ICan | Hospital | Nature

I CAN By Cy and Wendy Edmondson Chapter 1 From able bodied to disabled. From consultant to leader.

From looking to conquering. From merely existing - to living. These are the mountains I’ve climbed, and this is my story. I started boarding school when I was eight years old, and only then because my big brother went and I was jealous! For the first three months I was miserable and wanted to go home. Everyone kept telling me that I wouldn’t be homesick forever. They just didn’t understand. I wasn’t sick of home - I wanted to go home! Luckily this feeling soon passed, and before long I was getting up to the same mischief that most other eight-year-olds do. I made many friends, some of them life-long, and spent my weekends with them on surrounding farms. I had a busy life - chatting up the girls, playing touch rugby, socialising… I’d go for long runs in the conifer plantations and spend time fishing and playing tennis and squash down the street. As the years passed, I developed a love for sport, which helped to strengthen my already persistent determination to succeed. You’d find me at any rugby, tennis or cricket function – if I wasn’t playing, I’d be there supporting. As a teenager I was pretty independent. School holidays consisted of visiting girlfriends, clubbing, and earning pocket money by helping my old man mix cement, cut bushes, paint various rooms of the house, etc, etc, etc you get the picture! I loved alternate music, and the more black I wore, the cooler I looked (or so I thought, anyway!). The perfect outfit was a tight black shirt and black tapered pants with

black Winklepicker shoes (the pointier the better…). And a long black trench coat to top it off. Eye-liner was also part of my attire, and one dangly earring. I had a moderate build, but with all the black plus the Durban heat, I probably sweated half my body weight away! I was cool; I walked with my head high and a swagger in my shoulders. Fortunately, my mom’s one of those very accommodating types, with only a little temper if provoked - the best anyone could have from a mom. We used to talk about everything and she never seemed to judge me, or my decisions. I remember her having a calm, peaceful way of guiding me through my various teenage phases. My dad was always different. He used to rip me off, referring to my attire as ‘coffin-kid’ – whatever! With his unique sense of humour, he taught me that nothing in life comes for free (hence all the holiday chores). He also instilled in me that laughter really and truly is the best medicine, which I was grateful for in the years to come. I’d be home for long week-ends and holidays. Walking through the front door after first term, looking forward to a warm welcome, my dad would say ‘Who’re you? Hey look, it’s that guy who used to visit us a few years ago…’ It wasn’t really that funny then, but I have to smile at the thought now. I always made my way straight to my bedroom, which was the garage. I loved it there. It was my space. I even spray-painted all my favourite bands on the walls. It was pure bliss. I’d immediately get changed into my black attire, ready to hit the streets. ‘Cheers Mom, Dad.’ ‘Hey, where’re you going?’ my Dad would ask. ‘Dunno, I’ll see you in a week’s time.’ ‘Oh, ok. Bye. Be careful.’ And that was my holiday routine: a brief encounter with the folks, then off to do

the ‘straight and narrow’ so to speak. Everything a teenager could want! If there was mischief around. my two best mates. girls. ‘Hey. but that didn’t worry me. Being involved in sport made me my own hero. It was in the bush and I was feeling a little under the weather with a tummy bug. Sleeping on a park bench or at the back of some guy’s car I’d just met was pretty much a norm. Coming?’ ‘No chance. I’ll go on my own then. but didn’t bring me too many girlfriends. . I slumped down onto my knees.my own thing. The weather was cold and wet. and you couldn’t see anything in front of your face. Shaun and Nigel. It’s one of those things that I wish I’d learnt from the beginning. Had to make it this year. and small twigs of the branch scratched my cheeks. My body felt weak and hollow. had kept me a place in the line. A week passed and I was so excited to finally be going on the leadership course. pack up and make your way.what a relief for all of us! I sprinted down to the hostel hoping to be first in line for sarmies. I’d usually be at the bottom of it. which helped with my popularity stakes. unable to pull myself up. ‘Cool. My group panicked.’ That was my life. rain or sun. and a few bruises. I felt the sharp. ‘Yes!’ I’d made it. My name came up. and with nature. I’d wake up and make my way to the local shopping centre to get freshened up and ensure that I smelt good and had clean teeth. The point was to build trust amongst the teams. The activities were awesome. Chapter 2 The school bell rings.’ I shrugged casually.day or night. there were no worries. the principal called an assembly and announced the trial prefects. I was also the school ‘comedian’. Sport got you all you wanted in a co-ed school: fame. Cy. including abseiling during the day and the campfire chats at night. I have to study. to the playground. I’d have to be dead to miss this. sudden sting of a slap. My stomach was still playing up and I’d started feeling a bit irritable. respect. I’d walk down the aisles trying on tester deodorants and gargling mouthwash and then swallowing it (you never know who you might see at the Mall!)