The Operation

Take That, Tumor

30-Apr-2015

After finally convincing Dr. E – the specialist surgeon we’d been consulting about the removal of Miki’s breast lesion – that Miki and her Alters weren’t likely to go all psychotic on everyone in the Theatre room, and try and reenact a scene from one of the SAW movies, surgery was scheduled for 30-Apr-2015.

I’d spent some time the previous week arranging the overdraft facilities for the bank, then paying the doctor, hospital, pathologist, anesthetist, etc. It was the first time I’d taken out a direct overdraft facility with my bank, and I felt very nervous about the financial situation it would leave us in. But, needs be.

The day before the operation, I’d asked Miki where her pajamas, robe and slippers were – she’d need those in the hospital, even for a day operation. She said she didn’t have any. She was shying away from thinking about the operation and so hadn’t made any preparations at all. She’d thought that by not thinking about the operation she could keep the stress levels down. But, that hadn’t worked – the last two weeks had been almost emotionally unbearable – and she was still unprepared.

I gave her my credit card and sent her down the road to buy the items required. She was lucky enough to find some really nice bed clothing. By that evening we were packed and ready to leave early the next morning. We had to be at the hospital by 06:30 for admissions, etc.

Kai woke me around 03:30, and I battled with him for an hour before he finally settled back to sleep. That upset my internal alarm clock and I only woke fully at 05:58. It was dark outside and a light drizzle had settled over the city, limiting visibility to just a city block or two, and covering the asphalt in oil slicks, and shimmering, reflected lights.

“Sweetie, wake up.” I quietly nudged Miki awake, trying not to disturb the kids.

“Huh, what’s the time?” She replied, sleepily.

“06:00”

She sat bolt upright in bed. “What the hell, I was supposed to be awake at 05:00 to get ready. Why didn’t you wake me up?” She hissed accusatorily at me, Lydia was present.

Some reply about her new iPhone also having an alarm flashed through my mind, but I just said, “It’s OK, Lydia, there’s enough time. Just be quiet so we don’t wake the kids.”

“She burst out of the room, and into the bathroom, shutting the door noisily behind her.

“Quiet please.”

I was ready by 06:10, and I sat down to wait. I hoped there was as much dressing happening in the bathroom as there was swearing and bashing. I could hear brushes being thrown around; perfume bottles banging on the counter; lip-gloss and eyeliners being thrown in and out of cosmetic bags.

At 06:20, I quietly knocked on the bathroom door and slipped inside. I found Lydia changing out of one outfit into another. This is quite common as all the Alters have different styles and different ideas of what should be worn and what looks ridiculous. It’s usually OK, but today we were pressed for time.

“Sweetie, you need to decide what you’re wearing. You look just great. We have to go in a few minutes.” I said to her quietly and calmly, hoping to coax her into some forward motion. At that moment, she was just spinning her wheels, going sideways.

“That looks great. Make-up finished?” I asked innocently.

“Not yet.” Icy reply.

“Bags ready, I’m ready. We’re all set, as soon as you are, sweetie.” I kept the gentle pressure up, and opened the bathroom door, my body language making it clear that we were on our way soon.

Quick dab of lip-gloss, then she gathered all her toiletries up and threw them into her bag, and stormed out of the bathroom. I steered her straight for the lift, hitting the call button, keeping the momentum going. We were down on the street a minute later.

“I had to park around the corner, do you want to wait here, while I bring the car around?”

“No, I’ll walk with you, it’ll be quicker.” She said, matching my stride.

I offered her my hand. She refused it but then seconds later grabbed my arm when we had to cross the road. The hospital was only two minutes up the road – we weren’t actually behind schedule by much at all. As we got into the hospital parking lot, Miki started to freak out.

“I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” She kept repeating over and over, hysterically, her hands gripping the front dashboard, head whipping around wildly. 7’teen had presented, hysterically afraid.

“It’s OK, 7’teen. You’re going to be just fine. Just take it easy and breathe slowly. We’re just going to park here and then walk into the lifts. It’ll be easy.” I hoped I was going to be able to deal with 7’teen when it came to getting her out of the car.

I parked, grabbed her bags out of the boot and opened the door for her.

“7’teen, I need Erin to come out now. Erin, you need to come out. Erin.” I said quite firmly as I leaned over and loosened her seatbelt. She relaxed her grip on the dashboard, gave me a weak smile and a ‘thumbs-up’ sign. It was OK, Erin had presented. I breathed a quick sigh of relief and directed her out of the car and towards the elevators.

Main Admissions was empty and the paperwork went very quickly. There was a bit of confusion between Miki and Erin: Erin signed the patient consent form first; then a few seconds later Miki resigned it. But the admissions clerk didn’t comment and ten minutes later we were up on the 9th floor, Ward B, being shown to her bed.

She was given a back-to-front hospital gown to change into, and a urine sample cup to fill. Nurses bustled around her taking observations: blood pressure, hemo glucose levels, and iron levels. Erin threatened to beat the male nurse who gave her the finger-prick tests if he hurt her. Ashleigh, a very friendly enrolled nurse was tasked with filling out the clinical paperwork.

