MATERNAL MOMENTS: PART 2

Happy Mashujaa Day Andreaders! Can we dig in into part 2 of Maternal Moments?

From the onset, once a pregnancy test turns positive, the next phase of life is to schedule the maiden antenatal clinic which for a matter of urgency, should be to bring along the other partner. Most tests will be done on the woman, but the most critical one if you ask me is the HIV test which is carried out to both partners. It’s important because it’s meant to safeguard the fetus while forming in the mother’s womb and for posterity purposes. Further, this session is meant to orient the couple on the pregnancy journey and of course establishing the first probable Expected Delivery Date (EDD) be it from the compass-like tool the clinician uses to the scan. Most scans are close to perfectly accurate at weeks 9 to week 22 since, beyond that, the fetus keeps growing pretty fast making it complex for the scan to capture all the organs in tandem and perfectly. My point is, don’t be surprised when at week 38 the scan suggests you are two weeks behind schedule hence throwing a spanner to all your plans. Recall, it’s perfectly normal to have more than one EDD since it’s a game of probability.

Something else, halfway through the pregnancy, the hospital where one is to deliver should be earnestly identified. And that said, there are parameters to observe when choosing a maternal hospital namely; cost, service oriented and distance. With the hard economic torrents remaining bullish to our present times, many of us find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. While you may wish to give your unborn baby a decent delivery-hospital in matters professional service, in most cases it’s pegged at a huge cost. Now, Kenyan hospitals are broadly classified into three classes; Private, mission and public hospitals. In most cases, Private hospitals score big on matters service delivery. What I mean is, that one’s patient has a very high likelihood of getting personalized and well-catered attention. However, the same Private hospitals are notorious for being sneaky and mischievous in their billing. You’ll find that there are so many charges which will cost you an arm and a leg since their darkest underbelly is manipulating bills anyway.  Hence it’s appropriate for one to be well prepared be it through a reliable insurance cover or moneywise.

Mission hospitals have shown lots of tremendous improvement on matters service delivery and besides, are not as expensive as most private hospitals. However, without a reliable cover too, be it, NHIF or employer cover or one that an individual has subscribed to, the billing can still be quite expensive. The good news with Public hospitals is that maternity is officially free at least with the Jubilee government regime. However, service delivery is highly compromised and too wanting, of course made worse by the prolonged Nurses’ strike which is over 4 months now. But do many of us have the luxury of an option? Of importance though, is to appreciate that NHIF cover is at its best currently. As long as one has a clean statement meaning they have zero defaults or penalties in their monthly premiums, one is expected to reap big especially if one’s patient is in a mission hospital. As a matter of fact, mission hospitals offering NHIF payment terms literally pay close to 98% of the maternity bills whether the patient had complications or not!

Thank God if the pregnancy is all smooth sailing, a few hiccups here and there notwithstanding. If complications come, that shouldn’t ever write off the joy of carrying a pregnancy. Count your blessings as you may know, a good number strive to conceive for years in vain. For some, they develop diabetic pregnancy caused by an increase in glucose in the body. To others, they succumb to blood pressure which if not managed well can put the life of the unborn in high risk (Preeclampsia). Some may have a history of miscarriages, bleeding from the onset, Ectopic pregnancy, Placenta Previa, Premature labor and birth and rhesus-factor incompatibilities. It’s highly advisable to seek services of a gynaecologist if experiencing some of these or more complications as early as possible in the gestation period. On a lighter note, positive energy is key as pregnancy moods are unpredictable. One day you wake up okay, the other you wake up with zero energies or moods that make you believe you should be bedridden.

As a first-time parent, there are things one tends to appreciate in the entire process of delivering a baby. That Labor is extremely tough but very much surmountable! The thing is, there are a lot of grey areas for our generation in matters labor experiences due to the disconnect in information sharing amongst ourselves and especially from our older peers brought about by cultural degradation, for lack of a better term. You’ll realize, many of us are clueless on the very basic signs of labor or if we have an idea, it’s very much fluid and unclear. From what I gathered, women go through labor very dynamically. There is never a clean script or uniformity; every woman has her own experience, in fact, different from one pregnancy to the other. Interestingly, in as much as labor is associated with crude pain, some don’t feel any pain at all, but a majority do experience havoc, confusion and anything in between.

Actually, I’m reliably told some carry their bibles and read from cover to cover all in an attempt to interrogate God what they could have done to warrant such pain. Others give their life to Jesus in the process, through confessing and taking an oath of being Christ’s followers while some take it a notch higher – They never at any juncture wish to spot their husbands walking around the labor ward or attempting to comfort them. They tend to blame them for all the ‘anguish’. The good thing is, once labor pains are concluded, everything settles down normally including the wild spirits of dissenting one’s husband’s in the open or hurling insults at them. In my community they say, a child travels from far to be delivered. By the way, men should keep off labor ward if they harbor any desires of having more babies. I tell you why; chances are, she can easily disown you upon meeting your sight in this room. Plus, it’s not fair watching your woman helplessly bite a metallic bed and kick everything in her vicinity including uprooting her weave, throwing off her phone and handbag and soliciting the baby to kindly pop out!

