Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Happy Ending

 Now where were we?  Right, so we had this brilliant holiday in the Western Cape with all we love, care for and enjoyed while waiting for the results of Tinus’ final CT scan.  The flowers were the best I’ve seen over the past almost ten years since my love affair with the West Coast started.  Most of our days were sunny, people opened their hearts and houses for us and took time out of their lives to be with us.  There were so many highlights – if my holiday was a photo it might have been very nearly overexposed. 

My memory snapshots will include scenes from my parents’ house – my dad probably standing next to the indoor barbeque watching rugby/cricket while tending the fire, my mom with her laptop/kindle and definitely a small “Hanepootjie” somewhere in the picture.  Another one will be on the stoep of the River Cottage with Lana and the three Antoni’s … yes, three - you’re not counting Cous-cous.  There will be one of all of the Hopefield family around a long table in the Merry Widow.  There will be one in Mathe’s new kitchen – Once upon a Bread central, showing her, slightly floury yet elegant, with both her hands either working the dough or gesturing as she colours her dream.  Ilze’s garage will feature – she will be covered in sawdust, smiling her trademark smile, possibly wielding some dangerous looking power tool and there may be more than one snapshot featuring the walks with Margo and her kids. 

There will only be two photos with no one in them:  One showing Geraldine’s stylish – surprisingly comfortable – lounge set, with no one in it, symbolizing the many hours we spent draped over the couches discussing things which shall not be named…again.  The other one without anyone in it is a photo of a dream house in Hopefield, with walls newly painted in happy hues waiting to begin the story of Mr and Ms Malmal and son.  There will be a photo showing my sister laughing in the sun – you won’t be able to tell where she is, because wherever she is, she’s always in my heart.  And there might also be a slightly blurry underexposed photo of someone who may be my brother.

Apart from all of these will be a stack of photos showing scenes from the observatory in Cape Town.  Of all the people I spent time with, the time with my “old” friend Chantal was by far the shortest – but it left the greatest impression on me.  I love seeing how my friends build their own happy endings.  Thank you Chantal, for making time for us, for sharing your amazing world – what am I saying – universe, with us.  And thank you, for leaving footprints in my heart.

And so on one of the few rainy mornings my phone rang – it was Tinus.  The kids were still sleeping.  I went outside to have a smoke in the rain while he told me that the CT scan showed that the spots they saw the previous time were bigger and there were more.  And I thought of how Tinus says he does his crying in the rain – but I didn’t.
I don’t like using a flash when I take photos.  You know that feeling you have in your eyes after someone used a flash on you.  It is as if your head, your mind … your soul is filled with never ending blinding white.  (No wonder some natives think you steal their soul when you take a photo of them.)  The rest of the holiday was like that. 
Then on the plane back to Dubai I watched the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”  And in the movie the young man says:”Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not the end. “

Two days after we were back TInus had another biopsy.  The week of waiting was endless as usual.  And finally the result came back – we had to go see the doctor for this: During the appointment the doctor said that he’s not sure though why the nodes are still showing red – so whatever it is, he wants to have it removed.  (Déjà vu) There is a doctor at the same hospital who can take out little bitties using the same technique he uses to get biopsies using the swallow-the-camera thingy.  (Ai, die Engelse is darem slim.) But he’s positively negative for cancer.  Negative.
Does it sound like an anti-climax?  It was, strangely.  I think we were both so coiled with tension, we were afraid that if we released it would be like when you open the back of a watch – coils and bits everywhere.  But it was all right, wasn’t it?  So we made a date to go and celebrate with a nice dinner somewhere that evening. 

It never happened.  You remember how I said this doctor doesn’t believe in giving good news over the phone?  That afternoon at three he called Tinus at the office.  Tinus tested positive for TB.  He has to see the doctor urgently first thing the next morning.  So that evening, instead of having a nice dinner out somewhere, we sat down, all four of us, making plans on how to move all of us back to South Africa, preparing the kids to cope with the idea of – yet another – school move.  How to manage the move back, where we will stay, how long can we manage without an income.  You may not believe it, but it was actually a fun evening.  I think we all tried so had to pretend that we’re ok, goofing around, and coming up with scenarios – one more ridiculous than the other that we ended up all feeling better than we had in weeks.  We all went to bed that night, happily convinced that we’ll be deported the next day.

 When we arrived at the doctor’s office he was wearing a face mask – way to be subtle dude.  But once again good news conveyed in person.  It seems that one no longer gets deported if you should contract TB whilst in possession of a residency visa.  (Tiny tiny bit of me disappointed – can you believe it?  But we had some good plans the previous night when we were high on panic-induced adrenaline.) Tinus was given tons of medication and booked off for two weeks (quarantine.)  The two kids and I were x-rayed and we had several vials of blood draw.  My social schedule came to a grinding halt, fortunately the kids’ school hasn’t started yet so we waited for twelve long days.

Just a note here – last year Tinus was tested three times in two different countries using three different methods – one being a biopsy – for TB, and it was negative.  Three times.  Conclusion – he contracted TB here somewhere, possibly when they deactivated his immune system with the chemo.    See how effective this let’s-not-have-anyone-with-TB-get-a-residency-visa policy is?
When we finally got our results back they were all negative.  Yeah for our immune systems.  The kids went back to school, in time to start the new academic year, I dived back into the social whirl pool and TInus went back work after his period of quarantine.  He still has to be on medication for about six months.  So now, finally my dear friends, I think everything is all right, and therefore it must be the end.

I always wonder what happens after the happily ever after bit.  I will carry on with the blog – initially I intended it as a tool to keep the loved ones far away up to date with what we do here in the City of Life.  I hope you will.  It is so exciting to see how many people read my blog.  Thank you for having shared this with me. 
Much love