The Anesthetist came over to interview Miki. We had to remind her that Miki wasn’t scheduled for a General Anesthetic (GA), in fact, was having the entire procedure under Local Anesthetic (LA). She was a bit shocked, but assured us she would still be on hand to ensure everything went OK.

By 08:30, Miki was ready for surgery and had been allocated the first slot in Theatre. Miki’s bed was wheeled up to the 11th floor Theatre. I was allowed to wait with her in the holding area, until Dr. E arrived. While we were waiting Miki switched to Angel Eyes, and curled into the bed, looking a little scared and overwhelmed. One of the older Sisters on duty must’ve noticed something because she came over with a spare blanket, wrapped it over her, gently stroked her hair and gave her a light kiss on her head, telling her everything was fine, just like you would with a young child.

Dr. E slipped in, and two nurses took hold of Miki’s bed. Erin was back; I gave her a quick kiss, and then she was whisked away from me, into the main Theatre area. I went outside to the waiting area and sat down on a couch. I was expecting to be there for a while.

They first gave Erin a small dose of Dormicum, a sedative via IV to make the administration of the local anesthetic to her breast slightly less painful. Erin closed her eyes and promptly fell asleep. The surgeon sliced Miki’s breast open, and removed a ¾ golf ball sized tumor. During the last pull, or cut of removing the tumor, Miki presented again, wide awake.

“Ouch, that pinched a bit. Are you finished?” She asked Dr. E, bight-eyed.

“Yes, you slept through it.” Dr. E smiled back at her and started the process of stitching her incision closed, and covering it in a sterile dressing. Miki had a chance to look around the Theatre: pretty standard, sterile environment; monitors overhead; bright light directed onto her chest; and trays of sterile equipment surrounded her. One wall of the Theatre was glass, overlooking the Waterfront from the 11th floor – what a spectacular view, Miki thought to herself, gazing up at gray overhanging clouds and the tendrils of fog snaking their way through the buildings below. The surgeon and sisters continued their quiet, rather mundane chatter as they finished closing up Miki’s breast.

When the procedure was complete, Dr. E came outside to show me the tumor. It was quite large, spheroid, composed of white and gray bumps and whorls. It looked like a small brain. She was quite proud of how the procedure had gone. She’d exposed herself to a bit of reputational risk, and had been working outside her comfort zone, not understanding how Miki might react to the Theatre environment, and how it might impact the surgery but it had gone perfectly, and she was pleased.

Inside the Theatre, Lizelle, the surgeon’s main attending nurse, approached Miki and privately spoke to her. “I noticed that one minute you were asleep and then the next, you were wide awake, chatty even. Did that have anything to do with your D.I.D?” She asked, quite shyly, a bit nervously.

“Yeah” Miki replied, trying to explain, “that’s part of the D.I.D, I switch from persona to persona a bit.”

“Yes, because Dr. E…” Lizelle obviously wanted to carry on the conversation but another nurse walked in and interrupted their privacy.

They wheeled Miki out of Theatre to where I was waiting and we all proceeded back to the ward, Miki smiling and chatting all the way down. In the ward, she couldn’t stop talking. I could see she was feeling a bit manic. She said she was starving and sent me off to get breakfast, which I did: a pie, some juice and a chocolate. Not the healthiest breakfast, but it was all the canteen could serve up as take away.

When I got back upstairs, Miki was asleep again, but she stirred as I stepped through the privacy curtain. She looked at me, slightly groggily.

“I brought you the breakfast you ordered.”

“Yeuck, no thanks,” she said, slurring her words a bit. Erin was obviously present again and feeling the effects of the sedative still.

“No worries, I’ll leave it here on the bedside table. You can have it whenever you want.” I placed the food down next to her. “Get some sleep if you need it, there’s no hurry to go anywhere.”

She closed her eyes for a few minutes. I thought she was going back to sleep, but a few minutes later, her eyes snapped back open.

“Where’s that food I asked for?” Miki was back, wide awake, and starving. She ate her pie and chocolate, chattering around mouthfuls. She was slightly manic again. I’ve always been fascinated by the subtle physiological differences between Alters. This was strongest example to date: Erin sedated, slightly groggy and not at all hungry; Miki manic, wide-awake and starving.

We had to remain in the ward until Dr. E came through to make sure everything was OK, so we chatted quietly. I was feeling very relaxed now that the operation was over, and it had gone well. At around noon, an orderly walked in with lunch; the smell of beef stew and rice wafting in through the ward ahead of her.

Miki sat up straight, a big smile spread across her face. “It smells just like Mummy’s food. May I please, please, have some?” She pleaded with me. I looked at her closely; Angel Eyes had presented. It must’ve been the smell that triggered her.

“Sure sweetie,” I said, bringing the tray over and placing it on her lap. “Smells great.”

Angel Eyes started into the food with gusto, obviously enjoying it. She was beaming as she fed forkfuls of beef stew into her mouth and chewed vigorously. But ¾ of the way through the meal, she suddenly stopped, gagged, put her hand to her mouth and pushed the tray away from her.

“Was I eating that?” She asked, after finally forcing the last mouthful down. Miki was present again.

