The Good & The Bad of January 2023

It’s good not to know what the future holds for us … otherwise I would have cancelled January 2023 and moved on to the next month!

The Bad:

When we returned from our holiday on the West Coast of South Africa, Berto became very ill. We had to get in the car twice in the middle of the night to go to the Emergency Center. And twice he was hospitalised. The second admission to the hospital resulted in two visits to the operating theatre.

The short version: Berto’s left lung was almost completely filled with excess fluid, making breathing extremely difficult. Literally hundreds of blood tests, x-rays and ECG’s were done. His infection count was 480 (it should be around 5 for a healthy person) and a chest tube was placed between his ribs and into his lung to drain the fluid (twice in theater). Most of the liquid has drained, but there is still a small amount of liquid that did not drain.

After more than a week in hospital, Berto was discharged. He is much better, but recovery will probably take a long time. The worrying fact is that the doctors could not give his condition a name or what the cause was. We have a few more visits lined up for more tests and doctor visits. But for now, we are thankful that he is better and at home.

The Good:

My mom travelled with us when we came back from our holiday for a visit (it was only supposed to be for a few weeks but ended up being a month with Berto being sick and in hospital).

When Berto bought her plane ticket in October last year, we could not have foreseen how much we would need her here with us during January!

I just realised once again how much my mom means to us. While I travelled between our house and the hospital several times a day, visiting doctors and waiting for Berto to come out of theater, my mother made sure everything was in order back home. She cleaned, did laundry and prepared meals. Whenever I came back from hospital, she would make me a cup of tea and just sit with me … I appreciate her so much more now after everything we’ve been through!

And she even made sure that when Berto got home, his favourite rusks and bottled salad would be waiting for him!

One day I mentioned to her that I would like to have my own rosemary plant because we like to use this herb fresh in our food. She then bought a small rosemary plant and transplanted it into a pot … that way I will always think of her when I use rosemary in our food!

Rosemary plant (the colourful tortoise was given by a dear friend)

While Berto was in the hospital, I took my mother around to show her more of our new city. It was nice to be out and about – my mom loves to see new places and I was able to relax a bit after each hospital visit.

Let’s take you on a quick tour. Some of the places you have already seen in previous posts and I will tell you more about the others in later posts.

East London Museum (Take 1):

On our first visit to the East London Museum, we experienced load shedding (this is a South African term for power outages to save electricity … unfortunately part of our daily life). The museum does not have a generator and was therefore closed. We wandered around the outside and then enjoyed a cappuccino in the lovely garden of the restaurant.

Mom standing in front of one of the lifeboats that saved passengers from the Oceanos, a Greek cruise liner that sank close to East London in 1991

Gonubie Boardwalk:

In a previous post, we introduced you to this lovely boardwalk. My mom loved walking here, even though it was a cloudy day it was very warm and we enjoyed walking on the beach with our feet in the water.

On the Gonubie boardwalk

Gonubie boardwalk and beach in the distance

After our walk along the sea, we went over to the Heavenly Pancake House where we enjoyed milkshakes and delicious filled pancakes. I really like this place!

East London Museum (Take 2):

We planned our second visit to the East London Museum better (when there was no load shedding) and enjoyed wandering from one exhibit to the next for almost two hours. It is a great place to go back in history and to learn more about the fauna and flora in this area. We will do a separate post on this museum soon.

More animals (they are of course not real …)

The Coelacanth – a fish that was thought to be extinct, but rediscovered close to East London in 1938

Mom with one of the museum’s biggest attractions, the Coelacanth

After our museum visit we were ready for lunch and walked over to the restaurant where we had cappuccinos the last time. This time we enjoyed a refreshing Prego Chicken Salad.

Prego Chicken Salad

Pinecreek Restaurant and Farmstall:

There aren’t many farmstalls around East London – like we’re used to on the West Coast. But we found a gem here near our home. Pinecreek Restaurant and Farmstall, built in the Cape Dutch style, nestles comfortably in the gently sloping green hills on one of East London’s leading tourist routes.

Pinecreek Restaurant and Farmstall

Pinecreek offers entertainment to the whole family, such as farm-style shopping, a restaurant and very nice play area for the kids.

The Lion Park:

The Lion Park is just around the corner from us and offers visitors the opportunity to view some of Africa’s most powerful predators at an arm length away. There are other animals such as Alpacas, Ostriches, Meerkat, Patagonian Mara and a large variety of bird life.

