I Survived Tuberculosis

Do you ever hear people telling you a story about tragedy, and you think to yourself, ”well, that’ll never happen to me…” I remember when my dad told me about his cousin drowning whilst white-water rafting, and i thought to myself, ”i’m a strong swimmer, if i were in that situation i’d be fine…” Well he was a strong swimmer too, and he died.  I think we all feel like Hercules, until we’re reminded how fragile we are.

Receiving the incorrect treatment for TB

Receiving the incorrect treatment for TB

Where do i start… wow…. 2015 was a very difficult year and i haven’t really spoken about it till now. My father was also sick, he had clots on his lungs, and then i was diagnosed with TB. This isn’t a rant (even if it seems that way in some parts) I really just want to create awareness about TB, just so anyone who needs to read this story knows they’re not alone, and it could possibly help diagnose people sooner if you know what questions to ask at the beginning of the whole process.

So lets start from the beginning shall we… I remember sitting in my car one day (2014), i was in the parking lot at my current employer at the time. I was texting my brother saying that i have this weird cough, but its just sitting in my throat, and i distinctly remember telling him that it’s not flu. It was just a niggling phlegm type cough, but it attacked my voice-box, because i’d always have to clear my throat before speaking to someone, as the phlegm would arrest my voice. It was very embarrassing and annoying having to constantly clear my throat all the time, i felt like people around me were starting to notice it happening more and more frequently. I think in about April 2014, i went to see my GP, explaining the cough to him. He told me i had asthma and gave me an inhaler (bronchodilator), but also sent me to get a chest x-ray. The x-ray was 100% clear.

I used this inhaler for a while, but the cough persisted (it hadn’t gotten worse at this stage yet). So, i decided to visit another GP down the road for a second opinion (July 2014). I remember the conversation i had with him. I simply told him, ”i’ve been coughing for months.” He sat back in his chair and looked up from my file and he repeated, ”for months?” So he told me to get an x-ray of my chest, and if there was any abnormality they’d ask for a sputum sample. The x-ray was 100% clear, and he told me i had asthma, and gave me two more inhalers.

October 2014: at this time i had been unemployed for about 4 months and my final exams were the following month. This is when the disease started getting worse (gradually at first). We had a fire braai/barbecue the one day, and the next day i felt like i could hardly breathe. I knew i was sensitive to smoke, as i’ve felt similar discomfort after being around my friends who smoke, but this was way worse. I returned to my original GP, and after looking in my throat his words were, ”wow, you’ve got a very nasty pharyngitis.” He gave me antibiotics to treat the infection – and this is exactly why the TB disease got exponentially worse from here. If you give someone the wrong antibiotics when they have TB, it just antagonises the disease and makes it more immune to treatment. So these incorrect antibiotics were basically feeding the TB and making it stronger within me (little did i know).

Fantastic, i wrote my final exams in November 2014 and i passed, woohoo! But wow, we arrived in December of 2014, and my brother had just left for a week-long holiday in New York. The coughing was just persistent, and exhausting. My stomach muscles ached, my heart rate was constantly over 100 bpm, and i’d be panting with fatigue wherever i walked, as though i had just completed a marathon, when i had only just gotten out of bed. I slumped my back against the kitchen wall, my mom was busy with something. I just started crying and i slid down the wall till i was sitting on the floor. My mom ran over to me and asked me what was wrong. I told her i just couldn’t breathe. It felt like i was slowly drowning. She lifted me and made me lie down in her bed, and told me that i was just tired and needed rest. I made a joke with her, telling her that i always get sick when my brother goes away, it must be some kind of separation anxiety or something.

Scratch test for allergies

Scratch test for allergies

My dad’s dad has emphysema from smoking, and my dad decided to book an appointment for me to see the same lung specialist that my grandfather was seeing. The appointment was for late January 2015. So the first thing the specialist did was this scratch test. They put different particles on a blade and scratch it into your skin (cat, pollen etc.) to see if you are allergic to any of those particles. If any of the scratches swell significantly in a 48 hour period, then you’re allergic to those particles. None of my scratches swelled… So we did a few more tests. Lung function tests. Every individual is given their own disposable mouth piece to clip onto the apparatus to do the test, but really i still question the hygiene of the equipment. I’d blow into the tube for a base reading, then they’d make me inhale one packet from the bronchodilator. This dilator had 60 packets inside it, so after i used it they just wiped the fixed mouth piece with a sanitary wipe so the next person could use it etc. until all the packets are used up… I’m pretty sure vapour from me sucking and blowing on that thing got trapped in the inhaler, now the poor person who sucked on it after me, wow are they in for a nasty surprise.

I had another x-ray at this time, yep you guessed it, it was 100% clear. So; the specialist also diagnosed me with asthma, gave me some inhalers and said they’d do the same tests in a month’s time to see if the inhalers improved the situation. Ok, so at this stage i’m starting to feel really silly about myself… It’s just asthma right, i can lead a normal life; so i decided to start gym again. I was walking on the treadmill for nearly two minutes and i felt like i wanted to collapse. I jumped off thinking i was having a heart attack or something, because collapsing after two minutes of walking is pretty pathetic by my normal fitness standards.

