Run while you can – the inspiring story of a YEI reader who did not give up…
Having matriculated at 17 in 1971 , I then chose the hotel industry as a career. The “Holiday Inn” took a chance and trained me from the front of house to the position of food and beverage manager- the first female in South Africa. I was with them for 15 years, followed by my appointment with Sun International as group personnel manager. In 1982 I was appointed General Manager of City Lodge in Sandton, Gauteng, another first for a female in a corporate situation.
My problems, health-wise, started in 1982 with my first brain haemorrhage, followed by another one in 1987. Both open-brain surgeries left me able to walk with a stick and I still managed to run the hotel. Albeit, my speech was affected – I talked and still do, as if I had too much wine!! My writing was also affected, but I got by. However, in 1993, the “biggie” aneurysm at the base of my brain stem occurred. The procedure I needed was still in its infancy in South Africa and I was advised not to be a “guinea-pig”, but to go to Germany as soon as possible. Within two weeks, I had organised the trip. During the radiation/laser treatment more brain cells were damaged, but that only became evident in two to three months down the line, by which time I was back in South Africa. I could not walk! My brain knew what to do, but the message did not get through!
I went through three months of rehabilitation in the Barney Hurwitz hospital in Gauteng, and thereafter I had to use a wheelchair. I attended physio and speech therapy at “Headway” in Johannesburg, and also attended Stroke Aid, where I attended speech therapy, occupational and physio sessions over a period of 2 years.
I retired at the age of 42 from “City Lodge” – after 10 years. You won’t find a general manager of a hotel in a wheelchair!
I have been living at Bridgewater Manor in Somerset West for the last 12 years and I am on the committee for SAARP (South African Association for Retired Persons) – responsible for finding various speakers for our monthly meetings.
I leave you with my personal philosophy of Run while you can. These words have been my mantra since 1993.