. I was about to throw my slip away when I remembered the bra and thought to quickly try it on. It is way too small, I mean seriously too small (the cup size). How devastating. Chris knows b.oo.bs, it’s his job and he keeps telling me that this or that bra is too big and doesn’t fit me properly but I’ve been living in denial. I have actually been a 32C (not even pregnancy/breastfeeding related) but was convinced I was still a 32B, I can’t actually cope with being a 32A. Thankfully despite breastfeeding they don’t sag at all – I know that for a fact because there are certain measurements (think it’s from your clavicle to the ni.pple) and mine are still within the normal range.Perhaps it’s just because there’s nothing much to sag!

Some may think, well lucky you you’re married to the right man but the right man is reluctant to operate on his wife. I obviously would like no one to even notice if I have it done. Chris has samples at work which I’ve tried and I lean towards the smallest size implant you get and he says that’s ridiculous. There are implants made for symmetrising surgery – so if you have a mastectomy on the one side then they adjust the size of your other breast to match – usually they do a reduction but sometimes one needs a very small implant.

There are a few problems – I will not be able to run for 6 weeks and that might actually kill me. I think I can cycle and swim after 2 weeks. There is a girl in our running club who had it done recently and she only stopped running for about 3-4 weeks but she isn’t married to the surgeon. She had absolutely nothing and is now a full B (small C) and she says she doesn’t notice it when running(something I’m nervous about, I certainly don’t want my running affected by my b.oo.b job). On so many levels I can’t even believe I’m contemplating it but Chris says that if you walk 100m in a shopping centre you will pass 10 women that have had it done. It would seriously cost very little – the cost of the implants and the theatre costs (and the hospital might not even charge because Chris works there and so generates lots of money for them) but still I’m almost too embarrassed to have it done and I’m scared one thing will lead to another.

On Monday I walked with Ava to the beach with the dogs (it was a glorious day) and she found a little friend at the tidal pool and they were having such a ball that we stayed much longer than I’d planned – I had sun screen and a hat for Ava but not myself (my moisturiser is SPF 15 though) and walking back I thought, oh well I’ll probably need a facelift when I’m 45 but that’s okay???? Chris could probably do a br.east aug.mentation in his sleep – he does them often and I think they’re fairly straight forward. A facelift is definitely trickier, he’s already reluctant to do my b.oo.bs there’s no way he’d agree to a facelift. Not because he can’t do it but because it’s not really ethical to operate on your own family. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but he keeps offering to do my mom’s eyes for her – he does it in his rooms and so it costs him nothing. She doesn’t want her eyes done, she wants a breast reduction but he flat-out refuses to do a breast reduction on his mother-in-law so he plays the family card very quickly!!

It’s almost like the decision to have a 3rd child or not, I can’t make up my mind. I just know I’ll chicken out at the last moment.

For now I just need to go and take the stupid bra back and buy my first 32A. Can you even take bra’s back to Woolies? If not, then my mind’s made up for sure, I’ll keep the bra and get my husband to organise the b.o.obs to fit into it!


November 8, 2011

This is going to be long because it’s got lots of bits.

There is absolutely no history of cancer in my family at all, none and so it’s something I didn’t really ever think about until Chris started specialising and then working as a plastic surgeon. People all think that plastic surgery is all about cosmetic surgery while the vast majority of his work is actually all to do with cancer – breast cancer, skin cancer, throat cancer, you name it wherever there is a tumour which needs to be removed, it leaves a hole (sometimes big and sometimes small) which needs to be sorted out and that’s where a plastic surgeon comes in. But before I get into all that please bear one thing in mind.

I know some doctors charge ridiculous fees and I do believe that’s wrong but please don’t ever complain about what your gynae charges. Do you know that their malpractice insurance is R18 000 per month? That is before they have even seen a patient, they need to pay R18 000. It went up R7 000 between last year and this year. Chris pays over R10 000 (even though he’s only part-time in private he has to pay the full amount) and I thought that was a lot. If gynaes don’t do obstetrics it drops way down to between R2 -R4000 I’m not sure but more and more gynaes are stopping obstetrics because it just isn’t worth it. Rant one over.

Chris saw a patient at the state hospital recently that has gone into debt to pay for a mastectomy privately. With a mastectomy the surgeon usually does what they call an axillary clearance which is when they remove some lymph nodes from the armpit to check those for any signs of cancer. The surgeon who did this lady’s mastectomy did that but when the pathologist analysed the sample, it only contained fat tissue, no lymph nodes. Chris saw the lady because she was being seen at the government hospital’s oncology breast clinic which he attends every week. The surgeon had told the lady her lymph nodes were clear, despite the fact that the pathology report clearly stated there was no evidence of any lymph nodes in the sample they received for analysis. She has a very obvious lump under her armpit which may be because of the mastectomy but could easily be a lymph node metastases. The right thing would’ve been for the doctor to admit his mistake, he could’ve even covered for his mistake by telling the lady that the pathology showed that not enough lymph nodes were taken out and he needs to go and remove more. To blatantly lie and tell the patient that everything was clear when you’ve made a mistake is just wrong on so many levels and is why a few incompetent, egotistical idiots give so many wonderful doctors a bad name. The sad thing is that Chris would’ve done the lady’s mastectomy for her and done a proper axillary clearance in the state hospital and it wouldn’t have cost her a cent. She is now in debt and needs to have another operation (Chris is doing this for her in the state). I was outraged when I heard. What does one do as the medical professional? PE is a small place, one can’t very well go bad-mouthing your fellow professionals. I told Chris that I think the best thing to do is to write a letter to the lady’s GP or whoever referred her to the useless surgeon in the first place. He actually has to anyway as when one does surgery on a patient one always needs to inform the person who referred them to you and the patient’s GP (if it’s not the same doctor) and let them know what is going on. At least then that GP will hopefully never refer patients to the idiot surgeon again. People make mistakes I accept that, but when a person’s life is at stake and you make a mistake, then you need to have the decency, guts, whatever to man up and admit to your mistake and make it right.

There’s more though. Yesterday he saw a 31 year old man with a melanoma (the bad skin cancer) on his leg and a big lump in his armpit, a sure sign it has metastasized. That gives this 31 year old man a 20% 5 year survival rate which means he has an 80% chance of being dead within 5 years. This young guy had a thing on his leg and went to have it cut out, he can’t remember which doctor did it – GP/surgeon/dermatologist but lets guess it was probably a GP. I asked Chris, and he said that a melanoma is pretty obvious to a trained eye. He (this other doctor) cut it out and then asked the patient if he wanted it sent away for analysis warning the patient that it would cost him more money. On the advice of the doctor and let’s be realistic here, if a doctor asks you, “Do you want it sent away, it’s going to cost you extra money?” you probably won’t choose that option. But if the doctor says, “Listen this might be nothing, but there’s always the chance that it’s something sinister, we’ve cut it out so let’s be on the safe side and have it sent away for analysis, it will cost you XYZ” you’ll probably have it sent away. Chris sends away absolutely everything that he cuts out for analysis. So, the patient was given his melanoma in a jar to take home!!

What usually happens is that if something turns out to be cancerous the pathologist checks whether it has been cut out completely and there needs to be certain clear margins as well (that means a few mm beyond the cancer on every side needs to be removed and clear of any cancerous cells). Often, if Chris thinks something is cancerous he’ll take out as much as he can (but also as small as possible for scarring) but if it turns out to be cancer then sometimes he has to see the patient again and cut out a bit more to make sure it’s removed fully with wide enough clear margins. By not having the original melanoma analysed one had no idea that it hadn’t been fully removed and/or with wide enough clear margins. Not only did the melanoma recur but it has now metastasized to this young man’s lymph nodes and now at the age of 31 he has a very good chance of being dead before he reaches 36. A good friend of ours (actually the one expecting the twins) found a melanoma after having her second little girl. She found a funny looking mole and went to have it removed, it was analysed and when it was found to be a melanoma she had it cut out further and chose to have some lymph nodes removed as a precautionary measure. She has a 100% 5 year survival rate and never has to think about the melanoma again. She was also 31 at the time and instead of staring death in the face, she is now expecting twins. Melanomas are scary things and there is always the chance that this man’s particular melanoma had already spread before he had it removed the first time but the earlier you start treating cancer, the better and the better one’s chance of beating it. If you don’t know you even have it, you certainly can’t start fighting it.

