Let’s talk about Mesothelioma

MESO – WHAT? If you read the subject of todays post and wondered what that word is, don’t worry I’m not swearing at you. Do not advance to another page to do a quick Google search either because I’ll get there in a moment.

You remember that time when the use of Asbestos was prohibited in South Africa? That time, in 2008, when we joined 50 other countries in the prohibition? No? Admittedly I wouldn’t have remembered it either if I hadn’t been working at a construction company at that time. If your answer is no to the questions above, no worries, I’m going to tell you about it. Maybe not all about the whole process or go into too much detail about Asbestos either. I’d like to discuss Mesothelioma.

Until a few short weeks ago I had never heard of the word, much less knew that it was a type of cancer. When I saw the “C” word my interest was piqued. For those of you who don’t know, I have no love for cancer. Zero. Cancer has claimed family and friends as their own and the worst part was watching them suffer before ultimately dying. Although I must admit that in many cases it’s not the disease that kills patients but the treatment. There are no guarantees to their quality of life after treatment depending on the severity of the disease. What I do love though, is supporting the cause, patients and survivors and help raise awareness where I can.

A short while ago I spoke to Mesothelioma survivor Heather Von St. James. As I read her story I couldn’t help but cry. Sadness for what she’s had to endure, tears of joy for her survival status, her family and also because she has taken the initiative to make her voice heard and be a spokesperson for the cause.

“Because with hope, the odds don’t matter.” Heather Von St. James

Mesothelioma Cancer

Image courtesy of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer affecting affecting the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. A fatal tumor that grows on the lungs. Like many other types of cancers, there is no cure. There is however treatment available to improve your quality of life and even increase your life expectancy.

The thing about Mesothelioma is that you don’t have to be exposed to Asbestos directly. Like second hand smoke can affect someone else’s lungs, so can Asbestos. Because it’s a fibrous mineral, particles attach to ones body and clothing which then transfers to those you come into contact with. This is what happened to Heather as her father was the “carrier” of the asbestos when she was a child. Mesothelioma is a bit tricky to diagnose as it mimmicks other illnesses and ailments. Looking at the symptoms makes me think of a whole array of other respiratory illnesses with Tuberculosis being a front runner.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma is:

•Chest and abdominal pain

•Persistent coughing, coughing of blood

•Weight loss


Treatment for it is:

1. Chemotherapy

2. Radiation therapy

3. Surgery

Did you know that Asbestos is still used in the US?

A few facts about Mesothelioma

Asbestos Fact Sheet

You may know Asbestosis to be a common illness associated with Asbestos, especially in South Africa. It’s a chronic lung disease which leads to long term respiratory complications. Sadly it also has no cure. I first learnt about Asbestosis at the construction company I worked at and that is why I was happy when it was prohibited in our country.

Symptoms of Asbestosis is:

•Chest tightness or pain

•Fingertips and toes that appear wider and rounder than normal (clubbing)

•Loss of appetite with weight loss

•A persistent, dry cough

•Shortness of breath

Looking at the similarity between the symptoms of Mesothelioma and Asbestosis you’ll note why the former is a tricky disease to diagnose. Thanks to Department of Thoracic Surgery at the University of the Witswater and Johannesburg General Hospital in South Africa’s research more evidence has been provided on the link between asbestos exposure and the development of pleural mesothelioma.

Some information on Asbestos:

Asbestos is fibrous mineral, which was mainly used in construction up to the late 90’s. Because of its heat resistant properties it’s usually used for insulating purposes. Affordability also played an important role in the manufacturing and usage thereof in earlier years hence its popularity. The use of Asbestos has not been limited to building materials though. Car parts, roads, and school playgrounds to clothing and bedding has been reported to contain this mineral.

Knowing this, isn’t it scary to think that the US and other countries are still using Asbestos?


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

You know how people always say “I won’t wish that upon my worst enemy”? Well if I had any enemies, which I don’t because life is short and grudges causes ill health, I’d definitely wish Carpal Tunnel Syndrome upon them. I seriously would guys. Don’t judge me.