I started a new job in February 2015, and it was such a far drive everyday. The one time I was stuck in peak hour traffic, with the summer heat just baking down on me. My head fell against the window to the side and i started to close my eyes thinking, ”God, i feel like i’m dying, what is this…” When i returned to the specialist at the beginning of March, my situation had gotten worse. He booked me into hospital on the Thursday and started treating me with strong (incorrect) antibiotics, cortisone and two other pills i cant even remember. The nurses tried to put the drip in my left hand but it ripped out, there was literally blood everywhere, and i’m not the type of person to feel faint at the sight of blood, but with the other fatigue it made me squeamish. The blood continued to pulse out of me and i asked the nurse, ”um, are you going to fix that?” And she replied to me, ”yes dear, don’t worry its your blood.” I was totally flabbergasted. I wasn’t worried about it being mine or someone else’s blood – I damn well knew it was my blood; the point is i’m freaking bleeding out over here… Anyway, they fixed it, and my specialist said that they’d keep me over the weekend, and the weekend specialist would monitor me till he was back on Monday.

Getting Oxygen

Getting Oxygen

The chick in the bed next to me would make me smile and laugh. What a good soul. She had a hole in her heart and was waiting for a heart transplant; she also had epilepsy. My first two nights were ok, but Saturday night was horrific. When the nurses came round every few hours to check my stats, I heard the one whispering to the other the one time, ”why is her heard rate so high?” So of course i sat up when i heard them say that, and i saw them looking at the settings on the drip. My resting heart rate moved between 140-160 bpm every time they took my stats for the duration of my stay in hospital. That same night i went to the bathroom and i swear i saw my dead aunt sitting next to my bed. It was comforting, but i questioned my sanity a lot at this time.

The weekend specialist had come in to check up on me. I told him i had coughed up some phlegm and had it in the pill bottle in case he needed a sputum sample. He never took the sample, he said it wasn’t necessary. So i left it; feeling silly and paranoid. I was discharged Tuesday morning with a batch of pills to take. Over the next few weeks my body swelled. my face, my ankles, knees, just everything from the medication. I had the worst pains in my knees. It was like someone was scraping the underside of my kneecap with a blade. I couldn’t stand or walk. I cried the pain was so bad, i couldn’t sleep. I think it was gout or something from so much medication, but it was all the wrong medication. I was stuck in traffic on the highway and the knee pain started and i begged God not right now… please let me just get to work. It hurt so bad putting the clutch in and out. It was my graduation, and a friend called me while i was still in the car asking where i was. I told him i couldn’t get leave from work as i just started this job; so i missed my graduation – i wouldn’t have been able to sit through it with the pain anyhow.

Nebulizing at home

Nebulizing at home

April 2015: I was too afraid to fall asleep; i was afraid i might not wake up again. If i was asleep i’d just stop breathing; and i’d wake up the same way you’d surface from being underwater for a prolonged period; that giant gasp for air so badly needed. As i lay in bed that night, something terrifying happened. The grim reaper literally came up beside my bed, stooped so he was face to face with me and whispered, ”you’re gonna die…” then he just walked off and disappeared into black smoke, I shot out of bed with such a start, i forgot about the pain in my legs and collapsed as i tried to take my first few steps, my knees couldn’t support me. It was about another week before things got to the almost point-of-no-return. My heart rate remained in the hundreds. I just broke down crying, that feeling when you know it’s the end just hits you so damn hard. I would say i had just over a month left, and i’m not being dramatic. In that moment you just know… and everything is stripped away, the complexities of life just dissolve, and there is only simplicity, the core, and this calm from no where suddenly comes over you, and it’s actually quite beautiful, i can’t explain it, everything just makes sense in that moment – it’s just beautiful.

My dad rushed me to the hospital and a night specialist saw me, he said it was only a panic attack from the asthma restricting my breathing. That morning i was booked in for a CT scan. The results read, ”lower right lung damaged, possibly check for TB.” So it didn’t even show up on the CT scan… Guess what, i was finally asked to give a sputum sample, hooray! 2 GP’s and 3 specialists later, all with nothing to show for all their years of studying and experience… I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Their excuse was that i was a white middle class girl and it didn’t make sense for me to have the disease. Wow, i really don’t think viruses and bacteria judge their host based on those arbitrary factors, but i guess they all felt pretty stupid and had nothing else to say for themselves.

You have to take pills for 6 months to kill TB, if you don’t do the proper course you could develop the drug resistant strain and you may die from it. I took 4 pills a day for the first 2 months, and then 2 pills a day for the remaining 4 months. The treatment itself was horrible too. My hair was falling out, it causes discolouration of all your fluids (eyes, urine etc. all get a weird orange/pink tinge), and many other side effects that i don’t care to relive at this time.