The following are the tell-tale signs to check out for or what can be referred to us the red signs in matters true labor stage; 1.) Be very careful when strong and regular contractions start building up. This shouldn’t be confused with false labor otherwise called Braxton Hicks contractions which normally have irregular contractions and are typically weak in strength if a woman changes position or takes a walk or rests. 2.) If her water breaks and consequently start leaking, one should rush to hospital immediately. 3.) Bloody vaginal discharge is another red sign that should alarm the person involved. 4.)  Lower back pains and nausea too should be taken seriously. More fundamentally, one should present herself to hospital if the EDD passes on with no signs as highlighted above have been experienced.

The next battleground after labor ordeal is the art of breastfeeding. Many first time mothers will attest, it’s never simple as it appears. From how to hold the baby to how to position the breast, can be challenging at first. In fact, to some, the challenge either lies in lack of milk at all, lack of sufficient milk, plenty of milk but the baby won’t breastfeed which could easily cause mastitis and nipple alignment challenges. Some of the tips in best practice when it comes to breastfeeding include; mother-infant tummies to be close together, the infant mouth to cover most of the areola (dark layout after the nipple), baby’s chin must touch the breast, the infant to have his/her mouth wide open before inserting the nipple, mother supporting the infant’s entire body, infant’s nose should be opposite the nipple and many others. Effective suckling can be determined through establishing if; Slow deep sucks and sometimes pausing while suckling (Infant’s suckling is irregular), infant’s chicks are round shape when suckling, baby releases breast when milk is fully finished, mother’s breasts feel relaxed. By the way, engorged breastfeeding can be undone through homemade ways that include massaging the breast with a warm hand towel or manually or electronically expressing the milk through a pump-milk equipment.

As an excited first time dad, you’ll be amazed by some small achievements like changing diapers, babysitting a 5 days infant which will include fathoming where to put your left and right arm (Most men will be fearful of handling an infant), composing lullaby songs and lulling the baby to sleep, helping in cleaning the infant and many other small wins like helping in massaging your woman’s breasts not boobs (mothers have breasts not boobs, and it comes with a price) when it clogs with excess milk, or taking charge in supporting her with or without a house girl. Some social media busybodies will cheapen these wins. They will joke on how superficial, contemporary husbands appear to be and how they can’t keep up with a successful career woman. Some cheap internet personas will write and lecture us in their newspaper columns on how marriage is not an achievement, but who cares; Life is all about the everyday small wins.

While at it, it will hit you that you wake up around 10am and only retire to bed not earlier than 1am after showering at 12am due to juggling from one task to the other be it cleaning the dishes, rushing to the market to get some green fodder, taking a bike to one Mr. Abdul who is a camel butcher to fetch the oxtail bone which you’ll use to make soup for your woman, to sifting the black beans (Njahe) and lentils grains(Kamande) to fermenting porridge from Mama Ngotho who is a self-made specialist in matters porridge flour for her clientele who’ll include breastfeeding mothers, pregnant women, clients battling overweight issues, underweight people, slay queens trying to tame their tummy sizes, babies with appetite issues, terminal illness patients and many others.

Finally, watching your baby fall to sleep will be the most beautiful adventure your eyes will have fallen onto in recent times. You’ll desire to stick in there and stare her breathe life occasionally making smiles in her small dreams to much of your amusement. You’ll watch this soul with a clean life sheet and zero sins apart from what Jesus died for, follow your voice with her feeble neck and almost touch the palpable delight on your face.

Enough of maternal stuff

 

Advertisements

MATERNAL MOMENTS: PART 1

It’s all fun and games until labor contractions begin. By hook or crook of it, it gets evident that the chickens have come home to roost. That the day of havoc is alive and well. At this situation the baby is usually stretching off, armed with eagerness to breathe life outside the placenta. Speaking of which, the placenta is that place where everything is controlled from the atmosphere to the lack of harshness from realities like demos, teargas, cash crunch, frenemies, global warming, traffic, inflation, idle politicking, sanctions and blackmail. Besides, if hues and cries and piercing pains are anything to go by, a lot is left to be desired in the labor ward.

