Thursday, 31 October 2013

Surf, Sex, Violence 85 - 86 (2)

I had to wear this back brace for a long time, it was from hips to shoulders it was custom moulded and fitted to exact size. 

Obviously I was not allowed to surf.

I can’t quite remember how long it was before I just said fuck it and paddled out with the brace on. Of course it was at Garvies. Unfortunately it was on a body board, I had never tried a body board before but the water just looked too good to be true and the waves way too fun to just sit on the pipe and watch. I just grabbed it and said what the fuck and went.

The body board was a mistake, I hurt myself right away, way too flexible, a surfboard would have been a much better option but the damage was done, it hurt too much.

I am not even sure if the surgery cuts had even healed closed yet, they were pretty ugly at first huge big welting scars down the whole length of my back and another huge one on my hip where the bone had been scraped off.

Honestly I have no idea what I was thinking but I was back out there again, this time on a surfboard, it was just too good to ignore. I have thought about this a lot in the past, what drove me to take such a huge risk for such a short term moment of pleasure, was I just young and stupid ?. I always thought that was it, but then at 45 a father of 3, in theory a responsible adult, three weeks out of hospital with 6 broken and damaged cervical vertebrae and 2 titanium discs inserted. I looked at the ocean in front of my house grabbed my twin fin and paddled out at the exact same spot I had nearly drowned and caught a wave.

Instant pleasure and everlasting pain a lifelong curse.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Surf, Sex ,Violence 85 -86 (1)

State of Emergency

Serious political violence was a prominent feature of South Africa from 1985 to 1989, as black townships became the focus of the struggle between anti-apartheid organisations and the Botha government. Throughout the 1980s, township people resisted apartheid by acting against the local issues that faced their particular communities. The focus of much of this resistance was against the local authorities and their leaders, who were seen to be supporting the government. By 1985, it had become the ANC's aim to make black townships "ungovernable" (a term later replaced by "people's power") by means of rent boycotts and other militant action. Numerous township councils were overthrown or collapsed, to be replaced by unofficial popular organisations, often led by militant youth. People's courts were set up, and residents accused of being government agents were dealt extreme and occasionally lethal punishment. Black town councillors and policemen, and sometimes their families, attacked with petrol bombs, beatan, and murdered by necklacing, where a burning tyre was placed around the victim's neck.

On 20 July 1985, State President P.W. Botha declared a State of Emergency in 36 magisterial districts. Areas affected were the Eastern Cape, and the PWV region ("Pretoria, Witwatersrand, Vereeniging"). Three months later the Western Cape was included as well. An increasing number of organisations were banned or listed (restricted in some way); many individuals had restrictions such as house arrest imposed on them. During this state of emergency about 2,436 people were detained under the Internal Security Act. This act gave police and the military sweeping powers. The government could implement curfews controlling the movement of people. The president could rule by decree without referring to the constitution or to parliament. It became a criminal offence to threaten someone verbally or possess documents that the government perceived to be threatening. It was illegal to advise anyone to stay away from work or oppose the government. It was illegal, too, to disclose the name of anyone arrested under the State of Emergency until the government saw fit to release that name. People could face up to ten years' imprisonment for these offences. Detention without trial became a common feature of the government's reaction to growing civil unrest and by 1988, 30,000 people had been detained. Thousands were arrested and many were interrogated and tortured.

On 12 June 1986, four days before the ten-year anniversary of the Soweto uprising, the state of emergency was extended to cover the whole country. The government amended thePublic Security Act, expanding its powers to include the right to declare "unrest" areas, allowing extraordinary measures to crush protests in these areas. Severe censorship of the press became a dominant tactic in the government's strategy and television cameras were banned from entering such areas. The state broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) provided propaganda in support of the government. Media opposition to the system increased, supported by the growth of a pro-ANC underground press within South Africa.

The state of emergency continued until 1990, when it was lifted by State President F.W. de Klerk

Surf, Sex, Violence 85 - 86.

When you go into the army you get a medical classification.

100 % fighting fit was G1 K1 and dead was G 5. After the months in hospital I was transferred back to a military sick bay in Durban to continue my recovery, I really hoped to be given a medical discharge and be sent home, I still had 14 months to go, but once in the army they will never let you go. I went in 10 months earlier with a G1 K1 and I eventually got a G4 K4 medical classification just one step away from being dead !!! and served the rest of my time at Natal Command in Durban.
Natal Command.
This is the big mystery , how I ended up working in the heart of all the drama in the middle of the State Of Emergency, the real tough times of the Zulu uprisings and the Magoos bombing in the Central Operations room with a “ Top Secret “ military clearance I will never know. Actually now I do know but that’s another story.

Things in South Africa were taking a turn for the worse the ANC were more active than ever bombs were going off everywhere, the townships were a hive of violence and action, the border war had come home to the cities and more and more action was right in the streets. More and more soldiers were being sent into the townships to keep the peace and control the situation which was getting more and more out of hand by the day.

I ended up in the middle of all the decision making and worked in the OPS Room, decoding all the secret codes and messages between the top commands and regions during the State of Emergency. I was directly under the command of the Brigadier in charge of the whole of Natals operational force.

Holy shit, what the hell were they thinking all I wanted to do was get fit and go surfing, instead I was in a bunker in the middle of a bunch of lunatics who decided who was going to live and who was going to die.

Once you in the army, you cannot get out !!!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Change (9)

I really wish I could say, that was that. I had a new found focus, surfing was my mission and it was all fine, I recovered went on to fame and glory travelled the world for the next 30 years, met my dream women, had the most amazing children and we lived happily ever after.

