take it from me: growing old isn’t child’s-play… not by a long shot.

i was about to start training with a new trainer – you know, trying to jumpstart a new body after binneland. however, once he took my blood pressure (repeatedly), he declined to train me without a letter from my doctor.

i was thoroughly annoyed.

throughout my life, my BP has been either normal, or low. in fact, when i saw my doc for the flu about a month ago, it was perfectly normal. obviously these readings were an abberration…

so, i reluctantly made an appointment with my gp who’s been my dr for years now, and had a ripley’s moment… my BP was still through the roof and way above the norm for me.

fast-forward: instead of being at the gym working on chiselling out a new body, i was being fitted with a 24-hr blood pressure monitor. let me tell you, i don’t wish that thing on anybody. it measures your BP every 30 minutes with an uncomfortable, vice-like grip. i felt like my arm would explode like those over-ripe zombie-heads on “the walking dead”. today my arm is numb and sore and i’ve officially been relegated to the over-the-hill crowd with once-a-day BP meds. my BP is fracking me!!!

and now i’ve spent the equivalent of the trainer’s fee on medical stuff in any case. damn, as i said on fb earlier tonight,

“wouldn’t it be fabulous if age came only with wisdom, experience and knowledge and none of the atrophy that is so determined to turn us into dust?”

because i’m starting to feel decidedly like i’m crumbling… and this atrophy is certainly not “a trophy” i want on my shelf.

what was i thinking?!

i wake up this morning – 5 days after my micro-laser peel and periorbital resurfacing – and as i’m washing off the antiseptic powder around my eyes, i realize that putting make-up on today would be insanity. the swelling has gone down considerably, though i’m still moon-faced, looking like i’m wearing a polynesian mask and  the orbital area is still crusty. being in the raw takes on a whole new meaning!

i call CENSORED only to discover that he wanted me to keep the powder in place. i don’t think he has any idea of the fact that even the tiniest blemish shows up 1000 times magnified under the studio lights.

i call magda, the production manager. it really sucks because i know how disruptive this is to the production schedule, but i think that it will be crazy for me to shoot today. after what happened saturday night, i realize that i run the risk of getting even further infected. magda’s not happy, but knows that this was unforeseen.

i feel so foolish.

i turn on the tv and leona lewis is singing, “it’ll all get better with time”.

i hope so – and sooner than later, because time is not on my side.

laser peel recovery – day IV & V

sunday morning i wake up with the area around my eyes scarily red and swollen. my fire-gig make-up from last night, was definitely NOT a good idea. the skin around my eyes also seems to have been chafed off by the goggles.

i’m scared.

the painkillers don’t seem to make much of a difference – i’m beginning to understand how people get hooked on pain medication.

i follow the printed instructions i’ve been given and put on some sun-block which promptly gets in my eyes, making them tear and swell up even more. mid morning i decide to try some ice-packs on my face, but when i remove them, the skin around my eyes comes off with the cloth.


i take more painkillers. my eyes will not stop tearing and the whole area seems to get more and more swollen. i’m beginning to be really scared that the edema won’t subside in time for work on tuesday. lasz gets some take out so that i don’t have to worry about cooking.

i take 2 synapforte every 3 to 4 hours. in the afternoon i chase it with a stiff whisky. nothing helps to alleviate the pain and extreme discomfort.

monday morning i wake up to this:

i call dr. CENSORED and he tells me to come see him. next i call the production manager at work to give her a heads up. lasz has been taking as much care of me as he can. he drives me to CENSORED while i hold a scarf draped over my head, both for sun-protection and to spare passers-by the sight of my, to me, scary looking face. i look like i’ve taken some heavy punches and then rasped with a grater. i feel like i’m in purdah. i look like husband-killer, najwa petersen.

