I’ve got some nerve…

I am terrified now. Of a future where I am unable to move. Unable to smile. Unable to sleep. I do not wish it upon anyone whom I know. Nor in fact, anyone I do not know.

Every so often I experience severe pain along one side of the back of my head and neck. It would last up to a few hours during which time I would not move my upper body, not make much of any facial expression and where almost every position had me in intense pain. I would sit upright trying not to move and with specific shallow breathing to ensure I did not worsen it. All my symptoms suggested pain of a network of nerves. After discussions with a medical specialist friend, I would conservatively treat it with rest and medication until it subsided but the medication would leave me groggy for another day.

It appeared when I least expected it and often during the late night when I’d awaken with intense pain or when I was just lounging on a couch editing my Insta pictures. I even experienced it whilst casually walking along the Umhlanga Beach promenade on a sunny Durban day. I remember once missing my brother’s 40th birthday celebration and Christmas because I could not move so I stayed home alone that afternoon until the pain eventually ceased.

Go to the hospital, you say? Immediately see a medical specialist, you suggest? It is easy to say that when you can as a start brush your teeth without a semi-clenched jaw, pop into the shower, towel dry your entire body without moving your upper body, dress yourself, brush your long hair without feeling as though each strand is linked to a traumatized pain receptor, bend down somehow without dropping your head slightly to select and then put on your shoes. With ease you have a quick bite to eat because your jaw isn’t reeling with pain each time you open it, much less than when you begin to actually chew your food. Now imagine not having to maintain an unmoving ‘locked’ upper torso as you close up the apartment, walk down the common stairway without worrying about the precise angle of your head tilt which invokes pain and you smoothly slide into the driver’s side of your car. That’s right… you drive yourself knowing that you are not a potential hazard if you decide overtake another vehicle because you (unlike me) can actually check your blindspot without experiencing debilitating pain. Fortunately you are without nerve pain so you drive well over the minimum speed limit on a main road to your doctor’s office because you do not want to be a further hazard to anyone else. As my ‘luck’ would have it though, I previously experienced these episodes of pain for ‘only’ a few hours at a time.

Last night however, was night 3 since the pain had begun without stopping or easing up. My usual optimism fell to shreds and just looking up this condition on the internet makes me feel dismay as there is no definitive treatment and no conclusive diagnosis for occipital neuralgia. I am not one to usually fear what may come but reading up on this allegedly worsening condition gives me cause for concern.

Disease or dis-ease as I like to pronounce it, brings up emotions and thoughts that only add to the intensity of the current health state in which I find myself. I spiral downwards feeling alone and in despair. I have not shed this many agonizing tears in years nor sat this physically still whilst having quite negative mental images play in my mind. Factors I never worry about float to the surface. I worry I cannot afford extensive private healthcare nor the continuous cost of medicinal relaxants to ease up my nerve pain. Neither should I expect full-time support for when I experience this pain. Being in Covid-19 times really does not help either as it is a lingering thought constantly in the background with it’s own consequences of life and death.

Life is so fleeting and fragile… flitted with mostly good times and mostly good health yet riddled as well with pain in different forms. Sometimes I wish for better times. Sometimes I hope for affection in the form of a warm hand to hold. Sometimes I wish to see a loved one’s face or hope one wants to see mine. I hope for a chat or to see a friendly smile.

The trouble for me, I now realise, is that 3 nights ago I fell victim to a negative mindset and as dominoes topple so too did I give way to imagining worst case scenarios instead of being present in the actual moment. Eckhart Tolle says: “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”.

Sure, I could do without nerve pain right now and definitely without being alarmed by another Covid-19 fatality whom I actually know. However, I can do BEST without a lamenting mind that removes my sense of gratitude for what I currently have… and what I have amongst all the pain is peace and ofcourse, my own inner smile.


Lime Water

Need an immunity boosting and hydrating drink during the lockdown? Try a fresh lime water which is both delish and healthy.

This drink improves digestion, is high in Vitamin C, stimulates the absorption of iron and promotes the best in skin health.

Ingredients: Juice of 1 lime, 1 glass of water, mint leaves, salt to taste (optional)

Mix the ingredients and voila!