All i can say is that i am blessed, TB is the third deadliest infectious disease in the world. No one else in my immediate family got infected through me, and that is a true miracle, as my mom has epilepsy and she isn’t allowed to take any antibiotics. The bottom line is i had a misconception about the disease, i thought you had to be coughing up blood, or that it’d show up on an x-ray. I never coughed up blood, i never lost weight, it didn’t show on the x-rays or CT scan, but i did have TB. If you want to eliminate it and have closure, then ask for a sputum sample straight up. It can also attack your other organs, not just your lungs. Also, don’t let other ‘qualified’ people make you question your sanity, don’t let them make you believe that nothing serious is wrong or that you’re over-reacting. You know your body! And you’re not crazy!

I am happy that i almost died; i know that sounds crazy, but i have a way better perspective on the world and on life. I feel like those people who have had near-death experiences or have suffered through something end up being the nicest people in life, as the experience moves the unknown within you and everything becomes clearer, all wasted energy on petty trifles is instantly drained from you and it’s so refreshing. I can’t explain it, but it’s unique yet unmistakable; death is a lot like love – you’ll know when it’s found you.

✘ Hack It! ✘

Necroa Virus

I recently bought the Necroa Virus add-on to the Plague Inc. video game, which is the zombie pathogen. For those of you who are not familiar with the game, you basically choose a pathogen class to evolve, infect and destroy humanity. I named my Necroa Virus ‘Venom’. As you mutate the symptoms of the virus, the host’s brain starts to visibly change, as shown in the below cross-section progression:

Necroa Virus as Severity Increases

Necroa Virus as Severity Increases

I chose my patient zero to be geographically located in the UK. Since the UK is a major logistics hub on a global scale, my infected vector took hardly any time at all to spread the virus:

Geographic Spread of my Virus

Geographic Spread of my Virus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the spread of my Venom Necroa Virus was so exponential, the global news picked up on it pretty quickly, and several countries started to work on a cure:

In Global News My Virus was Identified

In Global News My Virus was Identified

Up until this stage of the game, people had only been infected with the virus, and no one had yet been killed. However, due to mutating the abilities of the virus over time, the severity and lethality increased to the point where the virus was causing deaths. Only when infected vectors die can you convert them into zombies, which i obviously proceeded to do:

I'll Be Back - The Dead Come to Life

I’ll Be Back – The Dead Come to Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see above that i evolved my zombies to employ horde instinct and mentality to swamp countries and spread the virus – you can see the pop-up of a zombie swarm hitting Australia above. During the spread of your virus, you will receive information on global happenings. Notably (if you choose the Necro Virus pathogen class) after a while one country will set up ‘Z Com’, which is a project set in motion to combat the spread of the virus. As you will see in the consolidated information feed below, Z Com was set up in Mexico during my game, and i was successful in overthrowing them:

Information During Spread of Virus

Information During Spread of Virus

Even though i was able to overthrow Z Com, i still was unable to infect and destroy the global population in totality. The leading research countries were able to find a cure for the virus, and overall 3 percent of the global human population survived my zombie apocalypse (they probably had Gordon Freeman on their team or something):

3% of Humanity Survived

3% of Humanity Survived

You can download Plague Inc. on your phone. You get standard plague types with the game, but the following plague types require special download: Neurax Worm, Necroa Virus, Simian Flu and Unknown. I think in US$ it cost me about $3 to get the special Necroa Virus download. Let me know if you’ve played any of these special plagues and how successful you’ve been in attempting to eradicate humanity with your apocalypse.

✘ Hack It! ✘

My Night Time Dreams

Sometimes when I dream at night; it’s not a dream at all. It will feel as though I’m experiencing a very real moment. As soon as I realise that I may be dreaming; or that my current experience is outside the realm of what is acceptable ‘reality’; I usually wake up / become the normal sort of conscious.

Dream 1: 3D Wire-frame World

I must have just fallen asleep when this experience happened. I was in my bed; facing the wall. The more I stared at the wall the more it began to transform before me. The corner edge where the wall at the head of my bed met the wall along the length of my bed was no longer a seamlessly straight line. Irregular pockets along the walls started to recess; caverns started to form; jagged edges started to protrude. The architectural deformation of my bedroom occurred simultaneously with changes in my surrounding’s colours and lighting. Everything went dark green – almost grey. The topography of my bedroom’s raised and hollow surfaces was highlighted by a light-grey/green grid layered on top of the darker background. It was as though a 3D Cartesian Plane had been wallpapered throughout my bedroom. The wire-frame model that had become my surrounding world was not the strangest thing I experienced that evening. Three white-hot silhouetted figures were standing in the vacancy of the massively growing cavern in the corner of my room. I’m certain that the largest of the three figures was reaching out to me. At this point, I started to convince myself that this was not real – and that was not a good idea… The strain I experienced in trying to mentally fight off this ‘dream’ almost forced my body into a seizure (at least it felt that way). By the time I had ‘woken up’ and the view around me had normalised; I was already sitting upright in my bed, flailing my arms, punching at or swatting off something or someone who clearly wasn’t there (maybe they were there; just in a parallel dimension incomprehensible to us when awake). Maybe this is how the world really looks, and we humans just see a cosmetically beautiful world draped over these wire-frames.

