Monthly Archives: November 2015

Skills and upskilling


Should one be afraid to do something that you may not quite be as skilled in as you once were ? This is a question I asked myself repeatedly last week and this is my very honest and open and frank reflection of this process that is not unique in a sense.

Doing eye surgery is a skill set that I have been privileged to learn though  a process of years of working in a government eye department, doing a diploma in Ophthalmology and then spending time on the mercy ship with a passionate and amazing teacher of the scleral tunnel technique. The process of learning almost always involves a curve that is quite steep and during that upward slant of the curve one is bound to make mistakes.

Now when one is learning to bake a cake and it flops – and I am useless at baking, it is not really the end of the world (and don’t get me wrong I am in awe of such skill) when one makes a mistake in eye surgery generally it ranges from the patient not seeing very well post-op to not seeing at all depending on how the mistake is dealt with. This is where the dilemma for me starts, does one “risk” upskilling and making mistakes in order to help people down the line or does one simply not take that risk. Which is the better choice?

I grappled with this and mainly because I am a grappler. It perplexes me that I am so hard on myself and yet time and time again I find myself in this place of reflection.

I have come to the conclusion that there is a degree of “living” with failure on the up slant of the curve in order to “be” better and perform better and also then in turn to get better results going forward. I really do think that this applies to many other aspects of life.

Just me being philosophical? OR are there others out there who grapple as I do?zithulele1

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Zithulele – mercy vision week


I have just returned from spending a week at a very special place in deed. Zithulele hospital in the transkei (about 1.5 hours from Umtata) is your average government hospital in a rural setting only it is FAR from average due to the staff that work diilgently, tirelessly and passionately to change rural people’s lives on every level of functioning.

I had the privilege of performing scleral tunnel surgery to remove cataracts from folk who were “blind” due to the cataract and allow them to “see” again. This is one of the most amazing gifts that I have been bestowed – the ability to do this surgery.

To see their smiling faces day one post-op is a sight that I never grow accustomed to – it “overflows” my happiness well every time.

The mercy vision team at large is incredibly passionate at what they are doing for a population previously forgotten. The whole experience costs the patients nothing. They get transported from home to Zithulele, fed for the time they are there and then transported back to their home. For a rural dwelling person the blessing of this is not something that a privileged person can understand, for them it is truly a huge blessing and life changing.

Their other alternative is to pay (about R400 one way) to Umtata and have a few trips like this before their surgery is scheduled. This is something most of them simply can not afford and so they just accept the blindness.

Back in my own practice I am a little tired after the long journeys with my two littlies but have a very happy heart.zithulele zithulele1 zithulele2