Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Out of the mouths of babes

On Sunday afternoon Lee, Goran and I headed over to the Brightwater Commons to check out the Model Car and Toy Fair. After a spot of lunch at Spur, I took the littlest Gruben for a ride on the carousel, and the Monster Energy drink guy very kindly allowed him to sit inside his monster truck.

On our way out, I popped into the awesomely cheap and cheerful Home Stuff store and bought GBG his very first skateboard (not that he'll know how to use it for quite some time, but it was only R45 and I just couldn't help myself). You should've seen his little face light up when he laid eyes on this new 'kah!' (anything and everything with wheels is a 'car' to Goran, while anything round like a 'ball' - from balloons to marbles - is a 'boh!').

The stream of both comprehensible and completely non-sensical words coming out of his mouth these days is totally charming and quite fascinating. In fact, out of all the textbooks that I used during my UNISA studies towards a BA (Communication Science), The Study of Language was the only one I found interesting enough to keep. And out of all the chapters, I think the one on acquisition of a mother tongue was the most intriguing for me personally. Who would've guessed back then that one day I would have the privilege of witnessing firsthand such a profoundly powerful process unfold!

Friday, 27 July 2012

The miracle of life

Last night, two years ago, I peed on a stick, and to my shock and (initial) horror, discovered I was going to be a mom...

A blood test, exactly two years ago today, confirmed it...

...Funny how certain dates burn themselves into your mind.

Anyway, with the purpose of doing a bit of research for my book yesterday, I did a meandering drive through the vastness of Westpark Cemetery (see page 19, and please note that their Charles Herman Bosman should read Herman Charles Bosman!), with Goran nodding off to sleep in his car seat behind me, clutching his Big Headz tiger plushie.

Besides the glaring irony of different religious groups being separated in some places by nothing more than a strip of tar - Christians on the left, Jews on the right - I was struck by an aching sadness at the number of children's graves. Many of them nothing more than a bunch of cheap flowers and a makeshift marker on a tiny mound of freshly turned soil, amber in the afternoon sun.

A wave of gratitude washed over me, as is wont to happen in sanctuaries of spirituality (one of the reasons I love visiting old churches and cemeteries). And I was reminded of how fleeting and fragile life can be. Of how important it is to live in the present. To stop and smell the roses. To savour every moment.

When we got home, I snapped this pic which I think manages to convey my renewed sense of purpose quite nicely...

If anyone reading this is feeling as jaded as I have been lately, I strongly recommend you take a drive or walk around your local cemetery...and then start counting your blessings. As a wise (wo?)man once said:

Do not bemoan growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Brightwater Yogi Bear

When Lee and I moved up to Jozi a decade ago, the first place I found for us to stay was a microscopic one-bedroom, one-bathroom rented townhouse unit in a complex called Ile de Paradis. It's just up the drag from the Cross Street entrance to what was then the Randburg Waterfront, and neighbours the small President Ridge Bird SanctuaryBelow is a pic of us taken before a night on the tiles against one of the migraine-inducing lounge walls (landlady's choice, not ours). I think the colour was 'Tropical Punch', but 'Punch Drunk' would've been better. This was March 2004, a week before Lee proposed to me on our ten-year-going-out anniversary.

Anyway, it was during the two-and-a-half years that we lived there, whilst waiting for our own townhouse in Northwold to be built (off-plan), that they started draining the rancid artificial lake and transforming the complex into what is now the Brightwater Commons. I think the last time Lee and I were there was for the annual Oyster, Wine and Food Festival in late May last year. So yesterday afternoon I decided to take Goran and his scooter for a bit of fun in the sun, and check out what's changed in the interim.

Although the number of shops and restaurants that have closed down and are standing empty is quite depressing (reminiscent of what it was like prior to and during the refurb), the complex is meticulously clean, with visible and very friendly security, the landscaping beautifully maintained. And judging by the calendar of events on their website, plus a myriad colourful photo albums on Facebook, it's still a hugely popular choice for affordable family-friendly outings on the weekends. We may even pop into this Sunday's Model Car and Toy Fair. And perhaps also the SA on Tap Craft Beer Festival next Saturday. Although Lee will be slap-bang in the middle of moving iBrand into their new factory in Wynberg, and I'll be attending the Dial M for a Murderclass crime writing workshop. It's an early birthday pressie from my folks (how awesome are they!), which forms part of Jozi's annual Bloody Book Week, brainchild of the fabulous Jenny Crwys-Williams.

And just a handful of shots I captured early this morning, of my sweet little bear in his MooMoo Kiddigrow, playing with the marbles I bought for him yesterday, and giving the last few drops of his Woolies Spiderman yoghurt to Hansel.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Revolving doors

Just as life was getting back on track and we were falling into some semblance of routine, the Universe, perverse old crone that she is, decided to throw us yet another curve ball. Or three.

Whilst my alter ego Miss Voodoo Kudu was partying up a storm with some of her favourite peeps at our mate Michelle's birthday bash last Saturday night...

