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Friday, September 18, 2015

SICKLED ZIRCON

Living with an ailment your entire life can be said to be the heaviest baggage one can carry through the journey of life. While some are left with the struggle of only carrying and learning to live with their baggage while receiving so much love and support from the people in their lives, others have to carry their own baggage under the evil eyes and venomous utterances of society, scorned, rebuffed, discriminated against, and stigmatized.

Asma’u Ahmad, a graduate of microbiology from Bayero University Kano (BUK), first daughter to Mrs Sa’adatu and Malam Ahmad, and the only child of the Ahmad family living with sickle cell anemia since two others (Abdul Ahad and Abdul Akhir) were lost to the battle 15 and 13 years ago, was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at 8 months old and has lived with and battled it till date. Growing up with sickle cell anemia was exceptionally hard for Asma’u not only because she had two other siblings who suffered the same ailment with her at a time and so the love and care had to be shared equally between all three of them then, but also because she had to live a life of isolation from her peers by her peers. Their parents did a good job of raising three soldiers then one and the rest of their children through the years, living through the pain and trauma and always managing to stand strong like diamond hearted stallions – ever ready to help and support, so full of hope. 

As a child, Asma’u had to be a lone-soldier because none of the little girls around her home would play with her because they thought her very weak and to an extent incapacitated. Her little lady friends would rather have her sit and watch them play for her, for even in their little baby minds, they had processed that playing with them always made her ill for some reason and even though they didn’t understand that reason, they still avoided it – they pitied their dear friend and thought they were helping her stay healthy, little did they know that they were making her feel so alone and inferior to them. “I remember always feeling isolated and intimidated by my friends as a child. Whenever I managed to forcefully play with them, it ended in series of complains about aches all over my body to my mother and sometimes, full blown crisis. I’d miss a few days of school since my crisis didn’t linger for too long back then, then return to start struggling to keep up with my peers and the circle continued. I won’t stop trying to play with them then even when I realized what it did to me because I was afraid of being looked down on. I thought I was disabled and it hurt me so much.” One noticeable and most alluring feature of Asma’u is her ability to take life as it comes, always focusing on the good in every situation she finds herself and trusting God to do what is right for her – she never stops smiling.

Asma’u, fondly called Asmee by her friends and loved ones, is one of the many sickle cell warriors that have faced the monstrous countenance of discrimination. The pain I saw in her eyes when I asked whether she has been openly rebuffed or discriminated against because she has sickle cell anemia left me a little heartbroken, and actually hearing and seeing her talk about it made me wish I hadn’t asked her to talk about it and at the same time, I’m glad she shared. A blind man could see how much of a touchy subject it was for her “discrimination is what I’ve had to deal with all my life. After primary school the only people who wanted to be friends with me after knowing I was/am a sickler were guys, even up till date – somehow the guys understood that I was not a thing to be feared , thrown away or avoided, but rather a person who needed friendship and support. For the ladies; they won’t even come close enough to learn that there was more to me than the type of blood I carry in my body for reasons best known to them. During my university days, I had to deal with moving on from relationships so many times I lost count. So many times I had to let go of people and move on, and so many times it hurt just as much as the first. It hurt and still hurts because people leave me not because of a fault of mine or because I’m not good enough for them but because I carry a type of blood I didn’t choose in my bloodstream. Some guys miraculously fall out of love or ‘just don’t feel it’ anymore soon as I reveal that I’m SS, others hang on pretending to be there through the storm after knowing just to take to their heels after the first crisis in the relationship, others genuinely love and want to be with you but their parents/relatives won’t have any of it and would do all that it takes to put a stop to the relationship. People say marrying us, SS females, destroys a man financially and psychologically. They say marrying an SS male is signing up for widowhood at a young age for the ladies – making us look and sound like a problem every sane human being must avoid. We build strong walls and bridges to be able to live through our pains and carry our baggage in peace but people would stop at nothing to bring them down with discrimination and stigmatization. What fault of ours is it that we were born with sickle cell? Don’t we deserve the happiness people always talk about that comes with getting married and building a home of your own? Is living with sickle cell anemia not painful enough for us that we have to deal with human afflicted heartaches and so much hatred?” she looked so brittle, like just heated glass that has been exposed to sudden drop in temperature – ready to break. Seeing one of the strongest sickle cell soldiers I’ve ever met display so much pain while talking about a sickle cell related issue only says that it cuts deep. I’ll let your imaginations inform you.