white light figures

White Light figures reaching out to me

3D Wireframe World

3D Wireframe World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream 2: I Am the Universe

Moving on… This one really gave me heart palpitations. I was lying on my stomach on my bed, facing away from the wall into the openness of my room. Again the view started to change dramatically. Everything had fallen away, there was no ‘ground’ – I was floating, consumed by darkness, surrounded by infinite Space. The dark, cold silence forced me to plank where I lay, using only my head to rotate my view. I saw planets, Nebulae and other matter in such crisp and beautiful detail. Either these objects or I was moving, because we were passing each other by (at times very quickly). I am sure I was stationary, only observing. How could I be alive in Space? I thought to myself, still breathing. A reply from an unseen genderless voice came from nowhere, ‘One day you will die, and this is what you will become. You belong to the Universe and one day you will return to it.’ That’s pretty much when the heart palpitations started. I woke up; again flailing my arms, trying to gain my balance and grip onto a fixed object (still thinking that I may be falling or drifting through Space). My eyes adjusted, and my bedroom seemed to be its normal self, but not trusting what I believed this dimension to be a delusion, my eyes darted back and forth from wall to wall with scrutiny – I knew this world was hiding the truth from me, just waiting for me to fall asleep again before revealing its authentic self.

I Am the Universe

I Am the Universe

Dream 3: The Universe Snaps Back

Never mind the Universe snapping back, when I experience this re-occurring dream, it feels as though my brain is collapsing on itself (obviously my mind is struggling to comprehend the magnitude and size of the Universe firstly, and secondly the unfolding scale of such a catastrophic event is equally incomprehensible to my human mind). So I’m in my bed, and somehow I end up visualising the Universe shrinking. Essentially I am the nucleus of the Universe, because it continues to shrink uniformly around me, with me being the end-point/core. It is like I have cast out a giant invisible fisherman’s net that starts pulling all matter toward me at an increasing rate. With this I see planets colliding, matter being obliterated, and nearer the end; the moon starts to fall from the sky and eventually gets violently compressed into the Earth. Pressure builds, and I cover my ears with my hands. In a foetal position I brace to be squashed like a poorly engineered Bathysphere under the weight of the deepest ocean. I wake up – freaking out as per usual. I sit up taking deep breaths to try and calm down. With this dream (and dream 4) I reluctantly get out of bed upon waking and sidle to my curtains. I open my curtains and peer out my window just to make sure that the sky looks ‘normal’. Although, whether the sky looked ‘normal’ or not, I’m not sure what difference it’d make, as I’m only human and wouldn’t be able to stop any apocalypse (it’ll probably just lead to me freaking out for my last five remaining minutes of life). I want to highlight; that akin to this dream (and dream 4), is a re-occurring dream of the sun exploding and engulfing us. It has a very similar unfolding and outcome so I wont go into it in detail.

Universe Collapsing

Universe Collapsing

Dream 4: Atom Bomb on the Horizon 

I’ll be lying in bed, and my curtains will literally be illuminated with an ominous orange glow. Naturally the light bothers me and sparks the negative kind of mystery/curiosity that prompts me to leave the warmth of my bed. Is there a wild fire or some rave party going on outside? I get to the curtains and hesitantly draw a narrow slit open. HELLO! SURPRISE! This is far worse than a wild fire (or a rave party 🙂 ). Flocks of agitated birds have been dispersed into the dimly lit sky. I wish I had the animal instinct of identifying all types of dangers, but all I am left with is paranoid thoughts. My windows start to shudder at the reverberation of a sinister force. I slowly back away from the glass. Instantly my concentration is pulled elsewhere, my eyes focus on movements beyond my window. High-reaching plumes of orange-hued ash tower over the horizon. My windows suddenly shatter with the force of a blast that knocks me painfully to my bedroom floor. I lay there staring at my nicked flesh. Shaking, sweating and paralysed with fear, I roll to face the opening where my glass window had once been. Rumbling. Roaring. Is that thunder? A volcanic eruption?  A pyroclastic flow starts to shroom in size, hungry to engulf everything in its path. The warm colours on the horizon grow in size and brightness, until I am forced to squeeze my eyes shut at the painful intrusion of light. The blistering tsunami of hot ash and gas rolls toward me, stripping life in its wake. As soon as its about to hit me, I wake up. I freak out. Then I actually go and check out my window to make sure our bordering parallel dimensions aren’t messing with me and hurting my feelings.

Atom Bomb on the Horizon

Atom Bomb on the Horizon

Dream 5: Seeing Dead People Returned to Their Former Glory

No, this dream is nothing like the movie The Sixth Sense. It is far less scary, yet still very ‘real’. Sometimes, when family members or identifiable celebrities in the world actually pass away, I may dream of them a little while after their passing. This dream does tie up to dream 2 above (the part about dying and what happens thereafter). Basically, any ailments you have in life will not accompany you after death. Also, you return to an age where you were at your prime/happiest (as decided by the individual themselves). This is because you belong to the Universe, and the Universe returns you to your former glory when your consciousness leaves your Earthly body. My grandmother had a disease that physically crippled her body. When I dreamed of her after she passed, she was young; walking fine and happy. My mom’s grandmother was in a beautiful garden; walking through it, young and at peace. I have never seen a movie where Christopher Lee was young, but I saw him in a dream where he was young, lush and laughing at someone’s conversation. I Googled him thereafter, and it was spot-on. I have had a lot of these dreams (too many to list here) and I have spoken to a few people who have had similar dreams.

