By Leon G. Kotze
I am Leon G. Kotze, born in Usakos, Namibia, in February 1968. We are a family of three brothers and one sister, with all, even my parents, still being alive.
I began playing keyboard (organ back then) at the age of seven. I went to school in Karibib, and finished grade 12 in 1986. I then did my two years of national defence duty in the South African defence force, and started working right after that.
I met my soulmate during a church house visit in May 1988, and we were married on January 5, 1991. Our boy was born 15 years later, after two miscarriages and a lot of prayers.
In January 2017 my wife started realizing my left hand got colder and my left foot start dragging. Around March/April 2017 my left hand started with tremors, and I joked about it.
Then, in May, my boss at Okonjima Lodge asked if I should go see a doctor, and Dr. Zatjirua diagnosed Parkinson’s on May 31, 2017 (this was a death sentence at that stage). After a week on medication, with heavy side effects, I stopped using the meds I was prescribed and tried several others, with no positive effects.
In May 2018, we moved back to Windhoek, and I ended up in a deep depression during where I lost 13 kgs in three weeks. By my God’s grace, I got back up through my wife, boy, Dr. Willem Moore, friends, and family’s help. I started working and was blessed to keep improving my musical talent, but in March 2020, COVID hit, and our employer closed its doors.
In June 2020 I started distributing my music online, with good results from the start, and in December, I got fixed employment with Omega Security in Windhoek.
In January 2021, my right hand also developed tremors. In May, we went to Cape Town to see Dr. Vlok regarding the DBS operation. However, he discovered it was not Parkinson’s but MSA because I didn’t react well to the medications for Parkinson’s.
The symptoms of MSA got increasingly worse, with my hand tremors and left foot dragging becoming a thorn in my side, but I was blessed to maintain a positive perspective and kept searching for ways to have a positive contribution in my everyday life.
My symptoms increased with my bladder getting difficult to control, swallowing difficulties, and choking regularly. I had difficulty getting up from a chair with sporadic dizziness and low blood pressure. I started snoring and drooling with sleep apnea reported by my wife, and since August 2021, my left foot also started swelling.
In September 2021, my wife encouraged me to start drawing pictures, which developed quickly into another talent. In December 2021, I was declared medically unfit to work, and since then, I have focused instead on my talents. But with a quickly tiring body, I sleep regularly to recharge body and soul.
As far as I know, this illness is very scarce in Namibia, and therefore I have six doctors that assist me, and we all learn a lot about ways to deal with it, so that I can keep up with my music, painting oil paintings, and burning images on leather and wood.
This way I can serve my God as well as make a positive contribution to my country and the world, and MSA is only a thought way back in my mind.