Personally, I don’t see any reason behind the stigmatization on sickle cell and the discrimination against sickle cell patients; for one, it is not a disease one gets through an atrocious act neither is it a curse upon people who have committed an abomination or sin nor a punishment for people who have transgressed – it is not a disease for the despicable and it is not contagious. People living with SCD are inarguable (or not) the lot that need all the love and support from the people they come across in life – from all. I’m not trying to support the discrimination against people suffering from other contagious diseases, but if people suffering from genetically inherited diseases like SCD that cannot be transferred to another person by any form of contact whatsoever can be treated with so much disdain, what message does this send to the former class of people? This is something we really need to look into and address as a people that have access to so many educative platforms in this present age and time. 

Asma’u has been a sucker for love since her teenage years and even now in her late twenties she still remains so. ‘Hopeful romantic’ she calls herself. When asked whether like many other people who have been through her ordeal she have given up on love and marriage, she replied; “No, I’ve not given up on either. I believe that God has created someone special for everyone in this world, it’s just that fortunately or unfortunately, some of us have to go suffer through a lot before we find our special significant other. I can’t give up on love even if I wanted to. Love is a beautiful thing and I will continue waiting and at the same time looking for it until it either finds me or I find it. My own time will come.” I also believe your time will come, Asmee. One of these days, someone special will come and make you fall in love again, someone even more special than you expect, someone that will love all of you and make you smile at the idea of being in a relationship, getting married, and starting a family of your own again – a man who will live your fairytale with you. Now who wouldn’t love and be proud to call a strong spirited and jovial person like Asma’u Ahmad Rufa’i his wife?! She is the human definition of perseverance. 

Asma’u says she gives the most credit for helping her fight sickle cell anemia to both her parents for always being there for her, helping and supporting her through the years and never for once showing tiredness or giving up on her. “I would give my parents the whole world if I could. I didn’t start my sickle cell journey this strong. As a child I always complained and blamed every bad thing that happened to me on sickle cell anemia until my father stepped in to teach me how to be strong. My father made me realize that sickle cell is not the cause of all of my problems; it was and is not a curse on me. My father taught me that God has kept a hidden blessing in my battle and I have to be strong and persevere if I wanted to find that hidden blessing. My mother on the other hand is my love bank. She’s always there to help soothe my pains with her kind words and hands. I don’t know what I would’ve done with my life without my parents’ endless supply of love, support, and sacrifices for me. They are always tirelessly there for me when I need them. I pray God Almighty rewards them with the highest rank in jannah for all of their troubles on this earth.” She also outlined that what has kept and motivated her to keep pushing is the knowledge that God did not give her sickle cell anemia because he hates her or to punish her but because He loves her, and also for a special purpose only He knows about for now. “Allah loves me. He gave me sickle cell anemia for a reason, and I might not know the special purpose He has for giving me sickle cell anemia for now, but I know there is one. I also believe I was created to be pure; islamically, it is believed that if you’re afflicted by a calamity or an ailment and you accept it with faith that it is from God and then you have patience and persevere while trusting God to do what is best for you, that calamity or ailment will be a source of gaining reward and expiation of sins for you – so my Allah blessed me with sickle cell to always cleanse me of my since so as to die spotless.”

Asma’u is the true image of the meaning of her name; she is every bit beautiful from the inside out and everyone who comes close to her will undoubtedly adore her unless that person doesn’t come close enough, she radiates beauty and makes sure she leaves a lot of it wherever she goes, I call her ZIRCON which is an important and beautiful gemstone of many colors that is also a historical gemstone used for thousands of years. It is sometimes looked upon as a cheap diamond stimulant but it is in itself a valuable gem. A zircon’s color diversity is caused by traces of certain impurities that end up making it beautifully colorful just like Asma’u Ahmad; the existence of sickling red blood cells in her body don’t make her any less of a precious human being, the discrimination people throw at her are the impurities that have made her the beautiful and strong woman that she is right now, and hopefully she will be remembered for a very long time even beyond this worldly life. 

Maryam Ado

Monday, September 7, 2015

THANK YOU ALL

On Friday 4th September was my 32nd birthday *does Sujood esh-shukr* and you all made it a very happy day for me. Of course I was really, still am, thankful for another year yet, I was so miserable and downcast. So many reasons which included me badly missing my little girl,  my Maama and all their love and physical presence in my life. Really, life without the presence of the people you love the most on earth is very tough and almost unbearable. Almost, for we we bear it keeping in mind, hoping and praying that one day soon, we will be reunited with them again, on earth before death.

