Days 1,2,3 … blurry … all I remember is unrecognizable medical staff, close family, and well-drawn curtains, as I cocooned under the hospital bed sheets despising any form of stimulation. Silence and darkness please!!! Though in hindsight I have always liked quiet still darkness when resting and I remember being branded a “vampire” by my pals a few times, whenever I had to open curtains or step out of a building into the light, leaving behind my sanctuary of twilight! But this was on a whole other level!
Day 4 came and I was seated in my room, agitated by the absence of freedom that I am well accustomed to. I wanted my freedom back. Freedom to dress how I wanted and not in hospital garb, freedom to walk across the road to grab a Café mocha; freedom to send someone to get me an avocado smoothie (yes, I like avocados!), freedom to play with my son when I wanted, even just to see him. Oh how I missed Levi, I missed holding him as he fell asleep, feeding him, dressing him, fighting with him, watching him bounce around the house tirelessly, and this absence hurt deeply.
As usual, with my conditioned superwoman thinking, ignoring all signs of system overload and system shut down, I give myself that pep talk one more time hoping it would work this time.
“C’mon Kizzie, this is a minor hitch! Get off your back! There’s work to be done. There is the program you need to finish writing up, prepare for the meetings tomorrow, and get through the emails you haven’t responded to and what about school work?! You have got to get up!! Snap out of it!”
I tried to do just that! I do the one thing that boosts my energy levels besides a strong coffee. The next trick up my sleeve was to ‘doll up’!! Anyone who knows me well knows my love for dolling up! Throw on the makeup (face painting as my friend calls it), style my hair (and yeah I carried a flat iron with me to the hospital; you never know when you will need to look fabulous!), and a pair of heels as well (don’t ask).
“Fake it till you make it” was all that was going through my mind…and off I went feeling good about myself, reached for the door to go for a stroll around the hospital’s parking lot. It’s about time I enjoyed some glorious sunshine! Yeah well, that didn’t happen! Barely ten steps past my door and the staggering started, something I was now familiar with, followed by reaching for help from anything stable. The ground underneath was shaking, but only Kizzie was feeling that vibration, everyone else seemed oblivious to this “movement”. Suddenly my knees turned to jelly, and in a split second, I was on the floor, totally and completely confused! It was almost laughable, well I tried to laugh at myself! And at that point, I realized it was only foolishness to push my HUMAN body to function like a robot, something I had been doing for years on end, and now it seemed I was paying for it. I quickly accepted the safe route to recovery, the comfort of my dark room and stable bed! All other mental tricks had proved redundant and I could only fool myself for so long.
I woke up to see the plain bare white ceiling facing me, staring back at me as I took a few minutes to orient myself within the still strange surroundings. I reached for my charging phone, a bad habit I have acquired over the last year. It was 2am and I grappled with the usual dilemma; now, do I attempt to sleep some more or try get some work done? “Work” in my world refers to anything constructive, not necessarily directly related to my employer/office but mostly this is the case. “Work” is responding to numerous emails, messages, phone calls, responding to mentees, responding to I.T. personnel, organizing my calendar and juggling between courts, avoiding upsetting the courts, meetings, my son, my studies, interviews, I could write a whole list in alphabetical order!
As I debated on whether or not to “work” there was this loud tug of war/debate going on in my mind (and no, I don’t mean like schizophrenic hallucinations!). I could hear my family’s, friends’, doctors’ voices screaming threats at me:
“Kizzie, put your phone away! You should be resting”.
~Kizzie, why is your laptop here?! You are so stubborn. You can die and work continues!”
“Why are you on Whatsapp at 1am? I will take that phone away from you!”
“We have instructed the nurses to turn off your lights at 9pm and not allow any of your guests in.”
These were mostly followed by my mundane responses to their commanding pleas:
I must have been truly vexing to them as “I just have this one last thing to finish and then I can rest”, was my go to response to almost EVERYTHING almost ALL the time! There was always something that needed my immediate attention and I found myself repeatedly attending to that “one last thing”.
Because a typical day for me is having messages flooding my inbox and phone calls from unsaved, mostly unknown numbers, from as early as 7am asking where I am and when I will be in the office to examine this murder suspect or examine that defilement case or when I will attend court or outright threats of arrest should I fail to attend court, or can I just try to go to the clinic despite being unwell to attend to patients…all In a day’s work eh? A definite outcome from all this is raised blood pressure, a short fuse, instant rage, a feeling most people describe as “my blood begins to boil”, a routine that I then follow up with deep breaths and chats with loved ones to calm me down.
So back to the current circumstances; the decision to go through my phone as I lay there won! I gave in to my curiosity knowing very well I would be upset by what I found. 18 missed calls and 10 text messages, each going something like this:
“Dr Shako, we are in the clinic and you are not. When are you coming?”
“Daktari uko wapi na tuko na defilements?”
“Doc, we are expecting you in court today by 10am and it’s the last adjournment. You are the last remaining witness.”
“Good morning Doctor. We have been waiting for you since 6am. Can you come now so we make it to court on time?”
“Confirm when you will arrive….”
Yes, the work is sensitive and delicate, making it highly demanding, so much so that sometimes I feel like an ATM machine, that is just supposed to be stationed in one place doing the same thing over and over again, tirelessly and at everyone else’s pace and without question, diligently meeting everyone’s expectations. Press this button and get what you want instantly, a thousand times a day.
If only Dr. Shako could work like that ATM machine, how efficient she would be! But you know what?
Even ATM machines require maintenance every so often.
What about the human body?
Maintenance was long overdue in my case. I tried to recollect the last time I went on leave and actually rested, and it was some 3 years ago. Any other time I was ‘on leave’, it was to study or nurse my son, translating to minimal sleep, and no time for fun. Fun had to be squeezed in somewhere somehow, an increasingly rare occurrence.
For some reason I was more troubled than usual at being unable to work, my gut was speaking to me, warning me about an impending negative incident. I clicked “open message” to a message from a normally silent peer. It was a screenshot of a post by a famous whistleblower in Kenya, Robert Alai, who had proceeded to post accusations about me allegedly having absconded duties without verifying his information. I was shocked, confused, and hurt, to say the least. God knows how hard I work but I let it go after “my people” countered him on my behalf. Actually, his post worked in my favor as I saw the countless positive comments made by individuals, leaving a huge smile of gratitude on my face.
I decided to share this story as an adjuvant to my blog article “Today I struggled” and my upcoming book, a time when I share a part of my life that I usually keep to myself as I focus on the bigger picture, the silver lining, the vision. This story was therapeutic for me; much needed therapy at last!
Today I feel considerably lighter!