Najwa Petersen

at the clinic, i’m bustled through the waiting room and into a back-room, before the owner, CENSORED, settles me in the doctor’s office. i’m sure i’m not a good advertisement for the clinic at this particular moment. dr. CENSORED is booked up so i wait while he finishes his appointment. i’m sure he’s as surprised as i am at the state of my face, but we both agree that the fire-dancing gig might not have been a good idea. he gives me some more of the antiseptic yellow powder (bismuth subgallate) to put around my eyes and give me another script for pulmison (the south african version of prednisone), which  will help to bring down the swelling. he seems to think i’ll be okay to shoot tomorrow, though i have to say i’m not feeling as optimistic.

i leave the office and people stare as i walk holding my scarf so that my face is entirely covered. i feel like michael jackson. Michaeljacsonabaya

hey, it’s thriller-time!thriller.jpg

i speak to the production manager and she rearranges the schedule so that my call time is a few hours later tomorrow. the make-up department will have their hands full. my face is still exceedingly swollen and it feels like someone has grabbed hold of the area around my eyes with some heavy-duty sand-paper and will not let go.

in the bathroom at the gig saturday night, i have an interesting conversation with a woman who gasps when she sees my raw face as i take off my make-up.

“why didn’t you just say no?”, she says when i explain that i’ve had a laser peel and that i have the flu, but i performed in any case.

“but i gave my word,” i reply.

“yes, but you could have pulled out even in the last 5 minutes,” she says.

“but i gave my word, ” i reply to her bemused expression.

as she leaves, she commends me for being so  much more a woman of my word than she’d ever be. it’s my turn to be bemused. surely honoring one’s word is the norm, or at least should be. i at least always try to do what i say i will – you  know, walking one’s talk.

yes, i might not have all these complications with my healing, but actually having my word be my bond, is more important to me.

anyway, as everyone keeps saying, “let’s hope it’s worth it!”.

i’ll keep you posted folks!

right now i’d just like to look like myself again.



modern day torture – suffering for beauty – day I

city of angels 2000

city of angels 2000

8 years ago when i’d just done an episode of nypd blue and got a recurring role on city of angels with blair underwood, i wrote the following:

hollywood knives               08.10.00 a.k.a. methinks the lady doth protest too much

i’m 30-plus

yet i haven’t been snipped

or nipped and tucked

so i think it sucks

that i’m being compared

to others who’ve had

their everything


lifted and sculpted.

it seems that this is

what our culture

requires of me.

yeah, i have looked in

the mirror

and i know what i see.


i think i look

perfectly presentable au natural.

hell, i’ve got good genes,

even my denims fit well.

yet it seems

“by any means necessary”

is now the rule

(i’m telling you malcolm

would stew in his grave

if he knew).

are we all fools?!

these days skin is stretched so thin

that skin-deep takes on

a whole new meaning.

we want to live till methuselah

but still look twelve;

“oh is that a line? i think i’ll skip lunch

and get my dermis dissolved!”


i really hope this insanity isn’t lasting.

if you offered me a flawless future

with forever youth,

truth is i’d never say never,

yet i can’t conceive that i’d accept

and though these avowals may not hold fast,

right now i do like to believe…

i’d take the past.

okay, so the day has come. my avowals have not held fast.

now, being a woman of “a certain age”, i’ve been getting more and more concerned about what i see on the monitor at the studio every day; my hereditary puffy eye-lids getting puffier and the troughs below my eyes (what one of the other actors calls his “gucci bags”) getting deeper and deeper.

i’m certainly by no means ready to go under the knife (though i have to admit that watching dr. 90210 is desensitizing – makes elective surgery seem almost normal), but i’ve been speaking to dr. CENSORED of the CENSORED for a while now about non-surgical alternatives. his clients include CENSORED and CENSORED. i had 2 tca peels previously, done by rachel moayer out of dr celia brown’s office in woodland hills, california, but i’ve never considered a laser peel before. dr CENSORED tells me that periorbital laser resurfacing will make a difference to the area around my eyes without having to go under the knife. the only problem is that i need 4 consecutive  days off of work and at the moment i am working all the time.

i mention this to the production manager at work and she finally works out the schedule so that i have friday through monday off. only problem is that i’ve already signed up to run a 10k on the saturday morning and have a fire performance i’ve agreed to do saturday night for a friend, wanda shuenyane of vwv so i decide not to do it. wednesday i wake up with the worst sore throat and realize that i have the flu. i’m so bummed because it means i won’t be able to run my 10k. i’ve been preparing for so long and i can’t wait to get it behind me. i realize though that this frees me up to get the laser procedure. i call up dr. CENSORED and he agrees to keep the office open late on thursday evening to accommodate my schedule.

i get there around 5.30p.m. after i finish at the studio. it’s all happening so fast. i’m given some numbing cream to put around my eyes while i wait in the very stylish waiting room. when i go in to consult with dr. CENSORED, we decide to laser my whole face, but do more intensive treatment around my eyes. it’s all happened so fast that i’ve forgotten to bring my glasses even though i’d thought about it the night before. i remove my contact lenses and next thing i’m on the table. i have no idea what to expect. the assistant places some black-out lenses in my eyes in order to protect them from the laser and all goes dark.