Still, so many of you took the time, effort and cost to call (and sing the happy birthday song in your horribly welcomed voices), text, whatsapp, mention, DM, and Facebook me just to let me know that I mean something to you. And I am honestly thankful and grateful to all of you who did. Without those gestures, I tell you, I would have cried all day long and night. But it was REALLY hard not being happy. Like seriously horribly very hard. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I can't ever thank you enough for your real and virtual presence in my life. Thank you forever more *blows musk scented kisses*

Monday, August 17, 2015

CELEBRATING MARYAM AWAISU

15th August, 2015 was a very big day for me, sickle cell supporters, well wishers,  friends and family of Maryam Awaisu and Maryam Awaisu herself as she launched her very first novel on sickle cell titled Burning Bright. It is a fictional but extremely real and accurate story on the life of Nadia Habeeb who was born with sickle cell anemia, how she struggled with it, how her academics, work, social, family and even her love life were affected both negatively and positively by this genetically inherited disease. But, I'm not here to tell you, my dear readers, of the story but to celebrate Maryam whom I'm so very honestly proud of. Words can't, but will have to suffice in expressing my joy, love, respect and appreciation of this amazing, young, talented and humble lady.

I met Maryam Awaisu on line (Twitter; @Ice131Queen) when I was in Egypt in 2012 and I'm guessing it was under some sickle cell awareness campaign (very bad memory, I have). She was so excited by this blog and had apparently mentioned me to every family, friend and colleague who was willing to listen. And when I returned I was, still am being, overwhelmed by the degree of welcome, love and hospitality Mommy Awaisu showed me. I can say anywhere, no strangers (except in-law's) became family faster than myself and the Awaisu's. Now anytime I have to be in Kaduna, I have a home with no worries or stress. And it's all thanks to the way, amazing Maryam or rather, Maryamazing presented me to her family.

Now, I can't really tell you this or that particular thing about Maryam but on that day, 15th August, I discovered a lot of things I never knew with the exception of one thing I've always known about her; she is a kind, compassionate girl. So many people tend to disagree with me on that saying she's mean and evil but hey, who isn't? Anyways, all of us who were present on the book launch of #BurningBright and watched the slide show of her very young and very fruitful life were taken unawares, not really, but I was stunned, to say the least! All the good work she's done to help the needy and sick and how she's never bragged about them. For a person to organize an event to raise money for others is simply godly. It requires strength, patience, understanding and most of all very good health... Don't forget Maryamazing is a sickle cell patient and doesn't need stress... But she stresses herself so those less fortunate than her can have a day of hope or even weeks or years, when she can help it. We saw she's been her class valedictorian since secondary school days, even securing a scholarship to study in the United States of America which at this point, permit to say "Ahn Ahn, Wow!" How can you not be impressed by her?!

So much about her and so little I can tell you, but I'm not worried for good work gets its publicity by itself without much hassle and those whose lives she has touched and will still touch are forever never forgetting Maryamazing! As for me, I am eternally thankful for the day Allah pushed her in my direction so I could be a part of the first of many more special days to come, in shaa Allah and I know many people have said it but I am really very honestly and sincerely proud of her. And it is such a great honor to have been part of her special guests at the event and a part of her family.

I celebrate you, Maryam Awaisu. I love you and I am completely inspired by you!

PS: We're out of stock on hard copies of #BurningBright by Maryam Awaisu but you can order online for your digital copy on Amazon amzn.to/1Jj3ZBI. Thank you for the support 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

JOURNEY OF A GOLDEN HEARTED SOLDIER

Fathoming what suffering really is can be very relative; depending on the type and degree of suffering one has experienced and had to deal with firsthand. For some it is waking up with a pounding headache, the prick of a thorn in their flesh, or the feel of something very hot upon their skins or tongues, while for others it is a lifelong experience of needles, pills, an endless array of hospital beds, moving and dealing with pains from the insides and outsides of their bodies on a daily basis.

The latter is the case of Bashir Sidi Ali, a 22 year old final year student of Kaduna state university. “I was diagnosed with sickle cell disorder when I was six months old, and ever since my life took a very painful turn. Haha! Actually it never turned, this is how it has always been.” Said Bashir, starting his story on how he has walked on thorns all his life.

