I can’t believe I haven’t written in my blog for such a long time.. so much has happened in my life, but I just haven’t got to it.. pitiful excuse!! LOL.. but anyway.

As all my closest friends know, I’m colour blind, specifically red/green. To explain,people with deuteranomaly and protanomaly are collectively known as red-green colour blind and we generally have difficulty distinguishing between reds, greens, browns and oranges. We also commonly confuse different types of blue and purple hues.

As a child i used to hide it from everyone, believing there was something wrong with me, and didn’t want to be either teased, bully or look like a freak. I couldn’t read anything of colour on a blackboard with the exception of white and yellow. So it took serious effort to understand what was on the board often just pretending I could read and just guess!! At my age now, I just couldn’t care what people think anymore

As an adult, PowerPoint presentations pose a problem, as many utilise red/green or variances of them on blue/purple backgrounds, which makes the writing invisible to me.

To explain in simple terms, red and variance of red is just a dark colour to me blue and purple are identical, and industry wise, I can’t see the difference between red lights (EMS) and yellow lights (towing services)

To see what we see, check out http://www.colourblindawareness.org/colour-blindness/colour-blindness-experience-it/

Why am I bringing this up, well, there are glasses that allow us to see colour, which I’ve been looking at for some time. https://enchroma.com/ Looking at the reactions of some of the Videos I’ve seen, makes me want to get them, at the same time, petrifies me.

So I took the test to see if the glasses will work.. the result?

Based on your test result, people with moderate protanomaly usually respond very positively to EnChroma glasses — 75% of people with test results like yours experienced improved color vision.

I’ve lived my whole life like this, maybe it’ll be too overwhelming to deal with. Emotions? Scared…curious…possible excitement…nervous.. all at the same time.

Question..should I get them or not?

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Our annual October vacation this year needed to be postponed due to various reasons, and we decided that the first week of the December holidays would be ideal. We arranged to stay at Nicole’s family’s home on Thesen Island, situated on the Lagoon in-between the Knysna Heads.

Yesterday we took a meandering drive through the beautiful old town, and found the Masonic Temple.

Directly across the road, we found 2 churches, and while walking past one made of slate, admiring the workmanship, we came across an ancient graveyard…

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Most of the head stones dated back to the mid 1800’s. One in particular we found fascinating, was the local doctor’s, who’s headstone made of sandstone was laid and inscribed by the locals, which clearly indicated their trust and love they felt for their doctor, who dies at a young age of 58 in 1874.

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“this stone is erected by friends and patients in affectionate remembrance of eternal kindness and professional skill”

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...coins laid on top of the headstone, honouring him..

In the grounds, just beyond the few gravestones, stands the oldest church in Knysna, St Georges Church, the foundation stone being laid in April 1849.

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My Masonic journey has been one of self fulfilment, complete with reflection of my spiritual, moral and social virtues, and, whilst I’m not a perfect man, I strive to be a better one. I look back at who I was before I took my first step into the Craft, and can honestly say, I would not be the man I am today without my Brethren who have guided me, taught me and mentored me these past 12 years.

The Craft is my second family, and through each Degree and step I’ve taken, I’ve delved into it with gusto and absorbed the information and teachings like a sponge in the sea of knowledge. As explained when I obtained the 18th Degree , the ceremony being one of beauty and thought-provoking warmth, much cannot be revealed.

Since that momentous occasion, I have grown into more auspicious positions, having been the Master of my Craft Lodge, Principle Officer in the Royal Arch and Most Wise Sovereign of my Rose Croix Chapter. The latter being the prerequisite for my future promotion.

These achievements, promotions in the District, from Steward to District Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, and all the Masonic knowledge and rich history learnt could not have prepared me for what I experienced yesterday.

The ceremony being conferred to the 30th Degree was indescribable. As I tried to explain to my fellow Illustrious Brethren during the Festive Board, it was nowhere near what I expected, it was thought provoking, mind blowing and jaw dropping. . and…WOW!!