I See Dead People

I See Dead People

Dream 6: Having / Hearing Full Memorable Conversations

Just because I hear voices doesn’t mean I’m crazy. Some of my best ideas/realisations/inspiration has come from a voice in the air. I was almost asleep the one evening, and I had been having an argument with the Almighty. I was rather upset. I was complaining and asking a lot of questions. Suddenly, when I was halfway between sleeping and awake, the voice replied to me. It gave me a business idea that was more than just a business; it was a solution to a huge global problem. I bolted upright in my bed looking for the source of this voice. I was alone in my bedroom. My heart was beating so fast (I was freaking out again), but eventually I looked up and thanked the mysterious voice for such a wonderful idea. I made a note of it on my phone so that when I awoke the next morning I’d be able to start working on it and expand it. This business is currently in its prototype stages.

Conversations With a Voice

Conversations With a Voice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream 7: Time Travel Lapse (Old Me Speaking to Young Me)

This is eerie with a bit of a cool twist. I was totally asleep by the time I started seeing this dream unfold. I was at my primary school (it looked the way it did when I was in primary school – it’s actually changed since then). I saw the young me standing there and talking to a circle of friends (whom I – older me –  didn’t recognise). Young me was laughing and happy, and eventually saw me (older me) staring at her. Younger me came to older me and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we knew how all of this was going to turn out? If we knew exactly what the future had in store for us?’ I smiled at her and replied, ‘But we do know… It all ends with the third world war, started (and dominated) by the (nation/country will not be named here).’ Young me looked at older me shocked. I was smiling maniacally at her, because I knew more than she did. I woke up then (you guessed it – freaking out).

Time Travel Lapse

Time Travel Lapse

Dream 8: Making Physical Contact

I had fallen asleep on my right side, and i was halfway between sleeping and awake again. Somehow I sensed that there was a figure behind me (between the remainder of my mattress and the wall). So suddenly i lifted my left arm in an elbow-jabbing motion, and i made contact with someones face – i swear i hit them in the jaw, they were lying next to me in bed and their face was getting so close to my face when i hit them. The impact was so real it woke me up and i rolled over to see this person’s silhouette fading away. They were gone, but the tingling sensation in my elbow remained, which led me to believe the impact was real, someone had been there (from another dimension). I couldn’t have hit the wall with a mere elbow jab motion as i was still half a meter from the wall even after full jab extension. I immediately and humbly apologized to the universe for causing harm to anyone who was watching over me (I didn’t want them coming back for revenge or anything).

Elbow Jab

Elbow Jab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream 9: The Grim Reaper Spoke To Me

I was so sick last year (2015), I don’t want to gripe, but it’s part of the story. I saw my GP in April/May 2014 for this phlegm cough I’d been having for some time. He gave me inhalers and said it was asthma (even though i’d never had asthma). In August 2014 I saw a different GP and he too gave me some inhalers and sent me for chest x-rays (they were clear). In December 2014 I collapsed when i couldn’t breath and my first GP said I had bad bronchitis and gave me anti-biotics. I booked to see a lung specialist in February 2015. He assured me it was asthma, even though my condition worsened after being hospitalized with all sorts of drugs for a week. It was March and I was back at home, feeling very much the opposite of Hercules. I fell asleep one night and in my dream I was in my bed awake. I saw this black fog of smoke swell at the floor by the window of my bedroom. The smoke at the floor created like a concealed portal or something, because straight up and out of this smoke rose a robed imperial figure (like a ring wraith). This guy is tall ok, like towering! I think he’d have to duck to fit through a door frame – he could probably fill out Darth Vader’s suit without hassle. His robe sleeves were slightly tattered i recall. For his size he was surprisingly majestic. He wafted over to me in the bed without noise and without any real effort of movement – I think he floated, he did’t even walk. I rolled over on my side to face him, but my eyes must have been at his knees or lower. So he bent over and tipped his head to the side so he was literally face to face with me (like maybe 5 cm from me). His face was masked, but not in the oh so traditional depiction of him. Even through the mesh of the mask I could feel his hot breath on my face, like steam creating vapor. His words were hissed in a neutral whisper, “you’re gonna die…” He had already turned back toward his pool of black fog, but before he reached it he had already also dissipated into black fog himself, before all the fog disappeared from the room entirely. Still in my dream; I saw myself bolt out of bed with fright and run to my parents room where I suddenly fell to the floor and saw myself die. My dad was holding my dead body on the floor, and i think it was heart failure or something. Then I actually woke up, sweating, trying to get my breath (since I was having trouble with oxygen due to this ‘asthma’). A month later I collapsed, and couldn’t breath (my dad rushed me to hospital), my resting heart rate was 140/150 for about a week. After a sputum sample and a lot of wasted time, I was finally diagnosed with tuberculosis. So even though seeing the Grim Reaper was a terrifying encounter, he can’t be that bad of a guy if he warned me about my own impending death. Maybe he was being arrogant in letting me know that he was coming for me, but it didn’t come off that way. His tone was pretty neutral, so I think he was doing the gentlemanly thing of warning me. So hey, maybe old Grim isn’t a villain, but really a misunderstood hero? He showed me the future, and in doing so saved my life (because after that I immediately sought another diagnosis for my illness, which proved to be the accurate identifier and proper treatment was thereafter able to commence, which healed me up 100%).