What’s my advice – never ever have anything burnt off, if it’s burnt you can’t ever analyse it so I know I’m biased but rather see a plastic surgeon not a dermatologist – they have no surgical training whatsoever and are more likely to burn things off and always, always have things analysed. I’m not sure how much it costs but even if it’s R1000, your life is surely worth more than R1000.

Quick one

November 7, 2011

I see that since I was last blogging wordpress has changed a bit and even give you ideas for posts. Yesterday I noticed it was about your second name and whether you like it. Mine is Louise and I dislike it. It meant nothing to my parents, they just thought it went well with Katherine. I never use it, unless I’m filling stuff out. I was named after a good friend of my parents and I love my first name but am personally not big into second names unless there is a reason for them. In my opinion, it just means it takes longer to fill in forms. Because of our long surname we decided not to give the girls second names. We struggled to agree on one name for each of them so can’t imagine how we would’ve managed two. Chris actually uses his second name – he’s officially Johannes Christiaan. He hates it when he’s called Johannes (name tags at conferences, on his patients’ hospital stickers,etc.)and I cannot see the point of giving your child a name and then not using it. Thank goodness we never had a boy. Chris is not keen on family names at all but I’m sure if we’d named our son something other than Johannes Christiaan they would’ve thought it came from me.

Without planning it that way at all both girls’ names mean life. Zoe is Greek and means life. In Latin Ava means “bird”, something she definitely isn’t except she does like birds (her favourite panties have birds on them as well as her favourite dress). Oh and her favourite book is the South African one “Gallivanting Granny” which has a Hadida in it and she does an excellent impression of a Hadida. It also means “breath of life” and it’s Hebrew and Italian origin are from Eve which means life. They are both very lively, chatty and full of life. Far too full of life sometimes, there are days when I long for the silent, moody teenage years as they both talk non-stop all day long and at the moment they are practising for their school concert (Noah’s Ark) and the church nativity so now we have non-stop singing as well. Oh and they love to make up songs, and let me tell you they are definitely not future Idols stars, that I am sure of.

Baby shower

November 6, 2011

I have a good friend that is expecting twins, her 3rd and 4th girls. It was her baby shower on Thursday morning. Her mom and one sister were here visiting so she’d asked for it to be that week. We had it at a guest house and the venue and food were superb, it was the most gorgeous day, the gardens were beautiful and we were the only people there so couldn’t really have been more perfect. Except, it was the usual “surprise” so we all got there for 9.30 and she eventually arrived at 10.30am. She’d had Pilates right close to the venue but then had to go home to fetch her mom and sister for their “coffee date”. So we all got to chat, mingle and eventually even started on all the food and 2 of the ladies had to leave a few minutes after she got there and no one could stay that long as we all had kids to fetch or work to get back to. I honestly felt so sorry for her. She basically arrived and had to start opening presents and as soon as the presents were all opened people started to leave. Now maybe I’m just weird but why on earth not just tell her and she could have come straight from Pilates – another friend does the Pilates with her (also expecting twins) and didn’t go because of the baby shower but also said there’s place to change at Pilates and they often take other clothes along if they’re going elsewhere afterwards. She had 2 very easy pregnancies with her other girls and is a bit of a fitness fanatic so she’s really taking strain this time around as other than the Pilates she can’t exercise and I’m sure only other twin moms would understand being pregnant with twins (in summer) and having 2 little girls to look after as well (2 and 4) is no joke. If you’ve only ever had twins then I guess you don’t know any better but I think it’s even tougher when you’ve had 2 singletons and now need to cope with a twin pregnancy and the prospect of having twins as well (knowing full well how tough just one newborn is). I do not envy her one tiny little bit, in fact all the matching little outfits and babygro’s that she got started making me nervous, so not quite sure how she felt.

