DECEMBER 23

I had a long night yesterday, I lay on ny bed and thought of today 23rd December. Bittersweet is all I can say. On this day,2 of my beloved were born, my late husband and my first born.

This post is dedicated to both both of you. For the special people that you are.

To you Nicholas, God knows it’s been a tough year without you. Many a times I cry and wish you would come back,but I am comforted that you are now resting. It’s been tough letting you go. Atleast you’re with the angels now,you are with the prince of peace .

Through your death, I have lost but I have also gained unimaginable strength. I have learnt to trust in God despite the darkest of nights and in the most hopeless of situations . I have found new friends and made stronger bonds with those who never left my side. My faith has been tested and almost lost but slowly it has grown too .

Sometimes I walk into a room and those who knew you,who knew us,look at me sadly and feel sorry for me.ūüėē Such a harsh reality and I hate it at times. But that’s death, many of us don’t know how to handle the effect it leaves behind. There are also those who ask how we survive or, how I still keep it together . And I always tell them I can only say it’s by God’s grace. The day you bid us goodbye my world was crushed and I didn’t know where I would begin.

I was jobless, I was fatigued, I was hopeless. But who is like God, the children and I have not lacked and I pray that we never will. I am constantly reminded that God is the father to orphans and the husband to widows.

To my beloved girl,the fruit of my womb. What an amazing lady you are. You are my world. So bubbly and full of life. You came into my life when I was extremely young and in afew years time, am sure people will be asking if we are sisters. (I look forward to being the coolest mum in town) ūüėČ

You’ve always celebrated this day with daddy and am sad he isn’t here anymore. But I promise you my baby, I will fit into his shoes, I will give you the very best I can. God will speak to you in a language that you can understand as a child and it shall be well my daughter.

I cannot forget to appreciate those who have constantly prayed for me. Those who have taken me for lunch to constantly remind me tha I should smile again. Those who have taken the kids when my schedule was crazy and helped me get by. Those who have constantly checked up on us, constantly called over and over again even when I didn’t want to talk or couldn’t talk. May God bless them all.

The tears haven’t been in vain.

From me with love.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY BELOVED

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THE FINAL LAP

As per our daily routine, we woke up in the morning and went to the living room to check up on Nic, our youngest daughter had just learnt the word daddy and she was so excited to call him. We went to his favorite sofa where he slept, she would always call him and he would faintly respond and smile, she always jumped up and down and this always melted my heart. I couldn’t wait for the day, he would regain his strength and he would be able to lift her up in his arms and play those father daughter games.

December 30, I left my room and my daughter and I went to the living room to do our usual morning routine. But Nic didn’t respond, he just stared blankly at us. I told the baby to tap him but still he never responded. So I¬†went looking for ¬†my “fellow doctor” P and asked if he noticed something off with Nic, he said he didn’t.

We had something close to a pharmacy in our house. The different medicines had to be taken at specific times during the day, without fail. On this particular day, he had missed his morning dose, so I insisted that P checks up on him.

I followed him to the living room where Nic lay still on the sofa, and just by looking at him, I knew something was amiss and so did P. We tried calling him but he never responded, P tried to give him some water but his mouth didn’t open properly, I even thought he had become paralyzed. We desperately called him but he never responded. I have never been so afraid. P told me to call his brothers. By this time, everyone in the house was in panic mode. I tried to think of who to call, but my eyes couldn’t see anything and I could barely think.

I¬†ran to my neighbors¬†crying and wondering why God would let Nic die in the house.¬†I just couldn’t compose myself enough to think straight.¬†Somehow, we managed to get our usual taxi guy . But by this time, the house was in total chaos, P was the only composed person. He carried Nic to the bedroom as we waited for help to come. I kept calling Nic, asking him not to die and leave me, but he never responded, all he did was stare at me blankly. I kept wondering what was wrong with him. Was it the chemo tablets that were making him like that? I just couldn’t bring myself to understand what was happening to him. Thankfully, he still had a¬†pulse and¬†this was the only thing that assured me he was still alive.

Our taxi guy came and off they went with P. I remained behind so as to make sure my babies were okay. One of my neighbors offered to remain with the babies while another offered to take me to hospital. I then called my dad and told him Nic was in a bad state, I wasn’t even sure if he was still alive and he came running to hospital.

On our way, I said all the prayers I could think of, things had just moved from bad to worse. Or so I thought.