Lime Water


Blogger Bumbling – Clearly I still bumble…

I did something I almost never do – I glanced at one of my initial blog pieces back when my blog was called Happily Ever After and I was not a vegan.

The good news is that my traits resonate strongly with the craziness of who I still am – cocky, cheesy, sarcastic and totally laughing my way through life. The bad news however, is that it’s pandemic time in the world and I am in lockdown and unable to travel the vast expanse of this beautiful planet called Earth.

So here’s a throwback to 4th March 2017 at precisely 18h15 South African time (because I am an oddball like that):

“Blogging is not as easy as it looks!

Like any self-respecting confident pre-blogger will admit, she was filled with ideas of how to let her creative juices run wild and free from her soft fingertips as she would happily tap away at the keyboard. Hair scrunched up in a messy bun and a tall glass of full cream milk on hand to quench her ravaging thirst, she would plough through vast fields of imagination as the words poured from her… her blog would speak truth and wisdom honed through just over three decades of experience.

As always, life smashes my expectations in an instant and I am left wondering how in the name of Lord Ram’s good grace, can I ever understand my latest challenge: a layout of a new blog. By now, I am calling out all the religious God’s names from Christianity and Islam as well, all the while wondering why I even embarked on this written voyage of discovery.  For you techno freaks who are questioning my skills, I am above average on the Bill Gates scale of IT intelligence. And yes, I clicked the edit button but it pops open another link which does NOT update my changes. WTF is its problem and I am tempted to open up a can of whip ass on this iMac when I hear the Jurassic Park line echo in my head: “Violence and technology, are not good best fellows”.  I close my frantic eyes.

A deafening silence hits me and Buddha strikes his spiritual gong. I am calm again. And present. And mindful. And the logical side of my brain kicks in as I slowly begin to configure the blog I wish to write and the blog I wish to see. Buddha smiles graciously over me….

Lights, photos, action!


Welcome to my blog, Happily Ever After (sen2016.wordpress.com) which is the gateway to my mind – a place of great and not so great times, a haven of serenity intertwined with madness, my loves and likes, my disgustingly crude jokes and shocking unspeakable truths, my highest of highs and my deepest of lows, just about everything that is me… Suheena Sen”.

Some great person once said: “Laughter is the best medicine” and today whilst I am still laughing (mostly) at myself you are free to join me.

Have a superb weekend ahead!

Recovering Banker

R-E-C-O-V-E-R-I-N-G  B-A-N-K-E-R

Definition: A recovery from other’s banking problems is a process of change through which the individual achieves abstinence from banking and gains improved health, wellness and quality of life.

I have been clean for well over 40 months now. If only I could host a support group for my fellow recovering comrades, hand out little green embellished money clip badges and profess my commitment for a banker-less life…

Seriously though, a person who has not serviced others within the private banking arena has no idea what a banker goes through with a high net worth (HNW) client.

HNW could be defined as those eligible to transact with an institution if they meet the minimum entry criteria of that institution. Think private client banking where the bank requires a potential client to have a minimum net asset value (e g. in South Africa it could be a NAV of ZAR 15 million) and an income package (e.g. ZAR 1,5 million per annum).

Reading those figures may sound dreamy and aspirational (Who doesn’t want to mingle with the rich and financially famous, right?) but I can tell you from experience that all those extra digits to their bank balances may suggest that the HNW client possesses an array of other heightened persona traits to which a naive banker falls prey. Watch and learn. 

Scenario 1: Provisional tax payment time on 28th February every damn calendar year. Client texts you about a short term loan to pay a tax liability.  As a banker, you realise that you immediately need a sick day AWAY from the office and you intend to be unreachable on ANY device. Of course clients’ are one up on you these days so they call you two days prior to the tax due date and you are firmly lodged between a rock (of a client’s demands with minimal balance sheet information that could prove useful to bank approval of that loan) and a hard place (aka the Credit Approval Guy with his minimal people skills and high numeracy levels). Kill me quickly, says the banker.