We had a lovely time catching up with our friends, although it was rather quick but at least we got to see them as it’s never quite the same chatting over the phone. We used to see a lot of them when we lived in CT and have seen them quite a few times since we moved, including twice when we were in Cape Town in May. We also have one of those digital photo frames and there are quite a lot of photos of Zoe and Holly on the frame and she and Ava literallly watch the photos every single day. Zoe has never mentioned it before but when they rang the bell, she immediately asked, “Why are Holly and Oliver black and their mom and dad white?”

Today was a pretty perfect day here, little windy at first but the afternoon was lovely and this evening is gorgeous with not a breath of wind. My parents came over for a swim in our pool (still 30 degrees so warmer than theirs), chocolate brownies which we made and then this evening we went for a cycle/run along the beach. The beach was buzzing with everyone else doing the same and loads of surfers so it was just a perfect end to a great weekend. Chris has gone to fetch sushi from our favourite sushi place for supper so that’s going to make the evening even more perfect.

Next weekend we’re off to stay at friends of ours’ game farm, then it’s here for a weekend and then off to Knysna (Under Milkwood) with my folks and brother and his family for the weekend. Chris’s folks happen to be at the Beacon Isle in Plett for a week at the same time, so we’ll be stopping off to stay with them on our way back. Only problem is the Marathon on 3 December so need to do some serious mileage in amongst this gallivanting.


November 4, 2011

Yesterday was the most stunning day, absolutely gorgeous and the sea was the most incredible turquouise blue. I took the dogs for a walk in the morning and just couldn’t stop staring and thinking how lucky we are to live so close to the beach. It always astounds me just how many people are on the beach when the weather is gorgeous – on a random Thursday morning, the beach was packed – does anybody work in this place?

I had 2 friends over in the afternoon and the kids swam and swam and swam, for about 2 hours. Our pool water is 30 degrees so they didn’t get cold at all. Chris even swam once the kids had gone to sleep.

So, today the wind is back but I’ll tell you why. We have good friends that live in Paarl. He is busy specialising at Tygerberg (almost finished) but they live in Paarl so he does a lot of commuting but they are happy in Paarl. This friend dislikes PE, intensely, no idea why. His folks live in East London so they often pass through. He is almost an orthopedic surgeon and the very best place to be an orthopedic surgeon is in a smaller place like PE or East London. The work is plentiful and you get to do anything and everything because often in the bigger cities people all want to go the the “knee” man or “shoulder” guy or whoever the latest expert is. Ironically, the new guys are actually the people who know all the latest research and techniques. So, if you really want to have an easy lifestyle, great working conditions and make loads of money then go to PE, East London, Nelspruit, even Durban, just don’t stay in Cape Town,Jhb or Stellenbosch,etc (it will take you much longer to get established and you’ll spend years doing all the rubbish on-call trauma which doesn’t pay and keeps you awake at night and away from your family). There is no convincing this friend though and guess what? Every time they come to visit, the wind howls. If his wife comes alone with the kids, the weather is gorgeous, but just let him come along and we can be assured of crappy weather.

I checked on Wind Guru last night and guess what? Today and Saturday are pink and even purple because the wind is so strong (40 knots in the afternoon on Saturday). That’s even strong by PE standards. I should’ve known it would be the case, but still. Kind of messes with my running plans too. We have Chris’s end of year function this evening and the plan is to do a long run tomorrow morning. We’ll be tired because of the late night and now at 5.45am tomorrow morning, when the wind is blowing already (it usually only starts later in the day), we’ll have to drag ourselves out of bed and run 24km knowing full well that the girls are sleeping soundly at my parents’ house!! Now that is going to take Herculean self discipline. I am already preparing for the huge task of waking Chris and getting him going – he is NOT a morning person AT ALL so I’m going to need to not only convince myself to get up but a sleeping grizzly bear as well. The moment I hear my alarm I am instantly awake and thinking straight, the same cannot be said for him. I have had to listen to far too many very strange phonecalls when he gets phoned by the hospital/another doctor in the middle of the night. I do feel sorry for ER doctors that have to phone other doctors at night, they must have to listen to an awful lot of crap if Chris is anything to go by.