...A few suburbs away my mom-in-law awoke to the sound of Goran retching in his sleep.

She flipped on the light switch, bolted out of bed, and to her horror, saw  him repeatedly upchucking all over himself, in a gormless semi-conscious state. Lying on his back. Like he usually does. All I can say is thank God he was in his camp cot in their bedroom and that she is a light sleeper. He could SO easily have drowned / choked to death on his own vomit. Like Hendrix. Bar the alcohol and barbiturates. Unfortunately it wasn't the first time this had happened. There were three other instances of unexplained projectile vomiting over the preceding three-and-a-half weeks that had already raised concern. But it was this most recent and disturbing incident that got us really panicked and prompted a visit to the paediatrician. First available slot on Monday morning.

I started off by asking her for a RAST test, convinced he had developed an allergy, more than likely to cow's milk. But within minutes of examining him, she said he needed to be hospitalised right away. Initially to undergo aggressive treatment for another bout of bronchiolitis, to relieve a bronchospasm, and reduce air trapping in the lungs, caused by his asthma. (There is a common misconception that asthma sufferers have difficulty inhaling when in fact it is a difficulty exhaling). While the profile of a normal chest is flat, Goran's was barrel shaped. His distended lungs were exerting pressure on his diaphragm, which was in turn exerting pressure on his liver (she said she could actually feel it protruding from beneath his rib cage, which is completely abnormal). This was obviously resulting in a lot of discomfort, especially after eating, if and when he actually managed to get anything down. Whilst an in-patient, she said they would take blood and do not only a RAST test, but a battery of others as well, screening for everything from TB to immune deficiency and cystic fibrosis, in an attempt to get to the root cause of his ongoing health issues once and for all. 

Shortly after being admitted, routine chest X-rays revealed he had pneumonia on top of the bronchiolitis. Double whammy. (But at least another plausible explanation for his lack of appetite and vomiting). Shortly after our visit to the radiology lab followed an examination by the ENT surgeon (referred by the paed), confirming a case of otitis media, or glue ear, for which he presented a strong case for the insertion of grommets (an extremely common and minor ten-minute procedure under general anaesthetic), to which we consented.

So, to cut a long story short, three incredibly draining days and nights later, our little man was discharged with a brand new pair of blue grommets and a (relatively) clean bill of health. Since then his appetite has returned with a vengeance, he is full of beans, and is actually sleeping through the night - in his cot, in his own room! Lordy, please let me not have jinxed things now...

Below are a series of cellphone pics hastily snapped in the paediatric ward and hospital corridors just prior to Goran being wheeled into theatre for his grommet op.

Now that he is back out in the 'real world', the most important thing is to keep his ears dry (no more floating with almost his whole head submerged in the bath - see the third pic down in my previous post), his asthma in check (we have an arsenal of daily syrups & tablets & nebules to fight the battle), and the little tyke as far away from germ-friendly environments, like crèche, as possible. On the paed's instructions, we have taken Goran out of day care and will be keeping him home, until at least the age of two-and-a-half. A year from now. When his immune system is more developed and hopefully better able to tackle all the viral and bacterial nasties doing the rounds out there. His school principal has been incredibly compassionate throughout the entire ordeal, and after consulting with the trustees, she very kindly agreed to waiver the three-month cancellation period in our contract.

In retrospect, I honestly don't think I would have survived the compounded effects of cumulative sleep deprivation (due to Goran tossing and turning and waking up several times during the night, every night, over these past several weeks), and all the stress of this latest hospital debacle, if it wasn't for the unwavering support of my parents (who came up from Durbs), and my parents-in-law. A more doting couple of grannies and grandpas you would be hard-pressed to find. After observing my mood(s), my dad recommended I increase my daily dose of Serlife (a generic of Zoloft I've been on for a couple of months now, since our medical aid decided they wouldn't be covering the latter as a chronic med any more). And boy, what an amazing difference such a minuscule amount can make in 'balancing the scales', so to speak. 100mg to 150mg is all it took. The intense anxiety and agitation I was experiencing disappeared. Melted away, as if by magic. In its place a sense of calm control, and a far less muddled mind.

I'll be the first to admit that much of my distress was caused by the prospect of having to take care of Goran on my own, all day, every day. From previous experience I know that this is not possible. Anyway, after looking extensively into the whole au pair thing these past couple of days (I actually found some amazing candidates on Au Pair SA, and will definitely use the site again, should we decide to re-consider this route down the line), I eventually decided that the most logical way forward was for us to bring on board our stellar domestic helper / Goran's beloved nanny in a more full-time capacity. So from next week she will be coming in three full days a week (up till now she's only been working half-day twice a week), clear in the knowledge that the demands of an extremely bright and energetic toddler take precedence over housework. We'll obviously increase her salary accordingly.

Here's hoping that the second half of this year will be quieter than the first. That we can get a handle on Goran's asthma, and close this crappy chapter on recurring chest infections and hospital stays once and for all.