Well actually that kind of did happen. No actually that did happen, except for fame, glory and the happily ever after bit.

However it came at a price. Yes I did have an almost fanatical focus to surf and succeed, but it had its drawbacks as all obsessive behaviour surely does. Not only was surfing my mission, I most certainly was going to have a bloody good time as well. The end always justified the means and believe me for the next few years everything went, there were no moral dilemmas ever.

I still had a year of my Military service to complete and then I had no idea of what was next, one thing just flowed into the next.

The next 10 years were glory years, surf, sex, violence and rock and roll.

The price was high, I went too hard for too long and eventually had to choose. I turned my back and walked away from from the woman and country that I loved.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Change (8)

By the time I got out of hospital, I knew what I wanted. At first I had no idea what to do with this new information that was spinning around in my brain, everything had been so easy until then. I had never had to make an effort at anything, it was all way too easy.

All of a sudden nothing was going to be easy, everyone was telling me what I could not do. I was always good at sport, any sport really it just came naturally, but I had never made an effort to excel at anything, life was just too easy to have to try any harder.

I loved surfing, this I knew and it was now gone. Everyone insisted that I would never surf again.

I am not quite sure if this is a curse or blessing, but I do know one thing. I just hate it when someone tells me it cannot be done. I love surfing, it’s a feeling impossible to describe. It is not a sport, it should never have become a sport it is way more than that. It is a constant challenge an escape into the ocean, away from land and normal life. It is a fight to dominate if even for a few seconds an indomitable force, a never ending lesson in strength and humility. It is not a sport, it is way more than that.

By the time I left hospital I had a mission, I had focus.

I was the only one who knew if it could be done or not.

it could be done, recovery complete. Long Beach 89.
photo Slabbert.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Change (7)

Change is constant, we should never stop evolving, when we do we slowly die. Routine and our safe zone are killers. This I suddenly understood, at first like a bolt of lightning, then slowly and contantly over the last 28 years since those dark days in that hospital bed.

Believe me I have experienced more than should be allowed, I truely have lived my dreams. Those dreams also evolve and constantly change, short term achievable goals are the key. Always have a plan.

 " If you fail to plan, you plan to fail"

Do yourself a favour and watch this, it could also change your life.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Change (6)

Its obvious the realisation that you are mortal, the time laying helpless in a hospital bed, the thoughts and fears of all that time in bed made me change, but it might have not have happened at all. Wounds heal and the body recovers, it’s the mind that needs to heal and change.

My father game me the single most important thing in my life, while I was lying there in bed.

I don’t think he realised it and I most certainly did not either until years later. It was a gift way ahead of its time. Long before sports psychology and mind power became the fashion, this was back in 1985.

It was a master stroke, I had just been given a perfect storm for my brain to work out. I had all the ingredients, fear, pain and time along with a long, long future ahead of me.

I was only 20 years old and my father had just given me the single most significant piece of knowledge I had ever been given.  It opened my mind, it changed my world.

By the time I finally got out of that bed and learnt to slowly walk again, I knew nothing would stop me achieving my goals in life.

What was that gift ?A set of audio cassette tapes, by Denis Waitley called the "Psychology of Winning" one of the NASA lunar astronauts motivational speakers.

I have no idea why but I have never ever told him how important that was. I have never ever thanked him, I guess its time I did.

The Change (5)

The drugs helped but not nearly enough.

If the pain was bad before, it now was raised to another level. The drugs helped for half the time, but the last hour was agony, I would plead to have the needle and the instant relief, it felt so good. It felt too good.

2 weeks disappeared from my memory, the pain the morphine, the fear, I can just remember the worst parts, the tears, the agony, the drowning on a sip of fruit juice, I could not move until I just had to breathe. A never ending life theme, lack of breathe. I had to sit up to clear my lungs of the juice that was drowning me. As I did so the rods broke loose and ripped out. The pain was indescribable.

The next morning I was back in surgery.

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Change (4)

I wish I could say the change was fast.

It was not, the months in bed, the 3 surgeries, the pain, the agony of being face down in bed for 30 straight days without being able to move. The uncertainty of the future but for some reason I was not afraid, I knew what the doctors were saying was not going to happen, deep down inside I just knew. Maybe I was just young and stupid. Later in 2009 when I destroyed my neck, then I was afraid, I knew then what it took to recover and at 45 you are not as strong as when you 20.

At first it was a really bad diagnosis, no walking, then after the successful surgeries it got better to no more sport and most definitely no more surfing. Dr Hammer was my surgeon he was good and he made the miracle happen. I had shattered 3 vertebrae, T11, T12 and L 1, the worst possible place, not only shattered but a huge displacement the spinal cord was stretched and ready to snap or be cut by one of the loose shards of bone floating around.

He opened me up shoulders to hips, put everything back in place did bone grafts and inserted two 40cm long stainless steel “Harrington rods”  onto either side of my spine wired them up sewed me closed and that was it, bionic man for months until the bone had  fused and regrown and the rods could come out again.

If those 8 hours had been long the next 12 months become an eternity. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Change (3)

Things moved fast the moment they cut my boots off.

First they slowly cut off my bloody uniform, then last my boots and socks. The doctor in the emergency ward had read the first initial report and had seen the injuries. Obviously I never got to see myself but apparently my lower back was black, bloated and swollen. I heard someone comment “Jesus it looks like he´s pregnant”

The doctor was talking to me all the time, I tried desperately to get my act together, at last I was in hospital, drugs were just a few moments away. He was pulling and moving my feet asking questions, it was hard to concentrate, the pain had won.

He stuck a long needle into my left foot, I felt it, it hurt, more pain added to the constant pain, and I cried out.

Things moved fast after that.