We owe the driver a lot as  he managed to get Nic to hospital in the shortest time possible. The hospital also responded very fast as the driver had his hazard on, so they knew it was an emergency. Within minutes, they managed to resuscitate him. I got to hospital went in running and I found Nic alive and well. He was even smiling. I cursed the name cancer and the mental torture it had put me through. Upon asking, we were informed Nic had low glucose levels. So he had to be admitted yet again, so that his glucose levels could stabilize and also for his doctor the oncologist to advise.

I reluctantly filled the admission forms and watched as they wheeled him to the wards for admission. Once more, I had to call his friends and relatives to inform them that Nic was back in hospital again.

Nic crossed over into the new year while in hospital, we could hear people outside shouting ” happy new year” but for us, there was nothing happy about the new year. Cancer had managed to take over our lives. We were miserable. My only prayer was that Nic would be able to pull through.

Our lives rotated around hospital and the house, the trips were not only tiring, they were draining too. On each day, I lost more and more hope. Tests were done and the doctor called me to his room to discuss the results of why his glucose levels were dropping to 0.

It was on a Thursday afternoon. I called up my sister and asked her to take me to see the doctor. The news were horrible. Nic was in his last days. Our doctor informed us, that the tumor had eaten up his entire liver, hence no glucose production in his body, thus explaining why the levels were going down to zero. Just a few days earlier the tumor was seen to be reducing and we were under the impression, the chemo was working. I remember Nic tearing up and saying thank you to God for the good news. But just within minutes my world was crushed.

The doctor went on to inform us that with no liver, it was just a matter of days before his lungs collapsed as well as other vital organs. he told us that the hospital wasn’t the best place for Nic and we should consider taking him home , to make him comfortable and in so many words, wait for his death. Alternatively, he gave me the option letting him stay in hospital but¬†sign consent forms to allow them not to put him on life support if his organs failed while I was away. His reason was that, life support would not be of help as¬† they wouldn’t be able to bring him back. It would only cost us more money and give us false hope.

By this time, Nic could barely breathe on his own, he was fully on oxygen support and he was bed ridden. Reality hit home hard and painfully so. We left the doctors room, went to my sisters car and we cried and cried. We had tried our best, done everything humanly possible but it was all in vain. It was now in Gods hands..

 

NUMBERS PARANOIA

Last Christmas was particularly a bittersweet one for my family, both my side of the family as well as my in laws came over to our house for Christmas. No one was really in the festive mood, so we all gathered at my house to enjoy each others company.

December 23rd will always be a sad day in my house. My older daughter and her dad¬†share a birthday, this day has always been one of our favorites in our household. My daughter always challenged her dad to a singing competition on their special day. This year, will be quite a sad one, its going to be our first without him, I am still wondering what we are going to do together and if¬†I’ll be able to fit the shoes left behind by her dad.

On Christmas eve, Nic’s friends from church-¬†fathers union(as they proudly called themselves) passed by to check up on him, I led them to our room as Nic was too tired to wake up and sit in the living room. I took this opportunity to rush to the market as I was going to have guests on Christmas day, in fact my in laws were on their way to Nairobi…I secretly shuddered at the thought of their reaction when they would see him. He wasn’t the man they had seen just a few months before. I was sure about this because even my daughters friends commented about how he had changed.

On my way back home, I met the father’s union gang on their way out, one of them asked me, how I was doing, how I felt each time I looked at the new Nic. I silently wondered what answer to give, I wasn’t doing fine and my heart broke into pieces each time I looked at Nic. Did he really want to know how I felt deep within? He also informed me that my in laws were already home and they had really cried when they saw their son. My heart sank but still I went home. I remember P and I in the kitchen annoyed by their reaction, we didn’t want any sadness in the house, we wanted everyone to look happy to motivate Nic. But that’s the thing with cancer, it brings out raw emotions that you cannot control¬†from deep within.

Christmas came and passed, the food was tasty, the laughter was loud and the conversations were amazing. This was one of a kind.¬†¬†A few weeks earlier , I was listening to Godtube, a song with lyrics that said , “Christmas would never be the same without you”, the thought of this scared me, but I thanked God, he had let us have this Christmas as a family.

In my first job, on a random day, my colleague made an interesting observation- NUMBERS and that history has a way of repeating itself. Apparently, we all have those special numbers that mean something to us.

My parents had an age difference of  10yrs, I always made fun of Nic and told him we had a 10yr difference, but he always dismissed me and said he was forever young. The birth years of my dad, mum, myself and my daughter all end with 8. If Nic went along with my idea of being 10yrs older than me, then just like my dad he would be the same age my dad was when he had his first born -me. My mum and I were both the same age when we had our first born. In summary, the age difference between my dad/Nic and their first borns is 30yrs while the age difference between my mum/myself and our first borns is 20yrs.

