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Sunday, November 24, 2013

A LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER

Dearest Aisha,
                      I pray you are reading this message in an all-round-tip-top condition in sha Allah, and your studies are going great, both Islamic and Western. How are your siblings and friends? I pray you are all in good health and faith, in sha Allah. I am fine and happy and I miss you so very much. I wonder how you look like now that you're reading this. I wonder if I'm still alive and if I am, I wonder when I last saw you!?
Right now I'm writing this letter and it's been 2 months since I last held you in my arms. I miss all your soft, tender, lovable self. How I miss hearing your laughter, stroking you, oh and of course yelling at you *shame faced*.
I remember one time a couple of weeks before you left finally for Nigeria on 5th September, 2012 I beat the mercy out of you. I felt so bad. I went into the toilet and shed a few tears then came out after you had finished crying and gently spoke to you. I said I am sorry Aisha. It breaks my heart each time I have to raise my hand against you but you make me so mad and I don't like your granny spanking you all the time. I know you're a kid, want to play and mean no harm at all but still ... *kiss* I love you my Love and I am really sorry. You are my joy, sweetheart and to see you shed a drop of tear kills me. When you were a baby about 9 months of age, I dropped you on terrazzo floor. It still remains one of my nightmares. I am so sorry about that too.
You inspire in so many ways I cannot fully describe to you. Maybe you will find out about my blog and read through it and when you do, you will come across the story of my drug addiction and how you made me stop. What is not in the story is the exact moment that I fully made up my mind. See, when we came to Egypt you were 11 months and such a smallie *tight hug* anyways, I was seriously into the drugs then and one night after you had gone to bed, I gave myself a dose of it and drifted into the fantasy of it's 'calming' effect. A few hours later I woke, stretched my hands to feel for you next to me but you were not there. I thought you'd gone to the very end of the bed so I sat up to check and you were not anywhere on it! OMG! I thought in a panic where is she? "Aisha" I called out your name as I got up from the bed then I looked back at the bed again....it was really high for an 11 month old to have fallen off! How didn't I hear the thud or your cry for help?! What happened to me? Where are you, Aisha? I looked round the base of the bed, checked your aunt's bed and all around it; nowhere in our room. I went into granny's room and even asked if she took you, but I didn't wait for a reply because I had scanned her bed and you were not on it! I checked the kitchen, nothing. Then the bathroom and there you were with a drop of tear upon your soft chocolate cheek, sitting down playing with the toilet brush! Oh Allah!!! I thank YOU! I sat on the floor, took you in my arms hugging you and apologizing over and over checking if you had any swellings or anything that was not there before I fell asleep. That was the turning point; I told myself "This is it! It's either you stop or you kill her!" 
Once again, thank you so very much for your presence in my life. Right from the first time I held you in my arms I felt in my heart you will be a source of great and good things to come my way, In sha Allah and you have been. You were not a troublesome baby, never cried unnecessarily. Once you had been cleaned, fed properly and burped that's it, till the next meal. There were never in between waking up and you were not a choosy baby; as a matter of fact you stopped breast feeding by yourself when you completed 4 months preferred infant formula (Lactogen-1 was what you fed on). You have been a very easy-to-handle and loveable baby. I love you, Aisha Abdallah Tahir.
You deserve to be with a complete family, a daddy and a mommy, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins loads and loads of them. Around people that you can count on and will be there for you at any time. Letting you go was and still is the hardest decision I had to make. But I know, trust and believe that you will always be safe protected and guided by the Almighty Allah for He said whosoever puts their trust in HIM will never be let down and when you entrust someone or something into the Hands of Allah that person and/or thing is forever safe. I have entrusted you, Aisha, into His Hands so I know you are safe, In Shaa Allah. I always hoped that I would be there when you read your first complete sentence in English and when you learnt Suratul Fatiha, Ikhlas, Falaq and Naas. I always wanted to be there when you begin to lose your teeth. I wanted my hair to be your practice for how to plait hair so I can feel your tiny soft hands tugging and pulling. You know when I visited you on a Friday in February of 2013, you came in from school so excited telling your Mommy "Mommy an bani homework, an bani homework" I felt so jealous! But I knew in my heart of hearts that you will grow up to be a very dedicated Lady in whatever you've set your heart to and you know the right people to ask for help. May Allah always be your first choice of guide, ameen ameen. Once again, I love you so very much, my Little Maama.
I had the best first three years of your life and I have so many pictures and a few videos of them for you to watch. When I showed people your picture they would say "Her eyes are filled with intelligence." I would feel so elated. What a blessed mother I am to have such an amazing, wonderful and blessed child like you. You know sometimes I feel I may never love any other child/children (if I am destined to have more) the way I do you! *embarrassed smile*. There are a few things however I feel is my duty to teach you but since I cannot/may not have the chance to always be with you, I am including them in this letter.
Always try your very best to perform your prayers on time with all sincerity and respect because you are standing in front of The Lord of the heavens and the earth. Know that He may not answer your dua' immediately to test your faith but if it's going to be good for you then He will eventually answer it, In Shaa Allah. It's hard to be patient but we have to be, besides looking at it from another angle what other choice do we have?! Except we want to lead ourselves astray (w na uzu billah). And sometimes if it isn't answered we will wake up one morning and be so grateful for unanswered dua's. Keep making them positive!
Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and in everything. Only when you do that can you be up to any task given to you. And use your free time wisely; a Hadith relates; there are two blessings in which most people are in great loss; 1-Good health 2-Free time. I pray you find joy in engaging yourself in useful tasks. There are so many of them; reading useful books, journals and such, knitting, crochet, writing, baking, experimental cookery, sewing or patching up torn clothes. The list is endless plus it saves you the trouble of gossip/back-biting which is a nasty, terrible habit. Do not engage in it except you have something good to say. When you talk about people, people will talk about you. Never mind that they already do, it's your sin being moved to them. Allah has warned us against it severely.
Never hesitate to be involved in a good act for the sake of Allah. People may and will make you feel like a fool but they know you're not. Have respect and mercy for every living soul, big or small, especially the helpless; there is great reward in it. Family comes first, even though we are really annoying and talking to strangers always seems more blissful. Family will be the last people left with you. Know that some people become family not through blood but through means you may never expect. It's called brotherhood/sisterhood in Islam and humanity and that is how we are supposed to live as a family.
You have a very beautiful smile never lose it! Take  care of your oral health; brush, gargle and say only kind words or keep mute(the Angels around perceive good kind words as we perceive perfumes and bad, harsh words as we perceive refuse)! Keep your environment clean at all times for cleanliness is next to Godliness! Eat healthy and moderately. Be considerate of others but do not let them take advantage of your consideration. There are days your Faith will be completely low, but it's okay! The prophet (SAW) said; "if our faiths were constantly high then we would be walking, seeing and talking to the Angels." We are humans, created to fall and rise in everything including our Faiths. The most important thing is to rise!
I think I will stop here for now, my eyes are filled with tears remembering you. I love you so much. I have no idea how much is "so much" at times! *laughs*. I hope and pray to make a sequel to this letter.
Oh and one more thing you would have noticed, so many other people would have read this before you. The best part, many will be jealous of OUR LOVE! Once again, I love you, bint Abdallah! *tight hug, loving caresses and multiple kisses*