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The collarette and beautiful hand crafted sash worn in the 30th Degree

True to my Masonic obligation, the experience itself will not be revealed, except to say I am truly honoured by this conferment, and, most especially now, intensely  proud to be a Freemason.

Over the past year, I’ve developed a taste for whisky. For many years my thought of whisky was one of diesel fuel, however, this changed a year ago after a friend won a quality single malt in a raffle at an open evening we held at my Masonic Lodge.

A deep breathe and preparing to expel the vile liquid, I took a sip of a 5-year old Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or, and immediately felt this delicious, warm honeycomb gold fluid flowing down my throat.

Having dispelled my youthful drinking sprees many years ago, I’m not one to drink  at home or in a social environment. One glass of red wine would suit my evening.At times, even a glass of wine tends to be too much.

I finally found the perfect sundowner, which minimal quantity provided relaxation and stress relieving downtime. I have tried different versions of whiskies, from single malts to various blends and distilleries. From cheap to expensive, I’ve found my favourites and those that could pass off as Jet Fuel.

When Hillbrow Lodge hosted a Whisky tasting evening, I jumped at the opportunity to attend. An incredible evening, complete with a 3 course meal, had us pairing 3 Single Malts with various types of chocolates, under the guidance of our District’s resident whisky connoisseur, Simon Knutton.

IMG_4132 Expert knowledge and experience had our small group of Masons, wives and guests enthralled with the history of whisky, the methods of distilling and tasting Simon’s choice of “The good, the bad and ugly”

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My favourite of the three, was the Glenkinchie.  Matched perfectly with white chocolate, adding a creamy sweetness to the fresh fruity and oak palate.

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In 1837, the Glenkinchie distillery was founded in the  south of Pencaitland, drawing its waters from the Lammermuir Hills in East Lothian. Marketed as ‘The Edinburgh Malt’, the Glenkinchie distillery is just fifteen miles away from the city.

After the main course, we were treated to the Ardbeg. From where we were seated, as the glasses were filled on the presentation table, we could smell the strong aroma of fruity peat with a hint of vanilla.

IMG_4129Paired with dark Orange chocolate, my mouth was overwhelmed with sweet vanilla and lemon and lime, with a smokey caramel after-taste.

Dessert served, with the ambiance in the room bubbling with newly formed  whisky enthusiasts, the 3rd whisky was presented.

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Aberlour’s long-running A’Bunadh range, matured exclusively in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks and bottled at cask strength.

Simon explained that Aberlour sits at the base of the rugged mountain range, Ben Rinnes. Nestled in the village of the same name, the distillery was founded by Peter Weir and James Gordon in 1826, though Peter was to pull out a year later. The village lies on the Lour Burn, which converges with the River Spey just 270 metres from the distillery. The 6th century Celtic saint St Drostan, baptised local chiefs in the distillery’s water source.

Whisky experts describe the nose as Jamaican Ginger cake, chocolate buttons, a kick of black pepper and sugary coffee.

Me?… well, It reminded me of Christmas Cake!

Now this whisky is aptly referred to “the ugly” by Simon. No, not the taste, as it had a delicious sweet palate with flavours of chocolate and rum soaked rum. Its the staggering 60% alcohol/volume content that makes this a very slow sipping sundowner.

A big thanks to our host, the Worshipful Master of Hillbrow Lodge, and the insightful talk and presentation by Simon Knutton.

Zip-lining in the Magaliesburg

Posted: April 29, 2017 in Family

Being in the time-demanding careers we are in, with limited finances, N and I decided when we reached our 40’s, not to buy presents, but rather celebrate experiences with our family.

For my birthday this year, N got me a zip-lining voucher for 3, which we cashed in this weekend. An experience I was fortunate to have whilst working at the Sports Illustrated “Ruff Stuff” Challenge  in  Swaziland back in 2010, one which I’ve been saying for years we should do.

We arrived early at the Magaliesberg Canopy Tours, in the Ysterhout Kloof region of the Magaliesburg Mountain Range in the North West Province of South Africa.