… Going back to school after the holidays always brought me back on track though. our own dorm… I couldn’t wait.’ The excitement from the teacher was almost parallel with the kids. I hitchhiked everywhere . The last thing I felt like was slipping and sliding in wet mud in the darkness. The final straw was when the leader in front of me accidentally catapulted the branch he was holding into my face. lights out late.’ Sean said between mouthfuls of peanut butter and jam sarmies. I remember feeling a true sense of belonging. Between playing touch rugby on the field and chatting with the girls. Break-time after a two period session of maths . and we developed a strong bond amongst ourselves. quietly. ‘rugby’s cancelled. with a rustic feel. or do I go and play touch? I was getting myself ready to play first-team rugby. In those days it was most male teenager’s mode of transport. Waterfalls and bush all around. I love my rugby! The following day. Choices were simple: do I chat. you lot. its time for break. The camp was beautiful. The potential privileges of prefect-hood flashed before me – authority. What ya gonna do this afternoon?’ ‘Go for a run in the plantations. ‘Ok. and had the tendency to always see the funny side of things. Two days passed and then we were summoned to go night hiking with nothing but one torch for the leader of the group.

This is our son. Oh boy. ‘Mr and Mrs Edmondson. just a bad bout of flu. That night my heart stopped and I was rushed from High Care to ICU. I felt as if I was slipping into deep sleep for hours at a time. My parents later told me that the doctors had advised them that I needed to get to a better equipped hospital as soon as possible as I was deteriorating. her face drawn and her eyes darting from my face to the doctor questioningly. I felt like I had a heavy dose of flu and the runs and stomach cramps were really making me feel weak. they were thinking. ‘There’s something wrong with Cy. Sir!’ I heard him say in an unsteady voice. The problem was that if they flew or drove me anywhere. He wasn’t there for a social visit. as you know. my condition was very erratic and unstable and my chance of survival was slim. The next morning I was so fragile that I couldn’t even get out of my bed. A mother and father’s worst nightmare was becoming a reality as they prepared themselves to deal with the death of their youngest child. hey?’ I said as casually as I could manage in my stupor. After the third night in hospital my folks were called in. I don’t remember much from this point. Shaun bundled me into the passenger seat. almost as if I had a hangover. Shaun and Nigel. like a dream. Why must he die first? It’s not supposed to work that way… The following morning my parents arrived at the hospital to meet the local priest. Her mouth was moving but I heard no words. and stared at the droplets of rain running off my hair and mingling with the tears that stung my eyes. just the basic drips and beds. . I thought – this must be pretty serious. I’d like to suggest to you both that you treat every visit as your last. to assist me to his car. He advised the teacher on duty to take me to Christ the King Hospital urgently. I got back to camp and was given something warm to drink. I put on a brave face (I had a reputation to protect. I don’t remember falling asleep. you ok?’ I barely nodded. Matron Swinscoe from my hostel standing beside me. who gave me some tablets for my bladder and an injection for flu. I noticed that the girl I was fond of was also waiting to see the doctor. The next thing I remember was waiting for the doctor in the girls’ hostel. This was a ward with only five beds and a sister allocated to each one.’ she answered seriously. The doctor didn’t hesitate.’ I replied with a shrug. but the ‘stomach bug’ hadn’t left yet.’ My parents sat in stunned silence. your son is very unstable. and it’s unacceptable. They decided to take the risk and I was transported to St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban by ambulance. you know!). as if in a foggy tunnel. there was a chance that I wouldn’t make the trip. The hostel master took one look at me and summoned my buddies. Two weeks later I still hadn’t got rid of my bug. but I couldn’t even hold my own head up so Nigel jumped into the back seat behind me and held me steady. ‘Cy. ‘I don’t look so good right now. This isn’t possible. I remember. I somehow didn’t feel the conviction of my own words. Now it was really getting serious! From what I’ve been told. I finally decided to see the local GP. you really don’t look so good. When I finally opened my eyes again my mom and dad were standing in front of my bed. The next morning I felt slightly better. The leader radioed camp and asked that someone come and assist me. I can’t remember what they were saying.‘Cy. only to awake and see that only ten minutes had passed. He was there to give the last rites. It’s a one-and-a-half hour drive to the school. ‘Are you sure you’re going to be ok?’ ‘Of course I will. It was one of those clinic-type hospitals which unfortunately don’t have the necessary equipment to deal with critical situations. They were in shock. their voices were distant muffles.

