Friday, July 17, 2009

Hi! I'm here to have my face cut up...

So, for those of you who are avid readers of my blog (I love you guys!), you will know that I was recently the victim of an assault, during which my nose was broken. Well, yesterday, I went into hospital to have it repaired. Surgically.

This may seem relatively trivial to some. I mean, so what, it's a little surgery. It's not exactly a heart/head transplant. Well actually, it was! Behold, the new me:

On a more serious note, even the most simple surgery which requires me going under complete anaesthesia is potentially life-threatening for me. I have a fantastic little disease called malignant hyperthermia (MH). Just reading that first paragraph on wikipedia makes it sound very fatal. It's genetic and basically means that if I am not given the correct anaesthetics, my body starts to burn off all its possible energy and I end up cooking myself to death. Charming, isn't it?

Apart from being able to instill terror in the hearts of anaesthesiologists everywhere, there's no real perks to having the disorder. The only way that this disorder can be diagnosed is by having a biopsy done on a leg muscle in which the remove a massive chunk of your leg, put it into a special solution of chemicals and watch it twitch and fizzle. They then confirm that you have it. I had the biopsy done when I was 5. I only learned yesterday that in order to avoid giving me anaesthetic, the doctors just doped my little 5 year old body with tons of Valium and then hacked away at my leg. Am I the only one who finds that irresponsible...?

This time round, no Valium was required. But it would have been appreciated. Instead, I was given the safe stuff (I don't actually know what they gave me) and I was the first to be operated on, so as to ensure that the machines were all clean and devoid of normal anaesthetic. The operation (I keep thinking it's spelled with two 'p's...) entailed repositioning my septum (the cartilage that separates your nostrils from one another) and removing part of my turbinates (wafer-like bones in your sinuses that are necessary for heating and cooling air as it enters and leaves the body respectively), which had been damaged when their quiet existence was rudely altered by a firearm. Behold, my x-ray!

Sorry, my scanner can't really cope with the contrast very well, so I had to draw the bits in...Anyway, I awoke in the ICU after the op was over with a mass of memories that I'm still not sure didn't happen. Someone explained to me that apparently with MH, the attacks can take place up to 24 hrs after the surgery is over, so there is still a danger, even if you've made it through already.

But I survived! I then spent the next day drifting in and out of consciousness in the ICU, being attended to by a fantastic male nurse called Presley. After reading his name take I made a mental note not to say 'Hey! Like, Elvis Presley!' as I was sure that he'd probably been hating his parents all his life for giving him that name. Instead, I thought 'Hey! Like Elvis the penguin!'.

Throughout the day the nurses checked my vitals, took my temperature using an ear-gun-thingy (usually, just as I was drifting off to sleep) and occasionally checking my blood sugar just for fun (I'm not kidding. This morning I woke up and the nurse literally said, with great enthusiasm I might add, 'Shall we check your blood sugar? It's not necessary, you're fine, but let's just do it anyway, shall we?'). Every now and then Presley would swing past to make sexist comments like 'These work so hard and they go and spend all your money...' while looking at me knowingly. I tried to make like I was woozy from all the drugs.

At various times I was also accosted (but in a nice way) by the catering lady, who came around with a menu to ask me what I would like to eat for my next meal. For the record, the Greek salad has no feta and came with a grand total of three olives. But otherwise, hospital food wasn't bad!

I was also visited by my parents, my cousin and my pal Dave! Duncan (cousin) was most unimpressed that nobody had brought me chocolates for him to help himself to. So I sent my mother to buy some, which she did, and he helped himself to. The nurse ended up taking it in the end. I wasn't really in the mood for chocolate anyway.

Eventually, I was permitted to return home. My dad picked me up with some clothes (the underwear they give you in the hospital is amazing! It's so stretchy! But very uncomfortable...) and I was whisked off home after a few goodbyes. Now, I sit at home, wrapped in a blanket, tissues stuffed up my nose and happy to have had a bath. I'll keep you posted on my condition...

Don't read further if you do not want to be scarred.

You were warned! For the record, when you are in ICU, no matter how coherent your speech and how much effort you put into proving that you are quite capable of moving around by yourself without dying, they will NOT let you go to the toilet. Instead they will bring you a little jug-thing into which you must now relieve yourself. Being a male, I'm sure this was easier for me than, say, for a girl. However, peeing at such a funny angle, into a vessel that is filling rapidly and could overflow into your bed at any time is scary! It's even worse when they give you one that doesn't have a lid! It's so much more risky! You could spill at any time!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Staying sane in the traffic...

