Lawyers, Telkom, Ex-husbands and Hospitals.

I feel drained and very upset today. My eyes are red and itchy from crying and my head feels like I am suffering from a hangover, but it is just the pent up frustration and depression.

My depression started yesterday afternoon, as I was desperately trying to finish a translation assignment before the deadline. Robbie was hanging around me, crying, cranky, clingy and unhappy. I should have known that something was wrong with him when his teacher at the day care said that he slept during his five hours there. Later he became warmer and I gave him a suppository; but it didn’t do much. His appetite hasn’t been good since he had the ear infection last week, but today he didn’t want to eat anything, and when I managed to get something into his stomach he threw it all up after a few minutes. This is the second time this happens in the last 24 hours. The first time he threw up on Sunday afternoon while we were out for a walk; the mess was phenomenal but he didn’t seem worse for wear, and was quite chirpy while we had a bath so I discounted it as an isolated event and took him to the daycare Monday morning.

As if work and a sick baby was not enough to keep me busy I also had a Telkom technician install my phone line yesterday. The phone proved useless when I wanted to phone Robert’s pediatrician and I had to use my cell phone. The pediatrician advised me to give Robert only liquids tonight and see how he is tomorrow. He told me to bring him into hospital if I was still worried. I was trying to control my feeling of worry, but once my job was safely sent I started to feel guilty and decided that perhaps Robert needed more medical attention. His temperature was still high, he was unhappy, and had a dazed look in his eyes. I had to call my ex-husband to take me of course, and although he agreed readily enough it was again one of those days when I wished I had an alternative.

Robert’s dad moved out of our area, and now lives closer to Cape Town center, so traveling must be an issue for him. By the time he arrived I was getting exasperated and felt my nerves fraying. Robert’s condition probably did not justify my intense reaction but my feeling of helplessness towards his sickness did. When we arrived at the hospital I fumbled with filling forms, and was unable even to remember my own cell number. I felt completely inadequate and emotionally out of control; I did not cry but I dithered and blabbered endlessly. I must have felt sorry for myself and my situation as a single mom. My ex-husband brought up the name of a woman a couple of times; how she helped him move and stored some of his furniture at her place. In contrast I felt alone and helpless, having to rely on him again if I wanted to provide my child with proper medical attention.
I watched the rapport between him and Robert and how my little one preferred him to me as a playmate, even in his sick condition. It brought a lump in my throat to see them together and I wished my ex-husband really had in his heart the love he was outwardly projecting onto his son. I also wished I was in a position to provide my boy with a substitute father.

Between myself, Robert’s dad and a kindly nurse we gave Robert a sponge bath and his temperature was brought down. A terrifyingly young-looking doctor examined him and diagnosed an ear infection. He did not give any medication for the stomach ailment and only prescribed an antibiotic. Obviously Robert’s earlier ear infection was not cured. My conscience bothered me about this one; perhaps I should have given him the whole bottle of anti-biotic, but for god’s sake it was a huge amount that would have lasted 14 days. The GP initially prescribed five days and when I feared that he was developing a cough I continued with it for three more days, what is wrong with that?

On the way home my ex and I spoke and again the name of the woman was dropped and I felt really miserable. I always suspected the existence of a woman, but now she has a name, and I am sure she cares about him (or whom she thinks he is) a great deal. Life is so unfair ! A single man like him gets the help and devotion of some willing woman, while I struggle with my child without any help. Even my supposed friend has decided to shut me out of her life because of a dispute over money.

Yesterday was also supposed to be a good day because I finally received the revenue from the sale of the house in the Eastern Cape. My lawyer’s behavior, however, left a bad taste in my mouth.  He charged me a fee for supervising the sale of the house in Gonubie, and took a dent out of what I figured would be my net sale revenue.  When the house was sold some lawyer in East London (who was contacted presumably by the real estate agent) started the process of transfer. When my lawyer found out he wanted to be in on the process because the order of divorce stated that he was the one who was supposed to do the transfer (and collect the fee from the buyer). From my perspective, I did not give a bent farthing which lawyer did the transfer as long as I did not get to pay anything, and that was what I told my lawyer. His response was : He had to be involved to look after my interest and make sure that I get paid my money, and no I needn’t pay for the transfer.  I did not pay for the transfer, but the dear lawyers decided to share the cake : The purchaser pays the lawyer in East London ( as it is normally the case) the lawyer in Cape Town crooks his client for a fee and everyone is happy : both lawyers get a cut (when normally only one would), and the ex husband gets his money in full (because the lawyer did not act on his behalf duh), and the poor client gets to pay for the pleasure of everyone. Crooks or what? The bill for my lawyer’s “supervision of the transfer” read like a bloody essay and there is not a single thing on there that I couldn’t have done myself for free. The only thing that I might have missed is the commission that they charged me for the occupational rent, but that was about R 1200. So in effect the lawyer charged me four thousand Rands to save me twelve hundred. I was quite unhappy with this and wrote to the lawyer who gave me a discount (returned to me 15% of the fee he unfairly charged me). I accepted the discount because I learned that when one is in a losing position, anything is better than nothing. The business relationship however between me and this lawyer is over. I am going to make some other crook’s day for estate planning (a fancy legal word for writing a will, maybe to justify the horrific fee).

