Ad­ven­tures in the ER

go! - - Ed’s Letter - PIERRE STEYN PSteyn@Me­

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.

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