So, a day to the EDD your wife will confess to having craved for chips and since she cooks them so effortlessly, you’ll encourage her to let the unborn baby have what she is desiring, be it chips. And in a few, the table room will be filled with sweet aroma emanating from the kitchen where your wife and her bulging belly will be cooking for the baby and yourself, her last meal before she crosses the bridge to parenthood. Halfway the cooking, she will drop the long cooking spoon and run to you, holding her back with one arm complaining of a sharp pain. The impact of the pain will be enough to smoke out a bit of tear drops in her eyes and have her form a paranoid face. All this will happen at the backdrop of dawning labor pains that will have no clear recognition to first-timers. So anything close to pain will be enough to call a press conference and make a quick call to Eston, your cab guy. It will also be prudent to let the chips burn out in the kitchen as compared to handling the pain from your wife. Later, you’ll walk to the kitchen to serve what will have been saved from the savage of burning out. However, you’ll only manage to have some few bites courtesy of the tension building on.

Two hours later, the pains will have become more frequent at intervals of 30 – 40 minutes. By then, you’ll have consulted Doctor Google who will have it that the pains are called contractions. And that they’ll be signs of true labor if they come at a time when the EDD is expected. Upon reading that, your heart will skip with fear and excitement. The two feelings will interlock and do a Jaguar – Babu Owino fist out at your dismay. Further, Doctor Google will have it that, it will be highly important if one times the intervals of the contractions and probably, record them somewhere. The following will be the reason; For first-time mothers, true labor is placed when the spacing of the contractions is at the intervals of eight minutes while for the rest of the mothers, true labor kicks in when the contractions space in between ten minutes interval.

While you’ll gladly communicate this to your wife, she will have none of it and so will you. You’ll rather seek an interpretation from the nearest hospital in your list of options. What will follow will be you picking the small suitcase that will have ‘mother & baby items’ and place it at the doorstep as you make a call to Eston. He will not disappoint. At 11:44pm, he will have showed up at your gate. Both of you will make a brief prayer committing everything to the Lord and requesting for His protection and guidance in this uncharted path. You’ll walk out quietly, careful not to trigger any curiosity to your neighbors. In less than 10 minutes, you’ll have arrived at the hospital waiting to be attended. While at it, you’ll hear screams from the labor ward, of mothers pushing hard and cursing in equal measure. You’ll turn to your wife and pretend not to have heard the noise, just not to scare her further.

After an examination, your wife will be reordered to revert home as her cervix will have had zero opening and that the so-called pains she will be experiencing will be premature. In fact, the doc there will be like; “we need 10cm opening.” You’ll drive back home dejected, scared by what type of pains and magnitude to expect; wondering how your wife will handle them; bothered if that cervix spacing will ever be possible to attain and further agonizing if Eston will pick your call at 3:30am if the pains become intense and unbearable. No sooner you arrive home than the pains will drift closer together in intervals of 20 minutes. You’ll practically not sleep that night apart from massaging her back and persistently timing the pains and hoping hours ahead will speed up. You’ll miss daylight and all its safety.

At 5: 25am, you’ll have fully prepared and made way to the hospital again, this time not ready to revert back to the house without a kid in the arms. Luckily, she’ll be earnestly admitted and pronounced as to be experiencing true labor. She will be issued with those fluffy and oversize maternity gowns that will make her look like a Langa’ta Women’s prisoner. No pun intended. You’ll notice buds of fear placed at the corners of her eyes. You’ll try to ignore them as you whisper words of encouragement that in fact, will do little to suppress the fear in you too.  As that unfolds, her phone, as well as yours, will keep on buzzing from curious family members and friends eager to know if the baby will have popped out yet. While the calls will create more anxiety, you’ll advise your wife to switch her phone off and leave it to you, to convey the information as to when it’ll be appropriate. A friend of hers, actually twice her age will call you requesting to know if you picked a woman friend to help your wife as you embarked to the hospital. You’ll lie to her that you did so. As soon as you hang up, you’ll wonder how in the 21st-century husbands can’t drive their women to maternity wards in peace and in the company of nobody else apart from maybe their pet dog, one Poppy!

Not even your mother in law or your own mother will have the closest of information on what will be transpiring at this moment but instincts will be screaming something to their heads. While at it, you’ll stop the nurses along the way, humbly requesting to know the fate of your wife. Some will be receptive while others will be as cold as a club bouncer. The latter will have no feelings to let nor sympathize with your poor self. But there will be some who understand keeping up with a pregnant woman for nine months and overseeing all the hullabaloo and drama that comes with it, is no mean achievement. One such nurse will be Nurse – Angeline. She will have lots of things happening on her taste of hairstyle which will make her stand out anyway. Upon posing the question of the fate of your wife, you’ll notice her honest smile and reassurance even before she speaks. You’ll also notice the narrow gap between her front teeth that will make her smile more customized and memorable.