“Yeah, Angel Eyes said it reminded her of Ma’s food. She was really enjoying it too.”

“I’d never eat hospital food,” she said, shocked.

By 12:30, Dr. E had checked in on Miki, declared her ready for discharge, and arranged for a follow-up consult the next Monday. She changed back into her normal clothes and we were ready to leave 10 minutes later.

We were both pleased at how well the operation had gone, and how well Miki was feeling having opted just for the LA. But, we were both asking each other why: what was the point of the whole exercise. Sure, the surgery was to clear up the cancer, and that had been successful, but what was the point of getting cancer in the first place? It had just placed huge emotional strain on us for the last two months. It hadn’t provided us with any great life lessons, or improved our lives at all. It had just been a huge hurdle to get over, with no obvious benefits.

Why?

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The Operation

7’teens Missing

Can An Alter Suicide?

26-Apr-2015

Miki went out to lunch this afternoon. She asked me via text. I replied, saying that she could go but that she needed to be back by 15:00. She started muttering about 15:00 being really early and that she had asked Annie to look after the kids until 16:30. I reminded her that I was going to be home to sleep Kai at 11:00 and that I would be looking after the kids when Kai woke. There was no need – other than what she wanted – for Annie to stay. I also reminded her that she’d asked for permission and that I’d given it to her, within certain – what I considered fair – constraints. She could either go to lunch under those conditions or not.

She returned unusually early: 14:30. I was pleasantly surprised and even remarked on it to Miki. “Wow, you’re early. Well done.”

“Yeah, well, we only went to Spur down the road. Tania and I walked back.”

“You went with Tania?” I asked, annoyed. “You didn’t mention it was Tania you were going to lunch with.”

“It was during the day, and I was back early. What’s the problem?” She shot back at me.

“You know what the problem is. The less people from your past you left back in, especially people from the Bad Times, the better.”

“But you said you trusted me.” She was pushing back at me. I should have realized 7’teen had presented. Miki would’ve just let it go, but 7’teen likes to goad me.

“Yeah, I trust your judgment, but the that doesn’t mean I trust her, or any of your old friends.” I replied, oblivious to the change, and not seeing where this was going.

It went where all our emotional conversations with 7’teen go: to an argument, an emotional argument. I was getting irrationally angry, and 7’teen was fighting back, in tears, but still fighting. She stormed off into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.

That did it; I banged open the door after here and yelled at her as she lay on the couch, crying. “Stop always banging the fucking doors. All the doors in this house are broken because you’re always banging them. If you bang another door, I’m going to rip them all off their doorframes.” I was angry.

She was frightened now, tears streaming down her face, her hands pushing herself up into the couch, trying to hide away from me.

7’teen left and Tooshie 5 presented, crying hysterically. Oh to hell with it, I thought to myself, just leave her be. I left the room with her sobbing behind me. She crawled over to the corner next to the cupboard and curled up into a sniveling ball. I should’ve felt some sympathy for her, or some compassion, but I couldn’t find any.

I went off, bathed Kai, fed Zee and Ryder, and organized the house for another early evening. I was exhausted. I checked in on Tooshie 5 every few minutes. She was still in the corner, sucking her thumb now. I wanted to reach out, and reassure her, I just didn’t have the energy.

Finally, minutes before it was time for me to put Kai to sleep, Miki returned.

“Oh God, my head hurts. Why am I in the corner?”

“7’teen and I argued. I shouted at her and Tooshie 5 came out.” I replied. “It was pretty tough going.”

Miki cleaned herself up and took Zee and Ryder to the lounge, letting me put Kai to sleep, and giving me some much needed peace and quiet.

Where’s 7’teen?

28-Apr-2015

The next morning Kiska woke up. Apparently Shafieq had woken before her, snacked on the leftovers in the fridge, typically leaving just enough to be useless to anyone. He should’ve finished them.

“Where’s 7’teen,” Kiska asked?

“What do you mean?”

“7’teen’s gone. She stays with me in our room, but she’s gone and her bed hasn’t been slept in.” Kiska explained.

My stomach turned. I wasn’t sure what to say. “Have you looked for her,” I asked.

“Yes, but no-one’s seen her this morning.”

I could feel my stomach tightening. I was starting to get a little worried. “Get Shane, go and look for her.”

“We’re looking everywhere.” Shane replied, presenting briefly.

I went through to the bathroom and found the following note on the bathroom counter:

Scan-7teen-27-Apr-2015@72

Shit, I thought to myself: can Alters kill themselves? Is it possible? As I made breakfast for Kai, Zee and Ryder – Strawberry Pops all around – my sense of dread deepened. I knew something was wrong, I just didn’t know what yet.

Still no word from any of the girls by the time breakfast was completed. I started to feel overwhelmed. I crawled back into bed, pulled the covers over my head, I just wanted this nightmare to stop. My stomach was aching, my bowels felt loose and my heart was pounding. I didn’t want to lose 7’teen. I loved her. We argued all the time, she was always pushing my buttons, goading me into an argument and then escalating it as far as she could. But she was still part of Miki, a part that I’d grown to know and love. I would miss her; I knew I would. I would be heartbroken if she’d suicided.