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

THE PSYCHIATRIST, THE HAEMATOLOGIST AND THE PATIENT - 3

I found everything going by so fast I couldn't get a grasp of anything. My mind and mood were not ready for anything. I was regularly sad and not ready to communicate with anybody. That was the week I shut down my mobile internet connection and refused to answer all calls except where I knew I just had to! I was in a terrible state of mind. I honestly have no idea if it was related to the withdrawal symptoms or just one of 'em days that you just hate everything and everyone! I have to say, Dr. A was really not happy I didn't do my assignment! He said I needed to put in more effort so I can be cleared otherwise it would be a set back for me. He added one more assignment; I was to write my daily schedule from when I woke up till when I was going to bed. Yikes!!! My heart plummeted, I am not the schedule type of person! I am the "Fire on the mountain" type of person! I have honestly tried creating schedules for myself to follow but then something always happens and then of course nothing happens *sniggering*! Well, I did as I was asked to do because Dr. A said it was to see if I am functioning well without the pentazocine and see my limits. All good, I thought!
Week 5 and I had VOC (vaso occlusive crisis) by 00:30hrs on Sunday and had to be taken to the A/E of Aminu Kano Teaching hospital, Kano. On getting there, the doctor on call asked what was wrong and my friend told him I am a sickle cell patient. He started writing out the prescription and then I started telling him immediately of my therapy and how I am not allowed to use pentazocine, DF118 or any opioid at all. When he asked why, I told him I was receiving treatment for drug dependence. It was a terrible time for me and oh, I forgot to mention the cause of the VOC was dehydration! Was given four 500ml IV fluids in less than two hours along with diclofenac injection and paracetamol. Doctor M. said he would later give me something to sleep if I kept on talking and he put on a movie for me on his laptop! I get first class treatment even when I'm down!*adjusts veil*
I contacted Dr. A; he said to let him know immediately I have been admitted for any VOC so he can follow up closely in case it gets to a stage where I may have to be given an opioid to ease the pain! Hard life for me, my pain threshold would be properly tested! Anyways, I got better, Alhamdulillah. It wasn't easy and Dr. A kept checking on me and boosting my morale, bless him.... and Dr. M too!!!
On Wednesday, Dr. A was not in seat (he did tell me he won't be in) but I met an equally great psychiatrist, Dr. U. He said we were not going to go deep into details since he was only standing in for Dr. A this once but we still had a good session...so good I broke down and cried! Sometimes it's hard explaining things to people especially when the bothering factors are intertwined; loosening a bit will eventually loosen the whole thing...Dangerous! I just blamed it all on sickle cell *embarrassed sad face*. I hope he didn't find it awkward and I hope he doesn't think I cry in all my sessions too LOL! It was a lovely session! I laughed again!
This could not be happening to me...another VOC; chest, back, upper and lower limbs. It was on Friday 20th September, 2013. I went into the Day Care of Haematology department. You know, I really, honestly believe Dr. A of haematology gave me pentazocine saying "It's a special paracetamol not sold in Nigeria." I love my haematologists!!!
I didn't mention Dr. A of psychiatry explained the classes of analgesics to me when he banned me from taking Tramadol, dihydro-codeine and some other analgesics, did I? *thinking hard* I don't think so. Good! I am thinking of writing something on analgesics that's why I asked.
So, back to the story, my treatment still continues with both haematology and psychiatry. I feel a whole lot better, physically and psychologically. It hasn't been easy but then, nothing good comes easy! The story continues as the journey continues. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

THE PSYCHIATRIST, THE HEMATOLOGIST AND THE PATIENT - 2

Finally (^_^) Wednesday! My second session! Since psychiatry was the only clinic I had, I left home at my own convenience, by noon, which is kind of late! Everyone being ready, the doctor's began calling in patients and I went in. Dr. A asked how the week went and how I was coping. I told him all; it wasn't so bad my only problem was sleep. If I slept early at night, I would wake by midnight and remain so till dawn if I slept late, it would be very restless and I would wake exhausted and angry with just about everything. Then we had a short chat, he increased the carbamazepine dose gave an appointment for the following week and said he would be seeing me weekly for at least five-seven weeks and then depending on how well I have progressed, he can increase to every 2 weeks! Then he gave an assignment, I was to write down whenever I thought of the the drug or felt the urge to take it, the triggering cause and my action.
The second week was hell for me. Every turn I took and saw a pharmacy or chemist, I would want the drug. It was terrible. I thought that week would never end! And sleep was still a major problem for me! I honestly thought I was never going to get through it, the entire week was filled with thoughts of having only one shot of pentazocine. I wasn't going to take another just one! But I had to persevere. I had to find and remember things that would take my thoughts away from this drug! Writing was a way for me to do that and with the assignment, I definitely had a lot to write! Third session sets in and boy was I ever grateful! I was bursting to submit my assignment which had every detail of what and how of my reaction to wanting the drug during the past week.
Me: Good afternoon.
Dr.: How are you? How was the week?
Me: Terrible! It was tougher than last week.
Dr.: *knowing smile* Yes, so did anything happen?
Me: As in, did I take the penta? *laughing*
Dr.: *laughs* yes, that's what I mean. Did you?
Me: No, I didn't.
Dr.: That's good! *reading my assignment*
I proceeded to tell him of my love for writing, telling him I own a blog in which I write about myself and other minor stories. He asks of my educational ambition so I tell him of my plans and he encourages me to go further through social networks, to start a forum for drug dependent/addicts trying to stop. He said I would get people that would judge negatively and those that would judge positively. I told him I could relate to that and then the third session came to an end!
Week three and I can't put my feelings into words; super happy and grateful on being able to restrain myself from getting pentazocine to inject myself! Best part, it was my 30th birthday, 4th September, 2013. And I had every reason to be grateful and over joyed! My session with Dr. A was more of a friendly interactive this time. He asked how I have been feeling so far, what my plans for the future are, how I would react to disappointments and failures... He asked if I was absolutely sure I would never turn back to drugs again if I was faced with similar situations as to what led to my using them in the first place. He asked what would be my mechanism for surviving through hard times... Tough questions I tell ya! They all needed answers but before that, they needed a serious, focused, determined and resolved will power. I needed to be absolutely sure I wouldn't go back on myself. I needed to say what I would back up when and if the need arose!
When I got home, I reviewed the questions again and thought to myself "Fatima, I hope you are really as brave as you made it seem to the doctor!" I need Allah!!!!!