That evening, you’ll walk home to meet your house literally walking to you demanding to know how everything turned out. “Did the baby come?” the matrimonial bed will ask. “What is the gender?” the utensils will pose to you. “What is the weight of the baby?” The electronics will beg to know. The half-eaten chipos of yesternight will still be on the table mapping out what will seem to have been the most hectic 24 hours of your lifetime. Meanwhile, you’ll sit down and draft short messages conveying great news of the birth of your baby, a few hours ago, to people around you who seem to matter most. Before then, you’ll have called your mum as the first recipient of this privileged information and she will recite a gratitude prayer right on the other side of the phone conversation. She will be glad of her son, finally walking into parenthood while she is alive to witness it as it unfolds. To God be the glory.

By Day 2, your wife will have made lifetime friends from her hospital bed from the likes of Milly who despite losing a new baby born, will be a walking piece of inspiration. She will be extremely prayerful, overly kind and unbowed by the circumstances of losing a child. She will have coastal origins from her Swahili command to her plus-size demeanor. Then there will be sad stories of women who have braved marriage violence for their entire pregnancies. There will be more cold ones like of kids born with deformities and had their mothers take off leaving them at the mercy of the hospital. There will be some to extremely sympathize with; like of women who’ve endured bleeding from their fourth month of pregnancy compelling them to be hospitalized to the end of their gestation period; while others won’t deliver until their blood pressure stabilizes. Then there will be this slender, light-skinned Form two girl, admitted in the same ward with your wife. She will not have a child lying next to her. You’ll learn that she survived a rape ordeal, got impregnated in the melee and had the dignity of carrying the pregnancy to the ninth month. She delivered one and half years ago, an innocent baby boy. But why the girl will be back in the hospital is because she will have pains around her belly which in a few days ahead, will be booked in the theatre after it’s established if she has developed some tumor in her stomach, through an X-Ray process. Your wife will also have made friends with one woman who gave birth to 1.5kg underweight infant baby and got trapped in the hospital since the bill was too high for her and her family to settle. The last you had about it, it was way past sh.100,000.

Looking forward to Part 2 of Maternal Moments!!

 

WHAT’S IN A BEARD!

Image result for Full blown bearded men african men

“The male beard communicates a heroic image of independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things,” said psychologist Robert J. Pellegrini

November might have been my birthday month but somehow also marked the end of ridicule from a good friend and deskmate whom I will refer as Chris for the sake of this article. Chris is a typical mischievous, humorous and very bright classmate if you may, who effortlessly creates lighter notes from a seemingly dull class tormented by fast approaching exams. Now, Chris decided not to shave his beards the entire month of November citing to be in solidarity with the rest of the guys who believe in not shaving in this particular month. It’s known as Movember where male adults raise awareness about men’s health issues more specifically, cancer.

For the rest of us who either have no good relationship with beards or who were caught unawares, had to deal with a Mr.Chris who did everything to make us feel bad about ourselves for failing to prove that we were in oneness with men who battle prostate cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and liver cancer which are common in men. Forgive Chris for this weird imagination. My problem with him though is that he tried too hard to create an impression that he had full-grown beard look while in reality was struggling with a semi-arid, disoriented appearance. (Hoping Chris won’t read this).

That said, you’ll appreciate that beards have come of age on perception, metamorphosing from the conventional thinking to contemporary trends that use them as a fashion statement, to express one’s personality and to symbolise solidarity with victims of chronic illnesses. In the past, beards only proved that one was indeed a male adult. Nowadays, depending on how they are kept or shaved, they can enhance or totally disfigure one’s look. From a research I did at a recent time amongst friends of either gender; female respondents showed a very high correlation between how they perceive a man and how their beards appear to be.

Let’s sample a few reactions I received from ladies when posed the question;

What’s your take about men who keep beards and them that not?

Respondent A: A Man who keep well-kept beards appear to be mature, responsible and more manly but in situations where the dressing does not match his style of hair and beard cut, it implies a disconnect but the same dude in casual outlook gives a totally different implication…..Those with trimmed beards appear more presentable.

Respondent B: I believe it’s an individual’s preference however I personally prefer men with well-kept, trimmed beards.

Respondent C: I prefer a complete shave…It’s neat and brings out some kind of order in a guy’s image.

Respondent D: Some look handsome while some are deemed not grow beards at all!. I prefer a neat beard, trimmed and well cut. And he has to have a smooth face not a bearded face with pimples looking like a forest in the hills!!!

Interestingly, from my findings, ladies have stereotyped men with fully grown beards to be ‘Bad boys’, unreliable in the society, hostile and bully.

A good number of male respondents didn’t have much of a problem in fact insisting beards are a sense of male identity, and part of their personality and expression. Some said they keep them to justify their age which if not, are misjudged to be young boys. A majority of them confessed to keep well-trimmed beards by virtue of their careers which otherwise would be taken to be disorganised, arrogant and unprofessional.

