My Story: Fiona Thiart


It all started on 24 March. I was busy hanging curtains, when my foot slipped off the chair and I banged the left side of my jaw against the windowsill. At the local clinic I was told to get X-rays as my jaw might be cracked, but I didn’t think it could be that serious.

Two days later my face was swollen and I was in excruciating pain. After another trip to the hospital, I was referred to a dentist who gave me pain pills and antibiotics for the abscess that had formed.

The swelling persisted and the pain was so unbearable that I went back to the dentist. She pierced and drained the abscess. The following day I felt so tired I could barely stand and it felt as if someone was sitting on my chest.

I called a friend, begging him to come and get me. On his way to my house he called an ambulance and they arrived at the same time. I still remember the paramedics lifting me on the gurney, but after that everything went black as I slipped into a coma.

The doctors would later tell me that the toxins from the abscess had seeped into my body, causing my lungs, kidneys and pancreas to fail. The doctors at Kalafong Hospital in Pretoria worked frantically to save my life, but they also told my family I might not make it.

After about two weeks, I came out of my coma, but I’d have to spend another five weeks in hospital. The worst was that I was away from my four-year-old daughter, Jacqueline. I knew that she was in good hands staying with her grandparents, but I couldn’t bear the thought of her being orphaned. Her father, Jacques, died in a motorcycle accident while I was still pregnant with her. I was determined to get better for my little girl.

My road to recovery was difficult and I’m still not one hundred present. While in hospital I suffered a stroke and had to learn how to walk again. I’m back on my feet now, but I still need a walking stick to get around. I was at death’s door, but managed to pull through thanks to the support of my friends and family. I feel God gave me a second chance, to be there for my daughter, and for that I’m grateful.

-Petro-Anne Vlok

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