. Moments later an unfamiliar but friendly face appeared above me. I had the words in my head. but my voice had no sound.one click meant yes. Oh. I heard my parents. unconvincing smiles that something tragic had happened. Only this wasn’t my bed. confirming the .A week passed. I tried desperately to respond. When the kind face and soothing voice began to explain my surroundings to me. I could hear a continuous ‘beep-whoosh’ sound next to me but I couldn’t turn my head sideways to see what it was. He sat down with a nervous smile on his face. The doctors and staff weren’t doing enough – my parents needed answers! No sleep. I was emaciated and had bedsores the size of tennis balls covering my buttocks . not even the rasping of air passing through my throat. and you’ll also have slight brain damage. turning from grey to black. Chapter 3 When I finally opened my eyes again it was to see the stark whiteness of the ceiling above my bed. I need to speak to you about your situation. I slowly drifted from the real world back into my familiar cocoon. They looked so tired – I could see big black rings around their eyes. As I eventually stabilized they began feeding me through a tube in my nose. ‘welcome back.I’d miraculously wake up in my bed the next morning. I turned my head slowly to look at my mom.’ he said gravely. they both gave me a kiss and simply said that they’d missed me. No… wait… it wasn’t a dream.’ I heard her say in a quiet. Two days passed before a doctor finally came through to see me. as if I’d fallen asleep and been moved. What kind of a sick joke was this to play on someone? I stared at him as a slight tear rolled down my face. soothing voice. Far in the distance. My dad used to do that when I fell asleep in front of the TV sometimes .’ I replied with my tongue. Hate boiled deep within my stomach. as if in a tunnel. I smelt detergent and the sickly-sweet smell of disinfectant. ‘However. She didn’t. convinced that she’d burst out laughing at the mere thought of what I’d just been told. They were calling my name. What was it? What was wrong? TELL ME! Instead. we expect that you’ll be paralyzed from your neck down. ‘It’s amazing that you’re alive. over and over. my heart began to pound loudly. Where was everyone? I felt confused. Their voices were growing closer and closer.’ I stared into space for a while. ‘Cy. ‘Cy. I could also see from their faint. reason fled and accusations flew. and two clicks meant no. rasping sobs escaped her throat. the quiet breaking of their hearts clearly showed on their faces. and won’t be able to see out of your left eye again. the bright whiteness of the room hazed over.) I wanted answers but the nurses did nothing more than carefully mother me and smile encouragingly. They were in my dream. My parents were living a nightmare. but all I could manage was to click my tongue in response. Instead.’ I tried to ask her where I was. Tempers flared.’ ‘Click. I slowly lifted my heavy eyelids and saw them standing anxiously beside my bed. I was in a coma and hooked up to a life support system by this stage. desperately trying to comprehend what he’d just said. It was his fault. (This later became my form of communication .. no food.but I was alive. How could I possibly have slept for three months! Where were my parents? Was I meant to play rugby today? Why couldn’t I speak? And what was wrong with my damned arms? As an overwhelming tiredness swept over me.