At the entrance of The Lion Park

Mom sitting at a statue of a cheetah (the real one was somewhere in the thick bushes)

Young male lion

Spectacular views over the rolling hills at The Lion Park

The Dassie Trail:

Our last excursion was a short walk through the Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve. The Dassie Trail (which means hyraxes) is about 4km and winds through the forest to an open, muddy area surrounded by beautiful mangrove trees, but most of this easy trail is on a boardwalk.

On the boardwalk at the Dassie Trail

The Nahoon River flows into the Indian Ocean here

The Nahoon River and Indian Ocean further on

It was definitely a good time having my mom here with us! She was like an anchor in a difficult time for me (and Berto). We miss her now that she has flown back home.

We shared one last sunset before my mom returned home

(I’m still catching up on some of your blog posts after this hectic month and will check in with you guys soon).

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76 thoughts on “The Good & The Bad of January 2023

    1. Thanks so much Carl – it’s much appreciated. You know very well how ‘in a hurry’ Berto can be and now it is very difficult for him to be a little calmer. Yes, it was great to have my mom here during this time … moms just know what to do to make everything easier 🙂.

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  1. I am so sorry to hear about Berto not feeling well, you must be delighted to have your mom around for emotional support and a shoulder to lean on. Being in the hospital can be a very stressful experience for many people because of the unfamiliar environment, loss of control, noise, an inability to fulfil roles in the family, worries about financial issues and the fear of the unknown. I wish him a speedy recovery! Thanks so much for showing me around – you live in such a beautiful part of the world, Corna. Take care xx

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful message Aiva, it is much appreciated. Everything you mentioned here all add up to a stressful time when a loved one is sick. I’m glad you enjoyed the sights with my mum and I – we found some really lovely places here in East London and it was great to share them with her (and you) 🌸.

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  2. Well that answers my inquiry ! Good heavens, poor Berto. It sounds quite dreadful. I hope he will soon progress all the way to 100%. What a God send to have your mom there! It can be so lonely dealing with a loved one’s illness without support. It’s strange how sometimes we get opportunities we weren’t expecting to share time with someone we care about. And such times are precious. And your mom got to see your wonderful new location. It really looks very nice, especially with those terrific sunsets! Best wishes to you both!

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    1. Thank you very much for your kind words Carolyn. Yes, the poor man has been through a lot (and now he is so impatient to get better). And you are absolutely right about my mother being here at the right time – she is such a strong woman and I loved having her here at such a difficult time. She so enjoyed seeing all the new places, above all the nature that was unknown to her.

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    1. Gaats, nee Una, moenie sleg voel nie. Ons almal is mos maar besig met ons eie dinge wat soms al ons aandag verg! Ja, die liewe Vader ken ons goed … Hy het in Oktober al beplan my ma moet hier wees in Januarie sonder dat ons regtig besef het hoe goed die tydsberekening sou wees 🙏🏻.

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      1. Jy klink nou soos die dokter 🙂. Berto sal vir jou se 80%. Maar met die onsekerheid van die oorsaak, die oorblywende vog in sy longe en infeksie telling wat nie wil afkom nie, is ek nie oortuig ons is verby 60% nie.

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  3. Oh Corna…. that sounds awful. I’m relieved that Berto is better, but also understand that uncertainty over the situation can cause a lot of anxiety. I hope the coming month brings more clarity on that front. Please say hi to him for me and pass on my best wishes. Your mum sounds like an absolute gem, I think it was so important for you to have someone around for support during this stressful time. I enjoyed reading about the trips you made with your mum, I’m sure this helped you both immeasurably to breathe and deal with everything. Those gorgeous river views must have been calming too, along with those incredible sunsets. In the lifeboat photo with your mum it says ‘Piraeus’. That’s exactly where I am right now, at the port of the same name in Athens, about to leave for the Greek island of Naxos by ferry. January was also a shit month for us, but not as bad as yours. Onwards and upwards!

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    1. Thanks Leighton, Berto appreciates your good wishes … I think as a man you will know how impatient you can get if you are supposed to take it slow 😉. You’re right, my mum is an absolute gem – having her here was really great and it was lovely to show her around. How coincidental that we show a lifeboat with the same name as the port you are in at the moment – that’s a surprise! I hope Naxos cheers you up a bit after your dreadful January … aren’t the Greek islands supposed to be heaven on earth then?

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    1. Ag, ek’s so bly Tannie Frannie kon saam met ons wandel. My ma dink Oos-London verdien ‘n bietjie meer krediet as wat ons die stad gee 😉. Ek’s net so bly Berto is weer tuis – dit was maar leeg sonder hom (en al praat hy nie baie nie, is dit lekker om net te weet hy’s hier)!