Bashir, fondly called Snoozy by his friends and loved ones, like a lot if not all sickle cell patients, had what we can call a very rough childhood. His own case was especially different because the only kids that came close to him didn’t do so to play or be friends with him but to make fun of his big head and thin frame. Some kids even went as far as holding his hands just to measure how thin it was, measure the size of his head against his very thin neck. “Looking back, I can't even blame any of them. Why, they couldn’t understand why I was the way I was or why I was as weak as I was – I just couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t understand why I was that way either, I just knew I was different and weak because of my big head. Sometimes when all the kids won’t play with me I’d ask myself why my parents chose the kind of body they chose for me instead of a normal one. I’d cry myself to bed every single night. Haha! We were all just a bunch of ignorant kids.” Bashir went on. But like any other predicament with a bit of an advantage, Bashir always came top of his class in school because there was no one to play with even if he wanted to. He was always in class, studying and playing with what he refers to as his “one soldier circle of friends” – HIMSELF. But then like any and every other child, he wanted to have fun, participate in inter-house competitions, play football and police and friends with his mates among other things – he was jealous of the other kids. No one invited him to do any of those things, and even when someone did, he couldn’t keep up. Losing a 6 year old brother to the sickle cell anemia and having a tall, energetic younger brother who everyone mistook for his elder brother were especially heartrending for him while growing up. As the years went by, before moving to Kaduna from Lagos, Bashir had a few friends. “They didn’t always tell me what they were up because I couldn’t keep up with them. So it was just me trying to impress and forcefully play with them. But I couldn’t even be the imposer for long – I’d get tired after a moment’s try, slowly go to drink some water, and come back again. The struggle was tiring and endless.” Like he said, IT WAS ROUGH.

“As an adult I thought people would see beyond the blood disorder and accept me for who I am, but reverse was/and is still the case. I meet people and we start off great, they think I’m this great guy they can roll with and be friends with until they know I’m a sickler. I’ve lost so many friends, especially girls, to the fact that I’m a sickle cell patient that I’ve even lost count.” He went on, “but then those that are down with me, are down with me all the way. I’ve acquired friends that love me for who I am. We respect one another and are loyal to one another. And I think that’s all that matters in every relationship. But finding a woman that would love and stand by me is something I’ve almost given up on, to be honest. I don’t even see it happening.”

Bashir Sidi Ali describes sickle cell crisis as unendurable, heavy-handed, excruciating, and nearly unbearable. Like every sickle cell patient, Bashir invented a couple of tactics to help him ease the pain in times of crisis; “in times of crisis I’ll use a piece of clothing or a belt to tie the area of pain up or rest my weight on the spot when possible. Other times when I ache all over, I just shut the pain out in my mind and think of JANNAH (heaven). I believe whatever suffering I’m going through is a thing of this world, and I won’t take any of it with me when I die. So I just shut the pain out and picture myself doing, in heaven, all the things I couldn’t and still can't do because of my blood disorder and somehow it goes away. It’s going to be beautifully painless up there in shaa Allah.” When asked about the one crisis he would never forget, he said the one that lasted months on end. “It lasted for months back in secondary school. I couldn’t stand, talk less of walk – I was carried everywhere. My hands were off, my legs were dead. Sometimes I couldn’t even feel them. I couldn’t do anything then, and so I had to miss two terms. School didn’t even matter then because I knew I will always be left behind for the rest of my life. I thought I would never get pass that crisis. I suffered.”

Bashir Sidi Ali sings when he's not too busy with school or fighting sickle cell, and he does that very well too. He finds solace in singing. He refers to music as his safe place; a place he runs to even when all he wants to do is run away from the whole world and even from him. “Music is my biggest escape” said Bashir, “because hearing people say they love my songs go a long way in uplifting my spirit. I feel I'm not a loser and it helps my depressed self. It’s like I have something to do that is beautiful and people love me for it.” even a deaf, dumb, blind and lame man could hear, see and feel the joy radiating from his whole being as he spoke about his music. The sheer passion! “Music is my safe haven; even sickle cell can't find me in my safe place. Music to me is just rrrrrrrrrrrr.”