Well, researchers agree that men who keep beards do so to appear dominant among other men. Moreover, they are stronger, older and more aggressive. They are also likely to have deeper voices and rated as the most attractive. In contrast though, some experts have it that beards can harbour more germs than a toilet. They have warned that beards are nothing more than a ‘bacterial sponge’, riddled with thousands of bacteria and a perfect way to pass on germs. The cuticles on the hair which are like layers of tiles on a roof, trap the germs and grease. Hair around nostrils and mouth is well-placed to harbour bacteria. Men have a habit of over-handling their beards, meaning they can spread bacteria to their mouths. If their hands are dirty, they transfer dirt from their hands on to their face and mouths.

TYPES OF BEARDS

Wild Beard

The full-on scraggly, all-over beard belongs to a very specific man. Not many can pull off its wild ways. It epitomise boldness, super confidence and egocentric. This look is also likely to be kept by people battling depression, relationship or marriage breakups and loss of job.

The He – Goat Beard

This is kept by outgoing men who love exploring, have a soft spot for outdoor activities and are self-employed. They are also likely to be sophisticated, mischievous, non-conformers and have a sense of humour.

Cleaned Shaved Beard

This is common with men who don’t love attention, cautionary when it comes to risk, and mostly semi introverts. These type of men have a belief that all grown beards are irritating, demanding and trigger itching.

The Scruffy Chin

This type of look is close to the weird beard but a bit trimmed and well-kept. This is for men who are fashion sensitive, have time for themselves and pay attention to image.

The U – Shaped

This type of look is for men who are averse to change. It is mostly common with men above 35 years, who grew up listening to KBC radio and who unfortunately believe that it’s still trendy to have such a look in the post-Trump era. We forgive them!

Male beards have endured endless battles that somehow threaten their extinction with perceptions that men who clean shave appear more presentable. In the midst of these challenges, beards remain stubborn, unbowed and rebellious, confronting all roadblocks that threaten their legacy with a pinch of resilience. What does the future hold for them? Will men stand to erode part of their heritage by doing away with them? The jury is out.

PEPTIC ULCERS – BE IN THE KNOW

Image result for private hospitals in KenyaWhen people hear of ulcers what mostly comes to mind is that the victim is probably battling stress related issues or depression. I won’t call it ignorance but rather lack of information. I was in your position too before I met Austin and listened to his story.

I bet you want to be in the know about this infection that is not so popular but painful and draining. Join me as we go through Austin’s medical journey as I compiled it few days ago;

To what started as mild pains around Austin’s chest quickly developed to intense discomfort in a couple of days. When the pain became tough to endure having toyed with the idea that it could be stress which could somehow be solved by going easy on himself and opening up to close friends and relatives, the pain had none of this. When this failed to work, the most prudent thing was to call a friend to rush him to a nearby hospital one late evening. He was misdiagnosed with Asthma by the nurse on duty. The doctor was away. Be careful with private clinics. He actually learnt of the misdiagnose close to a week later when he checked in another hospital only to be treated for Anxiety Disorder. The doctor made him believe he was a Type A personality just like renowned familiar public figures to name a few –  Presidents Uhuru and Obama. Google defines Type A personality as more competitive, outgoing, ambitious, impatient, aggressive and self critical. They are short fused meaning their temperament can be slightly out of normal. They are also highly status – conscious, workaholics, rigidly organised, anxious and proactive. Type A personalities are highly vulnerable to stress related illnesses than the rest of the personalities.

Austin having been diagnosed with Anxiety disorder was prescribed with medicine that would make him relax his mind. The side effect was, he tended to sleep more. No sooner was he done with his dose after a month or so, than his chest pains re-emerged once more. He visited another different hospital and this time round diagnosed with stress. He was made to believe his body was producing excess acid which in effect, affected his esophagus, because acid burns, right? He was cautioned to avoid issues that would make him overly stressed and also consider engaging in hobbies that would relieve his mind off the serious stuff. In other words he was to embrace unwinding seriously than before and to have a strong support around him. The remedy here helped him relieve off the acid but had nothing to do with treating peptic ulcers.

Two months later the pains kept playing hide and seek; jumping from one area to another. It went to a point where his rib cage ached from time to time. Austin became convinced its time he had an X Ray of his chest. He booked an appointment in an established Mission Hospital where the result came with a clean bill of health. Here, he was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was advised to keep warm, avoid conditions that would lower his body temperatures unusually, exercise more and strictly drink warm water. He was medicated and got temporarily recuperated.

