It’s a year and three months since it happened, and I was in hospital for three months. I came out with still a lot that I had to do myself. So I had to sort of be in rehab for eight months, and a lot of that rehab was just simply being able to open my mouth. When I left hospital I couldn’t even open my mouth. I could get one finger in and that was it. So I had to, on a daily basis, jack my mouth out with those splint sticks and put them in one on top of the other until — it wasn’t very attractive I can tell you — but until I had about 19 in my mouth and you just see tears rolling down my cheeks. And that was to be able to get my mouth open. For many reasons, just to eat. Dereck had been told when I was in hospital that I would never eat again because my epiglottis had folded backwards, and then of course I had all these holes in my throat. So for two and a half months they fed me through the jugular, so nothing went into the stomach at all.
But you know, it was all part of the healing phase. I kind of put myself into neutral. I said, “This is what’s going to be,” but I wasn’t going to use this time when I was lying in hospital. I thought, “Why am I here? What is it? What do we need to stop and reflect on?” And there were many things. I mean, we had got to the point, probably two months before, that we were feeling really desperate about where we are on this planet. So we needed to clearly get ourselves out of that depression, because you can’t be effective if you are in that phase.
The other thing is that I started looking at the women that were looking after me. Obviously I had seven surgeons and they were phenomenal, but the nursing sisters, each and every one came from a different place in Africa. So it gave me an opportunity to chat with them, to find out who they were, what their lives were like, and it was a little bit of an investigation on what’s happening to women. And it was sad. They’re very proud of who they are and very passionate about their job, but they all had hard lives, and a lot of the hardship was that they weren’t respected in Africa. You know, a patriarchal society through many parts of Africa.