Tuesday, November 12, 2013

THE PSYCHIATRIST, THE HEMATOLOGIST AND THE PATIENT

So far so good it has been easy on the haematologist  I hope by the time the patient is in dire need of the haematologists help, the psychiatrist would have done a very good job. Being a sickle cell anaemia patient means encountering agonizing pains that could last from a few minutes to weeks which makes it the haematologists duty to find an analgesic that will keep the patient sane enough for a long time. Most of these drugs are either NSAIDs or opioid  These drugs may be used together sometimes or staggered (mixing them up instead of using one the entire period eg; morning dose could be diclofenac, afternoon tramadol and night ibuprofen).

Recently my thirst for want of pentazocine, an opioid, began again! I would rather not go into details of how it started. When I noticed I was getting back to the old habit, I knew I needed help but with that feeling of non-stop crisis, I just wasn't fully ready to face the beat. I went to my haematologist and complained of the pains I had been experiencing and only partially told him of my past dependence/addiction to pentazocine and how I was scared it could be happening again. He prescribed a couple of investigations requiring blood and urine samples and dihydro-codeine (DF118). To be honest the drug worked just as effectively as any other analgesic but in my mind there's this extra efficiency of pentazocine/promethazine when taken! I couldn't help myself I had to find a way of getting a shot of penta/prometh. I did! In fact, I managed to get 2 ampoules! Happy me! That was on a Monday. On Tuesday when I went to give my blood sample, I finally decided to go and see a psychiatrist.
It's a very rare case for a "sane" person to go and report to a psychiatrist in Africa and in cases of drug addiction/dependence it was a miracle if the person went of his/her own free will. It is a very hard habit to break. Lakin... when I found the psychiatry department and went in I met with Dr. A who had patients with him and after the introductions and all, he told me they had clinics on Wednesday afternoons and he would see me there. That was great news I had haematology clinic that same Wednesday morning, so it was perfect!
I had such a long day, leaving home really early so I can get an early spot with the haematologist  Normally, the doctors attend to in-patients before getting to out-patients wherever we are located; speciality or general. So clinic starts roughly between 10:00hrs - 11:00hrs. Blessed are those who forfeit sleep for they shall be called in first! Amen! I was called in first and I met Dr. A (apparently the hospital's filled with Dr's A). We had a lively, friendly chat on genotype, blood group and sickle cell awareness then I told him about my little miracle, Aisha (of course). I was cleared with the normal prescriptions; folic acid, proguanil and some analgesics; tramadol, celebrex (expensive drug) and an appointment in 4 weeks time (11th Sept, 2013). I didn't get any of the analgesics *embarrassed smile*. I was done pretty early which left me with so much time till the psych sessions. I was really tired and just wanted to sleep...no! Wait! Eat, drink then sleep.

It was finally time and psych Dr. A came in and casually checked the waiting room; I guess it was for me, probably to see if I was just another one of them say-no-do persons! I was there! My name was called! Our conversation went thus;
Me: Good afternoon
Dr: How are you?
Me: I'm fine thank you.
Dr: So why did you come in yesterday, it is very rare for patients to come into psychiatry on their own?!
Me: It's actually a long story but lemme start from the end I'm addicted to pentazocine/promethazine...see, I was addicted to it about 4 years ago..." Then I went into details of my last encounter and how the present one started. He asked questions, I answered. Some of the questions I can recall were on the triggering factors, personal life, family life, financial and educational, and finally the reason why I came seeking for help and if I came on  my own free-will.
I did come on my own free-will and I had two main reasons "First; for my daughter. If I live long enough till she gets older, I know she will be needing my help and I want to be fit/sane for her. Second, I am a sickle cell patient and I don't want there to be a time when I will be in dire need of an opioid but it doesn't work for me." Dr. A went on to give me more reasons Religious reasons, it intoxicates the system and makes us unaware of the real life and it is forbidden to pray or even be in that state with no legitimate reason. It harms the organs, gradually. During job interviews, a doctors general assessment of the applicant will be needed and he can't...no, won't give a pass to an addict. It could also affect my work and interaction with people.
Dr: I am glad you are determined. It is going to be a long process divided into two..." Then he went into detailed explanation of  how there's physical drug dependence withdrawal symptoms which we could treat with available medications and the psychological drug dependence withdrawal symptoms which would take a lot of work especially on my part. He told me about a drug test that would have to be done regularly but he didn't want to put more financial stress on me.
Dr: I want you to promise that you won't let me down. Don't take the drugs no matter how much you may feel you need it. I will be counting on your honesty to let me know if you took it.
Me: In Shaa Allah I won't let you down. In Shaa Allah.
He prescribed diclofenac (PRN) for any pain that I may experience, loperamide (PRN) for diarrhoea (these two are part of the physical drug dependence withdrawal symptoms which he said I may experience), carbamazepine (ON) at night only and an appointment for the following week.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first session with him and was looking forward to the following week!