It would mean another failure in a long line of failures on my part. Despite what everyone said, it is my responsibility to look after her, and all her Alters, make sure everyone stayed safe and slowly got better. Losing one to suicide was impossible to contemplate; yet there I was, faced with the very real possibility.

I imagine every parent of a teen suicide knows exactly what I was going through, how I felt: the pain of loss; the frustration of not being there for someone in pain; the sense of failure.

Erin walked into the room 30 minutes later, gave me the following to read:

Scan-7teen-28-Apr-2015@72

All the girls were upset, particularly the Littles. The house had gone dark and cold, and under a red sky, thunder rumbled overhead.

Scan2-7teen-28-Apr-2015@72

They’d found 7’teen. She’d asked Miki to go for a walk in the forest late last night with her. They’d sat down to talk and Miki had fallen asleep. 7’teen had tried to suicide: she’d stabbed herself directly in the heart. They found her and Miki wandering out of the forest, Miki supporting 7’teen’s weight on one arm.

7’teen was frozen blue, with dried blood staining her top. She collapsed in front of the other Alters. Emma immediately reached down and put her arms around her, whispering soothing words. Erin ran off to fetch a bandage. Miki stood back, looking stricken and subdued. Shane stood over all of them, waiting to offer any assistance they needed. 7’teen was crying hopelessly. The girls were gently comforting her, telling her everything was alright, that she’d be fine, that she must just come back into the house with them and she’ll feel better. 7’teen reluctantly agreed, and Shane picked her up and carried her in out of the bloodstained snow.

That’s true compassion: loving someone when they’ve upset you; holding them when they’ve terrified, or disappointed you; or welcoming them with caring, open arms when they’ve hurt you.

I could only wish that I had the same compassion for Miki that all the Alters had for each other.

7’teens Missing

Early Morning Lottery

Who Want’s Out?

24-Apr-2015

Kai woke up early this morning, before 6AM, despite it still being dark outside and me ensuring he stayed dry during the night. It’s Friday, I had a long day ahead of me. Kai cuddled for a while and then we both started to make some noises, hopefully, slowly, calmly waking the rest of the house.

Ryder was up next, coming into the bedroom to give me an early morning kiss. That was sweet. I sent him to the bathroom for his morning toilet, then I gently started coaxing Miki awake. The grumbles coming from under the pile of bedclothes told me Kiska was present and waking up.

“Morning Kiska. You’ve got early morning duty again, huh? I joked with her, hoping to get her to wake up nicely.

Grumble, mumble, and mumble was the only reply I got. Yes, definitely Kiska. I let Kai slide off my side of the bed and make his way over to Kiska, clambering up into her arms. She smiled and kissed him with her eyes still closed. Good sign.

Kai then made his way through to Zee and Ryder. I followed after him, knowing there was bound to be a stress about something shortly. Sure enough, their new Lego Ninjago figurines were on the dining table, and Kai was soon grabbing for them. He’s tall enough now that he can reach onto any part of the dining table – nothing is safe.

“Daddy, Kai’s getting the new Lego. Help!” Ryder started stressing. Kai had also started screaming now, frustrated that Ryder was in his way; he was determined to play with these shiny new figurines.

I leaned over the table and lightly rapped Kai’s fingers. “No Kai. Don’t grab. Don’t scream. Use your words.” I said firmly. It didn’t help; Kai just started screaming louder.

“Ryder, you should move these toys now.”

“Leave the baby alone,” someone screamed shrilly from the bedroom.

What the hell was that, I thought to myself. Who the hell was that? That wasn’t Kiska.

“You big meanie. You leave the baby alone.” The voice was screaming and sobbing now.

Damn, Tooshie 5 had presented when she’d heard Kai screaming. I went through to the bedroom. Sure enough, Tooshie 5 was sobbing, her tear stained face half buried in the pillows.

“Tooshie. That wasn’t very nice, screaming at me, and calling your Daddy names.” I said firmly but calmly to her. I sat down on the bed next to her, and gently started to stroke her back.

“But Daddy was being mean to the baby.” She sobbed into the pillows.

“No, everything is fine. I was sorting out Kai and Ryder. They were going to start fighting.” I replied. “Tooshie, it’s not nice to scream from the room and call your Daddy mean.”

“Sorry Daddy.” She said as she left. Miki looked around, confused to be awake, and in tears.

“Tooshie 5 was here.” I said by way of explanation, smiling at her. “Morning sweetie”

Miki stood up and went for her morning toilet. I slumped back down onto the bed – Miki could handle the kids for a few minutes, I was tired already. She came back into the bedroom, and sat down on the couch.

“Do you want some coffee?” She asked, immediately followed by, “Oh dear, I just started to feel very small, very young.”

“Yes, good idea. Thank you.” I replied to her. “It was probably Tooshie 8, or Angel you were feeling. Did you used to make Pa coffee in the morning?”

“Yes, often.” She replied. “You’re right. Get out of my head. How do you know what my Alters are doing?” She sounded quite surprised. I wasn’t, it was a logical assumption to make.

She left the room, went into the kitchen, turned the kettle on, and filled the coffee mugs. Then she came back into the room, climbed onto the bed and cuddled up to me. She started grinding her hips against me and coming onto me.