As soon as he was done with this medicine composed of antibiotics and pain killers, the pains resurfaced this time more angry, rebranded and confronting. Meanwhile, Austin was developing stress out of not getting a lasting solution about his pains. Besides, the checkups were draining him financially and disappointing. One day, he sipped tea and felt nausea. The next minute, he was holding his breath to stop untimed vomit. How so? With the pains stubbornly persisting he was dealing with another problem; of handling nausea. I remember him joking – I felt like I’m pregnant. No pun intended.

By sheer chance, one of his distressed siblings advised him to go to a reputable hospitable with a credible laboratory where he would be tested for amoeba. For your information, amoeba causes nausea and headaches. Austin identified another hospital where he had his tests done. This time round, he met a proficient doctor who diagnosed him correctly. He calmly told him his illness had nothing to do with stress but hygiene! How? Yes. He was suffering from an infection called Peptic Ulcers caused by a bacteria referred as H.Pylori. This was evidenced by the tests done from his blood and stool samples.

The doctor advised him to avoid taking meals and water from public places – Hotels etc. The bacteria is mainly caused by contaminated foods including fruits , water and spread from person to person. I assumed it’s through kissing. Washing ones hand regularly and thoroughly is also highly recommended. By all means avoid those tempting street mutura in your neighborhood, normally prepaid by this lad who is always in a dirty, dust coat. Please also ignore the aroma that comes from that kibanda that sells chips mwitu. Be careful with where you buy your greens too. They might have been grown in sewage rich areas.  The bacteria attaches itself along the digestive tract and triggers acid which the burns the esophagus which lead to pain around the upper part of the chest. As you read this, Austin has fully recovered. He has shed off the pains and carried along vital lessons.

He is worried of one thing; Social media. You know of those ‘forwards’ on Whatsapp that read – if you have this type of pain bla bla bla please consider visiting a doctor as it may be trigger a particular chronic illness bla bla bla…. They end with familiar conclusions that go like; please share with at least ten of your loved ones. 

These messages made Austin paranoid. They made him struggle with self assurance. He consoled himself with the fact that, most of these information spread across social media are mostly inaccurate and unverified. However, Austin has one plea to put across; that please do not forward any message on whatsapp or whichever platform especially to do with one’s health if you are not a clinical officer or health expert. This messages can easily trigger panic attacks to individuals who are not as lucky as you forwarding them. Lucky in the sense of a credible support system and people around them at that time of reading these forwards. They can easily get paranoid. They may also be living alone, you know. Think of what could happen when their blood pressure suddenly shoots up out of reading such forwards.

The issue of going for comprehensive medical checkups at least once in a year should be taken more seriously. It might be slightly expensive but; ….THIS IS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH! The cliche that prevention is better than cure is so true. In any case, the money we spend in clubs drinking ourselves silly just in one weekend is enough for a thorough medical checkup. Is that much to ask!

Lastly; Avoid alcohol as much. Alcohol worsens these conditions.

DR.STACEY, KAGESHI AND MY LIMPING LEG

FemaleDocHardly 24 hours after I published my last week’s article dubbed Of Tummies And The Struggle which I had disclosed of my ailing right foot, I found myself seated in waiting area of this hospital with white, leather sofas, staring at the humongous TV, preoccupied with lost thoughts. So much was going through my mind at this time as I hate visiting hospitals. Kageshi can attest to this. I only visit hospitals as the last resort when all the home remedies fail to work. The room was dead silent apart from the TV on low volume. My face was in pensive mood, sympathising with my leg and regretting why I ever did the exercises in the first place. Minutes before I checked in, I had a lengthy conversation with my mum who assured me everything will be okay. I would tell were it not for the distance, she badly desired to accompany me as I visited my doc. This happens so many times. My mum has never accepted I’m a grown up who has developed thick skin along the way in my close to three decades of breathing life. Talk of African Mums.

I had just walked to the receptionist who by the way was a guy. Very unusual. He pulled an artificial smile and asked my name and other personal details. Immediately my Boy-Child activism checked in considering receptionists are in most cases petite ladies. I was glad some employers are now employing people based on their capability and not gender. 10 minutes after, a brown young lady with pronounced chick bones and big round eyes and a WEAVE emerged from the Consultation Room donning the symbolic white coat. She looked 28. Don’t ask how I guessed her age. My heart skipped. I didn’t recall the last time I was treated by a female doc. Actually it had not happened before!

Back to my ailing leg. Kageshi came to mind. I smiled shyly when I rolled back thoughts about how for like 5 days before I gave in to visit the doc, she unrelentingly massaged my feet with a warm (read hot) towel to ease the pain daily. At times I would let out a deep sigh when she pressed my right foot so hard as a way of ‘curing the pain’ with the hot towel. She was like; “This is not the time to be gentle, I need to see you walking again, Love?” I felt like a 7 year old boy being nursed his feet by the mum. And by the way, the whole experience turned out to be very romantic.