I CAN…’. I was completely unaware that there was something even more exciting and life-changing up ahead than I could ever have imagined. I left the hospital four months later and learnt to face a life that felt like a roller-coaster of obstacles. and stronger. you have a choice.bitter truth. and they were restricting my ability to do more. every time I had an obstacle in my way. From that point onwards. I’d made the choice to be strong and positive. and the date was booked. My “I CAN” attitude simply had to be translated into “I CAN” action. and tried to overcome these small yet huge obstacles with all my strength.. I needed assistance to climb into the bath as well as to wash myself. I needed to examine the reason why I couldn’t do things. Having the use of my arms also gave me the ability and confidence to do more things.’ I said. It wasn’t easy. so I approached my doctor and he advised me of an operation that would allow my legs to ‘flop’ more freely. I may not have been able to control my circumstances. I became fitter. Bathing. The spasms which pulled my knees against my chest were painful and embarrassing. In the seconds that followed I simply didn’t believe him. If you can. Now I needed a challenge to go to the next level – one within me this time. and had the additional frustration of trying to move my hands and arms to do a simple thing like bathing. and I discovered a simple. but later that night. and it’s an ongoing process. but I felt within myself that the choices that I had to make that night were ones that would determine my very destiny. pal.. It was difficult. ‘Cy. ‘I CAN. and took hours of painful dedication but it strengthened my resolve to continue with the rest of my life. anyway. However. Eight months after my original release from hospital I was back. I remember my mind freezing for an instant. socialising with my friends … dating. Obstacles that had to be overcome. Training was hard work. more confident. Clouded by the excitement of having an operation that could give me the extra mobility that I needed. in the stillness of the High Care ward. allowing me to gain the use of my arms again. I finally came to a realization. I was still on cortisone for my eye and hadn’t fully regained the use of my arms when I decided to join a gym to get my body into shape. No real reason. After three months of pushing myself to the limits. ‘Let’s do it.’ I said to myself sternly. for example. I found that the solution was simple: there was actually no reason why I couldn’t. Girlfriends! What now?? Could I ever get one? Would anyone ever love me?? Time seemed a blur. .’ There and then. I made an effort to stop myself from thinking negatively. yet remarkable fact. but I could control my attitude towards them.how simple is that? It became a major concern for me. you will. and most of all my dignity. I couldn’t move my body like I used to. Then all the things I still needed to do began to line up in quick succession: playing rugby . for instance . I practised telling myself. There was a choice to be made – and I had to make it. ‘You can either sit here and feel sorry for yourself. or you can go back out into the big world with an “I CAN” attitude. Why I couldn’t get a girlfriend. but the key lay in believing in myself.

I’d got my gal! That was the beginning of our lives together. One particular day sticks out in my mind. ‘That’s great. sure she could hear my heart pounding against my ribcage. Do you know of anywhere I can go tonight?’ This was it! An opportunity to go out with her. ‘I’m Wendy. What time?’ she said. Sun and fresh air are still free! It was some of the best days of our lives . And after all that uncomfortable. and being one that hates to miss anything. I pushed myself to do things that I ordinarily wouldn’t have. and free to spend the days as we wished. We went to a movie – kind of awkward with my legs plastered from thigh to toe straight out in front of me. and had friends over . I was still on a lot of medication to help with the spasm for my legs so Wendy gave up her long working hours and devoted her time to nursing me.’ I said. nervous feeling.Chapter 4 After the operation. My breathing paused for about ten seconds. In retrospect. making me feel a little light-headed! ‘Hello. I was issued a hospital pass which allowed me to go out. I woke up and found my legs in plaster of Paris from my hips through to my ankles. hot and humid day. I think. please report to Cy’s bed!” and she did – out of pure embarrassment! I was unhappy with the ward that the hospital planned to move me to for further rehabilitation and so. I had to take my bucket and spade . I suddenly felt comfortable and at ease. I used to call Wendy across the ward: “Nurse Lurie. demanding hair washes and foot massages – anything to have her near. We went dancing at local night clubs. I felt like I could have told her everything. The curfew was midnight and the condition was no alcohol. and I have a pass to go out tonight… if you’re interested. Young nurses.’ I replied casually. She had this look of a model . ‘I’ll meet you outside the ward at eight.I was too busy looking around the hospital room in the realization that I was surrounded by nurses.’ I said with a squeaky. and only in hospital for the operation and the physiotherapy that followed.all the things people our age were generally doing. went to parties.’ I replied immediately.’ Since I wasn’t sick. I rang the bell for attention continuously. my eyes caught an angel. but hey. I had a stereo system with a plug-in microphone next to my bed that my folks had brought in for me. My dad paid the rent for our bachelor flat on the Marine Parade. Right down to Addington beach where it was quiet. Since we never had the pleasure of rubbing as much as two 10c pieces together. our staple diet consisted of peanut butter and toast and much of our time was spent at the beach. WOW! She was a beautiful person. caring and assisting with everyone’s needs! And all of a sudden. I see on your file that you’re Cy?’ ‘Yes. If I didn’t follow. ‘Yes. it was the best rehabilitation that I could have ever hoped for. I really didn’t know at that point if the operation had been successful . unfamiliar voice. We decided to go down to the beachfront as usual. It was a typical sunny.no responsibility.’ she said. despite warnings that ‘these romances never last. The next day ‘Nurse Wendy’ had difficulty keeping a straight face as I went to great lengths to make her aware of me. A few days went by and then ‘Nurse Wendy’ made her way over to my bed in the hospital ward and said. Gulp! ‘Hello.and she was headed my way.’ Wendy and I soon found a flat together. but our living expenses were our own. no obligations. ‘I happen to be from Durban you know. I missed out. ‘I’m new in Durban.

SHWOOOSH! My shorts lift up in the front. think about it guys. I had a choice. Five minutes later. sea. what more could I ask for? This was the shniznie! Being Durbanites. Blue-bottles. So I raise my hands up again and shout. I think. but not to worry. So I put my hands in the air and shout. Five minutes later. I felt a slight trickle of water come in by my feet. Shaun and Wendy were soon diving into the waves and seeing who could swim the fastest to the buoys. ‘HELLO! I’m drowning here…’ They wave back again… Unfortunately. In fact. they leave something behind them. flowers on the bucket weren’t cool. Ok! Now I’m panicking a little. you have to take it!). Wendy and Shaun. Understanding a little of how the tides work. Well. which was quite upsetting. Each of us is. guys. This was the shn-iz-nie! Soon enough. there’s water coming in my hole here!’ To my dismay. The environment surrounding children today seems to have ‘imposed’ this level of maturity on younger children. in fact so much so that my son Joshua is eleven but I prefer to say eleventeen. but I didn’t. since the tide that came in the previous day was level to were I was lying. often with unfortunate consequences. ‘Errmmm. that wasn’tthe scary part. because at the age of twenty. As the waves leave the pool. I had many. while I soaked my swollen body in milk for the stings (which doesn’t work by the way. Sand. Now I’m sitting waist high in my ‘pool’. Later that night. Wendy and I wanted kids. I removed the flowers on the side of the bucket. I’d been told on numerous occasions and by various medical professionals that I couldn’t have children. I mean. and these guys were stinging me everywhere. we managed to break the rules yet again. I’ve personally found that listening to my parents and being open with them allowed me to travel down the road of teenage-hood with support . Yes. oblivious to my dilemma. I still believe that I am. I felt my lips vibrate with the force of the water and my eyelids were pushed back. Wendy in her bikini. sun. blue-bottles. a little panic. I quickly looked to my left and right and noticed that I was pretty safe. simply thought that I was having a wonderful time moving around on the beach like Michael Jackson in his Thriller video. but my skin glowed!) I reflected on my experience earlier that day. sea and sand. It even cleared my sinuses! OK! Now I was panicking. don’t panic. it’s just a little sea water… it’ll drain out. SHWOOOOSH!!! This time the wave was substantially larger. We met up with Shaun.and you will. In April 1995 Wendy gave birth to a handsome boy named Joshua. My eyes grew wide as I saw that it was going to wash over me. Chapter 5 My being disabled limits a number of things. I could have vegetated in front of the TV because I was different. How refreshing! I had the sun. and now a little water to cool me off. they simply wave back. because I believed that I was entitled to be different. another wave pushes up the stretch of beach. it’s only a little water. and so with the mindset of ‘we can and we will’. in fact. I also decided that I was. Swoosh… Ok. special. To this very day. I decided that I was ‘differently-abled’. I believe that the levels of maturity in children these days have increased. I went to the beach instead. allowing the sand to filter into my underwear and submerging my legs. Keep telling yourself that you CAN . who had the brilliant idea of creating a hollow in the sand for me to sit and have the waves wash over my toes.(C’mon guys.

