Jozi, Meryl and Ulysses…





Meryl and I chilling. That's my post-call face on Friday evening

Meryl and I chilling. That’s my post-call face on Friday evening

If anyone asks, I’m off to go see about a girl… Those were my last words as I left Port Elizabeth for Johannesburg on Friday afternoon. For some odd reason I have had Matt Damon and Robyn Williams on my mind a lot lately. So come Saturday morning Meryl and I were at our favorite little DVD shop on Queens street in Kensington on a mission to fulfill my latest little resolution. Unbelievably they didn’t have Good Will Hunting… “It’s too old,” the lady said, “Too old?! 1998 isn’t old… and besides it’s a classic!” I said in exasperation. It was the second DVD place I had been to that morning that didn’t have it. The nice lady even called another branch but they also did not have the film, presumably for the same reason. “…Unacceptable!” I exclaimed, only half joking…

So we proceeded to choose another one, then two, then six movies, mostly because we couldn’t agree on what to get (we never do apparently, according to the lady that works there ๐Ÿ˜Œ) Walking out with that number of movies meant that it was officially going to be that kind of afternoon, which neither of us minded as that really is one of our favorite things to do together.

Getting breakfast at Uncle Merv's, Maboneng.  Highly recommended,  they have an awesome selection of smoothies :-P

Getting breakfast at Uncle Merv’s, Maboneng. Highly recommended, they have an awesome selection of smoothies ๐Ÿ˜›



There was a rugby game later that afternoon, the Springboks are currently in Europe and were due to play against England. I was forbidden to take time out to watch ๐Ÿ˜“! “It’s just 2 hours I’ll be across the road at the Troyville Hotel and back here immediately after…” I pleaded. “So it’s QT vs the test match eh? are you going to defy your woman?” Rodney, my best friend over the phone, having a giggle at the tussle I was in. As a married man he has much experience in these delicate matters. I like to think I’m an intelligent man, so there was no rugby that day. My (subtle) sulk was met with a dismissive “You can always Youtube the highlights later!” Really…


Tha evening Rodney came over and he, Meryl and I hung out with a new acquaintance of ours, Ashley. She is an American living and working in Swaziland, who was passing through Johannesburg (as one does) on her way to Cape Town. We all got stuck into one of the most interesting conversations I have had in a long while; gentrification, reincarnation, heaven and hell, Anglicans and Catholics, and child rearing. How’s that for a list of topics? And all before any of us had any dinner! ๐Ÿ˜‹

The next day I turned 31. Just like that. “Je ne sais pas comment j’en suis arrivรฉ ร  ce point!” Me, in a conversation with my dad on the phone. Time really does just go on, regardless of and in spite of you paying attention. I mean I know exactly what I’ve been up to for these past 31 years and it’s not that I have any regrets or anything but jeepers has it been 31 years already?!

Just the other day I was like 19 years old! :-o

Just the other day I was like 19 years old! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Not that I necessarily would have but there wasn’t much opportunity for any kind of celebration as I had to fly back to Port Elizabeth in the afternoon. I got what I wanted though, some time with my girl over the weekend, and seeing Rodney the night before. My mother, and both of my sisters also called, Muriel in particular sent me a video over WhatsApp of a bunch of little Smurfs singing happy birthday, which I quite enjoyed! ๐Ÿ™‚ Henriette, a friend of mine, came over and she met Meryl for the first time. We all shared a quick lunch at Maboneng’s weekly Sunday Market. Then I was off to the airport, and back to PE.

Curiocity Backpackers

Curiocity Backpackers

A good place for a night or two if you ever pass through Jo'burg

A good place for a night or two if you ever pass through Jo’burg

The walls of Curiocity Backpackers, where we stayed over the weekend are adorned with words, parts of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ one of the greatest pieces of writing ever penned. ‘… I cannot rest from travel… How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished…’ Fitting, for a place continuously housing restless travellers but also I think, as the writer may or may not have intended, quite inspiring for a cerebral soul such as myself. Everytime I walked past a paragraph on a wall I couldn’t help thinking and imagining. I felt overwhelmed with a sense of possibility that the words seemed to suggest.


That is what was on my mind as I got onto the plane. One could go anywhere (in the world) if one wanted to really…



Cheap cars, romcoms, kizomba and iron, lots of it!

I spent last weekend up in Johannesburg. My cousin got married on Saturday. I seem to be attending weddings relatively often, this being the fourth in about the last year, and there have been numerous in the last few years. I suppose at my (ripe old age) of 30 years it is about that time… Weddings also seem to be the only reason I travel back up to the Highveld these days. There are a couple more still to come in the next few months so this blog is going to start to resemble the screenplay for some predictable romantic comedy ๐Ÿ™‚

Speaking of romantic, while the family nuptials where the official reason for my making the trip, being in Jozi meant that I got to be with Meryl. I took leave on Thursday, Friday and Monday, so it was 5 consecutive days of catching up. Definitely the best part of the little holiday ๐Ÿ™‚

And speaking of comedy, I rented a car for the duration of my visit. Much to the amusement of my friends I went with the same company I rented from the last time I went up for a short visit. I got an old Mazda 323 and I uploaded a picture of it to show a bunch of friends. The guys were in hysterics, as I knew they would be ๐Ÿ˜€ over the first day or 2 there was absolutely no end to the abuse that I copped. ‘Learn to love yourself’ one of the guys said.

