Adventures in the ER
It scarcely feels as if 2018 has been plucked from the tree, but you’re already holding the March issue in your hand. Not only has 2018 been plucked, its first quarter has been sliced, diced and devoured. I’m feeling a bit sliced and diced, too. In recent years I’ve noticed a concerning trend: Summer has become a time of corporal punishment for me. I love the outdoors (it’s one of the main reasons I love working at go!) so I swim in the ocean, run on trails and now, since my knees have started complaining, I’ve dusted off my 20-year-old mountain bike to explore new routes. Unfortunately, my trust in my own physical prowess bears no relation to my true ability. My wife Ronel has made peace with the fact that we might be visiting the casualty ward at the hospital later in the day, every time I slip out the front door. There was the time I dived under a wave at Kogel Bay, only to face-hug a rock. Fortunately the doctor who stitched my lip back together was an artist with a needle and a thread. Then, a year ago, I went for a trail run in the hills close to my home in Stellenbosch. I was so enamoured with the beauty all around me I never saw or heard the dog storming up from behind. It chomped down on my hamstring and took a chunk out of it before I realised what was happening. It was a long and bloody walk back home to my sleeping wife. Lesson 1: Don’t go running without your phone! It’s easier to phone your spouse to come and fetch you than it is to limp back home on one leg. Together we went to the local casualty ward for more stitches. More recently, I rediscovered the freedom of a bicycle. I ticked off Jonkershoek, Assegaaibosch and the Bottelary Conservancy – all fallow ground beneath my spinning wheels. I fell in love with my country all over again. But my mountain-biking adventure came to a shuddering halt against a wooden post on the other side of a barbed wire fence. I’d raced down a hill, fearlessness powered by stupidity, and misjudged a line that my 20-yearold brakes couldn’t rectify. I crashed through the fence at what felt like 60 km/h. Once again I was standing next to a gravel track, slightly dazed and covered in blood. This time, thankfully, I had my phone so I could wake Ronel to come and rescue me. Same hospital, same hospital bed, but now the stitches were in the upper part of my right arm, where the barbed wire had left its signature. At least the tetanus shot I’d received a year ago for the dog bite was still valid. Small mercies… So will this put me off swimming, running and cycling? Not a chance. Does a flat tyre in Namibia stop you from ever going there again? Will a blister on the Otter stop you from doing the Whale Trail? Life inside a comfort zone that precludes any discomfort or risk sounds like death. There’s just too much for each of us to see and do while we’re still breathing!
IN HAPPIER TIMES. Pierre took this selfie about ten minutes before he fell off his mountain bike near Stellenbosch.