carine hartman 2021

By Carine Hartman

Chief sub-editor


Lockdown diaries: Mkhize has more to worry about now than my son’s shoulder

How I wish I could sit in the sun for hours contemplating my new normal. Because in my household it’s all old normal – with a new twist.


"I’m bored… bored… bored…” That’s all I read on social media. Oh, how I wish! How I wish I could cook up a storm and post pics. How I wish I could sit in the sun for hours contemplating my new normal. Because in my household it’s all old normal – with a new twist. What happened regularly weeks ago before I started climbing the walls, still happens. We just deal with it differently. Take the oldest, whose shoulder dislocates regularly. And I mean regularly: 32 times, to be exact. He straps it up constantly, hardly lifts a finger because…

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“I’m bored… bored… bored…”

That’s all I read on social media. Oh, how I wish! How I wish I could cook up a storm and post pics.

How I wish I could sit in the sun for hours contemplating my new normal. Because in my household it’s all old normal – with a new twist.

What happened regularly weeks ago before I started climbing the walls, still happens.

We just deal with it differently.

Take the oldest, whose shoulder dislocates regularly. And I mean regularly: 32 times, to be exact.

He straps it up constantly, hardly lifts a finger because all he hears is “your shoulder!”

But three days ago, my fear was knocking again: “Ma, it’s out. I just closed the car door…”

Not that we go anywhere. He was just turning the key to see if the battery still has life.

But now we have to go somewhere – that state hospital where even the doctors call him by his name. And that’s where the new normal kicks in. I have the permit and mask; he has a mask and sits in the back. Why the back, I wonder?

And why the mask? We live together, hug each other every day … but rules are rules.

Even the hospital is not the usual “not you again”.

There’s an interrogation at the front gate; another at the front door before it’s “spray-spray” time.

And, surprise, surprise, the hospital is deserted. The usual mass of humanity is nowhere to be seen. My heart soars: we’ll be out of here in no time.

I should have known.

I eventually gave up and went back to work from my cramped kitchen, waiting for the “I’m done” call.

It came – five hours later, at 10pm. But I’m not complaining.

And believe me, I usually do – to the point where I wrote to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize asking him to intervene in what I called medical incompetence.

Surely a shoulder that dislocates (then) 28 times should get lights flashing?

Surely it dislocating on average once a week needs scrutiny?

He didn’t answer me then; it was ANC celebration time.

My second letter also fell on deaf ears; it was early days of the coronavirus.

I won’t complain again. Our minister is worrying about much more than a shoulder.

And he’s doing a damn fine job.

At least the shoulder is back, or was – until today. Sigh…

Carine Hartman.

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