I Faced the Grim Reaper

I Faced the Grim Reaper

Dream 10: The Tree From Eden

During the day I had consulted a professional person’s advice about a moral dilemma I was in (it was nothing serious, just choosing to either lie or tell the truth about something which could affect the prosperity of my future). I wanted to tell the truth about the matter concerned, but the professional said I should lie, because the truth would cause more unnecessary problems for me and he didn’t see the point in it. Great, I was literally in two minds about the whole thing by the time I went to bed that evening. So, I fell asleep. I saw this lovely green well-manicured grass hill in my dream. Atop the hill there stood a lonely tree. So naturally I walked toward the tree… As I reached up into the branches of the tree to feel for an apple, this snake swooped down on me! It was hanging on the branch above me, but half of its body shot forward from the tree – toward me! Its fangs bared, as wide ajar as its jaw could be, it hissed maliciously at me only centimeters from my face. I actually remember throwing my head and neck uncomfortably back to avoid being bitten. Then the rest of my body followed suit and fumbled backward in avoidance. I woke up, kung-foo swatting around my face area – still believing I may be in danger. When I calmed down, I looked the dream up in a dream book. The book said, “someone in waking life is trying to steer you away from your morals…” Not bad hey? Needless to say, I decided to tell the truth when I finally got around to actioning the matter at hand the next day (I stuck to my moral, and I didn’t eat the apple).

Tree of Eden

Tree of Eden

Dream 11: I Know I’m Dreaming But I Don’t Wake Up Immediately 

I think I’ve mentioned lucid dreaming somewhere before in this article. It can be really terrifying, but also incredibly enlightening. In my dream I was walking in my backyard, and I noticed my neighbors house behind us was abandoned and pretty derelict – their bedroom walls inside and out seemed charred with black smoke. So I walked away from the boundary wall, and started toward my swimming pool. My mouth was dry, and the grass under my feet was like needles, sharp and painful. The grass was yellow/brown – a strange dead color for Summer. I scooped the thermometer out from the pool and the temperature on the gauge was 55 degrees Celsius! In the dream I said to myself then, “I must be dreaming”, knowing that if the water was that hot, that the actual temperature around me was far higher and I should have been dead. Strangely though, I just threw the thermometer back in the pool and carried on dreaming. I walked around the house and everything seemed weather-beaten or simply neglected over what must have been decades of time. There were pockets of beach sand around, but I live nowhere near the sea. Then I saw a group of “Mad Max” type people chasing weaker humans around down below my house in this beach sand. Boom! I woke up… A month later South Africa was experiencing one of the most severe droughts to strike the country. We’ve been going through water shortages, and there’s been food shortages in some regions due to crops failing in the drought. On Thursday the 7th of Jan I wet my sleeping shirt, wrung it out, put it in the freezer for 10 minutes and then put it back on before returning to bed – it was the hottest day recorded in Johannesburg and Pretoria history 40-42 degrees Celsius. I had a similar dream where my brother cashed in his shares at his company, and sure enough a week later he told me he had cashed in his company shares. My mom knew I had dreamt it a week earlier so we just looked at each other and smiled.

Post Apocalyptic Pool

Post Apocalyptic Pool

Seeing Things #1

When I was in hospital I saw a silhouetted lady sitting right up next to my bed (I was coming out of the bathroom). When I did a double-take to see who it was, she had vanished. I think it was my aunt (I see her often).

Seeing Things #2

I see the silhouette of a black cat walking around my house. Its always in the periphery and as soon as I try to look on it fully, it disappears. Sneaky phantom cat.

Maybe my brain is just over-active when I sleep. Do people have seizures in their sleep? Of course they do, I’ve read up on this. I’ve also read up on people having spikes in their neural activity whilst asleep.

So, basically I believe that when we are sleeping we are able to activate areas of our brain that are usually dormant – in doing this we are able to experience sensations/dimensions that are above /beneath our threshold of conscious perception. My conclusion is that these dreams may be real-feeling dreams, or real moments disguised as dreams, some I’m sure are warnings of the future. Have you ever experienced real night time dreams? Don’t be shy to share 😎

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Visualising Numbers

I thought of something a while ago; and I only managed to experiment with it recently. We all write down and read numbers in the same way (depending on how your culture learns to read and write). For example, I am English speaking and therefore read left to right; knowing that ‘0’ is a place-holder etc. and we write long division/multiplication etc. in similar acceptable defined ways.