These guys are just a few minutes walk away from my place in The Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg CBD. Their rates seem to have made them my go-to guys for my short visits :-P

These guys are just a few minutes walk away from my place in The Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg CBD. They have become my go-to guys on my short visits ๐Ÿ˜›

I thought the car had a lot of character actually ๐Ÿ˜› and it got me from A to B, which is all I want really. It did make getting up and down in Jozi quite interesting. For example, I usually like to open the car door for Meryl but this car had a funny alarm system that I’m not used. Whenever I opened the passenger side door for my lady the alarm would go off and I would have to then run around to the driver’s side, put the key in the ignition and turn it in order for the alarm to stop ringing. I eventually devised a little routine to avoid this, I would open the driver’s door first, turn the ignition and scuttle around to open the door for Meryl who was (patiently, I think? ๐Ÿ˜) waiting on the other side. This probably made for quite a comedic little scene to anyone watching but hec, the alternative is to let her open the door for herself, which is just not on!

The trip was also good for a bit of family time. My father picked me up at the airport, I hadn’t seen The Old Gentleman for almost 4 months so it was nice to reconnect a little. I spent the first night at my parents’ house in Centurion. This is the house I grew up in, mostly. I identify myself as a Jo’burg boy, which after 4 years at Wits University, then 6 years at Wits Medical school (all the while slumming it in student residences) then a further 2 years living and working in Jozi I suppose I can? but suburban Pretoria is where I spent my adolescence. It is always nice to go back to Centurion, I don’t get around much when I’m there, being at my parents is a very comfortable, catered-for experience. Having said that, after a certain age time with one’s parents should only be done in doses I think… So I spent the rest of my time at my apartment in Maboneng, in Johannesburg. Our whole family was re-united that Saturday at the wedding. My sister Muriel made the trip out from Secunda where she works for Sasol in occupational health. She too is a medical doctor, along with my dad. Before you start thinking we’re one of those families there is my other sister Benita, who studied psychology. She is the only one in the family capable of any original thinking. She and her husband Hendrik live in Mondeor, Johannesburg.

Because we’re all off in different places each doing our own thing, having all of us together in one place at the same time is something quite special. This along with seeing everyone else at the wedding (extended family and others not seen in years) and finally seeing my cousin Patrick, a couple of years my junior getting married, all has the effect of making one want to stop the inevitable wheel-turn of life for just a few moments to appreciate it all. At events such as these I always feel an acute sense of “where am I in life?” or “where will we all end up?” I can’t help it…

Added to all of that, this was the first time Meryl was meeting my mother (having already met my dad and sisters at my 30th last year). My mother is like me, she doesn’t open up and warm to people without quite a bit of work having to be put in, from both sides I would say. I will say no more than that about their first encounter. I was tempted to call this blog post ‘The awkwardness that was…’ ๐Ÿ˜› I suppose we’ll give it some time.

Meryl and I at the wedding

Meryl and I at the wedding

The wedding aside, there was kizomba, an Angolan genre of dance that Meryl is quite into. We went to a kizomba event in Illovo on the Friday night. I found it quite challenging. I’m definitely an advocate of the standard one-step, two-step. “Rythm, rythm!” Meryl kept saying. Where is it, I thought. What is this rythm thing she keeps on about… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

We hung out in Maboneng for the rest of the weekend, not doing much. We did watch a romantic comedy, ‘2 days in New York’ I recommend it, Chris Rock and a lovely French actress. Lovely because she is French… ๐Ÿ˜‰

#maboneng #jeppestown #jozi #cityart #graffity

#maboneng #jeppestown #jozi #cityart #graffity

I flew back down to PE on Monday night. It was an unexpectant pleasure getting into my own car after getting off the plane. In comparison to the vehicle I hired in Johannesburg, Elizabeth (I know I haven’t mentioned it before but that is what I call my car, Elizabeth the First, she is absolute royalty!) provides a very smooth responsive drive, and I had to stop myself from speeding all the way home to the flat in PE Central.

The week back has been work as usual. I have had iron on my mind. Specifically iron sulphate, really how much is too much? A few weeks ago my HOD had asked me to put together a presentation for the weekly physician’s meeting on Thursdays at LVH. I was to talk about a young lady who we had admitted a while ago (I wrote about her in a previous blog post ’12 phone calls’). After an argument with her mother she had swallowed 120 ferous sulphate tablets. Acute iron overload.


