20 November 2019

Beggars - what do we do?

Yesterday I was faced by yet another beggar who, I think, was displeased because I did not give him something. Gertjie was his name.

As I continued to work through the day, I pondered. Does someone like Gertjie ever go to a clinic for medical or dental help? My taxes contribute to the health system. Does he ever use the services of police, water, sanitation, roads, parks, or any public amenities? Does he ever use night shelter or food kitchen? I give monthly donations in the form of taxes or donations to some of these. What is he doing to ensure that he will be in a position to contribute to these facilities to provide for the next generation?

Years ago we regularly gave food or money to beggars who came to our door. We came to realise that they were apparently spreading the word that beggars would get something at our home and so we had a steady stream of beggars. We were not helping them in the Lord's way, but were simply maintaining them in the beggar state. We decided that, in a personal time of need with illness in the home and shortage of money, that we had to turn them away and suddenly the stream of beggars stopped coming to our door. We still have the occasional beggar, but we rarely give them something unless they are prepared to work for it, but do sometimes give something small when prompted to do so, with the instruction to not come back to us, but to go to the soup kitchen where they can be assisted to get themselves out of the gutter rather than simply remaining in the gutter.

My thinking yesterday reminds me that we should be encouraging people more purposefully that, as is stated in two clauses right next to each other in the Founding Provisions of the constitution of South Africa:
    3. (1) There is a common South African citizenship.
        (2) All citizens are—
              (a) equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship; and
              (b) equally subject to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.
        (3) National legislation must provide for the acquisition, loss and restoration of citizenship.
    We need to encourage people to meet their responsibilities - meeting the rights, respect, needs of others - instead of simply asking for others to meet their rights or needs. This is tough, but love is tough.

    We need every person in the nation to be contributing to the extent that he or she is able, using their own unique strengths, talents, abilities to build a better South Africa for all. We need builders and not wreckers; producers rather than consumers; givers rather than takers.

    I firmly believe in the principles given in the talk by Spencer W. Kimball - Welfare Principles: the Gospel in Action. May I contribute what I can, and work towards helping others to contribute to the extent that each is able.

    04 November 2019

    Some home improvements after 21 years!

    We finally took the leap in 2016 and started to do some renovating that really had been needed for two decades, and some that were not quite so urgent, but worth doing anyway. Here is a record of some things that we did between 2001 and 2018.

    2014: Gutters, fascias, painting
    The cage around our afdak (lean-to) at the side of the house.

    Since 2014, trees have been removed in 2016 and a boundary wall built in the front of the house in 2017.

    We had installed a carport in 2001. We also remodeled the kitchen and en-suite bathroom.

    The carport was built in 2001 and for a long time had a basketball board and hoop attached. The beams were clad in 2014.

    In 2007 we had a break-in. Prior to this we had a dog, a Jack Russell cross, that was presumably a deterrent to anyone breaking in, and then he died. From that time we had at least three break-ins. On the first occasion in 2007. Richard, at age 14, came home from school and found that someone had been rummaging in drawers. He came in through the front door and found the house in a mess. He then found that the side gate was open and there were things lying on the front lawn, presumably from the person running away, so he would have frightened the person who, fortunately, did not attack Richard, but simply ran away. Cell phones, jewellery and other things were stolen. He kept his cool and called his Dad who advised him to call the police. It is apparent that the thief was in the house and fled when Richard got home, and Richard was protected during the ordeal. He handled this all very well.

    In 2009 we installed security gates and caged ourselves in. We installed a new stronger gate for the front door, and the afdak at the side of the house was extended and caged in. A trellis gate
    was installed for the bedroom sliding door. The gate at the other side of the house was moved from the back to the front of the garage.
    The security gate for the bedroom sliding door.

    In 2012 we had another break-in where one burglar bar was bashed in to gain entry. Two laptops were stolen together with other smaller things. We then engaged the services of ADT, the security company, with a burglar alarm.

    During 2013 and 14 we did further work - the house was painted inside, the lounge ceiling had been knotty pine strips and we installed a ceiling beneath this, painted white. The main bathroom was remodeled. New gutters were installed.

    Some of the work that was done inside the house during 2013-2014

    The house after painting and before the gutters and cladding were done.

    Work in the main bathroom

    Laminated flooring and painting in the passages and lounge.