The difference comes in when an individual visualises numbers in their mind. I know this sounds strange (and you’re probably visualising a sheet of paper with numbers written on it from left to right; and thinking ‘there’s nothing significant about that’).

However, there is something significant about how we visualise numbers in our minds. Forget the piece of paper, and forget about what numbers look like when you read and write. Close your eyes and count from 1 to 10 in your head. What did that sequence visually look like in your mind? Now think of the entire series of numbers between 1 to 100. What does that gap look like? How is the sequence laid out or filled? I asked a few of my friends to draw exactly how they visualise numbers in their minds – this was the outcome:

Me – Dr Slater:

Dr Slater Visualising Numbers

Dr Slater Visualising Numbers

For some reason; I stack groupings of numbers in zig-zag formation in my mind (going up then right). Initially, with smaller numbers, the separator stack will be a series of ‘teen numbers. As place holder groups get larger, I stack groups of similar 10s together (thousands go together, ten thousands stack together etc. where every subsequent stack is a zig or a zag in the overall counting sequence).

Dr Slater Summary Visualising Numbers

Dr Slater Summary Visualising Numbers

Nomti:

This chick is crazy (in my opinion), because trying to immerse myself in how she visualises numbers in her mind causes my eye to twitch. She initially counts left to right in groups of 10s, but then eventually her sequence snakes between groupings of 10s (she starts counting right to left).

Nomti Visualising Numbers

Nomti Visualising Numbers

Ryan:

Ryan is very practical and straightforward in the way his mind visualises numbers. He counts left to right and stacks groups of 10s together going down. His mind is largely uncluttered by crazy sequences like mine. If you tell him to visualise just one number; he will only have nearby milestone numbers surrounding that number (to give it context in the overall numerical sequence).

Ryan Visualising Numbers

Ryan Visualising Numbers

Danny:

Danny is similar to me in that there will be at least one stand-alone sequence before he starts stacking 10s of numbers (going down).

Danny Visualising Numbers

Danny Visualising Numbers

Some of you are probably bored or weirded out by me wanting to visualise numbers in my mind. I can reason with that – I also find numbers kind of boring. However, there has to be some deep interesting explanation as to why we all visualise numbers differently in our minds (and this is what truly intrigues me). The way in which each of us visualises numbers probably has a profound output in determining an individual’s analytical capabilities and problem solving abilities. For example; IQ tests usually determine how a person’s mind works (well or not), and not necessarily what you know (it’s not general knowledge or memory based etc.). Based on how I visualise numbers; you might think my mind is cluttered and poorly organised; and therefore my mind does not work well (low IQ). There is no admissible evidence to prove this link in my theory, but I do have hap-hazard thoughts!

Is there an expert in any relevant field related to this who can shed some light on this? Thanks guys!

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Natural Selection Evolution/Advancement Gap

I’ve discovered a very critical gap in human advancement (I’m not referring to the missing link; and please note – when i speak about ‘natural selection’ I am including non-biological inheritance as well; such as perfecting technological processes over time etc. based on existing knowledge and applications/studies of former generations uses of those technologies, sciences and medical practices).

Natural Selection Evolution/Advancement  Gap

Natural Selection Evolution/Advancement Gap

The Natural Selection Gap is inherent (it seems) in all of us. Again; I apologize if I offend anyone with what may be perceived as ‘human bashing’, and of course, these findings are based purely on my own observations (over the years) and opinions.

Part 1: The Clone Wars – Awaiting Order 66

Have you ever just looked at people? The way they behave, the way they speak to other people; have you ever just sat back and observed? I’m an observer. I often find myself on autopilot just analyzing other people from afar.

I struggle to understand what level people are operating on, because many (most) people have very little to no depth to who they are. Many people are the same. They behave the same, they’re complacent the same, and they’re the same kind of boring – which is VERY boring! Even when i meet  newpeople; I expect them to be the same (I secretly hope they’re not, but they usually are).

It has been a rare (and treasured) occurrence for me, when i have met people who are truly different – these encounters are special in a way that is deeply moving; especially when you’re expecting that everyone is going to turn out to be the ‘same’. This rant is necessary, because only people who think and behave differently will be successful contributors in helping to close the gap between the orange and blue lines (pictured above).

Part 2: Titan AE – Get the Space Arks Ready

So, as you may or may not know, we are currently going through our 6th mass extinction. Apparently, if this downward trend continues; humans will be one of the first species to perish when a new order of trophic cascade is established – unless we can somehow evolve into extremophiles.

Convincing the vast majority that the environment is just as important as the economy seems to be a bridge too far. So, how about this ultimatum: ask the aliens to intervene in human advancement, to ensure positive progression.

I don’t care whether you’re religious or not, but we have to acknowledge that there are greater powers at work in the Universe. Sometimes things exist and happen to us that we just cannot explain – let alone emulate. I believe in the Universal memory, or Universal consciousness. By this I mean; I believe I can tap into memories of past beings (through dreaming); and have visions of other real worlds and beings existing now (through my ‘imagination’ or getting ‘inspiration’). We are not alone; the Universe sees and knows everything.

