This was not only my biggest setback but also my biggest victory in my life.

It was an afternoon in November 2014. I was doing consulting in Kathu, at one of the largest opencast iron ore mines in the world. I left a very stressful meeting at half past four to collect a parcel at the airport. When I had to swipe my access card at the mine’s security exit, it fell out of my hand. I tried again, but the same thing happened.

I eventually got through the gate but stopped a few hundred metres away. My colleague, Johan, asked me what was wrong, but I couldn’t reply. He gave me his cell phone to type my response but could only random letters.

Johan drove me to the airport. When my laptop case fell out of my hands, he decided to get me on the first plane out, and I was lucky to get the last available seat.

On arrival at OR Tambo airport an hour and a half later, I was unable to unlock my car after the struggle to find it. I eventually managed to unlock the car but set the alarm off. Luckily my son arrived just in time before I left the parking lot. My son rushed me to the hospital where I was admitted.

A vision of my life ran through my mind, and I realised that all was gone. Fourteen years of study and thirty-five years of work had simply vanished from my mind. I was crying and shaking the whole time. I realised that God was my only hope.

Extensive testing revealed that I had a heart condition called Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), which meant I have an opening between the main pumping chambers of the heart (the ventricles) which can result in blood clots. I suffered from a stroke and had some brain damage as a result.

My long road to recovery began. I went for occupational therapy twice a week for a year and had follow-up visits with my neurologist. I was afraid to go home. I was afraid to be alone. Each morning I counted to ten before I could get out of bed to see if I am able. To cap it all, I was going through a divorce at the time, after forty years of marriage. But still I thanked God that I was alive.

I realised that it was impossible to continue with my consultancy practice and dissolved it within six months. I had worked my whole life to establish a company and it was gone in the blink of an eye…

My whole life literally stopped. I couldn’t switch on a computer, couldn’t sing or play any instruments. I couldn’t write, speak English, or enter in a conversation. I couldn’t carry a cup without spilling, knocked items over and couldn’t slice or butter bread. I couldn’t drive a car or ride my motorcycle. I couldn’t fly my own airplane and on top of that, I lost my income.

In February 2015, three months after the stroke, I received a scripture in Isaiah 52:2 which read: ‘Shake yourself free, Jerusalem! Rise from the dust and sit on the throne! Undo the chains that bind you’. I held onto that promise, hoping for recovery.

After lots of effort, hardships, and laughter, I thank God for His mercy in my life. It wasn’t easy. He restored me to where I am today. I am content with what I have and realize how blessed I am. Besides losing keys and forgetting telephone numbers I am now as close to “normal” as I can be.