• Danielle Bitton

The Aftermath

The most interesting thing happens to you when you are suddenly no longer in "freeze mode" in fight or flight when it's no longer about life and death. You survived and now you start to thaw.


With that thawing comes an immense release of adrenaline often in the form of tears.

I was going away for the weekend and for the first time in about a year I opened my bottom drawer, home to my collection of bikinis I had been collecting for many years. I had a bit of an obsession with bikinis as I was a sun worshipper and collected them on all my travels. They were like strangers staring back at me, I tried all of

them on but could only find about 2 that fit. My breasts are no longer as malleable as they used to be. They feel more like the expanders, rigid and less moveable.



It was really hard, I sat on the floor and cried, it was the first time I really mourned what was. My mother suggested we go look for a full piece which was also really difficult as it was a struggle to fit into things. Luckily I found one swimsuit and told my mother I didn't want to do this anymore, I would resume shopping when my breasts were at their final stage of reconstruction.


I had enough for now and knew that this too shall pass, I just needed that moment to release.


I was just starting to feel a sense of normality end of November, beginning of December as I booked a DJ residency at Mynt Cafe on the Camps Bay Strip. There was such a vibe and it felt like summer. I must say I let my guard down a bit but after hearing our presidents speech two weeks later I started to up my Covid game. The next gig I played I wouldn't let any of the patrons come up and speak to me (I was like Whoaaaa- Social distance!) I played on the Day of Reconciliation Public Holiday on Wednesday 16 December and was so excited for my Weekend Sets on Saturday and Sunday but unfortunately, the "Po Po" (Police) shut us down, no more DJ's on the Camps Bay Strip. I guess rightly so, people were loving my tunes so much I had to instruct them that if they couldn't control their urge to dance, that they should dance by themselves at their table. What Universe are we living in? I mean it's nuts, that this is the new normal.


I will be the first one to tell you that I was OCD and petrified of this virus at the beginning of the pandemic. I watched the news constantly and rightly so as I was vulnerable and having chemo.

Let's be honest, a lot of us chilled out a bit there, didn't we? I mean in September I was at The Grand Beach dancing the Jerusalema Challenge with people.


Covid Fatigue was and is real! Everyone is over this shit, we want to LIVE again, I wanted to gig again and then the harsh reality hit.


I went to the market at the Waterfront on Saturday and sat near my friends and in all honesty, there were periods we weren't wearing masks. Now before all the Karin's out there lose their shit, know that it was for the purpose of eating my Sheckters Raw Pumpkin Pancakes! I decided to go to a friends show at the Kalk Bay Theatre on Sat night, I had my mask on for most of the evening while my brother sat with his off for the entire show.


It was really hot on Sunday and Monday with gale-force winds and I had complained to my mother the week prior that I had terrible allergies and noticed that they tend to flare up when it's hot and windy. On Monday evening I helped a friend film something and went to my mom's place for a cup of tea. She gave me one of my favourite Angel Heart biscuits and I couldn't really taste it, I thought it was just allergies.


When I couldn't smell or taste the braai or garlic bread the next evening, I knew something was up and I started to panic.

"My Corona!!!!!"


Could it be? I found out that 2 of my other friends had similar symptoms severe allergies, in the beginning, no taste and smell, Sinusitis feeling and then it moved to their chests.


I was lucky to get a test at Mediclinic the next day which came back positive.

Aaah 2020 The gift that keeps on giving, Cancer, Chemo and just in time for Christmas, Corona!!!

The thing is I didn't feel sick, it just felt like bad allergies and I couldn't taste and smell.


We are living in very amplified times, I did feel like I had leprosy with the Rona or like I caught a really bad STD having to tell everyone I was in contact with 2 days prior that I was positive.

I did my 10 days in isolation and thank goodness my symptoms were mild.

I prayed to God every day that my taste and smell would return as I heard horror stories of people losing it for months!


Let's just talk about this for a second, as a Jewish woman, my number one sensual pleasure in life is EATING! I love food, I have a very discerning palate and I know good food! You don't realise how much we look forward to eating and experiencing this gift of taste, whether it be sinking your teeth into some juicy mango, or watermelon on a hot summers day, or a succulent piece of meat on the braai, a fresh garden salad, a cup of tea or coffee, or a piece of sweet Cadburys chocolate until you lose it


If you haven't had the Rona imagine life without flavour, it a pretty bland existence let me tell you!

It's like all the colour has been drained out of your life and it's just black and white, well in my case sweet and salty. I could only differentiate between the two.

Watermelon was like a juicy sugary sponge, biltong just tasted salty, peanut butter and chocolate were unrecognisable besides for their texture like clay on my tongue.

My favourite cup of Joko tea with milk tasted like sugar water.

I couldn't even smell or taste garlic however I could register the acidity in a pickle and a sip of red wine which was interesting, I cut an onion and my eyes didn't even water.

It is the most bizarre thing, luckily I could taste sweet and salty other friends couldn't even register that. So I add more sweetener and salt to whatever I ate.

I know this is a serious pandemic and people are dying but there are also some of us who have experienced mild symptoms and I ask your permission to indulge in some comic relief as this year has been a heavy one for most of us .


So ladies, on the upside if you catch the Rona and are one of the chosen few to lose your taste and smell, use it as an opportunity to get a new Covid symptom known as

"The Covid Shed" it's never been easier to lose those Covid curves when you have no cravings for foods you can't taste.


So what do you eat when you are "Covidik" (my new Yiddish term for "sick with Covid")

Well anything sweet or salty with not much room for interpretation as there is none to work with.


Here's my "Covidik" no taste and smell tried and tested diet.

1.Jewish Penicillin, also known as Chicken soup. (or as the new age hippies call it "Bone Broth"

2. Kellogs K (with sucralose and low fat milk) who needs the extra calories when you can't taste?

3. Potatoes with feta

4. sweet potatoes ( orange) with honey

5. toast and jam.

6. Roast chicken with

A shit ton of salt on everything!


And if you lose the desire completely to eat embrace the NPM (Nil Per Mouth) method. I must tell you I was feeling very lean after a week.


I sniffed essential oils every day praying for a miracle, and by day 7 I got a whiff,

I was so excited I did the hora by myself in my apartment.

By day 8 or 9 it started to return, Baruch Hashem!!!!


I spent NYE at home which was the first time in a long time that I didn't have a gig.

I think for the whole year I have just been in survival mode in my breast cancer bubble and only after my surgery did the harsh reality of the pandemic, being an entertainer with no work hit me.


I am digging into my investment savings now which is scary but thank God I have some!

I am keeping myself busy painting and doing graphic design work so if you want a commissioned work of art or graphic design work done or website development, I am your girl! The hustle is real.


I am working on a Caberet Concert with my good friend Caely Joe Levy and Godfrey Johnson in April,so watch this space.


I also have my second reconstruction Surgery coming up in February, I am praying I am allowed elective surgery.


So thats all I can report at the moment,

Please all stay safe and look after yourselves and for those who have loved ones who are in critical condition I am praying they recover swiftly.


Sending you all so much love and I pray for your good health

<3

Dani

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