Friday, November 8, 2013

TENDER HEART

The tears poured down her cheeks as she listened to Lionel Richie’s “Tender heart” and thought over her life with Suleiman. Kemi was not sure of anything any longer; was their relationship heading towards something positive? What was the chance of them being together, especially with her condition? How many people will support their union if there was ever going to be one? All these and so many other questions raced through her mind. It seemed to her she was in a relationship with a ghost! She was at least sure he loved her so much and honestly cared for her. Everyone around her knew about him including her parents. When she was on her own, she thought if he ever talked about her to any of his friends or anybody at all! They had met 4 years ago under very unpleasant circumstances.
Kemi was once married for 5 years to her high-school sweetheart; she had never known any man before him and loved him with all her might. Her parents were against Dele when she told them of her intention to marry him towards her final year in school. Being from a wealthy family and the only child of Alhaji and Hajia Abdulganiu, she was sent abroad to study chemical engineering. She was a very modest person and no one would ever tell her background if she didn’t mention it. Dele was from an average family, extremely good-looking, intelligent and a born charmer. Right from secondary school he knew he could always have his way with any lady he wanted. Although Dele and Kemi were in two different worlds during  school sessions, Kemi always made sure they kept in touch; she would call him twice daily sometimes for long hours, she would send him messages during her free periods checking on him and encouraging him on in his studies. She would send him gifts; money, designer labels and high-street fashion that he definitely would not afford with the life-style he lived. If only she knew the life style he lived!
Dele was the play-boy of the faculty of engineering, in fact, of the entire campus. One can’t mention Dele Usaini aka Dudu (for his ebony colour), and not be pointed straight to him. He was well known even among the JAMBITES. He changed girlfriends or better still, bed mates, every two weeks. He lavished any money got from both his parents and Kemi on wining and dining of women and sometimes abortions which he was forced to pay for by some “smart” women that were not going to be used and dumped that easily. He would pay; after all, he did have unprotected sex! Dele was really sweet and pretended to be the good boy Kemi thought he was being. His intelligence always enabled him pass all his exams and graduate successfully. Due to the Nigerian system, Kemi graduated before Dele and was able to do her service. Towards the end of her service, he had graduated and was preparing for his service. Kemi bothered him with talks of being serious because her parents were waiting for a grandchild from her and she wanted to have all of them with him. He finally budged since he always told her that they were meant to be together, when in actual sense he just wanted to settle down with her so as not to have to go through the hard-knock-life people were complaining of even though they were still pretty young. He had worked out her parents would secure a high place for him at their oil firm and he wouldn't have to toil very hard. He could still live the way he was used to, Kemi and her parents didn’t have to know so long as he was serious at work and showed her care and attention then everything was alright for him.
Two years after marriage, Kemi sat at the door step of their bungalow, which was a wedding gift from her parents, holding a medical test report, all her work belongings scattered around her, shedding tears, staring unseeingly at the test report she was holding. Was that the reason Dele never bothered if she got pregnant or not? Did he know she was infected with HIV from him? Did he know he had HIV? She knew she couldn’t have gotten it from any other means except through sex and that was only with him! She had never been transfused, never shared needles in fact she was the most health conscious person most of her friends had known. It was only Dele plus she found out of his play boy attitude very late; after their marriage. Kemi never told her parents of what had befallen her due to her unwavering love for him. She knew they would treat him very bad. So she read on HIV and found out one could live a very healthy life with it, have kids and be as normal people so long as they continue to take their drugs as it should be. She vowed to take care of them both, to go for treatment and they could live normally. No one had to know! Dele totally refused to listen to anything she had to say. He accused her of infidelity and being promiscuous what was worse, he refused to go for any treatment said he was healthy as a horse and from that day they lived as strangers in their own home.  Kemi went for the treatments alone. Dele’s work was reducing with years, the disease was beginning to take a toll on him, his health status deteriorated and eventually her parents found out and like she knew, he was asked to officially divorce her and handover all his belongings. Time was not on his side, he died. He had acquired the full blown AIDS.
Dr. Suleiman Waziri was the first doctor she saw when she began her treatments. He remembered clearly when she first stepped into his office looking so much older than her real age, exhausted and sleep deprived. Despite all that, she still had so much confidence in her gait and her speech was definitely the most royal sound he had ever heard. Dr. Waziri was taken in by her! Even though he was very well capable and handled such cases, he had recommended her to his consultant to start and continue her therapy with him. It would them no good for him to get attached to her. Despite that, he followed her progress closely, would call her often on the pretence of asking of her well being and with time, he would ask to see her outside the hospital environs; she was very much obliged to be in his company. He was really everything Dele refused to be before his death. Gradually, she found herself wanting to hear from him daily, to see him and just be in his company. He would occasionally remind her of Dele and see the tears well in her eyes; tears of regret, tears of sorrow, tears of self pity, Suleiman never allowed himself to ask. Three years was a long time to love a person that needed to be shown love, silently.
Five months after Dele’s death, Kemi got the courage to tell Suleiman of her feelings for him. In her words, she wasn’t really sure if she loved him for being there for her when she needed someone or because she had finally realized in him the type of man her parents had always wanted for her! One year later and they had gotten even closer, she knew nearly as much of him as he knew about her. She had introduced him to her parents and they had taken a liking to him. She met his twin brother who was a surgeon and their sister who was a paediatrician…she called them the “Family Doctors”. Suleiman made her feel all the love in the world would never be enough for her; he cherished her, made her feel healthy and normal. Made her feel everything would be alright sooner than she ever expected. Kemi wanted him in her life for as long as she would live. She wanted to wake up to his warmness, kisses and embraces. She wanted to be his and wanted him to be hers.