About two years ago I experienced a tingling sensation in my fingers. This was followed my numbness and then sharp pain in my left hand and wrist. I didn’t pay too much attention to it at first but as the pain increased and the otc pain killers lost its efficacy, I made the trip to my gp. My pain threshold is high but not CPS high.

He gave me some painkillers and I went on my merry way. But that wasn’t the last I saw of him for that problem. Over the course of the few months following that initial visit, I quickly became a regular. My left arm went numb and I lost feeling in my fingers which resulted in me not being able to do something as simple as holding a pen with my left hand. It was as if my hand was just an accessory. Nighttime was the worst. I’d have to hold my arm in an upright position to bring some sort of relief. Honestly I can’t say whether or not it did bring relief because the pain was unbearable.

My gp changed my meds and gave me anti depressants. The aim was to relieve the nerves in my wrist which would leave me painfree. Problem with anti depressants was that it left me in a zone. I was neither here nor there. But it did take me on a trips though. On an emotional rollercoaster. The pain, though it was taken down quite a few notches, was still there. Bearable but there.

Now, I’m not one for just sticking a plaster where it hurts. If something is broken then fix it, if it can be. Off I went for a second opinion and was immediately referred to an orthopedic surgeon. After my consultation with the surgeon he scheduled me Carpal Tunnel Release.

I’m a total “HOUSE” fan, and after watching all eight seasons a few times you can imagine what went through my mind. I hate hospitals and never had an operation in my life. I remember the nervous tension and the hurling. All my own fault I might add. Silly me watched a YouTube Video the night before the procedure. Seriously those videos need to be banned. Or maybe I just have to keep my curiosity at bay. Nonetheless I wanted the pain to just disappear and sucked it up.

Before pic

Before pic

When I woke from my medically induced slumber I felt like a brand new person. Gone was the excruciating pain I’ve come to know so well. It was replaced by post surgery pain, but that was something I could deal with. The itchy wound was much more annoying than the pain. In fact, my smelly hand was worse than the pain too. It had to stay bandaged for fifteen long days. No changing the dressing or anything until the stitches were removed. I’ll spare you all the gory details on what it was like after the stitches were removed but what I will say is that it took a long time to heal. Turns out my body doesn’t take kindly to cuts. I couldn’t start rehabilitation before the wound healed completely.

After what seemed like an eternity, my hand healed quite nicely. When I couldn’t find a stress ball anywhere I went for the next best thing and squeezed a squash ball for dear life to strengthen my hand. I even got myself a soft tennis ball too to alternate. Hand massages were also an integral part of the healing process and helped soothe the scar tissue. You can hardly see the scar on the picture. I can hardly see the scar when I look at my hand.



Not everyone’s story about Carpal Tunnel Release is a success story and some people do experience pain afterwards. I remember people telling me not to waste my time because it won’t help. I remember thinking that it will be my problem and not theirs. Who wants to live in pain anyways? Admittedly I do experience a bit of discomfort in my hand from time to time. Sometimes I wonder if it’s real or if it’s just my mind’s way of recalling that experience. All in all mine was a success story and I don’t regret having the procedure done. Both my hands are functional and I treasure it dearly.

Fit(ish) Mom

One of the best compliments is always when I meet people for the first time and they hear I’ve got 3 kids and they be like “Wow you don’t look like someone who’s got kids, nevermind 3!” At the same time I also feel a bit guilty about friends who struggle with their weight and here I am parading (actually just walking an awkward walk coz I’ve never been very girly) my tiny-ish frame. Or at least I felt guilty about it at first. A while ago I posted Body-Wize because I wanted to share part of my fitness journey and obstacles. You’ll see why feeling guilty about my hard work is not an option anymore. Now, now… Before you go thinking I’m on the Vanity Express I’ll explain why before I blow up and shout at someone for making me feel like I’m doing something wrong because of my weight. Or I could still shout at someone for any random reason. That’s just the day I had today.