Scenario 2: Banker gets a frantic client call at 22h00 on a Saturday. He needs to send money abroad “NOW” as the exchange rate is so “fantastic” that it cannot wait for an actual business day to be processed. Banker politely explains the requirements despite the whinging from the other end of the line. Two hours of talk and many long winded emails later, banker switches her mobile to silent mode and refrains from charging that device till Monday morning. Banker sleeps peacefully till 6h00 Monday morning when the client promptly begins to harass her about exchange rate fluctuations. Banker sighs. 

Scenario 3: Friday afternoon at 16h45 (or known fondly to the banker as 15 minutes before home-time). Client calls in requesting 4 VIP box tickets for an international pop artist playing later that evening at a sold out concert that you had offered him tickets to 4 months ago which he had promptly declined (thus you invited other HNWs). You of course make it happen as you are the rock star banker and hand deliver the intricately wrapped tickets and music record gift to one of his domestic workers at his opulent triple story mansion-type home with a hand written note about you being SO thrilled that they will attend it. It is 21h15 and you are mid way through the international artist’s concert with your texts to the client going unanswered as he was of course a no-show. “Urgh”, thinks the banker, “Never Again” but she knows that is not true if he reports you to his golfing buddy in the bank’s senior management team for being “unappreciative of his loyalty to the bank”.

Perhaps you are thinking that I have lost my mind. I have. I have lost all semblance of a mind that holds tension to financial crises and to money woes of others.

Perhaps you are convinced that I am high. I am.  I have in my recent endeavours centered my time around good people. I now very wisely choose what to do with my time, which people to engage with and I am high on life and living the best one that I can. 

Just as recovering addicts aim for improvement of life away from the unhealthy bits that they once thought were life fulfilling so too do, I as a recovering banker.

I have seen the upside of money pouring in, the downfall when markets turn ugly and the advent of money value as it dwindles for seemingly no reason. I have seen the joy money brings and how it can cause suffering just as quickly. I have seen the people who have money at their disposal, those who do not, those who endlessly dream of it, those who work for it and those who manipulate others to obtain it. I have been present when inheritances are realised, when the taxman takes what he believes he is owed, when investment portfolios drop from millions to thousands overnight, when a new car is acquired by simply pressing the approve button on an online banking screen, when foreign exchange is converted to somewhat value-less local currency, when a first time income earner has excitement as he sees cash notes drawn from an ATM, and even heard a HNW’s outrage when a bank card (with no available funds) is obviously declined by a merchant…

These days I am considered somewhat “asset-rich” according to societal norms (although my bank balance figure says otherwise) and my bank notes serve it’s due purpose. But that does not even remotely interest me.

A more intriguing and honest question is whether I more wealthy now for the experience of being a HNW banker… despite often having encountered fuss spots and narcissistic ego bearing maniacs within our midst? Absolutely YES. Being a banker taught me three definitive lessons.

Firstly, to listen to others AND to myself and to then respond from a place of stillness rather than to react unconsciously. Fighting wildfire with equally ‘wild’ fire only aggravates the blaze.

Secondly, that it is perfectly fine to not know the answer to every question but that it is key to maintain communication with the other person until you do have an answer. It is all about keeping channels of communication open and truthful. E.g. “Dr TakeAlot, as I am unsure I will revert by tomorrow as to whether your son-in-law’s ever-so-important request for a free mall arcade gaming voucher for his pre-teen sister can be delivered to your other daughter’s second home at precisely 13h07 or not. However, from my current understanding of limitations of what we as bankers are actually required and obligated to do, Dr TakeAlot, I doubt this will be acquiesced”. Notice the honesty and professional charisma coupled in that response?

My third and most important reason is because of the monumental and continually enriching friendships I have developed with certain HNWs which I hold to this day. No matter how many high pitched debates we as friends engage in where they would shout AT me, I know without hesitation that in any situation they would shout even louder FOR me.

Am I not showered with abundance because I held a somewhat crummy position once upon a time? Yes, I am. 

True wealth lies in knowing you are enough in every moment… even when that multi-millionaire client is raging via his gold-plated Bose Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth earpiece about the hardship of flying (business class to Maldives for his 4th vacation in the year) because his favourite French Bordeaux was not available after he had gulped down his second bottle.

To finding the sunshine in every moment… Cheers!

Recovering Banker