Monday, January 19, 2004

Sugar sugar 

My wife and I have two kids and a full time maid. This may sound like luxury (the maid part, anyway), and it is certainly pretty pleasant, but is also pretty common in South Africa. I do not know of a reasonably well off family here that does not employ what in South African PC language is a domestic worker. By reasonably well-off (this is South Africa), I mean anyone who is white, and anyone else with a similar income.

Anyway, Nancy, who is a part of our family, has been getting steadily less effective and more forgetful for the last few weeks. We persuaded her to arrange some time off, and then she called us on Sunday to say that she was not going to come in on Monday. She had been to her doctor who had told her that she had low blood pressure and depression. My wife persuaded her to come through today anyway so that she could see our doctor. The second diagnosis was that she has diabetes - her blood sugar was off the scale, and Nancy is currently in hospital while they stabilise her. It transpires that she had not - what's the expression - passed a stool in two weeks. She had been deteriorating steadily for weeks, and had probably decided that she was going home to die. This would certainly account for any depression. She normally leaves her money stashed around our house for safe keeping, so that it doesn’t get spent by the grandchildren she supports, but last week she cleaned it all out. She hadn’t been planning on coming back.

I hope and pray that the intervention of a good doctor will give her a few more years yet. I find it shocking and troubling that she was so accepting of her fate, and but for the intervention of my (admittedly wonderful) wife, she would probably have died of a very treatable disease, hastened on her way by the pharmacopoeia supplied by her local quack.

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