So, I was called in to the Consultation Room. Dr.Stacey warmly referred me with my first name, Andrew. I was quite impressed. I get very excited when people call me by first name looking straight to my eyes. Does it happen to you too? I narrated to her my troubled story while she made notes with her sleek pen. She directed me to a high table across the wall where I had to remove my shoes. She assessed my foot, asking a million and one questions. She then asked about my profession! I told her I’m an Accountant which I promptly regretted saying so. I wish I told her I was a Writer who has a passion for telling serious stories with a humour-like touch. And she’d be like; “A Writer? Wow! That’s nice. So it pays your bills and supports your family?” And I’d be like; “Not exactly. I blend it with ‘small’ hustles here and there. I do preambles for websites and other stuff.” Her face would reserve any more questions hehe. She twirled my foot with her tender hands which had well trimmed finger nails and at some point I noticed her huge watch which commanded attention. (From men circles; ladies who don huge watches are taken more seriously because of their seeming boldness).

I wished I asked the million dollar question Biko poses to the swimming pool guys from Malindi to Kigali or the chap who pushes him in a wheel chair when he gets diagnosed with a blood clot. About their most interesting clients. I’m not sure how Dr.Stacey could have responded to such a question. Probably I could have got her off guard or maybe she would have complained of the patient becoming very intrusive. While she attended me, I ransacked her ‘office’ with my eyes from her table which had several medical journals stashed nicely, a medical dictionary, two novels next to her snazzy phone and a lip balm. There was a newspaper too. (And that’s how you judge a lady’s age). Her huge handbag was placed at the corner of the table and car keys resting beside the bag. Anyway, after the assessment of my leg she let out the bombshell. That my leg would be immobilised for two weeks. A shocked me was like, “really?” And she pitched an affirmative YES. She went ahead to wipe my feet, applied a creamy stuff and massaged my foot for 3 minutes. She then firmly tied a bandage on my ailing leg and let me off the hook wishing me quick recovery and requesting I go for follow up checkup in a week’s time. (Which is tomorrow).

What Dr.Stacey didn’t warn me about was that, the first two nights would be the longest nights I ever endured. Dealing with a heavy and uncomfortable leg was a nightmare in itself. I wasn’t able to even stretch my right foot. (Thank God for sound health). I thought of so many things during these nights. I came to a point of appreciating more, breastfeeding mothers. Waking a dozen times in the night to lull a stubborn baby and still manage to wake up early to prepare for jobo. Wow! Respect to this kind of women! Their sleep is always interrupted. That was me and my leg waking at 2:01 am to soothe it to ‘sleep’. The situation was so bad on the first day that I didn’t realise it was a Friday, a night to watch a programme I fondly like, The Trend. I slept before 9.

Dealing with kids in the neighborhood who’ve been telling me Pole (sorry) with sympathetic faces has become a norm. Not to mention tussling with a thousand questions from all the souls I meet. It has been worse when they expect me to take time in narrating a detailed account of what happened. This is so draining. Gai! When I dashed for my weekly shave, Shemas my barber laughed for a whole 10 minutes after I explained what transpired. That I was jogging in my digs and twisted my leg in the process. He couldn’t understand how one can jog inside a house. My boss was also visibly shocked. When I walked to the office last Monday morning in open-shoes with a bandage tethered in one of my legs, he looked lost until I explained. He was like; “Andrew you are too young to start messing with your legs.” My brief response was; “It happens” punctuated with a fake smile.

I salute the two incredible women; Kageshi and Dr.Stacey who came in handy when I needed a lot of reassurance. One thing I have learnt is that it’s never the same when you can’t walk normally. You get tired easily and naturally can’t do some tasks the same way again. It’s also not easier when one leg is rendered inactive. Appreciate and give thanks for good health and while at it take extra caution while exercising. It might save you a fortune.

OF TUMMIES AND THE STRUGGLE

Athlete Stretching --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis Few weeks ago I posted a photo on social media which apparently exposed my bulging tummy. How I hate tummies. Interestingly, my sweet Niece Whatsapped ‘hurling words’ at me demanding to know why an uncle should be gaining weight when everybody else is burning hours in the gym cutting weight! Well well well! That statement was hard to swallow. I did hear it sink deep in my stomach and up in my mind where it unleashed terror and threatened to ‘Sossion me’. I have never been more haunted by a simple statement. Gaining weight is no longer fashionable and worse still, some Machiavellian geeks seated somewhere will assume you are a lazy being. How harsh can it be! Well for the record, my tummy has nothing to do with me imbibing alcohol as one childhood friend alluded. This again left a bitter taste in my life. It’s not fair to always imagine all guys who grow tummies are alcoholics and take Nyama choma  more often than they sip tea.