One fine day, Suleiman surprised her with the most unexpected news and took her to his home. On getting there, he ushered her into the garden where a lady in a wheel chair was facing them. “Kemi, I want you to meet my wife, Bilqis. She was involved in an RTA eleven years ago and became fully paralysed despite all the surgeries and trips abroad. She has been asking to meet you!” Kemi immediately got on her knees and began to shed tears. She hugged her so tight and apologized several times over! Suleiman got the message his wife was passing across and said “Kemi, she says there’s no need for you to be sorry, Suleiman has been really happy since he met you and it has made me really truly happy. I have been asking him to go out and get a lovely lady that would complete his life since I cannot do it. He has refused but finally, The Lord has answered my prayers and he has made the right choice. I asked to meet you so he can know I am at peace with whatever the both of you have decided to do. I pray for the best.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

LIEBSTER AWARDS

Oh my!!! This is a really great honour (for the second time) that my blog is nominated for a bloggers' award. The first time I was so over whelmed I ended up not doing the proper thing; to accept, thank, reblog and have my own nominees too. Phew!!! I have to be laziest blogger ever! I can't let Petite Diva down so I will do the proper thing this time. Here goes ...
Thank you so much, Petite Diva for this honour, I really do appreciate it. You inspire me to want to write more each time I read your blog. Y'all should checkout http://journalofapetitediva.blogspot.com for everything normal and natural (she can be a drama queen sometimes) but her writings are straight from the heart and I promise y'all will learn something *whispering* especially because she is a really cool pharmacist ;). So, check it out, journalofapetitediva.blogspot.com
Okay, as with everything, the Liebster Awards has a set of rules which I have copied in summary and also placed the link so y'all can check it out.



Leibster Award Rules Of Being Nominated
1- Thank the blogger who nominated you and place a link to their blog on your blog.
2- Answer the questions provided by the blogger, give random facts about yourself.
3- Nominate 5-11 other bloggers you feel deserve the award who have less than 200 followers and inform them you have nominated them (you can also nominate the blogger who nominated you).
4- Create a new set of questions for your nominees to answer!

NB: Leibster Award was created to recognise and discover and welcome new bloggers into the blogosphere!!! Leibster is a German word for; Kind, Dearest, Valued and other Lovely meanings to it.

Time to answer the Questions by Petite Diva:
1- Why did you decide to start a blog?: A very special person thought I had good writing skills and suggested I start.
2- What do you love about blogging?: The freedom to write what one feels, sees and/or experiences without restriction!
3- If you could travel anywhere in world, where would it be and why?: Egypt. It is home and there is always something and/or some place new to discover!
4- Who was your celebrity crush when growing up and now?: Prince William (when growing up) Johnny Depp (now)
5- What do you love best about your body?: Everything!
6- Fanta, Coke or Sprite?: *sigh Sprite will have to do
7- List one interesting fact about yourself.: I have a 4 year old daughter!
8- Thor, Superman, Spider man or Captain America, which one is your favourite?: Really Petite diva, really??? *smh* Spider man!
9- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? What are your dreams?: I hate this question. Sorry! *embarrassed face*
10- What is your favourite colour?: Blue

 Random Facts about Fatum
~ I was born with a blood disorder; Sickle Cell Anaemia.
~ 26 years between my daughter and I.
~ I can be super quiet for no apparent reason.
~ I have never owned a Blackberry.
~ I think I have slackened tear valves *wondering*
~ I studied Zoology.
~ My father's a Nigerian, my mother's an Egyptian which naturally makes me a Nigyptian!
~ I love to travel! Really, really love to travel.
~ Water's my most preferred drink.
~ I love Tea!
~ I made it to 11, it's a miracle!

Fatum's Nominee's

Fatum's Questions
1- Favourite fruit.
2- Who is the "father of evolution"?
3- Which of my blog post is your favourite?
4- Do you believe Nigerians' greatest strength is also their greatest weakness (ethnicity)?
5- Coconut, groundnut, cashew nut or wall nut?
6- Army or Navy?
7- Do you support any health cause/organisation? Which one?
8- Present obsession
9- Short nails are healthier than long nails. True or False?
10- Preferred sport
11- I suck at asking questions, don't I?






Monday, September 30, 2013

READ ALL ABOUT ME

Whenever I write or tell about my life tears well in my eyes for so many reasons; happiness, self pity, awe, gratefulness, regret and other emotions. I write about myself for I have been a lesson to me and I always hope that I can be a lesson to anyone that reads about me. I tell because I want to get a message across, because I want someone, anyone out there to learn a thing or two from my life. I have learnt from our beloved prophet Muhammad (SAW), his family and companions that our lives are lessons to others; either it's good or bad.

To say it doesn't bother me that people end up discussing my personal business as a leisure topic is  a great lie but I have been giving myself immunity against "what people say". That some people feel they can ask very tiny details that really has no effect whatsoever on the gravitational force, is just something that I try not to become the Queen of Hearts over, that is scream "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS"!
Each time I get into a situation I am so sure I will never pass through successfully or alive, I find myself somehow on the other side looking back wondering "at exactly which time did I pull though that?" It has all been the Grace of God. He has told us that He will not burden a soul with more than what they can bare. I need to make myself never ever forget this for indeed, I am here today after a terrible life in school, hard times during marriage, pregnancy, delivery, divorce, drug addiction, and so many other issues that now seem so trivial.
I am here today, on September 4th, 2013 I turned 30 years old, by Allah's Grace and Mercy! That for me is an amazing achievement, every reason to be thankful and forever unable to show the right amount of gratitude. These are a couple of reasons; I have a beautiful, healthy daughter, I have a caring mother, I have a system of 'supportive' colleagues, I have friends, I have my mental, physical, psychological and emotional health all in great condition. I don't think I need to look any further. I still act very human-ish; complain and be ungrateful a lot of times and other bad habits too but I am working on them now I pray I can accomplish something very soon In Shaa Allah.
Some very "private" revelations has helped a lot of people open up about their problems similar to mine or even different. It has helped me chose the path I really want to be on. All I need do is pray over it and keep trying my best. I have promised myself anyone that comes to me for help through my stories, I will not turn my back on them so long as I know I can help or can lead them to a path that will surely help them. May Allah make it possible for all of us to be each other's keeper's without having to boast or brag about it. Ameen ameen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY, A'ISHA ABDALLAH TJ

It's already 4 years since my little girl, A'isha came into this world and filled my life with so much hope and love. How time flies! I remember every single detail of the pregnancy, before delivery and after (I think). It remains one of my best treasures and A'isha remains my very best treasure. It's sad I can't be with her physically on this special day but I'm glad she has her father, brother and Mommy. May they all make it a day to be remembered by her In Shaa Allah.
Every year she gets older, she gets prettier and more intelligent Masha Allah! To say I love her is just an understatement... I adore her. She is my miracle in every way anyone can imagine and who doesn't cherish their miracle?! I can't think of anyone except a fool! 
On this day I want her to know once again she is always on my mind and in my prayers. She is always the smile between my tears. She is always the first ray of light that's my breaking dawn. She is the warm feeling when I'm cold. She is my hope when I have almost lost it. She is my gift. She is my heaven on earth. She is my beloved. She is my daughter; A'isha Abdallah. I love her with every breath I take; each time it refreshes like she's the oxygen my cells need to be sustained.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, little one. May ALLAH be your everything all the time every time, ameen ameen. 