I’ve never really had a problem with my figure until I had babies. Correction. After my 3rd one. With kids 1 and 2 I easily slid back into my size 6 jeans. The last one just knocked me for a 6 and doubled my size. My thighs literally doubled! Drastic times called for drastic measures. It was workout time. That called for time which I didn’t have and meant that I’d have to go with bad hair days for a while. Already 2 excuses from a long list, but I wanted to lose weight? Thinking back I realize how silly my excuses were. If you want something bad enough you should have to sacrifice right?

Unlike many women who can lose weight by eating ‘right’, my body is not wired that way. The mere term ‘diet’ makes me crave all kinds of food and sweets that I don’t normally indulge. Eating healthy balanced meals doesn’t really feature as a weight watchers programme to me. It’s more of a precaution to family health hazards. Diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease etc. My gene pool made quite sure that I take care of my body and watch what I put into my mouth. That said, I have an insatiable sweet tooth so I do have my moments.

I’m the train-hard-sweat-lots-scold(spew profanities)-at-the-instructor kind of gal. By now I should mention that said instructor is that Hip Hop Abs guy that kinda looks like Will Smith. Yes, I scold at my tv screen while feeling the burn and my husband loved every minute of it. Found it hilarious actually. After a few sessions I couldn’t handle the pressure. Too much aches and pain and zero enjoyment.

But a quitter I am not. Soon thereafter I sampled Zumba and loved every minute of shaking and sweating. The best part of all is that I don’t remember really feel any burning sensations when I started. My workout schedule changed from the evening to early mornings, before I left for work, soon thereafter because the energy burst made it difficult to sleep some nights. Also, I went for a Brazillian blowdry (bye bye bad hair days) which meant I could wash my hair after a workout and still look good for work. The energy burst was and is still amazing and by now it’s become a way of life and not another item on my to-do list. I dropped those dress sizes and don’t just feel comfortable in my skin, I’m loving it.

My workouts have transformed from the Zumba days and I do more serious workouts these days. It includes squats, Kettlebell and a mix of cardio that leaves me panting like a dog. Like an ugly dog, just in case you’re wondering. I have yet to sweat gracefully. Am I a size 6? Nope. Not for the last year thanks to squats. Somewhere along the line I realized I want a softer seat to sit on. I’ve worked my way to doing 200 squats at a time and not walking like a newborn calf by the time I’m done. That’s how much I want a soft seat and also my commitment to ME.

Some advice for moms out there who are not satisfied with their bodies:

    – Watching what you eat is part 1 of getting slim. Working out is the next step.

    – Find a workout that makes you excited and leave you wanting more. That way it will be easier to get off the couch.

    – If time is an issue, always remember that you make time for what is important.

    – Don’t be too hung up about the time you spend doing a workout. Start off slow and work your way to an hour. But start.

    – Working out has so much more benefits than just shedding a few extra kilos. Your health will thank you too.

    – Size doesn’t matter unless you don’t feel comfortable. Learn to love your body, flaws and all.

    – Make it a way of life and not a tedious chore and you’ll see just how easy it can be. Incorporate some moves when you’re cleaning your home. Stretch or whatever… Every little leaves you wanting more.

    – Music! A playlist with your favourite body rocking jams is a total must. It will take the edge off a whole lot.

Am I a health nut? I wouldn’t say that at all. I’m a normal woman who happens to be a wife and mother, bookworm, serial series watcher, cake baking, stew making average gal who took a stand against her lazy bones. Anyone can. It’s also matter of my addictive personality. That’s also why I’d never sample drugs because I’ll get hooked at first sight. I’m that bad.

PS: This is why I blog… The pen is mightier than the sword. Feeling better already and a lot less shouty. 🙂

I’m interested to know what other women do to keep fit and stay healthy…

The Air We Breath

This past week, if I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought that baby no.4 was letting me know of its existence. My appetite disappeared and I hurled like it was going out of fashion. I’m a morning sickness pregnancy type of gal.