Firstly, a brief apology and outline of my reasons for not posting of late. Last Tuesday, I was held at gunpoint and robbed at home. Thus, I have spent the last week trying to reassemble my life through various visits to hospitals (the thieves punched me with a gun, braking my nose in the the same time answering a question that has plagued me since early childhood: What is it like to be punched in the face?), government departments and police stations. Thus, I have not been attending to my blog...

But this is not the theme of today's post! Today's post is a lighthearted look at how my sister and I remain sane in the traffic of Johannesburg while getting to and from university. Naturally, being stuck in a car, one's options as far as coping mechanisms are somewhat limited. However, my sister and I have overcome these limitations through several means.

  1. The radio: While Garreth Cliff may be an obnoxious, insensitive neanderthal with as much foresight as a goldfish, he is rather funny at times. That is why my sister and I have taken to listening to 5fm in the mornings. If you can wade through all the terrible music they play, and concentrate on the good stuff, its not so bad! In addition, they occasionally have intelligent conversations and he seems to have an affinity for the really bizarre news stories, of the like that tend to end up on the Oddly Enough page...
  2. Naming people: It helps to control road rage. Somehow, by giving people names when they wrong you in the traffic, I find I'm more at ease with their wrong-doings. For example, this morning I was cut off in the traffic by a woman with huge poofy blonde hair. Thus, I named her after someone from our department at the university as that was who she looked like. But only from behind!
  3. Compete with other drivers: Making up competitions between you and other drivers makes the traffic more exciting and all-round fun! A prime example was this morning's CC-(But-from-behind)-lady! My sister and I decided that we would try to beat he to each traffic light. Somehow, in the end, she beat us (I'm still not sure how that wiley old bat got past us...) but it certainly spiced up our trip in!
  4. Travel mug tea: Since I was give my first-ever travel mug last year, I have taken to using it to have tea first thing in the mornings. As pointed out by Helen, it's a fantastic way to be able to drink all your tea without wasting the time in the morning waiting for it to cool down! I make my tea with my breakfast, leave it to stand while I brush teeth and whatnot and by the time I'm ready to go, my tea is the perfect drinking temperature! Yay!
  5. Introspection: If the morning is particularly early (in perception, not necessarily early in the literal sense) a little introspection helps to pass the time. I rarely ponder the really deep stuff, but more things along the lines of, 'What will I do today?' or 'If my car is 24 years old, how old is that?!'. Occasionally, memories of conversations past or bad comedy shows will sprout in my brain and I'll giggle to myself. These are usually accompanied by disapproving looks from my sibling...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Am I deep enough for Emo, or shallow enough for Scene...?

The above, much like Eebee's post, make me wonder about the fate of human kind.

Emo is just about the only social movement which makes me REALLY annoyed. While I cannot claim to be a fan of rap music and gang culture, Emo trumps it, hands down. There's just so much about it that is really irritating! Where do I begin?!

I'll start at the top and work my way down.

I've always wished that I had straighter hair. It would make it manageable. But I would never go through all the effort that emos (is that even a real word...?) go through to make my hair look straw-like and lifeless. Something else that many people fail to realise is that straight hair works for some people and just doesn't for others! I was at a party recently where a friend of a friend announced that he had spent the 2 hours prior to the party straightening his hair (not that we could really was still all curly). Now, I am fairly certain that most normal males live by the principal of 'if you have clothes on and the mop is vaguely under control, you are now socially acceptable'. So the fact that the emo movement has resulted in a borderline-hysterical buy-up if hair straighteners by men, worries me...

The other element of the emo hair that I find...amusing, to tell the truth, is the obsession with the long fringes (bangs) which must be drawn down over the face. I love walking through campus and seeing an emo kid walking down a corridor, face entirely obscured by their hair. Occasionally, the hair will rise briefly as they blow furiously at if from underneath in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the outside world. While this (somehow) appears not to be done out of annoyance, it appears more to function by preventing collisions with other people and stationary objects.

Helen described the typical emo hairstyle very well: an upside-down mullet.

Next is the make-up. This is about one of the only things that I think works from the emo movement. Eyeliner makes everyone look so much more dramatic and in many cases can really accentuate beautiful eyes! Again, it really works on some people, and not so much on others. In my opinion, the best are those who try to keep is as simple as possible. The alternative is nothing short of ridiculous...

Image from here and here

Then the clothing. There is a reason why girls jeans are made for girls. I saw a Fall Out Boy music video last night in which Pete Wentz was wearing a pair of bright red skinny jeans. The boy looked like the depressed elf that escaped Santa's workshop! It was ridiculous! Having said that, other elements of the emo gettup I like. I'm a fan of black, so that's one plus to their image.