“Whoa,” I said, “it’s going to be a long day. We can’t do this now.”

“Oh, I just wanted to tease you, get you in the mood. So, we’re not going to play tonight?” She said petulantly.

What, when, how did 7’teen present, I thought to myself.

“We played the other morning. That was me you were playing with, not Miki. I was pretending.” She continued, smiling, obviously proud of having faked Miki so well. Great, I thought to myself: taken advantage of by a seventeen year old.

“Not this morning. Too much to do.”

I thought she was going to get upset, normally she would, but she suddenly remembered the kettle was still boiling and jumped up to finish making the coffee. A few minutes later I joined her in the kitchen.

“So, how was your night out last night?” I asked.

“OK”

“Where did you go?”

“Rondebosh.”

“Who did you go with?”

“Taya.” I was getting monosyllable answers from her, typical teenager behavior.

“Yeah, Taya, and who else?”

“Her friend, the boy.”

It was like getting blood out of a stone.

“Why are you asking me all these questions? Don’t you trust me? I always go out and I’m just fine.” She turned on me, anger flashing in her eyes.

She was being quite talkative now, I thought to myself, smiling.

“What’s funny?”

“Nothing’s funny. It’s actually quite serious. You were late again coming home. I really need to know where you’re going and with whom. And you really need to be home at the time agreed.” I was keeping my tone firm but calm. I can sometimes do that if I have fair warning that it’s 7’teen present. If she sneaks up on me, she usually manages to draw me into an emotional reaction.

“I’ll do the dishes, you sit down, relax and enjoy your coffee.” I said, moving towards the sink. I’d seen too many Alters that morning and I didn’t want a scene with the most emotional one.

“Fine, that’s exactly what I’ll do!”

Early Morning Lottery

Crime Fighting

Late-Night Justice

22-Apr-2015

Damn, this flight is full, I thought to myself as the passengers kept piling into the Boeing 737-800 SAA flight to Cape Town, inching their way down the aisle to their respective seats, then struggling to put their oversized and over-allotment of luggage in the overhead bins. I was already seated in 31D. I had one bag, easily stowed overhead. I always sit at the back, in an aisle seat. I’ve seen the view – as beautiful as it is – hundreds of times, and I prefer having an emergency exit close and accessible. Additionally, I’ve found from experience that these rows fill up last and if there are any free seats they’re usually middle seats, last rows.

Not tonight. Tonight, every seat, in every row was occupied. It was going to be a long flight. The gentlemen and his wife to my right were clearly Muslim and on their way back from their pilgrimage. I’d seen a lot of Muslim’s making the pilgrimage in the last week.

“Lots of people making the pilgrimage at the moment. I thought the Hajj was later in the year, around September? What’s the special occasion?” I asked him politely.

“Not sure, but lots of pilgrims,” he agreed with me, but seemed disinclined to continue the conversation. Fair enough. Two hours later; one hot meal of fish curry and rice, and one hundred and fifty pages further into my latest read, we touched down, straight into a rather strong South-Easter.

The car rental agency gave me a free upgrade because I was a regular and they had vehicles available. It was a new Corsa – nice car. I was on the road in no time, pausing briefly to text Miki that I’d landed and was on my way.

Buzz, buzz – new text message: Please pick up coke n chocolates on way home. She always has an errand for me to run on my home from the airport. I’d been awake since 5AM, spent an entire day in meetings at the office and just suffered through a long and overcrowded flight. The last thing I wanted to do was go shopping. I’m usually too tired, and annoyed and I just politely decline her requests, but this week she’d been trying very hard not to impulsively run off to the shops herself, so I decided to reward her for her efforts and pick up the required items.

By 21:50, I was home, upstairs, out of the cold wind. Zee was still awake. He always stays up when I’m coming home. It’s sweet. Miki smiled widely when she saw me, jumped up and down and gave me a long, tight hug.

“I missed you this week,” she said, still smiling.

“Yeah, me too.” It was really good to be home with my family.

I put my bag down, took off my boots and sat down on the windowsill overlooking the road below. Miki came over to join me, bringing the chocolate with her. We chatted quietly, both happy with each other. It was really windy outside. The trees lining the road were thrashing in the wind, lancing shadows up and down the road. There were no pedestrians about.

Crash. We looked down and saw a length of aluminum siding slide into the road, bent and twisted.

“The wind must’ve ripped it off the store below our building.” I said.

Two minutes later, a man purposely crossed the road below us. He looked quite scruffy, possibly homeless, but he definitely wasn’t just wandering around. He walked up to the window of the R5 store and kicked it. I thought he was just angry. Maybe he’d been roused by a CID patrol, but they usually just leave the homeless to sleep through the night. Or maybe he’d been roughed up on the street.

“He’s going to break into the R5 store.” Miki said certainly.

I was dubious. We watched him go to a smaller window and kick it twice. It smashed and he started to pull it out of the window frame. Miki’s instincts had been right; he was breaking into the store. I put my boots on, picked up my keys, phone, and headed for the lift, hitting the call button.

“He’s gone inside,” she called after me, “be careful.”

