My training in medicine started at Tygerberg hospital where I was an undergraduate at Stellenbosch university from 1990 until 1995. It is a commonly understood fact that South African doctors graduate with great medical and surgical experience because of the amount of severe trauma patients admitted to the emergency rooms of large academic hospitals, which the young student doctors get to observe and/or treat.
I was no exception.
My CAREER in medicine began as a General Practitioner in 1996, working in the surgical wards and trauma units of two large mining hospitals in the West Rand of the Gauteng province. The amount of trauma and violence related injuries that my fellow colleagues and I had to attend to was equally shocking in number but perhaps even grater in magnitude as we had to piece together men who had been seriously damaged in rock falls and industrial accidents underground.
Suffice it to say, I am no stranger to the potential danger to life and limb that is, unfortunately the day-to-day reality of living in South Africa.
It’s a cliché to say that life can change in a single second, and we all acknowledge it as a truism but until it happens to you, you believe that somehow, you can avoid life’s curveballs and calamities. Since my motorcycle accident of the 27/03/23 I now know what it feels like to be admitted to a trauma unit and experience the care and expertise of some of the best doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in the world. I now understand the vulnerability and dependence injured patients feel. I now understand the relief and gratitude a patient feels when placed into the care of compassionate and thoroughly excellent doctors and their support teams.
After 3 and a half weeks in a surgical ICU, two operations of 8 and 5 hours respectively, and now two and a half weeks recovering at home, I am well on my way to making a full recovery.
These meagre words “THANK YOU” are not nearly sufficient to express my heartfelt gratitude and admiration for all the people who have taken care of me. I cannot list their names as the list would be too long and I risk leaving someone out – and everyone who cared for me deserves a special mention. The doctors and staff at Mediclinic Vergelegen and the doctors and staff at the Life Vincent Palotti hospital have all gone above and beyond in my treatment and I cannot express in words how much each person who had a hand in my care means to me and my family.
To the (literally) hundreds of friends, family, patients, colleagues, and staff at Somerset Surgery who have sent messages of support, food and gifts, and have helped my wife and family manage the logistics of my care with so much generosity – THANK YOU!
To my supporting doctors at Somerset Surgery and my staff who have continued to keep our theatres and various other departments of our practice busy during this time – my undying gratitude.
To those closest to me and my family who have visited me both in hospital and at home, your physical presence has been a huge comfort. Your patience with my need to talk through my trauma has been a huge help.
To my wife and daughters, your strength, poise, faith and prayers, love and support have been the biggest blessing to me during this time. I am so proud of the 3 of you, that even though your lives have been disrupted completely, you still have cared for me so thoughtfully and with such patience and compassion.
Lastly, and most importantly, I need to thank God for His protection, and his mercy that my injuries in the accident were not more severe than they were- For His guiding hand during my surgeries- for His healing power during my recovery, and for His grace extended to me and my family during this time of crisis.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
I still have a significant journey ahead of me, but I will make a full recovery and I will be returning to the work, career, and team I so love within the next few months. I will use this recouperation period as a rare chance to reflect on life’s priorities and how to approach the future with the insights I have gained – insights you can only gain form such a life changing incident – so that through this whole process I, my family and all of those that I share my life with both professionally and personally can emerge from it better than before.
My bones will heal because of the attentions of my excellent surgeons and post operative therapies but my heart and mind will heal because I have experienced the most incredible outpouring of love and compassion from God and the community I serve.
On behalf of my wife Sheldene, daughters Katherine and Christine and myself
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free