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  4. I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s illness. These things are hard on everyone so I am glad you had your mother’s support and that you were able to share some wonderful times together despite the stress in your life. And I am a big fan of buttermilk rusks too! Here’s wishing you both a better time ahead and that you can get to the bottom of the illness.

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    1. Thank you very much for your good wishes Jude, they are much appreciated! Moms make everything better and I’m glad I was able to show her East London – she loves discovering new places and is always so grateful when we take her around. And her buttermilk rusks are THE best … maybe that will contribute to Berto’s recovery 🙂.

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  5. I was so sorry to read about Berto’s illness and hope he is continuing to gain strength and is well on the road to full recovery. What a blessing that you had your mum around to provide support and companionship at such a difficult time. She looks so nice in the photos and I’m sure she was glad to help and also enjoyed exploring the area with you. Marion

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    1. Thank you very much Marion, I appreciate your good wishes for Berto 🌸. Oh, my mother had a great time here (albeit under difficult conditions), she especially enjoyed the museum (she loves history) as well as the walks on the beach. A mother’s unconditional love and care for her children is one of the most special things in this world … as you will know because you are a mom yourself!

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  6. Oh my goodness you’ve had an eventful January. You must have been so concerned, and so so grateful for Mum’s help. Our best wishes to you both and sending our best wishes for Berto’s recovery. I would say that one of the things that always cones over strong in your blog posts is your love for each other and the strength of your relationship – so you must have been so concerned and so worried. Hoping everything is good for you both very soon. Sending ❤️

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    1. You’re absolutely right … some days it felt like I’d been through a war. I was very concerned (especially because Berto has never been sick in the time I’ve known him 👀). It’s been such a blessing having my mom here – moms know how to handle stressful situations! Thank you very much for your well wishes, we really appreciate it!

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  7. That’s what Mums are for, and I bet she was delighted to be able to spend the time with you. Poor Berto, and poor you! Scary when these things arrive out of the blue. Hope he soon feels more like himself and you can relax again. Sending hugs, meanwhile.

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    1. You’re absolutely right Jo … my mom thought nothing of it to help where she could (she actually said to me one day “but that’s what moms are there for” ❤️). Thanks, it was a very intense time and we hope we are over the worst now. Appreciate your wishes.

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  8. Oh Corna, what a frightening situation; I hope that Berto makes a full and complete recovery very soon. Thank goodness for your mom and the strong support she gave you during this difficult time. It sounds like you shared some quality time together as well. Those stunning sunsets were there to give you hope and encouragement that the next day will be better. All the best!

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    1. My mom’s visit was definitely at the perfect time! There were so many other things we wanted to show her and spoil her with, but in the end she actually took care of us. Thank you for your good wishes for Berto, we trust that he will be much better soon (although we are happy for every little improvement).

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    1. Ja, toe ons daardie vliegtuig kaartjie vir haar in Oktober gekoop het, het ons glad nie besef hoe nodig ons haar eintlik hier sou he nie! Sy is nou weer terug in Langebaan (en baie bly al haar plante lyk nog goed – gelukkig het die bure darem gereeld water gegee). Daar is nog ‘n paar plekke wat ons vir haar hier wou wys, maar hopenlik kom daar weer so ‘n geleentheid – sy was eintlik baie beindruk met Oos-London (of laat ek eerder se, die buitewyke van die stad) 😉.

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    1. Thank you very much Diana. Yes, it was a scary time indeed … we trust the worst is over now. My mother loves nature and she was fascinated by how different it looks on ‘this side’ of the country compared to where she lives on the West Coast.

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  9. Dit is wonderlike nuus dat Berto goed genoeg voel om huis toe te kon gaan. Ek hoop die dokters kom nou gou agter wat die oorsaak van die storie was dat hy die regte behandelik kan kry en volkome genees kan word.

    Dit moes vir jou n baie moeilike tyd gewees het. Dankie tog dat dit so bestem was dat jou Ma by julle kon wees.

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    1. Baie dankie Dries. Ons gee nou eers die herstel proses so twee weke kans en dan gaan hy weer toetse laat doen en die dokter sien … afhangende van die uitslae, sal daar dan verdere besluite geneem word. Dit was inderdaad so bestem dat my ma hier moes wees – sy was (is) ‘n wonderlike steunpilaar.