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

OUTING WITH YOUR TODDLER

Yes, it's that time of the day for you to dress up to take your baby/toddler out for a walk or an occasion or to have fun at the park with other kids. You already have everything planned out, what your kid'll wear, what you'll wear, what you're going to pack in your bag and every other tiny important detail that is supposed to make life easy for you outside your home while with your kid. Now you're ready to leave, looking so elegant and your toddler looking so chic. Your toddler, out of excitement manages to slip his/her hand out of your's, you run to catch him/her then....SNAP! the heel of your shoes decides to break!



That's right, heels and toddler DO NOT go together. Forget what you see in Hollywood, even they are not that desperate to break their customized shoes or multi-million dollar legs!
But anyways, *sunny smile* I am here to give a few mommy-toddler-fun-time tips.... I hope I get to cover every single important details...

1- DRESSING
This is the number one vital detail for both mother and child. It is really very important for both to be comfortably dressed. And I know dressing for occasions can be really stressful, wanting to look your best, to make your kid stand out and all that, but no stress, you can be classy/elegant, comfortable and ready for any toddler emergency.

Children are very active, they love to climb, run, roll, jump, skip and just be FREE. In order to enjoy that freedom your child should be dressed in clothes that breathe and are exactly their size; it shouldn't be over sized, it shouldn't be too body hugging and it should be in accordance to the weather.
I know African/Arab mothers buy clothes that my friend calls "my child grow in it". I have argued with my own mother over this case so many times, (sometimes she wins, sometimes I win). In the case of her winning, I fold the sleeves and tack them neatly, when it's long sleeved. For trousers, I fold them neatly inwards and tack also. If it's much trouble, then a tailor can do it just as well.
When dressing a girl in an above the knee gown, put on a comfortable short knicker over her under pant so when she is climbing or if she falls, she won't be exposed. If a long gown then make sure it is not going way past her shin and a good comfortable short will be appreciated too. When putting on a sleeveless top or gown, make sure it doesn't keep dropping from her shoulders and make sure it isn't so low showing much of her chest; too many molesters so lets play our part and protect our girls.
As for the boys, please and please do NOT put on a suit for them, they are going to play not get married or going to court. Make sure his trousers or short are very well balanced on his waist and held by a belt his size if necessary. In case indeed it's a wedding event, a waist coat is very much okay. Same rule applies to T-shirts and tops, make sure they do not keep dropping from their shoulders.
And now, the mother; she should dress exactly like her child, yes that's right in clothes that breathe, aren't extra tight, extra flowing or extra anything, I mean we don't want our veils hooking on door handles or bus/taxi doors strangling us. And we don't want our trousers so tight we cant run or our skirts so short we can't bend over or our sleeves/skirts/gowns so dangly/dragging it catches or our tops so tight and short we keep pulling and adjusting.

2- FOOTINGS
This is exactly the same thing with the dressing. It should be the kids size, comfortable, heel-free and zip-free (I really hate those gladiators with zippers at the back for kids). It should also be worn according to the season. There are some foot-wears that can be worn in both season, but most times it is preferable to wear them opened sandals during the hot/summer season so their feet can grow well and breathe also. Over sized shoes with stuffing's are just a big NO. They won't be able to run without tripping, and already they naturally trip over themselves especially those below 6 years old. And to tell the truth, buying over size shoes is really a waste of money; it gets disfigured and torn due to dragging of the child's feet in them and tripping incessantly. High shoes for girls are also a big NO. I can tell you all the medical side-effects but I won't. I'll ask a question instead, as a lady, how easy is it for you to run in heels? You don't know? Lets look at our female athletes what they wear while running....that's right, flat-comfortable-well-fitting-sneakers. That means it is impossible to be at their best with high heels. Wear your kids sensible foot wears so they can play, get tired and sleep easily at night ;-).
As a mommy going out with your toddler you should always be ready to dash after them, they have a very strong relationship with the word "running off".Oh dear Lord, I can't begin to tell the number of times I have had to do an impromptu sprint after my Aisha. So always have on sensible, comfortable foot wears, leave the high heels for when you're going out alone.

3- ACCESSORIES
This will be in categories: a- Jewelries and Extra clothing. b- Feeding utensils and Toys c- Tote bag

JEWELRIES AND EXTRA CLOTHING
Everybody loves to accessories and you best be sure your toddler doesn't want to be left out. The boys would love to have very cute and attractive belts and wrist watches. Wearing a boy chains and rings is just not so cool. They do not need much leave it at the wrist watch and belt (if necessary). The girls most of the time will not leave your jewelries without putting up a fight. Get them simple plastics, yes they can get broken and once they do THROW them away. We don't want any minor injuries. Let them feel like the grownups they so much want to become. Although we should keep it at a minimum, not tight, not loose, not heavy, not long, not  much and we should also know our children's skin type; my daughter has allergy to all metals and plastic except gold....I know, talk about choosy! Like mother, like daughter!

FEEDING UTENSILS AND TOYS
Yes my fellow mommizens and daddizens too, those are also accessories in their own way. Toddlers can be very influencing making you take their favorite doll or gun with them on a visit or on any outing they so wish to bring their tag-along-buddy on! But don't worry, you can always make it classy too, and besides, it looks so adorable.