I was born on 10th, my mum was also born in the 10th month, remember the December 23rd babies in my household. My mum passed away at the age of 35,and with this in mind, I was so grateful to God when Nic turned 35 and he was alive.. We had managed to beat this myth I had come to believe over the years.

By December, word had gone round Nic was unwell, being the holiday season, guests streamed in large numbers. I will never forget the day, a friend of his walked in and we had all sat in the living room. She said hello to everyone and then¬†asked for Nic, we pointed out to her that Nic was the person she had just said hello to last, her jaw dropped and her face expression was nothing to smile about. She called him by his three names and he just stared at her. It was such an awkward moment, as usual I had to breathe in and out so that tears wouldn’t stream down my face. After composing herself, she drank the tea we offered her as he told us about her encounter with sickness. A story for another day..

Looking back, I have come to realize that as a society, we are very paranoid, I got to a culture where not everyone understands cancer, its like some sort of bewitching thing -like “chira” as some would call it. Its a sad reality that in the 21st century, basic access to knowledge and medical care is so near yet so far away.

As I digest what cancer did by taking Nic away from us, am sad to say that numbers got me again when Nic died on the 10th of January at the age of 35yrs.I once shared this numbers observation with someone and he told me, it might be a generational thing-how sad is that! And so, I remain having this debate within myself. Are these our bad luck numbers or am I just being paranoid?

 

 

PAIN

Have you ever been so sad that it physically hurts inside?  That is pain.

Pain is intense sorrow, that which words cannot explain…There are two types of pain; that which hurts and that which changes you.¬†Below, I take you through my¬†experiences of both…

Sometimes they say, when it rains it pours…I remember on one of the many instances, we rushed him to hospital , the doctors ran some tests and as we waited for the results , the pain was too much, they had to inject morphine into his veins..and as he held my hand, squeezing and waiting for the pain to go down, I received a call from my sister telling me that our younger daughter 1.5yrs then had just gotten burnt by hot water. Have you ever wanted to cry but no tears came out, to scream or say something but found yourself speechless.

I sat on the floor at the balcony of the hospital staring blankly into open space and wondered to myself, if lightning ever struck twice, because in my case, it seemed like it had struck more than ten times. I called my local taxi guy also called P, told him to rush home, pick my sister and daughter and bring them where I was-which was literally at rock bottom.

The moment I told Nic, what had happened, I saw the despair on his face, but there was nothing I could do. Our little girl is the splitting image of her father, and this hit hard. Luckily, the burns weren’t major and the scars are almost invisible now.

I remember someone asking me where my  nanny was, when the baby was getting burnt and even suggesting that I should fire her on grounds of negligence. I told her that if the incident happened if I was the one with the baby, someone would still brand me an irresponsible mum, I gave my nanny the benefit of doubt, because I also knew she was scared of my reaction, I never made a fuss over it, I had too much energy drained out of me already.

Life has a way of humbling you, because in less than two months, one of my friends’ baby got burnt in the¬†same way as my daughter, only this time , she was with her mum, of course I never failed to ask her also where she was.¬†So I ¬†thank God, I didn’t fire my nanny, this girl has been with me in both the good times and¬†the¬†worst times. I got her when my baby was 8months, she is now 2.4yrs. Each and every day, I pray for her, because she holds me together, she takes care of my most treasured possessions.

One day, during the period we were waiting for the biopsy results, Nic was in so much pain, we had to look for angles he could place his body, sometimes one leg had to be lifted to one side at a specific spot on the wall, other times he had to bend or squat and hold on to his tummy, on other occasions, we even fanned the tummy as it seemed like the only way to cool down the pain. On other days, we just held him close as he cried in pain. Am surprised I still have tears left in my tear bank because I cried tons of tears back then.

Sometimes the bed felt too hard for Nic, he opted to sleep on the sofa, Occasionally, P and I overslept and fell off the sofa. We weren’t getting enough sleep. Its only when you hit the floor hard that you realized that you were to keep an eye on him.

Nic¬†had a special sofa specially made for his comfort, our older daughter never allowed anyone to sit on it, she was responsible for straightening it and changing the linen, on a number of times she mentioned this chair took away her dad’s pain. I always wonder what she thinks about the chair right now when she looks at it. Am too afraid to ask.