    During 2016 we had a number of large trees removed, most particularly those that would impact the house such as the tall palm tree that could cause serious damage if it should blow over, and tree roots that would affect the walls or foundations.
    The palm tree that was cut down. The house can also be seen as it was before the renovations in 2013-2014.

    During 2017 Sally was threatened by someone who broke into the house. Fortunately Richard was home studying for exams and attacked the attacker who fled after snatching Sally's cell phone. We were in the process of building a boundary wall in the front of the house. The wall was completed soon after the break-in.

    The motor for the rolling driveway gate was stolen in 2018. Great skill was used - if only the person who stole it would use that skill to build society rather than only thinking of self.

    During 2018 we installed four rainwater tanks to harvest as much as 10 000 litres of rainwater. These have all overflowed several times since then. We have used the rainwater for the washing machine and two toilets for most of the time. We also use rainwater in the garden and for washing the cars. We collect from 186.4 square metres of our 334.5 square metres (55.7%) and 229.1 square metres of the van Dorps' 403.1 square metres (56.8%). It should be easy to add our carport to the collection to increase our harvesting to include the carport, thus harvesting 69.5% of our roof area.

    Although it appears as though our house has been targeted - it seems to be the only house in our close neighbourhood that has been broken into, or at least had as many break-ins - we have been blessed. In about 1984 we made a decision that, since we had to choose between using part of our monthly budget for paying Fast Offering or paying short-term insurance for the contents of the house, I was impressed that we had a wonderful promise from the Lord. In Malachi 3:10-12 we are promised that if we bring our tithes and offerings into His storehouse that there might be meat in His house, that He would pour out a blessing that we would not have room enough to receive it, and He would rebuke the devourer for our sakes, and bless the harvest of our fields. The challenge in Isaiah 31 that I studied in Institute to place our trust in God rather than in the arm of flesh helped us to decide to place our trust in the protecting hand of Heavenly Father. We committed to Him that if we did not lose more than we would through the excess that we would have to pay to an insurance company in case of a claim, we would not be losing out, and we would pay more than the amount that we would have needed to pay in monthly premiums to an insurance company into Fast Offering. We always continued to pay our full tithes as well as other offerings. I believe that the Lord has not failed to bless us in accordance with our personal promise and faith. We have had losses, but would have had losses even if we had the best insurance. So, we paid our monthly contribution to Zion rather than to Babylon and trusted God to prevent losses, whereas an insurance company would at best reduce the inconvenience in the event of a loss. We did what we could to improve security and then trusted that the Lord would assist us with reducing the incidence of losses or problems that we might otherwise have.

    03 November 2019

    Matters relating to gas problems and low iron with my digestive tract

    I have had low iron for many years. That was a major reason for gastro-and colon-scopes that I have had. But I am also concerned about a gas or reflux problem where I seem to generate a great deal of gas in my stomach that I need to release or else it seems to cause my thoracic and abdominal muscles to ache a lot.

    I do not know if the low iron and gas are related, so I shall start describing the gas and then the low iron.

    I had scopes in October 2019 to look for a possible explanation for the low iron, but also with consideration for the gas/reflux problem. It does not seem to be typical acid reflux although I do occasionally have reflux where I taste bile or some food pushes up into my oesophagus or on rare occasions up into my mouth.

    I have learned that I need to release a lot of gas through belching, or else my muscles ache, and I interpret that to be gas entering my blood and muscles. I will have really strong burps several times during the day, usually about five or ten in short succession, and five to ten or more times per day. I have tried Gaviscon, but that does not seem to help very much. Gaviscon, Rennie and Eno Fruit Salt do not sort out the problem although they might relieve it a bit. My physician prescribed Choleste, but that seemed to aggravate the problem because it suppressed the burping apparently resulting in more gas entering the blood and muscles. I have recently tried Gasgon that I saw in the pharmacy, but I am not sure that it really helps - I do taste the fish oil that repeats on me, but it might aggravate the muscle pain because of suppressing the gas release.

    Shortly after I started the Gasgon, the gastro-enterologist who undertook the scopes prescribed Progast, so I switched to that on 18 October. I am not sure that the Progast is really sorting out the problem, but it is possibly too early to comment. It  might be aggravating it, again because of suppressing the burping and keeping the gas in the stomach.