We should however know and let them know that there are limits, like it shouldn't be heavy, or extra big it can't fit into their backpack if they have one or the tote bag being carried.
Always have a sip-cup with water for them and if there is none, then a small bottle of water just for them will do and maybe a little cup just in case they have to drink something else. If you have the time to pack snacks or food they refused to eat at home in case you can't spend much outdoors, then by all means do! Toddlers and kids in general seem to have a revved up appetite outside their homes don't miss that chance *wink* have also simple cutlery; a small spoon or fork or a spork.

TOTE BAG
Of course we can't go anywhere without a bag to pack all the extra stuff. Other than the above named things, there are a few other items we should try to never leave the house without when outing with our kids;
1- Wipes (baby and/or antiseptic).
2- Tissues.
3- Hand sanitizers.
4- Extra diapers.
5- Extra clothes.
6- Extra underwears.
7- And for my fellow sub-Saharan Africans' a wrapper never goes to waste.
And just as an afterthought, if there's an "extra you" please take her/him along!

That's it! I think I have covered everything necessary! Have fun !!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

THE TELEPHONE CONVERSATION - 1


This is a conversation a lot of girls may be familiar with and it may not necessarily be the same theme either. Sometimes we have it with our best friends and other times with total strangers. I decided to let it be over the phone between a young lady (Lydia) and her much older neighbor (Fay).




Lydia: I think I am lost.

Fay: now you are back on track. The first step to finding the right path is accepting you are lost and need direction. Tell me sweetheart, what is wrong?

Lydia: *deep breath, exhales* well, I’m not so sure where to start from. It’s like I’m in a maze so many different paths but only one will lead out. I will start however and from wherever till I get the story right. I hope you will understand.

Fay: you have my full attention and I will try my best to understand without interrupting you.

Lydia: thank you so much Miss Fay. I met this guy and I just have this feeling that he is playing me but I can’t seem to muster up the courage to leave him. I feel broken and empty after we have sex. He keeps saying he loves me, and he does want to marry me. But deep down inside I just know that he is lying yet I can’t leave him. *begins to cry* I don’t know why! I don’t know how I got this way. *sniffing*

Fay:  do you want me to come over?

Lydia: *sniffing and trying to compose self* no ma’am. It would have been lovely, but I feel so ashamed of myself. I can’t even bare to look myself in the mirror. I am dirty and …..*breaks down again*

Fay: it’s okay sweetheart. Take your time. You will be okay, let it all out, baby.

Lydia: *a couple of minutes pass before she is composed* I’m so sorry about all this. *mustering courage to smile*

Fay: no don’t be, that is the expected reaction for the way you feel and I am really proud you haven’t done worse *chuckles*

Lydia: *laughs for a bit* yeh I guess so! You see the thing is when I face him with the truth of our situation; he says no, I am being paranoid. And then one day he gave me his mobile to hold for him and out of curiosity I decided to check his inbox and sent messages. *exhaling loudly* I knew it was at my own risk, but I just had to. I saw he sent a mail to some other girl called Diana. I felt my heart crash and tears welled up in my eyes, but I smiled and acted normal. Right now, I don’t recall what the message contained but I do remember “…I love you so very much, Diana.” He has never sent me such a message. In fact he has never done anything positive for me worth remembering which is what hurts me the most. It hurts because after knowing all that I still cannot leave. Why? What more am I waiting for?

After a few weeks, I told him what I knew and he said “it’s my mother’s choice and you know I wouldn't want to offend my mother. But I promise you, if you are not married in a few years time, I will marry you.” I just shook my head and with all difficulty held back the tears that were threatening to roll down my cheeks. He must really think I’m stupid or I must be really stupid for him to have told me that with all sincerity. I wanted to scream and tell him to cut the crap. To stop the lie. To stop everything. But I just let it pass as with all other obvious lies he has told me. Is it because I think I love him or is it the need for me to be loved that is causing me to downgrade myself?



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

SUPPORT SICKLE CELL AWARENESS - 4

In the last post, we discussed on the patterns through which SCA can be inherited and on how to detect either before pregnancy or early in pregnancy how to determine the genotype of the offspring before birth. With the risks involved, poor and probably unavailable facilities to carry out the process, and where available is highly very expensive for an ordinary African citizen to afford, there is also the issue of for and/or against abortion, tradition, strong headed men, and the list is endless. So far the best solution will be for the couples to go and have their blood tested to know their genotype. This saves a very great deal of hurt, pain, regrets and the likes. Lakin, knowing how we humans 'don't think', sometimes knowing the genotype does not stop us from eventually (or not) being a contribution to the woes of the sickle cell community.
I use myself as an example; I have a 5 year old daughter and her genotype, due to the Goodness of God, is HbAS. Her father is HbAS and I'm HbSS ...... okay calm down please! I knew his genotype before we got married, I was the one that asked him to go do it! However all the "yori-yori" and "I have faith in God" was put aside when I found out I was pregnant. I was scared and I scared the life out of him too. He didn't know how it felt like to be living with an SCA patient and for the first  time he experienced it in 4D. I'm guessing it was among the worst times of his life; he donated blood twice to me, I would wake up in the middle of the night with so much pain from which I end up spending a week in the hospital given intravenous fluids and being transfused. The following week I would be home and after that I would be back. We had a time-table! I get admitted on Wednesday, return home the following Tuesday and be back again the following Wednesday. Life was a swing! Even the O.B.G.Y.N wards knew me...I had a special bed at the very back where it was cleaner and quieter! Okay! Reality checks: I was suffering in two different degrees; physically and psychologically. Some other time for the complete story.
Now that we know some people are stubborn and still get into offspring-bearing-relationships that could give rise to sickle cell patients, the next step is to know what to expect, how to handle it, who to seek help from and all the right/helpful things that will assist the patient. Scolding and saying "why did you?" is not going to change the situation.
You decided to go ahead with your marriage after knowing your genotype and knowing each of you is a carrier of the sickle gene. You have kids. Among them could be an HbSS child. What do you know about sickle cell anemia? How do you help the kid be healthy and able to cope with the "stress" of childhood? How do you keep yourself prepared for all the unexpected pain attacks? These are some of the important questions I hope I can help all of us understand.