Once I was downstairs, I ran across the road, the wind knifing through my thin shirt. Forgot my jacket, I thought to myself. Standing in front of the smashed window, I peered in to see if he was still inside. He was. I looked around for a CID guard to alert and call it in, but none were around, they were all probably sheltering from the wind. I stood in front of the smashed window to ensure the man remained inside and started to call SAPS. Fortuitously, just as I was digging into my pants pocket for my phone two SAPS members on foot patrol walked around the corner.

“Good evening officers.”

“Evening sir”, they replied.

“Officers, I stay in the building across the road and I just witnessed a man smash this window, and force his way into this shop.” I explained, indicating the broken window in front of us.

“Is he still inside?” they asked?

“Unless there is another way out, he’s still inside.” I replied.

I expected them to draw their firearms and enter the store after the suspect. But, obviously, that’s movie stuff. Instead, they radioed into Cape Town Central for assistance.

A response van arrived about five minutes later, blue light splashing across the intersection. I explained the situation again to the arriving constables and they seemed more inclined to respond directly. But, still no movie action. The senior constable just shouted in through the smashed window.

“You, inside. Come out immediately!” He commanded.

He had to repeat himself twice more before the suspect finally showed himself, and with his head hanging down climbed out through the smashed window. He didn’t offer any resistance or try to run away.

I looked over the road towards our apartment building, and up. Sure enough, Miki and Zee were both peering out of the fifth floor window, pale faces just barely showing in the darkened window. I waved. I saw Zee’s face break into a big smile as he waved back.

The SAPS officers marched the suspect across the road, placed him in the back of the van, and then proceeded to take my statement. Of the whole episode that probably took the longest as I explained precisely what I’d seen and done, and the officer wrote it down in longhand. I signed the statement and everyone went his or her own ways.

After seeing the state of the suspect, and his hangdog expression when he was arrested, I felt a bit sorry for him. Perhaps he’d only been trying to get in out of the wind. But I wanted to demonstrate to Zee that a man does what’s right: it’s wrong to damage another person’s property and steal from them; and if you see something wrong, you act decisively and without fear, even if it’s dark, cold and dangerous.

Crime Fighting

You Really Are Spying On Me!

The Fire Or The Frying Pan

21-Apr-2015

“Buzz, buzz, buzz,” my phone rang. It was late afternoon and I’d just returned to the hotel I was staying in while in Johannesburg. I pulled my phone out of my pocket, checked the Caller Id: it was Brad. I was briefly tempted not to answer. I often don’t answer my phone; after all, it’s there for my convenience, not everyone else’s. But this time, I thumbed the Accept icon and put the phone up to my ear.

“Hey dude, how are you doing?”

“Hi.” Brad answered. “Listen, just quickly, I’m stuck in traffic outside your apartment, surrounded by SAPS, the Fire Department, Netcare 911 and Metro Ambulances. They’ve shut the roads down. Maybe you want to check with Miki, make sure everything’s OK with her!”

I thought for a second. We were regularly being load shedded, involuntarily subjected to darkness and power outages as Eskom struggled to maintain the integrity of the national grid. I checked the time. It was 16:48. We usually get turned off at either 16:00, or 18:00, on the hour. With each power outage the lifts would immediately shut down, trapping whomever was inside in the dark for at least two hours. I’ve notified the rest of the Body Corporate that this constitutes a major liability on our part. Miki had just the previous Saturday escaped being trapped in the lift by less than thirty seconds. For Miki, being trapped in the lift would most likely trigger an acute asthma attack, and based on her history, could prove fatal for her. I’ve given her instructions that should she get stuck in the lift, and suffer an asthma attack, she must immediately contact the Fire Department and declare an emergency. They are legally entitled, equipped and trained to extricate her as quickly as possible, even – especially – if it involves breaking through every door on every floor, and forcing the lift open.

“Thanks, will do,” I responded, “cheers.”

I hesitated for a few moments before dialing Miki’s number. If I called her, and everything was OK, she would be convinced I was spying on her. On the other hand, if I didn’t call, and there was a problem, I’d be devastated. I had to know, either way, sooner or later.

I opted for sooner, rather than later, and dialed her number. No answer on the first call. No answer on the second call. No answer on the third call. I sent her a quick text message: What’s up? No reply.

Images flashed through my mind: Miki lying unconscious, in a cramped dark lift, struggling to breathe; firefighters smashing their way up the building, eventually prying open the lift doors; paramedics attempting to resuscitate Miki. I’ve been there, done that, I could picture it clearly.

Finally, on the fourth call she answered.

“Hey sweetie, is everything OK?” I asked.

“Think so. Why?” she asked.

“Well, there’re SAPS, the Fire Department and ambulances all around the building. Are you OK?”

“Oh God. How do you know?” She sounded shocked.

“Brad’s stuck in traffic downstairs. He said the roads are closed off and emergency services are all over the place.”

“I knew it. I knew you had someone spying on me,” she said accusatorily, 7’teen creeping into her voice. “I just knew it. I told you I knew. I told you not to have anyone watch me.”

The conversation was going about as well as I expected it could. But, I was relieved; at least I knew she was OK.

