Werner and Mariëtte Holtzhausen are just so happy.
The unrelenting relief is tangible upon joining them at their table as they finished up their lunch at a popular family restaurant on Tuesday afternoon.
Nadia, 19, sits opposite her mom, flanked by her friends who were with her that Saturday when it all unfolded. Dad, Werner fills me in while the girls listen tentatively, still trying to come to terms with what happened.
“On Saturday, the 25th of April, Nadia started complaining about pain in her legs,” explains Werner. “Her friends took her to visit the GP, who treated her for a muscle spasm in her back.” The next few days were like a whirlwind for the Holtzhausen family who, unbeknown to them, would have to rush to South Africa from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia to be by their daughter’s bedside.
Nadia’s pain did not subside and, after blood tests were conducted, she was eventually admitted to Sunningdale Hospital in Klerksdorp. Amid all the swelling and virtually no circulation, they sent her to Wilmed for further scans, where it was discovered she had blood clots in her legs. She was rushed to the ICU at the Life Anncron Clinic where Dr PW du Toit kept a watchful eye over the Potch Academy 2nd-year hairdressing student.
The worst was yet to come, following the discovery of a massive clot in her heart, with a diameter of 2cm. While the girls and Mariëtte chat merrily along, Werner pauses briefly before describing what had now become a critical situation. “The doctor was faced with two options: to either perform open heart surgery to remove it, hoping he gets there before it loosens. Or give her medication to dissolve it.”
It was no longer ‘if’ but rather ‘when’. Werner goes on to explain what happened. “He hoped that the enzymes would’ve helped reduce its size so that it could pass through the main arteries. But when it came loose, it got stuck in her neck artery and it went into the main, or one of the three arteries feeding the brain, so it affected the area that controls the speech, the limbs and face muscles.”
After being ‘stuck’ for more than an hour, the clot, obstructive in nature in that it blocks blood vessels, caused the stroke. As a result, Nadia was unable to communicate or walk and was left paralysed on her entire left side. But, thankfully, further scans revealed no bleeding on the brain nor tissue damage. There is plenty of laughter at the table as Werner concludes the technicalities of his daughter’s condition. For now, Nadia is enjoying the last few days with friends Emi Scholtz and Rachelle du Plessis before heading Down Under with her parents who left South Africa three years ago. Mom Mariëtte chips in and confirms why her ‘Boo’ is going back.
“I need to look after and take care of Nadia for a while,” she smiles. “When I first got the initial message from my child, I was beside myself as you can imagine.” And a week after being discharged, mom and daughter are relishing the time spent together in what has been a remarkable turn of events.
“It really was a miracle that she survived this,” says Mariëtte, who will accompany Nadia to all her speech and occupational therapy sessions during the next two months.
For now, the softly spoken teenager is happy be out and about with her bosom buddies and doing girly things with her mom, as her father rolls his eyes at the giggling bunch.