Let’s be honest; we cannot recreate life (once it is lost), or if we can (cloning/stem cell transplants etc.) – we cannot recreate it to nearly the same perfection as it has been bequeathed to us by a higher power. We need to shift our morals and values to ensure that the degradation of the environment stops. We can be a lesser deity in preserving nature, rather than a greater monster in destroying it.

Part 3: The Matrix is Real – Unplug 

Heard this all before have you? They call it déjà vu – it’s a glitch in the Matrix; and that’s exactly where you’re living; in the Matrix.

The world has evolved in such a way that it has created a trap for the timeline of your life/existence – even before you’re born. You will go through a predetermined sequence of events that the majority of humans face (school, university, a job that takes up all your time which you probably hate) – I would liken this to an ant or a bee; continuing in a pre-programmed fashion for the benefit of only a select ‘privileged’ minority. Welcome to modern day slavery.

Obviously; it is near impossible to change the way the global economy has evolved, and because humans are largely a product of their environment; it would be very difficult to expect the majority of people to shift their morals and values in any direction. I am bold enough to say that I feel this complacency of continuing to live in ‘the Matrix’ is bred out of fear. People will most certainly complain about the Matrix they live in; but they will never implement any pro-active change. Most humans want their security and comfort; and by going against the grain and living outside the margins of established acceptable society; they are afraid of losing something (I’m not sure what, because by living in the Matrix – allowing pre-programmed established society to control you – you have already lost yourself).

Part 4: Skynet – Sinister Intelligence 

The nucleus of who we are, and everything we’re working towards; starts with simple morals and values.

It is unfortunate to say; that a lot of people in the world lack these basic building blocks. And no; a lack of education etc. is not a limiting factor of being able to showcase good manners and respect. In certain cases it can be quite the opposite; where someone with a successful title and privileged background gets transported to such a level of haughtiness; they think these basic values and morals are beneath them.

We cannot hope to achieve positive progression as a species if we keep ignoring these basics (which, if employed correctly, should allow us to evolve into the superior beings that we’re capable of becoming). Sure, you probably argue that we already are superior beings, because we are smarter than all other species on the planet. Don’t forget, humans are also smarter at being evil.

I was watching the news one night; and I said to my dad, “It seems that people are the cause of most of the problems in our world…”

My father sat forward on the couch; nodded contemplatively and replied, “Yes, but it is also people who will solve those problems…”

Let’s close the gap!

✘ Hack It! ✘

Merchandise Monday #30

This is a model diorama of the Apollo 11 landing! I love all things space/astronomy so i couldn’t ignore this:

Apollo 11 Landing

Apollo 11 Landing

My brother builds WWII dioramas; and a lot of work goes into making a scene look authentic (building, painting and proportions of other objects in scene etc.):

Aerial View

Aerial View

I really want to do a full space scene transition. Like a diorama of the Cape Canaveral launch site; then moving onto a shuttle in space with an astronaut doing a space walk; and lastly a proper version on the moon landing scene:

Apollo 11

Apollo 11

Does anyone else build model dioramas/landscapes? Share your projects with us 🙂

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Wormholes

Here is a quick post explaining how wormholes function (for those of you who wanted more information on them):

Wormhole

Wormhole

The wormhole in the film Interstellar was based on real science; as explained below:

Interstellar Wormhole

Interstellar Wormhole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought only anti-matter could pass through a wormhole; so if this does become possible one day it’s going to be truly fascinating.

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Superimpose Saturday #12

Japan has designed an underwater city! Over-population will be a problem in the near future; and if we can no longer build up; then we must build under:

Infra Spiral and Blue Garden

Infra Spiral and Blue Garden

Would you be concerned living in a city under the sea? I would love to visit an under-water city, but with Japan being in the earthquake/tsunami zone; i’m not sure that my stay would be permanent:

Inner Atrium and Promenade

Inner Atrium and Promenade

I’m sure the above design was inspired by some of our favorite fantasy/sci-fi water cities. Here are my top 3:

1. Rapture:

Thank you Andrew Ryan for this architectural masterpiece:

Rapture

Rapture

2. Otoh Gunga:

On the planet of Naboo the Gungans have some sophisticated bubble buildings:

Otoh Gunga

Otoh Gunga

3. Atlantica:

This magical kingdom can be found beneath the Atlantic Ocean. You’d need gills to live there, but hey 🙂

Atlantica

Atlantica

Which is your favorite underwater city (it can be from outside of my list). I bet Numenor has some cool underwater buildings since it sank 😎

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A New View of the Sun

I am one of those silly people who sometimes looks at the Sun. I know it’s bad; i don’t stare for long. It just has to do with my fixation of space. Here are some new beautiful images of our Sun taken from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

SDO Sun Images

SDO Sun Images

The ultraviolet and x-ray images received by the SDO craft are helping scientists to understand the internal motion of the giant ball of burning gas:

X Ray of Sun

X Ray of Sun

If you would like to see more stunning images of our star; including timelapse videos; then please follow this link.

✘ Hack It! ✘