Today things started crumbling further for me when I discovered that what Telkom technicians installed for me was an analog line, and I had to wait another 30 days to upgrade it to DSL. Again, I spent hours on the phone trying to get some sense out of anyone. Mostly perhaps WHY did they install me a normal line when I specifically order a DSL line? I tried to explain to the machine-like people on the other side that I would now be waiting for 2 months to get my internet connection, which was the main reason why I wanted the phone in the first place. Their bland voices just said that they do understand, but in the end Telkom does what Telkom wants and never mind the wishes of the customer. I have had every possible unpleasantness from Tekom, yet they are somehow regarded as above reproach. None of their consultants is ever willing to give you information on how to submit a complaint.

I was still reeling in shock with all these developments, but my baby looked fine and I decided to go to the bank and collect my replacement credit card. I am slowly starting to replace the contents of the wallet I lost over two weeks ago. So I am here standing at the queue, and I it was almost my turn when Robert decided that it is time for another episode of projectile vomiting. This time I was mentally and physically unprepared and I just abandoned the queue and ran out of the bank. At the next block there is the pharmacy where I usually buy our prescriptions, I stopped there to get some tissue and wipe my son up and bought a pack of re-hydration fluid. At the checkout I just broke down and started crying in front of the cashier, who was trying to tell me that things will be alright, but at that point all I could think of was : Enough Already !!! I am done.

At home I was in for another episode of dealing with a sickly child. Cleaning him up, trying to make him eat, trying to get him to drink and wiping up the resulting mess, from his face, from the floor and the carpet. Tomorrow I am taking him to his regular pediatrician which means another call to a reluctant father and another unpleasant day, but let us just get over this one first.

On The Run

Oh I have done so many things in the last few days I do not know where to start.

On Wednesday I had Robert’s father looking after him again while I went to apply for the visa for a second time. I remember we went briefly before that to the police station where they certified his letter giving his “permission” for me to travel with his son.  I also managed to buy tickets, go to the lawyer and sign transfer documents for the Gonubie house, and order a bed and a washing machine. Needless to say that this took more than half the day and my ex was angry because he missed his opportunity to go to the gym, and “wasted his day”.  My day was far from wasted, and even with all the work and running I had the chance to visit with my neighbor/landlady, since her husband owns the block where we are staying.  We got to know each other over some coffee while Robert and Kiara got to socialize.

The past days were not all bright though, I  had a problem with the lawyer earlier this week because the transfer proceedings have been already initiated by conveyance lawyers in East London, and my lawyer was upset because he would not get his share of the deal this way, especially since it is stated in the divorce order that they will take charge of all the property transfers (obviously I missed on this one in all the excitement that the house sold). I pleaded ignorance with my lawyer and thought I let myself off the hook with them, how little did I know about the nature of these lawyers.

I also had a minor problem while applying for the visa. My photograph was out of date and I was so scared that they would send me back for a second time, but they told me to come back on Friday with the new photograph which just means that I have to stand in the queue again and not collect immediately.

On Thursday I had a few more loose ends to tie. I started early with Robert and we traveled into town where I got a new passport photo, then back to apply for a phone line at Telkom and a private mailbox at the post office. I could not resist stopping at the book shop and buying some second hand books I fancied – it is an addiction with me.  I still had to work in the afternoon while Lucy looked after Robert.

This morning Robert and I took the trip into town again, this time to pick up the visa, and we stopped for a little bit to say hello at my office. I am still haunted by the reaction Robert had to my workplace last Christmas, when he went into an uncontrollable fit of crying. This time he just looked inquisitively around, but I could not register any negative or positive feelings on his face – he is obviously indifferent to the ninth floor.  We had to make our way back home quickly because I received a call from the furniture shop notifying me of the delivery of my new bed and the washing machine.

The people arrived an hour or so before I was due to work, and as usual in these cases, the workers start out slowly and carefully then start bashing their way around when their delivery schedule starts to pressure them. Unfortunately for me the slow part of their work involved putting the bed together while bashing around was the fate of the washing machine. It was moved between two different spots and then it became obvious that they will not get it right in their rush. The task was also complicated further by a loose toddler, and I simply could not supervise safe installing  while also keeping an eye on my son. I finally said that they can perhaps leave and hoped that I could figure it out with the on-site landlord agent who is generally helpful to my ignorance in home maintenance. I usually exaggerate my “incapable female” attributes to best effect.