I think the element of emo-ism that annoys me the most is the pseudo-psychology of it. It is a movement that arose from the ashes of the American dream in white suburbia where teens were growing up, wanting for nothing, and this really pissed them off. They had nothing to be angry about and thus they became angry at their lack of anything to direct their rage at. From there it was a hop, skip and jump to being broody, withdrawn and in many cases resorting to self-mutilation and suicide. In short the social aspects of emoism border on pathological.

I personally know of people who are in that exact scenario (albeit, not in America...), provided with everything that they could ask for and resorting to self-injury because it is the done thing as an emo. In truth, this element of the movement has left me with a great deal of pity for emos. Their existance is so fragile and sad that one cannot help but pity them. Another part of me wants to slap across the face really hard and shout 'Snap out of it you stupid *&%#$! Your life doesn't suck!'

Now for the twist in the tale: In order to show that I harbour no ill-feelings toward emoism, and to avoid being one of those people who everone says "...don't knock it 'til you try it" to I, tomorrow, shall become emo. Helen has agreed to help me out and we shall take photos and I shall post them.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Japanese dinner and early workouts

Because of the fact that my father teaches English as a foreign language to an array of bewildered foreigners who arrive in South Africa for work, life etc, he ends up being exposed to various different cultures. We hardly ever get to share the experiences with him, apart from that repulsive looking dried-fish stuff he brought home once from his Korean students, but Saturday was an exception.

My father had been invited to dinner at the home of one of his students. For a change though, we were invited too! So on Saturday night, we went over to his student's house for a typical Japanese meal! My sister and I were so excited as the only taste of Japanese food we'd ever encountered was sushi and both of us are fascinated by Japanese culture.

We arrived at the house and were greeted almost immediately by the small (in number and stature) Japanese family. We were ushered into the house and give a pair of slippers each which we exchanged for our shoes to be worn in the house. The slippers were amazing. I need to get some! They were so warm and actually had grip (I still can't really figure that out...)!

After some brief introdutions, we were moved over to the table where all the food was layed out for us already. It was really beautiful! We each had our own chopsticks (I love chopsticks!!!) and the most beautiful ceramic plates! they looked like the kind of thing that most people would have hanging on their walls, not eating off!

We then started the meal. We were having sushi, which we made ourselves. Being a vegetarian, I was provided with avocado (it apparently tastes similar to the tune everyone else had) instead of fish as well as sliced omlette-like egg to put into mine. It was so nice! I love sushi and apart from biltong (a South African invention akin to beef jerky, but better, I'm told...), it's the only meat-related food that I miss as a vegetarian.

We also had a soup and some cold rice-salad stuff. The problem with this was that it all had meat in it which I don't do. However, not wanting to offend anyone, I ate it. For the record, I am still feeling a little ill after that.

At the end of the meal, we were given brown rice tea, which was really tastey! I was amazed by the difference in the general flavours of Japanese cooking in comparison to western cooking. Italian food, being part Italian I can discuss this, is all based on very strong flavours and is generally related to sweet or sour tastes. Japanese food by contrast is much more subtle and the flavours are delicate. Also, their flavours tend to be more earthy and bitter, but not in a bad way!

Overall, it was not a bad experience! I really enjoyed it! And the people were really kind and generous! We all had a fantastic time and finished the evening off with a Japanese memory game with cards with pictures of fish, that are placed face-down. We then left, after exchanging our slippers, which I had grown very fond of, for our own shoes.


In a completely unrelated story, I had my first early-morning gym session today! I decided to try and do my gymming in the morning instead of the evening which is what I've been doing up until now in an effort to make my life more structured. It was a little odd waking up before the sun, but overall it wasn't as bad as I had been expecting! AND, the only part of me that hurts is my stomach from the sit-ups! And my neck, but that was from sleeping funny...

Thursday, July 02, 2009


So, in our lab, we have three pot-plants. One named Spaz, another named Kermit and a third named...


Our plant needs a name!!

Thus we have started a competition! A real one, with prizes (sorta) and everything! So please go vote! Just follow this link and vote! It's really worth it! ;)

Bad mood dreaming

I'm feeling so grumpy today! It's all because I had a dream that I recieved a present from someone and as I was opening up my present, in my dream, I woke up! Now I'll never know what I got for Christmas (in my dreams...)!!!

On the plus side, at least my mother doesn't actually host ball-room dance classes in our lounge...