Monday 29 October 2007

I remember this tummy ache

I hate this feeling

I hate feeling ill, I can’t stand the pain of the symptoms and I can’t stand the itch after medication, but they are things I have experienced time and again.

Now, I must say, despite a condition that some might term terminal I have been in really good health for years, and long may that continue – I have only had to visit hospital once some 3 years ago and that was the emergency room when acute tonsillitis was about to seal off my airways – the doctor was of the mind of keeping in hospital.

I was however prescribed some strong antibiotics, a rarity in the Netherlands and the thing cleared up in days, but I found that I lost 5 kilograms in 4 days – I wish I had kept that weight off.

One other visit involved venosection (blood-letting), well that is what I would call it; by the time the fifth vial was being filled I was about to pass out; they had to run a battery of tests and thankfully I left feeling not too bad after the results were revealed.

It’s that tummy again

So, this morning, this pain that I have known since I was kid came back, a severe kind of tummy ache that no one has properly diagnosed or treated, I groan, I grab, I have the runs and I sometimes get sick from an empty stomach – it is such a rotten feeling.

I first had this when I was about 7 years old, my mother was beside herself in not knowing what to do after the doctors just said it would subside; it did subside, but not till after 12 hours of what was essentially a labour to which I could not receive the respite of an epidural.

I have had probably 6 different attacks like this and so this morning, I remembered as I felt it all before and had to call in sick. All I could do was lie on my belly with a soft pillow underneath, and then visit the toilet or sick bowl as required whilst fielding calls from work because I am off to Stockholm tomorrow.

Shielding the child from the truth

One thing I have realised from these strange ailments is as a young child I was always shielded from the detail or diagnosis that the doctor had made, for instance, I have not been able to determine from my parents why two biopsies were taken from my sides when I was 6 - the Internet helps now.

For instance, I was more or less eavesdropping when I learnt that my short-sightedness/astigmatism was a probable situation picked up at birth when a lot of light was shone in my eyes; kids sometimes have questions but we are never present to participate in situations and circumstances that concern us, I probably would have asked if it could be corrected because I was rotten at tennis; I could not track the ball for distance and speed - I found out it could have been corrected when I was a kid when I had the opportunity to ask the question myself some 20 years on - imagine my pique.

There is this prevalent thinking especially within our Yoruba culture where children are shielded from events in the home when in fact we can sense when things are not right, but have no one to ask about it. Unresolved issues damage people.

The memory of kids

We are kids, we cannot make these decisions, they think, well, we may not have that opportunity to make decisions, ask questions or get answers, but I know we have memories to remember when we were treated as insignificant when we should have been the most significant.

I would not even go into the area where the questions are loaded in such a way to get the desired answers.

However, the greatest damage is done when in some cases, a child has lost a parent and they are not allowed to grieve and if they do, they are usually not there to do that customary ashes-to-ashes thing.

The pain is the same for adults and kids

Even as I child, I have thought that it was cruel to the extreme to exclude a child from such a solemn but very sad ceremony, especially when I witnessed how distraught an adult was when she was not able to make it to the burial of a mentor in time before he was buried.

Like I said to my uncle years ago – We, the kids saw everything, heard everything, and knew everything even if you, the parents, thought we didn’t.

Never has it been more important to talk to the kids and listen to what they have to say, in many cases they have difficult questions, and though parents might be afraid of odd questions, I know I have never wanted to ask if I would die from whatever I was suffering from at that time.

I feel a lot better now, but what an ordeal the day was, I never want to feel this way again, I know that much.

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