Pain is when you sit silently in the room wondering when the grief will end, only for the baby to call her daddy because she saw a picture of him. Pain is the big lump in your throat when you hear your daughters friends asking her if its true her dad died, and her telling them to keep quiet and never to say that again. Pain is the baby going through your closet and asking where her dads clothes are. Pain is the thought that at only one year, she lost her precious dad and that she may never have any memories of him, just stories that people will share with her…Pain is being asked to move on and accept that Nic is never coming back. Pain is when¬†someone reminds you that you are the only parent your children have and that you must be strong, not knowing that this is a reality you live with everyday…

My grief may not end soon, it may take days, months and even years, but I thank God for family and friends who have been there for me and my babies, and above all to God who has kept me strong enough to keep my sanity intact.

Now more than ever, I realize that life is so ironic because it takes sadness to know what happiness is, noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence.

HARD DECISIONS

Nic was truly a man of the people. Day in, day out, our house was always full of visitors. I would wake up in the morning, and find my way to the living room. Don’t ask me if, ask how many times I wondered to myself whose house that was? It didn’t look like mine. The house was always packed.

The house was like a 24hour restaurant. The advert “Usiseme chai sema……. (don’t say tea,say…..” reigned in our house. I cannot count how many packets of milk we used in one day to make tea. I cannot count the number of meals we cooked in one day,¬† and the amount of water used. thankfully though, in Nic’s culture, the men cook, and so on many occasions, I found the meals ready and the dishes cleaned. This at least gave me time to watch over my husband and keep up with my children. Amidst the situation, I remained a wife and a mother too.

During one¬†our prayer sessions, my prayer partners always remembered to pray for provision from God. I wasn’t working and so wasn’t my husband. But never did we lack. God provided for us. to this day, I cannot understand or comprehend, how we pulled through, but the point is, we did. To date, I continue to pray that God continues to provide for my children and I, that we may never lack because our bread winner is no more.

Day by day, things went from bad to worse. The jaundice refused to go away, meaning we couldn’t start chemo . Frequently, his stomach filled up with water (ascites), his stomach was so big, it was scary. I sometimes thought it would burst.¬†He couldn’t eat a lot of food, because he would bloat, neither could he take drinks because the ascites wouldn’t let him. Managing the cancer was getting difficult because if his nutrition was bad, things wouldn’t go well.

In the first week of December, he had to be admitted in hospital because the ascites was too much, the doctor had to help tap water out of his body. This time round, we got an amazing oncologist. He advised us, not to tap any more water from him, because anytime we did that, we drained out necessary minerals needed in the body.¬†He instead gave us tablets which would do the same thing only slower..that worked for us; because by¬†now, you didn’t have to ask if he was sick, you could tell, just by looking at him. Sadly by then he weighed only 45kgs. I wasn’t physically sick, but I was sick mentally, spiritually and emotionally, I weighed 49kgs.

Meanwhile, he asked for all our reports from India, so he could go over them. I almost recited all the results. I knew¬† and could interpret so many medical terms, I knew which medication worked and which wouldn’t, I knew of all the side effects expected and ways to deal with them. By now, I had already earned an imaginary medical degree.

I remember walking into hospital during one of the visits, I found Nic with the doc. The doc asked me to have a seat so that we could discuss his findings. My heart skipped a beat. I knew that tone, that distant look in the eyes of the doctor, that look that told you he was the bearer of bad news, ¬†I had gotten accustomed to it by then…To cut the long story short-it was bad. The cancer was progressing, we were now in Stage 4, the very last stage in cancer¬†and it was alarming.

We had only 2 options,

  1. To start chemo with the jaundice and hope that it would shrink the tumor
  2. To pray and hope that the jaundice would go down fast enough so that we could start chemo (With this option, if we waited too long, he had less than 6months to live)

In between tears and confusion, we had to make a decision and we had to make it fast. 6months was going to be June 2016, he had to be there, our youngest daughter was going to be turning terrible two. I needed him alive….

 

 

 

 

FACING REALITY

The night before he left for India,I sat our 6yr old daughter on her bed and tried to find the right words to explain where her dad was going. I couldn’t find them. I could only tell her that dad would be flying in the skies and he was going to get better.

Her eyes seemed distant,full of questions and despair & somewhat confusion. She held my hand and told me it was okay if it meant he would come back healed.

How do you tell your daughter that her father was a very sick man. Just the other day he was up and about playing games with her and helping her with her homework. They also share a birthday -December 23. Would God grant us more birthdays together ? This was a bitter pill to swallow.

We talked daily with his brother P,I knew the situation was desperate,I could feel it within me.

Daily , I asked him how Nic was fairing & he kept telling me everything was fine. On one occasion,he told me, Liver Cirrhosis had been ruled out. I excitedly called an uncle and shared this news . However, I could still feel something was a miss. Enough times we argued with P because he didn’t give me as much information as I felt I needed.