The slight headache I had whole week wasn’t cause for concern. The sinus attack didn’t bother me much either because it’s autumn and, well it’s supposed to be normal what with four seasons in one week (sometimes one day) in Cape Town. By Thursday morning when the nausea hit with a vengeance paired with terrible abdominal cramps and I couldn’t get out of bed much less lift my head from my pillow with a high fever, I knew this must some stupid cold/flu or something.

Paranoia gave me the will to get up and go to the doctor. An acquaintance of “Keith” passed away Monday morning. What they thought was flu turned out to be double pneumonia and he died less than 24 hours after the diagnosis. Guys, I still have plenty to do and my kids still need their mom so I must do my bit and take care of my health. Trust me, my gp is not my favourite person in the world but I do see him when OTC meds won’t do the trick. Lately even more so because my immune system is just not playing along with me right now. It seems like if it’s in the air, I’m bound to get it.

I spent the better part of the past 48 hours in bed with a viral infection that got the better of me. Almost. There’s no rest for the wicked and that includes moms. Even though I was offered a sick note, I doubt my 6yo old boss would accept it. I also have plenty of obligations as a business woman so I can’t really afford days off right now. Much to my delight, the doc did say that I’d get over the worst of it within 2 days and it most certainly is true. Still have a few days worth of antibiotics to finish but I’m much better.

About this virus. It’s some respiratory sinus/flu virus and can affect your chest and gastro intestinal system too. I won’t really say it’s contagious but it’s viral so if you’ve got it, chances are anyone can get it.

Symptoms are:

Runny nose
Post Nasal Drip
Headaches (that can go from mild to sever in two ticks)
Stomach cramps

If you’re experiencing two or more of these symptoms then go seek medical attention fast. Unlike most viral infections that can be cleared with OTC meds, you actually need an antibiotic.

Things that helped me through:

Plenty of bed rest
Liquids (it’s important to stay hydrated)
Steaming with tea tree oil (I’m used to steaming with this and it works for me but I’d suggest you first consult with your gp before doing this)
Ginger tea/Rooibos with a dash of lemon
A name change that does not rhyme with MOMMY
More rest

Now to go check on 1st K because it seems as though he might be in the running for the sickest person in the household now.


I'm sure many can relate...

I’m sure many can relate…

For the past few weeks I’ve been having some serious commitment issues with sleep. As if sleeping in itself isn’t enough of a commitment issue where death is concerned. Anyway… The moment I get into bed all kinds of ideas pops into my mind. My Declaration Of Independence has been the reason for my sleep deprivation. Or at least that’s what I thought. As much as I try to switch off the more insistent those thoughts and ideas become.

This prompts me to get up, make notes and worse still start the planning. I bubble with excitement at times (most of the time) and other times it’s a matter of making the note before the idea escapes me, never to be thought of again. By the end of the week when most 9-5’ers get ready for the weekend, it’s business as usual for me. Work, work, work. Ta-da-da-da-da, I’m loving it!

The problem with little sleep and staying up all day after rising at 5am only to toss and turn again during the night is that I’m now like a walking pharmacy and popping pills like it’s going out of fashion. My head aches. All. The. Time. Also, too little sleep makes me cranky. Ok maybe not cranky. Miserable is more accurate.

A GP visit later, and not my usual GP but one of his locums (who happens to be an expert in occupational health), and a whole lot of questions (way more than the usual 20 questions type) I’m told that I have a mild case of OCD. OCD!!!

Here I’m thinking that it’s all the excitement of my new ventures and my busy lifestyle, but having researched OCD and looking at the Symptoms I’m seriously wondering if I’m really that obsessive. A control freak yes but obsessive? Sadly I can identify with most of the symptoms and while I’m in denial about it I’ve have decided to budge where the prescribed meds are concerned because I need sleep. Uninterrupted sleep and be my normal self.

Having had a few decent nights sleep I feel refreshed. I have however been researching OCD a lot and find myself reading article upon article and have gone for a second opinion as well. Same diagnosis.

So there you have it people. ‘Denial Jonkers’ is who I am right now and have become OC about OCD. If that’s even possible. Is it even a thing? Emptying my inbox at 2am because there’ll be new mails in the morning doesn’t count either right?


