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Saturday, May 13, 2017

THROUGH PAIN AND LOVE

I will start by quoting my dear friend of 14 years, Aluta Imam, who every year on a certain day would remind me that not only has a year been added to, but it has also been subtracted from my life. He would say "Fatum, you are a step closer to your grave therefore you have to prepare for it so while people will be crying for you, you will be laughing." Every 4th September I get this sermon, hopefully this year won't be an exception! *fingers crossed*

Alhamdulillah I am 34 years old, still a bit of a dream esp after all the hardship; physical, emotional, psychological, mental, financial, and social as well, I am still here, breathing, healthy and loved sincerely by a good number of very wonderful, trustworthy and dependable people. Alhamdulillah again, again and forever more! *Brown emoji praying hands*

So, I'm supposed to brag about how great, fulfilling, fantastic and terrific my life is/has been for the past year, right? About things I've achieved, dreams that have come true, wishes that have been fulfilled...you know, bore the living day-light out of you make you feel your life is less than mine. But I won't! I love y'all too much to do that! Plus my life really is a chore! *sips Pepsi* September 2016 right through to September 2017 has been hard and as you may or may not know, August has not been my month for a long time now! 

After all these years and stuff I have been through one would think I had grown wise in matters of the heart but hey, I am gracefully accepting my red, bold, uppercase letter L, taking a bow and waltzing off the stage!

A few happenings include;
Had so many sickle cell crises, my Haematologist decided it was time I started hydroxyurea, which I did and with much noticed improvement.
Registered and completed my first semester of the Masters programme I enrolled for last session but could not complete.
Started writing again, got my mojo back, Hallelujah!
Made new friends, THAT is something I doubt I can ever stop doing, even if it is just a single human being a year, it always falls into place. Watched movies solo, in pairs and even in groups they were all fun.
Cooked new foods.
Travelled to a new city, Maiduguri which is the capital of Borno state in North-East Nigeria as a result of an RTA which included family members Lost loved ones (may Allah have Mercy on their souls, ameen).
I hate Whatsapp, a social network. I know, very unoriginal. But I use it cos, necessary! Then something fantastic happened, journalofapetitediva.com sent me a link to our secondary school Whatsapp Group Chat! My Whatsapp has never been alive-r!!!
Got to celebrate my daughter's Eighth birthday with my sister and nieces present. Family is a beautiful blessing.
Had a reunion with some of the neighbors I grew up with back in Festac town, Lagos. It was a lovely wedding. Alhamdulillah.
Started seeing the psychiatrist again; forgetfulness, sleeplessness,  anxiety and panic attacks, headaches and feelings of worthlessness.
I missed the welcoming of @FuadXIV to Kano because I was attending to my man issues! I have man issues and it's disturbing!
I made it through August which is one of the hardest and saddest months for me.
But the most important thing that I consider happened to me was when I finally decided to take back my power. You see, when you love a person more than he/she loves you, they have all the power. They come and go as they please, treat you as they please and feel entitled to the love and everything you give along with the love. There's no thank you for trying it's always your fault any slight misunderstanding because why? You're not supposed to have feelings or opinions in that relationship. Apparently THEY'RE doing you a favor being with you so SHUSH! Feel nothing. Do nothing. Be nothing.
Maybe August isn't such a horrible month after all!
And when Allah said "ask Me" He means ASK Him for He provides for you from where you least expect it when you least expect. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

ONE YEAR: PTSD, CHANGE, FORGIVENESS

Being in the bathroom at home in Abuja during the Easter break of April, 2017 brought back memories of a year ago when; getting to the bathroom was a race with myself, sitting on the toilet seat was the hardest task I had to do, getting up was an equally cruel task, peeing was painful, pooing was almost impossible and the only way I could get relief from all physical body ache was to literally empty the water heater! As a person who is not a fan of having a bath with warm water, I went all out to ensure I cooked myself as an analgesic so I could sleep at night without pain and have a day without wincing. I am so grateful to be alive to re-live the feeling through my writing! It's probably the best way I can do it without bothering the same people I've bothered it with for the past year!

The hardest part of the whole ailment was not having someone I was used to, yes I was with family but they had never experienced such with me and I felt like a burden. I missed my Mummy. I wanted the person I loved the most in the world to be there for me psychologically and as much as possible, physically. But I can't always have what I want, can I? I had all the care anyone could ever need and I will be the most ungrateful person ever if I say otherwise. I am forever grateful and thankful to Mama AA who took care of me probably better than any of my blood relatives ever could have, if they would have! Her entire family are a blessing to me. Thinking of it, I don't think it could have been better than what I got, Alhamdulillah!

