Saturday, February 2, 2013

New exciting experiences

This week was insane!

I'm gonna start with Sunday because that was when the madness began. Sunday was Moonlight Mass. What an amazing experience. Grant has done it quite a few times before. It was my first time - not only for Moonlight Mass, but my first time in Beastie whilst moving. Before Sunday, I had sat in the buggy. But never had I been in it with the purpose of going for a ride. So that was super exciting and super scary all at the same time. We went around the block at Grant's house first so that I could feel and get used to how it feels and what I need to do to balance myself and the buggy...before we had to do it in front of other people ;)

The vibe at Moonlight Mass was amazing. For me, it was amazing just to be a part of a movement like that. It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, what your limitations may be, you can be a part of it. We were the only ones doing it with a buggy. We weren't expecting anything different, but watching people's reactions to us was priceless. We got so many different reactions. Some got excited and shouted encouragement. Some got really confused seeing Grant on his bike and later seeing me attached to the back of his bike - the facial expression on one man's face was indescribably hysterical. Some people got really jealous...because I was just getting pulled around by Grant (sense the sarcasm...). One woman got really annoyed and said "you know, she really could just cycle". Really? So I waved at her and smiled and she promptly apologised. We even got an 'ag shame' face from a passing car. My best was a little boy on the back of his dad's bike saying "Dad, I want to do it like that". So cute.

When we got to the end, they were handing out 1st birthday cupcakes. I got excited and then that excitement was quickly dashed when I realised that I couldn't get one because I had stopped eating at 8 o' clock in preparation for my knee operation Monday morning.


It was an early start. We had to wake up at 5 to get to the hospital by 6. Considering that we only got to bed at 1:30, this was a considerable challenge. But we did it. Proud moment, right there.

I went into surgery at around 8. I only freaked out a smidgen, an acceptable level of freaking out. I don't know when I came out. I was kinda out of it and miserable. Apparently my reaction to aneasthetic is over-emotionalness.

Once I'd gotten over myself, it was pretty chilled. I got a really rad bed that guards against pressure sores (not that I've ever had a pressure sore, but I wasn't complaining). How it works is like this: it has different pumps at different points in the mattress and air is pumped through the various parts of the bed at different times, and this changes the pressure points in the bed, lowering the possibility of pressure sores. Cool, hey? I felt like I was medically knowledgeable just now. Yay!

Anyways, I stayed overnight at the hospital. I got SO bored I can't even explain. There really is nothing to do in a hospital. You just lie there, waiting for time to pass and the walls are all beige. It got better when people came to visit. Grant arrived bearing McFlurry's. It was right at the point before you give yourself over completely to boredom - a well-timed McFlurry can change everything. Thanks, G.


I went home on Tuesday morning. That was cool. I was chilling at home for a while and then...we started packing up my stuff so that I could move into Graca Machel Residence later. I can feel the judgement coming as you read this. But my thinking was that I will be sitting in my wheelchair, no walking around required. And last time they did my knee I was sitting outside at the braai the day after my op. I figured that being at the residence and chatting with new friends would be no different to sitting at the braai. So, we went to Graca Machel (armed with pain killers for my knee) to start this new journey.

This last week has been one of so many new experiences. I have been locked out of the res twice without a student card - the first time was on the first night. We were sitting right outside the door to Graca Machel and my friend Jenna (with her recently acquired student card) disappeared into the res. We had to call her to come back. We only got to bed at like 12 and we were woken at 3 in the morning by the Kopano first-years serenading us outside. Aww moment.


Woke up super early to walk to Upper Campus. This was a subsequently unsuccessful mission when we reached the stairs to the bridge. So, we decided to walk a different route through Middle Campus which turned out to be a lot further than we had initially thought. But, not to worry, because we came across the disabled Jammie and asked for a lift and we were sorted. My plan was to register for all my courses and get my student card. This plan was only half successful. Registration is a notoriously long process and we came prepared. We waited around for 3 hours or so and when we got into Jameson Hall we were told that because we were first years we couldn't register that day and we could come back on Thursday. Seriously? What a fail.

The second part of the plan was a success. I have a student card!

Later that night we had a karaoke and pizza night at Baxter (the female res across the road from Graca Machel) and it was so much fun. Even though it is not the most accessible of buildings. There are a lot of stairs. But, with plenty of girl power we made a plan and showed those stairs who's boss!


I actually registered on Thursday. Woopwoop. It took an hour and a half to do the whole process - my disability does have it's not having to stand in the line at registration!

Thursday night we had the Fresher's Braai. It was on the rugby field and almost all the first years were there. There was quite the vibe. The problem was that it ended at 8 and we had to find something to do for the rest of the night. We ended up going to tin roof with 7 of my new friends.

That was an interesting new experience. The first thing we had to figure out was getting there. After a while, we found a taxi that we could get the wheelchair into without too much effort. We got there and stood in the line that was all the way down the road. We were in the line, waiting, and the security man came to us and asked if we wanted to go in and obviously we said yes. Here again, you see the disability perk of not waiting in lines. Yeya.

We misunderstood what he meant because when all 8 of us went forward to go in, he got concerned and said "Oh no. I meant just you". What? He wanted me to go into the club and party by myself. I was like "dude, are you serious?" and we ended up having 4 of us being allowed in. The others came in later. We partied and danced and it was cool. We got home at around 1 and again I got locked out of the residence. Twice in one week. Gosh.


Nothing crazy happened. I almost missed breakfast because I was sleeping. Breakfast ends at 8:30 and I got to the dining hall at 8:23. That's what you call a close-shave. I came home for the weekend. So that's where I am now - catching up on some sleep.

I'll hopefully update you more frequently next week. Keep posted and I'll keep posting.



  1. Oh wow, what a week.sound soo exciting.Glad that you are having a great time

  2. Hey Chaeli, I enjoyed reading about your Moonlight Mass experience. I'm cycling the Argus as part of the Chaeli Campaign team this year, and I look forward to meeting you and Grant. Coincidentally, I recently rode my bike in a similar event to Moonlight Mass in Joburg, called Critical Mass, and posted about it on my own blog. I also made a page to gain some support for the Argus ride. You can check them both out: