On 30 January 2006, my son, Michael, was born. He was a very healthy baby, with a tiny wizen face, just like a little old man. His APGAR score was 10 out of 10 and he didn’t need to go onto a heating pad in the hospital. I had a Caesarean section delivery. My obstetrician told us after the operation that it was just as well he had performed a Caesar as my uterus was very thin at the site of the scar from my previous Caesar and it could have ruptured if I had gone into labour. He said that it was so thin, he could see the baby right through my uterus. The fact that I had no problems with my pregnancy, despite this, was Michael’s first lucky break in life.
When Michael was three weeks old, he stopped breathing. He was sleeping in his pram and I was playing with Gregory. When I checked on the baby he wasn’t breathing and was going blue. I snatched him out of the pram and he woke up and immediately started howling like a banshee. I called the paediatrician and she asked me to bring him to her rooms. She diagnosed him with bronchiolitis. Bronchiolitis is a virus that affects the respiratory tract. The infection causes inflammation of the tiny airways, called the bronchioles, which lead to the lungs. The swollen airways fill up with mucus which makes breathing difficult. If Michael had stopped breathing during the night, he could have suffered a cot death.
At four months old, Michael stopped breathing and was admitted into hospital with bronchiolitis for the second time. I was shocked and dismayed. I didn’t really understand the implications of bronchiolitis. No one in my family had suffered from respiratory problems and I didn’t know that infants that contract bronchiolitis early in life often get a recurrence of the illness and often develop asthma later in their childhood. Michael recovered, and I took him back home three days later. We started a daily regime of nasal sprays, saline washes and antihistamines.
One day, when Michael was six months old, the geyser above the kitchen burst. It was in the late afternoon and the plumber could only come the following morning. We switched it off, to prevent further water from leaking into the ceiling. I was sitting in the kitchen with Michael on my lap while my Mother made dinner when Terence came in. He was concerned about the bowing of the ceiling due to the collection of water. He decided to poke a broom handle into the ceiling to let the water out. He was quite far away from me, so I didn’t think I needed to move away. As he poked the broom into the ceiling I saw the ceiling board start to tear and I leaped across the kitchen and out of the door. A few seconds later a brick smashed into the chair where I had been sitting with Michael. The brick had somehow been left in the ceiling at some point. It had been flung across the kitchen when the ceiling board tore open. It could have killed either or both of us.
When Michael started crawling, the two boys used to play a game. Gregory would run and hide away and Michael would crawl frantically after him. One day, Greg chose to hide in the shower in the main bathroom. The shower had a heavy glass door, attached with hinges on one side only. The bath was about 1 metre from the shower. Michael saw Greg hiding in the shower and crawled to the door. As Greg, pushed on the door to open it, the hinges snapped, and the door fell forward onto the bath. Michael was right underneath, unharmed. It was a most alarming incident. We subsequently had the whole bathroom renovated and the single shower door was replaced with two doors which weren’t so heavy on the hinges.
Michael started school at eighteen months old. Gregory was attending a playgroup and Michael desperately wanted to go. In January of the following year, Gregory turned four years old and started at nursery school. Michael continued at the playgroup which he loved. I collected him at 12pm one rainy day. We stopped in the right-hand lane at a red robot. A taxi was coming down the hill, hell for leather. It attempted to stop at the red robot and I saw it start to skid. The traffic hadn’t started moving in the opposite direction yet, so I accelerated, and my car zoomed across the intersection. The taxi skidded right across the section of road where my car had been waiting to turn. Another extraordinarily fortunate incident.
The year that Michael turned four years old, he started complaining of chronic pain in his stomach. We had a sonar taken and then a CT scan. The diagnosis came back that Michael had a tumour in this stomach. It was wrapped around a main artery. Surgery was necessary to cut as much of it as possible away and perform a biopsy. The diagnosis came on the Thursday of a long weekend. We had to get through four days before the surgery could be performed. After the procedure, the paediatric surgeon came out to talk to us. He said he didn’t think the tumour was malignant. He had only removed half as it was to dangerous to remove any more as he could cut the artery. We had to wait a further three days for the results of the biopsy. When they came back negative, I burst into hysterical tears. That was the worst week I can ever remember.
Seven lucky events for my little lad with nine lives. He was definitely born under a lucky star.
About the author
Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.
Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.
Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books.
Find and follow Robbie
The Sir Chocolate books are a delightful marriage of story, verse and cookery
… a perfect recipe for sharing with children. Silly Willy goes to Cape Town tells the adventures of two very different brothers…and includes five party cake ideas.
You can purchase the Sir Chocolate books from:
or you can buy them in South Africa directly from the authors by emailing Robbie Cheadle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have had a strange experience or encounter that you would like to share, please get in touch with me at email@example.com (or my usual email if you already have it) and we can discuss a guest post.
I am not looking for sensationalism or fictional tales… but in light of the response to some recent posts, I think it would be both useful and reassuring to others to realise that none of us are alone in these strange encounters and experiences and perhaps we can open discussion on what they may be or may mean.
If you would like to share your story but prefer to remain anonymous, we can discuss that too. If you would like to share your beliefs and opinions on the nature of these experiences, I would be happy to talk about a guest post. Through sharing with respect we may learn to understand our world and each other a little better.
You can find previously published encounters with elusive realities here