on the other hand. excited voice from the other side of the shop. The mosquito. On my right-hand side is a lovely looking pyramid of toilet paper.’ He takes aim…and starts racing at 400 km/h towards me. they go SPLAT. on the other hand.’ ‘Two?’ I say. ‘I don’t think I know you. all the while thinking to myself. trying not to sound confused. ‘I got an idea. That’s where we find the mosquito repellent. ‘Excuse me. young man.. Yes.’ I holler back. isn’t it amazing how children imitate us? As we’re making our way through the supermarket. ‘DAD. He throws his arms up in the air as he tumbles into the tower. Josh goes over to collect a trolley while I look at the magazine rack. leave it. ‘DAD!’ ‘Yes. is a professional shopper. I prefer the latter explanation. All I hear is the noise of a racing trolley getting louder and louder. Josh.’ My wheelchair receives the full impact.’ I say. My son. Now the mosquitoes in Durban are hectic! If you slap a regular mosquito. Josh. Let’s just get what we came for. ‘HA HA HA HA. he gets this look in his eyes and starts with that evil little laugh. I could finally see it: aisle number fourteen. I see an opportunity to get Josh back for ramming me with the trolley earlier. ‘Well. Mom says we can freeze the other one. ‘How’re we going to get up there.’ Of course the first thing I do is scoot in the other direction as fast as I can. they have a special on cabbages. ‘That’s nice boy. And BANG! Followed by hysterical laughter. As soon as Josh gets a trolley. ‘Hehehehehehe. you must always buy two. Once we’re in the shop. So I suddenly hear this loud.. As we’re making our way down the aisle.’ I reply. ‘Dad.’ ‘No. ‘DAD!’ shouts Josh. This is it! We’re slowly ambling past the pyramid of toilet paper when I decide to stick my elbow out just a little and casually nudge Josh into it. we notice that it’s on the top shelf. they start doing press-ups under your hand! So off we go to the local supermarket to get the mosquito repellent. AAAHH.’ . you guessed it. lifting and inspecting things we’ve never seen in our own grocery cupboards.’ He wasn’t very happy with me for a while. They start at aisle one and move progressively up and down the aisles until they reach the tills. Dad?’ ‘Mmmm. don’t really have a clue. He loves to go shopping with Wendy. I say in a low voice. I didn’t know this. Mmm. mom said that if there’s a special. One day we decided to go shopping (Josh and I) for the stuff that gets rid of the ‘KwaZulu Natal Provincial Bird’. I was forgiven though either because I bought him an ice-cream. Staring up at our intended target. Being the supportive and loving Father that I am. Why’d you push me?’ he splutters. Josh. has a routine that his Mom taught him.’ I can still imagine him snoring away with his one beady eye cautiously scanning the room. lifting up about ten centimetres. sleep with one eye open tonight. then skip to seven. two. Josh?’ I reply. so I was happy to go down aisle one. DAD.’ Huh? ‘So?’ I reply. accompanied by a dramatic bellow. ‘AAAH. I think to myself. I. or because he loves me. If you slap a Durban mosquito.and confidence but I’ve learnt that there are others who are not that fortunate. ‘But we don’t even like cabbage!’ ‘Yes. Apparently there is a certain routine that is followed by more regular shoppers. I’m unaware of this. Josh asks the obvious. HEEE. then four. After five minutes of being upset. with anger making his voice sound quivery.