“No one is spying on you. Brad was on his way home. He drives past the building. He was looking out for you.” I was trying to keep my voice light, defuse her emotions.

“You’re freaking my head.” Miki’s voice was filled with mild hysteria. “7’teen is screaming inside my head. She says she knew it all along, this just proves she was right. Oh God, my head, it’s spinning. 7’teen wants out, she wants to shout at you. I’m trying to keep her in, keep her calm.”

“OK, well, look, I didn’t mean to upset you, or 7’teen. No one is spying on you. But people do care about you, and there are people who are concerned about you, and are looking out for you.” I said calmly.

“Listen sweetie, I’m glad you’re OK. I’ll speak to you later. Love you.” I waited for her to say goodbye and then thumbed the Disconnect icon. Awesome!

You Really Are Spying On Me!

Showing My Fear

And Sharing It

18-Apr-2015

It was a really bad day for me today. I felt very anxious and fearful the whole day.

Kai woke at about 4AM, but I managed to coax him back to sleep. As is natural for humans, Kai sleeps with the sun – he goes to sleep when it gets dark, and he wakes when it gets light again. It’s Autumn now in the Southern Hemisphere and the sun only rises around 7AM, so with a bit of luck and some careful cuddling I managed to get him to stay asleep until just before 7AM.

I had planned to take everyone to the shops, for an early, hot breakfast followed by some shopping for winter-woolies: Zee and Ryder have worn holes in last year’s winter clothes; and Kai has outgrown his. They all need a lot of warm clothes for the upcoming winter. But you have to flexible in our family, plans change depending on who is present, and what their inclination is. Today, Kiska woke up. She’s usually very moody when she wakes, today, not so much. But she doesn’t do crowds at all, so I had didn’t even mention the plans for shopping.

“OK, everyone, what do you want for breakfast?” I called out from the kitchen a few minutes later.

Strawberry pops for everyone, Kiska included, milk warmed. That took a few minutes to arrange and then we all sat around the table eating our cereal. Kai sat in his high-chair, alternating between using a spoon and his fingers to feed himself. Kiska was doing quite well. She usually starts to become fearful, and agitated after about ten minutes of being present, hearing voices and seeing things. We’ve had our breakfast interrupted before – that day it was Pink Puffs – by her bursting into tears, crying about worms in her cereal!

Today, she managed breakfast and then we started on neatening up the house. I worked through the kitchen, washing dishes, clearing out the fridge, and wiping everything down. Kiska and Zee went to work on the lounge and the bedrooms, neatening up and packing away the blankets.

By 10AM, Kiska was still with us, quite calm and relaxed and it was time for me to put Kai down for his midday nap. Kai’s become my calm time, where I get away from everything and just relax in the bedroom, letting him nap quietly in my arms.

Kai woke at 12:30 and when we came out the bedroom, Ryder was playing on the iMac and Zee was watching his latest series: The Big Bang Theory, Season 5.

“Zee, where’s your Mommy?”

“She’s in the bathroom,” he replied.

I knocked and then walked into the bathroom. Miki was bent over the basin, rinsing her hair.

“Hi Erin,” I said, recognising that she’d switched.

She smiled at me and carried on with her hair. She didn’t ask how I knew it was her, we both know I can recognise most of her dominant personalities. I don’t know how I do it, but I just ‘see’ the Alter that is present. Zee does too, he’s been doing it for longer than me though – kids intuition.

I felt like a nice warm, lunch, so I set about cooking fish fingers, chicken nuggets and mash. It took me about thirty minutes to make and then we all sat down to eat. Lunch was the usual chaos our meals are: Ryder asking for seconds and thirds, or asking for more cooldrink every five minutes; Kai throwing his food around and then bashing his plate on his high chair, indicating he wanted more yum-yums. It was about as pleasant as lunches go.

The new plan was to make lunch, and then go shopping by myself, later just before the shops closed. It would be quieter. After lunch, everyone cleaned up and I washed the dishes again. Erin left and reverted back to Mommy Miki, who took Kai and the two of them spent some time on the couch listening to music. Kai loves Miki’s music.

I went over and started researching on the computer. Yoav had mentioned he was reading a new book: A Fractured Mind, a book by a very successful intellectual who was diagnosed with D.I.D. I wanted to see if I could download it.

“Aren’t you going shopping?” Miki asked.

“I don’t really feel like it,” I replied, honestly.

“You must. Go, get out of the house. Go do the shopping and take some time for yourself.”

I wasn’t really concentrating on what she was saying, but even though the words seemed quite thoughtful, the tone of her delivery was quite aggressive. At the time, I thought it was quite strange. But, I let it go.

“No, I don’t want to see anyone, or go anywhere,” I repeated.

She walked off, I heard the fire escape door closing so I assumed she’d gone outside, probably for a cigarette – I really hated that. I found the book, but couldn’t find any downloads for it, so I closed the computer and went and sat over by the window, just starring at the cars as they passed below.

Miki came back inside, slamming the fire escape door and scowling.

“Are you OK? Lydia, is that you” I asked, there was something wrong with the way I was seeing her.

“No, it’s Miki,” she shouted back at me.