Mercifully Lucy arrived in the middle of this upheaval and took  care of Robert, and then I had to run to work, late as usual. Lucy assured me she would sort everything out and I had no idea how she could, because I had the old bed, the futon mattress and the washing machine all in strange positions and a small space has very low tolerance to disorder.

I was so worried that I called later from work and Lucy assured me that everything is fine. The washing machine was put in place by the landlord’s agent and the flat was in order. I came home to a different place, and my son received me with a beaming smile, nice and clean from his bath. It is such a joy and relief to be home.

After all this frantic running, I have my visa, my ticket and I accomplished everything that needed to be done before my trip. I only have two more working days then it is off to a well-deserved holiday.

Cold but Happy Spring Day

I think Robert and I are beginning to work out the kinks in this breastfeeding saga. Every time we changed his diaper today there was a mighty big package, and he is a much happier baby. He is also latching at the breast correctly with much less fussing and moaning, I am starting to feel a little more confident about this.
Today is a spring day in South Africa , but there is no sign of the season yet in Cape Town . It is raining and cold, and I am still wearing my sweater, fluffy slippers and fluffy socks around the house. The feeding at night is complicated because I have to put on many layers of clothes before I answer Robert’s calls.
At midday we decided that it was time to give Robert his first bath. There was nothing against it since his weenie is now fully healed. His umbilical stump hasn’t fallen off yet, but according to the modern literature we read, there is no harm in bathing baby with the stump still intact. The bathtub I got from my friend Britt makes bathing the baby a little less intimidating, as it has support for the body and the neck. The baby sits in a kind of reclining chair, formed around his body, so there is little danger of slipping under the water. Still, it was somewhat of a challenge for both of us, and Ron got a little impatient with my slowness. “You have to work quickly with the baby” he always says. My rationale is that if I work slowly there is less chance of mistakes or accidents. Well, two people can have different approaches even when they are a married couple. In the end we did not break baby, and the bath was completed. However, it was too close to call whether it was baby or his parents who found the episode more unnerving.
This morning Ron and I also took turns waiting in a telephone queue. Yes, we had an unresolved query with our ISP, and had to contend with listening to their recorded message: “We are experiencing a high volume of phone calls, please hold. Your call is important to us”. It carried on endlessly, and unfortunately every time we got through to a “human being” on the other end of the line, we were transferred somewhere else, and we had to repeat the whole story all over again. In the end Ron managed to resolve the issue. Apart from waiting on endless phone queues, there was the added stress, because Ron had to reconfigure the internet access on the hardware and software side. He wore his IT guru hat for a few minutes and got it all done without difficulty, but before that he had to behave like an IT guru for a while and get us all very nervous and apprehensive of the gargantuan task.
In the afternoon I got a phone call and a greeting from my friend Britt. She was on her way to the Cape Winelands with her husband and the two little girls. I had a vision of them in the big car, with baby car seats and bags bulging with diapers, formula, and everything else. I thought to myself it will be a while before we have the nerve to venture anywhere outside the city. Heck, at the moment I still had to find it in me to venture outside the house.
As it happened, today was the day when I actually did venture outside the door for a few minutes. In the evening I went to the 7/11 at the bottom of our street and bought the Saturday Paper. At about six in the evening I had just put baby to bed and Ron was preparing dinner. I am starting to learn now that I have to move quickly when baby is resting, because their time of shut-eye is the one small window of opportunity for me to sleep, eat, shower, or escape. I put on my raincoat, which I could easily zip around my waist this time- and went into the wet and darkening evening breathing my freedom for the first time. I skipped down the steps unburdened by a pregnant belly, and bounced down the hill. Ron and I rarely buy the Saturday Argus because it is big and bulky and has three huge sections of property ads, which we have no use for. Today however we had to buy it because it has Robert’s birth announcement. It was one of the free services offered by Cape Town Medi-Clinic which we took advantage of.
My outing lasted for only ten minutes, and I was back at home after that. The walk up the hill was a little laboured, I would have thought that I would be able to run up the hill as soon as I gave birth, but it looks like I have to give myself more time to recover and get fit. Ron and I had our first quiet dinner together. It was a delicious chicken curry with spinach, coconut rice, and carrot salad with ginger and sweet chilli sauce. We enjoyed every bite. If baby is going to carry on this pattern, then we are very lucky. He is a very good baby.
Pocahontas was the early Saturday night movie and for once we were both interested enough to watch. I always thought Disney movies were great fun, but Ron usually has hardly any patience for kiddies stuff. I cannot help but think that having a little baby in the house is already changing our personalities. I had to smile when Ron said that Disney movies were educational. The tiny fingers of baby Robert are casting their spell on our hearts.