Having brushed up on the 5 stages of iron toxicity and the management thereof I put the finishing touches to my presentation after I got back from my little break. On Wednesday my HOD told me that he would instead be presenting at LVH on Thursday. A different case, a teenager seen at our outpatients’ clinic with hypogonadism, low testosterone and underdeveloped secondary sexual characteristics. He thought that this case was more interesting and a better option for presenting at LVH, representing our hospital and all of that. The young man in question has a pituitary adenoma (tumour). I was in attendance at LVH when my HOD did his presentation. “Break a leg” I said to him just before he was due to speak. He didn’t get it…

The lady who had overdosed on iron tablets remained as an in-patient at Dora for 8 days, on admission we had given her copious IV fluids and an IV deferoxamine infusion. She had remained clinically stable and her blood results (particularly her liver function tests) had improved significantly by the time I discharged her home (on the HOD’s orders).


We have a patient in my ward now who was admitted a couple of days ago with an assessment of symptomatic anaemia. Her haemoglobin level was 3.7g/Dl (normal is approximately 11-16). Her blood results show above normal iron levels and her ferritin is sky high. Chronic iron overload. Being a newfound expert on iron toxity I have her on a daily deferoxamine infusion to get the iron levels down. She has also received a blood transfusion to increase her haemoglbin levels. However she has obviously been bleeding for a long time and taking iron tablets to compensate for it. We will need to find the cause of the chronic bleed before we discharge her.

On Wednesday night I ran an 8km time trial at Charlo running club, 36mins 46secs. Happy with that. Nothing like getting a bit of speed work in, and a bit of lactic acid in the legs. This morning (Saturday) I did a 15km road race in 1hr 10mins. Happy with that too. On Sunday I am on call. While a I’m not unhappy about that I am not overjoyed either…






False starts, legal marijuana, and Maboneng

The Chalkboard Cafe, one of my favourite places in Maboneng.  Right next door to the Bioscope Cinema

The Chalkboard Cafe, one of my favourite places in Maboneng. Right next door to the Bioscope Cinema

Corner of Fox and Kruger streets,  Maboneng

Corner of Fox and Kruger streets, Maboneng

False start. More like no start. I’m still in Johannesburg, Gauteng. I didn’t leave early Saturday morning as originally planned because I don’t fancy the idea of driving all day cross-country and eventually arriving at that lovely seaside town that I’m going to call home for the next year, and not knowing where I’m going to sleep that same night. When I was applying for community service I made the decision that I was going to brave the doctors’ accommodation at whichever hospital I ended up going to. In the last few weeks I have been in conversation several times over the phone with an initially very helpful man (we’ll call him Mr John for the irritable purposes of this post) He has in the last couple of days stopped answering or returning my phone calls. This is just as I’m about to leave Jo’burg and I ย need to know if I have a place to stay. He has subsequently referred me, via the superintendent’s secretary to someone else, to help me the day before I was set to leave for PE! Needless to say said person wasn’t answering her phone on Friday afternoon. I don’t really blame her, it’s the last day of the working week and the start of a long weekend. ย I’ll bother her again on Tuesday next week. The bottom line though, is that I have no place to stay in PE, and I’m staying in Jozi for the moment…

Speaking of admin, yesterday I managed to get some done, at the offices of the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) in Pretoria. I handed in my completed intern logbook, and paid the required registration fee. I was then given an MP (medical practice) number. Effectively making me a registered medical practitioner, ย capable of prescribing medications outside of the hospital I work at. My friends would love this! If I got a little bit of money every time one of my friends asked me to write them a prescription while I was still an intern, I think that I would probably be quite well off by now. I never did, because technically as an intern I couldn’t. It would normally lead to an intense discussion on medical ethics (or the lack thereof!). Now things are different, although there will obviously be no willy nilly prescribing to all and sundry, just more animated arguments on ethics. What does it say about the company I keep though (I had a good laugh about this, I’ll admit! ๐Ÿ˜› ) that the first person (someone very close to me) I told about my new MP number, proceeded to ask me if I would be so kind as to write them a prescription for some legal marijuana?

What is very good about me still being in Gauteng, ย is I get to spend quality time with some people that are very important to me, ย and I get to hang out in my hood, the Maboneng Precinct, for a couple more days. Maboneng is an awesome gentrified little area made up of a couple of blocks on the east side of Johannesburg CBD. It has been home for the last couple of years and I absolutely love it. A couple of nights ago my girlfriend and I hung out at the Chalkboard cafe (a gem, pizza and craft beer!), and went to The Bioscope Cinema (yes it is really called that!) to watch an awesome new South African movie called Four Corners, really good, really intense, catch it if you can. These are just some of the things that I’ll miss about my Jozi when I eventually leave (that’s looking like Wednesday 30 April, maybe…)