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After the briefing and kitting  up, we drove a short distance to the cliffs to begin our adventure

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….off our brave little one went… (with the odd squeal or two to awaken the local habitat )

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….way above the trees…

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enjoying the views…

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the smile getting bigger after each slide…

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precarious cliff face photography..

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some a little faster than others…

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Ultimately, a family adventure I highly recommend for anyone!!

Within our profession (Emergency Medical Services) we have challenging and “head scratching” cases which no amount of education and experience can ever prepare you for.

I have been a degree Advanced Life Support (ALS) Paramedic for 14 out of 20 years, the first 6 years spent as a National Diploma and having recently updated my  Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certificate thought I could deal with just about any case thrown at me, until I was faced with that very strange, head scratching situation recently.

I am attempting to explain the case taking into account medical professionals as well as trying to explain the case to the non-medical followers.

I responded to a chest pain case, and upon arrival at the scene, was greeted by fellow ALS Eutimia Garces, who had assessed the patient and requested assistance. She has been qualified over 2 years as an ALS and has experience in excess of 10 years in the industry, but had never encountered a cardiac patient this critical. Her assessment of the patient revealed some interesting information with regards to basic vitals and she had initiated treatment with intravenous cannulation (drip) and oxygen via nasal cannula in an attempt toward maintaining a SPO2 (oxygen saturation) of greater than 90% since the probe was not picking up pulsatile blood flow.

The patient’s vital signs were as follows:

  • Palpable thready carotid pulse at a heart rate of 214 (the ECG “heart” monitor confirmed this rate)
  • Electrical Cardiogram (ECG) presenting a Ventricular Tachycardia (V.Tach) – for the non-medical folk, this is an abnormal heart rhythm that can prove fatal.
  • Non-palpable blood pressure, recorded as 50 mmHg (dangerously low) systolic via a manual sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff).
  • Skin condition was grey, pale and clammy.
  • Patient initially was responding to verbal stimulus only, but with a small 50 ml bolus of fluid, became alert and orientated with a blood pressure of 60 mmHg (still dangerously low, but at least his brain was working)
  • The patient presented with severe chest pain throughout the initial interaction prior to sedation.

With regards to history, this proved to be even more interesting:

  • 65 year old male patient with an extensive cardiac history: 10 Acute Myocardial Infarctions (Heart attacks) and 26 minor non-debilitating strokes over the past 6 years.
  • Patient was on an extensive list of medication all specific to chronically managing aberrant heart arrhythmias.

Identifying the severity the condition, we all realised that the only effective method of treatment would be synchronised electrical cardioversion.

For my non-medical followers, allow me to briefly explain a few of the terms used:

  1. Ventricular Tachycardia 
  • A V.Tach is a type of regular and excessively fast heart rate that arises from improper electrical activity in the muscle and electrical pathways of the ventricles of the heart. With a normal heart rate ranging between 60 and 100 beats per minute, I’m sure you can imagine how hectic and dangerous a pulse rate of 214 would be. The ECG for the patient can be seen below

2.  Synchronised Electrical Cardioversion

A synchronised (perfectly timed) electrical shock is delivered through the chest wall to the heart via pads that are applied to the skin of the chest. The goal of the procedure is to disrupt the abnormal electrical activity in the heart and “reset” the heart to allow the natural pacemaker of the heart to restore a normal rhythm. The interruption of the abnormal beat allows the heart’s electrical system to restore a normal heartbeat.

Shocking someone who is conscious is an extremely painful experience and can be mentally traumatic for the patient, which means that some form of sedation is both compassionate and beneficial to the patient.  The dilemma Eutemia was facing, was that the patient clearly needed sedation before the procedure,  but the extremely low blood pressure excluded the use of the only two medications that ALS Paramedics carry for this purpose namely Midazolam (Dormicum) for sedation and Morphine for sedative analgesic effects. Fortunately, as ECP’s we carry a wider range of medications capable of have similar benefits without as significant side effects.