    I have been recording my food intake since 29 July 2019 to see if I can see trends or causes, but to date I cannot really draw conclusions. There have been no days with no burping. I typically eat simple food with plenty of fruit. There are not really many foods in my diet that are normally associated with flatulence. My symptoms do not seem to match the typical symptoms indicated for these two medicines:
    • Abdominal pain and cramps - Occasional
    • Heartburn and acid reflux - I do not often have heartburn. I do not often have acid reflux, as mentioned above. Gasgon seems to possibly aggravate this as I taste the fish oil repeating on me, but I would not say that it is chronic.
    • Bloating and flatulence - sometimes windy, less often smelly winds. Sometimes feel bloated
    • Chronic constipation - Occasional
    • Nausea and vomiting - Occasional
    • Irritable bowel syndrome - 
    Gastrointestinal disorders indicated specifically for Gasgon:
    • Dyspepsia - I have some of the symptoms, but most specifically belching and gas.
    • Mouth ulcers - Occasional
    • Gastric discomfort or pain - Occasional
    I do not consume alcohol, tea or coffee, cola drinks, nor do I smoke. I occasionally have rooibos, and sometimes the one with senna. I generally sleep well. I do not often have carbonated drinks. I sometimes have poor bowel movements, but this problem normally settles, possibly because I eat a lot of fruit and fibre. I exercise regularly, usually eat three meals daily and do not often nibble between meals. I generally do not eat fried foods, beans or legumes (most often peanut butter), processed foods, sugar free sweeteners. I do use milk (usually low fat), yoghurt, cheese. I generally use canola margarine and rarely butter or animal fats.

    Diarrhea is rare, normally associated with an illness. I am not aware of any food intolerance. I do eat a fair amount of wheat products, but am not aware of problems associated with that, for example I am not aware of a lessening of symptoms when I do not have wheat for a few meals. I remember at school having gas bubbling through my intestines, but I rarely experience this now.

    I decided to try going without my Lansaloc (specifically for acid reflux) and Simvastatin (for cholesterol) medication during April 2018 but decided that the Lansaloc certainly does seem to help with the acid reflux. Upon hearing of someone who had his gall bladder removed and then had much less back pain, I felt it worth seeing if the acid reflux type problems and pains from gas in the muscles might be associated with gall bladder, but other than a benign cyst on my left kidney, the gall bladder and other abdominal organs appear to be fine.

    I was doing some work on the lawn in the past two days that involved my squatting on my haunches and exerting effort pushing grass sods and I found that it was unpleasant as there were several occasions that food was being pushed back up from my stomach.

    I think that my mother may have had, and at least one sibling may have a similar condition relating to the gas/reflux that I have. The thought occurred to me recently that, as I bake bread, I use yeast that produces carbon dioxide in the process of fermentation. Could there be some yeast or fermentation occurring in my gut, producing the gas? Is there something that can or ought to be done to get rid of it, or do I simply accept it and live with it?

    Now, regarding the low iron: I started to donate blood in 1972, initially not very regularly, but in later years I was a reagents donor and donated every 8, 10, 12 or more weeks, but usually about five times each year. I donated more than 150 times and stopped donating last year (2018) because of the low iron, more specifically low ferritin as my haemoglobin was usually sufficient that I could donate blood. I reached 75 donations in 1994, 125 in 2005, 153 in 2018. My ferritin levels improved after stopping donating, but are still lower than they should be. I had many tests and scopes in 2009 for checking the cause of the low iron. I had another gastroscopy and colonoscopy in 2013 that confirmed that there is no obvious cause of the iron deficiency.

    I frequently took iron Ferrimed tablets or capsules over the years, but not consistently. In 2017 I had an infusion of Venofer, and received 9 x 5 ml intravenous infusions over a period of five months. The physician prescribed Sideral Forte 15 which I started taking 16 September with a break for a few days before my previous scheduled scopes, but commenced them when the scopes were postponed, then stopped them a week before the scopes. To date I have had about 40 capsules, one per day since 16 Sep.

    There were about three occasions when the blood transfusion service found that my haemoglobin was too low to donate. There were also a few cases where my wife Sally who is a family doctor, or the physician, advised that I not donate blood for a few months in order for my iron levels to increase.

    There would probably be a record at Western Cape Blood Transfusion Service of those times that I could not donate. I might have more information in my various journals, but it will be quite a search to find it.

    I hope that this gives some information that might help someone with similar symptoms of the gas problem or the iron deficiency problem.