The fact that sickle cell patients have at a point, if not all their lives, had to deal with depression is an all too familiar news to everyone who has come into contact with an SCD patient. Having to deal with pain and sometimes even discrimination on a daily basis is bound to do that to just anyone, sickle cell patient or not. A lot of people when faced with difficulties for a period of time, in desperate need for serenity and comfort, fall back on drugs (either overdosing on prescribed drugs or self medicating). When I asked Bashir how he dealt with depression through the years, his reply clawed at my heart. “I still am a depressed person and I don’t think that is ever going to change. Over the years, my parents taught me better than to seek solace in drugs. It was and is still not on my list of option. Even in the hospital, in times of crisis, there is this pain relief injection; I would cry out for it when the pain becomes unbearable. My doctors, God bless their hearts; don’t always give in to my cries in a bid to make sure my body doesn’t get addicted to it. Till date I don’t even know the name of that injection, saboda tsaro.”

Bashir is evidently a person that sees the good in every situation, and as such is easily loveable by everyone and anyone that gets to know him. A golden-hearted soldier. He says the most credit for helping him hang on and actually fight sickle cell goes to both his parents; his father for always being ready to finance treatments and for giving him manly support, and his mum for always making sure he was comfortable even at the expense of her own comfort. “They are my support group. I'm sure they suffer the pain of seeing their child live the way that I do. They may not say it out loud, but I’m sure they suffer even more than I do. It has not been easy on them. But then Allah knows what’s best for all of us, and that’s what keeps me going. I just want to be successful in life. I want to be able to help people someday. That’s my goal and motivation – what keeps me going.”

Bashir sidi ali never talked about sickle cell with anyone for fear of being discriminated against and for other reasons best known to him. Until now he has seen no need to come out in the open and embrace his predicament. now it’s not just him; a lot of other people out there hide their genotype realities for fear of discrimination and maybe even fear of being labeled a weakling and a thing to be looked at with pity. They just want to be looked at and treated as any normal person would be – so they act normal, carrying their pains around with a smile and wearing their selves out in a bid to keep up with the rest of the world. I'm not saying sickle cell patients aren’t normal or that meeting suffering with a smile isn’t a good thing to do, but what if the whole world accepted them for what they truly are? I mean if you can see the substance a person is actually made of, how beautiful and loveable they are, their capabilities and resourcefulness as human beings without knowing their genotype or HIV status and what not, then you can love them regardless of what runs through their veins. What makes a person is not the type of blood that runs through their veins, it is what they carry in their hearts, their mindset, their strength and their overall attitude and approach towards life and the people they come in contact with, and frankly, sickle cell doesn’t affect any of those places. I have personally met a lot of healthy people with very sick attitudes – so accepting and loving someone goes way beyond the structure of their blood cells. I also don’t mean to belittle other people’s pains and struggles, but a sickle cell patient’s pain is second to none. Calling them strong doesn’t even begin to describe what they are. They are the strongest amongst the strong, warriors, fighters with hearts that never give up on hope – on life. So I call on whoever is reading this to help advocate against discrimination against sickle cell patients. Embrace them and support them in every way you can. There’s enough love in the world to go round, don’t deprive them of it. You never can tell whose sickle cell journey you can make easier by showing a bit of care. God bless us all!

I want to say a very big thank you to BASHIR SIDI ALI for trusting me with his story and letting me share it with the world. It has inspired me a great deal and I hope it inspires whoever reads it too. May God almighty continue to strengthen you and bless the work of your hands!

{To support, listen to and download Bashir Sidi Ali’s songs; go to https://notjustok.com/p/sirbash_ ++ If you're a sickle cell patient and this story has inspired you in anyway and you want to share your story with us, kindly contact 08050651935 or send an email to mimsado24@gmail.com. YOUR STORY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!}

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

EIDEIN FI YAUM (TWO CELEBRATIONS IN A DAY)

Eid Sa'eid my little one and a very happy birthday to you. And although I don't wait for a specific day to make dua for you, I pray you are blessed so much with the right kind of people all the time everytime who are there to lift you up when you're down, remind you of Allah's Magnanimity and Mercy, ameen. Today's the first of Shawwal, 1436 After Hijrah which means its Eid el-Fitr and it beautiful coincided with your birthday, you're 6 years old today and I'm still in awe at how much you've grown. You'll always be that 5 days old pre-term baby with the yellow cannula stuck in your tiny hand supported by cardboard to me. Have I mentioned I love you?! I do! With all that is me and until my dying breath. You have brought me so much joy and happiness, doesn't matter that you're far.
You know what you are to me? You're the proverbial "light at the end of a tunnel". I always feel I'm in a tunnel with no way out and no hope and then I look up and there you are, shining brighter and more steady than the lights from a lighthouse. You keep me going forward forgetting my pain and loneliness. I think of you and I smile sometimes I laugh...oh how I've told the story of you over and over and over again! There's no doubt you are just the ultimate in my life.
This is a late post, I returned from Jaji so tired I only wanted to sleep. We had so much and you were really happy. Happiest I've seen you in a long time and may Allah keep you so all the time, ameen. Your mommy says you woke up really early waiting for me to bring your cake. Oh and you've began to loose your teeth, the lower incisor has fallen out and is already growing. I can't get enough of you, Sunshine and love. You are special for only a handful of people have their birthday's coincide with Eid. May we live in good Faith to witness more Eids and birthdays, ameen.
Have a blessed and beautiful love filled year. Ameen.