My wife, Nicole de Montille (who was with me at the time is also an ECP and an ACLS Instructor) and I debated the merits of Ketamine or Etomidate (Hypnomidate) to use for the sedation of the patient. These two medications are known in the anaesthetic and emergency environment for their anaesthetic and analgesic benefits.

Being concerned about the cardiac effects Ketamine may produce, it was decided to use half dose Etomidate, which was successful in its sedative qualities, and the patient was sedated without compromising his breathing effort.

With the patient sedated, synchronised  cardioversion was performed .  In my personal capacity I have done this many times during my career. Normally after cardioversion, I have seen a brief period of asystole (flat line) as the heart resets itself, followed by a relatively normal heart rhythm.  What occurred with this patient however left us all feeling more than a little worried and relieved in the space of approximately 15 seconds.

 

Click on image to view in full screen – ECG edited to protect case information

As you will note in the above ECG, the cardioversion successfully shocked on the R-Wave as expected;  What was not expected was that the patient went from V.Tach straight into Ventricular Fibrillation (V.Fib).   This abnormal and erratic twitching of the heart muscle can be likened to a bag of worms all wanting to move in different directions, however the problem is that this situation fails to produce a ventricle contraction which is necessary to keep the patient’s blood flow moving.

I’ve never experienced nor witnessed this happening ……….ever!! Neither Eutimia nor Nicole had ever been exposed to a patient presenting like this either.  Within a matter of seconds the monitor was set to 150J (as recommended by the manufacturer) and defibrillated (shocked the patient without synchronisation) and successfully converted the rhythm to sustainable heart rhythm with contractions and sustainable blood flow.

The patient was transported to the nearby emergency department at a hospital with extensive cardiac facilities, where he woke up a few minutes after arrival, conversing with the staff and looking far better than before sedation and treatment.  As for his vitals, a radial pulse rate of 82 and a blood pressure of 110/70 – both definitely within normal ranges.

Whilst the case was mentally challenging and, to be honest, quite scary, it was one of the most satisfying one.  Witnessing a rapid turn around in the patient condition from life threatening to conversing and looking as if he had experienced a minor “episode” at the hospital.

Thank you Nicole and Eutemia, we made a dynamic team and saved a life that day.

As I’ve previously explained in the post for my Installation,  every year, the respective Masonic Lodges elect and invest a new Worshipful Master (WM) to preside over the Lodge. My Lodge, Orphic Lodge was the first week in February.

I was planning on writing this shortly afterwards, but life got in the way.

There are specific moments and ceremonies which are very special to a Mason. HIs initiation, being Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason, being installed as the Worshipful Master, and many more occasions during our masonic journey in self fulfilment and Craft progression.

For me, this installation was very special indeed. Not only was a friend Installed as WM, each of my candidates received their first office positions in the Lodge. This past year was an awesome year for me personally in my Masonic Journey. Four very good friends approached me and indicated their wish to join our prestigious Order.

And so, after going through to application process, interviews with them and later with their families, I had the privilege of initiating each of them. As their proposer into the Craft, it’s my responsibility to ensure their journey is successful. That they grow into better men and husbands, fathers and sons.

After the WM is installed, his duty is to invest his officers for the year.  My chest swelled with pride as I saw each of my candidates receive their first office appointments. Their faces echoing my pride, watching them standing taller as they were led by the District Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies for the evening, to the office positions.

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…Me and my guys with their office collars on… unfortunately, two need to remain anonymous..

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….Ryan being his usual animated self….

After the Installation ceremony, Lodges treat the Grand, District Officers and visiting Brethren to a meal, drinks, and of course, a raffle for charity.

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Grant convincing the Brethren to part with their money…

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… whilst being exceptionally confused why there wasn’t alcohol in the ice bucket…

All in all, a fantastic night enjoyed by everyone, and I wait with proud anticipation to see each of my Brethren progress to their next steps on the ladder and growth in Masonry.