About two weekends ago, I visited one of my aunt’s so I could spend time with her and her children.
She had recently been diagnosed with a back problem and we had lost a relative who was staying with her. I thought tea,(we both love tea) cake and some ‘kaboozi’ would go a long way in brightening her mood.
We did just that. I played with the kids, had some laughs and then moved on to the serious stuff.
She told me it would cost about UGX 40million to take care of the surgery she needed. Coincidentally, three years ago, she accompanied my mum for the same surgery in India.
Knowing how anxious we had all been when we found out mum needed an operation; I was particularly disturbed because her children are much younger. In fact, her last born was still a breast feeding baby when she sacrificed to leave her behind and stay by my mum’s side. Such acts of kindness cannot quite be repaid. I can only pray for her.
This aunt has struggled with migraines and other illnesses just like me all her life so we started to exchange tales.
The one that stood out was one incident in her post teen years when her best friend shared a ‘secret’ with her. Her friends had been gossiping that she must have HIV, otherwise why else was she always sick.
When the best friend told her this, my aunt got so mad and attacked the accusers for pretending to be her friends whilst spreading such malicious rumours. Her best friend stopped talking to her. (although they eventually made up)
I listened to all this quietly, mostly pensive because I was bursting with emotions at the time.
See, I was only in primary school when I started to battle wth migraines. Tests showed I neither had an eye defect nor brain tumour so it meant that I would be sentenced to a life of pain killers when they occurred.
I have always been of a certain weight but there is judgement that comes with it..as I will soon explain.
When I joined boarding school, my size, tribe and general appearance came with the stereotype that I could not ‘handle’ housework or sports among other things.
I know my limits and once I put my mind to something, I can pretty much handle the same amount of pressure as someone three times my size but I wasn’t going to get into this argument so I let it be.
I joined the basketball team for a few weeks. Before I knew it, a rumour had begun that the coach had eyes for me and therefore favoured me during training. In F.1, as a newbie, such a thing can torment you. Needless to say, I did not engage in that sport again.
I went through school with pain killers and doctor’s appointments that were so regular, I acquired a high threshold for pain.
The few times I was punished by caning, the one thing that would run through my mind was “Is this it?” while others were screaming and calling out their ancestors.
By F.6, the mother was convinced I would be more productive and she could keep an eye on me better if I was in a day school. I grudgingly obliged.
Funny enough, I did not get much trouble with the migraines and kept a low profile as much as I could. I wanted to go by unnoticed.
Unfortunately for me, I excelled in a paper which most people had failed at the time. Maybe I should point out that I was the only girl offering Geography then.
Soon after we received our papers I overheard a conversation between my classmates in a language they did not know I understood. One ‘jokingly’ said he would confuse me so that I fall for him and flunk. The other said he wished something would happen to me so that I would fail my finals.
Superstition aside, I was admitted with a bad case of malaria about a fortnight to my final exams. Isn’t life just grand? :0
Between the migraines, duodenitis that was diagnosed a year ago and any other ailments that choose to attack my strong (yes strong 😉 ) structure, I have definitely become tougher.
I over work myself when I have the energy because I know that when I am down, I am unable to run around as I would like. I will still try to do things behind the scenes though it can’t be the same.
A couple of days after I left my aunt’s home, doctors added diabetes to her list of things to worry about. I sat there trying not to question God. I do know though, that she is going to beat this because God tests his strongest soldiers and gives them the wisdom and courage to come out at the top 🙂
These experiences have made me a mini-expert on health matters or at least more cautious. If you tell me what is bothering you, chances are I will hound you till you seek medical advice or give bits of my own recommendations .
I have learnt not to take anything for granted and of course I drag my friends in this just so that there are no surprises. You will be shocked to find that a ‘simple’ joint pain is actually a symptom of a condition that may lead to amputation.
It used to bother me, you know. Someone checks on you twice in five months and coincidentally those two times you are indisposed and unable to help them. They make a comment like ‘But you are always sick, or ‘Are you sure it is just malaria?’
Lucky for me, I saw this early enough and now I simply explain that I will be available after a week without explaining why(for such people). For those whom I know genuinely worry, chances are I will still try to sugar coat the situation as much as I can, lest they also fret more than they should but honesty works as well.
I do not feel sorry for myself because I know this is my cross to carry, like everyone else has their own.
In fact, this blog post is meant to encourage anyone who has gone through this or something similar. It should also help those people who do not know how to react when surrounded by suffering. (For more info call toll free 0414…) 😛
So, the next time someone tells you that they are unwell and you urgently need their time and resources, silently count to three and ask how you can help them. Put them before your ’emergency. I cannot count the number of people I have met who sound sharp but have zero emotional intelligence. It seems trivial but can be a real deal breaker.
If you have been to hospital just a handful of times in your adult life, thank the Lord for it and understand that those who have been victims do not enjoy it either. You are blessed.
I know for a fact that I am more compassionate towards patients, whether mine or parents of friends,friends of friends et al, because I have experienced it firsthand.
It is simple really, take a minute to ‘walk a mile’ in your neighbour’s shoes. It might be more enlightening than any other journey you have taken.