Monday, March 16, 2015

IN THE PSYCHIATRIC WARD

A sound mind in a sound body ~ Aristotle.
“Redemption song, that’s all I ever heard…the songs of freedom… redemption song” Hilda sang as she rolled a piece of paper, placed it between her lips, dragged in a breath and blew imaginary smoke making her grand kids and daughter laugh. Hilda wasn't this amusing when she was admitted, she was regularly making a rack, throwing her belongings, pouring out her drinking water, body spray, juice and just about anything she could lay her hands on, she also probably cursed, but in Kiswahili (she was Kenyan) and told the entire ward they are only good for ‘gulma’. She had to be put in the isolating room a couple of times just to ‘teach her a lesson’.  And I guess she did learn! Hilda got discharged a week before we did even though she came in a week after we did. This made me really want to slap in-sight into my sister’s head! Sometimes, Hilda would ask me for a pen and paper and she would write notes to her doctors apologizing and telling them she knows she has a medical condition and promises to stay on her medication plus how she really appreciates their efforts but she really wanted to go home. I don’t know much about psychiatry and if they can tell the truth from the lie but I think she just wanted to go home and not that she was going to carry on with her treatment but, I guess that’s really not for us to judge. Medical ethics does not allow for one to be retained after he/she has proven to respond positively to medications and is not a harm to themselves or the community, so Hilda was discharged.
Hajiya Maimuna spoke to herself; actually saying things which made sense only if you've been listening from the very beginning and even when you ask her what she’s murmuring, she tells you. She was a tad untidy with her belongings, clean, but untidy. I was frightened of her at first (I was frightened of all of them, including my sister….just saying!) Hajiya Maims was always in the bathroom, it became funny with time especially when the nurses were handing over duty, they go round the ward to each patient and explain to the one taking over the what, how and when of that patient. At Hajiya Maims’ space, you’d hear them screaming out her name “Hajiya Maimu, kina ina? Ki fito, ki gyara wajen kwanciyan ki.” And she would emerge from the toilet; I wonder why I never followed her to know what she did in there. I dunno how long she was before we came in but she was discharged 2 weeks before we were and guess what? Yep! She was brought back for being violent. Psychiatric cases are really one of the toughest and I have so much respect and admiration for the persistence of the doctors and nurses. Hajiya Maims was probably the kindest patient in the ward, she had no patient-relative with her (usually psychiatric patients hardly need them for they are physically fit) but she got visitors during visiting hours which I think cheered her up a lot. She shared whatever was brought for her and did not mind if any of her things got missing. I pray she is doing better now.
Farida just sat at the corner of her bed and said nothing to everyone all day. She only smiled a bit when the Sister teased her and when I realized she wasn’t so bad, I also began teasing her. At first she would look at me and just keep staring, it was unnerving but finally she relaxed and would smile at me too. I heard she never spoke to her doctors during ward rounds, many of the patients hardly do, they seem to not like them and feel they have been brought there as a form of punishment.  Her mother was staying with her; she was really very prayerful and kind. Farida, I was told, has had bipolar for a very long time, about 13 years after the birth of her last kid. Post-partum depression, like Amina, and like Amina, she keeps going on and off her medications. Apparently Farida would get violent and she had to be tied up, very sad. But Alhamdulillah her mother, whom we called Goggo, also believes orthodox medicine is a remedy for diseases.
Maman Abba had the tiniest baby (only second to my Oosha) I had ever seen, I think she came in for post-partum depression. But I heard (everybody talks about everybody to everybody in the psychiatric ward) when she was brought in, she didn’t want to hold her son and she would scream so loud (I didn’t get to ask what she screamed out). Anyways, by the time we came in, she was calm and was even backing her seriously-too-tiny-to-be-backed-baby! She was also quiet but not like Farida. I think she’s an introvert. Her husband came to visit daily and so did other relatives oh, her mother stayed with her since she was a ‘mai-jego’. I was just glad the husband didn't abandon her with the way many of our men and general African people treat psychiatric cases, you’d think it was a deadly contagious disease! May Allah open our eyes and hearts to accept and seek help for those we know suffer it.
