I have been a wrestler all my life long. As a young man I participated in South Africa, not internationally due to political restrictions, and I stopped for a number of years due to work pressures. In the meantime my sons also started wrestling. As the boys started to participate I took up wrestling again as well a running, completing a Comrades Marathon in the end. Sport and adventure, including parachuting and bungee jumping, has always been an important part of my life.
In 2004 I participated in the World Wrestling Championships and ended in 10th position, even though I had an injury at the time. I was the Wrestling National veteran champion for 8/9 years running, maintaining my fitness and was planning to return to the World Championships in Switzerland. I regularly beat my nearest competitors and was feeling confident.
In March of that year I woke up one morning and struggled to get out of bed, my wife, Susan, even had to help me get up. Within a week I ended up all of a sudden being unable to tie shoe laces, open bottle tops and perform various other everyday tasks. This strange sickness took hold of me, causing pain in the muscles of my arms, preventing me from bending my fingers properly. I had a good idea what this was as my mother suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. The diagnosis was confirmed after tests, doctors warning me that it will shave at least 10 years off my life. My mother had two knee replacements done and many others had major challenges due to this illness. The doctor said that modern medicine can give me back quality life and increased lifespan.
I started using the prescribed medication but this drastically changed my whole life. After work on a Friday I would come home, lay down to sleep only to get up again on the Monday to go to work. In social settings I would be unable to keep awake, always tired and sleepy. I would sit unresponsively in a corner, listening and waiting for events to be over so that I could go home and rest.
Once during a Lay Witness weekend at church, I listened to all the testimonies given by various people. At the end of the night prayer was offered to anyone who needed it. One of the speakers, an old man, sat in front of me. My friend, Chett Wallace, came and stood next to me, his hand on my shoulder. The old man turned around and they prayed for my healing. Instantaneously I was healed, not from rheumatoid arthritis which was prayed for but from depression, which no one, not even me, knew I suffered from. I immediately experienced the tiredness leaving me, as my friends around me prayed for me. God knew what I needed and healed the depression.
Nowadays I still suffer from symptoms of pain due to the rheumatoid arthritis, which was not cured completely. I would have bad days when I do not use all of the medication but the quality of life that I experience is much better. The excessive tiredness is gone, a visit to the doctor confirmed that I was actually suffering from depression which was healed. I realised then that I was depressed because of the fact that I could not do as much sport as I used to. Today Susan says that, looking back, she realised that I suffered from depression but, men being men, it could not be dealt with because I did not acknowledge it. All the signs were present – coming home from work at four in the afternoon, doing nothing else like he used to, just going to bed immediately.
The guys whom I used to compete with in wrestling, still participate every year at the world championship. Going from all these hectic, competitive sports to barely being able to swim and cycle, not being able to run, play squash or wrestle any longer sent me into a state of depression.
Changing my medicine over time also helped a lot. When I do not take all my medicine I have a lot of pain but I can honestly say that I was healed from the depression. Maybe God wanted me to change my lifestyle and priorities. I can still go for a short run every now and then, enjoy a bit of gardening and enjoy quality time with my family.