Saturday, 1 December 2012


During the night after the operation all the drugs and painkillers were taking their toll. I had really strange and upsetting dreams about the operation and complications as a result of it, but I wasn't able to tell the difference between the dreams and reality. What made it even more stressful, was that just about every hour there was a doctor or nurse waking me up, wanting to check my vitals, my wounds, ask me questions, take blood, give injections etc. etc. I knew they were all concerned for my well-being but I really felt like chasing them away at least during the night so I could just rest.

The day after the operation I woke up, saw a doctor by my bed and immediately asked how I was doing after the strange dreams. He told me not to worry, that everything was good, and to stay positive. What a relief! I immediately felt great, and just wanted to get out of bed to go visit Pieter. Unfortunately with so much staff, and each person doing only one task, by the time my vitals were checked again it was mid-day.

Getting out of bed wasn't as bad as I thought, and my body and neck & shoulders were more sore from lying down for too long, than my wounds. I was helped into a chair beside my bed, where I sat for a few minutes to gather my strength, when Natasja helped me up to take the short walk down the corridor to my dear friend Pieter.

When Pieter and I saw each other, we couldn't help but smile with a huge sense of relief that it was finally over, and that it had gone so well.

Pieter and his family were in such good spirit, it gave me goosebumps, and made me feel incredibly honoured to have done this for him. He told me how even though he felt ill from all the medication, he could feel this amazing energy inside of him, and could already feel the transformation happening. Small things that we take for granted like a smooth, soft, oily skin, he only just started experiencing again!

We all sat there talking about this wonderful miracle that just happened with huge gratitude to everyone involved.

Unfortunately within minutes I was starting to feel quite ill. I said my goodbyes to everyone and returned to my bed. For the next three days I had a very bad reaction to the combination of anaesthesia, morphine and painkillers. I felt nauseous, weak and feverish. That coupled with all the hourly tests, being overloaded with saline and glucose through a drip, being forced to eat and drink at every meal, forced to get up and walk as much as possible, and forced to go to the toilet and release my bladder and bowels regularly, really took it's toll on me and I had never felt so poorly in all my life.

My aim was to go home on Thursday, but there was no way. I could barely speak. Thankfully Natasja, Lizelle and Marietjie took turns to be by my side, encouraging me to get better and stay positive. More friends of Pieter kept stopping by to wish me a speedy recovery.

By Friday I had a huge conversation with myself, and told myself that I had to beat this thing if I wanted to get out of there to the peace and comfort of my house, with only my amazing Natasja to take care of me. Then I remembered my mom always giving us ginger ale to drink for nausea, and I asked Natasja to bring me some. And what I difference that made! I was gradually beginning to feel better that day and started eating again, and by the evening everyone was saying I looked like the old John. What a relief! On Friday afternoon Lizelle brought me some South African Biltong (Beef Jerkey) and Fanta Grape soda.  It's something I grew up with in South Africa, and brought back so many fond memories that it boosted my energy and made me feel so much better. So much in fact that I decided come hell or high water, I would go home on Saturday.

When Saturday finally came, I was up at 06:00 and felt so much better. I had a wash, walked over to Pieter, had a nice conversation with him, and when I bumped into my doctor told him I was going home, no questions asked. He was very happy to see my progress and ordered one final round of tests before I got the all-clear. I was so positive that I told Natasja to come to the hospital earlier to help me pack as I was coming home! With all the paperwork, medication and transport finally arranged by 13:00, I said my goodbyes again to Pieter and his family, and I was finally and literally on my way home to a speedier recovery!

The hour cab ride home was quite painful and uncomfortable, but all worth it when I walked into my house, and received a huge hug from Natasja. She made me sit on the sofa, wrapped me up in a blanket and made me a nice cup of tea! I was so happy I could literally cry.

For someone who is always healthy and fit to go through such a huge operation took a greater toll that I could've imagined, both physically and mentally. I am grateful to infinity for all the support I have received, and for my lovely Natasja who has been at my beck and call every second of the day, never getting tired or irritated, even on my toilet runs during the early hours!

But from day one I told myself that even if that type of discomfort and pain lasted a few weeks, it would be nothing compared to what Pieter had gone through over the last few year, and still be worth every minute.

There are no words that can describe the joy that I feel for helping my friend, nor for the incredible bond this has forged between us. You are a true hero and inspiration to me and many others Pieter, for never letting your health get you down, and for staying positive and fighting through all the illness and symptoms for so many years.

Here's to seeing you healthy and happy well into your twilight years.


  1. * Crying *
    Well done, and speedy recovery to both of you.

  2. You did a very brave, noble and very selfless thing there, John. You have my utmost respect. Here I am, standing, and giving you the mother of all slow claps. Good job!

    Get well soon!
    From Charl and Dedre in Canada

  3. Well, you did it John :) I feel honoured to have followed you through this journey and so proud to know that a fellow human made such a sacrifice for another human you have barely known but for a short time. I wish you well for many many a year to come and may you never know such pain again. I wish you good health, happiness, love and a wonderful life ahead.
    To Pieter, well what can one say but you have been blessed and may you heal quickly and take the journey of your life in both hands and pass on the love you have been given; stay healthy and live long with much happiness :D

  4. Thank you all so much for the beautiful and kind words, it brings tears to my eyes.

    I truly wish that people will witness this miracle and realise that we all have to power and love to help our fellow human beings. As powerful as prayer is, a kidney was never going to drop from the sky into Pieter's lap. We have to listen and hear the cry for help from others, and do all that we can to help and heal them. For who else is going to do it? If we all stopped looking the other way and started helping those is need, this world would be a much better place.

    So I'm trying to lead by example, by being the change I want to see in the world. Hoping others will do the same.

  5. Thanks again Theo Meyer for stopping by at the hospital to bring these South African treats.

    John and Natasja, we will make sure you meet Theo, Anel and Ilana in the New Year!