I have tweeted about the situation, made a post on it and talked about it so much that my friend, Sophie, when telling her friends about me says "she's going to tell you about the Dr who nearly killed her!" LOL! I had gone around for a long time saying the same thing, pointing out the Dr when I had the chance to and just being in a state of mind I really had no idea how to deal with till I came across an acronym, PTSD, and I wondered, "whatever does it mean?" so I checked it out on line: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Again I thought "whatever in the world does this white man sickness have to do with us blacks?!" Apparently, a lot! First, we are all human beings; same basic physiological, anatomical and biochemical settings, we are all the same by default but we get 'customized' by family genes, environment and experiences and as such, we react to situations differently. Example is what I mentioned above. In Nigeria and Africa, we generally just tell a person to be thankful that they survived a traumatizing incident and try to shut the person up. You know, don't go all mushy and crying and stuff, say Alhamdulillah for it could have been worse. In the Western world, such a person is asked if he/she wants to talk about it, if they want to see a specialist for they have experienced trauma and need help in understanding why, how, when and the likes of it. There are even anonymous group meeting where persons who might have experienced similar traumatizing events meet and talk about it in earnest, where they get help from each other, knowing they are not alone.


I never felt more alone in my life than the past year but I am a fine person, have been, will always be! Carried on with my life as it has always been, drifting through people to end up alone, it is not a big deal, I told myself through tears and hurt. don't be sad and don't think much about it, your death will end it all! But I could not stop thinking about it and I wondered and worried why it gave me so much trouble; I was scared. I was alone. I could have died and my last memories would have been of my young in-laws rushing me to the hospital trying to get me the much needed medical  attention. Me crying in severe and utter agony even after a probable OD of opioid analgesics to help, nothing helped. I seemed to be getting worse, I could see/feel my heart struggling to beat, and finally of me being wheeled to the bathroom by a male attendant to pee and him offering to assist me stand from the wheelchair to sit on the toilet seat and stand from the toilet seat back to the wheelchair but me declining because, well because! That was precisely my last memory. I don't know which day of the week it was or what time of the day it was but I know it was a live living nightmare! And again, I was alone!

After reading much on PTSD, I got more upset because what I needed I knew I was never going to get in the way I desired and craved it. I could go to my psychiatrist but I was not sure I would get 100% we are just not into psychology without drugs! I was scared and alone and trusted the wrong person to understand and be supportive. With all those emotion and no comfort, I took a decision to never return to see any Dr in the hospital I attended for 15 years since they gave the impression I was extra work for them, I would stay home to receive treatment; worse outcome; death, but someone informed me of another hematology team I could see in the hospital. I had no idea haematology was divided into 2; Laboratory and Clinical Haematology. The latter is a unit under Dept of Medicine while the former is a department on its own. The person pointed out the greatest advantage I would have is access to bed space if and when the need for it arose no matter what. To be honest, that is a challenge the Lab Haem team face, the patient can get care during the day time in the Day Care which closes at the end of work hours to re-open the next day. Too much stress for a patient who is in serious pain and needs greater than 8 hours medical service/attention.

Met with a former neighbour who is now a consultant Haematologist with ABUTH, Dr. AD Waziri *claps and cheers* so proud of him! and his first reaction when he saw me told me I am in a whole lot of trouble and no medical expert who has known me long is honest enough to tell me that I need help. He was the first professional to say he thinks my condition is being made worse by psycho-social stress and he asked me to start talking...oh where do I start from?! We talked and he gave very useful advice, forever thankful *hearts*.

As part of my healing process, I decided I would need to talk to the Dr who saw me last when I returned for my follow-up before the whole Acute Chest Syndrome + Anaemic Heart Failure drama occurred. I did see the Dr today, Friday, 12th May, 2017! What a blessed day! Alhamdulliah for friends who motivate and, as we say in Nigeria, "take Panadol for another person's headache". I love you, Sophie *hugs*. So, I told the Dr everything...EVERYTHING!!! And I cried, of course I cried, it would not be MY story without some tears, duh! I'm glad he listened to me and he made me feel he DID listen because he thanked me and assured me he had learned and understood that it was not just a cry for myself (I mentioned to him I am among the blessed/lucky few who have people that know people that know...you get the gist) it was also for those who had no human power except that of Allah and that every patient deserves to feel special with their Dr. and know that they are as safe as any professional human can guarantee them with regards to their health and/or life.

We are figuratively at their mercy when it comes to our health; organically and psychologically. Believe me, I know how hard it is to be a medical doctor in Nigeria and I always, always sympathise with them BUT it is harder being a patient in Nigeria, much much harder, very much harder and I feel many of them do not see it that way for they are so very absorbed with themselves; I'm not saying they should be altruistic, no. Yet they have better chances due to being colleagues of each other so they get to Dr each other the way they would personally want to be doctored! Greater health advantage than an ordinary patient.

Like I always say, Health is Wealth!