then you won’t. cloaked in heavy mist.’ I said. obscuring the landscape in front of me. I got off my wheelchair and put a . In fact. ‘You CANT do that! There is just no way that you can climb that mountain. No matter how I looked at it. Then BANG! Ten metres past the gate. The Sentinel Peak in the Drakensberg was surrounded by dark and pendulous clouds. Objective: achieved! Chapter 6 As much as we loved our ‘carefree days’ we recognised that they couldn’t last forever.’ The corporate company I was working for told me that they wouldn’t sponsor me because what I was aiming for was impossible. I worked in a plastics firm for a while but it was on night shift and when Josh began not to recognise his own father I knew it was time to move on! My desire for a challenge to grow was never far from my mind and when Josh was about three years old I decided to try my hand at a position in a large corporation.and I kept my eyes anxiously peeled for the opportunity.’ His face brightens. I figured that by doing this. The only way I could overcome all the negativity was to keep my focus on the mountain. waiting for it to be opened so I could zoom to the top. ‘I want you to climb onto my hands. but soon realized that it would be impossible to manoeuvre over the slippery rocks and pathways waterlogged from the rains. I’d reached my first obstacle. It was Wendy who eventually found it. My decision made. If you tell yourself you can’t. I found that the work required my full attention. and in time I felt confident enough to venture into the serious business of ‘getting a job’. ‘Hey. Then I carefully lift him onto my lap. Josh reaches up and grabs the mosquito repellent. This was a big disappointment. and I will climb that mountain. everything else underneath would simply become easier. I had numerous obstacles in my way before I even set tyre and tread on that mountain. she came across a challenge that I thought could be the answer. lets do it!’ I knit my fingers together and Josh puts his left foot into them. ‘I can climb that mountain. ‘Ok. A rock that me and my trusty wheelchair had no way of overcoming. the ill effects were rubbing off on my family – and that didn’t work for me. ‘Watch where you’re standing!’ I moan in a squeaky voice. Dad. and I’m going to lift you up. I hadn’t realized how high it was. Everyone around me was telling me. all I now needed was to unearth the challenge . I was so ready that I was moving the wheelchair back and forth by the gate. Reading the newspaper a few days later. I wasn’t afraid though . and to believe in myself.this would be easy! I started my ascent in my wheelchair. The mountain was my goal not only because it was literally a mountain. but I felt that the word ‘mountain’ posed similarities to the mountains of life itself. why not. and that is exactly what I was going to do. I hit rock. and the company was also going through some major changes which put me under a lot of pressure. I kept telling myself.‘What’s it?’ Josh replies. I had made a choice. I never saw it that first day. he even grabs four more just to make sure we’re sorted for the next few months. I decided to focus on setting myself a higher target.’ If you tell yourself you CAN then you WILL. There was a group of mountaineers looking for someone to climb a mountain with them.

It was about 102 metres in height. This monstrous mountain. thanks. Her soothing voice sounded over the two-way radio.leather sack over my legs. She was beautiful. Having the support and love from the ones you care about makes a big difference in your heart. your friends. My heart pounded with anticipation. I proceeded to drag myself backwards. I put down the two-way radio and went to sleep.’ said Wendy. My arms ached and my whole body trembled with exhaustion. I felt the profound weight of the leather sack. that’s fine. Not having top-of-the-range equipment.’ I said to myself. ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Fine. I thought about the unforeseen obstacles that I’d faced. my hands were swollen. At 5pm that afternoon we decided to pitch a tent and spend the night on the side of the mountain. and was pretty heavy. I didn’t see her malice. It’s nice to hear that from you. trying to intimidate me with her mere size. too. are you there?’ she asked. I needed to prove myself to myself. just very sore and tired.’ ‘Ok.’ I said with a hint of excitement in my voice. ‘Cy. both mentally and physically.and why! I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone else. and keeping my spirits high. it’s me and you. I made a commitment and I intend to stick to it. The team sorted out the ropes and made triple sure that I was secure.. and the skin on the back of my heels and coccyx was scraped and blistering. everyone. Only then. the only way I could pull myself up the rope was by making a knot on another piece of thick string and making it big enough for me to be able to hold on to and haul myself upwards. making sure I was dry and fed. and how much you believe in your abilities. but excited and motivated. The sun shone brightly in the sky and the mountain summit stood majestically before me. It made me feel relaxed.’ Hearing those words was the mental fuel I needed to replenish my sapped state of mind. I was lying by the fire thinking about the day’s events.’ I felt a sense of comfort from hearing her voice. Please send my love to everyone and to Josh-man.. she was the Sentinel. preparing me for the long haul up the rock face. I’m here. did I comprehend what I was actually doing . ‘I love you. Then Wendy radioed me from her lodge. ‘Yes babe. I love you. ‘Today. Believe. ‘This is it. The function of the sack was to protect my legs from injuries while dragging myself up the mountain. to give up! I was tired. It was . babe. ‘Cy. We’ll still be very proud of you. ‘Thank-you. Wends. I couldn’t have been more grateful for the rest. This was the most difficult challenge I would face. The next morning was glorious. It fitted me like a glove. It wasn’t easy.’ Wendy said with pride.’ Sad. Thinking about how difficult it had been to climb this monster. In Yourself! Chapter 7 We finally reached the face of the Sentinel. There she was. And if you feel that you want to come home. The moment I started pulling myself up. ‘You must know that we’re very proud of you. but I need to continue climbing. Your family is proud of you. My team was amazing. It was a thick sack made from strong leather and had a zip on the side. I never realized that my mind would have to be so strong! I wanted to stop. instead I saw her splendour.’ I said with total certainty. for the first time.

didn’t I? And strong ones.’ I heaved myself up and onto the ledge. Chapter 8 Looking down from the Sentinel Peak takes your breath away. Looking pensively into the distance I thought about the people I loved and knew.and habits don’t require much effort. ‘You CAN do this. Working together.’ I said to myself. Also remember that it’s extremely important for you to dream. I pulled myself up inch by unbearable inch. I’ve realized that there are. wanting to faint. Having made the climb by dragging myself for two days was confirmation that I believed in myself.. it has to start with you. You CAN climb that mountain! You WILL! . and how fortunate I was. Everything starts from a simple thought. and realized the importance of simply loving them for who they are. A challenge of physical strength had been put to the test. ‘I CAN…I CAN’ My fingertips felt the flat surface at the top. The view was incredible. believing in your dreams. it’s a piece of cake. I had my arms. I heard the wind whisper its congratulations to me. just absorbing the achievement.and chuckled to myself. too! I looked up and saw the ledge at the Peak. Believe that you are special enough to have a dream. The closer I got the top. as a team. Having support and giving support to your friends and families is very important. The way to get there is then to action your dream. the more determined I became. It lay in my mind and in my positive thoughts. It’s right there. I took time to reflect on just how lucky and fortunate I was. I thought about my day at the beach. It took me roughly five hours to pull myself up the rock face.and your character will determine your destiny. I thought about my only tear when I heard that I’d lost the use of my legs. It was only 2 metres away. I sat in awe and saw the parking lot 4500 metres below. ‘Its not far now Cy. and I felt as if I was pulling another body up with me. many obstacles in life. It all becomes easier. Life is so precious. and will continue to be. No rush.waterlogged. but I’d learnt that my strength did not lie in my arms. Determine your character . My painful stings . Believing in yourself.. I also know that if I’d climbed that mountain on my own. Start by loving yourself and creating the attitude within. frequently tapping my gloves on the wet rocks and sucking the water from them. Remember though. By now. but persisting. and thinking positively will set a strong foundation that will enable you to climb any mountain. it’s become a habit . Now when you tie your shoes. but I’ve also realized that the only true mountain that you will ever need to climb will be yourself. I’d achieved something with my disability… Again… I hadn’t let it beat me. and to think about where you want to be. then the mountain wasn’t high enough. Then you put the thought into action: you did something about it. For example: Do you remember when you first had to tie your shoe-laces and how you hated the world? Moaning and groaning because it was so difficult to get it right! That started from a thought. I had plenty time to think while I dangled and dumped against that rock. and love yourself enough to afford yourself the opportunities. I thought about being alive. will help you conquer ANY mountain. Then I sat there for a minute or so.

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