CENSORED informs me that he’s going to give me a number of injections in order to numb my face. there are 8 in total and they hurt like a mother. little do i know what’s coming.

CENSORED fires up the laser and i can’t believe how painful it is. i ask him how much of this i’m supposed to feel and he says it’s normal to feel something. however, this is not just “something”. i feel as if i’m being branded with each pass of the laser. my face is immobilised, my lips feel like sausages, but still i am feeling every second of this procedure. i feel like a zombie – one of the living dead. like i’m paralyzed, yet i can feel everything. i have a pretty high pain threshold, so i grit my teeth and i bear it. i try yoga-breathing, i visualize melting into the table in order to make me relax, but eventually my body will no longer obey my mind and i start trembling uncontrollably.  they stop the procedure for a few minutes in order to allow me to recover. i only discover afterwards that this is not normal. when we finish, the assistant discovers a few spots which have not been done. the black-out lenses are already out, but we have to go back and do a few more passes.

my face is on fire and i’m barely keeping it together. the assistant is fantastic. she gets me some coffee with sugar and helps me get my lenses back in. apparently the norm is that people have someone bring them to the office and  drive them home. that way they can have a sedative in order to ease the process, but with my time constraints, this wasn’t possible.

i finally get myself together enough to drive home, declining the nursing assistant’s offer to drop me off.on the way home though, i find i cannot blink my eye-lids which means that my lenses constantly blur and i have to reach up and pull my eye-lids down to manually blink my eyes while i drive. i’m miserable.

i manage to get in just enough food in order to take the antibiotic for my flu and the painkillers and 1/2 sleeping tablet from dr. CENSORED. i’m in bed by 9.30 and sleep on a pile of pillows as instructed. i wake at 2a.m. and take the other 1/2 dormicum which keeps me asleep till about 6. my face is puffy and striated like a maori tattoo.

i get in some yoghurt post haste so i can take my meds. i can’t wait for the painkillers to kick in.

i can’t believe i CHOSE to do this!

i’m miserable!

@%$^%  ($%$#  #@%$$&^ $#%$#!!!!!!!!

(to be continued)

you’ve come a long way, baby!

jeez, i’m feeling decidedly ancient! we have a new actor on our show and it turns out that i am exactly twice as old as he is! i think i look fairly decent for my age, but damn, acting opposite someone half one’s age is enough to make one feel decrepit.

anyway, what with eskom’s scheduled “load shedding” leaving us all in the dark and powerless, i only got out of the studio at 7pm and there was no way i was going to repeat the running the track in the dark experience. it was all i could do to decide what pizza to order ( yay, more cheese after my cheese toast in the morning. very unusual seeing that i normally avoid dairy what with being so allergic to it) and make my way to the couch.
what a strange day! started out banging my head and nearly giving myself a black eye on the edge of the step-stool in the kitchen as i bent to pick something up. then i bashed my thigh into the table. next i dropped the sandwich i’d spent 10 minutes making. later i closed my nail in the toilet door. and then something went wrong with the equipment in the studio while we were trying to shoot my first scene of the day. a weirdness seeming to permeate the air. feel like i’ve got my own private mercury retrograde at the moment.
fortunately the cough from the night before seemed to fade away. though i am suddenly eating like a horse. been about 3 weeks since i drank any alcohol, but either it’s the time of month, or all this running which is majorly boosting my appetite.
day 5 this week. yup, i’ve come a long way, baby! probably because i don’t smoke virginia slims or anything else for that matter! ran 3 sets of 2 laps each. 1 lap walking to start off with and inbetween. still largely mind over matter. on the last set i decided to run at a pace that i enjoy, rather than pushing, but i was still panting at the end. roughly 5 minutes per set, 2.30 or less per lap.
i persevere. it’s going to become fun even if it kills me!
ha. bloody ha.