The Know How/When/What about SCA patients
The first thing every parent, relative, friend and community need to know is exactly what Dr. Kenneth Enwerem of Omega Cares Foundation said describing sickle cell patients "They are not abnormal. They are special kids with a special condition, requiring special care".
Know also that the child did not bring it upon themselves but was as a contribution from both parents.
Know that the child is experiencing pain caused by the SCA and hurt/sadness from seeing their loved ones running around not knowing exactly how to ease the SCA pain.
Know that as younger kids they are likely to experience pain more often than later on in life; in other words, the intensity reduces as they get older!
Know that as kids, we cannot stop them from playing but we as parents and adults can monitor the hours they play and the sort of games they could participate in.
Know that it is your job as a parent to make sure the teachers and friends know of your child's health condition. This is so his/her activity can be monitored while at school also.
Know that you cannot stop the crisis from arising but you can help in easing the pain when it starts.
Know during the pain, all your kid can think of is how to get rid of that part of his/her body that is aching so they get pretty much impatient/irritated with any suggestion to keep calm and/or relax.
Know that water is indeed really your child's best friend! Encourage them to drink as much as they can in a day. Some may still bed wet till a really grown age but somehow it beats having to be woken up by a scream late into the night.
Know that as the parents you are solely in charge of making sure your kid takes his/her medication accordingly, eats healthy (even if most of the time their appetite is poor) it doesn't have to be much at a time.
Know that you can tell a lot through the color of your child's urine. Be very observant! You should also notice the color of the conjunctiva; is it very much jaundiced (yellow/green) or just a little?!
Know that they want to feel and be like the other regular kids but cannot be, not because they are less talented or unintelligent, but because physical stress wears them out faster than you can finish calling out their name!
Know that your child can still learn other easy fun less physically demanding activities such as riding a bicycle, swimming (but not for prolonged hours) and short distance walkathons. These are the few I can permit myself to mention.
Know that your child may be physically restricted (due to stress) but they are intellectually very active so encourage them or better still get them into the habit of reading and writing, playing creative games too. They are still fully functional.
Know that your child should be properly dressed according to the season; when it is cold, dress them warmly. when it is hot dress them simply.
Know that as they get older, although the regularity of the pain crisis reduce, there may be other complaints of pain anywhere in the body and this is caused by the constant untimely breakdown of the RBCs. These must be taken as seriously as any pain crisis and checked up at once.
Know that even though they may no longer be so dependent on you, they still need reminders from time to time to take their medications and keep up the regular water drinking habit too.
Know that your kid will grow, learn how to handle physical stress and have added stress to the list such as emotional, financial, educational and the likes. All they need is support, love and care.
Know that despite the heavy and numerous medical burdens that comes along with being SCA patient, they can and still do live a normal life; go to school, have friends, fall in love, have careers, get married and have kids.


SUPPORT SICKLE CELL AWARENESS - 3

So far I have written generally on sickle cell disease, how it comes about and the types concentrating on sickle cell anemia, it's symptoms and the main causing element of it; erythrocytes. I think we are making progress.
Knowing that the hemoglobin carries the genes through which SCA is inherited from both parents, I would like to briefly explain it.



AS and AS
male
A
S
female
A
AA
AS
S
AS
S






 AS and SS
male
A
S
female
S
AS
SS
S
AS
SS















 AA and SS
male
A
A
female
S
AS
AS
S
AS
AS






 AS and AA
male
A
S
female
A
AA
AS
A
AA
AS












 AA and AA
male
A
A
female
A
AA
AA
A
AA
AA




 SS and SS
male
S
S
female
S
SS
SS
S
SS
SS


















 
AA(yellow) - normal hemoglobin
AS(orange) - sickle cell trait/carrier
SS(red) - sickle cell anemia


For diagrams 3, 5 and 6, every pregnancy is expected 100% HbAS offspring, HbAA offspring and HbSS offspring respectively.
For diagram 4, in each pregnancy a 50% chance of HbAS offspring or 50% chance of HbAA offspring is expected.
For diagram 2, each pregnancy has a chance of 50% HbAS offspring or 50% chance of HbSS offspring.
For diagram 1, each and every pregnancy has a 25% chance of HbAA offspring, 25% chance of HbSS offspring or a 50% chance of HbAS offspring.

A lot of us make the mistake of thinking "if we have 4 children only one will be HbSS and one will be HbAA while the other two will be HbAS". It's wrong! The genetic ratio is for each and every time a couple will be having a child. If for instance a couple plan on having 3 kids and he is HbAS while she is HbSS every time she gets pregnant, that particular fetus could either have inherited a 50% probability of being HbAS or 50% chance of being HbSS. That means after all the kids have been born (not at once of course), the three of them could all be HbAS or HbSS or 2 out of 3 could be HbAS while 1 is HbSS or 1 could be HbAS while 2 could be HbSS. There is no saying this amount will come out with HbSS or this amount won't have HbSS. It remains unknown. However, modern improvement in medical sciences has come up with forms of prenatal diagnostic techniques that are used to determine if a fetus has any form of genetic disorder before it is born. 

-Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) entails the use of samples from the placental tissue of the fetus from as early as 8 weeks till 12 weeks of gestation. CVS is used for testing chromosomal abnormalities and other specific genetic disorders (including SCD/SCA) especially when the parents are known carriers of the defective gene and/or there is a family history of a known genetic disorder.
As with everything in life, there are risks involved in such tests and some exemptions such as women with known HIV statuses because the chances of the fetus getting infected is greatly increased. Not to mention it is expensive.

-Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) as the name suggests the process is used to test for or detect genetic disorders before implanting the embryo into the uterus of the lady. This means it is carried out via in vitro fertilization. A greater advantage of this process is that it totally eliminates the option of pregnancy termination otherwise known as abortion  and also more chances of being sure about having offsprings that will be free of any form of genetic disorder, in our case sickle cell. This also comes along with it's own risks and is equally really expensive.
I think I should briefly point out that in vitro fertilization enables for more than one fertilization at a time from the same couples which allows for greater chances of having healthy embryos. Fertilized embryos can also be stored by freezing however it usually does not have a successful survival birth rate.