Once in a while Nic and I would talk but  not as much. He was always too tired or asleep. I regretted not going along with him to India.

On a random day,I met our uncle.  During our discussion, I came to learn that things were getting worse and we were in our last days. Nothing could be done anymore.

I broke down,I really cried. How could we have tried so hard,and fought so much and still lose him.

I called my sister and told her the news and we continued crying, I told her that we should start mourning my husband.

Sometimes life can seem so unfair.ūüėē

She warned me against prophesying death yet he was still alive. But I had lost hope. I was tired and already exhausted.

In the end,we agreed to refuse to believe the news and start a prayer and fasting group.

Infact,I went about with my life trying to act normal and smile on the outside, even though I was really dying on the inside. I even went for a friend’s baby shower, celebrated with her and thanked God for the blessing she was about to receive.

By this time, his body was turning yellow and even the sun had nothing on him. It was now a gamble,we couldn’t start chemo with jaundice , the mass was getting bigger and the jaundice wasn’t coming down.

He was asked to come back to Kenya,it made no sense to stay in hospital anymore. Armed with his chemo tablets,they were sent back to +254. They were to go back for review in 3 months time.

Before coming back,during one of our chats,Nic told me he wasn’t going back to India, he felt people had done enough for him. He was tired. I was upset, I told him,he had to go back. We had our lives to get back to,we had this cancer to beat. I wasn’t ready to give up yet. But maybe, he was trying to pass a message,maybe he could feel death calling. I guess I’ll never know.

November 29,2015. We went to JKIA to pick him.

I remember seeing P coming, but I couldn’t see Nic. As they got closer, I saw a¬† man dressed in Nic’s¬† clothes, I knew the clothes because I bought them myself.

But who was this man? I couldn’t recognise him,I didn’t want to recognise him. I didn’t want to believe that the man standing infront of me was my Nic.

He had lost over 20kgs, his skin was so pale and dark,he looked worn out and his hair had fallen off too.

He was a mere shell of himself! I couldn’t take it. This is not the man , I had said goodbye to just a month ago.

Was this what cancer does to people? He could barely even walk. What had happened in India?

P tried to tell me that he was now better, and I almost swallowed him. Better? Did he say better?  Where was my grammar teacher, because better seemed to have a whole new definition.

Have you ever had tons of questions, but you weren’t ready to hear any of the answers…

As we drove back home, the lump in my throat grew by the minute. I needed God to come down together with his angels to give me strength, because the way things looked, it was going to be a tough journey.

My sister wasn’t able to come to the airport. I sent her a message and told her,she should prepare herself, she wouldn’t recognise Nic.I told her to prepare to be shocked but she shouldn’t show it,because the last thing Nic needed was to see the despair on our faces.

This was the same message, we passed around to the friends  and family who came to visit. To look as optimistic as possible. I hated being the bearer of bad news. I somewhat felt like a sadist.

With each passing second, with each passing¬†minute, ¬†my world crashed,and my spirit broken to pieces. I didn’t know how to take in the situation my family was in. Would I be able to hold my family together and still keep my sanity?

If this was the road to recovery,then I definitely needed divine intervention.. .

MY CALL FOR ACTION

As I lay my head down to sleep, can someone please tag Our  President and his deputy and let them know am looking for a job as the Minister for Health or maybe cancer ambassador ?

Can I get anyone to help me lobby for my next job? How many more cancer cases must we hear of? How many more Jadudi’s? How many more Nic’s?¬† How many more?

How many more fund raisings will we do? And how much will we raise? Will it be enough to build more cancer care centres in the country?

And while at it,can someone tag for me, as  I ask my Nandi representatives in Government to explain it to me in very basic language, what they are/have or are planning to do for my people down in the village?

Closer home,to my MCA Terik Ward – Was Nic your man? Please help me to keep his legacy alive?

Give me a reason to believe. ..

To my Orthodox Church -Can you too,join my movement & help me to spread my message as I advocate for better & affordable cancer treatment.

As I wind up, can someone tag AAR insurance too.I don’t know about someone else’s experience, but for Nic,you came through.

Meanwhile as I gather courage,who will come and take me to that doctor who brutally told me that Nic was dying? I just want to tell him,that he was right,¬† and even though the reality is too painful to accept,¬† he didn’t have to be so cruel? Maybe he was having a bad day? Perhaps he needs a class or two on ethics,on upholding the dignity of a fellow human being?

And to you my reader. ..keep praying for me & my family as well as all those affected by cancer.¬† It’s a tough journey.

See you tomorrow in part 4 of my journey..