Lifestyle and Health

LIFE NOT LIVED

Gwaro closed the album and pushed it aside, just then there was a loud knock on the bedroom door. Whoever it was, shouldn’t have bothered to knock at all for she did not wait for a response….it was Maria, her daughter.  ‘Mama why have you been crying?’ she asked, her eyes searching hers. She was surprised. She looked into the mirror that was in front of her and true, two lines of tears coursed down her face. Her eyes were red too, she could not deny, it was too obvious.
She looked at Maria, she had grown a great deal lately, and she looked a little older than her 13 years. Her daughter was happy she would never crash her world. “I am ok my dear,” She lied. “It must be the onions I was cutting before I came here.” It was a lie for an answer but still an answer to get her daughter away. She had been looking at the album that had her wedding photos and the short life that she and George had spent together. It was sad that George had gone to the grave early it felt like the other day when they had exchanged the vows, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death does us apart. Soon after, they were blessed with children; Maria was the first fruit of her womb, then Obed, then Steve.
Maria and Obed grew just like other children. Steve was different though, he was born in the hospital alright but it was as if something was always amiss. At age three months his head started increasing in size it was growing faster than the other parts of the body. Naturally, they were alarmed. They took him to a dispensary; he was treated and discharged home on oral medication. This happens to all those of us who are poor. Money defines the type of food we eat, the type of houses we live in, the means of transport we use and even the type of services we get. When we get sick, because we cannot go to real hospitals with enough facilities, because we cannot pay the staggering amounts to get standard health care, because the sophisticated  diagnostic tests are too expensive beyond our abilities and money power, we are misdiagnosed our illnesses are never treated or are simply undertreated.  Then we are left wondering about whom to blame.  Should we blame the doctors?  Certainly not. They do their best working tirelessly even when the returns are too little to write home about,  sacrificing family time to be with  patients even if to give hope only, constantly inhaling  the air in under ventilated hospital wards even with knowledge that the mycobacterium that causes tuberculosis is airborne, risking lives staying close to psychiatric patients who have been labeled dangerous to the general public, performing surgeries and surgeries their only separation from the deadly virus being thin gloves that could give in any time, giving hope to others when they(the doctors) are ironically hopeless, being the bearers of sad news, trying to explain how they did their best to ungrateful relatives .
Once again my government failed in this. They built hospitals in the cities and in the villages, they built dispensaries, dispensaries that are ill equipped, understaffed and mismanaged. A dispensary with only five workers to serve a population of thousands of people with a pharmacy that is only equipped with anti-malarial even in non malaria endemic areas. 
My Steve was treated for malaria, while he had meningitis; we waited for the drugs to work because we trusted the government even with our lives. But day after another, he got worse, even with the strict adherence to drugs. The meningitis became complicated, changed from a treatable disease, to a condition. One year later, he had hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy. It is after this one year that I got to know that Steve would be a special child. That I would forever wait for him to achieve the developmental milestones, he had smiled at the age of two months, but he did not sit up at six months and I kept waiting for him to topple, to coo, to say mama and baba but instead his head kept growing and growing and I kept slipping in and out of the hospital and he kept taking drugs and drugs.  At 1 year and six months he went in for a surgery it was a difficult decision to reach I had no one to consult my relatives were tired already and it was six months after George had rested the eternal rest. So I was alone a widow at the age of 30 years with three children one who was special. I had a job as a matron in a school lucky they understood my needs but my life was more than a struggle every time I prayed that my child may live that one time he may be like any us; able to talk, to play to call me mamma ….  For nine years I sought a miracle but every time I glanced at my baby my faith declined. I knew it would somehow be forever thus for me that every year he would be admitted for about eight times and even so, the convulsions would never go away, not permanently, that every time he would be taking meningitis prophylaxis and almost for life even with the shunt in situ his head would remain unproportionately large. That his arms and legs would forever remain thin as cooking sticks. That he would never grow taller, and as long as he lived he would never ask, he would never ask for food or water, he would never ask why or how. So his life would be but tragedy, for tragedy is not dying but life, life that fails to fulfill its potential.
Surely God should have had mercy. He should have at least let my husband live, or he should have given me normal children. But He let all this happen, so I had to learn to live through the things that no one prepares to face, the death of a spouse, and having a special child. Life has been mostly a steep hill for me. I have to be father and mother at the same time. I cry at night, I cry when I look at the face of my son and realize that he will never smile. I cry when I look at my daughter and see her loneliness. I cry when the bed becomes too cold. I cry when I desire the warmth of my dead husband whose bones are already broken by now.  

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Ronedion
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This is a masterpiece Doreen. Well written. It is sad but reflects the reality of life. I love your imaginative power. I am now hooked to your posts.

saringin
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oooh…..humbled thanks for reading

Omai
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Omai

This kind of life…!!

saringin
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God help those who have special children…Thanks for reading

ILL MIND
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Great piece. Still struggling to find the best words to comment on this.sob

saringin
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thanks for reading…..

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