There was Hajara, Maman Aisha, Sadiya who got better was discharged and then returned because she was harassing everyone and being violent (probably stopped taking her meds or it got mixed up or something). Blessing was discharged about three days after we were admitted. I don’t know why she was in there but physically, she looked so malnourished, she was weak and just skin on bones. She had intravenous fluid which most of the time was not fixed and even when the nurse came to fix it, she complained of being tired and wanting to rest…talk about having a choice!!!
And now, the reason why we came to the female psychiatric ward; Amina. She gave quite a tough time before she agreed to be admitted. The entire nursing students and staff, including the security guards had to be called into the room for her to realize she needed to be there because she needed help and urgently as well. Amina had a severe case of bipolar disorder (Mania and Depression). She was in a very bad place when I brought her in but today, Alhamdulillah, she is so much better. But till date, Amina does not agree she has a psychological problem, which in the medical world is called in-sight and due to the entire absence of this in-sight, we stayed about 6 weeks in the hospital. She was discharged because NARD was embarking on a strike, the one that got them all fired! (seriously LMAO) *clears throat* okay, back to Amina.
All the nurses seemed to really like my sister, we are a very likable family *polishes invisible The Most Likable Family medal* she didn't give them trouble at all, she took her meds when it was brought without complaining or excuses, she attended OT, occupational therapy which was a room filled with stuff to keep them physically and mentally busy considering they do nothing all day long. The room has computers, tread mills, sewing machines, a table tennis board and a television set, so when it Is opened, patients go in and pick an activity of their choice to engage in, my sister is a television lover and she engaged herself watching all the Arabic stations which I think maybe annoyed the rest of them who wanted to watch Hausa movies or something else. She was a good patient who obeyed not because she believed she had any problem but because she is just a good person who does things for the sake of peace.
Amina does not like Dr. A who is my favorite psychiatrist in the world! For he was the one who had her admitted like I mentioned earlier, he called in all the staff and students; his aim was to let her see it was not just my imagination or his wanting to admit her but that she actually had a problem everyone except her could see. I cried explaining to her why I lied about where I was taking her to and my reason, “Amina your shame is my shame and when people point and laugh at you, they’re pointing and laughing at me. And yes, you do not think anything’s wrong with you but I do and so does everyone else and I had to bring you here. I am so sorry.” She stared at me with daggers in her eyes I think if there were not enough people around, she would have hit me. She still carries the hurt of deception plus her paranoia and all what not but, Alhamdulillah, I did what had to be done.
Lights-out was by 22:00 hours and then we were locked in from outside. I could hardly sleep, the mattresses were solid hard, I was hot and there were mosquitoes. I remember preparing for my first semester exams so I came in with my books and read by the light of my handset when I couldn't sleep. Would wake by 03:00hrs have my bath and do the needful, by 06:00hrs the nurses would wake everyone up to prepare for the day, those who needed hot water to have their baths and then drink tea, take their meds and wait for the team whose day it was to have ward round. Psychiatric ward rounds differ entirely from other ward rounds, they have a room which has a couple of chairs for the doctors, the nurse, patient and patient-relative arranged in a semi-circle manner. The patient to be seen is called in by the nurse and if the patient-relative is around, she/he is also invited and “the interview” begins. First with the nurse, she/he tells the doctors on the attitude of the patient from the day they arrived till present day, the improvements, still-there and unchangeable character of the patient, what they feel might be done to help the patient then, the patient-relative is also asked questions, if he/she feels there is any improvement in the patient and if there are other areas that they could render their assistance to; psychiatry is a very personal and thorough unit, everything is investigated; parents, childhood, teenage hood, relatives and if possible, life after death *wipes sweat*. Then finally the patient is placed under the microscope, they ask and write (what are they writing? Can I see? I want to see *tears welling up in eyes*) and from this they draw their conclusion on whether the patient will remain or be discharged. I gathered they try to find out if the patient has started having in-sight into their problem, for; the having of in-sight is the beginning of healing in psychiatry.