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  10. Now that was a scary start to the year for Berto and you. Hope his recovery is going well. More importantly I hope the medicos find out the cause. My Mum had that procedure to take fluid off her lungs twice and the doctor reckoned it was related to her heart not functioning well enough. However Berto is much younger and fitter so it will be interesting to find out what has caused the problem. Good your Mum was able to visit and lend her support to you. Having a strong family network is so important. All the best, cheers, Mark

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    1. Definitely not an ideal start to a new year! Exactly … we’re glad Berto is getting better, but now we’re hoping to find out what the cause was (and how to prevent it from happening again). The first thing the doctors did was do an ECG (where they test all your heart functions) and they couldn’t find anything wrong – and they did it twice. More tests will be done in the coming weeks, so we hope to get more answers. I agree, having that family and friends support system is so valuable – in good and bad times! Thank you for your good wishes Mark, they are much appreciated.

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  11. I’m so sorry to hear that Berto was very sick and had to spend a bunch of time in the hospital. Hopefully the doctors will be able to diagnose his condition soon and that it’s nothing serious. It does sound like it was perfect timing for your mom to visit with Berto being sick. Thanks for taking us on a quick tour of your city. It looks beautiful and so scenic.

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    1. Thank you Linda 🌸. It’s been a stressful couple of weeks, but hopefully we’re over the worst now … and like you, we hope it’s nothing serious… we’ll probably find out soon. My mother enjoyed her time here in our (temporary) city and loved seeing all the new places, especially the thick woods near the sea and on the hiking trail – this is something we are not familiar with on the West Coast.

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  12. I’m so sorry to hear about Berto’s illness, this must have been such a worrying and stressful time for you both. Thank goodness you had your mum to support you and also keep you company on these outings. I do hope Berto recovers fully soon, and that you get to the bottom of the cause too.

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    1. Thank you for your good wishes Sarah. Yes, it was indeed a stressful time, but still … here we are a few weeks later and every day he is doing a little better. Now we just need to get to what caused this problem (and how to prevent it from happening again). Oh, I’m so glad my mom was here – she was an absolute gem!

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  13. So sorry to hear about Berto illness, wishing him speedy recovery, and hopefully more tests will show him what that might have caused. Sending him good vibes!! But glad you had your mom with you, a great timing to be there with and for you, that’s what moms are for, sometimes🙂
    I’ve never heard about load shedding, hmm.. this reminds me of my childhood, when the ‘beloved’ communist party would let us in the dark to save the energy – even in the middle of the winter LOL
    All the best, hugs, and love – Happy Valentines and a wonderful day!! xx

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    1. Thank you so much for your good wishes Christie 🌸 … he appreciates the good vibes! Yes, my mother’s visit was definitely at the right time – it was also great to show her around. I had to laugh at your description of load shedding … sounds a lot like the state our country is in right now – the only difference, the energy supplier (which is basically the government) leaves us without electricity in the SUMMER, while we have the one heat wave after the next 😄. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!

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      1. Oh yes, it is the opposite season in your country. Sorry to hear about, I know how much we appreciate the a/c during the summer time too, and with the climate change, we had times when we had to turn on the a/c in 2 days after we turned off the heat (or vice versa) 😄

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    1. Ja, ons het eintlik baie om voor dankbaar te wees. ‘Janoworrie’ het sy naam gestand gedoen! ‘n Mens wil baie graag weghol, maar waarheen … tog uiteindelik maar net reguit na die Vader toe, ne 🙏🏻.

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  14. Oh Corna, I’m so relieved Berto is OK but it still sounds a long road to recovery – and so scary with no official diagnosis. I’m so glad your Mum was there, and the rosemary plant nearly made me cry. I can only imagine how important it was for you both having her there through such awful times. Keeping you both in my thoughts x

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    1. Thank you very much Hannah, it’s much appreciated. It was indeed a tough time and hopefully we are now over the worst (and that next week’s tests will be more adequate). My mother was (well, actually is 🙂) an absolute angel, she just simply stepped in and made sure everything at home ran smoothly … no matter how old I get, my mother will always be my comforter.

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  15. So sorry for your tough times and concerns about Berto’s health. Wishing him well and hope he recover and be his healthy self again. Thankfully, you had your mom to support both you and Berto during these dificult times. Thank you for sharing these beautiful sunsets. Blessings to you and your loved ones Corna and big comforting hugs coming your way 💕🌸

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    1. Thank you very much for your kind words Henrietta 🌸. It was truly a blessing to have my mom here at this time – she was such an angel (it was hard to let her go back home again). Your well wishes are greatly appreciated 💌.

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    1. Thank you very much Ruth. Yes, in the end the doctors concluded it must have been some kind of pneumonia that got really bad. His recovery took almost two months, but he is doing much better now. It was really great to have my mom here at that time – she was such a gem in a difficult time … moms, they are just the best 💌!

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