Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Thursday, 19 January 2017

I am so proud of Quinn - my warrior man-child

Quinn has already been through a lot, more than many people, in his young life. He has endured many challenges including rejection, disappointments, loss, a life threatening ear condition, hearing and sight loss. He also struggles with ADHD. And yet he goes on, always with a smile and joke. He is strong, capable, independent...

As I mentioned before Quinn had a special bond with Doc Ollie. Doc Ollie was his doctor, saviour, role model and friend. Doc Ollie introduced the boys to Camp Hermanus. Where their life long memories are formed each year. They have so much good old fashioned 'boys will be boys' fun and adventure there. And there was no better ring-leader of fun that Doc Ollie whose inner-boy was still strong and playful. His life's motto was 'He who has the most toys wins!' and he was working hard at making sure he won!

So when tragedy struck at camp, that fateful day of 29 Dec 2016 taking the life of Doc Ollie who was literally at the helm of an adventure, it wasn't surprising that the camp decided unanimously to carry on with camp in honour of Doc Ollie, and furthermore the epic 70+km Danger Point Hike 'Dangers' would be done in his memory on 3 Jan 2017. Then the unthinkable happened. Our precious Natey was taken the very next evening on 30 Dec 2016. Doc Ollie and Natey were the most significant and meaningful people in Quinn's life. To have lost both over 2 days, is just beyond devastating.

When I had to break the news to the boys, over the phone on the morning of 31 Dec, it was too much for Griffin. He understandably just wanted to come home. Quinn was resolute. He insisted he needed to stay to do Dangers. Now for Doc Ollie and his beloved Natey. (I went through to collect Griffin that afternoon, and spent some time with Quinn, and then left him at camp to carry on...) Quinn does not openly express his feelings. His usual way of processing is being alone, or in his interactions with animals (especially dogs) and babies. I was worried that Natey could have helped him deal with losing Ollie, and Ollie would have been able to help him with losing Natey. But losing both... how would he deal with that??

On the dawn of Tuesday 3 Jan 2017 - Quinn's 17th birthday - he set off with the group. Due to timing of the tides and a change in access rights to properties they ended up only being able to leave after 9am... and the distance was increased to about 74km. They walk from Camp Hermanus (on the Hermanus vlei) to the Danger Point Lighthouse beyond Stanford and back, largely on beach sand.

He has done it before. It's an exceedingly tough day out, no matter what the circumstances. Usually male-bravado and camaraderie sees them through...

I messaged him at about 21:30 asking if they were back at camp yet,and how it had gone.
A response came through at 00:12 "Still walking... So hard "
We communicated a bit and he told me they still had 5kms to go.
He said he couldn't go on.
I told him he could do it, to put on foot in front of the other and do it one step at a time, that Ollie and Natey were with him.

It turned out that in those last 5km he became delirious and was collapsing face-first into the sand. The others were hauling him up and drag-walking him further. They tried to feed him water and chocolate, but he'd gag and vomit. He asked to give up... but they told him it would take longer to be rescued, so he had to keep going. And he did it. Everyone thought he was just overcome with physical and emotional exhaustion and grief.

They eventually finished after 2am.
He told me the next morning "Jesus, thought I couldn't make it".
I told him how very proud I was of in, and how he could rest now, and come home. He wasn't ready to come home though. I realised that he felt safe and protected in the fantasy-land of camp, and that coming home would make it real... SO much as I just wanted to drive out and fetch him, I gave him his space.

That evening he messaged me again to tell me he was being taken to hospital, to the ER. My heart stopped. I think I nearly passed out... I was sitting with the people who had gathered to sit shiva with us that evening, and I just felt panic rising. He sent a picture of his leg. There was a large pussy red wound on it. I managed to get hold of him and he said, "Mom I am sorry, I told them I was fine, but they are insisting I go to hospital... I'm sorry if it is expensive..."

One look at that picture and it was clear he was NOT fine. It was super infected whatever it was.
My god, he was trying to protect me and not be a 'problem' or 'expense'!
I told him to get to the hospital and get whatever treatment he needed and FAST. I again wanted to go out to fetch him.
He got the wound cleaned out and disinfected and was put on strong antibiotics, just in time. That was the most arduous journey of his life. And even so sick and infected, he was trying to protect me and not burden me with more pain.

It turned out he had a highly infected (like started to get necrotic) violin spider bite on the back of his calf. And that this was probably why he had struggled so much with the hike. He was literally being poisoned by it. And yet he carried on and on and never gave up.

He is growing into such a fine and magnificent man. I am so proud. Ollie would be proud to call you a Knight Of The Long Tables. I love you Quinn.


  1. I hope Quinn is healing now from the infection. I know his heart is going to take a lot longer to heal, but you sound like you're doing the best you can for your kids, you all are. xxxxx

  2. How is he doing? In my head he is still in pre-school...