“Nope, it’s not. It’s Lydia.” Her angry retort had convinced me.

“Yes, it’s Lydia,” she scolded me.

“OK, is there anything I can do to help?” I asked, trying to engage her in conversation.

“No, I don’t want to be here. I want to leave.”

“Why are you here? Is there something you’re upset about, something you want to talk about?” I kept calm and continued to try and get her to talk.

“No, I hate it here,” she said, and switched out.

Emma smiled out from Miki’s eyes.

“Oh Emma. Hi, how are you, it’s good to see you,” I said, genuinely happy to see her again. “Please give me a hug.”

She smile and stood up, came over to me by the window and we hugged. I buried my face in her shoulder.

“Oh Emma. I need a friend. Someone who I don’t have to look after. Someone who I can talk to, trust, just be myself with, Someone who understands what I’m going through. It’s hopeless, we’re never going to get out of this…”

I was blathering a bit. I didn’t cry but I did tear up. All the switching had taken an emotional toll on me. It’s difficult to explain. I like my time with most of Miki’s alters, but it’s hard work – emotionally – keeping up with all the changes, all the different needs, and behaviours.

We held each other for a few minutes. She was supportive but not very emotionally expressive. I kissed her, thanked her and then went to join Kai on the couch. We cycled through a few of his favourite songs and then I put on an episode from Stephen King’s Under The Dome, Season 1. It’s the new show that I’m slowly working through. Half-way through Emma put the hair dryer on which practically drowned out the TV but we managed our way through to the end of an episode.

I gave up on my plans to go shopping, and just hung on until the end of the day, when Kai and I could turn in and I could just let go…

Showing My Fear

Perspective

Seeing The Mess, Or The Beauty

12-Apr-2015

“Daddy, come see what I’ve built.” Zee called from his bedroom. He did this quite often: retreat to his room for a few hours, set all his toys out in some sort of outrageous, fantastical, galactic empire war, and then show it off to me.

I arrived at his open doorway to find it blocked off. He doesn’t have a door on his room so he improvises to keep Kai out.

“I can’t get in sweetie,” I said from the other side of a half-height cupboard.

“No problem.” He walked over to the hanging shelving unit which was also partially blocking the doorway and gently pushed on the bottom of the unit. It slid easily out of the way, giving me access to his room – he’d already thought that problem through.

As I walked in, I was stunned. The entire room had been completely rearranged. Ryder’s mattress had been removed from his bed and placed against the window. Boxes of varying sizes, colour and composition were stacked up against every wall. Planks of wood, some long and thin, others more square, were placed on, under and between the boxes. Arranged inside, on top of, underneath, between, behind and around the boxes and the wooden planks were hundreds of small toys: Lego blocks, Hot Wheels cars, toy soldiers, figurines – some famous, some not – and other items that I couldn’t immediately recognise.

“Wow, Zee,” I said, “what is it?”

“It’s a galactic war.” He answered. “See, here are the Kings men, they’re good, but they’re in trouble, because here are some alien baddies, and they’re shooting at the Kings men.”

He started pointing out every item; it’s name, it’s role and it’s capabilities: whether it could fly or not; shoot or not; did it have a shield or not; could it be invisible or not; and specifically whether it was a good guy or a bad guy – a Baddie. I soon lost track and stopped trying to remember, but he carried on, narrating from an internal catalogue that he’d built up in his head, as he’d constructed and placed each item.

“And the mattress on the window, what’s that for?”

“To make it dark, the Baddies always live in dark places,” he replied matter-of-factly. I couldn’t fault the logic.

“Oh no, Zee, what have you done to your room? It’s a mess, again!” Miki’s voice sounded from behind me. She always got upset when Zee built one of his empires. With Miki, what’s happening in her internal world effects her external world, and what happens externally, effects her internally. Being surrounded by the chaotic array of boxes and toys effected her like loud music, or strobing lights. It upset her internal world, created chaos where she was trying to keep everything calm and ordered.

But it was only chaotic on the surface. As Zee explained everything to me, I saw through the chaos, to the underlying design that he’d been working against. Every item had been carefully selected and placed, exactly as he wanted it. There was no chaos involved. It was a perfectly executed Empire.

“Look at this piece,” he said, directing my attention to a large, intricately constructed Lego spaceship, populated by no less than six Ninjago figurines.

“Here are the engines, here’s the control panel, these are the forward turrets, here’s the invisibility shield.”

“Watch this,” he said, and proudly started to dismantle the spaceship. Each figurine came off attached to it’s own smaller spacecraft. He’d built six small spacecraft which combined to form one large spaceship.

The creativity, imagination and concentration required to build his empire astonished me. I wanted to reach out and capture that creativity, that imagination and make sure that he never lost it, tie it to him somehow or other. I wanted him to always have it, and always be able to enjoy it. I wanted to explain just how enthralled I was, not by his Empire, but by his creativity and execution. I wanted to tell him just how special that was. But he’s only eleven, he wouldn’t understand what I was trying to tell him. I hardly understood it, just felt it.

Instead, I knelt down in front of him and gave him a big hug. “It’s fantastic,” I said, “I love it. We’ll neaten up before bedtime.”

Perspective