And by the way, I am at a cross road. In catch 22. Why? Well, Kageshi (My publicly-known girlfriend) has been ‘over-feeding’ me so that, come 2016 when I will be visiting her parents’ home to pay dowry, I’ll look ‘presentable’. Hahaha. Yes in some parts of this country, you cannot afford to present a skinny fellow to your damn uncles. They will chase you away the Magarer-Langat way. You recall this lad, formerly of ODM. Come to think of yourself up in the air, with an idle crowd behind, waving tree branches and jeering at you all for not appearing ‘moneyed’ so to speak. (Why do people in up country have to harm trees when they hold demos; Are placards that expensive or rather not effective in these parts of the country. These are the same humans who’ll show up during Wangari Maathai’s Anniversary while in the background persist to maim her legacy.) Speaking of up country, mums residing in this areas do not mind when their sons grow ‘big’.

So where does this leave me? I weighed all the options and concluded I should restructure my weight instead. In fact as we speak, I have embarked on doing exercises in my digs now that I can’t afford going to the gym. The last time I was there, 2 years ago, I used to spend more money for the gym service than I’d spend on my food budget. This didn’t make sense to me. I obliged to give up. I’m also an accountant you know. Doing exercises in the house is not simple either, though I dropped two kilograms last week but not before I got an injury on my feet. This was as a result of jogging 2 kilometers in the house. (Don’t get twisted, yani jogging for 20 minutes nonstop). If walls in my house would speak, they’d confirm the depth of my sighs and how sweaty I can be. Enough of Andrew!

Speaking of my niece, she’s hardly 53 kilograms (2kg for her blonde weave) and still insists on rigorously working out in the house. I know she will kill me for writing this, sorry hun! At times she skips meals to maintain her overrated flat tummy. How now? To me this is overzealousness. Many ladies are caught up in this madness of flat-tummies too. I know men admire such lasses, but when it takes skipping meals for a tummy! Hell no. You might have the tiniest waistline but still have a pathetic lifestyle. Some are even taking pills to shed weight. That’s where the problem is. I’m not trying to throw shade at the whole idea of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s very noble. It significantly lowers your stress levels, combats diseases, boosts your energy levels and improves your longevity….bla bla bla. However, bragging of firm tummies on IG or pronounced muscles is neither here nor there.

We have hyped flat tummies at the very expense of healthy lifestyles. According to Women’s Health, an online women magazine, globally, sixty two percent of women say the body part they’re self-conscious about is their belly. Nowadays, there has been a misconception that cutting your carbohydrates is tantamount to cutting weight. This is a generational lie. It’s wrong. Health pundits insist, cutting simple carbs may help reduce your weight but that does not necessarily suggest pushing complex carbs off your plate. Your body still needs vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Worse still, we are a society that has been misadvised against taking eggs. It’s true, eggs have a fair amount of cholesterol but they are good sources of protein, several B vitamins, choline, vitamin D, and vitamin E too. Extra caution is only limited to people with heart diseases or diabetes.

You know of these people who check on their ‘portions’ while they also count on the number of calories they’ve consumed in a day. Is this not a first world problem? We have totally been enslaved by all this crude gimmicks in this internet era. I have heard tales of corporate women whom ideally are quite learned, donning tummy belts. I call this, contemporary slavery? I hate to imagine a time when my wife will be jumping to get her tummy belt first thing after dashing out of the shower. This can be very defeating. It will remind me of war-time movies where you have to don certain paraphernalia to identify yourself. Woman, you are not in war, not unless with yourself. Besides, they follow this sheet that has a schedule of what one should consume in say three weeks and guarantee to lose a whole 30 kilograms. I’m also told of something called tummy tuck only affordable to the rich. This entails of plastic surgery in the abdomen in which fat and skin are removed and muscles tightened. This is to yield an illusion of a flat tummy. The lengths this generation travels to fit in or stand out!

New fads are being unleashed every single day promising ‘faster results’. But all they do is show our degree of laziness and general naivety. A healthy lifestyle will only be met through taking larger portions of natural foods, fruits, taking lots of water and more importantly regularly working out. This does not necessarily mean going to the gym. This ‘house’ is so overrated. In fact a good number visit the gym just to brag about it. Simple exercises in your house coupled with more rounds of walking round the estate with your loved one(s) and maybe riding a bike preferably with your spouse can be very helpful. This is much wiser than gulping what we are fed via our TV screens. Drop the overzealousness. Accept not to be deluded. Don’t move with the wind, your kids might pay your price.

*******************************************************************************************************************

Check out my Facebook Page; andrewismme.com for regular, half serious stuff that will help you unwind and recover from a day’s harsh torrents.

*****************************************************************************************************************

You probably have a website but have a feeling the wordings are sort of dull. Reach me for captivating preambles that will help sell or promote your Products/Services more effectively. Get in touch via wandrewism@gmail.com