A little over a year ago I rocked my two-piece bikini with a flat tummy and was a size 6-8. A size 6 on normal days and 8 on those days I wanted to look more mature and mommy-ish. Size does matter sometimes. I find this especially true when I want to be taken seriously and not look like a little airhead girl. Bless my families good genes but the youthful appearances can be a curse too. I’m not old enough to take “You look so young” as a compliment yet.

This time around I’m rocking fat thighs, not so flabby arms (but they’re bigger) and a pot belly depending on how much I consumed. It can be written down to family jewels or maybe the age old saying “a moment on the lips…”,but nope. My workouts has changed a lot since I had Carpal Tunnel Release June last year.

For weeks I wasn’t up to jumping around so that meant no exercising. Even after the wound healed, a whole 2 months later because of the wound getting infected, I found myself not being able apply pressure on my hand. Zumba has always been my favourite workout video but I found some of the moves had a bit of a negative impact on my hand. I couldn’t handle that much circulation and it throbbed too much. This meant I had to make some adjustments and say farewell to Gillian Michaels too for a while. Ok to be honest I wasn’t too keen to start up again because it was winter and once your routine is stuffed it’s pretty darn difficult to get working out again.

It was then when I started doing squats, bridges and every workout that didn’t involve too much hand movement. Besides I always wanted a bit more tush and it seemed fitting as last year big behinds were all the rage. I now do up to 200 squats without walking like a newborn calf like I used to at first. I’m toned and my calves are bigger too. What I didn’t think about at the time was that I’d have to say goodbye to my jeans indefinitely. Most of which were brand new. Amongst my collection is 2 pairs of G-Star Raw jeans. Forget about the price tag for a moment and let me tell you how perfectly they fit. It feels like a second skin and you don’t own a pair of jeans until you own a pair of those. Superb quality and craftmanship. *FYI G-Star is not paying me to say any of this but if they’d like to, then I’d like to own at least one pair again. It’s not too much to ask… Really. I prefer #skinny. Thank you in advance.*

My legs and thighs are much bulkier now and as much as I loathe the fact that I need to buy new pants, from slacks to jeans and tights, I simply love the strength in my legs. I’m also filling out my long boots quite well and can’t wait to wear them this winter. Oh wait, I have started wearing them already. Couldn’t wait any longer. My fat thighs ain’t fat at all, it’s mostly muscle and that accounts for the extra weight on the scale.

Point is, I hear so many women complaining about their weight and the types of diets they’re on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for healthy eating habits and totally agree with everyone choosing that over a greasy burger and fries. What I don’t get is that even though they know that exercise plays an important role in weight loss they never seem to have time nor energy to do it. Ladies, working out is not about having a gym membership and buying fancy equipment (both of which I find to be a terrible waste of money). It’s about incorporating little moves and building up towards that 30-60min workout. It’s a lifestyle.

Having said all this I know that it’s difficult for some of us to shed unwanted kilo’s and just thinking about exercising makes you break out in sweat. Been there, done that. This body has been with child thrice and the last one had me battling my weight for almost 4 years after birth. So I get you when you’re not satisfied in your skin and struggling to shed those pounds. Kudos to those who are happy with their bodies no matter their size and good news for those who aren’t. It’s called cheating. You can dress to make yourself appear slimmer than you are and feel great. There are cheat sheets for everything these days.

I’m currently going through a DIY craze and after reading my post on Upcycling Old Jeans I’ve been asked by one of my FB friends what can be done with jeans that don’t fit or that you simply want to revamp. Well I’m not ready to part with any of my jeans just yet even though I know they’ll never go past my knees again *no more tears* so that is a project in the making. May take me a few weeks to makeover one pair but try I shall.

In the meantime ladies if you’re not happy with your bodies, eat healthy and work out. No one really wants to hear you complain about how fat you are especially when you don’t do anything about it. I must also mention I have this new love for duct tape and will not hesitate to use it when I hear you moan in real life.