3. Getting used to life in ICU

Mail to the Fans of African Angling Safaris

10th March 2004: Ari is still in ICU. His condition is stable and he is well on his way to recovery. But he is still in a coma and we do not know how long he will remain so, as these things are very unpredictable. At least we know that his body is getting better every day ! We will keep updating you on his condition via the web-site once a week or more if things move faster !
Thank you for being there to think about him !

Gaëlle Bert


10th March 2004

All this noise is comforting, like a blanket of cotton wool around my brain. The cafeteria of Sunninghill Hospital has become my office, Ari’s bedside, my home away from home. All I need now is to get his laptop from Gerhard and find a phone line and I won’t even need to go home until the school closes at 15h00. I must spend my afternoons with the kids. That’s important. They miss Ari already. I can’t deprive them of me too.

I drive Ari’s car and listen to Neil’s music on John’s sound system. That is my solace. I will go deaf from the loudness and dumb from screaming the words out. My throat is sore already and my ears are whistling…

I even like the smell of the ICU now. It is like coming home. I know I’m going to see Ari when I walk through those doors and smell the Hibitane ! And then, when I touch him, all my life’s energy I force into him. I don’t need any of it. Seeing him is all I need to keep me going. I love him so much !!!

11th March 2004

Luca was asking me when Daddy would be back. Zoë’s been dreaming of him, she said he says he loves us and he wants her to kiss Mommy and Luca for him.  Ari just looks like he’s sleeping today. I read him the voice-over for his latest show. Durban Marlin, and he moved when I did, so I’m hoping that meant something to him. They say he’s breathing on his own. But the ventilator is just giving better air. I loved watching AAS last night, as usual when he’s away, it’s like having him home. I shooed away some tenants. How could they be so inconsiderate??? And Beatrice keeps calling me at the worst time ! I keep switching her off.. I’m meeting with Gerhard, Arno, Beni, Craig, trying to keep at least the travel aspect of the business going – I’ve decided only Ari can create his shows, so we won’t. It would be like someone painting for Picasso while he’s ill…. Aah, here’s my French fries (I hardly eat at all …). Ari, you turned your head when I kissed your forehead. Four times ! It felt like you were squeezing my hand too …

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not the absence of fear.

Mark Twain


John didn’t have life insurance or medical aid. How is that possible ? That just doesn’t sound like John ! So we have to work extra hard to make sure Sonia and Bianca get something from his work with Ari.

12th March 2004

I felt something last night. I mean a realization. I was in control of my surroundings, and it felt good.

I think control is what I need. That was the first thing I said on 29/02/2004. I can’t lose control – but I didn’t realize how far. All those meetings yesterday and I started knowing what was going on. They were looking at me for confirmation : I made the final decisions. Even SuperSport, having been there makes me feel I know what’s going on. So I have Ari’s welfare in my hands, he is under my care, and that is what I need. On 29/02/2004 – it was not up to me, the doctors and paramedics were in charge, that made me feel insecure on top of it all. Then of course when Ari is awake, he controls him, and I control my side. But for now, his life is my responsibility.

I might have 1000 friends all there, wishing us well. But right now there is none that I wish to see so much as Ari. He is my only friend. The only one that matters. AND NEIL IS GONE.

13 March 2004

Today is Luca’s third birthday.. I didn’t have the courage to organise a birthday party this year, let alone the time, so I invited all his little nursery school friends to the Balfour Park Spur. I really don’t like Spur, but it’s not for me, it’s for Luca, and they’ve got a play area and all that disgusting kiddies food that the little ones love… and balloons.. and party packs… and I won’t need to clean up…

15 March 2004

I can’t take it that Neil is gone. Ari knows I liked him a lot, I am allowed to be sorry for his loss. If there was anyone I would like to receive a hug from today, it would be Neil, I mean a hug to help me be strong for Ari, otherwise a hug from Ari would be miles better. But seeing him sleeping then so peacefully, it doesn’t look like he ever wants to come back to his workaholic life. I can’t blame him really. If I could make all the other stress go away, and only give him hugs and kisses and good time with the kids, I would do that in a split second. Please WAKE UP !!!

How can I row away from the rocks if I don’t know where they are ????

15th March 2004

Am I weak or what ? I can’t do it anymore. Last night he didn’t even react. His pulse was down at 85, which made me think he was just fast asleep, like he didn’t even try to communicate. He did move when I played him the tape of the kids saying ‘Hello I love you Daddy’ but that was all. I need a sign, something strong to give me hope again. The other day he smacked his lips when I kissed him and another time he turned his head every time I kissed his forehead. I was so happy. It made me strong. But this morning again, nothing but a very vague thumb movement. Already I was petrified to come today, weepy as I’d been since last night. He’s my pillar of strength, how can I go on not knowing if he’s holding out for me ? I live for his love ! I live from his love !!!! why do the docs and the Berts say he’s doing better, flexing etc. if I can’t see it today ? I’m scared to go back in again. More rejection I simply cannot handle. I almost broke into tears in there ! I told him if he doesn’t give me hope, I’m not coming back to see him. I can’t bear it !!!!!

Maybe sometime, I will write about their funerals. Maybe. But I haven’t forgotten to. I’ll never forget them. And what I learnt from Jack and Annette Bert, Ari’s grandparents, and how that helped. Will get through it I think. I think. Maybe it didn’t really help.

The Buddha said, “There is only one moment in time when it is essential to awaken. That moment is now”


16th March 2004

Well duh. Turns out one of the docs had ordered Ari be given some sedative as he was too agitated on Sunday !!! So there was nothing wrong with Ari, and I probably made him really sad too, so he’s actually moving around a lot more ! in fact, I just played him the tape of the kids again, and AAS and he moved around a whole lot.

17th March: Ari will indeed pull out eventually, we don’t know how long it will be, but we are quite confident that he will make a great recovery ……….. If you log on to the web-site every week or so, you should see an update on his condition. For the moment, he is still sleeping fish-fully !


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